Time Warner Cable News/Siena Poll: NYers Willing To Gamble On Casinos

New Yorkers in three key regions of the state see both upsides and downsides to the expansion of casino gambling, according to an exclusive Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll.

The survey found registered voters in the Hudson Valley, Southern Tier and the Capital Region believe casinos have the potential to create jobs, but could also bring headaches like crime, traffic and gambling addiction.

The poll sought the opinions of voters in the regions designated for commercial casino expansion ranging from their expectations for the benefits of casino gambling to their concerns over the potential downside.

Overall, New Yorkers in the economically troubled Southern Tier are the most supportive of casino development, with 48 percent backing the expansion. Support is weakest in the Capital Region, where voters are more split: 44 percent support and 40 percent oppose.

Voters in those impacted areas remain mixed on the potential outcomes: 37 percent believe casinos will have positive benefits to their region, while 31 percent expect a negative outcome. Twenty-nine percent believe casino expansion will have little real impact on the area.

“The public is quite wise,” said Siena College Polling Institute Director Don Levy. “They see how what appear to be contradictory opinions and you can hold them at the same time.”

Most optimistic about the long-term outcome is the Southern Tier, where 43 percent believe there will be a positive benefit.

A combined 74 percent believe casinos will bring jobs to their area of the state — a component those surveyed believe will have the broadest benefit to their area.

But at the same time, 51 percent say the state has enough gambling.

“A clear majority says I think there are already enough casinos,” Levy said. “The public is not screaming, ‘Let’s go get a casino.’”

Overall, the poll found New Yorkers living in regions due to get a casino resort are largely ambivalent about the impact.

Forty percent say they expect casinos will create jobs, while 29 percent believe the biggest benefit will be increased tax revenue.

When it comes to the downsides of casino gambling, 36 percent predict increased traffic problems because of the facilities, while 26 percent fear an increase in crime.

The poll found the hope for jobs was strongest in the Catskills and Hudson Valley region, where 42 percent believe casino expansion will grow employment, with 38 percent in both the Capital Region and the Catskills expecting a boost in jobs.

“We are back from the depths of a recession, but there continue to be large numbers of New Yorkers who continue to be unemployed or underemployed, but the idea there are going to be several thousands of jobs available is really quite attractive,” Levy said.

The argument that casino expansion will lead to job creation was a key argument made by campaigns supporting the amendment to expand casino gambling last year.

Whether those jobs come, though, remains a question. An analysis by Moody’s Investor Services found the saturation of casinos along the East Coast resulted in downgrade of Atlantic City in New Jersey. Governor Andrew Cuomo, the main supporter of last year’s successful effort to pass an amendment to expand casino gambling, said it’ll be up to the private market to decide the growth of gambling.

“The private market, which reads Moody’s which does this for a living, will make a determination what scale and scope the market can support,” Cuomo said earlier this month.

Up to four casinos will be built in the first phase of construction, with projects selected by state regulators this fall.

The poll of 816 registered voters in New York was conducted between July 20 and July 23. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points, with a higher margin of error when broken down by region.

TWC0714 Total Crosstabs 072814 (2) by Nick Reisman

Extras

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo: “Andrew is as honest a politician as we have seen in New York.”

Gov. Cuomo wasn’t the only one to respond to the Moreland Commission controversy today: Members of the defunct panel also spoke out.

“The Morning Joe” crowd ripped Cuomo’s handling of the commission as worse than Chris Christie’s bridgegate scandal.

LG candidate Kathy Hochul does not think the Moreland controversy will impact the ticket’s chances this fall.

Cuomo’s visit to Buffalo, by the way, was for a START-UP NY announcement.

Politifact determined Rob Astorino’s claim that New York had the slowest recovery since the recession is false.

The MTA may reduce capital spending to cover labor costs.

State gaming regulators set public hearing dates for the various casino proposals.

In a related development, Long Island Association President Kevin Law was named the chairman of the casino siting board.

Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the so-called “broken windows” law enforcement strategy.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says a Putnam County landowner polluted a drinking water source.

A bill would speed up the timetable of the state’s implementation of the medical marijuana program.

The statewide teachers union blasted the lawsuit to overturn teacher tenure.

Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown called the parents filing the lawsuit “incredibly brave.”

The crackdown on costumed characters in Times Square continues.

Hillary Clinton sold out her book signing at Northshire in Saratoga Springs.

Sarah Palin is launching her own online TV channel.

Barack Obama delivered his 2004 Democratic convention keynote 10 years ago today, a speech that put him on the nation’s political map.

Cuomo: ‘Not Of The Question’ For Israel Trip

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning in Buffalo indicated he was considering a trip to Israel, but called it “premature” to suggest it was imminent.

Cuomo’s comments come after The Wall Street Journal reported Cuomo was planning a trip to Israel, his first since 2002 and his first out-of-the-country visit since taking office as governor in 2011.

Cuomo, who rarely leaves the state, said he has been corresponding with Israeli officials about the current conflict.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for Israel and standing in support of Israel is incredibly important,” Cuomo said.

He added that a visit wasn’t being planned just not, but it remained a possibility.

“I have not yet set a plan to visit, but it’s not out of question,” Cuomo said, adding, “It’s basically a day by day situation… as soon as I know, you’ll know.”

Erie County DA Says Cuomo’s Office Backed Off On Interference

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita in a statement on Monday said no one, to his knowledge, threatened to quit the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption over concerns of gubernatorial involvement.

Sedita, in his statement, said the commission wouldn’t stand for any interference from the governor’s office and resignation was discussed as possibility.

But after the governor’s office agreed to not interfere with the work of the panel, the resignation talk stopped.

“In the summer of 2013, rumors began to circulate that members of the Governor’s Office sought to veto the issuance of subpoenas for those with political ties to him,” Sedita said. “Although we recognized our statutory duty to regularly report to the Governor and to the Attorney General, we would not stand for any interference, and discussed a number of options, including resignation. The Governor’s Office, through our commission chairs, agreed not to interfere with our work. No one, to my knowledge, threatened to resign.”

Cuomo commented publicly for the first time on The New York Times extensive report on the Moreland Commission that detailed his office’s efforts to direct or block subpoenas.

Cuomo insisted that while his office provide advice to the panel, it remained independent of his office.

Today included a parade of statements from commission members, starting with co-chairman Bill Fitzpatrick, who stressed the panel remained independent of the governor’s office.

The statement dovetails with similar comments made by Broome County DA Gerald Mollen, who told Gannett’s Albany bureau he never threatened to resign from the commission, contrary to what was reported in The New York Times.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe was also moved to comment on the Moreland mess despite declining to give any statements to the press last week.

Joint Landowners Coalition Seeks Appeal In Fracking Lawsuit

A coalition of organizations that support high-volume hydrofracking announced Monday plans to file an appeal in their effort to force the state into making a decision as to whether to allow the controversial natural-gas extraction process.

The lawsuit, brought by the Binghamton-based Joint Landowners Coalition of New York in February, argued Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office has wrongly delayed making a decision on hydrofracking.

“The denial of due process and the erosion of landowner rights should be of concern to all New Yorkers,” Joint Landowners Coalition President Dan Fitzsimmons, a resident of Conklin, Broome County, said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo and our New York agencies cannot be shielded by our courts when they fail to follow the law.”

New York has been operating under a defacto fracking moratorium since 2008 after Gov. David Paterson ordered the state Department of Environmental Conservation to review the impacts of fracking.

The state Department of Health started its own review of the health impacts by Cuomo, and there has been no indication when that review will be completed.

Democrats Knock Astorino’s ‘Mafia Boss’ Comparison

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted like a “mafia boss” when his office sought to provide input on the directions of subpoenas from the Moreland Commission, GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino said in Syracuse.

“The public deserves straight-up answers,” Astorino said. “To suggest — he was suggesting to the commission members where they should go with an investigation is like a mafia boss coming forward and saying he wants to make a suggestion — an offer you can’t refuse. That clearly is intimidation and that’s what he and his staff did.”

The remark drew a swift rebuke from Democrats, who said the comparison was an offensive one to make toward an Italian-American officeholder.

Joe Morelle, the Democratic Monroe County chairman and Assembly majority leader who has close ties to Cuomo, blasted the comments, saying Astorino should be “ashamed of himself.”

“His comments are insulting and degrading to both the Governor and a state that boasts a proud Italian-American heritage. New York’s Italian-American’s are good, honest, working citizens who have contributed immensely to the cultural, social and economic development of our state,” Morelle said in a statement.

The comment is also a sore, personal subject for the Cuomo family. The governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was dogged by unfounded rumors of ties to the Italian mob. In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton made a similar jibe at Mario Cuomo which was said in private.

Asked about the mafia comparison, Astorino said it was a joke, and noted he’s also Italian.

“It’s a typical joke,” Astorino said. “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse, right? He’s saying he made an offer to help. I think they would say that’d be intimidation. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a direct threat or an order to do that.”

Cuomo today in Buffalo insisted his office did not interfere in the Moreland Commission’s work, but acknowledged his top aide to offer “advice” to the anti-corruption panel.

Teachout Wants AG To Investigate Cuomo’s Moreland Involvement

Fordham Law professor and Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout wants Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to continue the Moreland Commission’s anti-corruption investigation and expand its scope to include probing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s role in the panel.

Teachout sent a letter to Schneiderman asking him to continue Moreland’s work, noting the panel may not have officially ended since no executive order was issued to do so.

“This was a referral to the Attorney General’s office, not just a Moreland Commission.” Teachout said. “The Executive Order changed the nature of the investigation. Counter to what the Governor may say or want, he can’t just declare an Attorney General investigation over.”

Schneiderman granted commission members the power of deputy attorneys general, an added component to the panel that, in theory, gave them the ability to investigate the Legislature and removed separation-of-powers concerns.

But the deputizing of the commission has led some to question whether Cuomo and his office’s efforts to direct or block subpoenas may have abused that power from the attorney general’s office.

Cuomo today in Buffalo insisted the commission was independent and that his office offered “advice” to the commission that wasn’t picked up on.

“The Governor has refused to explain why the actions of his aide were in the public interest, he has not fired that aide, and he has not resigned,” Teachout said. “A continued investigation by the Attorney General is essential for restoring public trust at this point.” Teachout said. “We cannot be entirely dependent on federal prosecutors to protect New Yorkers from corruption in state government.”

 

Comptroller Candidate: Why Is Moreland Director Still On Payroll?

Republican candidate for state comptroller Bob Antonacci is pushing Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli to stop paying Regina Calcaterra, the executive director of the now-defunct Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

Calcaterra, who earns $175,000 a year, is still on the executive chamber’s payroll, though the commission ended in April following an ethics agreement in the state budget.

Antonacci said DiNapoli should stop approving checks to Calcaterra.

“Every two weeks, the Executive Director of the now-defunct Moreland Commission receives a check for nearly seven thousand dollars courtesy of state taxpayers for work she is no longer doing. The Governor should either show her the door or Mr. DiNapoli should refuse payment on those checks. It’s an insult to hardworking taxpayers that she continues to be paid,” Antonacci said.

Antonacci, the comptroller of Onondaga County, previously called on DiNapoli to launch an audit of the Moreland Commission’s spending.

DiNapoli’s office has said it won’t get in the way of any federal review of the commission’s work that may be going on.

Hochul: Moreland Concerns ‘Hard To Fathom’

Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul on Monday said it was “hard to fathom” why observers would find it improper that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office sought to play a role in the work of the subpoena-empowered Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

Hochul, in Lake George earlier this morning to meet with local officials, told Time Warner Cable News that Cuomo wanted to tackle corruption in Albany when he took office in 2011 in order to turn around state government’s poor reputation.

She reiterated much of what Cuomo has said: He created the commission, and it reports back to him.

“He created a commission to start tackling these challenges because when he came to Albany, it had such a negative reputation for all these ethical violations and he felt he needed to do something about it. I admire that,” Hochul said. “The commission functioned, it reports to the governor, it was created by the governor. So any thought that involvement with the governor’s office or conversations is improper, it’s really hard to fathom where that comes from to be honest with you.”

Cuomo, in Buffalo this morning, gave a lengthy defense of the Moreland Commission’s work, insisting that while his office sought input on the panel, the commission’s members demonstrated independence by not heeding the request from secretary to the governor Larry Schwartz to claw back a subpoena.

Cuomo: Moreland Was Never Interfered With

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday took more than 15 minutes worth of questions in Buffalo insisting the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption was not interfered with by his office, though he acknowledged conversations were had with his office and the commission’s leadership.

Cuomo, appearing in public for the first time since The New York Times’ extensive review of the commission’s work was published last week, said the conversations the panel had with his top aide, Larry Schwartz, were not tantamount to interference because the commission never acted on them.

The Times reported Schwartz emailed the commission’s leaders to claw back a subpoena that was to be issued to Buying Time, a media-buying firm that counted Cuomo among its clients.

Cuomo, speaking at SUNY Buffalo for an economic development announcement, today pointed to the commission not heeding Schwartz’s advice as a sign of independence.

In essence, Cuomo defined undue interference as the commission acting on input from his office, but just the opposite occurred, he said.

“As a matter of fact, the best evidence of independence is when someone from the second floor says well why don’t you do this? The chairman says let me think about and the chairman says I disagree, I don’t want to do that,” Cuomo said. “That’s not a sign of interference. That is demonstrable evidence of independence.”

The governor has come under fire the role his office played in attempting to direct or block subpoenas from the anti-corruption panel formed last year, with both his Republican opponent Rob Astorino as well as Democratic primary foe Zephyr Teachout knocking his handling of the commission’s power.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has taken possession of records generated by the commission and is reportedly investigating the governor’s office’s role in the panel’s work.

Throughout the question-and-answer session, Cuomo said the incident with the commission not heeding Schwartz’s ask to pull back a subpoena was a sign of how it was a separate entity.

“It’s proof of the exact opposite,” Cuomo said. “It’s total independence and it verifies the exact point: We will talk to everyone, but at the end of the day we make our own decisions.”

Cuomo leaned heavily on a lengthy statement released earlier in the morning by Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, one of three co-chairs of the commission, who insisted that while the governor’s office had input on the panel, the final decision rested with Moreland’s members.

“Of course, there were going to be conversations,” Cuomo said. “Of course there was dialogue. It would have been unintelligent for there not to be.”

A 13-page response from the Cuomo administration to the Times’ reporting, however, said the commission was never meant to be an independent entity and that was a creature of the executive branch.

Cuomo’s office said that any investigation of the governor or the attorney general, who granted the commission members the power of deputy attorneys general, would not have “passed the laugh test.”

Left unsaid is what impact the deputizing of the commission’s members could have any further investigation from federal prosecutors.

Cuomo, who had previously said the commission could investigate anywhere it wanted to, said today the panel could have done so, found nothing to investigate with his campaign activity.

The governor once again pointed the commission’s main objective was to get a new ethics measure approved in the Legislature, which was ultimately done so through the budget.

Good-government groups are not enamored with the ethics package, and Cuomo admitted more needed to be done, including the passage of public financing of political campaigns.

“The Moreland Commission was a vehicle to get the law passed,” Cuomo said. “We got the law passed and upon passing the law the expiration and termination of the Moreland Commission was done because it accomplished the purpose. The purpose was pass the law.”