Sep 28th - 5:50 pm
Speaking with reporters in New York City on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he does not expect to be called as witness should any of the cases facing nine people charged in a sweeping pay-to-play corruption case go to trial.
At the same time, Cuomo said he had not been interviewed by law enforcement authorities, who moved last week to charge his former top aide Joe Percoco, SUNY Polytechnic chief Alain Kaloyeros and prominent upstate developers who have received state business for economic development programs.
Cuomo reiterated he plans to move the money his campaign received from those developers into a separate account as they could be subject to forfeiture action by prosecutors.
Still, Cuomo does not plan to stop receiving donations from contributors who may have or are seeking business from the state.
He also defended the way he raised campaign contributions from the developers implicated in the alleged schemes as well as a decision to segregate the money they gave — roughly $350,000 — until the case is resolved.
“You couldn’t win office,” Cuomo said. “Obviously, to take money from no one, would be the simplest way. It makes no sense to me to give the money back to the people who have been charged. Why would we want to enrich them?”
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s campaign announced he is returning the roughly $20,000 he received from donors tied to executives at COR Development and LP Ciminelli, while Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is giving the $15,000 he received to charity.
Sep 28th - 5:05 pm
The U.S. Senate approved a stop-gap funding bill to avert a looming federal government shutdown, after Republicans and Democrats agreed to help Flint, Michigan, resolve its drinking water crisis.
The Senate also voted to override President Obama’s veto of a bill letting the victims of the 9/11 attacks sue Saudi Arabia, striking a blow to the president on foreign policy weeks before he leaves office. It was the first override of his tenure.
A new poll suggests voters are buying in to Donald Trump’s insinuations about Hillary Clinton’s health. They’re ignoring the medical reports that have deemed her fine.
Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe called “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” by Trump, appears in a new Clinton campaign ad.
Trump said he calmed his nerves before Monday’s debate by taking a deep breath and pretending he was talking to his family, and not the largest debate-watching audience in history.
Clinton, campaigning today with Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, worked to sway millennial voters by promoting a plan to provide free public-college tuition for working families
Alan Kaloyeros’ alleged involvement in a bid-rigging scandal is only the beginning of problems for SUNY Poly, which faces close to $500 million in debt.
Images of Kaloyeros, the now-suspended founding president and CEO of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, have been removed from the school’s walls after he was hit with state and federal corruption charges.
Speaking of Kaloyeros…he issued a warning of sorts to his detractors on social media today.
A signature Kaloyeros project — renovating and re-branding historic Peter D. Kiernan Plaza at the base of State Street in Albany — has been losing money for the past three years, records show.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has no plan to return donations from Cor Development Co. executives in the wake of federal bribery charges against them.
A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans for the new Penn Station, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member – Veronica Vanterpool, chairwoman of the Tristate Transportation Campaign – is raising concerns about the project’s timeline and its funding.
Cuomo met earlier this week with a group of real estate executives working to hash out a deal to revive the expired 421-a tax abatement program.
Frederick Ippolito, former Town of Oyster Bay commissioner, was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison in a tax evasion case, and the judge admonished local officials for not recognizing that Ippolito’s dealings with a paving contractor were a clear conflict of interest.
Republican Sen. George Amedore does not plan to return donations to his campaign from prominent Albany developer Joe Nicolla, who is mired in a state political scandal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he remains “dubious” about the idea of legalizing recreational pot use – a day after an explosion at a suspected “growhouse” killed a firefighter in the Bronx.
NY-1 Democratic congressional challenger Anna Throne-Holst will have the ballot line of the Working Families Party in her November race against freshman GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is laying off 34 employees, or about 1.5 oercent of its workforce, museum officials said.
Welch Allyn plans to add 100 new jobs to its medical equipment factory in Skaneateles, already one of Central New York’s largest employers.
Sep 28th - 4:22 pm
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul insisted on Wednesday the administration has the confidence in economic development czar Howard Zemsky, whose portfolio expanded last week to included efforts overseen by the now-suspended leader of SUNY Polytechnic Alain Kaloyeros.
Kaloyeros faces federal and state charges of bid rigging connected to upstate economic development projects that he oversaw. Kaloyeros was a deeply influential figure in development efforts for the Albany area and later placed in charge of replicating the success in other upstate cities that have struggled to grow jobs.
“Howard Zemsky will now be exercising control over that,” Hochul said in an interview after speaking to an upstate Latino organization outside of Albany.
“That gives me a great deal of confidence as it does the governor. Howard was the person behind the Buffalo Billion as far as the economic renaissance. He’s just inspired confidence of people all over the state. He’s going to be the one focused on this.”
Zemsky, the CEO of the Empire State Economic Development Corp., has been Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top official in carrying out the Buffalo Billion program. Developers who have worked with projects under the program have also been charged in the case along with a former top aide to the governor, Joe Percoco.
State lawmakers have increasingly pressed the Cuomo administration for details of the effectiveness of economic development spending in New York, especially under the costly Buffalo Billion program. Lawmakers have been especially skeptical over whether the money has been well spent in relation to the number of jobs created.
But Hochul indicated, as has Cuomo in recent days, the foot won’t be coming off the gas on development efforts in upstate New York, even with the corruption case looming.
“We can’t let anything dissuade us from our ultimate goal which is a full recovery for the communities of upstate New York,” she said.
At the same time, Hochul said the arrests won’t create a distraction from the overall goal.
“It’s absolutely not a distraction, but the governor is certainly looking at what led us to this point,” she said. “We’re going to take a look back and see if there’s any way we can make sure this doesn’t happen again. If there’s more legislation needed, we’re going to push for it.”
Sep 28th - 3:35 pm
Probably not the wisest thing to do when facing federal and state corruption charges, via the Facebook page of suspended SUNY Poly chief Alain Kaloyeros:
Kaloyeros is known for having had a salty and irreverent presence on Facebook, posting jokes and memes about women and Darth Vader.
h/t due to Casey Seiler, who has an uncensored version of the Facebook status here.
Sep 28th - 3:01 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t refer to Joe Percoco by name with reporters on Wednesday in Syracuse even as he alluded to the “emotional situation” that has befallen a “friend” of his and his father’s.
“I try not to be defensive and this is somewhat of an emotional situation for me,” Cuomo said when asked about the arrests of Percoco and eight other people on charges of bribery and bid rigging related to upstate economic development projects. “On a personal level, it is very, very disappointing for me.”
Cuomo’s relationship with Percoco was a deep one. He referred to his former top aide as his father’s “third son” and described him as a counselor during his tumultuous divorce from Kerry Kennedy. Today he referred to Percoco as “my friend.”
Cuomo invoked his late father, Mario Cuomo, who Percoco worked for when he was governor.
“You can disagree on politics, you can disagree on issues with my father’s administration or my administration,” Cuomo said. “But the integrity of the administration is without question. So I’m personally disappointed because my friend knew that.”
Cuomo distanced himself from Percoco earlier in the year when his administration first received a subpoena related to the investigation.
But corruption case has been even more troubling for Cuomo in that it has gone to the heart of a signature effort for him: upstate economic development.
Cuomo continued to defend continued investment in upstate economic programs, insisting the procurement process he plans to propose changes to in the State of the State next year had seemingly worked.
“Apparently it had worked fine for 15 years,” he said. “In retrospect I did not revisit their procurement system because they’re a separate branch, they’re a separate agency. We will do just that.”
The effort to revamp the Capital Region’s economy was “probably the greatest economic development success that the state of new York has ever seen.”
“It transformed the Capital District, so there was no apparent reason to go look at this other agency and get involved,” he said. “Now there is.”
Sep 28th - 2:15 pm
A day after the executive director of the state Democratic Committee announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo planned to set aside campaign contributions connected to two developers charged in an alleged bid-rigging scheme, the governor spoke on the topic.
“We vet all the contributions that we receive. Obviously on these contributions, there would have been no red flags by definition,” Cuomo told reporters in Syracuse Wednesday.
Cuomo, who was first elected to office in 2010, has received $96,500 from LPCiminelli CEO Louis Ciminelli over the years, as well as money from the developer’s wife and company. He has also accepted $70,000 from COR Development top executive Steven Aiello.
A 79-page complaint from the U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York accuses executives from both companies of using bribes to secure preferential treatment on state contracts. Cuomo said any contributions connected to the companies will be set aside.
“We’re going to set up a separate account, put those funds in a segregated account, wait for the case to be finished. If the U.S. attorney is requiring forfeiture of assets, we’ll have those funds available for the U.S. attorney for those purposes,” he said.
Ciminelli’s and Aiello’s political donations were widespread and bipartisan. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced Tuesday he was returning $40,000 in contributions connected to the developers.
Local and state politicians are beginning to follow suit. In Western New York, state Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, both said if Louis Ciminelli is convicted, they will donate contributions from him to charity.
Cuomo, meanwhile, reiterated he had no no knowledge of the claims made in the complaint, once again shifting the blame from his office to the State University of New York’s procurement process. He did address another financial issue associated with the charges, though.
“If the state was ripped off, if the state is owed money and the U.S. attorney proves that, we’ll do everything we need to do to get the money back, but in the meantime, my focus is on getting the projects up and getting the projects running,” he said.
The governor said the buildings both developers were responsible for building are complete and the priority now is to get the businesses into them.
Sep 28th - 2:11 pm
New York ranks at the bottom when it comes to its business tax climate, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the Tax Foundation.
The report ranked New York 49th overall in business taxes, sandwiched between two other notoriously high-tax states, California (48th) and New Jersey (50th). For what it’s worth, the states with the best tax climate for businesses are Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska.
The ranking comes after years of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration pushing to reshape the image of the state as having a high-tax climate or being generally hostile to businesses.
“The states in the bottom 10 tend to have a number of shortcomings in common: complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates,” the foundation wrote in its report. “New Jersey, for example, is hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, is one of just two states to levy both an inheritance tax and an estate tax, and maintains some of the worst-structured individual income taxes in the country.”
Business groups, meanwhile, lamented the development.
“The Tax Foundation has released its annual State Business Tax Climate Index and the results are troubling and frustrating,” said Greg Biryla of Unshackle Upstate. New York State has the second-worst business tax climate in the nation. That’s simply unacceptable. If a well-respected research organization published a report that had similar findings about our educational or health care systems, the outcry would be deafening and Albany would go to great lengths to address the situation.”
Updated: The Cuomo administration responds.
“New York has a fair and progressive income tax structure that this conservative leaning organization fundamentally disagrees with,” said spokesman Rich Azzopardi.
“Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s reforms, we also have the lowest middle class tax rates in 70 years, the lowest manufacturing tax rate since 1917 and the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968, and a tax cap that broke the cycle of skyrocketing property tax hikes on businesses and property taxpayers alike.”
Sep 28th - 1:50 pm
Two Democratic candidates for state Senate on Wednesday called on their Republican opponents to return campaign cash linked to developers who have been charged in the sweeping bribery and pay-to-play scandal that has engulfed a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Democrat Sara Niccoli, running to unseat incumbent Sen. George Amedore in the 46th Senate district, is pushing him to return $30,000 in contributions from Albany-based developer Joseph Nicolla.
Nicolla was among those who face state charges in an alleged bid-rigging scheme that has ensnared the head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros.
“George Amedore has a pattern of accepting money from shady, corrupt and even indicted individuals and it has to end,” Niccoli said.
“Not only was George hand-picked to run for the Senate by convicted felon Dean Skelos, he was even drawn his own special district and lavished with millions of dollars from downstate party bosses. George has also received millions from New York City real estate developers and from Leonard Litwin, who was at the very core of the Dean Skelos corruption scandal. The Nicolla donations are simply the latest example of Senator Amedore being funded by corrupt special interests, and I urge George to do the right thing and return these tainted dollars.”
Meanwhile, Democrat Amber Small also on Wednesday made a similar call for Republican Chris Jacobs to return his donations he’s received from LP Ciminelli executives and members of the Ciminelli family. Ciminelli is among the upstate developers who has been charged in the federal case, whose company has played a prominent role in the Buffalo Billion economic development program.
The calls come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign on Tuesday signaled it would set aside the thousands of dollars he’s received from the developers linked to the corruption cases should prosecutors seek to clawback those funds.
At the same time, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli had previously said he would return then $20,000 in contributions he’s received from Ciminelli.
Sep 28th - 12:19 pm
Time Warner Cable News will host a debate for the 21st Congressional district race.
The debate will be held on October 3rd between incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, Green candidate Matt Funiciello and Democrat Mike Derrick.
It will air at 7 p.m. with an encore presentation at 10 p.m.
Capital Tonight host Liz Benjamin will serve as moderator.
Sep 28th - 12:00 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will represent New York at the funeral of the late former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Cuomo is flying to Israel on Thursday to attend the service scheduled for Friday.
Peres, who died on Wednesday, twice served as the prime minister of the Jewish State and twice as interim prime minister and served in various top-level posts in the Israeli government.
Both Cuomo and Peres had known each other for several years and were said to have a warm relationship.
During his trip to Israel in 2014, Cuomo met with Peres.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former President and Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres,” Cuomo said in a statement. “He was not only a great leader for his country, but one of the most profound statesmen our world has ever known.”