Zack Fink

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John Emrick Leaving IDC

They say Albany is a transitive place, and each year I am reminded of that fact as people do their time here and then move on to something else. ( I know that kinda makes it sound like a prison sentence, but hey, if the shoe fits…).

The latest such transition comes out of the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate as Chief of Staff John Emrick gets ready to depart Albany. I first met Emrick in 2012 as he and members of the IDC were preparing for what would become their major test of power in the chamber. After the November elections, the IDC forged a deal with Senate Republicans for control of the upper house.

That relationship remains in place to this day, albeit with some changes after the 2014 elections. Keep in mind…there are plenty of people who are deeply offended by that relationship, notably the mainline Senate Democrats. But that was the moment when IDC Leader Jeff Klein truly established his five member conference as an independent force in the New York State legislature, and Emrick was key to making it all happen.

Emrick is almost never without a fantastic Albany story to tell. It sometimes takes him a minute to get warmed up, as he stares at you with those innocent, droopy eyes of his. But once you get him going, there are few people as clever and entertaining. Yes, Emrick is nothing if not dialed in to what is happening here at the haunted mansion on the hill we like to call the State Capitol. Emrick says of his departure:

“It’s with a heavy heart that I leave the IDC, whose members and staff, have become my second family. After years of dedicated public service it’s time for me to spend more time with my family, whose lives I miss each day that I spend away from home. This is an exciting time to take on a new political role and work with the IDC. Senator Klein, Valesky, Savino, Carlucci and Avella, together, change New York for the better. I have been proud to work with them, as they lead the way in the State Senate, and look forward to seeing the conference thrive.”

And IDC Leader Jeff Klein says:

“As the Independent Democratic Conference’s Chief of Staff, John has always been loyal and dedicated to the IDC, a stable third conference, that will continue to focus on governing for the people of New York. His brilliance, vision and Democratic ideals enhanced our conference and made a difference for all New Yorkers. I wish him all the best and look forward to working with him closely in a new capacity during one of the most important political seasons that will determine the direction of the Senate.

Emrick won’t be going far. For the remainder of the year he will be doing campaign work for the IDC, but will be based mostly out of New York City. With his wife, Cassie, having just received a promotion at CBS, it has been a real strain on the two kids with having one parent working all the time and the other up in Albany. That’s why he’d like to be closer to home. But Emrick is sanguine about the transition, acknowledging to me just moments ago that people up in Albany can sometimes become like a surrogate family in what sometimes feel like weeks away from one’s actual home. I couldn’t agree more.

Dana Carotenuto will take the reins as chief of staff for the IDC. She is currently deputy COS and policy director. She was the architect of Klein’s Paid family Leave Program. Be strong, Dana.



Budget Update

It’s not late yet, but it’s coming awfully close. One lawmaker noted that this is the first time in the Andrew Cuomo Era that NO budget bills have even been printed the day before the big deadline. We are in officially in uncharted waters, folks.

So, what is going on exactly? At issue is still this Medicaid funding. People who align themselves with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie depict this battle as an attempt by the Governor to shift $250 million in costs to the city. The counter narrative to this is that the savings will be spread out statewide, in fact some the most rapid Medicaid growth has been on Long Island and those two counties have their hands tied behind their back because of the 2% spending cap. The Governor wants more savings out of Medicaid because as he put it yesterday, counties have “no incentive” to contain the growth of Medicaid since the state took over paying for that growth back in 2012. But insiders say it is going to be tough to find savings since the program is already pretty lean. Cuomo’s own Medicaid Redesign Team made sure of that. And Cuomo appears to have arrived at the figure of $250 million because that is the estimated cost to the state to pay non-profits and other third party providers a new heftier $15-an hour minimum wage set to pass with the budget. The truth is the state is awash in cash. Billions in reserves, some say. But Cuomo wants to pay the third party providers out of the current budget, also to stay within the 2% spending cap. Bottom line? The City will get hit the hardest since they account for 70% of the Medicaid program. Heastie and Mayor de Blasio will not sign off on that.

Some insiders are privately grumbling that Heastie and the Mayor should “bite the bullet” and just absorb the cost. They should be very excited about a bold, progressive budget that includes a much higher minimum wage and the establishment of a paid family leave program. For his part, Heastie has said he will not sign off on any budget that applies “punitive” costs to the City of New York. Some say it’s crazy to hold the budget hostage over this and lose out on those big ticket items.

Others say lawmakers need to think very clearly on this one. If the budget is late, and there is no ethics reform by the end of the year, it’s going to be very hard for the pay commission to give them a raise. The Commission, after all, judges the legislature on it’s performance. And if they fail to perform their basic function which is approving a state spending plan on time, they can forget about that raise they were counting on. Lawmakers haven’t had a raise since 1999. Just some food for thought as the deadline looms.



Budget Holdup

The popular held belief is that the minimum wage is holding up the state budget. That’s true…sort of. While there are all kinds of side squabbles about timetables and carve outs, the bottom line is this: There are enough votes to pass just about every conceivable compromise in the State Senate, if you include all Democrats and a handful of Republicans. Some reluctant Repubs might even vote for the ultimate deal just to keep it out of oppo campaign literature when election time rolls around 7 months from now. Figure they can vote for it even if they have to take a Silkwood Shower afterwards.

What appears to be really holding up the budget, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie more or less said this yesterday, are the cost shifts from the state to the city on Medicaid. In his executive budget Cuomo proposed making the city pay “more of it’s fair share” for CUNY and Medicaid. The governor has since backed off of the CUNY cuts with an agreement from the city to examine where back office redundancies can be identified between the SUNY and CUNY Systems. So, In essence the city agreed to identify cuts down the road ( although no word on whether those cost shifts will precisely match the $485 million Cuomo proposed ). Medicaid, however, is proving to be a little bit trickier.

In 2012, Cuomo agreed to “take over” the growth of Medicaid costs for localities. He did this in part with money from Obamacare, which greatly expanded the federal Medicaid program. Those dollars then go to the states. So, one could make the argument that it is federal pass through money, and New York City should not be shortchanged. However, People who see things the Governor’s way say the state agreed to take over the cost of Medicaid for localities that agree to keep spending within the 2% cap. Aha. New York refuses to adopt the property tax cap, so why should the state shoulder the cost of all it’s medicaid growth? See what they did there. Rewind now to January when Mayor de Blasio was here in Albany to testify on the budget and lawmakers ( almost as if they were reading from talking points ) grilled him on why New York City won’t adhere to the cap.

There are a lot of arguments as to why New York City should not adopt the cap, including that it is once again taking away a tool for the city to raise it’s own revenue. The City must ask Albany for permission before raising taxes on it’s citizens, whether it be sales or income. The property tax cap can be manipulated by the city. So, while the city would argue for keeping that authority, the state is saying you can’t have it both ways. The subtext to all of this, of course, is the ongoing push and pull between Governor Cuomo and mayor de Blasio. But I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.



Let There Be Light

I never thought I would actually get to the point where I would say this, but here it goes…Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is by far the most accessible leader in this building. There, I said it. It’s true, the once press averse Speaker makes himself available for Reporter questions pretty much every session day. In fairness, he sometimes grimaces while he is doing it, but the bottom line is this: he does it. I say this a week after “Sunshine Week” in Albany when there has been renewed attention to the issue of openness in government. And as Erica Orden astutely points out, lately Reporters who cover the Capitol have felt a little shut out by the Governor, who once seemed like he enjoyed his signature “Cabinet Meetings” and “Red Room” press conferences, and now seems determined not to hold them.

This brings me to the rules changes and sunlight reforms embraced by the Assembly. to sum this up, the reforms and the process by which they were achieved is a bit of a mixed bag. Like when someone is named “Employee of the month” and they are simultaneously the biggest winner and the biggest loser. Or like the other day when I was driving and “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains came on the radio and I was really psyched, but then it was followed by “Bennie and the Jets” which kinda ruined my entire afternoon.

On the one hand the reforms are subtle, but will actually make a significant improvement in the way legislative business gets done. For example, allowing all members to have their bills considered by committee. This has been a frequent lament of Assembly Republicans who often find their bills locked up without any chance of ever passing. It will also lengthen the legislative session to two years, and extend what is known as “the kill clock” for bills. Currently, legislation that doesn’t pass within a year, must start the process all over again. Now that period will be two years. Like I said, subtle, but definitely an improvement for rank and file members. Then there is embracing modern technology which includes updating the website, and making the proceedings of committee hearings available for public review. That includes not just summarizing committee votes on the web but also recording them in some fashion. I was actually told several months ago that the Assembly has SO MANY committee hearings that they may not even have the resources to video all of them, and we may have to settle for audio on some. I know, kinda Lame, but certainly better than the current status quo.

Now for the process of achieving these reforms, which was deeply flawed. The “Working Group” was put together almost a year ago. There were no public hearings. Republicans were completely shut out of the process. And the timetable for when the recommendations would be made public changed at least four times by my count. Finally, the Working group failed to suggest term limits for leadership, which is an essential reform to turn the page on the bad old days of Shelly’s 20-year iron-fisted rule. Or, as some Republicans privately groused it took co-chairs Gary Pretlow and Brian Kavanagh an entire year of meeting in secret to determine that the Assembly needs a new website. All legitimate criticism, but the truth is both Pretlow and Kavanagh deserve some credit for taking on the very mission everyone knew would be roundly mocked if it fell short of “from-now-on-every-single-meeting-the-Assembly-has-will-be-in-public-including-conference.”

And this brings me back to the Speaker. The Assembly suffered a major trauma last year with the fall of Silver, and Heastie stepped into the role of Speaker during a very unsteady period. He not only kept the ship from sinking, but he righted it and chartered a new course. The reforms he has embraced don’t go far enough, but there is no question about it, they are a fantastic start.

The Race for Silver’s Seat

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Democratic County Committee nominated Alice Cancel as the Democratic candidate to run for 65th Assembly District in the special election to be held on April 19, the day of New York State’s Presidential primary. This is the seat held since the late 1970’s by Sheldon Silver who was convicted of federal corruption last year and forced to resign. While it’s naturally a Democratic district, Cancel was criticized right out of the gate for being too close to the old Silver Apparatus. That includes not just the Lower Manhattan Democratic clubs, but also Silver’s former Chief of Staff Judy Rapfogel, who was visibly advocating for Cancel when the committee met last month. ( Just a piece of advice for future reference…if you don’t want people linking your preferred candidate to Silver himself then maybe find a surrogate to do your bidding. Don’t show up in person, for goodness sake ).

Full disclosure: I live in this District and have been inundated with mailers and cold calls for the Working Families Party candidate Yuh-Line Niou, who bucked the system when she dropped out of contention for the Democratic nod claiming unfairness in the selection process ( what does she mean?!! It’s perfectly fair that Silver choose his own successor! Just kidding ). Niou has now locked up the support of Tenants PAC, the largest tenant advocacy organization in the city. This is significant since at the heart of the Silver trial was evidence that the former Speaker was talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. Telling tenant advocates he was in their corner while winking and nodding to developers as he literally concocted elaborate schemes to take their illegal kickbacks. Niou has also won much of the union support which could make all the difference on election day when it comes to knocking on doors and getting people to the polls. We shall see, as they say.

Who has been far less visible since that fateful Super Bowl Sunday is Cancel. The New York Post even had this great piece about it. I tried several times to get in touch with Cancel. Called her, but she didn’t return and her voice mailbox was full and couldn’t accept any more messages. And when I texted her she told me “John” would get back to me shortly. Whoever that is. If money is any indication, Niou has the advantage with roughly $145,000 Cash on hand. Whereas Cancel appears to have raised no money whatsoever since January.

There is also a Republican in this race, businessman Lester Chang who has about $7,500 cash on hand. Former New York City Republican mayor Rudy Giuliani is actually hosting a fundraiser tonight for Chang at The 88 Palace in Chinatown. Doors open at 7:30. People close to Chang believe he has a good shot in this race if Niou and cancel were to split the Democratic vote.



Minimum Wage War

Lately it feels like budget talks aren’t really happening this year…but apparently they are. There have been Leader’s Meetings, as my esteemed friend and colleague Nick Reisman reported last week. But the word is that unlike in previous years, Governor Cuomo has put a gag order on tipping off the press when they take place. No, the leaders will no longer have to emerge from meetings to a gaggle of pesky reporters trying to ask simple questions about how $140 billion in public money will be spent. That would be wildly inappropriate, and we simply cannot have that.

But there is something else going on behind closed doors that is equally if not more intriguing, and that is the emerging split within the Senate Republican Conference over the minimum wage. Governor Cuomo has been cross-crossing the State with labor leaders making the case for $15 an hour. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan hasn’t ruled out giving the Governor what he wants on this, and a group of mostly upstate Republicans led by Senator John DeFrancisco really DO NOT like that one bit.

The visuals today pretty much said it all. At a press conference called by Senate Republicans to lay out their priorities in their One House Budget Resolution slated to be voted on next week, Flanagan was flanked by Cathy Young and Hugh Farley, who were two of the three other Senators allotted speaking roles ( the third was Sue Serino ). It’s funny because it might have actually been the first time I’ve ever heard Hugh Farley talk. Senator John DeFrancisco was standing all the way on the end, and kind of in the back. And when Flanagan got asked about the minimum wage, DeFran literally walked away from the makeshift stage to talk to someone on the sidelines.

We are told there have been some spirited discussions on the minimum wage when Republicans have discussed the issue during closed door conference. Although these talks have been described to me as “cordial” and “respectful” I was also told that Senator DeFrancisco has been, shall we say, “emphatic” and “forceful” in making his case against doing $15 just because Cuomo asked for it. DeFran has said publicly that he finds $15 to be an “arbitrary” and “political” number, with no evidence or data to back up why it has been selected. Complicating matters is that Cuomo is also seeking a paid family leave bill. So, you basically have the Governor and the Assembly pushing what would some say are two Democratic wish list items in a single year, which is a big ask, especially for both to get done in the next two weeks.

So, what happens? One insider predicts Flanagan ends up going along with both and they simply manipulate the timeline for getting to $15 upstate. that way, Repubs can claim a partial victory ( event though it’s a hollow one ). The other thought is that Flanagan could face a rebellion within the conference, and if they lose that Skelos seat to Democrat Todd Kaminsky next month his days as leader could be numbered.

As for Flanagan’s answer today that their one house budget resolution will address the minimum wage, one insider said that is easy enough to do. They can simply write in a “Let’s table the discussion without prejudice until such time as…” or in other words, we will consider it, but negotiations are “ongoing.”

Hoosick Falls, An American Tragedy

On Monday, Governor Cuomo was in Rockland County to promote his Paid Family Leave legislation. He did not take questions from reporters, but we were hoping to ask about the situation in Hoosick Falls. This is not a new story; many reporters have been doing excellent work on this for several months. But it has not received a lot of coverage in the New York City media market. On Friday, NY1’s “Inside City Hall” aired a special seven-minute report on the water contamination story in Hoosick Falls ( For those of you not in the TV news business, my nightly packages generally run about 2 minutes, so anything over that is considered a luxury ). It was an opportunity to tell the story in its totality from the beginning to where it stands now. It’s a story all of us should be paying attention to – especially with another upstate town, Petersburgh, now facing contamination fears as well.

Our link including video is here:

Today, I wanted to ask Cuomo why his own Health Commissioner Howard Zucker issued a fact sheet in December 2015 telling Hoosick Falls residents that “health effects are not expected to occur from normal use of the water.” The state said this despite its own tests which showed levels for the potentially-hazardous chemical PFOA in at least four water wells in town in the 600 parts per trillion, well over the EPA guideline of 400 parts. The state’s green light came despite the fact that the EPA had already told residents not to drink the water or use it for cooking. Moreover, the factory believed to be responsible for the contamination had already instituted a bottled water program for all residents a few weeks earlier.

Reached by phone earlier today, Director of State Operations Jim Malatras said,

“It’s important to be clear with the facts. The State Health Department answered a question regarding possible health effects of PFOA based upon available scientific information, yet that answer has been conflated with other questions to give the appearance of a change of position by the Department.  As is the case with other unregulated contaminants, we’ve relied on the federal EPA’s advisories and when they recommended against drinking the village water and lowered the advisory level for the chemical, we abided by that decision. At the same time, this Administration has initiated an aggressive response to ensure Hoosick Falls residents have clean drinking water and peace of mind – including expanded well and blood testing, installing water filtration systems at no cost, and beginning work on finding an alternative water source.”    

This is obviously a story that will continue to need more attention, especially when the affected New Yorkers live in a tiny town, nestled in the woods near the Vermont border.


Silver Seat Race May Come Down to Deal

The Working Families Party has endorsed Yuh-Line Niou to fill the Assembly seat vacated by former Speaker Sheldon Silver who was convicted of federal corruption last year and forced to resign. In a statement, WFP’s Bill Lipton said,

Yuh-Line Niou’s story is the story of New York. While this was a tough decision, a majority of WFP leaders decided this morning that she is the right choice to provide the strong, progressive leadership the working families of the 65th district need. New Yorkers can count on Yuh-Line to be a strong advocate for affordable housing, for immigrants and seniors, and for efforts to clean up our corrupt campaign finance system.We proudly support her.

Tomorrow the 180 or so members of the New York County Democratic Committee for the 65th Assembly District  will gather on East Broadway to pick their candidate for the April 19 special election called by Governor Cuomo last Saturday.

That basically gave the interested candidates 8 days to run one of the shortest campaigns in recent memory to succeed Silver who held the seat since 1977. Not the most democratic of processes, most people would seem to agree. The main candidates are Niou who is Chief of Staff to Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim, District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, Chair of Community Board 3 Gigi Lee, District Leader Paul Newell and Shelly hanger-on Alice Cancel.

Because the district is heavily Democratic, whoever gets selected by the Committee tomorrow is likely to win the special. However, there will be a normal September primary no matter what, which means Democrats who lose out tomorrow could get another crack at it in 7 months. According to one prominent Democrat,

The district has changed, but most of the County Committee hasn’t. WFP will be very important in September so their endorsement is crucial now.

This week, insiders began a whisper campaign that Alice Cancel had the most votes from the committee going into tomorrow’s (S)election process in which new votes are taken over and over again until a candidate reaches 50%. But it’s not one committee member one vote ( which would make too much sense ). The vote is weighted to favor Committee members who hail from Assembly Districts that had the highest vote turnout for Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014 ( I’m actually not kidding ). So, Cancel was the choice of the vestiges of the old Shelly machine on the Lower East Side. People like Rosa Silver ( Shelly’s wife ) and Judy Rapfogel ( shelly’s former Chief of Staff ) still have votes, and more importantly, control votes within the Lower East Side portion of the district. The 65th also includes Chinatown, Battery Park and the Financial District.

So, a deal needed to be cut between the Shelly people and the current reform minded elected officials. The person they appear to have settled on is Niou, who lives in the Financial District, even though some say may have a residency issue. How anybody could want to deal with Silver’s faction at this point is anybody’s guess, but this is politics after all. And sometimes people hold their noses to make deals for what they consider the greater good. I should also note that the vote is still tomorrow, so nothing is final. I have covered enough of these (S)elections to know that anything can happen when the consummate back-room-deal-people all end up in the same room together. So, we shall see. The good news is that Yuh-Line does seem to be a solid candidate who is young, energetic and committed to moving a district forward that has been ruled by an iron fist for longer than she has been alive.

The April 19 Special

The race to replace Dean Skelos in the New York State Senate could determine who controls the Upper House. By now, Democrats have settled on Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, who received the endorsement this weekend of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Kaminsky is a solid candidate for a lot of reasons. First off, he is a former federal prosecutor, so if the idea is to send a public interest crusader to replace Skelos, who was convicted of federal corruption last year, Kaminsky is probably the right guy. Kaminsky is also good because he looks a little bit like a Prince in a Walt Disney Cartoon. All he is missing is a crown, scepter and crushed purple velour cape with a gold neck clasp.

If Kaminsky wins, on paper at least, Republicans lose their majority in the State Senate. It would be a 31-31 tie counting the Jeff Klein-led Independent Democratic Conference. The deciding vote would then be Senator Simcha Felder. Sources say Felder is likely to remain in the Republican Conference. And his recent hiring of longtime Republican Senate Counsel Robert Farley as Albany Chief of Staff would seem to demonstrate his commitment to the current Republican-controlled configuration. But he might face enormous pressure to switch sides from labor unions, Mayor de Blasio and others. Felder won his last race running on the Conservative line where he receicved 8,105 votes. But the most votes he received were on the Democratic line – 21,384. So, bottom line is Democratic voters still determine his fate in Brooklyn. And a Kaminsky victory could raise the specter of Democrats holding enough votes to bring all the Democrats – even those in name only – under one umbrella ( ella-ella-ella-ey-ey-ey ).

Republicans have selected Christopher McGrath to run against Kaminsky on April 19, who Fred Dicker astutely points out, is not very well known. The rumor ( or conspiracy theory ) in Nassau County is that Republican Party Leaders, including Al D’Amato have more or less conceded the Senate race. They’d rather make peace with Kaminsky now recognizing that the writing is on the wall, and Democrats will inevitably take control of the Senate. Whether it happens in April or in 2017 is anybody’s guess. Or more accurately, is Felder’s guess.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan talked up McGrath in a radio interview with Susan Arbetter this morning. Asked by Reporters if he is confident Felder would stay with Repubs even if Kaminsky wins, Flanagan said,

Simcha has proven to be an extraordinary ally. I believe he feels he is more comfortable in a variety of ways including with a lot of different stances we take with our conference. I adore him.  I think he is a fantastic public servant and based on the relationship we have, and based on my own with him, would put us in good standing.

As for the Sheldon Silver seat, there is still no obvious favorite. County Committee Members will select the candidate who is virtually guaranteed to win April 19 in the overwhelmingly Democratic District. I’m told that meeting could take place as early as Saturday night at Pace University in Lower Manhattan. If it doesn’t work out they are even looking at Sunday night as a possibility, but Monday begins the Chinese New Year, and the Chinatown portion of the district will not want it then. By statute, the meeting must take place within ten days of Cuomo declaring the special, which he officially did on Saturday. The major candidates still very much in the mix for that seat are District Leaders Jenifer Rajkumer, Paul Newell along with Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Ron Kim, Yuh-Line Niou. Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li is also getting into the race and has sent around fundraising requests to local community leaders.

More About That Special Election…

Earlier this month, it came to our attention that the New York City Board of Election might have some difficulty holding a special election for the three open Assembly seats in the city on the same day as the Republican and Democratic Presidential primaries, which is April 19.

Late last year, Governor Cuomo said,

I am looking at calling a special election for the Sheldon Silver seat as well as two other vacancies that exist now for April 19. I believe that is within the legal deadlines and that is the date we are looking at.

( The other two seats btw, are for Joe Borelli on Shaolin, and Roxanne Persaud in BK )

But since Cuomo said those words on December 1st, there has been virtual silence on the issue. Not a peep from the Governor, and we hadn’t heard much from the administrators at the Board of Elections who would need to pull it off. So why is that?

Initially, I chalked it up to one of those great New York mysteries – Kind of like how no one has ever actually seen a baby pigeon. I mean, we know they are reproducing, right?!? There certainly are enough of them. Flying rats as far as I’m concerned. Although I still maintain that squirrels are at the top of the animal kingdom in the urban concrete jungles of NYC. Rats scurry underground, and pigeons fly away. Squirrels gotta keep in real in plain view. Don’t let those adorable whiskers and fluffy little tails fool you. Squirrels are large and in charge.

Anyway, it turns out there are, in fact, some “logistical concerns” about holding the special on the same day as the national primaries. According to Michael Ryan, the Executive Director of the NYC Board of Elections,

If we went with the consolidated ballot solution, then we have ballot distribution issues. We need to make sure that folks who are not eligible to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary only vote in the special. And if we go with the additional deployment of machines then essentially people would have to go to one location and vote twice.

So why not move the special to June to line up with the new date for Congressional primaries? Apparently that presents the same set of logistical obstacles. This is partly due to the newfangled voting machines recently adopted by the city and state. Say what you will about those old lever machines, you could at least line up the candidates for every race in columns on a paper ballot. Now, the software on the newer machines is more limited. And local Boards of election are not allowed to mess with the configuration of the software, even if the aim is to enable them to handle a local election and a national one simultaneously.

Oy, gevalt.

Ryan concludes however, that if Cuomo goes forward and calls the special, they will make it work.

I have every reason to believe that if the Governor calls the special on this date that we would meet the challenges that were necessary to accommodate the voters.

Elections used to be something we took for granted, like the inevitability of a long sax solo in an 80s song. But apparently new attempts to modernize the voting process have introduced a whole new set of issues.