Mar 11th - 4:08 pm
She’s worked for the Senate GOP, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso, and Democrat seeking the Republican line for governor Steve Levy.
Now Susan Del Percio will be joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
Cuomo’s office announced Tuesday afternoon it had hired Del Percio as a special advisor to the governor, where she’ll be focusing on operations and special projections.
No salary was given in the news release announcing her hire.
“I am pleased to welcome Susan Del Percio back to public service,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Susan brings years of experience in the public and private sector, as well as new ideas and top-rate talent to this administration, as we work to continue the success we have had over the past three years in creating jobs and building a smarter, healthier, fairer New York.”
In hiring Del Percio away, Cuomo is removing a potentially potent advisor for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.
Interestingly enough, Del Percio previously worked for the consultant shop that top Astorino advisor Bill O’Reilly comes from.
Before being plucked to join the administration, Del Percio had formed the super PAC Balance New York that was aimed at aiding the Senate Republicans come election time.
Mar 11th - 4:06 pm
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs is calling on the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor to refuse to run on the state Independence Party line in hopes that it will lose the ballot position that provides its leaders with what Jacobs called “oversized and undue clout.”
“The fact that the Independence Party genuinely stands for nothing, supports virtually no political activity and appears to exist only for the financial benefit of its leadership, while distasteful, does not necessarily lead us to take action against it. It is the corrupt activities by its leadership that, I believe, have crossed that line,” Jacobs wrote in a letter to state Democratic Party co-chairs Keith Wright and Stephanie Miner.
“Dealing with this corrupt party requires no change in the law – only political courage. I urge the State Committee to work toward an agreement whereby the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor mutually and jointly agree that they will not accept the Independence Party’s nomination.”
If both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor reject the the Independence Party line, it could end up all but starving the organization out of existence. If a party’s gubernatorial candidate does not receive at least 50,000 votes on its ballot line every four yers, it loses its official status – not to mention its relevance.
Jacobs, a former state Democratic chairman himself, said that while the state’s other minor parties with ballot lines – Working Families, Conservative and Green – represent “clear political viewpoints,” the Independence Party exists largely to improve the financial status of its leaders.
Jacobs noted that his local branch of the Independence Party is run by Rick Bellando, who was selected by the state Party Chairman Frank MacKay, also a Long Islander. Bellando is an employee of Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle, a hotel and catering facility in Suffolk County. Melius has been in the news lately after surviving a gunshot wound to the head – the result of an apparent assassination attempt.
According to Jacobs, (and backed up by a review of financial filings with the state Board of Elections) more than 80 percent of the $183,577 spent by the Nassau County Independence Party since 2012 (the only records available on line) went directly to Oheka Castle, Bellando and MacKay. Of the total amount spent by the party, only 3.45 percent went to fund political activity.
Efforts to reach MacKay for comment have so far been unsuccessful.
The state Independence Party was founded by former Paychex CEO Tom Golisano, who solidified the party’s ballot status with his three self-funded – and unsuccessful – runs for governor. Since 2006, when Golisano declined to run against then Democratic Party favorite, AG Eliot Spitzer, the party has focused on cross endorsing major party candidates to maintain its line.
Spitzer ran on the Indy line that year after the state party leaders booted their most controversial member, NYC’s Lenora Fulani. Four years later, Spitzer’s successor in the AG’s office, Andrew Cuomo, accepted the party’s endorsement even though it was under investigation for its spending on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg in his third successful run in 2009. (GOP consultant John Haggerty ended up convicted of stealing about $1 million worth of Bloomberg’s money that was passed through the Independence Party).
Cuomo also ran in 2010 on the labor-backed Working Families Party line, but he made WFP party leaders sweat while he mulled whether to accept their endorsement. The WFP was under investigation at the time by the US Attorney’s office for the work done by its now defunct for profit arm, Data & Field Services, during the 2009 NYC elections. No charges were brought in that case.
Cuomo agreed to run on the WFP line after its leaders agreed to fully endorse his “New New York” agenda, even though it included a number of initiatives – pay freezes for public employees, the 2 percent property tax cap – that many unions opposed.
This year, it remains unclear if the WFP will even offer the governor its endorsement. Many rank-and-file members are unhappy with Cuomo on a host of issues, and some say the WFP should perhaps run its own candidate – maybe even its national director, Dan Cantor – unless the governor delivers on a big ticket item like campaign finance reform (specifically, creation of a publicly funded system) or local minimum wage.
Mar 11th - 2:35 pm
The Legislature is poised to re-approve three out of four Board of Regents members who are running for re-appointment, rejecting Republican-backed candidates proposed by the GOP conference in the Assembly.
A fourth Regent, James Jackson of the Albany area, withdrew from consideration on Tuesday after it was clear he didn’t have the votes.
So in the end, it was an anti-climatic conclusion to the Regent re-appointments considering how many votes Democrats have in the chamber.
But it was unusual to see some Senate Republicans end their long-standing boycott of the Regents vote and head to the Assembly chamber to cast largely protest votes against re-appointment.
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said his votes were being cast in opposition to the process as a whole.
Whether Republicans will want to participate in future Regents votes or push to change the selection process as a whole remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter blasted the Common Core implementation, saying it should be criteria to judge the state Education Department’s performance.
“To the extent this is a moment to bring change to the system — and remember how hard change is, especially for a large system like the education system — I welcome it,” Cuomo said.
For now, that doesn’t seem like it will be the case, though the rejection of Jackson could be a strong signal that lawmakers want change.
Cuomo said the flawed roll out of Common Core implementation was the Education Department’s fault, not his, considering the Regents are appointed by the Legislature.
“That is the Board of Regents. There should be scrutiny on this Board of Regents and who they are and how they’re selected because they run education in this state,” Cuomo said.
There is, of course, a political dynamic to the situation for Cuomo: His potential Republican opponent this fall, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, is trying to tie Cuomo to the Common Core implementation.
Mar 11th - 11:31 am
Lawmakers in both parties are pushing back against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to create a freeze on local property tax increases. The ruling majority coalition in the Senate plans to introduce an alternative proposal to Cuomo’s property tax plan this week.
“I expect a property tax proposal to be in the one-house budget. I think you’ll find it to be a little bit different than what the governor has,” Sen. Tom Libous said.
Details of the Senate proposal weren’t immediately available. But the break with Cuomo on the property tax freeze comes after local government officials and organized labor both opposed the plan.
“It has been a little bit of a problem for local governments. I think they’re concerned as to the way the governor has proposed that it’s going to really pin them down and cause a lack of services,” Libous, a Binghamton Republican, said.
One-house budgets aren’t binding documents. They’re simply roadmaps for the Assembly and Senate to lay out their agenda as budget negotiations take shape. Democrats, meanwhile, are also uneasy with the proposal.
“It’s so complex that we don’t believe very many homeowners would see anything from that program,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan.
Senate Democrats urged leaders in the chamber to reject the tax freeze and include a circuit-breaker plan instead. Under that plan, property tax increases are tied to an household’s income.
One of them we support — circuit breaker — one of them we don’t support — the tax freeze, complicated system,” Krueger said.
But Cuomo is lobbying hard for his tax freeze. Under Cuomo’s plan, local governments must first limit levy increases at 2 percent and then find ways to share services in order to provide homeowners with a rebate check that amounts to a zero increase in taxes over those years.
Cuomo’s push to do something on the state’s high property taxes also has the support of most voters, polls have shown.
In a statement Cuomo’s top aide Larry Schwartz defended the tax proposal saying quote
“It’s clear that some local officials don’t want to be held accountable by taxpayers for staying within the cap and taking action to share services, reduce costs, and lower property taxes. Under the Governor’s plan, local governments and schools will be responsible for taking the right steps to get their fiscal houses in order, much like the state has already done .”
The $142 billion budget plan is due April 1.
Mar 10th - 12:19 pm
Failing public schools is the defining “civil rights issue of our day,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on WNYC Monday morning.
The governor strongly defended charter schools, saying that they aren’t a “threat” to public education, but an enhancement.
At the same time, he said public schools have failed “generations” of students in the state.
The comments come half a week after Cuomo appeared a rally for charter schools in Albany, held outside of the Capitol and only blocks away from New York City Mayor Bill de Blaiso’s own rally for his universal pre-Kindergarten plan, which backs a tax hike for those earning $500,000 and more.
Cuomo insisted to host Brian Lehrer that his proposal to fund universal pre-Kindergarten offers more certainty than de Blasio’s tax hike.
The mayor has said he wants a “dedicated funding stream” for universal pre-K in the city and a tax ensures that the program will be paid for.
Cuomo, disagrees, noting a tax can be undone.
“It’s called a law, like a budget law, and sometimes we pass a law and sometimes we undo a law,” Cuomo said, adding, “There’s nothing more certain about a tax than a normal budget bill.”
The governor’s $142 billion budget would fund universal pre-K at $1.5 billion over five years.
Needy school districts would be eligible for the first round of funding, which starts at $100 million in the coming 2014-15 budget year if the spending proposal is approved.
Cuomo and Senate Republicans so far have resisted calls for the tax hike, with GOP Leader Dean Skelos saying the surcharge is off the table.
Assembly Democrats support the tax, however, and have pushed publicly for more spending on the pre-K front.
Mar 7th - 5:47 pm
When Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino brought his post-gubernatorial announcement statewide tour to Syracuse today, several high-profile local Republicans were quite obviously AWOL.
The first was Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey, who is hosting Donald Trump at a fundraiser next week. He told the Post-Standard that Astorino “certainly would be a very strong candidate for the Republican Party,” but stopped short of issuing an endorsement.
The second was Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, who angered fellow local Republicans – including Dadey – by crossing party lines in 2010 to endorse then state AG Andrew Cuomo for governor. Mahoney has been a close Cuomo ally ever since he was elected that fall, and has even been floated as a potential replacement for LG Bob Duffy on the ticket this fall, though that would likely require her to switch her enrollment.
I spoke to Mahoney earlier today for an interview that will air on CapTon this evening. I noted her absence at Astorino’s Central New York event, and asked if she would even consider endorsing him against Cuomo.
“I fully anticipated your question, and what I want to do is as much as it’s under my power, I want to stretch the political season out as much as I can,” Mahoney replied. “…Everybody’s really working well together, and we’re geting a lot accomplished. I know when the political season gets here and everybody moves to their own corners and is afraid to make the other side look good…That’s going to come, inevitably, but I’m really trying to push that out as far as I can.”
Mahoney went on to note all the bipartisan effort that went into local projects like the ampitheater/Onondaga Lake waterfront redevelopment (coming instead of the new Syracuse sports arena) and the $15 million nano/film center announced by Cuomo this week at Mahoney’s State of the County address.
I asked when Mahoney thought she might be ready to talk politics, and she replied:
“It’s not entirely under my control, because at some point the whole world is only talking politics. I don’t think we’re there yet. There hasn’t been any buzz about politics, it has really been about these projects.”
“So, sometime between now and November it will be the political season, and we’ll have those conversations. But I really am just trying to put that off as long as I can to try to keep everybody – Republicans and Democrats – continue to try to do things that we have not seen happen in Onondaga County in the recent past. It’s been great what’s been going on, and I really wish we could just push the politics off the to the side.”
You can catch my full discussion with Mahoney at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Capital Tonight.
Mar 6th - 5:09 pm
Standard & Poor’s on Thursday upgraded the bond rating for Buffalo a notch from A to A+ — a development that was praised by Buffalo enthusiast Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In assigning the higher rating to the city, the agency cited “a structural shift to the medical and education sectors.”
At the same time, and despite a decline in the city’s population, the agency found that “Property values have shown stability, and continue to increase modestly.”
Cuomo has lavished attention on the city in recent years, securing economic development aid and incentives in order to boost employment in the medical and high-tech sectors.
“A number of development projects centering on health care and high-tech manufacturing are currently in progress, however, and could add to the city’s employment, tax base, and income levels in the long term,” the agency found.
Cuomo’s office in a statement praised the development as a sign the city’s economy is turning a corner.
“Today’s announcement that Standard and Poor’s has upgraded Buffalo’s General Obligation bond rating to an ‘A+’ is proof positive that our economic development strategy in Western New York is working. New York State is helping breathe new life into Buffalo and showing businesses that we are serious about revitalizing, rebuilding and remaking the Western New York economy,” Cuomo said. “S&P cites ‘state-supported economic development’ in their rationale for the upgrade, and we are pleased that the game-changing Buffalo Billion investment and the strategies of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council have already helped set a new trajectory for jobs and growth. Today’s upgrade is an important milestone, but the comeback of Buffalo has only just begun.”
Cuomo did not win western New York counties in the 2010 gubernatorial race against Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino. His potential GOP opponent in November, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, held a campaign kick-off event in the city on Thursday.
Mar 6th - 12:08 pm
It may not be Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino who is the GOP nominee, Gov. Andrew Cuomo coyly noted in a radio interview on Thursday.
“I’ve seen this movie before,” Cuomo said on The Capitol Pressroom, recalling the 2010 campaign for governor.
“First I was running against Rick Lazio. Then it was Steve Levy,” Cuomo said of the candidates, one a former GOP congressman, the other a Democrat running for the Republican nomination in 2010. “Then it was Carl Paladino.”
Lazio won the GOP’s preferred designation status in 2010, but lost to Paladino in a Republican primary.
Cuomo told host Susan Arbetter there are still other candidates waiting in the wings, potentially, for the GOP nomination, including Paladino again and even celebrity rich man Donald Trump.
“Maybe it’s Mr. Astorino. So we’ll see who the Republican candidate ends up being,” he said.
This lines up rather neatly with a statement from Democratic spokesman Peter Kauffmann, who said Wednesday in response to Astorino’s candidacy that New York Democrats are looking forward to “an entertaining primary.”
So far, Astorino is the only declared candidate in the race.
Cuomo reportedly has been urging Republicans to avoid nominating Astorino for governor, suggesting that he would unleash his $33 million war chest by painting him as an out-of-touch social conservative.
Mar 4th - 2:33 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will attend Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s State of the County address due to be given this evening in Syracuse.
She’ll be giving her address at Carnegie Library, a site in which could soon be home to Mahoney’s office and other county offices in the near future.
Mahoney, a Republican, has long been a political ally for Cuomo.
She attended a fundraiser with Cuomo last year and serves on his Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
Mahoney, who crossed party lines in 2010 to endorse Cuomo over Republican nominee Carl Paladino, has even been rumored to replace Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy on the ticket later this year.
Mar 4th - 12:51 pm
It turns out that not just one, but two former political heavyweights who did time on tax evasion charges are connected to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s April 4 campaign fund-raiser in Tarrytown.
As we reported earlier today, former Republican Sen. Nick Spano, who was released from prison last spring after pleading guilty in 2012 to tax evasion charges, sent an email to his contacts announcing that his lobbying firm is hosting the event, and trying to drum up attendance.
Upon reading that blog item, a source emailed to say that he had received an invitation to the fund-raiser via email from Paul Adler, the former chairman of the Rockland County Democratic Party who pleaded guilty in 2001 to bribery and tax evasion charges.
According to Adler’s email, which was forwarded to me by the source, the “Hudson Valley for Cuomo Reception” is an annual event – a “tradition” that began in 2009, Adler wrote, “when we all urged Andrew Cuomo to run for Governor of the Great State of New York.”
“In one short term in office, Andrew Cuomo has worked hard to put NYS back on track. The Governor’s leadership has shown the impact that a responsive and effective government can have on the lives of its people,” Adler continued.
“Now, we need to demonstrate our support for the Governor and his re-election efforts in 2014. Your early and continued support is greatly appreciated and the Governor has committed himself to seek another term to finish re-building NYS back into the Empire State.”
“With your generous support at this event, Andrew Cuomo can continue to: Create Jobs, Cut Taxes, Put Students First, Reduce Gun Violence, Provide Affordable Housing, Make Casino Gambling a Realty and finish the construction of the New Tappan Zee Bridge on time and on budget.”
Attached to Adler’s email is the official invitation to the Cuomo reception – the same invite Spano attached to his email.
The Spano email didn’t make it clear whether Cuomo’s campaign committee was connected to – or aware of – the ex-senator’s efforts on the governor’s behalf. Spano urged recipients to direct questions to him. Adler, on the other hand, includes the phone number and email address of Tom Giordano, the managing director of Cuomo 2014.
I emailed Josh Vlasto, who recently left the administration to work full time on Cuomo’s re-election campaign, to ask if the campaign planned to continue having Spano as a host of the April 4 event. So far, I have no recevied a reply.
Adler is a well known real estate broker and Democratic operative in the Hudson Valley. He was a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s when she ran for the US Senate in 2000. Last year, Adler and his wife, Mary, co-chaired a fund-raiser headlined for Clinton on behalf of then-NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who was the campaign manager of Clinton’s Senate run.
Adler was sentenced to 19 months behind bars in 2002 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges - including accepting bribes from developers and attempting to influence members of a local zoning board. He also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for failing to report $150,000 worth of income.
In addition, Adler’s files were reportedly seized by the FBI in 2001 as part of a probe into President Bill Clinton’s commutation of the sentences of four Orthodox Jews who had been convicted of stealing federal anti-poverty funds in New Square.
The clemency came on Bill Clinton’s last day in office, and after the Hasidic town had overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton for Senate by a margin of 1,400 to 12. The federal probe was subsequently dropped.