Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

ESPA Gets Cuomo Boost, Launches GOTV Contest

From the Morning Memo:

New York’s largest gay and transgender rights organization is celebrating the governor’s election year pledge to push its signature policy issue in 2015, and hopes that will lead to the measure’s passage in Albany.

In a video recorded for the Empire State Pride Agenda’s fall gala, Cuomo called for the passage of Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, which has been approved by the Democrat-controlled Assembly, but remains stalled in the Senate.

Cuomo’s video, which he sent in lieu of an in-person appearance at the event last week (he was departing for a whirlwind trip to the Dominican Republican and Puerto Rico), is the first time the governor has specifically expressed a personal desire to see GENDA pass.

In a letter sent to ESPA several months ago, Cuomo said he has a “deep commitment to protect the rights of all New Yorkers – including those in the transgendered community.” He did not, however, cite GENDA specifically.

“Governor Cuomo calling for…GENDA, is the second time in recent months that we’ve seen true public support on this top human rights priority in New York,” said ESPA Executive Director Nathan Schaefer.

“With the power of the chief executive of New York State behind us, we’re more hopeful than ever that 2015 will be the year GENDA will finally pass and transgender New Yorkers will be treated as equal citizens in the eyes of the law.”

GENDA has been ESPA’s top priority since the passage of same-sex marriage in 2011 – a move that won Cuomo massive support in the LGBT community, and one he continues to tout as proof of his progressive bona fides.

ESPA, which has endorsed Cuomo for re-election, today is launching an “Out the Vote” contest to help turn out the vote on Nov. 4.

Through midnight Oct. 30, LGBT New Yorkers and their allies are being encouraged to share an image or video that explains why it’s important they vote to help secure a pro-LGBT state government by Tweeting @prideagenda or posting on ESPA’s Instagram or Facebook pages using the hashtag #OUTtheVote.

The winner, who will be announced on Halloween, will win a ride to the polls in style in a limo with room to bring three friends.

More information on the contest can be found here, along with ESPA’s 2014 voter guide and other election-related information.

Hayworth Drops Big $ In NY-18

From the Morning Memo:

With her re-match against Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney coming down to the wire, Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth is going all in on her campaign.

This week, according to a source familiar with her decision, Hayworth invested an additional $1 million of her own money in her effort to oust Maloney, who defeated her two years ago.

That’s the most Hayworth has ever personally spent on any of her congressional bids, though she has dropped quite a bit of cash on her political aspirations.

So far this cycle, Hayworth has loaned her campaign $558,000. That’s a lot more than the $173,533 she invested two years ago, but as an incumbent House member, raising campaign cash was considerably easier.

Hayworth, an ophthalmologist by trade, loaned her campaign $500,000 when she first ran for office in 2010, defeating then-Democratic Rep. John Hall.

Now that Maloney is the incumbent and Hayworth the challenger, his fundraising has been a lot stronger than hers. She had brought in (including her own cash) about $2.1 million by the end of September, while he had brought in about $3.4 million.

Even with the additional money she’s putting into her campaign, the effort to oust Hayworth dwarfs the amount being spent to get her back into office.

To date, about $1.3 million has been spent by outside groups – mostly the DCCC and the House Majority PAC – against Hayworth, while about $200,000 has been spent in her favor and about $150,000 went toward negative ads that slam Maloney.

Bloomberg, IDC, Cuomo Ally Boost Grisanti

From the Morning Memo:

As he battles to keep his seat in a four-way race and running solely on the Independence Party line, Sen. Mark Grisanti is getting some last-minute financial help from eyebrow-raising donors who funneled their contributions through a New York City-based environmental group.

The Buffalo Republican’s biggest benefactor was former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who recently penned a $350,000 personal check to the New York League of Conservation Voters with the understanding that the bulk of that cash would go to help Grisanti, multiple sources confirmed.

Bloomberg pledged to protect Grisanti and three other Republican senators who crossed party lines back in 2011 to vote “yes” on same-sex marriage. Grisanti is the last remaining member of that quartet still in the chamber.

The former mayor had already maxed out in his contributions to Grisanti for both the primary and general elections. So he turned to the NYLCV, with which he had a close working relationship during his years at City Hall.

Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolfson confirmed the mayor’s contributions, and said he gave to the NYLCV because it is “doing good work” in the 60th SD.

Bloomberg, a billionaire Democrat-turned-Republican-turned independent, was once the largest personal contributor to the Senate Republicans, but hasn’t given them much support as a group since he departed City Hall at the end of last year.

The former mayor is still involved in politics, but his focus is now mostly national. He has been spending millions of dollars to support House, US Senate and gubernatorial candidates on both sides of the aisle, as well as on various ballot initiatives across the country this cycle.

Bloomberg’s cash accounts for about half of the approximately $700,000 worth of independent expenditures the League plans on spending on this year’s elections. That’s about twice the amount it spent in 2012.

This isn’t the first time Bloomberg and the NYLCV have teamed up to help Grisanti. In 2012, the League made Grisanit’s re-election immediately after the senator’s “yes” vote on same-sex marriage one of its top priorities, and co-hosted a fund-raiser for him at Bloomberg’s Upper East Side townhouse. The organization spent in the six figures to assist Grisanti’s successful campaign that year.

The NYCLV recently named Grisanti its third priority Senate candidate in the general election – along with Long Island Democrat Adrienne Esposito and freshman Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien, of Rochester. The outcome of any – or all three – of those races could play a big role in the fight for control of the Senate.

Technically speaking, however, the League isn’t taking sides in that fight, preferring instead to endorse on a case-by-case basis, supporting lawmakers it believes have backed its agenda in Albany.

Grisanti chairs the Environmental Committee in the Senate, while O’Brien is the ranking member on that committee. Esposito is a long time environmental activist.

The NYLCV has already paid for one TV ad in support of Grisanti, and will soon hit the airwaves with another, a spokesman confirmed. Also on tap: Mailers and an extensive GOTV effort on the senator’s behalf.

The NYLCV also received a $150,000 contribution from the IDC’s PAC. IDC leader Jeff Klein has been courting Grisanti since the GOP senator lost his party’s primary in September to attorney Kevin Stocker.

The League also got a check for $5,000 from environmental attorney Larry Rockefeller, a moderate Republican who recently crossed party lines to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and appeared in a campaign ad on the governor’s behalf.

Crain’s, which first reported Bloomberg’s contribution to the NYLCV, noted that both the real estate industry and the teachers unions, which are spending big to help opposite sides in the Senate fight, have given money to the League’s PAC.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 7:10 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live on “The Morning Newswatch” on WHCU 870 AM Ithaca.

At 8 a.m., NYC deputy mayor for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, is the featured speaker as the New York Building Congress presents a “Construction Industry Breakfast Forum” to discuss the release of the organization’s construction forecast through 2016; Trianon Ballroom, New York Hilton Midtown hotel, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Crain’s New York Business and the state’s “Taste NY” program host a “Made in New York” networking event and trade show featuring nearly 50 artisanal food manufacturers, brewers, distillers and winemakers; Fashion Institute of Technology, Seventh Avenue and 28th Street, Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King and Regent Charles Bendit will visit Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, 511 West 182nd St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill will be a guest on WCSS Talk Radio Show, AM 1490 WCSS.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor de Blasio will join Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton at a press conference to make an announcement, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, 28th Floor, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Hillary Clinton, Cuomo and Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, attend a “Women for Cuomo” event, Grand Hyatt, Grand Central Terminal, 109 E 42nd St., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., joined by members of the Yonkers City Council, Cahill talks about returning “autonomy” to the city, Van der Donck Park, Yonkers.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the NYS Business Council endorses Terrence Murphy, a small business owner and candidate for state Senate in the 40th district, Somers Chamber of Commerce, 2 Old Tomahawk Rd., Granite Springs.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Sakima Green-Brown, candidate for the 104th Assembly District, will be joined by Rep. Chris Gibson for a special announcement, corner of Civic Center Plaza and Mansion Street, Poughkeepsie.

At 10:34 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on WABC radio 770AM with host Geraldo Rivera.

At 11 a.m., broadcaster and chef Marc Murphy, Rep. Charlie Rangel, NYC Council members, religious and union officials and other supporters of the Powered by Breakfast NYC coalition hold a news conference to call for the mayor to expand breakfast programs to all city public schools; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez and business owners discuss a US Government Accountability Office report examining federal programs intended to assist small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy; The Red Hook Winery, pier 41, 175-204 Van Dyke St., Brooklyn.

At 11:35 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on AM970 with host John Gambling.

At noon, Hochul speaks at the at Eleanor’s Legacy Fall Luncheon, where US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will be the special guest, Grand Hyatt, Grand Central Terminal, 109 E 42nd St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, Astorino holds a post-debate press conference, outside the LCA room, 3rd floor, NYS Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, Moss appears live on “Talking Back with Shannon Joy” on WYSL 1040 AM Rochester.

Also at noon, LG Bob Duffy delivers the keynote address at the Genesis Group’s 14th annual meeting and luncheon, Daniele’s Banquet Specialists, 8360 Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford.

At 1:30 p.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club President Allen Roskoff, Albany City Councilman Judd Krasher, and Albany County Legisator Doug Bullock speak about Hawkins’ growing grassroots support, LOB Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.

At 2:45 p.m., Moss holds a news conference with Broome County Sheriff Dave Harder, Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard, Chenango County Sheriff Ernie Cutting and Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills, in front of Government Plaza, Binghamton, 38 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 5 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on WBEN with host Tom Bauerle.

At 5:30 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Herkimer GOP Annual Dinner, Francesca’s Restaurant, 144 E. Main St., Ilion.

At 6 p.m., US Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky will be honored during the Washington-based Center for the National Interest’s “Distinguished Service Award Dinner”; JW Marriott Essex House New York hotel, 160 Central Park South, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the Rockaway Republican Dinner, Belle Harbor Yacht Club, 533 Beach 126th St., Belle Harbor. (Cahill will also attend later in the evening; the event is honoring former Rep. Bob Turner).

At 8 p.m., Hochul speaks at the Richmond County Democratic Gala, Excelsior Grand, 2380 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island.

Headlines…

In their lone televised debate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his GOP rival, Rob Astorino, sidelined the two minor party candidates and refused to stay on topic, battering each other over their respective federal legal problems, records on taxes and allegations of racial and gender prejudice.

Astorino said Cuomo is “swimming in the cesspool of corruption” after pledging to be a reformer, and predicted he might be indicted over the Moreland mess.

After months of remaining above the fray, Cuomo eagerly and sternly hit back, saying Astorino is guilty of financial mismanagement and of driving property taxes up in Westchester, where he is county executive.

Cuomo also called Astorino an “ultraconservative” who “disrespects” women, minorities, gay people and immigrants, and attacked the county executive over his role in a long-running housing-discrimination dispute with the federal government.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins echoed some of Astorino’s sentiments about Cuomo, saying he is running for governor to represent the “99 percent” of the population.

“I think tonight you saw the very angry Andrew,” Astorino said after the debate. “The filthy, disgusting, race-card playing Andrew Cuomo. That’s what he’s been used to his whole life. Unfortunately, he’s just void of any ideas.” Cuomo quipped: “I had fun. I think he was angry.”

Hours before the gubernatorial debate, US Attorney Preet Bharara called state government “a little bit of a corruption disaster” and criticized Cuomo’s handling of the panel that was supposed to clean up the capital.

Cuomo made some news during the debate, saying the long-awaited state health study on fracking is “due at the end of the year.”

The NYT endorsed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for re-election.

More >

Extras

While pushing the Women’s Equality Party, Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul has described a proposal to reform colleges’ handling of sexual assaults as the 11th plank of its agenda.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, will be dressing up for Halloween and greeting trick-or-treaters at Gracie Mansion.

Brian McLaughlin, a one-time Queens Democratic political power and labor leader, was released from a federal prison camp after serving a little more than half of his 10-year sentence.

Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Mondello is still in Astorino’s corner, even if the local county executive, Ed Mangano, is for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

While flirting yet again with a presidential run, former Gov. George Pataki made a pitch for smaller government in New Hampshire this morning.

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has sent a letter to Cuomo calling for set training and standards to deal with a potential outbreak of the Ebola virus in New York.

An airline passenger who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday and was held for evaluation at a New Jersey hospital has not tested positive for Ebola.

Democratic state Senate candidate Madelyn Thorne, who’s challenging GOP Sen. Hugh Farley, has a new ad explaining why she’s running.

By promoting Bill Clinton’s rally for Rep. Tim Bishop, Stony Brook University may have violated its own long-standing policy against using resources to aid political candidates or causes.

Rep. Paul Tonko is also on the air, and is using the ad as a fundraising tool.

GOP NY-21 candidate Elise Stefanik is getting attention from young voters for the possibility that she’ll be the youngest member of Congress is she’s elected next month.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise endorsed GOP AG candidate John Cahill.

The Fix tries to figure out who the 945 people were that bought Cuomo’s book.

Cuomo praised former NY Post editor Pete Hamill at a cremony where the veteran writer received the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish American Writers & Artists.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he has “never met someone in politics that I disrespect more” than party-switching former Florida Gov. Charlie Christ.

As they pitched their ideas to private angel investors at a RPI event, technology executives called the Start-Up NY program too slow and complex to be useful.

The Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Richmond County Young Democrats launched an independent expenditure to assist Democratic NY-11 candidate Domenic Recchia.

The MTA announced that more than 6 million people rode the subway on five separate days in September, breaking the record for most rides five times.

The White House has a scientific explanation for why reporters can’t witness President Barack Obama’s interactions with campaign donors: The very act of observing an event can change its outcome.

Eric Mower + Associates is combining with Middleton & Gendron, a public relations and brand communications agency in New York City.

Reform Revelations (Updated)

From the Morning Memo:

Cuomo, Astorino and Hawkins have all filed questionnaires seeking the endorsement of the NYC-based good government group Citizens Union, and their answers – or lack thereof – are eye opening.

Cuomo, for example, declined to circle either “support” or “oppose” on the fill-in-the-blank portion of the questionnaire regarding whether the state attorney general should be empowered to investigate public corruption.

Underneath this section, Cuomo (or whoever filled out the survey on his behalf) wrote that he would “have to review specific legislation.”

The question of whether the AG should have more power in this realm has been an issue since Cuomo held the office.

Back then, he called for the governor – or the Legislature – to strengthen his ability to probe wrongdoing by state lawmakers in the wake of the infamous Troopergate scandal.

Cuomo’s call was not heeded by either former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (himself an ex-AG) or former Gov. David Paterson. Now that he’s governor himself, Cuomo has also declined to empower his successor, AG Eric Schneiderman.

The AG does not have subpoena power in public corruption cases, which has caused Schneiderman to get creative, teaming up with his fellow statewide Democrat, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose office does have that power, to prosecute the misuse of public funds.

The governor also neglected to circle either “support” or “oppose” on questions of judicial reform, saying he wants to work with the Legislature and other “stakeholders” to simplify a complicated system.

And as for specific budget reforms, the governor wasn’t interested in being nailed down on any of those, either, preferring instead to detail the reforms he has introduced into the budgeting process since taking office in January 2011.

On his questionnaire, Astorino refused to take a position on lowering campaign contribution limits for legislative and statewide candidates.

But he was clear in his opposition to limiting contributions from lobbyists, placement agents and others who do business with the state and also to closing the so-called LLC loophole.

“Well-meaning efforts to limit campaign contributions have only sent money underground,” Astorino wrote. “…Prompt public disclosure of political contributions is the best possible solution.”

Astorino said he supports all the budget reforms listed by Citizens Union, with the exception of one – limiting the ability of the governor to enact policy changes governing the use of resources in appropriation bills. The county executive didn’t take a position on that.

He did, however, express opposition to Prop. 1 – the redistricting constitutional amendment that has divided good government groups. Citizens Union is leading the charge to get it passed.

Cuomo supports Prop. 1.

It appears Hawkins did not fill out any of the “support” or “oppose” questions on the CU form. But he did express opposition to Prop. 1 and support of “full” public campaign financing. UPDATE: Hawkins over a copy of the short portion of his CU questionnaire, saying a “computer glitch” had prevented it from being sent in full.

Citizens Union said it has interviewed both Astorino and Hawkins in advance of its endorsement decision, but has so far not managed to schedule a sit-down with Cuomo.

The interview is usually required in order for a candidate to qualify for the organization’s nod. CU will announce its endorsement in the governor’s race in the coming days.

Senate Dems Mobilize Against Prop. 1

From the Morning Memo:

As Election Day draws near, members of the so-called “regular” Senate Democratic conference are expressing their opposition to the redistricting constitutional amendment – one of three ballot initiatives that New Yorkers will be asked to vote on next month.

Yesterday, Sen. Liz Krueger released an open letter to “friends and colleagues,” denouncing Prop. 1 as “fake reform,” and urging them to vote “no” on Nov. 4.

Krueger noted she voted “no” on the amendment, which she deemed a “sneaky attempt to maintain power, cloaked as reform, by a party afraid of losing its leadership position due to demographic trends throughout our state.”

“There is still time to get this right,” the Manhattan Democrat wrote. “The next New York State redistricting is not until after the 2020 Census, so there is no urgency to enshrine this power grab into our state Constitution.”

Also yesterday, Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, a Brooklyn Democrat who served on the last legislative redistricting task force, issued a statement in opposition to Prop. 1.

“What I learned traveling the state as a member of the task force charged with drafting new legislative districts was that the original intent of the process was misrepresented; citizens and participants were misled as to its openness and transparency; and it was fundamentally fraught with gamesmanship,” the senator wrote.

“The independent commission to be created if voters support ballot proposal one this November is neither independent or capable of restoring the public’s trust in the process,” Dilan continued.

“Proposal Number One, like the public hearings leading up to the lines adopted in 2012, the task force that formulated them, and the end product, is a farce.”

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 7:25 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be a guest on Joe Piscopo in the AM, AM 970, to discuss his re-election bid.

At 8:05 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss appears live “Good Morning Westchester”, WVOX 1460 AM.

At 8:30 a.m., members of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s board of commissioners hold board and committee meetings; 15th floor, 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., AARP joins NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other city business and community leaders to talk solutions for making the city more affordable and livable–and stopping “Boomer Flight,” East Side Marriott, 525 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., 9 a.m. SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner attend the New York State Association for Affordable Housing annual conference, Turning Stone Resort & Casino, 5218 Patrick Rd., Verona.

At 10:45 a.m., Onondaga County Comptroller and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci is interviewed by WNYT, Albany.

At 11 a.m., Moss attends and delivers remarks at the NYS Sheriff’s Association Executive Assistants Graduation Ceremony, Gideon Putnam Resort, 24 Gideon Putnam Rd., Saratoga Springs.

Also at 11 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric will demonstrate AT&T’s “Texting While Driving” simulator, along with AT&T New York State President Marissa Shorenstein and NYC Department of Transportation officials, Columbus Park, downtown Brooklyn.

At 11:15 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill will be a guest on “Creativity & Technology for Business and Life” with Joe Dans, AM 1110 and FM 93.5 WTBQ.

At 1 p.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will hold a press conference to unveil the Astorino/Moss Empowerment and Opportunity Plan, Buffalo Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Dr., Buffalo.

From 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., representatives from DEC and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation continue statewide public hearings to discuss a draft “Open Space Conservation Plan”; the department’s Region 2 office, 47-40 21st St., Queens.

At 2:30 p.m., Antonacci and Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli participate in a joint interview with The Journal News’ editorial board, White Plains.

At 4 p.m., members of the New York State Nurses Association, 1199 SEIU and CWA will host a rally and phone bank for Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko and Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge, NYSNA Capital District Office, 155 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 4:30 p.m., DiNapoli will be a guest on “The Ride Home with Pat Kiernan and Rita Cosby”, AM 770.

At 6 p.m., Cahill will attend and speak at the Lewis County GOP Dinner, Ridgeview Inn Restaurant, 6912 Bardo Rd., Lowville.

At 6:30 p.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz hosts a pre-debate rally in support of Cuomo and his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, near WNED/WBFO studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo.

Also at 6:30 p.m., anti-frackers to demonstrate outside the studios.

Also at 6:30 p.m., AARP holds a member-only candidate forum with the NY-1 candidates – Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and GOP state Sen. Lee Zeldin – Island 16 Cinema Delux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville.

At 7 p.m., Moss attends and delivers keynote remarks at the Sullivan Republican Dinner, The Club House at Villa Roma, 340 Villa Roma Rd., Callicoon.

At 8 p.m., Cuomo, Astorino, Hawkins and Libertarian Michael McDermott will participate in the campaign’s lone televised debate hosted by WNED-TV, WBFO-FM and The Buffalo News, WNED Studios, 140 Lower Terrace, Buffalo. The debate will be broadcast live on PBS television stations and NPR radio affiliates across the state.

Headlines…

Tonight’s debate is GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s one chance to be on equal footing with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose job is not to lose his cool or look to aloof. More here.

Six things to watch for in tonight’s debate. No. 1: Will Cuomo blow his top as Astorino tries to get a rise out of him?

“Buffalo has bordered on an obsession for Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, since he took office in 2011.” The governor rejected the suggestion his attentions are politically motivated, calling that “a cheap political analysis by a really cynical individual.”

Bronx-born Vincent Pastore, who played mobster “Big Pussy” on “The Sopranos,” is supporting Astorino and suggesting his former character’s name applies to Cuomo for refusing to participate in more televised debates.

Hillary Clinton will rally at an event in Manhattan with Cuomo tomorrow.

A class action settlement between NYCLU and the state will provide $5.5 million over two years to ensure indigent criminal defendants in five counties are represented by a public defender at arraignment, in what social justice advocates called a “historic” overhaul of New York’s public defense system.

The settlement mandates changes in Suffolk County on Long Island and in four upstate counties: Ontario, Onondaga, Schuyler and Washington; it does not affect New York City. But civil rights predicted that it would serve as a model for many other counties outside the city.

Bill Hammond: “As governor of the whole state, Cuomo should have addressed the mess as the statewide problem that it is — instead of nickel-and-diming the NYCLU. Ditto for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office represented the state’s case.”

An Ebola preparedness session in NYC was “pep rally and part training conference,” as Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took pains to pay tribute to 1199 SEIU, the powerful health care workers union that was one of the organizers.

An improving economy and increased ridership have boosted the MTA’s financial picture, but the agency still faces challenges posed by rising labor, debt-service and other costs, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

More >

Extras

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner admits his political career is “realistically” over, and he’s no longer looking for a way back in.

Sen. Liz Krueger opposed the redistricting constitutional amendment (Prop. 1), calling it “fake reform” and urging friends and colleagues to vote “no.”

The NYC Council’s Progressive Caucus also opposes Prop. 1.

US Attorney Preet Bharara will be a guest on “The Capitol Pressroom” with Susan Arbetter tomorrow morning.

The first – and only – televised debate between the gubernatorial candidates will take place tomorrow night in Buffalo.

Proctor’s is screening the debate.

Less than a day after the CDC announced new safety protocols for treating Ebola patients, thousands of New York City health-care workers gathered for a mass demonstration of proper use of head-to-toe protective gear.

The state Court of Appeals has reinstated a slander suit by two former SU ball boys who alleged Orangemen Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s assistant coach, Bernie Fine, had molested them.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the CPR in schools bill into law.

NYCLU announced an historic settlement that overhauls public defense in five counties and lays the foundation for statewide reform of New York’s broken public defense system.

“The Contender,” a biography about Cuomo by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Shnayerson, is scheduled for release on Feb. 17, and it has a cover.

Republican AG hopeful John Cahill said Democratic incumbent Eric Schneiderman should be working with new businesses like AirBnB instead of investigating them.

After VP Joe Biden endorsed Rep. Dan Maffei, several reporters questioned why two bands from the Syracuse School District performed at a political rally.

Under a bill signed into law by Cuomo, New York will officially promote the state’s growing beer, wine and liquor industries.

NYU Prof. Patrick J. Egan believes Cuomo is among a handful of governors wll positioned to run for president in 2016.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani fired back at Mayor Bill de Blasio over his protest of the critically acclaimed “Klinghoffer” opera, saying he has studied the opera and has found it “historically inaccurate.”

The lawyers representing the woman who has accused attorney Sanford Rubenstein of rape accused the Manhattan DA that his office is moving too slowly to bring charges.

The Cuomo-backed “Truth Squad” alleged GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino reneged on a pledge as Westchester County executive to prohibit sex offenders from being housed at a homeless shelter in Valhalla.

Five businesses, including four medical industry companies, have been picked to be part of the tax-free zones established by the state as part of the Start-Up NY program.

The Gothamist’s take on the NYT’s endorsement of Cuomo is worth a read.

Giuliani will be hitting the campaign trail with Gov. Rick Scott tomorrow in South Florida.

New York may replace its bar exam with a nationally administered and graded standardized test, making it easier for young lawyers to move in and out of the state without having to take another grueling test.

NY GOP: Cuomo Running ‘Mean-Spirited’ Campaign, ‘Afraid’ to Debate

On the eve of the first – and it appears only – gubernatorial debate, which will take place tomorrow night in Buffalo, the state GOP has released a new TV ad trashing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for running a “mean-spirited” campaign and being “afraid” to debate his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

The ad claims Cuomo is on the attack against Astorino because he is “failing” New Yok on taxes and job creation.

It also maintains the governor is under federal investigation for witness tampering and obsctuction of justice, which isn’t entirely true, though it has been speculated that those could be charges under consideration – if any charges are indeed to be brought – by US Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is investigating the demise of Cuomo’s now-defunct corruption-busing Moreland Commission.

Also, there have indeed been tax cuts during Cuomo’s four years in the governor’s office, and according to data released today by the state Department of Labor, the statewide unemployment rate has fallen from 7.4 percent in September 2013 to 5.6 percent last month. Meanwhile, the national jobless rate improved from 7 percent a year ago to 5.7 percent this part September.

The state party is stepping in to assist Astorino in the final weeks of the campaign with this ad, which will run through Election Day. But it’s going to be difficult to make a dent in the flood of TV ads – both positive and negative – that the Cuomo campaign and the state Democratic Party have been running, since they are both flush with many more millions of dollars worth of campaign cash than Astorino has managed to raise.

Cuomo, Astorino, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott will square off tomorrow in a debate sponsored by The Buffalo News and WNED/WBFO of Buffalo. The debate will be televised, and will kick off at 7 p.m.

Cuomo had offered to debate Astorino one-on-one on WNYC public radio, but Astorino rejected the offer, saying any head-to-head debates between the two major party candidates should be televised. Astorino had previously called for eight debates with the governor.

Here’s the script of the GOP’s new ad; the party is not disclosing the size of the buy or any details about where the spot is running:

Announcer: “Andrew Cuomo spent millions on campaign ads filled with lies. The reason: Cuomo’s failing New York.

Under Cuomo we have the highest taxes, and record job losses. Cuomo is at the center of Albany corruption, under federal investigation for obstruction of justice, witness tampering.

Cuomo failed on jobs, failed on taxes, and failed us. That’s why Cuomo is running a negative, mean-spirited campaign. And that’s why Cuomo is afraid to debate his opponent.”