Nick Reisman

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SD-41: Serino Sympathizes With Long-Haul Commuters

The latest television ad from Republican Sen. Sue Serino released Friday touts her refusal to take a per diem while in office, arguing that if her commuting constituents don’t get to do it, why should she.

The 30-second ad is called “Not About The Paycheck” and is airing on cable networks, her campaign said. It is the second ad she has released this cycle.

In the ad, Serino points to the voters in her Hudson Valley district who commute to work, some traveling as far as New York City to earn their paychecks.

“The per diem for New York State government is approximately $170 dollars a day,” Serino says in the ad. “I don’t take a per diem. Why would I think that I’m entitled to take a payment when I’m going to do my job?”

Serino, first elected in 2014, is running against the Democrat she unseated two years ago, former Sen. Terry Gipson.

The ad’s theme comes as lawmakers and challengers in key legislative races this year have made the proposed pay hike for members of the Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet a campaign issue.

Cuomo has said lawmakers need to make an effective case for a pay raise, but so far have not.

SD-46: NYLCV Endorses Niccoli

The New York League of Conservation Voters on Friday endorsed Democratic Senate hopeful Sara Niccoli in the 46th district.

“The future of the Capital District and Hudson Valley falls into the hands of our positive, proven leaders that are geared towards building a more environmentally-sound and just future. We are proud to endorse Sara Niccoli in her campaign for State State, and we encourage anyone who wants to see continued growth towards a healthier and more resilient New York to vote for Sara on November 8th,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Niccoli, the town supervisor in Palatine, is running against incumbent Republican George Amedore in the district, which stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Hudson Valley.

The district is among a handful of competitive Senate seats this year that could decide control of the chamber.

In giving her the nod, the group pointed to Niccoli’s support for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pushing the state to have 50 percent of its power coming from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the New York State League of Conservation Voters. Preserving New York’s vast natural resources, addressing the climate crisis head-on, and protecting our air and water are more important than ever,” Niccoli said. “Extreme weather events are destroying crops and communities across upstate New York. My opponent George Amedore has a long record of blocking environmental protections and won’t even recognize that climate change exists. As State Senator, I will fight alongside the League of Conservation Voters for the future of our children and grandchildren.”

Cuomo Vetoes KJ Annexation Legislation (Updated)

For the second year in a row, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation that was aimed at strengthening the oversight of controversial and politically fraught land annexations in the village of Kiryas Joel.

Backed by Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis and Republican Senator Bill Larkin, the measure would have required land annexations be overseen by the county planning agency or a regional planning council.

In his veto message, Cuomo wrote he is blocking the bill from becoming law based on similar constitutional concerns he raised last year.

“Last year I vetoed a similar bill that would authorize to have control over local annexation petitions that did not impact a county’s boundaries because it would have directly contravened the constitutional prohibitions on a county’s authority,” Cuomo wrote. “The language in the current bill violates the same constitutional principles.”

The annexation of land in the Hudson Valley village have been met with increasing acrimony and political strife in Orange County and the town of Monroe. The vast majority of Kiryas Joel residents are Hasidic Jews.

Residents in Monroe in particular have raised concerns with the growing political influence of the leadership of Kiryas Joel through the annexations.

Updated: Skoufis in a statement says he’s going to continue to press for the bill becoming law, insisting the bill is the “right thing to do” to increase oversight.

“The Governor’s repeated veto of my annexation oversight bill reflects a politically-driven disregard on this critical issue,” he said. “Likewise, his continued argument that the bill is unconstitutional flies in the face of reality.”

Vetoes #212-221 by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Lawmakers Consider Oversight Options After Arrests

From the Morning Memo:

State lawmakers want to see more oversight of economic development spending after the arrests of nine people last week in an alleged widespread scheme involving bid rigging and bribery within key projects designed to spur job creation upstate.

“The problem is when public money is involved, there needs to be the highest degree of oversight over that public money,” said Assemblyman John McDonald, a Democrat who represents an Albany-area district.

Now lawmakers are considering reinstating the power of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review state spending under the umbrella of economic development. The comptroller’s office was stripped of that power in 2011, the first year Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office.

“What we might want to do is what any other entity is used to dealing with here in state government, which is admittedly an arduous process but reinstating the comptroller’s role and attorney general’s role in reviewing all these contracts,” McDonald said.

DiNapoli has signaled he would like to have that power to review the spending once again, and Speaker Carl Heastie has told lawmakers and legislative staff he would like new oversight options as well.

“The speaker’s given direction to examine every option, and an option might be to reinstate the comptroller and attorney general in the process right up front,” McDonald said.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have their own ideas, which includes making it easier for any reform bill to come to the floor for a vote. One bill would allow for votes on bills, should a majority of the entire chamber–not just the party in power–agree to a vote.

“We have to get reform bills to the floor and we can’t let the powerful leaders hold up those bills,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco a Republican from the Albany suburbs. “They have to be leaders themselves, rank and file members.”

Tedisco, who is running for the Senate this year, adds new disclosure requirements for state contracts is also needed, enhancing the powers of the attorney general and restoring the power of the comptroller.

“He should have the ability to look at that type of spending and that’s why I think the Truth in Spending bill will help him do that type of audit,” said Tedisco.

Though they are all Democrats, both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli are considered to be political rivals to Cuomo.

Cuomo this week faulted the SUNY procurement process in the wake of the arrests, which included his former top aide Joe Percoco and SUNY Polytechnic leader Alain Kaloyeros. Cuomo has said he will introduce reforms to the procurement process in his State of the State address. 

SD-7: Haber Fundraises Off Trump’s Debate Performance

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Senate candidate Adam Haber wasted little time this week firing off a fundraising appeal to supporters on the heels of the first presidential debate this week.

In the email sent Thursday, Haber blasted the performance by Trump and his campaign for the White House in general, saying it has drawn in “hate, bigotry and anti-woman insults.”

“The debate showed just how out of touch, and ill-prepared, the Party of Trump has become,” Haber wrote in the email. “We are stronger when we work together, putting forth bold ideas based off facts and common-sense — not hate and dividing people.”

The message is the latest sign Democrats running in key Senate races this year, especially in Nassau County, are seizing on the anti-Trump sentiment among general election voters with the hope of down-ballot races like theirs will be rewarded by a strong showing by Clinton in November.

“This is the person our opponent is depending on at the polls for a victory,” Haber wrote in the email. “We can’t let this happen. Will you join me in the fight against Trump and his allies?”

Haber is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jack Martins, who is running for an open congressional seat. Haber faces Republican Elaine Phillips, the mayor of the village of Flower Hill.

Christie Touts His ‘Tested’ Relationship With Cuomo

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lauded the relationship he and his office has with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his team, calling it one of the most effective in the time he’s been on the scene.

The comments came after Christie and Cuomo toured the site of a crashed train in New Jersey that had been carrying commuters from both states and originated in Rockland County in New York.

“We’ve been tested as have the people of New York and New Jersey have been tested,” Christie said, noting Cuomo was the first to call him following a staff briefing on the train crash.

The crash has left at least one person dead and more than 100 injured.

At the end of a news conference featuring both men in New Jersey, Christie pointed to the past efforts he and Cuomo have collaborated on in times of crisis, saying they’ve been able to work well together.

“The fact is that over the last six years that Gov. Cuomo and I have served in these positions together we have gone through Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy and a number of terrorist attacks,” Christie said while flanked by Cuomo. “What that’s done for our relationship and for the relationships of our staffs has been these folks know how to deal with a crisis.”

The praised went further: “What the people of the region need to be assured of is I don’t remember a time in the history of the state when I’ve been observing when you’ve had a better and more tested relationship of the governor of New York and the governor of New Jersey and their staffs.”

The comments highlight what has been an unusual bond between both governors, one a Republican and the other a Democrat and come amid ongoing political troubles for both men.

Christie, a prominent supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign after dropping his own White House bid this year, is under scrutiny for his administration’s role in the closure of traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge. His former top aides are now on trial for the incident, which was allegedly done out of political revenge after the mayor of Fort Lee declined to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

The bridgegate saga has also drawn in the bistate Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — an agency both governors control.

NY1’s Zack Fink — who has covered both Christie and Cuomo as a reporter — wrote an extensive profile of the relationship that ran in City & State magazine.

Meanwhile, Cuomo faces his own problems with his former top aide Joe Percoco facing bribery charges, along with a host of upstate developers and Alain Kaloyeros, the leader of SUNY Polytechnic.

Republicans in New York have been deeply suspicious of Christie after the governor declined to provide material support to GOP nominee Rob Astorino 2014 while he led the Republican Governors Association.

Cuomo cancelled his trip to Israel, where he was due to attend the funeral of former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, shortly after the news of the train crash broke.

Cuomo Cancels Israel Trip

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has cancelled his trip to Israel to attend the funeral of the late Shimon Peres in the wake of a deadly train crash in the metropolitan area.

Cuomo had planned to leave this morning to attend Peres’s funeral in Tel Aviv and fly back soon after.

But the derailment in New Jersey of a train that originated in Spring Valley and has left at least one person dead and nearly 100 injured commanded his attention, his office announced.

Cuomo plans to hold a news conference with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the crash at around 2 p.m.

NY-22: House Dem Super PAC Takes On Tenney’s Albany Record

The super PAC backed by House Democrats on Thursday released its latest TV ad trashing the tenure of Republican congressional hopeful Claudia Tenney.

The ad seems designed at the very least to get a rise out of Tenney, a conservative member of the Assembly GOP conference.

The ad claims Tenney backed legislation that supported New York City interests — namely on affordable housing subsidies — at the expense of her upstate constituents.

“Claudia Tenney missed hundreds of votes in the state Assembly and even when she did bother to show up, she wasn’t working for Upstate New York,” said House Majority PAC Communications Director Jeb Fain. “Upstate New Yorkers deserve far better representation in Washington than the very worst Albany has to offer.”

The ad will air in the Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica media markets, part of an media purchase that began Sept. 6 now totaling more than $1.8 million.

Tenney is running in a three-way race for the 22nd congressional district which stretches from central New York, the Southern Tier and the Mohawk Valley. She faces Democrat Kim Myers and independent Martin Babinec.

NY-24: D-Trip Ad Knocks Katko’s Special Interest Donors

The latest ad in the swing-y 24th congressional district in central New York from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee criticizes Rep. John Katko for receiving donations from special interest groups.

The D-Trip ad paints Katko as a lawmaker who has raked in the special-interest donor money which in turn has influenced his decisions in office.

“Katko joined with Washington Republicans to help wealthy donors and allowed huge loopholes that benefit tax-dodging corporations,” the ad claims. “Truth is, Katko has taken over half of his campaign donations from special interests.”

Katko is running for a second term in the Syracuse-area congressional district that has changed hands between the two parties over the last several election cycles, making it a reliable battleground race every two years.

This year, Katko faces Democrat Colleen Deacon.

Cuomo Says Peres Funeral ‘Right Exception’ To Leaving NY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is often loathe to leave New York, rarely stepping outside of the state during his first term.

But Cuomo on Thursday is traveling to Tel Aviv, Israel, to attend the funeral of the late former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Before leaving, Cuomo told reporters in New York City the trip to Israel — his second since 2014 — is the right thing to do given the state’s cultural and political relationship with the Jewish State.

“I don’t like to leave the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “I take very seriously that I am the governor and people expect me to be there. If there’s a snowstorm, they expect me to shovel their snow and if there’s a fire, they expect me to be there with a hose. That’s how my father did the job before me and that’s how I do the job. I don’t like to leave the state, but I think this is the right exception.”

Cuomo in 2014 made a trip to Israel with a bipartisan delegation of state lawmakers. He later traveled to Cuba as the United States started to normalize relations with the country.

The trip also comes this week amid political headaches for the governor after nine people, including his former top aide Joe Percoco, were charged in a sweeping corruption case.

Cuomo insisted this morning the trip won’t take him out of the state for long.

“I’m going to fly there and do the funeral and then I’ll fly right back,” he said. “I won’t be go long.”