Housebound members of the Buffalo Bills were rescued from their homes by snowmobiles. They’re headed to Detroit to play the Jets Monday night.

The Bills will employ a “Snow Dragon” – a vehicle that melts snow, then uses the resulting hot water to melt even more – to clear Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s overnight stay in Buffalo so he could continue to keep close tabs on storm response and recovery was “unprecedented,” according to former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan.

Cuomo has issued an emergency order intended to help snowbound residents of western New York keep getting prescription medications.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police shooting of an unarmed Brooklyn man last night was not like the Eric Garner and Michael Brown controversies, but cautioned that relations between the NYPD and communities of color are far from healed.

Attempting to quell recent criticism about a lack of Latino appointees to top government positions, de Blasio named nine new members to the city’s Commission on Human Rights – including three Latinos.

CUNY and state boxing officials are starting a pilot program to educate professional and amateur fighters toward careers outside the ring.

Cuomo informed Massachusetts that New York won’t be needing 12 snowplows that the Bay State was preparing to send to the Buffalo area to help with snow removal.

The Cuomo administration effort to remove Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick stems from a 1-gallon fuel spill that took place several months ago and was not reported.

Despite her looming potential presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to give another paid speech at a women’s conference in Silicon Valley in February.

New York City will reshape its $500 million workforce development program and force contractors to prioritize hiring city residents.

Could there be a Cuomo Tower in downtown Albany?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he wants to make sure he’s on solid ground with new net neutrality rules because he knows what’s coming: a lawsuit.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer might be on the hunt for new D.C. digs.


Who gets Gaga?

Save the eastern hellbender!

This exists.

Moody’s Finds Good News For Troubled Rockland County

The credit-rating agency Moody’s on Friday issued a positive look at Rockland County’s finances following a review from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Rockland County’s budgeting has come under scrutiny after state lawmakers approved a $96 million local bonding initiative after years of financial troubles in the county.

Allowing Rockland County to issue the local deficit reduction bonds came with the requirement that it open its books to DiNapoli’s office for a review of its budget.

And after DiNapoli determined the county wouldn’t have to make any major amendments to its budget proposal, Moody’s in a report today deemed that a “credit positive.”

“The comptroller’s lack of any requested amendments to the fiscal 2015 budget represents a milestone in the county’s recovery process,” Moody’s reported.

Moody’s points to the county’s 2015 budget has having taken a more conservative approach than in prior years, including a more realistic estimation of sales tax revenue. At the same time, the state allowed Rockland to increase its sales tax in order to generate more revenue.

Meanwhile, the county is budgeting to keep its tax levy within the state’s property tax cap, the first time the county has done that since the cap has been in place two years ago (the county in 2012 and 2013 overrode the cap and increased the levy by 18 percent and later 11 percent).

“The improvement follows years of financial deterioration due to inaccurate budgeting that opened up the deficit position,” Moody’s found. “The county budgeted aggressively for economically sensitive revenues such as sales taxes, which would often come in less than budgeted.”

Nevertheless, budget hawks were concerned when the state approved the local bond sale for Rockland County given the precedent the move set for other financially troubled municipalities.

Cuomo: FEMA Aid Possible For Buffalo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said it was possible New York will qualify for federal disaster aid to help Buffalo and western New York clean up following days of devastating snow and likely flooding this weekend.

Cuomo, at a morning briefing with local officials, said he had spoken to President Obama by phone and added that damage costs to the area because of the storm are still being assessed.

“The president himself sends us his best wishes,” Cuomo said.

The governor added the damage from both the snow fall and what’s expected to come this weekend through flooding (temperatures are expected to hit the mid-60s) should be considered on one bill.

“They are one event,” Cuomo said. “The flooding is a direct consequence of the snow.”

State officials meanwhile announced there had been yet another death attributed to the snow fall, bringing the death toll to 13.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz would not rule out finding other bodies trapped into snow-covered vehicles, though Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said there were no further missing persons reported in the city itself.

Cuomo also announced that portions of the state Thruway will re-open this afternoon, starting at 3 p.m., to remove trapped vehicles as well as deliver essential supplies to the area.

Officials stressed that non-essential travel on these roads is not permitted.

“The opening of the roads is to move vehicles that are blocking roads and make essential deliveries,” Cuomo said.

Resources from around the state have poured into Buffalo and the region over the last several days, and Cuomo said it’s been surprisingly easy to free up the equipment to help with the recovery.

“The one bright light has been the response and the love people have shown to Buffalo and western New York,” Cuomo said. “I say Buffalo and they say whatever you need, just tell me.”

Post-Election Grumbling

The dust has more or less settled on the 2014 elections, but there is no shortage of Monday morning quarterbacking taking place. It’s a lot of information to absorb here in New York State. A closer Look at Governor Cuomo’s numbers produced this fine story from  ( excellent new hire ) Bill Mahoney at Capital. It was preceded by this great piece from Ken Lovett. But another interesting plot line, which gets less notice, is what exactly happened in the State Senate. Democratic hopes were high earlier this year that a solid slate of candidates would not only pick up seats potentially on Long Island, but incumbents would hold their seats in the Hudson Valley and Rochester. I’m not breaking any news here to tell you that none of that happened.

When elections don’t go the way people had been told to anticipate them going, it’s easy to lay blame. Fair enough. And certainly Democrats did a lot less complaining in 2012 when the team did quite well. But a handful of Democratic insiders who worked on various losing campaigns this past cycle have started to question the methodology of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and their preferred vendor in many instances, The Parkside Group.

Parkside as of the last filing pulled in about $3.6 million this year. Primarily their services include direct mail, television ads, Polling and cards or literature. Sources say that in many instances Parkside representatives made clear to the candidates that if they do not use their services, they will not be receiving DSCC money. Sometimes that was made clear in the form of a threat, other times it was demonstrated through pulled support. The case many Democrats point to is Justin Wagner who ran the last two cycles for the seat currently occupied by Republican Senator Greg Ball. Wagner wouldn’t sign on to Parkside, and as a result he got limited help from the DSCC. Even though that was an open seat and a potential pickup for the Democrats.

Another oft cited example by Democrats is Adam Haber who ran against Republican incumbent Jack Martins on Long Island. Haber spent close to $2 million, much of it his own money. That’s far more than any other Democrat. Roughly $393,000 of that went to Parkside. Insiders say polls never really showed Haber within striking distance, but that did not stop the DSCC or Parkside from taking his money. Lots of it. Parkside also did Haber’s ads, and according to the last filing took $300,000 for them. But in one example of what some call sloppy management, Cablevision was forced to pull one of those ads off the air because it failed to meet a basic requirement. That’s some amateur hour nonsense, according to one insider. Ultimately Haber lost by 12 points.

According to the last filing with the New York State Board of Elections, which was filed 11-days before the election, the DSCC spent $52,100 money on Wagner, $318,391 on Haber. But the DSCC and Parkside both contend that that December 1 post-election filing will show more money was spent by the DSCC on Wagner than on Haber.

When it comes to canvassing, this is not actually a service that Parkside provides directly. Instead, candidates were told ( by Parkside ) to go with Grassroots Solutions, which is indeed a reputable national firm. But some candidates complained that their pricing was “inflated,” so they ended up using The Working Families Party to help get out the vote. Other complaints were that Parkside was not very involved in terms of giving direction. They should have been “showing candidates a path to victory.” But instead offered “very little ancillary knowledge of the individual districts.” In one case a candidate reached out to Red Horse Strategies, a Parkside competitor, and was told if they go with another consultant that candidate “was no longer in the program.” Yeeeesh. This program sounds like something dictated by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Finally, there were charges that Parkside “acted in their own self interest rather than what is best for the Senate.” With DSCC Chairman State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens acting as “an account manager for Parkside.” And if any Chairman was coming out of dramatic losses such as these, he or she “shouldn’t be in a job any longer.” Ross Barkan wrote this piece about DSCC leadership earlier this month.

Supporters of the DSCC and it’s current arrangement with Parkside counter that much of this is “sour grapes.” Candidates sometimes don’t like being told scarce resources are being diverted elsewhere. There is a finite amount of money that needs to apportioned appropriately according to the best ability for Democrats to hold or pick up seats. As for charges that prices for mail are “inflated,” they claim that is just flat out false. The prices are cheaper than their competitors and Parkside never takes a retainer…unlike other consultants. No one denies that Harry Giannoulis  and Evan Stavisky of Parkside are good friends with Gianaris. But, Parkside has been doing work for the DSCC since 2000 which is long before Gianaris was even in the Senate. It took on the bulk of the DSCC consulting work after the 2008 election because people complained that the DSCC was spending “too much money on multiple consultants, and no one could keep track.” The old system eventually led to the DSCC being in debt. “Operations need to be streamlined,” they say.

As for specific allegations about say, polling, supporters of Parkside say polling needs to be centralized in order to ensure a consistent result. And they push back against the notion that other consultants weren’t used this election cycle. They claim close to $4 million was spent by the DSCC and candidates on other consultants.

In a statement, Mike Murphy a Spokesman for the Democrats said,

“This blog post is a work of pure fiction as anyone that knows how to use a computer can easily figure out. In fact, it is demonstrably true that DSCC paid numerous different vendors for campaign mail as well as for other services, and DSCC-supported candidates also used a variety of different vendors. The Parkside Group had no role in field operations and in fact DSCC-supported candidates used multiple different vendors for field operations. The Parkside Group has worked for DSCC for almost 15 years and has won races in many of these districts including in places Democrats had never won before.  Almost all mail was paid for directly by DSCC, not by the candidates’ campaigns and out of all the vendors used The Parkside Group was the most reasonably priced.  In a world where the public dissemination of anonymously-sourced items has become more commonplace, there still must be some minimum level of standards, and this reporting falls far short.”

AG Backs Legislative Pay Raises

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has endorsed a pay raise for his former colleagues in the state Legislature, provided that they also approve reforms to the per diem system that has proved too easy for corrupt lawmakers to scam.

“I think the Legislature, after 15 years, hasn’t had a pay raise, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable to do,” Schneiderman said during a Capital Tonight interview last night. “But I think it should be accompanied by reforms to the system.”

“If you think about the per diem system, this is in addition to travel expenses, this is not just travel expenses,” the AG continued. “This is something else that you get every day…There’s incentives to stay away from your district where your constituents are and stay in Albany.”

“It’s sort of a weird system. It struck me as strange when I first got up there, and it strikes me as a little bit strange today. So, I would like to see reforms of the system.”

Schneiderman, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was a state senator prior to his election to the AG’s office in 2010. He succeeded Andrew Cuomo, who ascended to the governor’s office that year.

Schneiderman was elected to the Senate in 1998, defeating Danny O’Donnell (then a civil rights attorney, now a state assemblyman) in a Democratic primary.

That was the same year legislators did a deal with then-GOP Gov. George Pataki that raised their base pay by 38 percent to its current level ($79,500) in exchange for agreeing to forgo their paychecks in the event of late budgets and the creation of charter schools in New York.

The pay raise took effect in January of 1999, since, technically speaking, sitting lawmakers cannot vote to increase their own pay.

They can, however, give raises to members of the incoming Legislature, which, thanks to Albany’s high re-election rate for incumbents, looks a lot like the Legislature that preceded it.

This year, both Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos have expressed a willingness to consider per diem system reforms along with legislative pay raises.

There’s talk lawmakers could return to Albany for a special session in December, though there have been no formal negotiations to speak of, and Cuomo hasn’t yet made clear what – if anything – he’s willing to trade legislative leaders in exchange for signing off on a pay raise.

Abuse of the per diem system has landed a number of state lawmakers in hot water over the years, the most recent of which is Assemblyman William Scarborough, a Queens Democrat who was arrested in October on charges he sought reimbursement for nonexistent travel expenses.

Schneiderman said last night that “it should be clear at this point that my office and other prosecutors are never going to turn a blind eye to these abuses any more.”

“I think you’re seeing more aggressive pursuit by the attorney generals office and other prosecutors of issues related to public corruption than you’ve ever seen before,” the AG said. “And that’s not going to stop until the culture changes.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains in Erie County to monitor storm clean-up and response.

From 7:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m., Norway’s Foreign Affairs Minister Borge Brende, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the administrator of the US Agency for International Development, Rajiv Shah, and Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister Hanna Tetteh speak at a UN Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves event; Conrad New York hotel, 102 N. End Ave., Manhattan.

At 8:15 a.m., MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast gives a talk at the City Law Breakfast Series, New York Law School Event Center, 185 West Broadway at Leonard Street, 2nd Floor, Manhattan. Webcast at www.nyls.edu.

From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., NYC Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy deliver keynote addresses during “The NYC Healthy Homes Summit”; Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, The New School for Public Engagement, 66 W. 12th St., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance participates in panel discussions at the two-day “Justice, Race, and Prosecution” symposium convened by Harvard Law School and the Vera Institute of Justice, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo holds a storm briefing, Thruway Authority Facility, 1870 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga.

Also at 10 a.m., a ceremony is held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (on Saturday); overlook, Fort Wadsworth, New York Avenue and Bay Street, Staten Island.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly Governmental Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Small Business committees and the Subcommittee on Women Veterans hold a joint hearing on implementation of the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko and mayors from the Capital Region hold a “countdown to coverage” event to raise awareness about enrollment in the health care exchange, 1199SEIU, 155 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the Lehman College Nursing Simulation Lab, T-3 Building, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, the Bronx. (A press conference will follow at 11:30 at Lehman’s APEX Building, Second Floor Bridge, Gate 7).

At 11:15 a.m., EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy visits New York City to speak at first ministerial- and CEO-level Cookstoves Future Summit, Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, 66 W. 12th St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the New York Gaming Facility Location Board meets, (no decision or announcement on casino licenses is expected), Hofstra University Club, President’s Board Room, Hempstead.

Also at 1 p.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter will host a press availability to discuss a variety of topics related to her work in Washington this week, KBK Federal Building, 3rd Floor, Room 3120, 100 State St., Rochester.

At 1:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Third Avenue Merchants and local business owners host a press conference highlighting the importance of supporting local businesses, Bookmark Shoppe, 8415 3rd Ave., Brooklyn.

At 2:30 p.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will join City Harvest as it hosts hundreds of individual and corporate volunteers at its Food Rescue Facility in Long Island City for the second annual Repackathon, 55-01 2nd St.

At 6 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holds a town hall meeting, Medgar Evers College, 2nd floor, room 2008, 1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.


President Obama chose confrontation over conciliation as he asserted the powers of the Oval Office to reshape the nation’s immigration system and all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions on behalf of millions of immigrants.

The GOP fired back, with House Speaker John Boehner declaring: “By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.”

Republicans vowed to retaliate, perhaps by refusing to act on any presidential nominees, or by taking legal action.

Soon after Obama’s speech, Democrats and Republicans who might be angling for his job in 2016 weighed in on an issue that is almost certain to be at the center of their campaigns.

Hillary Clinton, widely expected to be the Democratic nominee in 2016, tweeted her thanks to Obama for moving ahead “in the face of inaction” by Congress, and then called for “permanent bipartisan reform.”

Republican governors – including New Jersey’s Chris Christie, a likely 2016 contender – were quick to criticize Obama’s go it alone approach, but they did not offer up immigration solutions of their own.

The lake-effect snow that killed at least 10 people and halted travel across western New York is ending with some areas receiving as much as seven feet, and now temperatures will rise along with the risk of flooding.

More than 5,000 people have been assisting in the recovery effort, the majority of them digging out and hauling away the snow, which is started to cause roofs to collapse.

Food and fuel are in short supply in hard-hit areas, as delivery has been difficult due to impassable roads.

More >


Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants could become eligible for New York’s Medicaid program in 2015 under the immigration executive order President Obama is scheduled to announce tonight.

Seven questions about the president’s executive order, answered.

More New York City voters approved of the way NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio handled an Ebola outbreak last month than Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a new Q poll showed.

It’s official: The Bills-Jets game will NOT be played at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park this Sunday. (Team members are going a little stir crazy).

The game will be moved to either Detroit or Washington and probably be played on Monday night.

The National Hockey League has announced that the Sabres’ game Friday night against the New York Rangers in First Niagara Center has been postponed due to “the continuing weather-related difficulties in the Greater Buffalo area and out of respect” for the team’s fans.

The WNY storm-related death toll keeps rising.

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky predicted the ABO report on the EFC’s Tappan Zee loan “will reverberate well beyond this case.”

During a “Morning Joe” appearance, Cuomo said Democrats “paid the price” in the midterms for being the public face of an ineffective government.

Cuomo’s office believes LG Bob Duffy would fall under a two-year ban on lobbying the executive branch in his new position.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s new baby was born the same day House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was reelected after refusing Duckworth the chance to vote for party leadership by proxy.

Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia is forming a presidential exploratory committee, becoming the first prominent Democrat to make a formal foray into the 2016 contest.

Changing the name of the William J. Clinton Foundation to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation in 2013 helped boost donations by $93 million.

Reeling from revelations of long-term tax troubles and controversy surrounding the personal life of a former aide, the Rev. Al Sharpton insists he’s not becoming a distraction for de Blasio.

Members of Families for Safe Streets met with a Cuomo administration representative to discuss DMV reforms regarding reckless driving and justice for crash victims and their families.

Goldman Sachs wanted to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge and operate it. Former Gov. David Paterson thought that was a swell idea; ex-LG Dick Ravitch, not so much.

Lebanon’s most outspoken politician, 65-year-old Walid Joumblatt, has joined Twitter and makes an effort to reply to tweets from his 25,000+ followers, even using Emojis.

Could Rebekah Brooks, famous for her role in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, be editor-in-waiting at the NY Post?

A state Supreme Court justice has dismissed Empire Wines’ lawsuit against the State Liquor Authority.

This ought to be interesting.

Stewart-Cousins Hopes For IDC Reunification

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins batted away a report on Thursday that Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference would enter into a long-term deal that could deny the mainline conference the majority after 2016.

“I understand why the Republicans would want that, but I can’t imagine that all of us who actually believe that A) elections matter and B) that when Democrats have the majority we should have the majority,” Stewart-Cousins said on The Capitol Pressroom this morning.

A source told Capital Tonight that one of the proposals being floated in the negotiations over Senate leadership would be to allow IDC Leader Jeff Klein to retain the power of co-president of the chamber, along with veto authority and a seat at the budget negotiation table.

At the same time, there would be a handshake agreement that the coalition continue through 2016, a presidential election year, and when Democrats are expected to make gains in New York.

Stewart-Cousins, however, insisted talks with Klein continue, even as he edged away from mainline Democrats before Election Day earlier this month.

“I rarely react to media reports,” she said. “I think people put things out and it becomes the kind of thing people discuss, but I don’t take things I hear and read at face value. I like to know the facts before I react.”

Stewart-Cousins added that she and Klein speak frequently and are continuing their talks. She is also holding out hope Klein will eventually align his five-member conference with the mainline Democrats.

“The conversation was always around us trying to find a path back. Obviously it would have been much easier if we had a numerical majority. It was well-stated we would have been working together then,” she said.

Republicans won a one-seat majority in the chamber on Election Day, and with Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder conferencing with them, do not need the IDC to retain full majority power in the Senate.

Upstate Lags Downstate In Job Growth

The New York City region enjoyed 2.2 percent increase in job growth over the last 12 months, while upstate New York grew at a slower rate, statistics from the state Department of Labor found.

Overall, the state’s unemployment rate dipped in the last month from 6.2 percent in September down to 6 percent, the Labor Department said.

Job growth over the last year statewide showed an increase of 110,000 private-sector jobs, a 1.5 percent increase, which slower than the national average of 2.3 percent.

The vast majority of those jobs were created in the downstate region, including the five boroughs and the suburban counties on Long Island and in the northern suburbs of Westchester, Putnam and Rockland.

North of those areas, job growth was virtually flat, increasing by 0.4 percent or 10,500 jobs over the last year.

Rochester, Utica-Rome and Syracuse, reported negative job growth.

Last Night and What’s Ahead

We have an update on the snowy situation in Buffalo from the governor himself. Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch joins us to talk about his new role advising the city of Detroit on its fiscal issues. We speak with the Lawsuit Reform Alliance about “Collette’s Law”. Find out more about that. Plus, two Democrats were one of a handful to win upstate this year, but only by a slim margin. Sean Patrick Maloney and Louise Slaughter talk about their wins and what’s ahead. Here’s highlights from last night and a look ahead to tonight’s show.



We’ll bring President Obama’s address on immigration reform to you LIVE at 8 p.m.


Full Show – 11.19.14

Wild Western Weather: Interview with Gov. Cuomo

From New York to Detroit: Richard Ravitch Interview

Congressional Conversations: Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Rep. Louise Slaughter Interviews

“Collette’s Law”: Collette McLafferty and Scott Hobson Interview