Biden visits Syracuse as NYC campus chaos grows

With help from Shawn Ness and Irie Sentner

New from New York

Happening now:

  • Two Syracuse University alums visited their former college town.
  • New York spends the most per capita on schools, and it’s not even close.
  • Reaction to the overturning of the Harvey Weinstein verdict in New York.
  • The Carey Gabay fellowship is now available.

President Joe Biden, from right, is greeted by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and County Executive Ryan McMahon, as he arrives at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base

BIDEN VISITS UPSTATE: President Joe Biden visited upstate New York this afternoon with Gov. Kathy Hochul and Sen. Chuck Schumer to celebrate up to $6 billion in federal funding for a semiconductor factory.

But the eyes of the nation were still about 250 miles southeast as the chaos at Columbia University continued and spread to nearby colleges — and as former President Donald Trump’s trial resumed downtown.

You wouldn’t know anything about the New York City turmoil in Syracuse, though — where it was all smiles and cheers among the state and nation’s leading Democrats. The deal for Micron, first announced in late 2022, is viewed as a game changer for the struggling upstate economy that has dealt with decades of losses to manufacturing jobs and population.

“Folks, I want to thank Governor Hochul for having us here today and for her partnership,” a triumphant Biden said. He also poked fun at upstate House Republicans who had criticized the CHIPS Act, but are now celebrating its investments in New York. The district is a key swing race with Republican Rep. Brandon Williams one of the most vulnerable freshmen in the nation this fall.

Still, the dichotomy of the day was apparent.

Biden and Hochul have criticized the antisemitism spewed at the campus protests, but they have also been blasted by Republicans for not doing more — such as sending in the National Guard to quell the campus unrest.

Hochul said this week that she continues to talk with Columbia in particular over ending the tent camps, saying the goal is to “make sure that every student on campus feels safe and secure.”

Hochul visited the university privately Monday, and Biden isn’t scheduled to be in the city on his trip — though he’s stopping in Westchester for a fundraiser tonight.

That’s in stark contrast to Republicans’ handling of the Columbia situation.

The second in line to the president, House Speaker Mike Johnson, made the trip Wednesday to the university with other House GOP members as they called on Hochul to step up enforcement around the campus.

But the Republicans were shouted down by student protesters screaming “Mike, you suck!” and they continued to refuse administrators’ orders to remove their tent encampment from the university’s lawn.

That too was a contrast from Hochul — who posted Wednesday evening on X that she was having an all-around “beautiful day in the neighborhood” as she took a stroll through Central Park, eating a soft pretzel and taking selfies next to blossoming trees.

State Sen. Jack Martins, chair of the Senate Republican Working Group on Antisemitism, said the governor’s visit to Syracuse and Central Park showed she’s more interested in “photo-ops” than keeping students safe.

“There are kids who are being told they can’t or shouldn’t go to school and they should stay home, and the campus is shut down for remote learning, and she’s walking through Central Park having a soft pretzel, it’s a wonderful day,” Martins said.

“That kind of cluelessness, frankly, can’t be ignored. At a time when we need leadership, once again, the governor has come out way short.”

Avi Small, a Hochul spokesperson, ripped the naysayers and pointed out her ramble through Central Park was just one of many posts that appeared on her X account Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled so many New Yorkers closely monitor the Governor’s social media accounts, and we encourage them to read yesterday’s posts about protecting survivors of sexual assault, defending abortion rights and investing in the criminal justice system,” he said. — Jason Beeferman

New York spends by far the most on schools per capita than any state in the nation, the U.S. Census Bureau said.

NY SPENDS THE MOST ON SCHOOL AID: New York is still number one — with the highest per-pupil spending rate in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

New York City also had the highest spending rate per-pupil of the country’s largest 100 school districts.

New York was at the top of the list spending $29,873 per student. That was followed by the District of Columbia ($27,425), New Jersey ($25,099), Vermont ($24,608) and Connecticut ($24,453).

The announcement comes shortly after New York passed another monumental $1.3 billion increase in school aid, bringing total school aid in New York to more than $35 billion.

The state is, however, reviewing its foundation aid formula, which is used to divy up the state’s largest school aid budget line, a move that could result in smaller increases in the future.

The study of the formula is due by Dec. 1, and the Legislature and the governor will decide on what recommendations will make it into the enacted budget. — Katelyn Cordero

ANOTHER LOCAL ELECTION LAWSUIT: Rockland County has become the latest local government to sue the state over a new law moving most town and county elections to even-numbered years.

“The election manipulation without representation, forcibly removing our right to self-govern and limiting the next term of the County Executive and Legislature to three years instead of four years required by our laws, and reducing town and village officials by a year is wrong,” County Executive Ed Day said in a statement.

The law, signed shortly before Christmas, is now the subject of lawsuits from every corner of the state.

Onondaga County assigned funding for a case in February. Other counties that have brought or said they’ll bring suits include Oneida, Nassau and Rensselaer. — Bill Mahoney

“The law applies to everyone, from a murder case to a falsifying business records case,” attorney Arthur Aidala, who represented Harvey Weinstein's appeal, said outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial.

‘THE LAW APPLIES TO EVERYONE:’ Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction was overturned by the New York Court of Appeals today, and the court ordered a new trial in the case.

Weinstein will remain in prison due to his 2022 rape conviction in California.

Standing outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial, Weinstein’s attorney called it “great day for America” and mentioned Trump’s case while speaking about his client’s win.

“A judge will sit in her chambers and look at the law and look at the precedent without fear or favor and say, ‘I don’t care who the defendant is, if it’s the former president of the United States or the most storied Hollywood producer of our generation, the law applies to everyone,’” said Arthur Aidala, who represented Weinstein in the appeals case.

“The law applies to everyone, from a murder case to a falsifying business records case,” he added. — Irie Sentner

Labor protection advocates are decrying the state's Court of Appeals decision that overturned sex crime charges against Harvey Weinstein.

‘GUT PUNCH’ DECISION: Meanwhile, advocates who are seeking stronger labor protections in the fashion industry decried today’s Court of Appeals’ ruling that overturned Weinstein’s sex crimes charges.

The Model Alliance, which has pushed for the Fashion Workers Act, said the decision to toss Weinstein’s New York-based conviction strengthens the argument for bolstered workplace protections.

“The decision by the Court of Appeals is an indictment of the criminal legal system and a gut punch for survivors like me who were victimized not only by Weinstein and his associates, but by the lack of regulation in the fashion industry that knowingly puts young women and girls at the mercy of serial rapists like Weinstein and Bill Cosby every day,” Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, said.

Weinstein was convicted in 2020 of criminal sexual assault and third-degree rape. The state’s top court determined, however, that a judge erred by allowing witnesses in the case who had said they were sexually abused by Weinstein, but whose cases were not part of the criminal charges. Nick Reisman

NY WANTS MORE ART: Over 100 arts and cultural nonprofits have been awarded a share of $32 million to revitalize their facilities to furnish their creative works.

The 102 different nonprofits are spread all across the state from New York City to Buffalo and north to St. Lawrence.

“From historic sites to new multi-use arts centers, these diverse projects will expand the accessibility and the sustainability of arts and culture organizations while growing local economies, driving tourism and creating jobs all across New York State,” Hochul said in a statement.

The grants will range in sizes from $50,000 to $2 million for smaller projects and up to $10 million for larger projects that prioritize community development. Shawn Ness

CAREY GABAY FELLOWSHIP: Young lawyers have another chance to work in Hochul’s office through the Carey Gabay fellowship. Applications for the position opened earlier today, Hochul announced.

The paid two-year fellowship is designed for bar-admitted attorneys who are committed to public service and will receive a direct opportunity to work along side the governor’s legal team on things like violence prevention, economic equality and community development.

The fellowship is named after Carey Gabay, who was shot and killed in a rogue shooting in 2015. The position is designed to honor his legacy.

“Carey Gabay was tragically taken from us too soon, leaving a hole in the hearts of his family, his colleagues and truly all New Yorkers,” Hochul said in a statement.

Applications will be accepted until May 15. — Shawn Ness

—  President Joe Biden and the New York Times have a petty feud. (POLITICO)

— The White House declined House Speaker Mike Johnson’s call to send the National Guard to Columbia University. (POLITICO)

CUNY City College now has its own pro-Palestine encampment. (Daily News).

Speaker Carl Heastie is becoming a regular in Columbia County. There’s a reason (POLITICO Pro)

Roy Walsh

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