Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo: State’s Weather Service Will Be “More Accurate”

The state is taking weather forecasting into its own hands.

Governor Cuomo over the weekend was critical of the National Weather Service and its prediction of the Buffalo snow storm. Cuomo said during a press conference Saturday that the NWS did not indicate that the heavy snow bands would remain stationary and drop so much snow on to the area.

“The weather service, which by the way does the best job they can do with the information they have, they make a forecast. They say ‘we think the snow will start at 6 a.m. and we think it will start at one to two inches per hour.’ And you prepare for that. Turns out the storm starts eight hours earlier at double the rate they said it was going to start.”

Sunday, Cuomo followed up his statements regarding the NWS and the state’s new system.

“It’s not that the National Weather Service failed us, it’s that the National Weather Service has a certain number of weather stations and they get that information from those weather stations. And they perform the best they can with the information that they have. If you want to have a more accurate prediction of weather, you need more weather stations. You need more centers that are detecting changes in weather and communicating it.”

The governor first announced the state weather stations back in January when Vice President Joe Biden was in Albany.

Cuomo says New York will have the “most sophisticated weather detection system” that will be able to give more information and be more reliable. The stations will be headquartered in Albany.

Cuomo: FEMA Aid Possible For Buffalo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said it was possible New York will qualify for federal disaster aid to help Buffalo and western New York clean up following days of devastating snow and likely flooding this weekend.

Cuomo, at a morning briefing with local officials, said he had spoken to President Obama by phone and added that damage costs to the area because of the storm are still being assessed.

“The president himself sends us his best wishes,” Cuomo said.

The governor added the damage from both the snow fall and what’s expected to come this weekend through flooding (temperatures are expected to hit the mid-60s) should be considered on one bill.

“They are one event,” Cuomo said. “The flooding is a direct consequence of the snow.”

State officials meanwhile announced there had been yet another death attributed to the snow fall, bringing the death toll to 13.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz would not rule out finding other bodies trapped into snow-covered vehicles, though Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said there were no further missing persons reported in the city itself.

Cuomo also announced that portions of the state Thruway will re-open this afternoon, starting at 3 p.m., to remove trapped vehicles as well as deliver essential supplies to the area.

Officials stressed that non-essential travel on these roads is not permitted.

“The opening of the roads is to move vehicles that are blocking roads and make essential deliveries,” Cuomo said.

Resources from around the state have poured into Buffalo and the region over the last several days, and Cuomo said it’s been surprisingly easy to free up the equipment to help with the recovery.

“The one bright light has been the response and the love people have shown to Buffalo and western New York,” Cuomo said. “I say Buffalo and they say whatever you need, just tell me.”

Cuomo Backs Obama On Immigration Executive Order

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on MSNBC this morning said he backed President Obama’s plan to issue an executive order on immigration reform which will be unveiled this evening in an Oval Office address.

Cuomo, appearing on “Morning Joe” on Thursday to discuss the ongoing response to the Buffalo snow fall, said one of the lessons of the November mid-term elections is that voters want government to function and act on things.

He said victorious Republicans “have to be careful because they now were handed the reins and gridlock will be punished.”

When it comes to the executive order, Cuomo even trotted out his favored analogy for what government isn’t supposed to be.

“Government is supposed to operate,” Cuomo said. “At the end of the day, government is a service bureau. It’s not a debating society that is supposed to have political, endless ideological debates in Washington and accomplish nothing.”

Cuomo at times has been criticized for pushing through legislation here in Albany either through what critics call strong-arm tactics or by waiving the required three-day aging process for legislation through a message of necessity.

The governor, though, said the president is right to exercise his executive authority in the face of congressional intransigence.

“An executive order, you’d like to do it through legislation, but you have executive authority,” Cuomo said. “And I think he’s going to make the point that he’s heard the people and government is functioning and maybe the Republican Congress should get with it.”

Cuomo himself is believed to have national ambitions.

And his support for the immigration move by Obama comes as liberals in New York push him to include the Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants to have access to tuition assistance, in his budget proposal.

Cuomo Says Bills Game Sunday ‘Impractical’

That Jets winning streak may be preserved after all.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said it likely “impractical” to have the Buffalo Bills play the visiting New York Jets this Sunday given that the area continues to be pounded by snow, with another storm coming this weekend.

“At this point in time, everything we have to do with the driving ban, everything we just said, staying off the roads, would make a Bills game impractical,” Cuomo said during a press briefing this morning. ”

Cuomo said that having the game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. kick off in Orchard Park at Ralph Wilson Stadium, would potentially risk public safety.

“If you ask me today, right now, my two cents would be it would be impractical to do the game because it could jeopardize public safety,” Cuomo said. “I spoke to the county executive and the mayor about it,” Cuomo added. “Everybody would love to see a Bills game go forward, but I think even more, everybody wants to make sure that public safety comes first.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who has Bills season tickets, largely agreed with Cuomo’s assessment, saying public safety resources on the county level are being stretched due to the snow recovery.

“As of right now, I cannot commit to emergency personnel and sheriff’s deputies being at the facility on Sunday,” he said.

A bigger challenge is coming this weekend with rising temperatures above the freezing mark and, with it, widespread flooding.

For updates on the Buffalo snow situation, be sure to check in with our colleagues at TWC News Buffalo.

EXCLUSIVE: Cuomo Interview On Buffalo Snow Recovery Efforts

Governor Cuomo talked to Time Warner Cable News Reporter Casey Bortnick about the snow response in Buffalo, in an exclusive interview.

Cuomo says the area is in the middle of a devastating, three part storm.

Watch the entire interview, no log-in required:

Watch Here >>

Cuomo, In Buffalo, Urges People To Stay Off Closed Roads

Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited snow-bound Buffalo on Wednesday, urging motorists and residents to stay off roads that have been closed down due to the ongoing storm.

Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in 10 counties and deployed about 150 National Guard troops to help with the storm recovery and response.

The storm, though, caused passengers in some areas of the state Thruway to be stuck in their snow-bound vehicles, some for up to more than 24 hours.

“We believe all passengers have been removed from their passenger vehicles,” Cuomo said today. “There are commercial truck drivers who are still on the roadway.”

Some of those truck drivers could stay with the trucks given it’s easier to sleep and remain in those vehicles.

“We’re now in the process of clearing much of those commercial vehicles on the Thruway,” Cuomo said.

The governor added some of the drivers on the roadways ignored travel bans that had been issued by officials in the wake of the heavy snow.

“They shut it down at an appropriate time. What happened was even though it was closed, people still went on the Thruway,” Cuomo said. “That’s what happened here. We had the official closing of the Thruway. Because we didn’t immediately block the every entrance and people then still went on the Thruway. It was a mistake. Part of it is citizen responsibility. If the road is closed, the road is closed. That’s what it means. We need cooperation from citizens.”

Cuomo is touring parts of the Thruway this afternoon to survey the clean up and road clearing efforts, he said.

“I believe when it’s all said and done, this snowfall will break all sorts of records and that’s saying something in western New York,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo Deploys National Guard To Deal With WNY Snow

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deployed the state’s National Guard to aid in the ongoing snowstorm that’s slammed Buffalo and western New York.

“We are deploying the National Guard to ramp up efforts to keep Western New York residents safe and to assist storm recovery efforts in any way possible,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Travel bans and advisories remain in effect, and I urge drivers to stay off the roads so that our state agencies and the National Guard can assist those that need help.”

The state is mobilizing 150 soldiers and airmen, along with 7 Bobcats, 10 dump trucks and five Humvee trucks.

The soldiers are coming from the 152nd Engineer company in Buffalo and the 827th Engineer Company in Horseheads.

Airmen being deployed are coming from the 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Travel bans are also in effect in Lancaster, West Seneca, South Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Hamburg. Under the ban, driving is prohibited.

For wall-to-wall coverage of the ongoing snowstorm in the western New York region, be sure to check out our colleagues at Time Warner Cable News Buffalo.

DiNapoli Approves $644K MedMar Implementation

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli approved a $644,000 contract with a health technology consulting firm to help the state implement its medical marijuana program.

The contract, with NYSTEC, comes weeks after state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to a limited medical marijuana program that vests much of the control in the Cuomo administration.

The company, which specializes in health care information technology, networking and communications, has offices in Rome, Albany and New York City.

The agreement with the state Department of Health runs through Dec. 31, 2015, according to DiNapoli’s open government website, Open Book NY.

The medical marijuana program is being rolled out over the next year and a half and the governor insisted on including what amounted to a kill switch that would pull the plug on the program should there be a problem.

The compromise reached in June has come under criticism from advocates for medical marijuana over what they consider a drawn-out time frame for implementation.

The Cuomo administration over the summer announced plans to have the Department of Health speed up the implementation of the program.

State Appeals Tappan Zee Loan Rejection

New York State has appealed a federal government decision, which blocked nearly half a billion dollars in funding for the new Tappan Zee Bridge project.

Two months ago, the federal Environmental Protection Agency rejected $482 million in clean water revolving funds for the bridge project. Today, New York’s Environmental Facilities Corporation – which would have brokered the loan – appealed that decision.

The appeal claims the EPA had no right to deny the loan. It goes on to claim that Congress grants states the authority, to fund almost any water-related project using Clean Water loans. The EPA had stated back in September that the Tappan Zee project did not meet certain requirements to use the clean water money because the project would not sufficiently improve the Hudson River ecosystem.

Last month, a coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit to challenge the state’s efforts to gain access to the clean water money.

A final price tag for the replacement bridge has not been set, but it is estimated it will cost about $3.2 billion. Construction on the “New” New York Bridge has already been underway for several months.

Good Gov’t Groups: Sign Port Authority Reform

Several good government groups are calling on Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie to sign a package of bills aimed at reforming the Port Authority that passed its final hurdle in the New Jersey legislature, yesterday.

The bills, designed to provide more transparency and oversight to the agency, have now passed both houses in New Jersey and New York.

The legislation comes after last year’s Bridgegate Scandal, which essentially led to a massive, dangerous roadblock after lanes were closed on the George Washington Bridge. There’s been skepticism whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie authorized – or even knew about – the closures. It’s been reported that his administration was involved, but Christie says he had nothing to do with the closures.

That back and forth ultimately led to this package of bills. They allow for more transparency in the form of regular audits and the release of documents to the public, as well as a closer look at decisions made by officials in the agency.

The bills now head to the desks of both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie – both of which have faced questions about the scandal at one point or another.

In a statement jointly released from Citizens Union, NYPIRG, Reinvent Albany, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, the groups said, in part:

“After months of controversy, the public deserves a more open and accountable entity that will reform the way it does business. The Port Authority was created in the spirit of bi-state cooperation, and the voters of New Jersey and New York deserve the final approval of these important pieces of legislation. It is only through increased transparency, sound governance, and professional management that public confidence and trust can be restored.

We thank Assemblymembers Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Amy Handlin and Senators Loretta Weinberg, Robert Gordon and Joe Pennacchio for their leadership in New Jersey, as well as Assemblymembers James Brennan and Amy Paulin and Senators Andrew Lanza and Michael Ranzenhofer for their stewardship of the legislation in New York.”