Upstate NY

Mayor Miner Steps Down From Democratic Party Post (Updated)

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who has made headlines by publicly opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a number of high-profile policy issues, today submitted her resignation from the position of state Democratic Party co-chair – a post for which Cuomo hand-selected her two years ago.

It has been speculated for some time that Cuomo would force Miner out of her political position, thanks to her criticisms of key elements of his agenda – especially where financially ailing upstate cities are concerned. But Miner insisted during a brief phone interview this afternoon that she was not pressured to depart.

“It’s time,” the mayor said. “I want to give them a chance to put somebody in there who can help them with a full slate of elections moving forward. It was my decision.”

But a Democratic source insisted that had Miner not resigned, she would not have received sufficient votes at the state party convention in Melville next month to be re-elected along with her fellow co-chair, Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright. UPDATE: Miner told Gannett’s Joe Spector that she won’t be attending the convention at all. Instead, she’ll attend a conference on cities in Boston.

UPDATE2: Miner spoke briefly with TWC’s Bill Carey, who told her about the Democratic source’s comment. Her response: “That’s laughable.”

Miner tendered her letter of resignation (which appears below) to Cuomo and members of the state Democratic Committee this afternoon. In it, she pledged to “do all I can to ensure Democrats continue to get elected to office this year and going forward.”

Miner and Wright were tapped by Cuomo to co-chair the party in May 2012. They replaced Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who was a holdover from the era of former Gov. David Paterson. (Incidentally, Jacobs also insisted that he wasn’t forced to give up his state post, but rather had decided that the time was right after three years on the job for him to move on).

Miner was elected mayor of Syracuse – the first woman to hold the position – in 2009. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2013, and is barred by term limits from running again.

Last spring, Miner made headlines when she publicly questioned Cuomo’s plan – or lack thereof – to address the fiscal problems faced by cities like hers. She also penned an OpEd criticizing the governor’s proposal to let municipalities borrow to offset ballooning pension costs, calling that idea ”an acconuting gimmick.” A modified version of the plan did end up in the 2013-14 budget.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s resigns from NYS Democratic Party co-chairmanship. by liz_benjamin6490

74 State Labor Dispute Forces AG To Relocate Fundraiser

You may have seen in this morning’s “Here and Now” that AG Eric Schneiderman was scheduled to hold a fund-raiser this evening at 74 State – the boutique hotel down the street from the state Capitol that has for several years been a popular watering hold for elected officials, legislative staffers, lobbyists and reporters.

But Schneiderman’s team informed us the event has been moved around the block to Taste (45 Beaver St.) due to an ongoing dispute between 74 State’s new owners and the Hotel & Motel Trades Council, a small but powerful labor union.

The nine-story, 74-room (hence, along with its address, the name) hotel sold last month for $3.8 million to Albany Lodging Group LLC, a company affiliated with Visions Hotels. According to HTC, the new owners failed to honor and executive a collective bargaining agreement with its employees, who are HTC members.

The Albany County Legislature weighed in last night in support of the union with a proclamation that appears below. The AG has close ties to organized labor, which he undoubtedly wants to maintain and strengthen as he gears up for his first re-election bid this fall.

This isn’t the first time a Capital Region hotel has seen a loss of business due to a contract dispute with HTC. In the summer of 2012, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, NYSUT, the New York State Trial Lawyers’ Association and other influential groups and elected officials joined in a boycott organized by the union of the Desmond Hotel in Colonie due to its contract standoff with management. Desmond employees worked without a contract for over a year, but eventually did settle their dispute.

Albany County Legislature proclamation in support of HTC in sale of 74 State, Albany. by liz_benjamin6490

Trump Wants A Clear Path To GOP Nomination Now

Donald Trump told an enthusiastic Western New York crowd Friday night that he’s leaving the door open to a possible run for governor. 

But, given the conditions he has laid out for the state Repiblican Party, it appears that door is closing quickly.

Trump was the featured guest at a fundraising dinner for the Erie County Republican Committee in Depew. With state GOP Chairman Ed Cox sitting in the audience, Trump took the podium and criticized him.

“You need strong leadership and honestly you don’t have that strong leadership right now. You don’t have that at the top, top level,” Trump said. 

Trump has made it clear he wants no part of a potential GOP primary with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino. 

Before Trump’s 757 even touched down he told Bob McCarthy of the Buffalo News if Astorino doesn’t bow out soon he’ll move on

Trump supporters, including Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino, had been calling on Cox to pressure all the potential candidates to get behind whoever emerges from the convention. 

For Trump it now appears that’s not good enough.   

“I want to see a unified party. You see the kind of response we have today. I want to see a unified party. If we have a unified party I will do it,” said Trump.

Trump did spend most of his 30 minute speech critiquing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership. Trump called New York the highest taxed and most anti-business state in the union. 

The real estate mogul-turned reality TV star said that if he’s elected he would support hydrofracking and Second Amendment rights.

“They want to take away your guns with the SAFE Act which I call the UnSAFE Act, which is one of the great catastrophes,” said Trump.

Despite the “Buffalo Billion” and a clear focus on Western New York in his first term, Trump accused Cuomo of only paying attention to the region around election time. He described most of the planned development as promises that won’t be kept.

“Buffalo is suffering badly. It’s failing. It’s not going to be here for very long and Buffalois really emblematic of what’s wrong with the state,” Trump added.

Despite Trump’s ultimatum for a clear path to the GOP nomination the state party chair seemed unfazed. 

Cox told the Buffalo News after Trump’s speech that the party has two good candidates.

Moody’s: ‘A Stalling Economy’ Upstate

Slowing sales tax revenue among upstate counties during the fourth quarter of 2013 is a sign the region’s economy is stalling during the recovery, an analysis from Moody’s on Tuesday found.

The report from that weak sales tax receipts are a “credit negative” for upstate counties due to their dependence on the revenue for their operating budgets.

Overall, sales tax growth in the fourth quarter excluding New York City was only a 1.4 percent increase over a year earlier.

Moody’s found that of the state’s 57 counties excluding the city, 36 had a sales tax growth of under 1 percent.

Broome County in the Southern Tier saw the largest decline of 8.7 percent. Bright spots, however, included the upstate counties of Washington, Essex and Hamilton.

From the report:

The results indicate a stalling economic recovery in upstate New York, where full-year 2013 sales tax revenues rose 1.64%, down from full-year growth of 3.46% in 2012. Fourteen counties reported negative annual growth in 2013, compared with just four in 2012. The magnitude of the declines was also larger: in 2013, four counties – Schoharie (unrated), Broome, Tioga (A1) and Chemung (A1) – fell more than 4%, nearly double the largest decline of 2012. In 2012, Chemung County slowed by 1.84%.

Rebuilding efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy helped boost the growth of sales tax revenue in Westchester, Suffolk and Rockland counties. Westchester saw the largest proportional increase of 6.2 percent.

Moody's Credit Outlook – January 20 by Nick Reisman

Mayor-Elect Warren Reveals Husband’s Criminal Record (Updated)

Just hours before her swearing in as Rochester’s first woman mayor, Lovely Warren released a statement regarding the criminal history of her husband, Timothy Granison, was he was a teenager.

Warren said her statement came in response to a question posed today by a reporter about her husband’s past.

She said in 1997, when Granison was 17 years old, he was “was involved in a situation instigated by other youth that resulted in an encounter with the criminal justice system.”

“Because of his age and the nature of the alleged offense, he was adjudicated a youthful offender,” Warren said.

“The file is sealed, and he does not have a criminal record. Tim learned a great deal from the experience, and is now a loving husband, father and contributing member of our community.”

“What happened with Tim is illustrative of what happens to too many young people in our community who are growing up in very difficult circumstances and get caught up in things that they should not.”

Warren did not offer any additional details about the incident. Her statement referred questions to Christopher Thomas, an attorney who has been co-leading Warren’s transition team. Thomas could not be immediately reached for comment.

UPDATE: The 1997 incident was reportedly an armed robbery of a jewelry store.

Warren said Granison, who now works for Catholic Charities Community Services and for United Parcel Service of America Inc., was able to turn his life around, and the couple hopes his story serves as an inspiration for other troubled youths in Rochester.

“Lots of young people make mistakes – the important thing is that as a community, we don’t give up on them and help them find a better path, just as Tim did,” the mayor-elect said.

“I have been very open about the challenges that I have put behind me to bring me to this point; and neither Tim nor I will ever be less than honest about our life stories.”

“Why? because his story and my story are not out of the ordinary for young people growing up in Rochester today. And our message to our youth is that you don’t have to end up where you start. We are proof positive that you can make changes. You can find a better way.”

Moody’s: Long-Term Benefits of Buffalo Investment ‘May Be Limited’


The plan to send $1.7 billion in state funds for clean energy research in Buffalo is a “credit positive” for the Queen City, according to an analysis on Friday released by Moody’s.

The state has estimated the move will create about 850 jobs in the high-tech sector, along with 500 construction jobs at the research campus in Buffalo.

However, there’s no guarantee the clean energy investment will pay off in the long term, Moody’s notes, considering the unpredictability of that sector.

“Despite the immediate economic benefit, the long-term impact to the region may be limited,” Moody’s found. “The clean technology industry is relatively volatile given the uncertainty of future regulation and the pace of technological development and its ability to jumpstart a struggling post-industrial economy is untested. This project’s ability to spur future development is dependent, in part, on the continued growth of the clean technology industry.”

Buffalo purchased the research campus five years ago for $4.6 million, and state is expected to be off the tax rolls, but city officials believe they will reap some indirect benefits such as residential and commercial development leading to more tax revenue.

As the analysis notes, Buffalo has been bleeding manufacturing jobs for more than a 20 years now, while education and health services sector has increased.

The analysis shows that in the education and health sector alone, the 92,000 jobs today is equal to the level of manufacturing employment in 1990.

Here’s the report:

Weekly Credit Outlook for Public Finance – Dec 12 2013 by Nick Reisman

Moreland’s Mahoney: Would Be ‘A Mockery’ To Investigate Gov

ICYMI: One of the 25 Moreland Commission members, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, said during a CapTon interview last night that the corruption-busting body is unlikely to train its sites on the executive branch, despite multiple calls (largely from legislators) to do so.

“I think we’re making a mockery of this whole process if we try to pretend that a group of us that’s been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor,” Mahoney told me.

“So, I never subscribed to that notion to start with, and there has been no conversations inside the Moreland Commission to do anything other than address public corruption and these instances that are outlined in this report, which are all legislative.”

Mahoney, a Republican who crossed party lines in 2010 to endorse Cuomo’s first gubernatorial run, went so far as to say it would be a conflict of interest for the commission to investigate the executive branch.

She said it would only be appropriate for an “independent” commission – in other words, one whose members are not appointed by the governor – to undertake that sort of probe.

Cuomo, as you’ll recall, stressed the Moreland Commission’s independence when he first announced its creation over the summer, saying its members would be free to consider any aspect of the state’s loophole-riddled campaign system they saw fit – including his own massive fund-raising operation.

“It’s an independent commission that is free to investigate whatever they feel needs to be investigated on the merits,” the governor said at the time.

But then came reports of the Cuomo administration’s micromanagement of the commission, including directing some subpoenas and blocking others from being issued.

Amid those reports, AG Eric Schneiderman, whose office was used by Cuomo to beef up the commission’s investigatory powers, reiterated that the body could not succeed unless it was truly independent, saying:

“It has to be to follow the money wherever it goes. I am opposed to anything that stands in the way of those goals.”

Mahoney also spoke about the tremendous pressure – from both inside and outside the commission – to include public campaign financing among the reform recommendations in the report released yesterday, though she shied away from saying the administration itself pushed for that outcome.

Mahoney was one of seven commissioners to sign onto a dissenting opinion about public financing, and told me last night she remains unconvinced that using taxpayer dollars – especially at a time when so many upstate cities are facing financial peril – to fund political campaigns is an idea that will sell to New York voters.

You can see my entire interview with Mahoney (which was conducted on the phone, as she was traveling back to Central New York from White Plains) here.

Watch Excerpt Here
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WFP Touts Upstate Victories

Much has been made of the ascendancy of the Working Families Party in New York city since this Tuesday’s elections. Between Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Tish James, the labor-backed third party will certainly not be lacking for allies at City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

But the party is also touting is success outside the city in some more low-key races, many of which (with the exception of local media) flew under the radar.

In an email to supporters sent out yesterday afternoon, WFP State Director Bill Lipton reiterated that the party has been playing a “long game” with its “Progressive Pipeline” program by nuturing candidates at the local level in hopes of seeing them either 1) start a trend that results in more like-minded candidates running for – and winning – elected office, or 2) rising to a higher post with more clout.

Lipton singled out several races around the state in which the WFP played a role, including;

- The city of Plattsburgh, where two WFP-backed candidates – Rachelle Armstrong, a NYSUT member and teacher of 23 years; and Mike Kelly – won seats on the Council.

- The city of Syracuse, where, as Lipton wrote: “After eking out a victory against Howie Hawkins with only a few dozen votes two years ago, Khalid Bey won re-election in the Syracuse Common Council’s 4th District loud and clear, with nearly 500 votes. The difference this time? WFP, which, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard, ‘coordinated an intensive get-out-the-vote effort on his behalf during the past few weeks’ to help Bey get over the top.”

- The Town of Hamburg. The WFP’s Erie County Legislature candidate Mike Schraft came up just short against an incumbent Independent that caucuses with the Republicans. But another WFP favorite, Mike Quinn, an Army veteran, won a Town Board seat.

- Long Island. The WFP failed in its bid to unseat Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano (it backed Democrat Tom Suozzi), but saw another candidate, Anthony Eramo, a registered WFP member, win a seat on the Long Beach City Council.

- The Town of Rosendale. Lipton, who grew up upstate, wrote: “Jen Metzger, who lost to a Republican the last time around, handily won her race for Council by hundreds of votes yesterday, showing what a difference the WFP can make. We look forward to seeing Metzger thriving as a smart, progressive legislator and an embodiment of the model that WFP hopes to replicate all over the state.”

- Orange County. “Shannon Wong won the most visible election for Orange County legislature this year, and her successful experience as an advocate for women’s rights give her the potential to become one of the most effective legislators in the county. She attracts a broad base of progressive support and we think she has great potential going forward,” Lipton wrote.

- Yonkers and Ulster and Dutchess Counties. “Gerard Lyons lost a tough rematch for Ulster County Legislature by only a few dozen votes, and Rocky Richard is down in her race, not fully tallied, for Westchester County Legislature. Francena Amparo is down by a handful of votes with absentee ballots yet to be counted.”

Gillibrand Hails Victories of de Blasio, Upstate Women

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was bubbling over with praise for the Democrats performance in yesterday’s elections – especially New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and the three woman elected (or re-elected) to lead three of upstate’s largest cities: Lovely Warren (Rochester), Stephanie Miner (Syracuse) and Kathy Sheehan (Albany).

“I think many people wanted a shift, a real change from the years of Mayor Bloomberg, because there wasn’t enough of a focus on social justice, of making sure the haves and have nots are both being represented in government,” Gillibrand said.

“I’ve heard from many of the five boroughs that they didn’t have a voice in City Hall, and now they do. And I think it’s a great day for making sure all New Yorekrs are being heard and that policies will represent the needs of every community.”

Gillibrand and her fellow senator, Chuck Schumer, did not endorse de Blasio until after he won the crowded Democratic primary in September. She had said she was a “big fan” of the lone woman in the race – NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn – but declined for formally pick a favorite before the primary.

The junior senator was especially enthused by the success of the trio of female mayors, given her own efforts to elect more women across the nation to seats in the House and US Senate.

“It’s a great day for New York State; it’s a great day for good government,” Gillibrand said. “Three strong women mayors have now been elected in their own right, again. And it’s important that they are representing the people of our cities – both small cities and large cities – and being able to be a voice for common sense.”

“Women often bring bipartisanship, the ability to look at a problem and solve a problem, not based on rehtoric or ideology or partisan bickering but on solutions. And I think that’s what these three woman are bringing to bear.”

“I’ve seen it already. I’ve seen it in working with Stephanie Miner over the years. As mayor, she has made ‘Say Yes to Education’ one of her calls to action, really galvanizing the whole city behind her. That’s the kind of leadership I expect from both Lovely and Kathy I think it’s going to happen because woman are often great problem solvers.”

Gillibrand and Schumer offered late-in-the game endorsements for Warren after she defeated incumbent Mayor Tom Richards in the September Democratic primary, but then found herself running against him again in the general election, thanks to a grassroots campaign mounted on his behalf by Independence Party members and others.

Gillibrand made a pre-primary appearance with Sheehan in Albany in August. From what I can tell, she didn’t formally endorse Miner this cycle, (someone please correct me on this if I missed it).

Watch >> (TWC ID required) Video

Richards: If I’m Elected, I Will Serve

Incumbent Mayor Tom Richards has done an about-face on his politicl future, saying in a radio interview that he would serve if elected tomorrow, despite the fact that he has technically endorsed the woman who defeated him in the Democratic primary, Council President Lovely Warren, and is not actively campaigning.

Richards told radio host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM 1180 that he would take the oath and serve at least a part of his next four-year term should the grassroots campaign being run by on his behalf by the Independence Party and others turn out to be successful. He argued that not to do so would be a disservice to the city, throwing it into chaos and leaving it adrift without representation or leadership until a special election could be held.

“You know, there’s a lot more activity going on here than I would have quite frankly anticipated, when, you know, at the time of the primary and I was focused on other things with my family and so forth,” Richards said. “So, I haven’t had anything to do with it. I don’t know who’s doing it, but obviously there’s a lot more of it than I would have anticipated.”

“If for some reason I got elected mayor, I would be the mayor. I mean, that’s the fact. And what I would have to do at that point in time is whatever would be in the interest of making sure this city stays in a stable good position.”

“You know, I’m not just going to turn my back on it and walk away. What exactly that will mean, and what the right thing to do, you know, I’ve said before I’ll deal with. But, you know, there’s a
There’s a fact, if I’m for some reason here, get the most votes, then I’m the mayor.”

“…I don’t see any other way to avoid it, quite frankly.=,” Richards continued. ” You know what happens if I decline is we go into a special election here, and that special election wouldm’t be held until November of that year and whether that’s a good thing for the city is open to some major question. But, you know I’m not going to walk away from it. I’ve invested a lot of time in this place. This is where I intend to be.”

“…That doesn’t change what I’ve said. I haven’t campaigned. You know, I don’t know who’s doing the campaigning for me. And, and you know, the personal circumstances that have occurred with respect to me have caused me to think about it more than I would have otherwise. And we don’t get to choose all these things, do we? You just have to deal with it as it comes to you, and try to do the best you can.”

A wide variety of political leaders – both Democrats and at least one Republican, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks – have aligned over the past several weeks behind Warren, saying Richards’ election would be a miscarriage of democracy if it occurrs.

However, Richards supporters argue the exact opposition, arguing that some voters didn’t come out to vote on primary day because the polls indicated the race was a blowout in Richards’ favor, and those voters now deserve a chance to voice their opinions.

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