Jul 28th - 6:50 pm
Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be in Corning tomorrow – the one-year anniversary of her last visit there.
AG Eric Schneiderman’s office is examining whether the death Monday of a woman in a Mount Vernon holding cell requires further investigation by his investigators.
Assemblyman Charles Barron might run for the Brooklyn seat vacated by former Sen. John Sampson when he was convicted on felony corruption charges last week.
The libertarian consultant and old Nixon aide Roger Stone is a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s. Now, Stone is serving as a paid communications adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, appearing to earn $20,000 a month.
The organizers of Oswego Harborfest last weekend pulled off a feat that many in Washington believed to be impossible: They silenced US Sen. Charles Schumer.
Schumer today added his name to the Senate’s sweeping medical marijuana bill, the CARERS Act, which would end federal prohibition of medical marijuana, and remove barriers for research, veterans, and banking.
Broome County Republicans are not all on the same page about who should run for former Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ seat.
The state health department is scheduled to award licenses to grow and dispense medical marijuana by the end of the week, but one of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, believes the process should be more transparent.
Just a day after allegations re-emerged that Trump raped his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, the billionaire’s former spouse played down the controversy. She also endorsed his presidential run.
Days after unveiling the first plank of her energy and climate platform, Hillary Clinton again refused to answer a set of questions here about how she would handle the controversial Keystone XL pipeline were she to win the White House.
NJ Gov. Chris Christie said it’s “probably likely” that he, Cuomo and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet some time in the next few weeks to discuss the construction of new Hudson River rail tunnels.
Taxpayers paid out $300,000 in June to lawyers in sexual harassment cases in the Assembly, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
George Marlin says Nassau County’s current financial mess is “the direct result of years of mismanagement, cowardice and cronyism — particularly when it comes to vendor contracts.”
Former Gov. George Pataki, a 2016 GOP hopeful, campaigned recently at a New Hampshire craft beer festival.
Neither candidate seeking to become Staten Island’s top prosecutor filed a New York City ethics report on time, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board confirmed.
District Attorney David Foley has announced his intention to seek election as Judge of Chautauqua County Court following the retirement of current Judge John Ward.
UAlbany students weigh in on the “yes means yes” sexual assault policy, about which a number of them still need to be educated.
Commissioners at the New York State Board of Elections are asking their New York City counterparts to develop an explicit plan to combat the long lines that have plagued the city’s polling places in recent elections.
A seal made its way up the Hudson River over the weekend and was noticed Saturday afternoon in a lock in the Erie Canal outside Albany.
The Catskill Mountainkeeper is urging supporters to thank the governor for “enabling shared solar.”
Newsday has a handy chart on who’s participating in the START-UP NY program.
Jul 28th - 4:35 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again threw cold water on calling a special session to consider ethics reform legislation, saying it “makes no sense” to do so.
Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Bolton Landing earlier in the day, said it was doubtful lawmakers would return to Albany in a special session to consider ethics legislation after they declined to pass any new measures at the end of the regularly scheduled session, which concluded in June.
“The point is, is there any reason to believe there would be a different outcome?” Cuomo said.
The first six months of the year in Albany was marred by a seemingly unprecedented parade of arrests that saw the indictments of the speaker of the Assembly and majority leader of the state Senate, both of whom were forced to step down from their posts as they fight their corruption charges.
“We have the highest ethical standards this state has ever had,” Cuomo told reporters this morning. “That is not going to stop people from doing stupid or criminal things as we’ve learned.”
Last week, two sitting state senators — Tom Libous and John Sampson — lost their seats after they were convicted in separate trials on corruption charges as well.
Cuomo had pushed lawmakers to approve a broad package of ethics reforms in the wake of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s arrest in January, but ultimately lawmakers approved a compromised version of the proposal, including the disclosure of outside legal clients.
Now, good-government groups are once again calling for a special session on ethics exclusively, with measures being pushed that include closing a loophole in campaign-finance law that allows for unlimited donations through limited liability companies.
Still, Cuomo is skeptical that lawmakers would be willing ton consider reaching an agreement on ethics just weeks after leaving Albany.
“The Legislature just left town a few weeks ago,” Cuomo said. “I don’t see any reason to believe there’s going to be a different outcome than there was a few weeks ago.”
At the same time, Cuomo questioned the cost of a special session, given the lack of a prospect of progress.
“For the taxpayers to spend a lot of money to bring the legislators back to Albany to have the same outcome they had a few weeks ago makes no sense to me,” he said. “My point is, the Legislature just left town a few weeks ago. What changed?”
Jul 28th - 3:43 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again on Tuesday talked up Barbara Fiala’s soon-to-launch campaign for state Senate, saying that he made the early endorsement because he wants “quality people” in state government.
“I believe in getting quality people elected to the Legislature and quality people elected as mayors and county executives all across the state,” Cuomo told reporters during a gaggle at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing. “Barbara Fiala is a quality person.”
Fiala is running for a seat left vacant by former Sen. Tom Libous, a Republican from the Southern Tier region who was ousted after he was convicted of lying to the FBI.
Cuomo has a close relationship with Libous and last week called his conviction a “tragedy” as the former lawmaker also battles terminal cancer.
But in the same radio interview last week, Cuomo endorsed — seemingly out of the blue — Fiala, his former motor vehicles commissioner and a former Broome County executive.
Today, Cuomo spoke of Fiala’s personal integrity, even as he declined to answer how, exactly, he would help her win the seat.
“She is a really quality person of high integrity and she is the kind of person who we should have in state government,” Cuomo said.
Fiala is expected to launch her campaign for Senate on Thursday. The 52nd Senate district has a Republican enrollment advantage and has historically elected GOP candidates.
Updated: Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif responds.
“Barbara Fiala is running to join the same New York City-dominated Senate Democrat conference that raised taxes by a whopping $14 billion, created a $10 billion deficit and shifted critical school aid and other resources to New York City at the expense of hardworking Southern Tier families the last time they were in power,” Reif said. “Electing a Democrat to this seat would be bad news for all New York taxpayers and for the people of the 52nd Senate district. We grow more confident every day that Republicans will hold this seat.”
Jul 28th - 3:19 pm
In two separate events on Tuesday morning in southern Adirondack resort towns, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted his efforts to get New York and private industry to spend big on large-scale infrastructure projects.
The governor had captive audiences: He spoke before trade union members, private-sector labor groups that have been traditionally in the governor’s political corner.
Cuomo first appeared at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing to speak at the New York State Laborer’s Meeting. About an hour later, he was in Lake George to address the New York State Pipe Trades Conference at the Fort William Henry Conference Center.
The message at the both event was, literally in some passages of his near-verbatim remarks, the same: New York is building while other states aren’t.
“We’re actually making agreements, we’re passing legislation and we’re moving now where other states are standing still,” Cuomo said at the pipe fitters conference.
The events came after Cuomo was in New York City with Vice President Joe Biden to unveil a planned $4 billion upgrade at LaGuardia Airport that, once completed, will include a new, unified terminal at the facility as well as enhanced passengers entrances.
Cuomo touted the LaGuardia plan as well as the ongoing effort to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge that crosses the Hudson River at Rockland and Westchester counties. And he made sure to claim credit for the resolution of the 421a tax abatement renewal, though the details must still be worked out by labor as well as real-estate developers.
The airport renewal project, as well as the Tappan Zee bridge plan (whose funding scheme is yet to be fully revealed) received warm applause when Cuomo mentioned them.
“The governor’s putting people to work,” said Larry Bulman, the national political director of the United Association, an umbrella group of plumbers, pipe fitters, welders and service technicians, as well as a former Democratic chairman in Saratoga County. “He’s putting New Yorkers to work. Many of the jobs are, yes, going to workers in the skilled trades, in the building trades.”
Bulman spoke warmly of the START-UP NY ad campaign, a political hot-button for Cuomo opponents, but one that Bulman believes is a net positive for the state.
“I see START-UP NY ads in Idaho, Washington State and also on the East Coast,” Bulman said in an interview. “I’ve seen the ads all over the place. I think that’s going to be his real legacy, what he talked about today — making sure he’s putting skilled New Yorkers to work on these projects.”
Friendly audiences aside, Cuomo has a complicated relationship with other labor groups, mainly public-sector unions that he has been at odds with such as the New York State United Teachers, the Public Employees Federation and the Civil Service Employees Association.
The New York State AFL-CIO declined to endorse his re-election bid last year.
Cuomo, too, has been close with the bosses of those in the trade field, garnering millions of dollars in campaign support from real-estate interests based in New York City.
Nevertheless, Cuomo has sought to shore up his relationship with labor in the last several weeks.
After the fast-food wage board convened at his behest recommended a $15-an-hour minimum wage for the industry, Cuomo led a rally attended by the Hotel Trades Council, a labor group that has seen its political influence expand in recent years.
“I believe in organized labor, I’ve supported it,” Cuomo told reporters at his stop in Bolton Landing. “We’ve had a great legislative session working with organized labor.”
And he closed with a warning for other states he says aren’t keeping pace with New York.
“The states that are not doing this preparation, that aren’t redeveloping, they are going to be left behind,” Cuomo said. “For many years, New York was not doing what it needed to do and now we are. It feels good.”
Jul 28th - 2:33 pm
Democratic Senate candidate Barbara Fiala in a radio interview on Tuesday declined to take a position on the 2013 gun control law known as the SAFE Act, saying she still has more research to do on the measure.
Fiala is expected to launch her bid for former Sen. Tom Libous’s seat on Thursday after he was ousted following a conviction on a charge of lying to the FBI.
Fiala, a former Broome County executive and was a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration until last year, acknowledged the gun control law is a controversial one.
“Well, you know, the SAFE Act has to be looked at,” Fiala said on The Capitol Pressroom. “What parts of the SAFE Act are objectionable to many, is it background checks — this is something that I’ll have to take a strong look at. I know it’s controversial.”
She added: “That’s something I’m going to have to do more research on.”
It would not be unusual for a Democratic lawmaker to not support the law: Buffalo Sen. Marc Pannepinto — a SAFE Act opponent — last year defeated Republican incumbent Mark Grisanti, who voted for the measure.
Cuomo and Senate Republicans this month approved a memorandum of understanding that agreed to enact an ammunition sale database, provision of the law that the State Police had struggled to develop.
At the same time, Fiala would not take a position on using gelled propane in extracting natural gas from below ground — a move that energy producers believe could be an alternative to high-volume hydrofracking, which uses a mixture of sand and water to release gas from shale.
The Cuomo administration moved to ban the hydorfracking process late last year.
“Certainly I think you have to look at everything,” Fiala said. “Knowledge is power. It’s a new discussion and it’s something that has to be discussed and looked at.”
As for the DEC report itself on hydrofracking, Fiala said she was yet to read, but said she hadn’t changed her position on the process, insisting that she had always preferred to wait for what environmental regulators would do.
“DEC has come out with extensive report,” she said. “I have to tell you, it’s so large, I haven’t had a chance to read it.”
Jul 28th - 2:04 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said he would likely steer clear of the talks to finalize the 421a tax abatement, which without an agreement reached by labor and real-estate developers would expire.
“The point was the process set up in the legislation,” Cuomo said after speaking to a labor group at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, just north of Lake George.
Cuomo spoke to two different labor unions on Tuesday meeting miles apart in the southern Adirondack resort communities.
In both speeches — virtually verbatim addresses to the private-sector trade union groups — Cuomo touted their political support he has enjoyed while also touting his own efforts on including a prevailing wage component in the 421a abatement renewal last month.
Only the abatement itself could go away entirely unless labor and the real-estate development community Cuomo has also drawn political support from over the years reach an agreement on the prevailing wage provision.
The abatement debate at the end of the legislative session centered around whether to expand affordable housing provisions under the abatement as well as include a prevailing wage component for trade groups (Mayor Bill de Blasio backed a prevailing wage, but for service industry workers, putting him crosswise with construction-oriented unions).
“Organized labor is part of the process and that’s what this legislation stipulated,” Cuomo said. “The legislation speaks for itself and it sets up the process and whatever the process yields, that’s what the process yields.”
The approved bill, in essence, puts a self-destruct component in the measure, Cuomo said.
“It’s basically saying come to an agreement or everybody loses and I’m sure they’ll come to an agreement,” he said.
Jul 28th - 1:34 pm
The state Assembly and Senate spent thousands of dollars on legal fees last month, according to contract approvals from the state comptroller’s office.
In the Democratic-led Assembly, a $227,000 contract for Hogan Lovells was approved for defense in pending sexual harassment litigation. An additional $23,000 was approved for Rossein Associates, an outside counsel the chamber hired to develop a sexual harassment policy and conduct investigations.
An additional $3,000 each was spent for outside counsel for an independent sexual harassment investigation by Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP, while Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP was hired for outside counsel for the appeals process in the Assemblyman Micah Kellner case.
Kellner was accused of conducting sexual explicit chats online with legislative aides; he later sought to have his punishment imposed by then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver overturned.
Meanwhile, in the Republican-led state Senate, $381,000 was approved for legal fees for former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno to the firm O’Connell & Aronowitz.
Jul 28th - 1:12 pm
The woman who helped Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from a Clinton County prison has agreed to cooperate in an investigation into the incident as part of her plea deal, the state’s Inspector General said today.
Joyce Mitchell, a former Clinton Correctional employee, plead guilty to promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation in Clinton County Court this morning. As part of the plea deal, she’ll serve a maximum of seven years in prison starting in September. She’ll also have to cooperate in an investigation by the state’s Inspector General, Catherine Leahy Scott.
Scott was charged with the investigation in June following the breakout, which would become a 21-day manhunt. Richard Matt was killed by authorities during the chase. David Sweat was injured, but recovered after spending time at a hospital in Albany.
In a statement following Mitchell’s plea this morning, the Inspector General said nothing but Mitchell’s “full cooperation will be tolerated.”
Today’s plea by Joyce Mitchell makes clear her culpability in the systemic breakdown that led to the escape of two cold-blooded killers. I thank District Attorney Wylie for ensuring at my request that the plea agreement include full cooperation by Mitchell with my ongoing investigation. Nothing short of her full cooperation will be tolerated, and I am confident that when she fulfills this obligation, I will provide a thorough and complete accounting of all the factors contributing to this elaborate breakout, with an eye toward ensuring this never happens again.
Jul 28th - 7:46 am
From the Morning Memo:
When the Senate Republicans made a surprise announcement of the memorandum of understanding they had signed with a top Cuomo administration aide that appeared to indefinitely delay a key provision of the SAFE Act, the Senate Democrats immediately cried foul.
The minority conference questioned the legality of the MOU, signed by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and state Operations Director Jim Malatras, which seemed to derail creation of a database for ammunition sale background checks.
Deputy Senate Minority Leader Mike Gianaris said the Senate and Assembly Democrats were in talks about a potential legal challenge to the MOU, which he saw as a slippery slope and something that established a dangerous precedent.
Even as the Senate GOP declared victory – a claim gun rights advocates said was overblown – the Cuomo administration immediately downplayed the significance of the MOU, insisting the database would still go ahead as planned, though failing to explain exactly how and when that would occur.
Apparently, the administration’s assurances were sufficient to quell the Senate Democrats’ concerns – at least in the short term. During a CapTon interview last night, Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins revealed the conference is no longer planning to pursue legal action.
“At this point…I take him at his word that this will not stop anything,” the Yonkers Democrat said. “It will not weaken anything. And what I’m looking for is a timeline as to when we will be getting this done. That’s where we are right now.”
“I think the governor understands that that’s where everybody who supported the SAFE Act is,” Stewart-Cousins continued. “And I expected that to happen.”
Stewart-Cousins reiterated that neither she nor any members of her conference support any weakening of the SAFE Act. But she did not provide a deadline as to when she expects the Cuomo administration to provide a timeline for achieving the ammunition database.
According to the MOU, the Senate GOP has to sign off on any expenditure of state money that would be used to create the database.
But Flanagan, who continues to be under fire from the right for voting “yes” on the controversial gun control law, is unlikely to approve funding any time soon – especially not with the special election for ex-Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ seat this fall and the 2016 rematch for control of the majority looming.
The SAFE Act is likely to be a factor in the special election for Libous’ Binghamton district – a GOP dominated area where opposition to the gun control law remains strong. The Democrats’ candidate – Cuomo’s ex-DMV Commissioner and former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala – has yet to discuss her position on the issue publicly.
Cuomo last week surprised many by publicly declaring his support for Fiala, who is also the interim chair of his Women’s Equality Party, even before she declared her candidacy. (She’s scheduled to do so later this week).
The Senate Democrats and the governor have been at odds over the past year, following Cuomo’s failure to significantly follow through on his pledge to help the conference in its 2014 quest to win back the majority.
Cuomo promised to help the Senate Democrats as part of the deal he cut to receive the ballot line of the labor-backed Working Families Party. But aside from a few endorsements (mostly made via press release) and joint appearances, the governor didn’t exactly pull out all the stops to assist his fellow Democrats.
The GOP ended up taking the majority – albeit by a very slim margin that could be imperiled if the Democrats win the Libous seat. However, even Stewart-Cousins admits that’s a long shot. She says the minority conference is setting its sights on 2016 when presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton might top the ticket and pull more New York Democrats than usual to the polls.
Jul 28th - 7:43 am
From the Morning Memo:
Soon-to-be Democratic Senate candidate Barbara Fiala plans to launch a bid for the chamber that will rely heavily on her resume as both an elected and appointed state official.
“I don’t know of another candidate that will have the broad range of experience that I have,” Fiala told TWC News in an interview. “Being a commissioner, being in the cabinet and traveling the state — listening to the people.”
Fiala is both a former Broome County executive and commissioner in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet, leading the Department of Motor Vehicles during his first term.
Fiala is expected to announce on Thursday her campaign for the seat formerly held by Sen. Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican who was ousted from the Senate after he was convicted on a charge of lying to the FBI.
Running on her experience with the Cuomo administration, of course, has its pitfalls: The district has a Republican enrollment advantage and Cuomo’s policies among upstate conservatives — including the gun-control law known as the SAFE Act — remain deeply unpopular.
Fiala in the interview said her experience is a net benefit to her campaign. Cuomo worked his cabinet during that first term, taking a somewhat unorthodox strategy by deploying them to spread the push for his agenda around the state.
“I listened to a lot of people in different parts of the state,” she said. “In this area in the Southern Tier it comes down to jobs and good paying jobs.”
At the same time, Fiala may be hoping voters want a lawmaker in Albany — regardless of party — who can bring the same level of contacts and influence in state government that Libous had amassed over decades in power.
As for whether she’s launching a campaign too soon after Libous, a former deputy majority leader first elected in 1988 and found guilty only last week, Fiala said the time to get the campaign underway is now.
“The election is in November and all the time the people are without a representative it really hurts the area,” she said. “I don’t know what ‘too early’ means.”