Bills-Sabres Owner & Cuomo Donor Defends Fracking During 60 Minutes Sports Interview

Acknowledging the “irony” of how a business practice that’s illegal in New York State helped keep the Buffalo Bills in Western New York, billionaire Terry Pegula defended the controversial gas drilling method better known as hydro-fracking.  The Bills and Sabres owner’s comments came during an interview that aired on Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports, Tuesday night.

“I’m very proud of what I do. I’m in the oil and gas business I have been my whole life.  I believe my industry is getting some publicity it doesn’t deserve,” Pegula said.

As detailed in the 60 Minutes Sports report, Pegula turned a $7,500 loan from friends and family into the oil and gas company, East Resources Inc.  The company formed in the 1980’s and eventually became a multi-billion dollar business, thanks in part to drilling in the Marcellus Shale region across New York’s border in Pennsylvania.

In 2014, Pegula sold the gas drilling rights of thousands of acres of land in Ohio for $1.75 billion.  It was a deal that went through a little before Pegula bought the Bills for $1.4 billion.

Pegula is seen by many in Western New York as a hero for purchasing the Bills, as at least one outside bidder proposed moving the team to Toronto.  Even those who oppose fracking haven’t shied away from singing his praises, including Governor Cuomo.

Pegula was a significant donor to Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign last year, even as it appeared his administration was moving closer to a permanent fracking ban.  The apparent ties between the two led Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins to lash out at Pegula, calling his fracking profits a “scandal.”

Even as the State DEC moved to officially ban fracking this summer, the perceived mutual goal of rebuilding Buffalo continued to tie the Governor and Bills-Sabres owner together.  Pegula was careful not to criticize Cuomo or his policies directly, Tuesday night.

“There is some irony there though, is there not? Asked CBS Correspondent Jeff Glor. “It’s a practice that’s still not allowed in New York State and in large part has kept the Bills in New York State.”

“Yeah,” Pegula said. “That’s quite a twist isn’t it?”


According to multiple sources, it was VP Joe Biden himself who was responsible for the New York Times story of his dying son urging him to run for president in 2016.

A source on Hillary Clinton’s campaign says a team of opposition researchers working on behalf of the candidate is currently digging through the vice president’s long record in office to develop attack lines in case he runs.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio met US Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic 2016 contender, in New York last month as he continued to weigh an endorsement in the 2016 presidential contest and planned to host a candidates forum in Iowa later this year.

During a visit to NYC, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican 2016 candidate, said the US must provide a social safety net to help people “get back up” after losing their jobs in this rapidly shifting 21st century gig economy, but not the sort of social safety net we have now.

GlobalFoundries, the upstate New York success story that received more than $1 billion to build a chip plant near Saratoga, is facing cutbacks internationally, and the move has raised concerns about its status in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be one of the two guest speakers at The Business Council of Westchester’s annual dinner, on Oct. 27. The other speaker is Mark Halperin of NBC’s “Today” show and the author of “Game Change.”

The state Office of General Services is trying to find someone, hopefully not too far from Albany, willing to donate a Christmas spruce to grace the Empire State Plaza. Actually they are looking for two trees.

The Energy Information Administration says that a warmer winter and low energy prices will bring heating bills down for Americans, no matter their heating source, between October and March.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned about the financial trouble that would follow if some upstate groups had their way to secede from downstate New York.

Republican congressional candidate Andrew Heaney, who is running for the NY-19 seat that will be vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson next year, raised $643,256 in his first quarter of fundraising, his campaign announced.

Even before a gas explosion in Brooklyn this past weekend, the state was planning to tighten its oversight of training programs for workers who maintain natural gas pipelines.

Staten Island hero Lt. Gordon (Matt) Ambelas was added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the Empire State Plaza today.

The infamous bronze sculpture of a zombie-eyed Lucille Ball that drew national attention earlier this year will join the ranks of the great Halloween villains this month, when an actor performs a scene inspired by the sculpture as part of an elaborate Chautauqua County haunted house.

The NYS Senate website has a new look.

A key federal approval will help a $64 million expansion project move forward at a notoriously congested international border crossing in Western New York.

In its biggest crackdown yet on rogue drone operators, the FAA ordered a $1.9 million civil penalty against a Chicago-based company that takes aerial photos – including 43 unauthorized flights in New York state airspace.

Republican County Executive candidate Jim O’Connor picked up his first formal endorsement last week from Rep. Lee Zeldin, but he has an uphill climb, as incumbent Democratic Executive Steve Bellone holds a 33 percentage point lead, according to this week’s Newsday/News12/Siena poll.

Singer Liza Minnelli is a fan of Uber.

Cuomo Knocks de Blasio — Again — Over MTA Funding (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over how to close a gap in the capital budget of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The latest theater for the debate was held on Brian Lehrer’s radio show on WNYC this morning, when Cuomo was critical of de Blasio not supporting a large share of the capital fund being contributed to be by the city.

“The city has to do its fair share,” Cuomo said. “I can’t say to Buffalo you should fund the New York City subway system and New York City that’s sitting there with $7 billion surplus funds isn’t doing its fair share. I can’t. I can’t.”

Cuomo and the MTA are pushing a plan to close the $9.8 billion gap in the $32 billion plan that would increase contributions from both the city and state.

Cuomo is backing a state plan to increase its capital program share by $7.3 billion. New York City, he believes, should add $3.2 billion — a $2.5 billion increase. More >

Astorino To Endorse In Yonkers Mayoral Race

astorinoRepublican Rob Astorino is set to endorse GOP mayoral hopeful Bill Nuckel in Yonkers on Wednesday, according to an advisory released this afternoon.

Astorino is backing Nuckel as Democrat Mike Spano seeks a second term as Yonkers mayor.

Spano, the brother of former state senator-turned lobbyist Nick Spano, is a former Republican who switched to the Democratic Party while in the state Assembly.

Republicans — including Nuckel himself — believe Mike Spano is interested in running for county executive in 2017, when Astorino is up for re-election.

Astorino remains interested in making another run for governor in 2018, but has also said he will likely run for a third term as Westchester County executive, a post he’s held since 2009, when he unseat Democratic incumbent Andy Spano. More >

Poloncarz Says He’s Running On WEP Line

poloncarzwepDemocratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced Tuesday he will “proudly” run on the Women’s Equality Party ballot line as he seeks a second term next month.

Poloncarz winning ballot status on the WEP line comes as the fledgling party faces a host of legal challenges. Dozens of local-level candidates this season have been denied or knock off the ballot line after a state Supreme Court judge ruled no one had control of the party because a majority of the statewide candidates are yet to sign off on rules for the WEP.

“The Women’s Equality Party was proud to endorse Mark Poloncarz, who has shown a strong commitment to the issues of gender equality,” said Diana Cihak, WNY Regional Chair of the Women’s Equality Party, in a statement. “By championing the County’s Pay Equity policy for businesses that contract with Erie County he has been a leader in ensuring Erie County families benefit from the many advantages that are realized when women are paid equal to their male counterparts. This is only one example of his ongoing support for women in Erie County.”

Poloncarz running on the line makes him one of the more prominent candidates to run on the line this election cycle. It doesn’t hurt that Poloncarz, too, is a supporter and ally for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who created the last year as a way to promote women’s issues in his re-election campaign.
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Cuomo Clarifies Government Shutdown Call Over Gun Control

cuomogunsGov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Tuesday clarified his initial call for Democrats to threaten a federal government shutdown over the passage of stricter gun control legislation.

Nevertheless, he still wants Democrats nationally to address gun control in the wake of a mass shooting at an Oregon community college and make it a centerpiece issue in the 2016 elections.

“Just to clarify: I didn’t call for a government shutdown,” Cuomo said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “I said the Republicans are very good at making their priorities known and they’re basically saying if we don’t get a tax cut for the rich, then we’ll shutdown the government. The Democrats should say, well our top priority is gun control. They should put it up at the top of the agenda and threaten Republicans right back on gun control.”

The push for a government shutdown over gun control isn’t necessarily in line with Cuomo’s usual philosophy on government; namely that it should work and seek compromise when necessary.

But last week, in an interview on NY1, Cuomo expressed deep frustration with federal gun control policy as well as Democrats.

“I’d love to see the Democrats stand up and say we’re going to shut down the government or threaten to shut down the government if we don’t get real gun control legislation,” he said in the interview last week. “It should be that high a priority.” More >

Heaney Raises $643K For House Campaign

Republican Congressional hopeful Andrew Heaney will announce having raised $643,256 for his bid to win the 19th district in the Hudson Valley.

The amount of money raised includes more than 500 individual donors. Heaney, a businessman from Millbrook, did not make any personal contributions to the effort, his campaign said.

“With over 500 individual donors and not one penny from Political Action Committees, I’m proud of the strong and broad support our campaign is generating,” Heaney said in a statement.

The fundraising total for the first fundraising quarter of the campaign, which ended on Sept. 30, comes as multiple Republicans are vying for the nomination in the district.

Former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso entered the race last month, and has embarked on multiple fundraising tours already, including an event in Washington, D.C., with the entire New York GOP House delegation scheduled for today.

A third candidate, Robert Bishop, a Delaware County native and farmer, is also entering the race.

Meanwhile, two Republican members of the Assembly — Steve McLaughlin and Peter Lopez — are also mulling bids for the House seat.

Fundraising is key to the district, given that it crosses over multiple media markets in the Hudson Valley.

Incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson is retiring at the end of the current term as he considers a run for governor in 2018.

Wall Street Posts Strongest First Half Since 2011

moneyProfits on Wall Street posted their strongest first six months of the year since 2011, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced in an earnings report released on Tuesday.

The state’s securities industry recorded profits of $11.3 billion, despite a recent string of economic uncertainties, especially from overseas markets.

“After a very strong first half of the year, the securities industry faces volatile financial markets and an unsteady global economy,” DiNapoli said. “After years of downsizing, the industry has been adding jobs in New York City, but it may curtail hiring to bolster profits. We’re hopeful that Wall Street’s robust first half will result in a good year. The securities industry continues to be a major contributor to the city’s economy and a large contributor to the state and city budgets.”

Profits on Wall Street have been considered relatively strong over the last two years, averaging $16.3 billion in spite of the continued uncertainty overseas, regulatory framework imposed since the 2008 financial crisis and a series of blockbuster settlements. More >

Faso’s Employer Gave To Democratic Causes

From the Morning Memo:

As some Republicans in the 19th congressional district quietly question the donation GOP candidate Andrew Heaney gave to President Obama in 2008, others are scrutinizing the giving by former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

No, Faso hasn’t given directly to a Democratic candidate or campaign.

But he has with regularity over the last decade given to the political action committee of his employer, Manat, Phelps and Phillips.

The Golden State PAC, as it is called, has given steadily in turn to Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid a combined $11,600 (Obama’s committee refunded his contribution after his 2004 Senate victory).

Meanwhile, the PAC has given to Democratic campaign causes on the federal level, including tens of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Both Faso and Heaney are running in the 19th congressional district, a Hudson Valley seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson, who is considering a statewide campaign for 2018.

Another Republican Enters NY-19 Race

ny19From the Morning Memo:

A third Republican is looking at joining the 2016 race to replace Rep. Chris Gibson, who is retiring at the end of the year with an eye toward a possible run for governor in 2018.

Robert Bishop, a Delaware County native, local farmer and self-described “close personal friend” of Gibson’s, says he plans to soon formally announce his candidacy for the seat.

“I have been considering running for Congress for some time, and the next cycle looks like the best opportunity,” Bishop wrote in an email to CapTon.

“I have worked closely for Chris since he first campaigned, and now that he has announced he is not running again, I certainly think I am the one who can step up and continue the successes for NY-19 that he has achieved.”

Bishop, who has held several local elected posts, but has never before run for an office of this level, said he will provide an outsider’s view of politics.

So far, two Republicans – former Assembly Minority Leader and 206 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney – have declared their intentions to run for Gibson’s seat. More >