Andrew Cuomo

Q Poll: Fracking Opposition Hits New High

Forty-eight percent of New Yorkers are opposed to drilling in the Marcellus Shale due to environmental concerns, a Quinnipiac poll released this morning found.

That’s the highest level of opposition to the controversial natural gas drilling technique found by the Q poll since it has been tracking voters’ opinions on this issue.

The previous high was in March 2013, when 46 percent said they opposed fracking, while 39 percent were in favor.

In the poll released today, 43 percent of respondents said they support drilling in the Marcellus due to its potential economic benefits. Nine percent had no opinion on the issue.

Last month, New Yorkers were evenly divided on the drilling question, 44-45.

In today’s survey, upstate voters support drilling 48-44, while New York City residents are opposed, 55-35, and suburban voters are divided, with 47 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed.

Forty-one percent said they believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been dragging his feet in an effort to avoid a decision on drilling, while 20 percent believe him when he says he has been carefully evaluating the issue.

“New York State voters remain closely divided on the issue of natural gas drilling – or fracking – but opinion has been shifting ever so slightly against it,” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll.

During his (soggy) visit to the State Fair yesterday, Cuomo encountered a few anti-fracking demonstrators who actually yelled their thanks to him for the seemingly never-ending review of drilling that has become a de facto moratorium.

There were more protestors elsewhere on the fairgrounds, and they were visited by Cuomo’s Democratic gubernatorial primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout, and Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins – both of whom have expressed opposition to fracking.

Cuomo later told reporters there was “nothing new” to report on the fracking front.

Last November, Cuomo said a decision on whether to green light fracking in the Marcellus would likely come before this year’s elections.

But that turned out to be was just one of a long string of “just around the corner” comments from the governor and other administration officials that have yet to bear fruit.

14 Lawmakers Call For Special Prosecutor In Garner Death

More than a dozen state lawmakers have signed onto a letter calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to probe the death of Eric Garner after he was subject to a choke hold from police.

The three-page letter, sent by Assemblyman Nick Perry on Thursday, was also signed by Democratic members of the Senate and Assembly, all from mostly from New York City.

In the letter, the lawmakers express frustration with what they see as a lack of progress from Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan’s office in pursuing the case, which has been ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner’s office.

“We write to you today Governor Cuomo, on the 32nd day following the tragic chokehold death of Mr. Eric Garner, because there is still a stunning and bewildering lack of timely and appropriate action from the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD,” the letter states. “The apparent reluctance to act, displayed by the District Attorney’s Office is a major source of our alarm over the failure to address the deep public anger and steeply eroding trust in our justice system.”

The lawmakers also draw a parallel between this case and the racially charged Howard Beach incident in 1986, when one black man was killed and another beaten.

“In the Howard Beach case, Governor Mario Cuomo allowed just twenty-five days to go by, and with no action by the Queens District Attorney he responded to the widespread opinion, and public frustration that the Queens District Attorney had exhibited a lethargic approach, and maybe even partiality in his investigation,” the lawmakers write. “In appointing a special prosecutor for the Howard Beach case, Governor Mario Cuomo further expressed his opinion that the public had lost confidence in the Queens District Attorney’s ability to fairly prosecute that case.”

The letter comes a day after Mayor Bill de Blasio held a round table discussion on police-community relations with Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Rev. Al Shaprton.

Cuomo Garner Press by Nick Reisman

Cuomo: ‘I’ll Leave It To The Campaigns’ On Debating Teachout

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined whether he would take up an invitation from NY1 and TWC News to debate his Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, telling reporters in Syracuse Thursday morning he would let the decision rest with “the campaigns.”

“I’ll leave that to the campaigns to work out and whatever they decide,” Cuomo said at the State Fair in Syracuse.

Asked a second time whether he’d take up a debate, Cuomo again demurred to the campaigns.

“I’ll leave that to the campaigns to work out if there should be debates, who should participate, that’s a campaign tactic I will leave to the campaigns,” said Cuomo, who is known for taking a hands-on approach with his political operation as well as his government office.

Both Teachout and her running mate, Tim Wu, have agreed to televised debates next month with Cuomo and his preferred running mate, Kathy Hochul.

Teachout, a Fordham Law professor, survived a second court challenge on Wednesday from Cuomo’s re-election campaign that sought to knock her off the ballot citing the state’s five-year residency requirement.

Both the state Supreme Court and the Appellate Court tossed the challenge to Teachout’s ballot status, and Cuomo’s campaign does not plan to appeal.

The primary is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Meanwhile, despite a summer of bad press stemming from his office’s involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, polls have shown Cuomo still maintains a wide lead over his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino.

“I take all these polls with a grain of salt,” Cuomo said in a response. “I’ve been governor for four years, they know my record, they know what we’ve gotten done.”

‘Morning Joe’ Crew Questions Administration Email Retention

Welcome back, Gov. Andrew Cuomo: MSNBC’s Morning Joe today lumped the New York Democrat in with Republican governors around the country who face legal or ethical scandals.

The program included Cuomo in with a list of governors ranging from Rick Perry of Texas, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie when discussing the list of governors under fire.

Perry, the most recent addition to the list, was indicted last week over a threat to veto funds to a county public corruption office after a district attorney refused to resign following a DWI arrest.

Cuomo remains under investigation for his handling of the Moreland Commission and his office’s involvement in blocking subpoenas from the panel.

The show also questioned the state’s policy of deleting unsaved emails after three months.

Host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, also mocked Cuomo’s used of the phrase “ipso facto.”

Cuomo: Israel Trip Was ‘Gubernatorial’ Not ‘Presidential’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brushed aside a question in a Sunday morning television interview as to whether his trip to Israel suggested he was opening the door to a run for president in 2016.

Phoning in to Fox News, host Maria Bartiromo noted the two-day trip to Israel last week was “very presidential of you.”

“I thought it was more gubernatorial of me than presidential,” Cuomo joked in response.

He added that the trip was meant to highlight New York state’s support for Israel.

New York has the second-highest Jewish population in the world behind Israel, and Cuomo has noted the nation and New York share a bond over being terrorist targets.

The trip came as tensions between the Obama administration and Israeli officials grew last week over the handling of the last flare-up in violence with Hamas.

“The United States needs Israel as a strategic ally more than ever,” Cuomo said.

But the trip to Israel was a rare, out-of-state venture for Cuomo and it was his first overseas since taking office as governor in 2011.

Cuomo would almost certainly be elbowed out of any race for president by Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and senator from New York.

Asked if he had discussed her presidential ambitions, Cuomo said no.

“I have not had any conversations like that with Secretary Clinton,” he said.

The national television interview was also a rare one for Cuomo, who often shies away from the network and cable spotlight.

Bartiromo, who has participated as a master of ceremonies in Albany for the state’s announcement of economic development grants, has asked the governor in previous interviews about running for president (He joked last time the feed was cutting out and couldn’t hear her).

The trip also came after several weeks of bad press for the governor, who is under fire for his office’s involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

The effort to block subpoenas away from politically sensitive areas for Cuomo, as well as the circumstances surrounding the Moreland Commission’s demise in April following an agreement on ethics reform in the state budget is now the subject an investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

“If there any questions of how it operated, fine,” Cuomo said when asked about the commission, adding he wanted to do “more” on ethics overhaul legislation, but was proud of the results he’s achieved so far.

Asked about his re-election campaign — he’s far ahead in the polls in a head-to-head matchup with Republican Rob Astorino — Cuomo said he’s running on his record.

He added, “I take nothing for granted.”

Inside NYSUT’s Endorsement Process

The three-day NYSUT endorsement conference that ended with the union opting not to pick a favorite in the governor’s race was a “grueling” process that took longer than expected due to internal debate over state legislative races – particularly in the Senate, a union official said.

The decision not to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any of his opponents for the second election in a row was pretty much “unanimous,” according to NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta. But when it came to the Legislature, it was a whole different ballgame.

“There were discussions like you wouldn’t believe,” Pallotta said during a telephone interview this morning. “Last cycle, things were pretty clear. This cycle, we had very different opinions from very different parts of the state on what direction we should go in, and how good individual assembly members and senators have been. Discussions went on for hours. We came out with a lot of ‘no endorsements.’”

It was not unusual, Pallotta said, for discussions over whether to endorse a single senator to last up to five hours, and for there to be no majority opinion on how to proceed at the end of those marathon talks.

There was also no consensus among union leaders about the effort to flip the Senate into Democratic hands – a push that largely originated with unions during the labor-backed Working Families Party’s debate over whether to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo or Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout. In a deal brokered by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo ended up endorsing a Democrat-controlled Senate as well as the return of IDC members to the so-called regular Democratic conference.

But NYSUT members feel strongly that individual senators – both Republicans and Democrats – have been very supportive of their issues over the years, and they wanted to repay that loyalty with endorsements, Pallotta said. For example, NYSUT threw its support behind GOP Sen. Ken LaValle, longtime chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, even through it opted to take a pass in many of the Long Island districts – including the one represented by Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos. (Note: this line has been edited to correct an error; NYSUT did not endorse GOP Sen. Jack Martins over his Democratic challenger, Adam Haber, but stayed nuetral in that race).

NYSUT also remained loyal to the Senate Republicans’ second-in-command, Sen. Tonm Libous, of the Southern Tier, despite his indictment on charges that he lied to federal agents about helping his son get a job with a politically-connected law firm.

In several other contested races, however, NYSUT gave its support to the Democratic candidates, including Sens. Terry Gipson (Hudson Valley) and Ted O’Brien (Rochester) – both top GOP targets this fall.

It wasn’t a surprise for NYSUT to take a pass on backing Cuomo, given its 2010 “no endorsement” decision and rocky relationship with the governor since he took office in January 2011. Pallotta said he believes the governor wanted NYSUT’s endorsement, but was a little vague on whether Cuomo had formally sought the union’s nod, saying: “We’ve spoken with the different candidates…we’ve spoken with the governor, and he understands our situation and needs, as did (Green Party candidate) Howie Hawkins, and (Cuomo’s Democratic challenger) Zephyr Teachout.”

As for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, Pallotta said his name was brought forward, but “not as much” as Hawkins and Teachout were mentioned. That’s despite Astorino’s outspoken opposition to the Common Core, and effort to capitalize on the backlash to the controversial curriculum by creating the “Stop Common Core” independent ballot line.

Pallotta indicated NYSUT has not yet decided whether it will formally oppose Cuomo when the AFL-CIO holds its endorsement get-together in New York City next Monday. In 2010, the union did not back Cuomo, but also did not seek to block him from receiving the AFL endorsement, which is decided by a weighted vote of all its union affiliates.

“That will be exciting,” Pallotta chuckled. “We’ll see what happens…I can’t predict. It wouldn’t be fair to those who support the governor. There are folks coming to the convention who support the idea of an endorsement very strongly, and others who would want to see the governor get the endorsement. There’s a lot of freedom to speak at these conventions, and a lot of spirited discussions. We will let them come, and we will let them speak. We can’t keep our local presidents from speaking.”

NYSUT Passes On Cuomo, Again

The statewide teachers union is poised to unveil its endorsements for the upcoming 2014 elections, and once again, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has failed to make the cut.

An endorsement list obtained by SoP after NYSUT leaders met behind closed doors yesterday outside Albany, shows the union is – as we knew, thanks to the early decision on these races – supporting both of Cuomo’s fellow Democratic statewide officials, AG Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, for re-election.

There is no endorsement in the governor’s race.

It was not immediately clear whether Cuomo had even bothered to seek NYSUT’s support, or if the union had interviewed his opponents – Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Democratic Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout.

Efforts to reach the union’s spokesman to obtain answers to these questions were unsuccessful.

NYSUT’s new president, Karen Magee, was scheduled for a CapTon interview last night, but cancelled at the last minute because the endorsement meetings went long.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that NYSUT is sitting out the governor’s race. The union did the same thing in 2010, although it did not actively oppose then-AG Cuomo when it came time to decide the AFL-CIO endorsement, which is decided by a weighted vote. (He got the nod).

Magee has made clear since she ousted former NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi this past spring that her members were unlikely to back Cuomo this time around.

It would be generous to describe the relationship between NYSUT and Cuomo as “rocky.” The two have clashed numerous times over everything from the property tax cap and pension reform to teacher evaluations and the Common Core curriculum.

The union is also issuing a slew of legislative endorsements, backing mostly – but not entirely – Democratic Senate and Assembly candidates.

NYSUT chose sides in some, but not all, of the contested Senate races as the Democrats and Republicans battle it out (yet again) for control of the chamber.

However, there are a number of races on Long Island where NYSUT is sitting things out at the moment.

For example, the union did not pick a favorite in the 7th SD race where GOP Sen. Jack Martins is battling Democrat Adam Haber.

It did back Democratic environmental advocate Adrienne Esposito over Republican Islip Supervisor Tom Croci, who was tapped to run when Town Board Member Anthony Senft quit the race in the 2nd SD (Sen. Lee Zeldin is running for Congress).

NYSUT is holding out on a number of incumbent Republican senators. It did not back a candidate in the 4th SD where GOP Sen. Phil Boyle is seeking re-election, or the 6th, where GOP Sen. Kemp Hannon is running againn.

The union notably remained mum on Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who is running for another term in the 9th SD.

NYSUT is backing all the IDC members save one: Queens Sen. Tony Avella (11th SD), who is facing a strong primary challenge from former NYC Councilman John Liu. Liu has garnered labor support even though the unions are supposedly all in for the IDC-regular Democrat reunification effort.
The union made no endorsement in the 17th SD, represented by Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, who sits with the GOP; or in the 19th SD, where embattled former Democratic Senate Leader John Sampson is fighting for his political life in the September primary; or in the 32nd SD, represented by conservative Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.

In other contested races, NYSUT supported Democratic candidates including:

Former NYC Councilman Leory Comrie against scandal-scarred Queens Sen. Malcom Smith (this is a primary); Bronx Sen. Gustavo Rivera over NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera (also a primary); Dave Denenberg for the seat of former Long Island GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo; Democrat Justin Wagner for the seat of retiring Hudson Valley GOP Sen. Greg Ball; Sen. Terry Gipson, who faces a challenge from GOP Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino; and Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, who is trying to fend off a second challenge from former GOP Assemblyman George Amedore; Sen. Ted O’Brien, fighting a challenge from Republican former Rochester TV anchor Rich Funke; teacher Elaine Altman, who is challenging GOP Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer; and attorney Marc Panepinto, who is trying to unseat GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti.

GOP Sen. Tom Libous made the cut with NYSUT, despite his health and legal troubles. He’s being challenged by former Democratic Vestal Town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak.

For the seat being left vacant by retiring GOP Sen. George Maziarz, NYSUT is backing Republican-turned-Democrat Johnny Destino. It also is supporting Sen. Tim Kennedy over his Democratic primary challenger, Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant.

Cuomo Meets With Netanyahu: ‘Pray For Peace, Stand In Defense’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met earlier today, with the New York Democrat pledging the state’s support for the nation’s continuing conflict against Hamas.

In brief remarks with Netanyahu, Cuomo said the group of New York officials he brought to the country is “unprecedented” — pointing to presence of both Democrats and Republicans in the delegation.

Cuomo is traveling with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Co-Leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein.

“We want to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. We want to stand in solidarity with you,” Cuomo said. “The delegation that has come forward is unprecedented in some ways. We have both sides of the Legislature — the Assembly and the Senate. It’s a bipartisan delegation. We have business representatives, thought leaders — we all wanted to come as one in solidarity in unity to say to Israel, we understand the situation you’re in.”

He added: I speak for all New Yorkers when I say we stand in solidarity with Israel.

Cuomo Campaign To Pay For Israel Trip

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign will be footing the bill for his first trip overseas, the governor’s office on Tuesday said.

Cuomo, who is leading a delegation of state legislative leaders and business leaders, will depart for Israel this evening.

His office says that while the trip is being conducted on the government side of things, Cuomo 2014 will be covering his expenses as well as that of his staff. Aides traveling with Cuomo for the two-day trip include Director of Global New York Aaron Kaplowitz who was previously the director of communications at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., Special Assistant for Jewish Affairs David Lobl, Director of Communications Melissa DeRosa and Press Secretary Matt Wing.

“The delegation members are paying separately,” the governor’s office said.

The delegation includes Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

On Wednesday, Cuomo is due to meet with the president of Israel and will be meeting with New Yorkers living in Israel to discuss their experiences living in the Jewish State over the last several months.

The Siena Poll In Charts

Today’s Siena College poll includes some helpful charts to visualize Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s standing in the horse race with Republican challenger Rob Astorino, as well as some prospective on his favorable-unfavorable ratings since he took office in 2011.

To wit, the head-to-head match up with Astorino shows little has changed since June of this year, with the results mostly falling within a margin of error.

And while the numbers have fluctuated over the years, consistency also holds for Cuomo when voters are asked if they prefer a generic “someone else.” The question has recorded Cuomo under 50 percent only once, back in March, when 49 percent said they would support his re-election.

One trend that has tightened over the last 3-1/2 years has been the governor’s favorable-unfavorable figures which started, unsurprisingly, at a sky-high level and has slowly come back down to earth.

August 2014 Charts by Nick Reisman