Cuomo Asks DOH To Speed Up Med Mar Program For Children With Epilepsy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is directing the state Department of Health to find ways to speed up the implementation of the state’s medical marijuana program for children who have epilepsy, an administration official on Wednesday morning confirmed.

Updated: In a letter released this morning, Cuomo called on Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to explore ways to speed up the process for implementing the program for epileptic children.

“Striking the right balance to ensure public safety and public health are protected is crucial,” Cuomo wrote in the letter. “That said, I ask that you review the eighteen month implementation timeline to determine if there is any way to accelerate the process for this specific dire population. I know you had an opportunity to meet with advocates this week on this very issue — I hope that the meeting was constructive and can be helpful to you as you move forward in this process.”

In the letter, Cuomo cited both the deaths of 9-year-old Anna Conte and 3-year-old Olivia Marie Newton in western New York as “tragic reminders of the urgent help children with epilepsy desperately need”

In the days since, Cuomo’s staff reportedly met with the state health commissioner and advocates for medical marijuana, who requested the program be implemented on a faster timetable.

The medical marijuana law was approved in June following an intense period of negotiations between the governor and the lawmakers who backed the legislation.

In the end, the program that was approved was one that gave broad authority over a medical marijuana program that would be implemented over the next 18 months.

At the time of the program’s passage, advocates for medical marijuana said the timetable for the implementation of the program was disappointingly slow.

Cuomo in Buffalo this week said he wanted to implement the program quickly but also do it right.

“If it can be accelerated safely, then we will do that,” Cuomo said.

Gam CD Oh Zucker by Nick Reisman

Cahill Fundraises Off Moreland Controversy (Updated)

Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill’s campaign on Wednesday sent out a fundraising email that ties incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman to the ongoing Moreland Commission mess.

In the email, Cahill’s fundraising team writes that Schneiderman has “done little to fight the corruption” — a claim the AG’s office would likely dispute, considering its high-profile corruption case brought against ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley.

“While Eric Schneiderman continues to run from the press, I am running a hard-hitting campaign to defeat him this November,” Cahill’s campaign writes in the email. “If you’re sick and tired of corrupt politicians, support my campaign with a contribution of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250, or another amount to hold Eric Schneiderman accountable for his failures.”

The fundraising note is yet another sign that Republican candidates — including gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino and comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci — are trying to capitalize on the Moreland Commission controversy and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office’s involvement in the anti-corruption panel.

“As the Republican candidate for Attorney General, I will restore integrity, confidence, and action to this important office,” the email says. “New Yorkers WILL know my name because I will be their voice. Stand with me today so we can reclaim this office for the people of New York.”

In a dig at Schneiderman’s record, the email adds: “We wouldn’t need a Moreland Commission to root out public corruption if we had a real Attorney General!”

Cahill this month reported having raised $1 million since starting his campaign in May. Schneiderman reported raising $2.6 million over the last six months, and has already reserved two large chunks of advertising time ahead of the November elections.

Updated: Schneiderman campaign spokesman Peter Ajemian sent along a response pointing to the AG’s efforts to combat public corruption while in office.

“No Attorney General in New York State history has been as aggressive in cracking down on public corruption as Attorney General Schneiderman, who has in less than four years prosecuted forty politicians, government employees and nonprofit officials who abused the public trust — including legislators from his own party. Just last week, Attorney General Schneiderman sentenced a politically well-connected nonprofit leader to years in jail for looting state funds,” he said. “He’s done all this despite the absence of original jurisdiction covering public corruption — a statutory weakness he’s fought to change — and helped overcome that constraint through an innovative and unprecedented partnership with the State Comptroller, Operation Integrity. All of which leaves one to ask, simply: where on earth has John Cahill been on any of these issues?”

Moreland = Troopergate?

From today’s Morning Memo:

A former top Senate GOP aide says there are uncanny parallels between the infamous “Troopergate” scandal that bedeviled former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and the Moreland mess that is now causing headaches for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

John McArdle, who served as spokesman for Joe Bruno when the then-Senate majority leader was the target of Spitzer’s botched political hit job, made the connection during his appearance on the “Insiders” segment of last night’s CapTon.

“Governors have tried this in the past – one in particular – Governor Spitzer, who, I think, used an entity – the State Police to try and force something,” McArdle said.

“…Here’s the parallel: That something was done in an attempt to force using an entity – whether it was Moreland or the state troopers – and you had it backfire.”

“I think the Moreland Commission, which is an executive entity – the statute says Moreland exists to investigate the executive, not the Legislature, that is the statute – so I think what happened with this is that by deputizing the members and making them deputy attorney generals, it was an effort to go after the Legislature,” McArdle continued.

“I think that was the intent all along. And using the commission as a vehicle, was, I think, the wrong vehicle, since they in turn started looking at the governor.”

(Interestingly, McArdle’s partner on “Insiders” last night was Democratic consultant Bruce Gyory, who worked for the Spitzer administration – albeit after Troopergate. Gyory declined to comment on McArdle’s theory).

Troopergate, as you’ll recall, involved Spitzer’s effort to use the State Police to report on Bruno’s travel and try to catch him violating the rules of mixing politics and state business while traveling on state aircraft.

Bruno at the time was Spitzer’s main political nemesis, and the governor was intent on trying to flip the Senate into Democratic hands.

The whole thing backfired, in no small part due to the NY Post’s Fred Dicker, who broke the story and furiously fanned its flames, but also because of an investigation conducted – and bombshell report issued – by none other than one Andrew Cuomo, who at the time was state attorney general (not to mention governor-in-waiting and a longtime political rival of Spitzer’s).

Troopergate sparked numerous probes – including one by Albany County DA David Soares, who, ironically, was also a member of the now-defunct Moreland Commission, and complained (according to the New York Times’ opus) about not receiving any case referrals before the governor shut the commission down.

No charges were ultimately brought against Spitzer for his role in Troopergate, but several of his top aides were slapped with charges by JCOPE’s predecessor – the State Commission on Public Integrity.

Also, Troopergate didn’t bring Spitzer down, though it did tarnish his reputation considerably. The former governor orchestrated his own demise with his penchant for pricey prostitutes.

McArdle didn’t mention another parallel between Spitzer and Cuomo – both are ambitious and aggressive, which led to complicated relationships with the Legislature.

But Cuomo has a deeper well of support than the self-professed “steamroller” Spitzer – even though some are now crowing over his current Moreland troubles. (Whether that support is motivated by fear of reprisal from the powerful governor is another story).

Cuomo has also been in office much longer than Spitzer was at the time Troopergate broke, and he has had far more success in office than Spitzer, passing four on-time budgets and numerous pieces of high-profile legislation (the SAFE Act, gay marriage etc.) through the Legislature.

So far, there’s just one probe – conducted by US Attorney Preet Bharara – into the Moreland scandal.

GOP AG candidate John Cahill is slamming his Democratic target, AG Eric Schneiderman, for remaining silent to date on the matter. But Schneiderman is in a bit of a bind, having deputized the Moreland members to give them investigatory powers outside the executive branch and providing top staffers to assist the commission.

Watch Here >>

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Nassau County.

At 8:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino attends a breakfast with local ministers hosted by the Rev. Michel Faulkner, Sylvia’s Restaurant, 328 Lenox Ave., Manhattan.

At 9:03 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill appears on the Bob Lonsberry Show, AM 1180 WHAM.

At 10:30 a.m., public transportation advocates from the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign discuss the release of their annual report card ranking city subway lines based on performance statistics; City Hall station, southeast corner, Broadway and Warren Street, Manhattan.

At 10:45 a.m., Astorino holds a press conference on the Moreland Commission scandal, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes a Sandy rebuilding announcement, 50 Florence Ave., Freeport.

Also at 11 a.m., Cahill holds a press conference along with Assemblymember Ray Walter and Assembly candidate Angela Wozniak to call on AG Eric Schneiderman to “break his silence” on his role in the Moreland mess, 350 Main St., Buffalo. (AG’s Buffalo office).

At 11:30 a.m., Astorino will be a gust on “The Capitol Pressroom” with guest host Kyle Hughes.

Also at 11:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, University Senior Housing – Community Room, 1285 Merriam Ave., the Bronx.

At 12:45 p.m., U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand holds a conference call with reporters on legislation regarding college sexual assault.

At 2 p.m., Cahill and Assembly candidate/former U.S. Marshal Peter Lawrence hold a press conference where Cahill will reiterate his Moreland message, 144 Exchange Blvd., Rochester. (AG’s Rochester office).

Also at 2 p.m., winery owners and their allies call on Cuomo to deny a proposal for gas storage facility in Finger Lakes, LOB, Room 120, Albany.

At 2:15 p.m., Sen. Tony Avella and advocacy groups challenging the “Willets West” mall proposal begin their oral arguments followed by a press conference on the courthouse steps, New York State Supreme Court, 71 Thomas St., Room 210, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Astorino will hold a press conference on the Moreland Commission scandal, Nassau County Supreme Court, 100 Supreme Court Dr., Mineola.

At 6 p.m., GOP LG candidate and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss attends the Chemung County Fair, 170 Fairview Rd., Horseheads.

Also at 6 p.m., the Teachout-Wu campaign holds a “strategy call” with supporters.

At 6:30 p.m., Astorino will attend a Long Island Superstorm Sandy/meet the candidate forum, Loyal Order of Moose Lodge, 883 S. Broadway, Lindenhurst.

At 9:30 p.m., Astorino attends the Frank Kenna Republican Club meeting, VFW Post 2348, 31-35 41 St., Astoria.

Headlines…

Is the IDC-regular Democrat reunification deal in jeopardy (already)?

The now-defunct Moreland Commission spent over $350,000 in its nine months of existence for travel, information technology and data analysis.

Bill Hammond says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s commission “was an elaborate bluff — and the Legislature called him on it, not once but twice.”

Brandishing a bottle of bleach, GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino continued his call for the cleanup of Albany.

Astorino scoffed at the controversy that erupted after he used a line from “The Godfather” to criticize Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission, saying: “Next time I guess I’ll quote from the Wizard of Oz and maybe they’ll get upset with that too.”

The NYT slams Cuomo’s “unconvincing spin” on the Moreland Commission’s demise.

Of the two dozen companies so far announced that will receive 10 years of tax breaks through START-UP NY, more than half are actually expansions of companies that already operate in New York or elsewhere.

The Buffalo News sings the praises of Cuomo’s START-UP NY program, saying: “It’s hard to recall any time in the last decade or more that a governor has made so many appearances in Buffalo to announce hundreds of new jobs.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is excited about his family’s move into Gracie Mansion – especially since there is no longer “a line for the bathroom, or conflicts over the bathroom.” (The new digs has five compared to his Park Slope one).

New York City’s finances are being responsibly managed despite the large cost of negotiating labor settlements with city workers, according to members of the state Financial Control Board.

More >

Time Warner Cable News/Siena College Poll: Upstate Voters Would Seek Employment At Casinos

Upstate residents who may soon live close to a casino would consider going to one, if not to gamble then to have dinner or maybe golf. That’s according to an exclusive Time Warner Cable News/Siena College poll that surveyed residents living in one of the three regions due to receive a resort casino:The Southern Tier, the Catskills and Hudson Valley and the Capital Region.

“It sounds like significant percentages in each of the three areas would be interested — at least would give it a shot to go over to these casino developers and try to see whether they would enjoy it,” said Siena Polling Institute Director Don Levy.

The poll found 19 percent of those surveyed would gamble more if they lived near a casino, while a combined 64 percent said they would likely or very likely attend a concert. More than half said they would go out to dinner at a casino’s restaurant.

“Nearly one out of every five said I would gamble more if there’s a casino near me so you would have to decide whether that’s too many or not,” Levy said.

And when it comes to employment, a major promise of casinos, 26 percent overall said they expected either themselves or a member of their household to apply for a job at one of the resorts.

“We’re talking about well over 200,000 in these three upstate regions as a composite where there is someone either unemployed or underemployed who’s saying that’s a job I’m going to go after,” Levy said.

For casino supporters, the poll shows the state has been losing out on revenue as some gamblers head across state lines to spend their money.

“You see a large number — 37 percent — would be very interested in using a casino and some have said they’ve gambled within the last year. You can conclude that there’s activity the state is missing out on,” said Business Council spokesman Gary Hughes.

But with so many states now allowing for the expansion of casino gambling, gamblers have more options, which means heightened competition for operators.

“Clearly the market is maturing,” said Bob Ward, a deputy state comptroller for budget and analysis. “At some point we will meet a saturation level. So what that suggests is the competition is fairly intense and will become more so for those of us in upstate New York. That will be especially true if Massachusetts goes ahead with casinos.”

The poll of 816 registered voters has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. It was conducted from July 20 through July 23.

TWC0714 Total Crosstabs 072914 by Nick Reisman

Extras

“Inside City Hall” host Errol Louis says NJ Gov. Chris Christie has been “far more adept” at handling Bridgegate than Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been at handling the Moreland mess.

In an unusual move, Christie called a special midsummer session of the New Jersey Legislature toconsider changes to the state’s bail system

Cuomo has collected at least $650,000 in campaign contributions from recipients of tax credits to redevelop industrial sites during the past four years.

GOP LG candidate Chris Moss said people “end up in jail” for lesser crimes than those he believes Cuomo could be guilty of in regards to the Moreland Commission.

A CBS/NYT poll found Cuomo leading GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino by 24 points – a lot, but less than other polls have shown.

Donald Trump admits he isn’t likely to win the bid to become the next owner of the Buffalo Bills.

Members of the Cuomo administration met this week with medical marijuana advocates as some lawmakers call for speeding up the state’s issuance of the drug.

Only one New York contest – NY-11 – made DCCC Chairman Steve Israel’s list of the top seven House races this fall.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand issued an “investor report” on her Off the Sidelines PAC.

Former AIG Chairman Hank Greenberg will go on trial in January after more than nine years of legal jousting over former AG Eliot Spitzer’s lawsuit accusing him of fraud.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among those encouraging Cuomo to travel to his country.

The Manhattan Democratic Party accidentally announced the death of one of its  most legendary figures: Longtime district leader James McManus.

What, exactly, is AG Eric Schneiderman’s share of the Moreland mess?

The NY GOP is poised to nominate an oilman from Allegany County to fill a vacancy on the RNC left by former state party Chairman Bill Powers.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz spent more than $1,300 in campaign funds during a European vacation.

Rep. Paul Tonko thinks the footage of him speeding (going over 90 on the Thruway) was a “professional sort of approach.”

NYC’s finances are on “solid footing” according to a report from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik’s campaign released a new web video.

Hillary Clinton says that the Washington Redskins football team should change its name because the term is “insensitive.”

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former President Bill Clinton will participate in a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama.

Two years after his conviction on federal corruption charges, ex-NYC Councilman Larry Seabrook’s name will be removed from 55 trash cans spread across his former Bronx district.

State Democratic Ad: ‘Christmas’ For Astorino

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces heat for his handling of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, the state Democratic Committee is firing back at GOP candidate Rob Astorino for being the “prince of petty corrupt politics.”

The ad is called “Christmas In July” and focuses on various “gifts” Astorino has given to the politically connectdd.

Released Tuesday afternoon, the ad paints Astorino, the Westchester County executive, as a politician who helps secure plum jobs for political allies and family.

The ad also points to Astorino’s $30,000 consulting job for a media firm.

“Rob Astorino trying to talk about ethics is beyond hypocrisy, he is the reigning prince of petty corrupt politics,” said Peter Kauffmann, a state Democratic Party spokesman.

Capital New York reported earlier today that the state Democratic Commttee purchased $281,655 worth of advertising time on July 19, just before The New York Times story detailing the governor’s involvement in the Moreland Commission was published.

Astorino Not Buying Cuomo’s Definition Of ‘Interference’

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Tuesday scoffed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation for his office’s handling of the Moreland Commission, which the incumbent Democrat has insisted was “advice” and not undue interference.

“We didn’t get the straight talk we deserve yesterday,” Astorino said. “We got more dancing around the topic, more lies quite frankly and we heard more different ways to speak of what might actually happen than we should get.”

At a news conference outside of the state Capitol in Albany, Astorino held up a bottle of Clorox bleach as a sign the town could use some “disinfectant.”

“I think nothing better than a little bleach and maybe a little disinfectant will do wonders here,” Astorino said.

The GOP gubernatorial nominee embarked on a multi-city tour of upstate this week to highlight Cuomo’s Moreland Commission controversy, which was renewed last week following an extensive New York Times story.

Astorino has sought to capitalize on the reported interference from Cuomo’s office, which attempted to direct subpoenas away from politically sensitive areas for the governor.

Cuomo on Monday in his first public remarks on the issue insisted his office did not provide any inappropriate influence on the anti-corruption panel.

But Astorino says there is more to the Moreland story than just Cuomo’s response.

“Andrew Cuomo said he would drain the cesspool and do wonders here,” he said. “Right now, he did a deep dive and he’s swimming in that cesspool.”

He also disputed Cuomo’s definition of “interference.” Cuomo insisted the commission was independent because it didn’t act on the efforts by his top aide, Larry Schwartz, to not send a subpoena to a media buying firm that included the governor among its clients.

“Just definition of interference — I’ll read the definition — because it says exactly what it is,” Astorino said. “I mean, what was it? Attempted interference and because it didn’t work, it wasn’t interference?”

Good-Government Advocates: Stay Neutral

A coalition of good-governments are calling on the state Board of Elections to write “neutral” ballot language in the upcoming ballot referendum that would change the state’s legislative redistricting process.

The groups are no doubt mindful of the language for last year’s casino expansion amendment that detailed the positive aspects of the measure — including increased aid for education and lower property taxes.

“On occasion in the past, the language which was placed on the ballot was widely regarded as biased and the Board was criticized by the press and good government groups,” the coalition of groups wrote to the Board of Election. “We wish to avoid such a situation this year.”

The redistricting amendment would create a semi-independent panel to draw new legislative boundaries for Assembly, Senate and House districts for the next round of redistricting in 2022.

The measure was approved by the Legislature in 2012 as part of a mega deal on redistricting, a new pension tier and the expansion of the state’s DNA databank.

Neutral Ballot Language Request-2 (1) by Nick Reisman

Dem Senator: Use Paribas Settlement To End GEA

Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien on Tuesday called for an end to gap elimination adjustment in education spending using the estimated $3 billion settlement from French bank BNP Paribas.

“Cuts to education funding have devastated local school districts,” O’Brien said in a statement. “We’ve made progress toward alleviating this problem, restoring school funding by $1.1 billion this year alone. But to ensure long-term stability for our schools and pave the way for lasting property tax relief we have to eliminate the GEA. However the GEA has reduced support for education by over $10.1 billion, so we have a lot of work to do. Investing this settlement money in education will allow us to eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment once and for all, providing the opportunity for property tax relief and creating a brighter future for Upstate families.”

O’Brien is the latest official in Albany to offer a suggestion as to how to spend the windfall from the settlement.

Senate Republicans have called for an investment in education spending as well as using a portion of the money to pay for tax relief.

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino has called for a massive investment in infrastructure projects with the money.

O’Brien, a lawmaker from the Rochester area, faces Republican Rich Funke this fall.