Good Morning from Albany…..

The New York Senate and Assembly are expected to release their One-House budgets the week of Monday, March 16. Financial concerns—and a determination by both branches of the legislature to demonstrate their ability to govern—mean those documents are likely to look more like responsible and balanced budgets rather than the wish lists and negotiating documents of the past. They will differ from the Executive Budget but expect fewer surprises or Christmas Trees (documents full of goodies for special interest groups).

However, Albany (and especially the Executive Branch) has become preoccupied with the novel coronavirus and how, in addition to the illness itself, the pandemic impacts every aspect of life from educationpublic transportation, banking, religious worship, as well as the ordinary conduct of business.

In fact, many groups are cancelling their advocacy days at the Capitol, at a time when lobbying is usually swamped with advocates. In one of ten press conferences held this week on the issue, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo conceded that he is spending less time than in previous years talking about the slew of policy changes he proposed in his $178 billion spending plan, including the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana, bail reform, and plans to address Medicaid cost overruns.

Saturday, Cuomo declared a State of Emergency in New York State, wasting no time in excising emergency powers granted to him only last week in a contentious late-night vote which allocates $40 million for COVID-19 preparedness but also redefines what the state considers a disaster or emergency, expanding it from an event that is either already occurring or “imminent” to include any “impending or urgent threat” and gives the governor authority to unilaterally “issue any directive” he deems necessary to “cope” with emergencies. No state executive in the union has broader emergency powers.

The Governor also made clear his displeasure with the federal response and in an usual reaction blasted New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Congress Member Nita Lowey. The federal legislation provides an $8 billion coronavirus emergency funding package of which the State of New York will receive $35 million. 

In Washington, the Democratic Establishment is breathing a huge sigh of relief over former Vice-President Joe Biden’s success in South Carolina and throughout the nation on Super Tuesday. Biden’s win, powered largely by support (and unprecedented turnout) from African-American voters, has radically transformed the Democratic presidential primary from a wild free-for-all into a two man race, which is now not just about who is going to represent the Democratic Party but what the Party stands for.  Biden and the moderate/establishment wing of the party are well positioned to grow his delegate lead over the next few weeks, but the only consistent in this race has been its volatility, so stay tuned for the Michigan primary on Tuesday and the first one-on-one debate on March 15.

President Trump announced Friday that he has selected outgoing Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) as his next White House chief of staff, tapping one of his most stalwart congressional allies to run the White House as he navigates a global health crisis in a reelection year. Meadows, who had previously announced he was leaving Congress, will become President Trump’s fourth chief of staff. 

— Jack O’Donnell

Jack O’Donnell was a guest on NewsMax to discuss Super Tuesday results with host Greg Kelly. 

Mike Bloomberg’s $620 Million Campaign Did Really Well—in American Samoa

With 175 votes, Mike Bloomberg was finally seeing a payoff from his roughly $620 million campaign to persuade Americans to elect him president. He was winning in American Samoa, a tiny territory closer to New Zealand than the continental U.S. For Mr. Bloomberg, who ended his campaign Wednesday, it was a Super Tuesday victory as lonely as a tiny speck of land in a vast ocean. [Read more.]

Amtrak, Struggling to Keep Trains Running, Chooses a New Leader

Amtrak, the national railroad that is caught in a political stalemate over its pleas for help saving century-old infrastructure in New York City, has chosen its next leader. William J. Flynn, 66, will succeed Richard Anderson, 65, as Amtrak’s chief executive on April 15, the company announced on Monday. [Read more.]

Republicans Plot Blue-State Invasion in November

National Republicans are launching a multi-million-dollar field effort in four blue states, a move that comes as Democrats express mounting concern that a Bernie Sanders nomination could doom them in critical down-ballot contests. The Republican National Committee is deploying dozens of field staffers to California, New Jersey, New York and Illinois. [Read more.]

The Neighborhood Name Game

Manhattan, for all its charms, can sometimes fail the imagination. From the “financial district” to “Midtown” to the “Upper West Side,” the names of neighborhoods can seem just-the-facts dull, seeming to prefer literal and safe over style and mystery. It wasn’t always this way. [Read more.]

There Won’t Be a Gay President in 2021. So What Does Buttigieg’s Campaign Tell Us?

Supporters say that Pete Buttigieg’s contribution to history will be diminished if the takeaway is that the country shrugged when the first openly gay man had a serious shot at the presidency. [Read more.]

The Best Irish Pubs in America

Feeling Irish? Then these legendary bars should be on your list. 

What We Can Learn From the 20th Century’s Deadliest Pandemic

In 1918, the Spanish flu killed more than 50 million people around the world. The lessons of that outbreak could save countless lives in the fight against the coronavirus. [Read more.]