Nick Reisman

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Cox Criticizes Cuomo’s ‘Personal Politics’

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Wednesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “personal politics” that has motivated his feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and led him to push for policies such as the $15 minimum wage proposal.

“Governor Cuomo is desperate politically,” Cox said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show. “He’s doing everything that is political expedient for himself.”

The comments come amid the deepening rift between the governor and mayor, Democrats both whose hostilities are now in the open after de Blasio in July blasted Cuomo in a NY1 interview for siding with Senate Republicans at the expense of the city’s agenda in Albany.

On Tuesday, de Blasio appeared with Cuomo’s Republican opponent in his 2014 re-election bid, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Cuomo, meanwhile, knocked de Blasio for standing with an elected official who holds conservative views on abortion, same-sex marriage and the Syrian refugee debate.

“I do recall in September he stood between the pope and Cardinal Dolan,” Cox said of Cuomo. “I believe both of them are staunchly pro-life.”

The Cuomo-de Blasio Battle Escalates

deBlasioFrom the Morning Memo:

Just in time for Thanksgiving, New York’s most prominent elected officials remain even more at odds with one another.

The feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio escalated on Tuesday as the governor criticized the mayor for appearing alongside his 2014 Republican opponent, while the mayor stood by and chuckled as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino suggested mental health services were needed for Cuomo.

The fight started early with something of a pre-buttal by Cuomo who was appearing with a potential de Blasio foe in a 2017 Democratic primary, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Cuomo knocked de Blasio for standing with Astorino, given his stances on abortion, same-sex marriage and Syrian refugees (Never mind Cuomo has had a good public relationship with Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who holds similar views to Astorino).

“You’re talking to the wrong guy if you think I’m going to be able to decipher the mayor’s politics,” Cuomo said. “But I can tell you the Republican who I ran against, this is a man who is against a woman’s right to choose, this is a man who wants to lock refugees out of this country. It is not a person who I would want to stand next to.”

Jeffries added it “doesn’t seem to make sense to play footsie” with Astorino.

Then it was de Blasio and Astorino’s turn to tee off on the governor at a news conference on transportation funding.

“It seems like the governor has some insecurities,” Astorino said. “Since he’s a constituent of mine, I’d be more than happy to set him up with our Department of Community Health if he needs some help on this issue.”

It’s not the first time Astorino has teamed up with one of Cuomo’s liberal antagonist. During the gubernatorial campaign, Astorino appeared in a brief alliance with Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged Cuomo in a Democratic primary.

Libous, Leaving Court, Thanks Supporters

Republican former Sen. Tom Libous left court on Tuesday after he was sentenced in his federal corruption case, thanking constituents and pledging to appeal his July guilty verdict.

“I’ve had tremendous support not only from not only my family and friends, but my constituents,” Libous said. “They’ve supported me. “It’s nice to come to this point.”

In addition to six months of home confinement, Libous is required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and pay a $50,000 fine. He was found guilty in July of having lied to the FBI in a case stemming from his Matthew receiving a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County.

Libous’s sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti avoids jail time, which both his attorneys and prosecutors in the case sought given his terminal cancer gives him less than a year to live.

The sentencing does allow Libous to make doctors appointments and visit his son in prison, who is was sentenced earlier this year in a tax evasion case.

Cuomo: Alcoa Closure Was A ‘Declaration Of War’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Massena earlier on Tuesday said the planned closure of an aluminum plant by Alcoa was a “declaration of war” by the company.

“This was not the negotiating table,” Cuomo told reporters. “This was a unilateral declaration of war, as far as I’m concerned. This was, ‘We’re closing the plant, period. End of discussion.’ We had to create the conversation.”

Both Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced an agreement reached with the company, costing the state $68 million, to keep the factory open for the next 3-1/2 years. The plant was due to close after the worldwide aluminum market fell.

Schumer added they he, too, was taken aback by the sudden closure of the factory, which would have meant the slashing of 600 jobs.

“They were in such a frenzy because the price of aluminum was so slow, they overlooked the fact that there were things we could do to help them to keep this plant open, which I think ultimately they wanted to do,” Schumer said. “They didn’t get consult us. I was shocked they didn’t consult us.”

Cuomo and Schumer insisted that while the deal was only for the next several years, the state would continue to work to keep the factory open.

“The agreement is for 3-1/2 years, but the commitment is forever,” Cuomo said. “This plant has a major investment in it, it has had a major investment from the state for many years. This is 600 jobs that are vital.”

Meanwhile, the future of the plant could still hinge on what the aluminum market looks like several years from now.

“We hope in 3-1/2 years the price of aluminum goes up,” Cuomo said. “Hopefully the market will take care of it. If there’s a continuing issue, we’ll take care of it.”

This isn’t the first investment the state has made in Alcoa’s North Country plant.

Eight years ago, the state gave the company $5.6 billion worth of power credits for the next 30 years.

Cuomo and Schumer pointed to the energy subsidizes as one of the reasons why the company should remain open, along with the human element of the jobs lost.

“I think companies have to be a little more cognizant of the fact that — we understand bottom lines and they have to make money — but this is also about people and peoples lives,” Cuomo said. “I understand corporate profit, I also understand humanity.”

No Jail Time For Libous

libousTom Libous, the former deputy majority leader of the state Senate, will not face jail time for his felony conviction of lying to the FBI, TWC News reporter Emily Lorsch reported.

Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti sentenced Libous, who has terminal cancer, to six months of home confinement and two years probation. He is also being fined $50,000.

Briccetti is making exceptions for Libous to visit his father, who is in a nursing home, as well as his son Matthew, who is serving prison time for tax evasion. He will also be able to leave his home for medical appointments.

Libous’s attorneys and the prosecution had sought no jail time for the former lawmaker, citing his ill health and the likelihood he had less than a year to live.

Libous was found guilty in July of lying to federal law enforcement in a case stemming from Matthew receiving a job at a politically connected law firm. The conviction on the felony charge automatically expelled Libous from the Binghamton-area seat he had held since 1988.

During his time in office, Libous wielded power in the Senate and helped bring state resources to the otherwise economically struggling area of the state.

A special election to fill the seat earlier this month was won by Republican Fred Akshar.

Updated: Libous told reporters he will appeal his conviction.

DiNapoli: Retirement Fund Posts Negative Return In Q2

The state pension fund during the second quarter of the fiscal year posted a negative 4.13 percent rate of return, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday announced.

In a statement, DiNapoli pointed to ongoing volatility in the market during the summer. The fund is valued at an estimated at $173.5 billion, which is reflective of benefits that were paid out during the quarter.

The second quarter ended on Sept. 30.

“Volatility in the late summer continued to seriously challenge investors across multiple markets,” DiNapoli said. “Fortunately, New York’s pension fund is built on a conservative, long-term investment strategy to weather such ups and downs and provide retirement security for generations to come. While we’ve seen some recovery in the third quarter, there is no question that this is a tough year for investors.”

Alcoa Jobs Saved After New York Intervention

A $68 million agreement with New York state will keep jobs at Alcoa’s North Country factory in Massena, state and company officials announced on Tuesday at the plant.

The announcement came several weeks after the company announced the plant would close due to macroeconomic forces being placed on the world aluminum market.

“Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo have been tremendous allies for Alcoa’s Massena operations for many years and we thank them for their continued support,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement. “Today’s agreement helps better position the smelter in light of prevailing market conditions, providing this facility a bridge to a stronger commodity market and maintaining jobs in the North Country. We remain focused on ensuring our Upstream business is well-positioned to succeed throughout the cycle.”

The agreement secures 600 jobs at the plant for at least 3-1/2 years.

The plant’s announced closure came on top of an increasingly dire economic picture for upstate New York and the North Country in particular, which has lost jobs — and population — at a steady pace over the last several decades.

The announcement also comes in the wake of a state agreement that kept Heinz-Kraft from closing three plants in different areas of upstate New York, while state officials are working with the company to find a buyer for another factory that was due to close. The state is due to spent at least $20 million helping to upgrade those factories.

The news of Alcoa’s pending closure came amid more bad economic news upstate: Entergy Corp. is moving to close a nuclear plant in Oswego County, a move that state officials are fight as well.

New Ad Campaign Touts Common Core

commoncoreFrom the Morning Memo:

High Achievement New York, a group that has been supportive of Common Core, is launching a six-figure radio campaign aimed at boosting support for the education standards.

The campaign, set to run through December, is being launched as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force convened to study and potentially recommend changes to the standards is concluding its round of public hearings.

In the ad, two Buffalo teachers discuss their support for the standards, saying they “are working” for students.

“But opponents want to pull the rug out on teachers,” says teacher Lucy Mendola in the spot.

Teacher Heather McCarthy adds: “Help us strengthen New York Standards, not dismantle them.”

The ads will be targeted for audiences in New York City, the Capital Region, Buffalo and Rochester.

The spot will also air on Pandora stations and directs listeners to the task force’s comments page as well as the Department of Education’s feedback survey.

Cuomo’s task force is expected to recommend changes to the standards in time for his State of the State address in January.

Education policy issues are due to dominate the legislative session once again next year after lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to changes in the state’s teacher evaluation the state’s teachers unions deeply opposed in part due to the weakening of tenure and making it harder to obtain.

NY-19: Lopez Makes It Official

ny19From the Morning Memo:

Assemblyman Peter Lopez is formally entering the crowded Republican field for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, he announced late Monday night.

Lopez is joining businessman Andrew Heaney and former Assembly Minority John Faso in the Republican primary for the seat that’s currently held by Rep. Chris Gibson.

“If there is one thing the voters are saying this year, is that we need to aggressively challenge the status quo,” Lopez said in a statement. “My message is that we need to someone who is grounded in the community to represent the hard working people back home and not let Washington insiders and power brokers decide who will represent you by buying the seat.”

Lopez had previously filed the necessary paperwork to launch the campaign.

Adding a dose of intrigue to the primary is Lopez’s resume: He once worked in Fasos’s district office.

His entrance into the race comes amid a clash between the Faso and Heaney campaigns. A super PAC aligned with Heaney’s campaign has knocked Faso’s work for the last decade as a lobbyist in Albany; Faso’s campaign has shot back pointing out the video was taken from an interview in which Faso was discussing his work on behalf of autism speaks.

Gibson, a Republican who retires at the end of his current term in 2016, is considering a run for governor in 2018.

On the Democratic side, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is being urged to run by a group of Democrats in the area.

Senate Republicans Could Face Key Tests Upstate

ororom the Morning Memo:

On the surface, Senate Republicans should not have an upstate problem.

The conference controlled its fate in the last round of redistricting, enabling them to choose their voters and ensconce their incumbents in a cocoon of enrolled Republicans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains deeply unpopular in the rural and suburban communities and threat of New York City Democrats running Albany remains a potent concern. More tangibly, the conference kept a Southern Tier district in the GOP column with Fred Akshar defeating Cuomo’s preferred candidate for the job, Democrat Barbara Fiala.

Republicans in 2014 swept out not just Democratic incumbents in key battleground Senate districts in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, but the party did well in Congressional races as well.

And yet, there are problems on the horizon for the party among conservative activists who had taken to heart pledges candidates last year made: Complete repeals of the gun control law known as the SAFE Act and the controversial Common Core education standards.

To be sure, the battleground for control of the Senate next year will likely be Long Island. But restive voters upstate in an election season that’s already gearing up with a strong anti-incumbent, anti-establishment vibe, could throw a curve ball at the Republicans.

In a statewide context, the SAFE Act is a non-issue. Approved in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, the measure continues to enjoy broad majority support. Cuomo is so bolstered by his push for the law that he’s taking it on a national road show.

Common Core remains a stickier wicket for Albany, with polls showing both upstate and suburban voters deeply concerned about the impact the standards are having on their children. Perhaps sensing the political danger after 20 percent of students opted out of April round of standardized testing, Cuomo announced a task force to consider potential changes.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has indicated he would prefer to have the task force act on the changes and not have lawmakers take up the measures.

“The task force is with an eye toward looking what have we done, where have gone and where are we going in the future,” Flanagan said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom last month. “What can and should happen is you get a lot of work done at the Board of Regents level and SED, state Education Department, and if need be, which I think is unnecessary, legislative intervention.”

Even so, both the SAFE Act and Common Core resonate with activists on the local level. They represent differing, but related forms of government overreach. And Republican incumbents, especially in the narrowly divided state Senate, haven’t done enough. More >