Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo’s Office Offers Congrats To New PEF Prez

pefsignGov. Andrew Cuomo and the Public Employees Federation have not seen eye-to-eye in recent years.

But after Wayne Spence was sworn in as the labor group’s new president earlier today, Cuomo’s office released a conciliatory note of congratulations.

At the same time, the statement from Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa signaled a hope for a more staid relationship with the union, which endorsed the governor’s primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, last year.

“On behalf of the Governor, I want to congratulate President Wayne Spence as he assumes the responsibilities of leading the Public Employees Federation,” DeRosa said. “The Governor looks forward to a courteous and constructive dialogue with PEF under President Spence’s leadership, and is optimistic that it will be a welcome change from the rancor and destructive rhetoric of the past. The Governor will continue to strive for agreements that are fair to both employees and New York’s taxpayers. We look forward to working together in the future.”

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Cuomo Issues Executive Order For Turner Case

cuomonaacpGov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Monday issued an updated executive order to empower Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to review, investigate and potentially prosecute law enforcement officials in connection to the death of Raynette Turner.

Turner, a 52-year-old Mount Vernon woman, died in a holding cell on July 27 while she was awaiting arraignment.

Schneiderman earlier in the day on Monday announced he would investigate the death of Turner under the powers of an executive order Cuomo issued earlier this year that supersedes the local district attorneys when it comes to the deaths of civilians related to police and law enforcement. More >

Good-Government Groups Urge Cuomo To Approve FOIL Bills

capitoldayA coalition of government reform groups on Friday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to approve two measures that are designed to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Laws.

One bill is designed to reduce the time public agencies have to appeal a judicial decision in granting access to public records from nine months to two months.

Another measure is aimed at requiring agencies to pay out legal fees and court costs incurred when a member of the public has prevailed in gaining access to documents and a court has ruled there is no “reasonable basis” for not providing the records.

“Unfortunately, government agencies often deliberately delay the FOIL process, or simply do not provide the requested records. Agencies know that it is very expensive for the public to appeal a FOIL request to the courts, and are often able to effectively ignore FOIL.These two bills will help make government agencies more responsive to FOIL requests by improving the process for appealing the denial of those requests,” the groups wrote in the letter.

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1199 Urges Cuomo To Scuttle Seneca Lake Gas Storage Facility

1199seiuFrom the Morning Memo:

A key labor union on Wednesday approved a resolution urging the Cuomo administration to not allow the storage of liquid propane gas near Seneca Lake in Schuyler County.

The union, 1199 SEIU, brings a new level of political juice to the controversial storage facility proposal.

In a statement, the labor’s group linked the issue to Gov. Andrew Cuomo moving last year to ban high-volume hydrofracking in the state.

“1199SEIU stands for addressing the crisis of climate change, and with that in mind we supported Gov. Cuomo’s decision to ban the dangerous process of fracking in New York State,” said 1199 SEIU Vice President George Kennedy. More >

Cuomo On Friendship And The ‘Soap Opera’

deblasiocuomoGov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are friends again.

That’s according to the governor himself, who today once again downplayed the feud between the two Democratic leaders that erupted this month following the conclusion of the legislative session.

“He’s a friend,” Cuomo said. “I’ve known him 30 years and I’ve worked with him for many years.”

Cuomo had previously said his relationship with de Blasio — who accused the governor in an interview with NY1 of undermining his agenda and siding with Senate Republicans — as “professional” and not “love-dovey.” More >

Cuomo Commits to MTA Capital Plan, Says de Blasio’s “a friend”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, Wednesday, that in exchange for what could be the largest Capital Plan ever approved for the MTA, he’ll push for another significant investment in upstate roads and bridges.

Cuomo accepted MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast’s request for an $8.3 Billion commitment to the Capital Plan Monday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has not said publicly whether he will commit $3.2 Billion to the plan for maintenance and improvements to the MTA System.

“This is a big part of the budget, it always has been,” Cuomo said on The Capital Pressroom. “This is a worthwhile investment, and I’m sure we can find the funds if we make it a priority and I’m willing to make it a priority.”

The money would come from the state’s budget, which would require approval from the legislature. Cuomo says he doesn’t expect any push-back from the downstate-dominated body.

“When you look at the MTA region, that’s by far the bulk of the New York State legislature in terms of members,” Cuomo said. “But will the upstate people say ‘what about us?’ Yes – and we have a big, robust roads and bridges program which we had last year and we’re going to propose again next year and that will be addressing the need for upstate – and the MTA’s downstate.”

This year’s state budget included a $1 Billion investment in roads and bridges across New York State, thought that wasn’t limited to upstate infrastructure. Now the investment is in the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Cuomo says he’s spoken to about the plan.

“I talk to the mayor about any relevant issues that we have to talk about.,” Cuomo said. He did not say whether they mayor was planning to commit to the investment. He did say – after a weeks-long, very public feud with the Mayor – that he now, once again, considers him a friend.

“This is not personal,” Cuomo said. “On a personal level, I consider the mayor a friend as everybody knows and he made a couple of comments because he was frustrated and from my point of view life goes on and we have a number of important issues to work through and the MTA Capital Plan is one of them.”

The commitment from Cuomo comes more than a month after the end of legislative session. The governor says they wanted to take a closer look at the plan before they committed the full amount.

“We had a couple of suggestions that, frankly, the MTA hadn’t taken into consideration,’ Cuomo said. “I believe in Design-Build. We used it on the Tappan Zee and we saved a lot of money. And I believe the MTA could have more aggressively used the Design-Build strategy. They did, and they actually saved like $3 Billion on the Capital Plan.”

The $8.3 Billion will be paid out by the state over five years, meaning a $1.6 Billion commitment each year. If the city signs on, they’ll be paying out $600 Million annually. Cuomo joked that, from his perspective, the city should be giving more.

“On this Capital Plan, the predominance of the money goes to New York City, and the predominance of the riders are New York City,” Cuomo said. “Frankly, I could argue that the MTA is asking too much from the state from my point of view.”

As for the crumbling commuter tunnels under the Hudson River, Governor Cuomo says he wants to see a fix but the money’s not there.

“The problem there is money. It’s about $12 Billion dollars – that’s a lot of money,” Cuomo said. “If the federal government – which has only offered about $3 Billion – if the federal government can make a significant contribution then let’s go.”

Cuomo says he’s spoken to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about the issue, and that both agree repairs are needed as soon as possible.

Cuomo: Special Session For Ethics Won’t Do Anything

Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again threw cold water on calling a special session to consider ethics reform legislation, saying it “makes no sense” to do so.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Bolton Landing earlier in the day, said it was doubtful lawmakers would return to Albany in a special session to consider ethics legislation after they declined to pass any new measures at the end of the regularly scheduled session, which concluded in June.

“The point is, is there any reason to believe there would be a different outcome?” Cuomo said.

The first six months of the year in Albany was marred by a seemingly unprecedented parade of arrests that saw the indictments of the speaker of the Assembly and majority leader of the state Senate, both of whom were forced to step down from their posts as they fight their corruption charges.

“We have the highest ethical standards this state has ever had,” Cuomo told reporters this morning. “That is not going to stop people from doing stupid or criminal things as we’ve learned.”

Last week, two sitting state senators — Tom Libous and John Sampson — lost their seats after they were convicted in separate trials on corruption charges as well.

Cuomo had pushed lawmakers to approve a broad package of ethics reforms in the wake of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s arrest in January, but ultimately lawmakers approved a compromised version of the proposal, including the disclosure of outside legal clients.

Now, good-government groups are once again calling for a special session on ethics exclusively, with measures being pushed that include closing a loophole in campaign-finance law that allows for unlimited donations through limited liability companies.

Still, Cuomo is skeptical that lawmakers would be willing ton consider reaching an agreement on ethics just weeks after leaving Albany.

“The Legislature just left town a few weeks ago,” Cuomo said. “I don’t see any reason to believe there’s going to be a different outcome than there was a few weeks ago.”

At the same time, Cuomo questioned the cost of a special session, given the lack of a prospect of progress.

“For the taxpayers to spend a lot of money to bring the legislators back to Albany to have the same outcome they had a few weeks ago makes no sense to me,” he said. “My point is, the Legislature just left town a few weeks ago. What changed?”

Cuomo Says Fiala A ‘Quality Person’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again on Tuesday talked up Barbara Fiala’s soon-to-launch campaign for state Senate, saying that he made the early endorsement because he wants “quality people” in state government.

“I believe in getting quality people elected to the Legislature and quality people elected as mayors and county executives all across the state,” Cuomo told reporters during a gaggle at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing. “Barbara Fiala is a quality person.”

Fiala is running for a seat left vacant by former Sen. Tom Libous, a Republican from the Southern Tier region who was ousted after he was convicted of lying to the FBI.

Cuomo has a close relationship with Libous and last week called his conviction a “tragedy” as the former lawmaker also battles terminal cancer.

But in the same radio interview last week, Cuomo endorsed — seemingly out of the blue — Fiala, his former motor vehicles commissioner and a former Broome County executive.

Today, Cuomo spoke of Fiala’s personal integrity, even as he declined to answer how, exactly, he would help her win the seat.

“She is a really quality person of high integrity and she is the kind of person who we should have in state government,” Cuomo said.

Fiala is expected to launch her campaign for Senate on Thursday. The 52nd Senate district has a Republican enrollment advantage and has historically elected GOP candidates.

Updated: Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“Barbara Fiala is running to join the same New York City-dominated Senate Democrat conference that raised taxes by a whopping $14 billion, created a $10 billion deficit and shifted critical school aid and other resources to New York City at the expense of hardworking Southern Tier families the last time they were in power,” Reif said. “Electing a Democrat to this seat would be bad news for all New York taxpayers and for the people of the 52nd Senate district. We grow more confident every day that Republicans will hold this seat.”

To Labor, Cuomo Touts Infrastructure

In two separate events on Tuesday morning in southern Adirondack resort towns, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted his efforts to get New York and private industry to spend big on large-scale infrastructure projects.

The governor had captive audiences: He spoke before trade union members, private-sector labor groups that have been traditionally in the governor’s political corner.

Cuomo first appeared at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing to speak at the New York State Laborer’s Meeting. About an hour later, he was in Lake George to address the New York State Pipe Trades Conference at the Fort William Henry Conference Center.

The message at the both event was, literally in some passages of his near-verbatim remarks, the same: New York is building while other states aren’t.

“We’re actually making agreements, we’re passing legislation and we’re moving now where other states are standing still,” Cuomo said at the pipe fitters conference.

The events came after Cuomo was in New York City with Vice President Joe Biden to unveil a planned $4 billion upgrade at LaGuardia Airport that, once completed, will include a new, unified terminal at the facility as well as enhanced passengers entrances.

Cuomo touted the LaGuardia plan as well as the ongoing effort to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge that crosses the Hudson River at Rockland and Westchester counties. And he made sure to claim credit for the resolution of the 421a tax abatement renewal, though the details must still be worked out by labor as well as real-estate developers.

The airport renewal project, as well as the Tappan Zee bridge plan (whose funding scheme is yet to be fully revealed) received warm applause when Cuomo mentioned them.

“The governor’s putting people to work,” said Larry Bulman, the national political director of the United Association, an umbrella group of plumbers, pipe fitters, welders and service technicians, as well as a former Democratic chairman in Saratoga County. “He’s putting New Yorkers to work. Many of the jobs are, yes, going to workers in the skilled trades, in the building trades.”

Bulman spoke warmly of the START-UP NY ad campaign, a political hot-button for Cuomo opponents, but one that Bulman believes is a net positive for the state.

“I see START-UP NY ads in Idaho, Washington State and also on the East Coast,” Bulman said in an interview. “I’ve seen the ads all over the place. I think that’s going to be his real legacy, what he talked about today — making sure he’s putting skilled New Yorkers to work on these projects.”

Friendly audiences aside, Cuomo has a complicated relationship with other labor groups, mainly public-sector unions that he has been at odds with such as the New York State United Teachers, the Public Employees Federation and the Civil Service Employees Association.

The New York State AFL-CIO declined to endorse his re-election bid last year.

Cuomo, too, has been close with the bosses of those in the trade field, garnering millions of dollars in campaign support from real-estate interests based in New York City.

Nevertheless, Cuomo has sought to shore up his relationship with labor in the last several weeks.

After the fast-food wage board convened at his behest recommended a $15-an-hour minimum wage for the industry, Cuomo led a rally attended by the Hotel Trades Council, a labor group that has seen its political influence expand in recent years.

“I believe in organized labor, I’ve supported it,” Cuomo told reporters at his stop in Bolton Landing. “We’ve had a great legislative session working with organized labor.”

And he closed with a warning for other states he says aren’t keeping pace with New York.

“The states that are not doing this preparation, that aren’t redeveloping, they are going to be left behind,” Cuomo said. “For many years, New York was not doing what it needed to do and now we are. It feels good.”

Cuomo ‘Sure’ Labor And Developers Will Reach Deal On 421a

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said he would likely steer clear of the talks to finalize the 421a tax abatement, which without an agreement reached by labor and real-estate developers would expire.

“The point was the process set up in the legislation,” Cuomo said after speaking to a labor group at the Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, just north of Lake George.

Cuomo spoke to two different labor unions on Tuesday meeting miles apart in the southern Adirondack resort communities.

In both speeches — virtually verbatim addresses to the private-sector trade union groups — Cuomo touted their political support he has enjoyed while also touting his own efforts on including a prevailing wage component in the 421a abatement renewal last month.

Only the abatement itself could go away entirely unless labor and the real-estate development community Cuomo has also drawn political support from over the years reach an agreement on the prevailing wage provision.

The abatement debate at the end of the legislative session centered around whether to expand affordable housing provisions under the abatement as well as include a prevailing wage component for trade groups (Mayor Bill de Blasio backed a prevailing wage, but for service industry workers, putting him crosswise with construction-oriented unions).

“Organized labor is part of the process and that’s what this legislation stipulated,” Cuomo said. “The legislation speaks for itself and it sets up the process and whatever the process yields, that’s what the process yields.”

The approved bill, in essence, puts a self-destruct component in the measure, Cuomo said.

“It’s basically saying come to an agreement or everybody loses and I’m sure they’ll come to an agreement,” he said.