Zack Fink

This user hasn't shared any biographical information


Posts by Zack Fink

Campaign Diary

The advisory came down Friday afternoon at about 1:45 pm for a 2:15 event. I actually missed it initially because I was in the bathroom fixing my hair ( which is something I never ever do, so why don’t you stop judging me?!? ). I raced down the halls of NY1, grabbed a camera and tore out the door running top speed down 15th street to grab the downtown A train. Governor Cuomo was set to ride the subway from the World Trade Center up to Penn station. I just needed to catch him on the platform before he left the station.

When I pulled into World Trade, I saw that they hadn’t left yet. We did a quick avail, walked the entire length of the station. Went outside. Did another avail, then went back downstairs and walked the entire length of the station a second time. Apparently we needed to board the *last* car on the train. Not the first one, and absolutely not one in the middle. Does everything happen for a reason? Tough to say. But who should be sitting quietly ( which is rare for him ) in that last car but comedian/activist Randy Credico, who’d recently lost his Democratic primary challenge against the Governor.

Randy jumped up to shake Cuomo’s hand. “You look good, Randy,” Cuomo said. “So do you,” Randy answered. What followed next was a quick period of uncertainty. Is this a setup? Are we being punk’d? Cuomo turned to the handful of reporters tailing him ( myself, Azi from Capital, Erin from the Daily News and Jillian from the Observer ) and half smiled as he shook his head in disbelief. His expression spoke volumes. It was a “can you believe this? Only in New York City” look. Cuomo’s handlers were dumbfounded. So were the rest of us. But soon ( and this all happened in a matter of minutes ) it became clear to all of us that this was one of those quintessential New York moments, and it was hilarious. For once, we were all in on the same joke, including Randy.

It’s the kind of thing that happens far more frequently than the statistics would suggest it should in this city. In fact, over the course of a lifetime here, it happens all the time. You choose an unorthodox route somewhere one day and bump into an old friend, a former acquaintance or even an ex-girfriend. New York songwriter Paul Simon actually wrote a song about this. He bumps into his old girlfriend on the street one night, I think it was outside the old West End Gate up near Columbia ( Although I mighta made that last part up ). But they go back inside to drink beer and catch up and sure enough she is still crazy after all these years. A reminder why they might have stopped seeing each other on purpose in the first place. Of course that doesn’t mean it isn’t great to see that person again, seemingly by chance.

Randy did a brief Governor impression in full Cuomo voice. Went over a bit awkwardly. Those of us who go way back with Randy can attest to the fact that his best impression remains Rudy Giuliani. He used to do it at the height of all those police brutality scandals in the mid-90s, and it was comic relief for an ugly situation. Turns out Cuomo and Credico also have some history.

They teamed up in 2003 to urge repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws. A year later their goal was partly realized when Governor Pataki signed the Drug Law Reform Act, which greatly reduced mandatory sentencing guidelines. Although It was not until 2009 that mandatory minimums were eliminated all together for non-violent drug offenses. But make no mistake that Cuomo, Credico and Hip-Hop mogul Russell Simmons ( of all people ) played a big part in their demise. Even rapper 50 Cent was in on the action ( although peripherally ). And that was long before he sampled me in his rap song.

Sometimes a chance run-in is a good opportunity to reminisce about old times. I’m reminded of the song where Billy Joel sits down with an old friend in an Italian restaurant and after some small talk they fondly begin to recall the characters of their youth. Or Philip Roth who brilliantly writes in “American Pastoral” about running into the guy they used to call “the Swede” outside Shea Stadium. The Swede can’t quite bring himself to talk about the problem with his daughter, but then the narrator unravels the story which begins in their old neighborhood near Weequahic Park in Newark.

At last, the train pulled into Randy’s station and he leaped up to exit. Posed for a quick picture with Cuomo. Then dashed out into the crowd. After he left, Cuomo explained his work with Randy all those years ago and praised Credico as someone who has been active and around politics a long time. I guess Sometimes that happens. People head off in very different directions in life, but every now and then their paths cross again. For one reason or another.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

This weekend we were informed that Governor Cuomo would be traveling to Afghanistan. Scratch that, he’d already left. He was accompanied by a small delegation of of Governors. Turns out three of those four governors ( including Cuomo ) are up for re-election this year. At 9:30 Sunday morning we got a press release from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver “Commending” Governor Cuomo for his trip overseas. A few hours later we got another press release, this time from Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein, also praising the Governor. I kept waiting for Dean Skelos’ release to arrive, but alas, it never did. If it had, Cuomo would have achieved a rare feat affectionately known as The Triple Lindy.

The Diaz Factor

Senator Ruben Diaz of the Bronx had a busy day yesterday. According to the good reverend, he fielded three separate phone calls from Team Cuomo. First it was Secretary of State Cesar Perales, then it was Cuomo confidante Joe Percoco, and finally the Governor himself dialed the Senator. The issue is an impending rally and endorsement for Cuomo’s Opponent in the Governor’s race, Rob Astorino. Diaz hasn’t committed to go with Astorino yet, but he is planning on hosting him in The Bronx sometime next month. And by “next month” I mean before the election.

The Cuomo camp ( as you might imagine ) is not thrilled about this. Hence the three phone calls. Question: Do you know who doesn’t have much sway with Reverend Diaz? Answer: Democrats.

This morning, Diaz invited Republican Attorney General candidate John Cahill to speak to his congregation in the Bronx. It wasn’t quite an endorsement, but it certainly looked like that as the two men laughed and slapped each other on the back. Cahill recently submitted poll data to the Board of Elections that shows a tighter-than-expected race. Cahill is behind Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by only seven points, which is significant considering Schneiderman has been in office for four years. So, every little bit of help for Cahill can make a difference in the race.

But back to the Reverend and the Governor. Earlier this month, Capital reported that Diaz and Cuomo had lunch. The Governor has been trying to avoid Diaz’s endorsement of his opponent, but he did the one thing Diaz cannot tolerate. Diaz is adamantly pro-life, and Cuomo recently went all-in with his campaign to get the Women’s Equality Agenda passed. The 10-point plan includes an abortion component. Republicans in the Senate refused to approve that tenth plank, but voted for nine others. Cuomo and his running mate Kathy Hochul are now trying to get all candidates running for state office in New York to sign a pledge to support the full ten point plan. They have even recruited Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to spearhead the effort. It’s actually nice to see Quinn back in action. She enjoys the work and genuinely enjoys being around people. But Diaz is having none of it. And as a result Cuomo could end up angrily on the sidelines when Diaz endorses his opponent.

There are a lot of theories on why Cuomo went so big on the Women’s Equality Agenda. He even started a new party! Clearly the first answer is that it was Cuomo’s bill, and he believes in it. But the issue also polls well in New York State, and it’s an easy way to wedge Republicans who are less-than-eager to cast a vote – any vote at all – on a controversial issue like abortion. People who feel strongly about this issue on either side will punish them at the polls one way or another. Dean Skelos wouldn’t even bring it to the floor last year. It took Senate Independent Conference Jeff Klein to force the issue with a hostile amendment. During the debate Diaz made an impassioned plea against the bill, which ultimately failed. He thought he had won. But now, the issue is coming back.

Another thought about why Cuomo started a new party around this issue is that he wants to pull votes away from the Working Families Party, which made him dance for their endorsement in May. Finally, in order to get that endorsement, Cuomo pledged to help elect a Democratic Senate, and by forcing a pledge to support a pro-choice bill, one could make the argument that he is helping all Democrats running for office including Senators and Senate Candidates. But with all this talk about the necessity of a Democratic Senate, people seem to forget that not every Democrat votes with conference, which means a Senate takeover could prove even more frustrating. Just ask Rev. Diaz.

 

My Trip to Long Island

Sometimes I think Eric Schneiderman must be running for President. He certainly acts like he is at times. Oddly inaccessible all summer, then comes out a week after the primary to launch his general election campaign at several different stops across the state. He was in Manhattan on Sunday, followed by Buffalo, and then two stops on Long Island today.

This morning I decided to take a drive out to Hauppague in Suffolk County. Schneiderman’s launch was in the back parking lot of the IBEW union hall. I got to the location a little early, so I decided to grab lunch next door at the local Bertucci’s. It’s like the Olive Garden ( all you can eat breadsticks! ) only with a heavier emphasis on brick oven pizza. It was quite delicious, and I ate quickly as Sheila my server told me in great detail about her son who lives in Brooklyn. I then headed next door and set up my camera for the anticipated announcement.

Schneiderman was flanked by the Democratic machine of Suffolk. After a warm introduction, he offered a laundry list of his accomplishments. Schneiderman’s opponent John Cahill has repeatedly made the case that The Attorney General doesn’t have much of a record to run on, and has very little to show for his four years in office. Schneiderman spoke for about ten minutes, then refused to do a gaggle, and instead took only three questions from the podium. One of them ( of course ) was about the Moreland Commission. Schneiderman said,

I am working with several federal prosecutors on this. Some of them relate to leads developed by the Moreland Commission, some of them relate to the conduct of the Moreland Commission. But it would be completely inappropriate for me to comment on something that is the subject of a criminal probe.

I would have stuck around for more, but after that question and answer the show pretty much came to an abrupt halt. Schneiderman did say that he expects at least one debate with Cahill. So, the long and short of it was that I got more or less what I needed for the story. And in the car on the way back to the city I got to hear “Pour Some Sugar on Me” on the radio, which was just fantastic.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

One other note from the Monday security briefing…did anyone else notice how many times Mayor de Blasio hugged Chris Christie? I counted twice, but worry that I might have missed a third. I guess bro-hugs between politicians are like martinis – one’s not enough, but three is too many. I’m just disappointed none of us got the chance to hear Governor Cuomo pronounce the word, “Laguardia.”

 

The Special Relationship

It’s hard not to view everything the Governor does lately through the prism of politics. He’s up for re-election this fall, even though he steadfastly avoided campaign events this summer despite his primary election on September 9th, opting instead to stick with official duties befitting the Governor of the great State of New York. The message was unmistakable, “Primary?! What primary?! I have a state to run. Take your politics somewhere else, good sir.”

The result, of course, was lots of coverage of Cuomo’s opponent Zephyr Teachout, who may not have garnered that kind of attention if reporters had more Cuomo events to cover. Ya gotta feed the beast, after all, and at least Teachout was out doing *something* every day. Pundits can debate whether or not Cuomo’s primary strategy helped or hurt him. In Buffalo last week Cuomo scoffed at the notion that failure to debate or acknowledge his opponent had anything to do with Teachout nabbing a better-than-expected 34%. Instead he blamed the low turnout, and the notion that most people weren’t terribly motivated to vote in the primary. The jury is still out on that one, but make no mistake, that strategy is out the window for the general election. The Governor is looking forward to drawing a contrast between himself and Republican Rob Astorino, believing that the demographics and pschyographics of New York State are decidedly on his side. He may also be right about that. We shall see.

So there Cuomo was yesterday…at a security summit with the head of the Republicans Governors Association. Cuomo and Christie supposedly decided to get together last week during the 9/11 ceremonies. Cuomo has been trying to get Christie to appear next to him for months, and seemed to finally get his wish. Ostensibly, the meeting was about regional security but Christie was so late to that meeting, he almost missed the photo op, which gives you a sense of how pressing it must have been for him. The two Governors then only met for about an hour, and wound up doing the press conference a full 45 minutes early.

At one point, I asked Christie about foreign policy. Specifically, whether more needs to be done overseas to mitigate the threat at home. Christie recently said the America would have fared better under a Mitt Romney Administration. So, does that also apply to President Obama’s Mideast policy or lack thereof? Christie quickly dismissed the question as “off topic.” And as he did so, Cuomo quietly led a solo “slow clap.” Cuomo might as well have punched Christie in the shoulder and whispered, “Ha! Good one, Chris!”

Was the question totally on topic? In fairness, not exactly. But was it related? You bet. Especially since the the whole premise of the security meeting was to re-evelaute security procedures now that the threat from Iraq and Syria has increased. It’s not like I asked about Bridgegate ( although someone probably should have ). I’m also not a huge fan of politicians telling us what we can ask them. That’s a relatively new development that harkens back to the Communist Politburo. I am reminded of that famous scene from “Caddyshack” where Danny Noonan asks Ty Webb for advice on the golf course, “Oh, Danny, this isn’t Russia. Is this Russia? This isn’t Russia, is it? I didn’t think so.” ( I still maintain that Ted Knight deserved an academy award for his performance in that movie )

The backdrop to all of this, of course, is Christie’s refusal to help the campaign of Republican Rob Astorino. Considering it is Christie’s job to get Republican Governors elected across the country, his giving Astorino the Heisman is all the more peculiar. And Cuomo appearing at Christie’s side in the midst of this campaign really gives Cuomo a boost, as he jabs the stick directly into Astorino’s eye.

So, was the meeting about security? I’m sure it was. But there was also a subtext.

I have a friend who makes a very compelling argument that the moon landing was a fake. I’m not saying I agree with him, but the argument makes a lot of sense in the larger context of things not always being exactly what we are told they are.

Campaign Diary

Sometimes I am convinced I have a condition called “Reverse Body Dysmorphic Disorder.” I look in the mirror and think, “OK, you look fine.” Then I see a photograph of myself later and I am like, “Hey who is that fat guy?!? Oh, wait…it’s me.” I bring this up because the Cuomo/Hochul team seems convinced they have nothing to worry about Tuesday. And for all I know, they don’t. They certainly project confidence wherever they go. Kathy Hochul, who is running for Lieutenant Governor on the Cuomo ticket has even gone so far as to tell the press to “take a peek” on primary day if we ask questions about her opponent Tim Wu possibly having momentum.  I guess that means when we take a look tomorrow she will have already won, or something. Come to think of it, I actually don’t really know what “take a peek” means exactly. But it sounds like she is not lacking for confidence about her chances. Sources who have worked with her claim she has been adamant about not taking advice out on the campiagn trail and telling handlers she knows what to say, thank you very much. Hochul has also pointed out that she has run in four separate elections in the last five years, but it’s important to note that she lost the big one which was in 2012 with Obama at the top of the ticket. A veteran of campaigns? No doubt. A veteran Congresswoman? Not exactly.

And why do we still have no idea where any of them are going to be on Primary night? It’s a bit strange, if you want to know the truth. If It’s a planned victory party, it would stand to reason that they will all be somewhere together as a united ticket going into the general.

After staying on the sidelines through much of this primary a certain Governor of ours was out in force over the weekend. Not sure who I mean since we have seen so little of him? I’ll give you a hint…his name rhymes with “Landrew Shwomo.” The Governor was in the Riverdale section of the Bronx yesterday for a campaign rally to promote Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein. During the Q and A with reporters, inevitably the topic turned to control of the State Senate and both Klein and the Governor explained that the alliance between Klein and the Republicans is not what prevented progressive legislation from passing. It’s the fact that Senate Democrats don’t have the votes on certain issues, such as abortion. Klein made the point afterwards that if the new Democratic Majority takes shape as planned next year, it’s going to be him and the Governor constantly working the phones to win a handful of Republican votes on key issues, since the Republican conference will be disinclined to help the Democrats govern if they lose power. Senator Diane Savino ( D- Staten island ) was also at the event yesterday and when I ran into her out in the parking lot she proceeded to reiterate that Democrats don’t always have the votes. It’s fair to say she feels very strongly about this, and when I nod my head and tell her it’s a fair point, She argues even more ( It’s fine, I actually rather enjoy it ).

My day Sunday began in Brooklyn, where Zephyr Teachout spoke a Crown Heights Church service. Not sure where Tim Wu was. Perhaps he was getting coffee ( that’s an inside joke ). But as I was waiting for Teachout, a volunteer handed out her literature in front of the church. When someone heading into the service informed the volunteer that he was likely voting for Cuomo’s running mate, Hochul, the volunteer simply stared at the man for an uncomfortable second then said one simple word, “Shmokal.” conversation over.

When Teachout arrived she was surprised to learn that Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was urging Democrats to vote for her instead of Cuomo. She didn’t actually seem particularly psyched about this at all, adding that she sincerely doubts Democratic Primary voters will take their cues from the State Conservative party. Touche’ Zephyr.

It’s been a wild week out on the trail, and tomorrow is the culmination of everyone’s hard work. Hopefully no one will be shocked when they realize they haven’t been seeing themselves as clearly as they thought when they look into the mirror.

Along the Parade Route

On Labor Day, people in the news like to use cliche’s like, “this represents the unofficial close of summer.” It’s unofficial of course, because the summer technically hangs around for another few weeks, but it’s an overused cliche’ for good reason since vacations end, school begins and many public pools and beaches close up.

In New York City, one could also say the Labor Day parade along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn represents the unofficial kickoff of the fall campaigns. Elected officials, particularly those who are standing for re-election, make the ( often sweaty ) march from Lincoln Terrace Park to Grand Army Plaza. It’s a distance of about two-and-half-miles, so you can imagine the disappointment of the press corps Monday when we learned that Governor Cuomo would be doing his press availability after we’d marched the full route with him. I just tried to keep up with the Armada of SUV’s that rolled along in front of us. Picture Clint Eastwood from “In the Line of Fire” to get a mental picture.

Cuomo has done very few campaign events ( if any ) all summer. In fact, I haven’t received a campaign schedule for him since the conventions last May. That’s a little weird, come to think of it. Even during Monday’s parade he was there in his official capacity as Governor. But there Cuomo was in full campaign mode. To continue with the theme of overused cliche’s, the Governor had a “spring in his step.” He was criss-crossing the Parkway shaking hands and posing for pictures with parade watchers who lined up on either side of the parkway. With his glistening curly locks, He looked a little like Dennis De Young at a Styx Concert circa 1976…playing to the crowd, and the crowd was eating it up. It’s funny, Cuomo doesn’t often do the hand shaking and crowd mingling but when he does, he is actually quite good at it.

Another person worth watching in the political fishbowl of the parade route was Tim Wu. Once considered an afterthought to Zephyr Teachout’s insurgent campaign for Governor, Wu has emerged as a potentially much bigger thorn in Cuomo’s side. I remember the first time I met Tim Wu…we were in Albany and he and Teachout were going to hold their first joint press conference before the LCA. Wu was headed to Legislative Office Building, and didn’t know his way around. Since I was walking in that direction ( for his press conference ), someone asked me to lead Wu over there. The avail was set to start at 9:30, and we got into the elevator at roughly 9:35. When the doors closed, Wu and the two people accompanying him held a brief discussion and came to a collective decision to go get coffee first, at which point Wu looked at me and asked with complete sincerity, “Do we have time to get coffee?”

But a lot has changed since then. And Wu could very well end up in a competitive race with Cuomo’s running mate Kathy Hochul. Wu attended the breakfast before the parade where he posed for pictures with Police Commissioner William Bratton, then chatted up Public Advocate Tish James before the start of the parade. He even told me that he met Cuomo, but Cuomo sorta walked away when he asked about debates.

Towards the end of the parade, marchers start to reach some of the more gentrified areas of Crown Heights closer to Grand Army Plaza. As Cuomo’s float approached these blocks the music blaring out of the speakers switched from calypso music to far more recognizable 90s reggae. You could see the looks of recognition and approval spreading over the faces in the crowd as “Murder She Wrote” struck a chord with the new audience. “Hey, I know this song! That DJ guy in college used to spin this every Thursday night in the dorm party we’d go to!”

Politicians at parades always walk a fine line between enthusiastic participation and awkwardly trying to fit in. But, nothing quite takes the cake with a combination of those two as this scene from last year. The bottom line is Cuomo still has pretty good standing with traditional Democratic voters, and to invoke yet a final cliche’ that is not very surprising since “the apple does not fall far from the tree.”

 

Teachout Case Goes to Judge

It wasn’t quite as compelling as yesterday, and things wrapped up just before lunch, but this morning it was the Teachout campaign’s turn to make it’s case, and prove she is a bonafide New Yorker. Teachout’s attorney, Lawrence Mandelker, called three witnesses – two friends and Teachout’s mother, who is a Superior Court judge in Vermont. They all gave very believable, straight forward testimony about Teachout’s various living arrangements over the past five years. Two friends recounted visiting Teachout in her multiple apartments for dinner parties, and her mom Mary explained that Teachout hadn’t lived with her in Vermont since she left for college.

Yesterday, The Cuomo campaign’s attorney made a strong case that Teachout’s status as a permanent resident of New York over the last five years is at least questionable. But here’s the thing…the Constitution simply states that a candidate for Governor needs to have lived here for five years prior to election day. It doesn’t say anything about needing Con Edison or Time Warner Cable bills in one’s name to prove it ( Teachout had scant evidence that she was the primary resident on any leases in those early days when she first claims to have moved to New York ).  And it might just be too much of a reach for a Judge to knock her off the ballot based on driver’s licenses and tax returns. More often than not these cases don’t amount to much.

I used to cover New Jersey and none of those guys from Jersey City, Newark or Paterson ever actually lived full time in whatever North Jersey city they were elected to represent. They all had shore houses where they spent the bulk of their time, particularly in the warm summer months. Every now and again the issue would get raised during a campaign, but judges rarely waded into the controversy ( probably because those judges had shore houses next door to the politicians they were being asked to rule on ).

So, in conclusion, Teachout had an early experience in the big city similar to many transient New Yorkers looking for affordable space. They crash with friends, jump from apartment to apartment and often don’t stay put for very long at a single address since the idea in this city is to always try and move up somewhere. We anticipate a ruling on Monday before 2pm. It will be sent out by email which is good because that means I don’t have to go back to court and have another huge fight with Court officer about whether we can shoot video.

 

Teachout Goes to Court

Years ago, a good friend of mine ended up as the lead item on Page Six for something he probably should not have done ( although the infraction was minor by today’s standards ). To this day, he still jokingly brings up the calm yet brutally honest way I described the situation for him when he called for my reaction that day which was, “well…it’s not good.”

I was reminded of that story while sitting in court this morning listening to former State Senator Martin Connor  ( on behalf of the Cuomo team ) question Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout about her residency.

By law, Teachout needs to have lived here in New York for the last five years in order to run for governor. Connor called Tecahout as his first witness and proceeded to ask about her various addresses over the time period. Fairly quickly it was established that Teachout obtained a Vermont Driver’s license in 2009 – the first year she would have had to be living here to meet the requirement. Teachout then traded in her Vermont license for a New York one in May 2014, or right around the time she was deciding to run for governor.

During her early days in New York, Teachout lived with a friend in the East Village and didn’t obtain a residence of her own until 2011. She often cited her parents address in Vermont as her permanent address, and received her mail at her Fordham University office.

As late as 2013, after being stopped for a traffic infraction, Teachout provided the police officer with a Vermont address.

There are very few bills with New York addresses ( if any ) to prove New York residency, and for the last three summers she has lived in a cabin in Vermont where she participated in musical theater productions. Some of this was first reported last month. Also this past May, Teachout apparently visited her accountant and amended tax returns to reflect a permanent New York presence.

To top it all off, her cell phone has a Vermont area code.

Finally, and this was my favorite point, the only property Teachout has owned recently was in New Hampshire where she “flies hang gliders,” according to her testimony.

Now, in fairness, the defense has not yet had the opportunity to present its case. And we are told Teachout’s mother, a Vermont judge, will be testifying tomorrow on her daughter’s behalf.

But it was a little surprising to see the candidate on the stand trying to deflect all of these facts that were skillfully drawn out by Connor while her lawyer mostly just sat there. Teachout has said that the Moreland Morass has greatly changed the dynamic of the race in her favor, but if she can’t successfully push back against this challenge, there will be no race to speak of.

The Open Road

Detroit wheels helped expand the horizons of Americans in the 20th century, and arguably no piece of literature has better captured that desire to hit the open road better than “On the Road,” written by Jack Kerouac and published in 1957. Kerouac’s book came to define the restlessness of the post World War II generation searching for an identity. Unable to live up to those who had fought and died just years before them, the newest crop of young people came to be known as the “Beat Generation” as they sought to define themselves through poetry, literature and other forms of artistic expression. The aimlessness and excitement of the open road has been part of the American culture ever since.

I’m also a huge fan of the automobile, and I spent a fair amount of time driving back and forth between New York City and Albany during the six month legislative session. I enjoy my time on the road, but probably more for the silence it affords me for three hours each way ( tranquility is so hard to come by these days, isn’t it?? ). After spending the last few weeks looking at campaign filings, it’s come to my attention that another person appears to enjoy the open road, and that is State Senator Catharine Young (R) – Olean.

According to Young’s recent filing, the Senator has used campaign cash to spend more than $7,000 on fuel alone over the last year. That’s on top of nearly $23,000 in “vehicle expenses,” whatever that means. But that’s just August 2013 through the beginning of July 2014. Go back a little further, to December 2012 through the beginning of July 2013 and one finds another nearly $6,000 in fuel and nearly $18,000 in vehicle expenses.  So let’s see, that’s nearly $13,000 in fuel costs since late 2012 and another $40,000 plus on miscellaneous vehicle expenses. That’s sounds like a lot, so we posed to question to the Senator’s office, which referred me to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, where Young recently became Chair.

A Senate GOP Spokesman says,

Senator young puts up to 70,000 miles on her car each year to fulfill her responsibilities as both a State Senator and Chairwoman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee. Her district is the furthest from Albany and New York City, and is approximately 4,000 square miles, and yet she chooses not to take taxpayer-funded mileage reimbursement from the state. Her busy schedule means she is literally on the go all the time — attending political events, raising money, promoting candidates and delivering our message all across this great big state. All of these are legitimate campaign expenses.

No answer on what kind of car Young is driving. I’m no expert on car payments, but last year her monthly payments appeared to total more than $520 per month, which sounds like it could be a Cedes or a Jag. But to be fair, if one is gonna hit the road for legitimate campaign purposes, why not be comfortable…and also stylish?

 

 

 

 

The Fitzpatrick-Cuomo Connection

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly pointed to Moreland Commission Co-Chair William Fitzpatrick’s statement Monday that there was no interference in the commission’s work. Fitzpatrick said in part Monday,

If I or my co-chairs or any other commissioner had been told or ordered not to pursue a sensitive topic, I can state with a high degree of certainty that we all would have resigned. That never happened.

The Governor has offered this statement up as proof that his aides did nothing wrong, and ultimately the commission acted independently. On Monday Cuomo said,

The question is but did they act independently. Chairman Fitzpatrick says 100%. And by the way, if anyone tried to jeopardize my independence I would have quit. By the way, if you know Fitzpatrick, you know that he would have quit.

Now, the New York Times claims U-S Attorney Preet Bharara sent a warning letter to about potential witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The implication is that members of the Administration may have leaned on Fitzpatrick and others to publicly assert their independence and defend the Governor. Ties between Cuomo and Fitzpatrick are extensive. To get a glimpse at their familiarity, one need only listen to Cuomo’s press conference in Buffalo Monday where he referred to the Moreland Co-Chair as “Fitz.” (I have a friend named Fitz too. He’s a great guy, although he can be a tad ornery at times. I think everyone has a “Fitz” actually, at least in modern day America ).

But here is where this gets interesting. Fitzpatrick’s wife, the Honorable Diane Fitzpatrick is a Syracuse Court of Claims Judge. She was first appointed in 1998 by Governor Pataki. And guess what? She is up for re-appointment for another 9-year term in 2015 by Governor Cuomo, should he be re-elected. Some believe that has at the very least the appearance of a conflict, especially in light of William Fitzpatrick’s flip-flopping public statements. Hence the letter from the U-S Attorney.

In fact, there are a handful of Syracuse area Republicans with close ties to the Cuomos. The Fitzpatricks, J. Patrick Barrett and Joanie Mahoney, all of whom served on the Moreland Commission. Mahoney, even threw a fundraiser for Cuomo earlier this month. Mohoney came forward to defend Cuomo last week, telling TWC News,

No one ever, in my presence, ever said we can or can’t do anything. Whether there were problems, I would put them in the category mostly of personality problems. I think there were some people who had a difficult time getting along.

So, what do these connections prove? Nothing in and of themselves. But what do they look like? That’s a whole other question. There is a saying in politics…does something pass the smell test. If it doesn’t, it has the potential look and smell really awful.