Cuomo Says Ammo Database Will Be Ready When Its Ready

safeactsignWhile he calls for stricter gun control legislation on the federal level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on Wednesday he won’t rush the implementation of an ammunition database which the State Police had struggled to develop.

Cuomo and Senate Republicans earlier this year reached a joint memorandum of understanding that suspended implementation of the database, which had been a provision of the SAFE Act gun control measure approved in 2013.

The MOU stipulates that no state money will be used to maintain the database, while noting the leadership of the State Police has acknowledged there is a “lack of technology” for maintaining the database.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the latest mass shooting — this time at an Oregon community college — Cuomo has called for the federal government to take action on gun control, saying New York still remains at risk because of the importation of illegal weapons from out of state.

But the database, nevertheless, isn’t be rushed.

“It was not ready and it won’t be implemented prematurely,” he said. “That was the plan. There was a fear the system would be prematurely implemented and then you would foul up sales and private-sector companies.” More >

Cuomo: No Subpoena In Buffalo Billion Probe

CuomobuffaloGov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday insisted that he had neither been issued a subpoena or questioned by federal investigators in the ongoing investigation into the Buffalo Billion economic development program.

Cuomo, in Albany for a wine, beer and spirits summit, provided some of his most extensive answers to date on the U.S. attorney’s probe into program’s contracting process.

He downplayed the reported subpoenas, pointing to his own tenure as the state attorney general.

“I was attorney general,” he said. “I did hundreds of investigations because I read something or heard something and wanted to follow up. That doesn’t mean anything is awry,” he told reporters. “I did hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of subpoenas and maybe one out of 20 amounted to anything.”

The Buffalo Billion economic development program was formed by the Cuomo administration as a way to boost the economy of western New York, long considered a laggard compared to the rest of the state.

But the spending — which has included large-scale construction projects in Buffalo and the western New York region in order to entice high-tech companies to settle there — has come under scrutiny from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, which is reviewing the contracting process by SUNY Nanotech, as well as the request for proposal process performed for construction firm LP Ciminelli. More >

Cuomo Tempers Special Session Talk

cuomobizcouncilGov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on Wednesday he had not heard any talk of a special session by the end of the year to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15.

“I haven’t heard anyone ever suggest a special session on the minimum wage,” he said.

Asked if he’s ruling out hold a special session, Cuomo demurred.

“I’ve never heard anyone suggest it, but I’ve never heard anyone put it in to rule it out,” he said.

Sources this week said preliminary discussions have been held on a potential special session that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 gradually over the next several years. A tax cut aimed at businesses has been floated as well by Cuomo in order to ease the measure’s passage through the Republican-led Senate.

Still, even the talk of a potential session for the wage, which would be held in December, before the scheduled start of the legislative session in January, drew the ire of business groups.

“Small businesses across New York are reeling from three separate minimum wage increases due to be enacted at the end of the year and are directly threatened by the rhetoric of a new push to $15 an hour,” said Mike Durant, the state director of the NFIB. “Any consideration by lawmakers to hastily convene a special session for political expediency on this issue without thoroughly analyzing the impact on small employers or considering the economic impact is appalling.”

Faso: Nearly $625K Raised In First Quarter

Republican congressional hopeful John Faso announced Wednesday he had raised $624,750 in the first quarter as part of his bid to win the Hudson Valley House seat held by outgoing Rep. Chris Gibson.

The campaign will report having spent $66,250 during this filing period, and will have $558,500 in cash on hand.

“What’s happened to this country over the past two decades is simply unacceptable, and the fault lies squarely at the doorstep of a federal government that has grown too expensive, too expansive, and too self-serving,” Mr. Faso said. “This district has been blessed with solid representation these past five years — I’ve known Congressman Gibson for 30 — and I am ready to step in and advance the fight for New Yorkers in our nation’s capital. I am enormously grateful for the outpouring of support I have received since announcing my candidacy just a few short weeks ago, and to each and every person who has donated to this cause.”

Faso, a former Assembly minority leader, is running for the seat alongside fellow Republican businessman Andrew Heaney, a businessman from Millbrook. Two state Assembly members — Peter Lopez and Steve McLaughlin are considering launching campaigns as well.

Gibson is retiring at the end of the current term as he eyes a potential run for governor in 2018.

Paterson Stepping Down From Democratic Chairmanship

Former Gov. David Paterson will step down as the state Democratic Committee chairman, a post he has held since May 2014, Paterson announced on Wednesday morning.

“Today, I am announcing that, after 18 rewarding months, I will be resigning as chair of the New York State Democratic Party,” Paterson said in a statement. “It has been a sincere honor to have held this post and to have played such a central role promoting the Democratic values that are so important to the New Yorkers we serve.”

Paterson was elevated to the post during the state Democratic Convention, when Cuomo replaced Assemblyman Keith Wright, a Manhattan Democrat who shared the job as co-chair with Stephanie Miner, the Syracuse mayor who openly differed with the governor on infrastructure investment, state aid and pension policy.

Paterson that election season was deployed as a foil for the Democratic governor, who at the time was running against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Known for — at times — speaking off the cuff, Paterson’s tenure as chairman was often on-message.

In his statement, Paterson also praised working with Cuomo.

“I particularly enjoyed working so closely with Governor Cuomo in the run-up to his re-election last year,” he said. “The Governor has been a strong champion for our Party’s shared ideals and I have been proud to answer his call to serve as Chair of the Party. The legacy he is in the process of creating is built on principled and enlightened policies – things like sensible gun control, marriage equality, a higher minimum wage and lower tax rates than any that our State has seen in the past sixty years – that are opening the door to a better future for all New Yorkers.”

Akshar Boosted By GOPAC

aksharRepublican Fred Akshar’s state Senate campaign was endorsed by GOPAC’s election fund with an endorsement and $11,000 contribution from the group.

“Fred Akshar has proven to be a true leader in his community, and GOPAC is proud to support him for New York Senate,” said GOPAC Chairman David Avella. “Fred’s priorities will continue to focus on battling drug addiction and making our communities safer, as well as strengthening the Southern Tier economy, fighting for our fair share of economic development and education aid from Albany, and helping small businesses and manufacturers succeed and create jobs.”

Akshar already had a big fundraising advantage over his Democratic opponent, Barbara Fiala.

Buoyed by support from Senate Republicans and their campaign committee, Akshar last week reported having raised 429,548 in campaign contributions for his bid to win an open Senate seat in the Binghamton area next month.

He reported having spent $276,386, and has $153,162 in cash on hand with about a month to go before Election Day. More >

Walter Hits Airwaves In County Exec Race

The first TV ad from Republican Erie County executive candidate Ray Walter touts his pledge to cut property taxes and knocks a decades-old sales-tax sharing agreement as “broken.”

The 30-second spot was released this morning.

He pledges to cut property taxes and still ensure that schools are funded, while also committing to “fix our crumbling roads.”

“When I started my campaign, I pledged to be the strong leader that Erie County Taxpayers deserve. I pledged to to spread economic prosperity to every corner of the county,” Walter said in a statement. “My Fair Share Plan does just that – it helps every taxpayer in every community by treating them equally and fairly. It will drive down our soaring property taxes, allowing seniors to stay in their homes, while giving our children better opportunities to stay here and raise their families.”

Walter, a state assemblyman, is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Poloncarz, who is seeking a second term.

The ad comes days after Poloncarz released his own first TV spot of the campaign that highlights the county’s manufacturing industries, a sector that he says is rebounding following public investment.

Discussions Held For Special Session On Minimum Wage Hike

senate1From the Morning Memo:

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a phased-in $15 minimum wage in exchange for a possible tax cut aimed at businesses, talk in Albany has swirled around the potential for a special session by the end of the year to deal with both issues, according to two sources familiar with the talks.

The conversations, initiated by the governor’s office, have been preliminary. At this point, the chances of the Legislature returning to Albany to deal with the issue are low, the sources cautioned.

Nevertheless, the move would potentially clear the minimum wage issue and its thorny politics before the start of the 2016 legislative session, one that will proceed what’s expected to be a pitched battle for control of the state Senate.

Senate Republicans, who have expressed weary dissatisfaction with another minimum wage increase, hold a narrow majority in the chamber.

Still, the GOP conference hasn’t definitively ruled out passage of a $15 minimum wage as Cuomo has floated the possibility of linking business friendly tax cuts to the phased-in increase. More >

DiNapoli ‘May Look’ At Buffalo Billion

dinapoliFrom the Morning Memo:

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said during a CapTon interview last night that his office “may look” at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development project, the Buffalo Billion, which is currently the subject of an investigation by US Attorney Preet Bharara.

“We may look at parts of that; obviously, it’s been very much in the news,” DiNapoli said. “And, you know, that may be a piece of what we look at. But when it’s an audit, we have our own time, and our own resources and our own schedules.”

DiNapoli noted that his office has been stepping up its oversight of economic development spending by the Cuomo administration, writ large, having already conducted an audit on the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to advertise another Cuomo initiative, START-UP NY, that found the money had produced “no tangible results.”

The comptroller’s office also has an audit underway of the Excelsior Jobs program, which replaced the Empire Zone program in 2010.

“I’ve said for a period of time, we were in a tough spot after the recession kicked in, a lot of money came in for economic development programs,” DiNapoli explained. “Now that things are a little better, it’s time to take a deep breath and look at what is the return that we’re getting for these initiatives.” More >

DiNapoli Won’t Sign Off On WEP

womensequalityFrom the Morning Memo:

The current battle over control of the Women’s Equality Party, and subsequent lawsuit challenging the right of candidates around the state to run on the new party’s ballot line this fall, was born of the refusal by two top Democrats to sign off on creation of the new entity in the first place.

This past summer, neither state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli nor AG Eric Schneiderman agreed to put their names to paperwork filed to formally constitute the WEP, which was created by the governor for his 2014 re-election campaign, even though both of them also ran on the line.

State Election Law requires a “majority” of the candidates who ran on a new party’s line to agree on its rules, which means that in this case – at least according to some experts – it would take three signatures, not the existing two from the governor and LG Kathy Hochul – to officially create the WEP.

During a CapTon interview last night, DiNapoli was reluctant to discuss the issue, saying he won’t be putting his name to the WEP because he doesn’t want to get in the middle of “competing slates of leadership.”

“That’s just a fight I choose not to be engaged in,” he said.

When I pointed out that had he signed off in the first place, this whole mess might have been avoided, DiNapoli merely chuckled and reiterated that he has “no plans, nor no plans to make plans” to put his signature on any WEP documents any time soon.

The comptroller did not say whether he has been approached by the governor or his allies regarding this matter.