Astorino To Senate GOP: Act Like Republicans

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a radio interview on Friday called on Senate Republicans to not act like “Democrat-lite” and use their new majority in the chamber to push a more conservative agenda than in the last two years.

At the same time, Astorino said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos should not give Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein the power of co-president in the Senate.

“I think the Republicans in the Senate should act like Republicans,” Astorino, the 2014 candidate for governor, told Fred Dicker on Talk-1300.

Astorino predicted that if Republicans don’t articulate and try to advance a clear agenda over the next two years, they could once again lose power in the chamber.

Despite Astorino’s loss to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, Senate Republicans swept three upstate districts in the Hudson Valley and in the Rochester area.

The victories give Republicans 33 members, including Democrat Simcha Felder of Brooklyn who conferences with the GOP.

A clear majority for the Senate Republicans leaves the coalition arrangement between Klein and Skelos up in the air.

Under the agreement reached in 2012, Klein and Skelos both decided which bills come to the floor for a vote and when.

That arrangement is not expected to last, though Klein told Zack Fink in Puerto Rico on Thursday evening he is open to continuing his work with the Senate GOP conference while remaining an independent faction in the Senate.

It’s likely that Klein and the IDC will be able to retain some perks, such as committee chairmanships, in order to potentially keep them close to Republicans should the conference be needed again to form a coalition.

Astorino added that Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Bronx Democrat with conservative social views, could also help provide votes on key issues.

“Ruben is a wonderful guy,” Astorino said, “But at the end of the day, the Senate Republicans have a clear majority.”

Republicans in the state Senate and Cuomo have worked well over the last four years, a period in which the GOP either controlled or shared power in the chamber.

But Cuomo’s efforts to pass measures he campaigned on — such as a measured aimed at the codification of Roe v. Wade in state law — are certainly facing an uphill climb in the Republican-led Senate.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City area with no public schedule.

He is not, unlike many of the state’s Democratic elected officials – including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – going to Puerto Rico for the Somos el Futuro conference.

At 7 a.m., workers deliver Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree, an 85-foot-tall, 13-ton Norway Spruce tree from Danville, Pennsylvania, that will be hoisted into place by crane in preparation for Rockefeller Center’s 82nd tree-lighting ceremony scheduled Wednesday, Dec. 3; 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan.

At 7:15 a.m., Sen. Kathy Marchione will join volunteers serving breakfast to veterans at the To Honor And Serve Veteran’s Day Breakfast, Glen Sanders Mansion, 1 Glen Ave., Scotia.

At 9 a.m., the president of The State University of New York’s SUNY Maritime College who took office Monday, July 14, U.S. Maritime Service Rear Adm. Michael A. Alfultis, will be inaugurated during an 11:30 a.m. ceremony led by the university system’s chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, following a 9 a.m. event where administrators will formally mark the opening of the college’s Maritime Academic Center; Maritime Academic Center, Fort Schuyler, 6 Pennyfield Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 9 a.m., Marchione will attend and speak at Genet Elementary School Veteran’s Day ceremony, 29 Englewood Ave., East Greenbush.

At 9:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will help honor 60 local veterans as part of a program sponsored by Time Warner Cable and the History Channel. Averill Park Central School Superintendent James D. Hoffman, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, and Sand Lake Councilwoman Chris Kronau will also be on hand, West Sand Lake Elementary School, 24 Meeler Rd.

At 11 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King holds a Q-and-A at New York Library Association conference, Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

At 11:30 a.m., LG Bob Duffy receives the Human Service Worker of the Year Award from the Federation of Social Workers IUE-CWA 81381, Rochester Riverside Convention Center, Highland Ballroom, 123 E. Main St., Rochester.

At 6 p.m., local and state emergency officials and state National Guard troops lead a session of the governor’s “Citizen Preparedness Training Program”; room 401, Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center, Columbia University Medical Center, 701 W. 168th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., the SUNY Student Assembly holds town hall meeting, Marano Campus Center, SUNY Oswego, 7060 New York 104, Oswego.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed frustration with President Obama for the poor performance of Democratic candidates in New York, saying his victory fell short of a landslide because of discontent unrelated to the state.

The governor compared this year’s “Republican wave” to the one in 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s House Republicans took the majority. (Though Cuomo did not mention it, 1994 was also the year that his father, Mario Cuomo, was cast out of the statehouse by Republican George Pataki.)

Cuomo, noting that the state teachers union didn’t endorse him in either of his two races for governor, said overhauling the education system would be as important to his legacy for him as winning approval of gay marriage and enacting strict gun-control laws.

Long Island Rep. Steve Israel is stepping down as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, denying a request from Rep. Nancy Pelosi to return for a third term though he is hoping to remain within the Democratic House leadership.

The Somos El Futuro Conference kicked off with some of the state’s top Democrats – including Cuomo, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – visibly absent.

A spokesman for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she “was disappointed to learn the Somos conference is being sponsored by Herbalife, which has found itself under investigation by several Attorneys General and the FBI for their business practices.”

The NYPD cops who drive around relatively unknown bureaucrats like Stringer — taking them on errands with their wives and enduring verbal abuse — are pulled from a high-level unit that helps prevent terror attacks on the city.

The citywide speed limit on local streets drops to 25 mph today — ­although NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to ease in the new law with public education and warnings before any ticket blitzes begin. Enforcement will rise as more drivers learn about the new limit.

The solar panel factory slated for a former brownfield site in South Buffalo already is five times more massive than originally planned. If the Cuomo administration has its way, the project could get another five times bigger still.

With Sen. Mark Grisanti’s defeat by Democrat Marc Panepinto, the last of the four GOP senators who voted “yes” on gay marriage is departing the Senate chamber.

New York City has secured at least $1.6 billion in federal funds to both repair and protect city public hospitals that were damaged during superstorm Sandy.

More >

Panepinto Almost Ready To Put ‘Nasty’ Senate Campaign Behind Him

The race for a Buffalo-area state senate seat was one of the most costly and contentious races in Western New York history. Just 48 hours after the polls closed the apparent winner isn’t over it just yet.

“It’s tough not to take things personally. I know Senator Grisanti wasn’t driving the train on the personal attacks. We had a very collegial relationship on the campaign trail. I will say Kevin Stocker made it personal. So I do have some personal animus towards Kevin Stocker,” said Democrat Marc Panepinto.

Republican Mark Grisanti made a run on the Independence line after losing the GOP primary to Kevin Stocker. With speculation the outcome could decide the majority in the state senate, outside groups spent millions on negative ads.

For Panepinto, the ill will is connected to a negative ad highlighting his misdemeanor election fraud conviction 13 years ago. An “unaffiliated voter” also filed a complaint because Panepinto used his wife’s image, State Supreme Court Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, in campaign flyers.

“I don’t have any animus towards Mark Grisanti. He was the incumbent senator; I think he did an admirable job. And the nastiness that came against me was from the Republican Senate Campaign Committee,” Panepinto said.

Neither Stocker nor Grisanti have officially conceded.  Panepinto held a lead of a little more than 2,000 votes over Stocker and a 26-hundred vote lead over Grisanti.

The Conservative Candidate, Timothy Gallagher, captured eight percent of the vote.

“Once you’ve got a certain percentage of numbers, with dispersion over the district, they don’t deviate much from that. There are 2,900 absentees out there and they’ll break the way the normal votes broke,” Panepinto said.

Panepinto said he’s already working with Grisanti to ensure a smooth transition. When asked what he thought the key to his somewhat surprising win was, Panepinto said he worked harder in the weekend of the campaign than one of his opponents did.

“I saw a voter that day on a street in Kenmore, and then he said to me, ‘I just saw Kevin Stocker at L.A. Fitness. He was working out at the gym. Why are you going door to door?’ I said I’m not leaving anything to chance. We’re working right up until 8:55 pm on Tuesday. So I knew that the different way that we ran our campaigns would become apparent. We worked to the end and Kevin was at the gym,” Panepinto added

We reached out to Stocker for comment. So far we haven’t heard back.

Klein on IDC Coaliton: “I Hope That Continues”

From NY1′s Zack Fink, currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico covering the Somos el Futuro Conference

In an exclusive interview with Time Warner Cable News, Thursday, IDC Leader Jeff Klein said he’s hoping to continue the faction’s coalition with Republicans in the state senate, despite the outcome of Tuesday’s election. This comes as Republicans take a definitive majority in the state senate, regardless of any support the IDC may or may not end up providing to their caucus.

“I’ve had a great working relationship with Senator Skelos. I hope that continues. And I hope he agrees with me. That a coalition government was not only good over the last couple of years, but is something that works really, really well in the months and years ahead.”

Klein has been a pivotal player in Albany since the Independent Democratic Conference was formed in 2011. There are currently five Democrats sitting with the IDC, which may soon be expanded to six if Klein is able to convince newly elected State Senator Jesse Hamilton to join his ranks.

Republican Leader Dean Skelos said earlier this week in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom that he hasn’t made a decision to keep an agreement with the IDC yet, but says he’ll be meeting with Klein in the coming days to discuss their future.

That’s a complicated future after Klein has been met with criticism over spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-elect Senator Mark Grisanti, who lost his primary to Republican Kevin Stocker in September. Grisanti continued to run on the Independence Party line but ultimately lost that race to Democrat Marc Panepinto by less than 4 thousand votes. Klein blames that loss on the role of independent expenditures.

“Resources were not an issue. This was pretty even. You had the real estate industry. You had the charter school folks. But then you had the labor unions on the other end helping the Democrats. The amount of money spent in these independent expenditures was obscene.”

Panepinto was a wild card upstate compared to the three freshman democrats who lost their seats in the senate to Republican challengers. Some have suggested Governor Cuomo didn’t do enough to help members of his own party upstate, but Cuomo said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom Thursday that his support, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it.

“I think it’s unfortunate that they are finger pointing. I don’t think it was about that as I said. I think it was about a national phenomenon. We didn’t have any state energy that was driving anything.”

Without a majority in the state senate, progressive legislation will have fewer opportunities to make it to the governor’s desk, including bills like the DREAM Act, which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants and the abortion plank to the Women’s Equality Agenda.


Two sources familiar with the process tell NPR that Loretta Lynch, the top prosecutor in Brooklyn, could be nominated by President Obama as attorney general in the coming days.

Congresswoman-elect Kathleen Rice will be the newest resident of “The Maloney House” in D.C.

Rice says she would like her chief assistant to take over as acting DA until a special election can be held next November.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo conquered what was once viewed as a Republican stronghold, winning the Orthodox Jewish vote in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn by 70 percent.

Cuomo’s ex-counsel Mylan Denerstein has a new job.

NYC Bill de Blasio insisted the beating the Democrats took in this week’s midterm elections won’t hurt the city’s chances of landing the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, her aides are all preparing for a campaign based in New York – and talks about where to set up shop have increasingly focused on Westchester County.

Women were a smaller percentage of the electorate this year than they were in 2012 or in 2010, but there are now more than 100 women in Congress. Is this a bad thing, or a good thing?

US Sen. Chuck Schumer did not join the chorus of critics griping about Cuomo’s efforts to secure a Democratic majority in the State Senate, arguing that the governor did all he could for the party.

Schumer said he expects the Democrats to recapture the Senate in 2016 after Republicans swept enough races Tuesday to control all of Congress.

The Gaming Commission’s casino siting board plans to meet on Monday in New York City to privately discuss the 16 bids for casino licenses.

The outcomes of several state and local contests have major implications for policy – and your dinner plate. (Not in New York, though).

Why the Greens’ rise is bad for Democrats.

Writing in The Guardian, Howie Hawkins argues it’s time for American to “take a hard left.”

ICYMI: US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared this week on “The Colbert Report.”

Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn celebrated the Women’s Equality Party’s achievement of ballot status after her old WFP allies slammed the effort as a cynical way to undermine their left-wing party.

Cuomo said he does not know if the state’s health and environmental studies of fracking will account for the effects of natural gas drilling on climate change.

The state inspector who admitted negligence in monitoring a bungled asbestos-removal project in Buffalo was sentenced to a year of probation.

Tom Wrobleski is ending his 14-year reign as the Staten Island Advance’s political editor to become the paper’s senior opinion writer.

The NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation is facing a $3.2 billion shortfall by the end of de Blasio’s first term, and its plans to close the gap “are at best risky and may prove unachievable,” according to the CBC.

Bubbles, Little Green Army Men and the Rubik’s Cube made it today into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester.

Britney Spears’ likeness was used in a voter registration effort in Clark County, Nevada.

Joe Dillon, the Republican candidate in the 37th Senate District, has conceded in his race against incumbent Democratic Sen. George Latimer.

Westchester Community College is getting its first new president in 43 years. The SUNY Board of Trustees named Belinda Miles, provost at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, to the post.

Quinn Fetes WEP Success

Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Thursday celebrated the Women’s Equality Party reaching its 50,000-vote threshold to become a permanent line through the next election cycle.

In a statement, Quinn called Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his running mate Kathy Hochul achieving more than 50,000 votes a “monumental victory.”

“The Women’s Equality Party has made history,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who turned out to the polls and stood up to say that women’s issues are no longer other and that we will not compromise on equality. We are ready to continue the push to pass all ten points in the Women’s Equality Act and more. Women deserve equal rights including wage equality, stronger domestic violence protections, freedom of choice and an end to sexual assault on our campuses.”

Quinn, who lost last year’s Democratic mayoral primary, was Cuomo’s point-person on the new ballot line, ostensibly formed to promote the 10-point Women’s Equality Act.

Quinn campaigned for the line, going as far as to record a robocall for the new party and urging voters to support it.

Cuomo was criticized by the labor-backed Working Families Party for devoting resources to the line, which Director Bill Lipton called a “fake party.” Liberals also accused Cuomo of having the line siphon votes away from the WFP, which was knocked down to Row E following the success of the Green Party.

Last Night and What’s Ahead

Republicans have gained control of both the State Senate in New York and the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. We talk to top Republicans for an analysis of what’s to come. Plus, things might be shaking up on the state and federal level, but what’s happening in localities?

Here’s highlights from last night and a preview of tonight:



Full Show – 11.05.14

Rallying Republicans: Cathy Young Interview

Pushing the Party: Ed Cox Interview

Looking at the Localities: Stephen Acquario and Peter Baynes Interview

Ready for Redistricting: Dick Dadey Interview

Cuomo: Education Reform Will Be A Centerpiece

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview this morning reiterated that he will tackle an overhaul of education in his second term, a sign that he is not letting up on his battle with the state teachers union.

Cuomo, on The Capitol Pressroom this morning, said he wanted to make his education reform measures part of his overall legacy as governor — linking it to his other legislative successes.

“What I will have thus far: Marriage quality, gun safety, on a different level pension reform, fiscal reform and education reform, teacher evaluation, performance,” Cuomo said. “These things are profound changes that 50 years from now will have made a significant difference in this state.”

What those reforms will be are likely to include new performance evaluations and raising teacher standards, along with tying pay raises to merit.

At the same time, Cuomo has been pushing for strengthening charter schools in his second term.

For the New York State United Teachers, Cuomo’s push on education reform measures is meant to appease his donors, many of whom are wealthy hedge-fund managers who are supportive of charter school initiatives.

Cuomo, just before Election Day, told The Daily News editorial board that he wants to end the “public education monopoly” in his second term.

“I want to focus on the performance,” Cuomo said today. “Does that upset the teachers union? Yes, it does. By the way, the first time I ran they didn’t endorse me, they didn’t endorse me.”

NYSUT, however, did back an effort to give Democrats full control of the state Senate. That effort failed, and Republicans — many of whom were supported by an independent expenditure committee backed by charter school and education reform supporters — now have a full majority in the chamber.

Cuomo’s education plans aren’t just academic. A number of tangible issues are coming to a head next year in Albany, including the expiration of mayoral control of New York City schools.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been critical of charter schools, strongly supported Democrats retaking the Senate this year.

Cuomo in his interview today said he was willing to expend some of his political capital in order to get changes to the state’s education system.

“If you’re not willing to pay the price for change, get out of the business, because the status quo is the worst outcome of all of this,” Cuomo said, adding, “When I am done I’m going to be proud of these things that have caused the most heartburn.”

Bruno To Skelos: No Need For IDC

Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno advised his successor in the Republican conference to not form a new leadership coalition with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein.

“Would I embrace Klein? No, I wouldn’t,” Bruno said in an interview on Talk-1300 with Fred Dicker.

Republicans in the state Senate on Tuesday won a clear 32-vote majority. With Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder once again expected to conference with the Republicans, the GOP does not necessarily need the five-member IDC.

“I have 33 votes,” Bruno said. “You need 32 votes to pass legislation. I passed many bills with 32 votes, important bills.”

Republicans fell into a numerical minority in 2012, but formed a leadership coalition with Klein and his breakaway conference that allowed them retain power in the Senate.

Under that agreement, Klein and Skelos jointly decide on which bills will come to the floor for a vote.

Now that arrangement remains in doubt following the defeat of three incumbent Democrats in the mainline conference upstate. For now, Skelos will not say what will happen to the IDC-GOP alliance. It is not expected the IDC will return to the mainline conference, either.

Skelos, meanwhile, is expected to remain the leader of the Senate Republicans, a job he took after Bruno retired in 2008.

“If I were Dean, I would be the Republican leader, I would stand for Republican ideals, I would go back to the basics,” Bruno said.

Lawmakers Air Concerns With Airbnb Sponsorship At Somos

As Latino lawmakers gather in Puerto Rico for the annual Somos conference, a group of elected officials have signed on to a letter expressing concern with Airbnb’s co-sponsorship of a cocktail reception.

The reception this evening is being put together by City & State, which listed the online apartment-sharing service as a sponsor of the event.

Airbnb has come under fire from elected officials and affordable housing advocates in New York, who say the company is helping operate illegal hotels and potentially driving up the cost of housing throughout the city.

In a letter to City & State CEO Tom Allon, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, the chairman of the Senate Latino Conference, called for Airbnb to be dropped as a sponsor of the event.

“We take very seriously the groups and sponsors that are affiliated with our conference., and strive to ensure that all of the conference’s affiliates and sponsors share our values,” Espaillat writes in the letter. “That is why we were deeply troubled to learn that Airbnb was allowed to sponsor the Road to SOMOS Kickoff Cocktail Reception at El Museo de San Juan on November 6.”

Singing on to the letter was Sen. Jose Peralta, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Councilman Antonio Reynoso.

“Though Airbnb didn’t create the affordable housing crisis, its role in incentivizing people to convert their homes into hotels has made the problem much worse across the City, and particularly in the communities we represent,” Espaillat writes. “That is why we respectfully ask that you immediately drop Airbnb as a sponsor of the Road to SOMOS Kickoff Cocktail Reception. A company that so blatantly violates state law and has so little regard for affordable housing has no place at this conference that celebrates the great diversity of our state.”

Airbnb has come under scrutiny in part due to the potential competition it poses to the hotel industry and the Hotel Trades Council, a powerful and politically active union in New York politics.

City and State Publisher Andrew Holt responded to the letter, saying the sponsorship from Airbnb at the conference has no impact on its business or editorial decisions.

“Both the business and the editorial side of City & State will continue to neither fear nor favor any person or interest,” he wrote in an email. “We are proud of the unprecedented level of coverage we have devoted to this year’s fall SOMOS conference. Senator Espaillat is welcome to voice his opinion in the Letters to the Editor section of our magazine, or to submit an op-ed as part of our Road to SOMOS series, as we have already offered him to do, and Governor Cuomo, Attorney General Schneiderman and so many other leading officials have already done.”

Airbnb declined to comment through a spokesman.

11.05.14 SomosAirbnbLetter by Nick Reisman