Extras

The Obama administration says it is indefinitely extending its long-awaited  review of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Jennifer Rainville, a former TV news reporter who knows what it’s like to be at the center of a “media firestorm,” will be the IDC’s new spokeswoman.

Sen. James Sanders is open to the idea of IDC Leader Jeff Klein returning to the Democratic fold and assuming a leadership – though not THE leadership – post.

Klein reiterated that he has no plans to try to rejoin with the Senate Democratic conference. “I’m not looking to make any political deals,” he said.

The de Blasio administration employs more than 50 drivers who are responsible for chauffeuring top New York City government officials.

More ruminations on how being a grandmother will – or won’t – impact Hillary Clinton’s possible 2016 run.

Clinton’s soon-to-be-published memoir of her time as U.S. secretary of state now has a title, Hard Choices.

Clinton’s favorability rating has hit a six-year low, according to a new Fox  News poll.

The Clinton White House kept a dossier on what Hillary Clinton once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino: “People think it’s New York City that determines this race. It’s not.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a frequent critic of tax credits, praised the state’s current system of film tax credits and vowed to grow the city’s production industry.

Bob McCarthy considers the political evolution of Sen. Mark Grisanti.

Basil Paterson’s death means Rep. Charlie Rangel needs to find a new campaign treasurer.

Eric Schneiderman’s little-noticed move this week to replace the head of his Conviction Review Bureau was not without some controversy.

Former Obama campaign staffer Michael Blake is running for the Bronx Assembly seat vacated by Eric Stevenson after he was found guilty of corruption charges.

Former LG Dick Ravitch was in Detroit today for a courtroom interview on the city’s bankruptcy.

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk will host a forum Tuesday on leveraging the Albany nanocollege’s ties in Utica to boost economic development and job creation.

Motorists who repeatedly speed through New York toll booths without paying would see their vehicle registrations suspended under a bill being considered by state lawmakers.

Katko Launches Bio Video

Republican John Katko launched a video on his campaign website on Friday providing an 7-minute biographical overview of his personal and professional life.

Katko runs through his roots in central New York, work as a prosecutor alongside his wife Robin.

The first-time candidate is a former federal prosecutor in Onondaga County who is challenging Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

The video serves an introduction for voters to Katko, who is making his first run for public office this year in the NY-24.

Maffei, who will be a guest on Capital Tonight this evening, is running for a third term after winning his seat back from Republican Ann Marie Buerkle in 2012.

Eldridge Campaign Hits Back On Gibson’s Energy Tax Pledge

The campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Sean Eldridge is knocking Rep. Chris Gibson for signing on to a “no climate tax” pledge that is supported by Americans For Prosperity, a group founded by industrialists David and Charles Koch.

Gibson on Capital Tonight Thursday knocked Eldridge’s stance on energy taxes, saying it’s more evidence that he’s out of step with the congressional district.

“My opponent criticizes me for opposing energy taxes, he shows he’s not from here,” Gibson said.

Eldridge’s campaign, though, says this line is a reference to the AFP pledge.

“Politician Chris Gibson claims in an election year that he is in line with his constituents on the environment, but the Real Chris Gibson signed the Koch Brothers pledge and has an 33 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters,” said spokesman Morgan Hook. “If Chris Gibson is so proud of his record in Washington – as he says – then why doesn’t he just come clean to New Yorkers about his commitment to the Koch brothers to take no meaningful action on climate change? Voters in NY-19 know where Sean Eldridge stands on the issues, including his opposition to hydro-fracking and his efforts as a former board member of Scenic Hudson to protect our environment and prepare communities in the Hudson Valley for climate change and sea level rise.”

The Koch brothers and their political activities, of course, remain useful foils for Democratic candidates around the country, Eldridge’s campaign not being an exception.

Astorino Blasts Jobs Report

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino in a video release knocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo for this week’s Department of Labor jobs report that showed a 0.1 percent increase in the March unemployment rate.

For Astorino, the report went to the heart of his “winning or losing” argument he’s been using on the campaign trail.

“You don’t need yesterday’s jobs numbers to understand the answer. You just have to ask your neighbors wherever you live in New York. They know and so do you probably,” Astorino says in the video.

Astorino also seized on an Empire Center analysis that showed 90 percent of the jobs created in the last month came in the downstate region.

The Department of Labor said the uptick in the unemployment rate was due in part to a “growing labor force.”

The state’s unemployment rate is at 6.9 percent, while the national rate is 6.7 percent.

The Westchester county executive also knocked Cuomo’s touting of a Tax Foundation report that was complimentary of a reduction and overhaul of the corporate tax rate, nudging New York from 50th to 48th nationally in terms of tax climate.

“Maybe his book will have a chapter on that,” Astorino says sarcastically.

Astorino on NY’s Job Growth Crisis from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Senate’s Break Extended To April 28

The state Senate will extend its spring break and not meet for two days next week, a Republican conference spokesman confirmed.

Senate lawmakers were due to return next Wednesday and Thursday. Now, the plan is return on April 28, the same day the Democratic-led Assembly will hold a session day.

“The Senate will reconvene on April 28, which matches up with the Assembly and better accommodates Passover, which ends on the evening of April 22nd,” said the spokesman, Scott Reif.

The sixth-month session is due to conclude June 19.

The Senate hasn’t convened since approving the $138 billion budget plan a day before the April 1 deadline.

The Assembly, however, returned for two days last week.

The initial Senate and Assembly session days showed the chambers scheduling an unusual number of days apart in Albany.

Gibson: Ryan Budget Vote ‘Wasn’t Necessary’

Rep. Chris Gibson, facing a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge, questioned the point of voting on the latest budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, suggesting that it was a mistake for the House leadership to do so.

“Yes. It wasn’t necessary,” Gibson said when asked if he thought the Ryan budget vote was a mistake. “We already have a budget. We should be focusing on the appropriations bills.”

Gibson has supported one spending plan proposal made by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2012 and a potential candidate in 2016 as well.

Since then, Gibson has supported a variety of budget compromises he has framed as having far more bipartisan support.

In a Capital Tonight interview, Gibson called the latest Ryan plan “a political messaging document.”

“The Senate does the same with their particular issues,” Gibson added.

Despite Gibson’s no vote on the Ryan budget, Eldridge has still criticized Gibson for basically wanting it both ways, noting that he backs aspects of Ryan’s proposals, but still gets to claim his opposition.

Gibson has sought to stress his moderate credentials in the Hudson Valley congressional district, which was redrawn in 2012 by a federal judge during the re-apportionment process.

He once again noted that Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, “married well” as he first did with Politico.

“He married into money,” he said. “He did well on that score.”

Gibson added that Eldridge is trying to buy the congressional seat.

“The only reason why this guy is the candidate is money,” Gibson said. “It’s money. That’s the only reason.”

Eldridge, has contributed roughly $900,000 to his own campaign, but has emphasized his small-dollar donations when reporting his campaign contributions.

His campaign, in turn, has criticized Gibson for accepting money from political action committees.

Republicans, as well as Gibson, are also continuing to paint Eldridge as a carpetbagger in the district with little experience.

“He has relatively no experience,” Gibson said. “He has no ties to the district. It shows he’s out of touch in the district.”

Miner: No Plans To Run For Governor

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who stepped down from her post as Democratic Party co-chair, will not accept the Working Families Party line for governor if offered by the union-backed organization.

Miner resigned as co-chair on Thursday following a publicly rocky relationship with her patron, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The resignation, a month before Democrats meet in Suffolk County for their state convention, fueled talk among Cuomo’s liberal critics that she could potentially challenge the governor with the WFP line, which has not ruled out granting the spot to someone other than Cuomo.

In an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom on Friday morning, Miner laid that theory to rest.

“I’m a Democrat, I have great friends in the Working Families Party,” she said. “But I’m a Democrat.”

A spokesman for Miner went further with Time Warner Cable News’ Bill Carey, telling him of a potential run for governor by the mayor “No. It’s not happening.”

While advocacy groups with a liberal bent as well as unions remain restive over Cuomo’s fiscal policies, most self-identified liberal voters tend to give the governor high marks, polls have shown.

At the same time, Miner’s qualms with Cuomo don’t match up with what critics on the left have lobbed at Cuomo.

Miner’s original foray into criticizing Cuomo was leveled at his pension-smoothing proposal, which she didn’t go far enough in combating the financial woes of upstate cities. In other words, her issues stem from relieving local governments from Albany mandated cost drivers.

Lately, she had been clashing with the state, as well as Cuomo ally Joanie Mahoney, the Onondaga County executive, over a new sports arena in her city.

Liberals, on the other hand, remain upset over Cuomo’s tax policies, specifically those aimed at businesses.

Miner in the radio interview added that she remains focused on the job of being Syracuse’s mayor, calling it a 24-7 job.

“You don’t have the luxury often of thinking five years down the road,” she said.

“No. It’s not happening.”

We All Feel The Pressure Sometimes…

There are basically two stories in western literature – ‘A person goes on a journey,’ and ‘A stranger comes to town.’ Most of what we have read falls neatly into one of those two narratives. In the news business there are two types of people – those who lose their minds as deadline approaches, and those who actually get calmer. I like to think of myself as being in the latter category, although I have had my moments.

On the Flack side of the business, there are a handful of tactics one can employ to mitigate bad news coverage. Some believe that anger, threats and intimidation are the best approaches. And let’s be honest, sometimes that works, particularly with greener reporters. But the most effective flacks are those who can broaden your understanding of the story by explaining where they are coming from without using phrases like “inaccurate,” “the whole premise of your story is wrong” and my personal favorite “I’d be careful if I were you.” ( Um, you are not me. Thanks though ).

As first reported by Jimmy Vielkind, IDC Communications Director Eric Soufer will be leaving the post to take a job with Risa Heller’s growing public relations firm.  Seen here in Mike Groll’s photo where he looks a little bit like Michael Corleone after allowing Kaye to ask him about his business just this one time, Soufer brought a tremendous amount of dignity to what can sometimes be an unpleasant job. Soufer was not one to threaten death or destruction if he didn’t get his way. What he did ( better than most ) was make you want to rethink your story if he takes issues with certain facts and angles. That’s tough to do with reporters who often bathe in our own righteousness.

There is no doubt that Communications Directors and Spokespeople in general sometimes go under-appreciated in what is by design, a no glory job. The truth is it takes tremendous skill to hold these positions. And those who do it well are worthy of our recognition. Former NY1-er and author Jennifer Rainville steps into the IDC job and I have every confidence she will be great. The truth is, all of the com directors in Albany are very good, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. Mike Murphy with the Senate Dems is as smart as he is likable. The low key Mike Whyland with the Assembly, who occasionally reminds you with the depth of his knowledge that he might actually be a covert CIA operative. Melissa De Rosa of the esteemed Governor’s office who manages to keep a lid on the clamoring hysteria from reporters all over the state. And of course, Kelly Cummings with the Senate Repubs who has been doing this longer and better than just about anyone.

So let’s put down our arms every now and again and remember that hacks and flacks are merely two sides of the same coin. A coin that we are all sometimes tempted to toss off the Empire State Building in frustration.

 

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

From 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., NYU Steinhardt Panel Discussion on “Testing and Policy: What’s Best for Our City and Our Nation?”; NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life, Rosenthal Pavilion, 60 Washington Square South, 10th Floor, at LaGuardia Place, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the state Department of Financial Services holds a daylong availability to assist homeowners facing foreclosure, Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Ave., Baldwin.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tours the stage at at Steiner Studios, Steiner Studios – Stage 3, 15 Washington Ave., Brooklyn. A press conference will immediately follow at Stage 11.

Headlines…

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner insists she left her post as state Democratic Party co-chair on her own volition and wasn’t pushed out by the governor. “If he were going to push me out for speaking out against him, it could have happened a lot earlier than now.”

Miner’s formal resignation letter did not include her reasons for leaving the post to which she was appointed by Cuomo in 2012.

Rep. Dan Maffei said he believes Miner stepped down as co-chair of the state’s Democratic Party so she can focus on running Syracuse, saying he has no reason to think she was pushed out.

IDC spokesman Eric Soufer is leaving the public payroll to take a job with Risa Heller Communications, which draws its name from the former spokeswoman for US Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Gov. David Paterson.

With an assist from Cuomo, a contract agreement struck by the MTA and its largest union, the TWU, fell short of the agency’s stated goal of no net increases in labor costs, but officials said the pact won’t result in fare increases or alter plans for service or capital projects.

Asked why the transit workers merited raises, Cuomo pointed to the state’s improved finances compared with conditions when he took office in 2011.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren remained hospitalized last night after being admitted for flu-like symptoms and dehydration late Wednesday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly will appoint Cynthia Lopez to be commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting today.

De Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, will appear on “The View” next week – their first joint TV sit down since the mayor took office in January.

De Blasio’s campaign will return more than $15,000 in cash raised by Sant Singh Chatwal, the hotel magnate and prolific national fund-raiser who pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance fraud.

A group of ministers, led by the Rev. Dennis Dillon of the Brooklyn Christian Center, took to City Hall’s steps to demand that de Blasio appoint more African-Americans to high-ranking positions.

Does the fact that Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child impact Hillary Clinton’s thinking on whether to run for president again in 2016?

UN Ambassador Samantha Power, a former advisor to President Obama who called Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 campaign, has had a change of heart about the ex-secretary of state.

Clinton has been focusing on women voters for months.

De Blasio’s effort to get rid of the city’s horse-drawn carriages in Central Park is stuck in neutral, hindered by opposition in the NYC Council.

Amid a pitched debate over the fate the carriages, a potential successor, known as the “Horseless eCarriage,” debuted at the New York International Auto Show.

More >

Extras

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Needless to say, Hillary Clinton is very happy.

President Obama and VP Joe Biden took a selfie, and the Internet has been going wild with the photoshopping ever since.

Thre well-known current or former Democratic spokesmen – Glen Caplin, Blake Zeff and Max Young – reportedly turned down a job as de Blasio’s communications director.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a tentative contract agreement between the MTA and TWU that gives subway and bus workers raises after five years and lays the groundwork for a similar deal for LIRR workers.

The governor’s race has divided John Catsimatidis, who’s backing Cuomo, and his son, who’s helping GOP candidate Rob Astorino raise money.

For the second time, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio held a Sandy-related event on Staten Island, and for the second time, Rep. Michael Grimm did not attend.

Another anti-Cuomo column by Harold Meyerson – this time arguing the governor has driven a wedge between himself and the Democratic primary electorate.

Former Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young is being summoned to court by creditors alleging that he has defaulted on at least $23,000 in loans.

In time for his third run in NY-21, Republican Matt Doheny has finally settled some old campaign debts.

AG Eric Schneiderman appointed Gail Heatherly to lead his Conviction Review Bureau.

New York ranks 33rd in the nation for the percentage of women holding state Legislature seats at 21 percent. The national average is 24 percent.

Mike Bloomberg’s new gun control push relies on getting women involved, but the ex-mayor’s bombastic approach might turn some of them off.

Beau Biden won’t seek a third term as Delaware’s attorney general in November, opting instead to focus on an election two years away for governor.

The NRCC bumped GOP NY-24 candidate John Katko to “On the Radar” status, the first of three tiers for its “Young Guns” program.

Days after a POLITICO report highlighted Sean Eldridge’s less-than-stellar relationship with the media, the NY-19 hopeful is looking to hire a communications director.

A hotel executive who has supported Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harry Reid and other top Democrats pleaded guilty to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

An effort to revive the dormant Empire State Games through a non-profit group has fizzled out.

SCOTUSblog has been denied a US Senate press pass, which in turn means it cannot be issued a press credential for the Supreme Court

EJ McMahon parses today’s jobs numbers.