Citizens Union Debuts Pro-Prop. 1 Video

Citizens Union, the good government group that has been the driving force behind the movement to get a constitutional redistricting amendment passed next month, is releasing a new video explaining its position and urging New Yorkers to vote “yes” on Prop. 1.

The video is serving as a fund-raising tool. It was forwarded to Citizens Union supporters in an email yesterday, and the organization’s executive director, Dick Dadey, urged recipients to watch and then make a “much-needed contribution” to help get the video distributed statewide.

“You and I know that we must seize this chance to unrig the system, take power back, and for the first time in history hold the Legislature accountable on redistricting,” Dadey wrote.

“Prop. 1 forever bans the drawing of unfair districts that favors incumbents, discourages challengers, and protects majority party control in gerrymandering.”

“Opponents want to defeat Prop 1 by any means necessary for the false promise of something better down the road. Their cynical message dooms New York to years more of partisan gridlock and uncompetitive elections.”

“Remember, we had 87 percent of legislators – 184 out of 212 – say to New Yorkers in 2010 that they would create a fair redistricting process for the 2012 elections. What happened? Nothing. Talk about same old, same old.”

Dadey makes no mention in his email of the fact that Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised repeatedly – starting during his 2010 campaign for governor – that he would veto any redistricting plan that was drawn up in the standard, politically-controlled manner.

But Cuomo caved on that promise, signing off on the legislative leaders’ highly gerrymandered Senate and Assembly lines in exchange for their support of the constitutional amendment that has now twice been passed by separately elected Legislatures and will be left for the voters to decide.

Cuomo has said he supports Prop. 1, but he has yet to do any campaigning – or direct any cash – for the effort to get it passed.

This stands in stark contrast to last year’s pro-casino amendment effort, which included a statewide ad campaign paid for by a statewide coalition of business and labor groups (many, but not all, of which are now supporting Cuomo for re-election).

Prop. 1 has divided good government groups, with some even going to court to get the word “independent” struck from the ballot language describing the new commission that would be set up to take a first crack at redistricting if voters approve the amendment.

And earlier this week, the NAACP came out against Prop. 1, calling it “fake redistricting reform.”

Skelos Goes To Bat For Justice Graffeo

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos has made his preference known regarding the impending vacancy on the state’s highest court, issuing a statement in support of Justice Victoria Graffeo’s reappointment.

In his statement, released last night, Skelos said Graffeo has “served with distinction” during her 14-year term, and “is well regarded by legal scholars and her peers.”

“In fact, she is the most qualified of the seven candidates whose names were submitted to the Governor, and is the only nominee to achieve the highest rating from both the New York State Bar Association and the New York City Bar Association,” the senator, a Long Island Republican, continued.

“I have always found Judge Graffeo’s decisions to be sound, balanced and well reasoned, and if she is reappointed she could continue to serve in this capacity for the majority of another term.”

“New Yorkers should not be deprived of a justice with her experience and qualifications. I strongly urge the Governor to reappoint Judge Graffeo to the New York State Court of Appeals.”

Graffeo, a Republican appointed by former Gov. George Pataki in 2000, is 62 and won’t reach the mandatory retirement age for Court of Appeals Judges for another eight years. (An effort to extend that age via a constitutional amendment, which Cuomo opposed, failed last year).

Reappointing Graffeo would enable Cuomo to look bipartisan, following the lead of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who appointed both fellow Democrats and Republicans to the state’s highest court.

Graffeo was the only Republican on the list of nominees submitted to Cuomo by an independent panel charged with providing the executive with choices of potential high court justices.

She’s one of four Republicans currently serving on the court, along with Associate Judges Robert Smith, Eugene Pigott and Susan Read.

If he’s re-elected next month, Cuomo will have the opportunity to re-make the entire Court of Appeals.

He has already made two appointments: Jenny Rivera, a Latina and law professor, (replacing Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, his father’s appointee and the first Hispanic judge on the court); and Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate justice in the appellate division, who is the first black woman to serve on the court, (she replaced the late Theodore Jones, an African-American appointee of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer).

Cuomo recently missed the statutory deadline to make a decision on Graffeo, saying he needed another two weeks to consider his appointment.

Had he chosen Graffeo’s successor – or reappointed her – on the required deadline of Oct. 3, the Senate would have had 30 days to confirm the choice, bringing it right up to the Nov. 4 general election.

Cuomo said he didn’t want his decision to get caught up in the politics of the election season.

But clearly, Skelos is not as interested as keeping this issue out of the political arena.

Graffeo has a number of supporters in the legal and political communities. But opponents of her reappointment are starting to speak out, too.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, recently wrote to Cuomo, urging him not to reappoint Graffeo based on her LGBT record.

And Democratic Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, the first openly gay member of the Legislature, also spoke out against Graffeo, saying she has “displayed a hostile posture in regard to the LGBT community.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 7:25 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill is a guest on The Joe Piscopo Show, AM 970.

At 8 a.m., Cahill is a guest on Keeler in the Morning, AM 950 WIXB.

Also at 8 a.m., the AARP holds a roundtable breakfast with Dutchess County leaders to discuss Boomer Flight, Poughkeepsie Grand, One Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie.

At 8:30 a.m., Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner attends an Arbor Day celebration and tree planting, Danforth Middle School, 309 W. Brighton Ave., Syracuse.

Also at 8:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino is a guest on Fox 5 Good Day New York.

At 9:30 a.m., Astorino is a guest on Univision radio, 1280AM.

At 10:10 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol” with host Fred Dicker, Talk 1300 AM.

At 10:50 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on America’s Forum with host JD Hayworth.

At 11 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes an announcement about land bank funding, 279 Lake View Park, Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., supporters of Sen. Ted O’Brien will protest outside GOP challenger Rich Funke’s positions on women’s issues, Funke’s campaign HQ, 137 Pattonwood Dr., Irondequoit.

At 11:30 a.m., Long Island Democratic state Senate candidate Adrienne Esposito and Bill Samuels stand with local homeowners to call for a state takeover of Medicaid payments to ease property tax burden, 58 Canterbury Dr., Hauppauge.

At noon, Cahill address his five-point plan to combat the heroin epidemic, joined by Assemblyman Steve McLaughlan, Troy Atrium, Broadway & 4th Street, Troy.

Also at noon, state Education Commissioner John King delivers remarks at the New York Association of Colleges for Teacher Education annual fall conference, Gideon Putnam Hotel, 24 Gideon Putnam Rd., Saratoga Springs.

At 12:07 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss apears live on “This N’ That with Denise Ward” on WVOX 1460 AM Westchester.

12:30 p.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul tours the Corning Museum of Glass, 1 Museum Way, Corning.

At 1 p.m., Astorino delivers a speech on term limits, NYU Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square South, Shorin Lecture Hall 802, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., Cuomo addresses the NYS Business Council, Ritz Carlton Battery Park, 2 West St., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Schneiderman makes another land bank funding announcement, southwest corner Of Chelsea Street and Northland Avenue, Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., US Sen. Chuck Schumer, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Democratic NY-19 candidate Sean Eldridge hold a media availability before going on a tour of small businesses, The Cheese Plate, Water Street Market, 10 Main St #302, New Paltz.

At 3:30 p.m., Green Party candidate for governor Howie Hawkins holds a public reception, 1829 Room, Student Alumni Union, RIT, Rochester.

Also at 3:30 p.m., Hochul tours Stocking Hall at Cornell University, 411 Tower Rd., Ithaca.

At 4:30 p.m., LG Bob Robert Duffy makes remarks to New York State Liquor Store Association’s 2014 annual holiday tradeshow, Rochester Riverside Convention Center, 123 E. Main St., Rochester.

At 5:20 a.m., Cahill is a guest on the Lisa Wexler Show, AM 1230 WFAS.

Also at 5:20 p.m., Astorino holds a press conference with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Exhibit Hall at 42nd Street entrance, Grand Central Station, Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., Hochul attends the Chemung County Democratic Dinner, 171 Jerusalem Hill Rd., Elmira.

At 6:30 p.m., Moss delivers keynote remarks at the Yates County Republican Committee annual dinner, Esperanza Mansion, 3456 State Route 54A, Bluff Point.


The sole debate between the state comptroller candidates was a largely civil affair, with GOP challenger, Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci, failing to land any fatal blows on his Democratic target, incumbent Tom DiNapoli.

DiNapoli revealed that his office is continuing to review expense payments to state legislators, like the audit that led to criminal charges against an assemblyman two weeks ago.

A Rochester TV station 13WHAM had its interview with Cuomo, set up by the governor’s publisher, abruptly canceled after it refused to abide by the rules that he be asked only about his new book.

Cuomo’s Manhattan book signing drew about 150 people – protestors and fans alike. There were even some VIPs, including 2013 GOP NYC mayoral candidate George McDonald.

The event was heavily guarded and stage-managed, as befitting Cuomo’s “stature,” the NYT reports. But there were no lines of eager would-be readers.

The governor announced late yesterday that he’ll do a whirlwind tour of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico on Friday.

An FDNY memo instructs all personnel to use only vague terms when discussing the deadly disease Ebola, which is threatening to become a global pandemic.

The Texas health care worker who tested positive for Ebola late Tuesday flew on a plane just a day before she reported a fever, as the third diagnosis of the deadly disease in the US stoked fear in travelers across the country and sent officials scrambling to make sure it doesn’t spread further.

New York area hospital, political and union leaders called for a coordinated response plan and advanced safety training as Newark Liberty International Airport prepares to begin screening arriving passengers from three West African countries today.

More >


Gov. Cuomo will visit the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico this weekend.

A Federal Elections Commission advisory forced The Watertown Daily Times to cancel a planned showing of Democratic NY-21 candidate Aaron Woolf’s documentary “King Corn” that was scheduled for Oct. 20.

So far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s memoir isn’t receiving rave reviews on Amazon. (To be fair, the commenters may not have actually READ the book before sounding off).

North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, the Republican running for retiring Sen. George Maziarz’s seat, touts his military service in his first TV ad.

Sen. Terry Gipson revealed he voted for Cuomo in the September Democratic primary (even though Cuomo endorsed his GOP opponent in 2012).

Adam Katz, a real estate investor and the founder of the luxury charter service Talon Air, provided the helicopter that brought Cuomo to the Sagamore in Bolton Landing for the Business Council’s fall meeting.

The patronage heavy NYC Board of Elections reaffirmed its anti-patronage policy.

HaborCenter, the Buffalo Sabres’ $172 million complex, is slated to have an opening ceremony for VIPs on Nov. 6.

Assemblyman Edward Hennessy, the Suffolk County Democrat Republicans tailed by attaching a GPS device to his car, has released an ad in which he discusses the issue.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the biggest single benefactor to George US Senate Michelle Nunn’s campaign.

The New York Observer endorsed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Daily Show host Jon Stewart is getting a lot of fodder out of the NY-11 race. Last night, he savaged Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia.

Grant Lally, the Republican challenging Democratic Long Island Rep. Steve Israel launched his first TV ad, accusing the congressman of being “joined at the hip” with President Obama.

Ralph Nader is hosting another rally to support Howie Hawkins, of Syracuse, the Green Party candidate for governor. This time, the event is in New York City.

Haber Camp Critical Of Official Martins Mail

The campaign of Democratic Senate hopeful Adam Haber is criticizing his GOP rival, Sen. Jack Martins, for taking advantage of his office mailing privileges close to Election Day.

The campaign released two government-funded mailers from Martins’s office, calling it an abuse of taxpayer money.

“Jack Martins is flagrantly abusing taxpayer dollars by using government mailers for campaign purposes,” said Haber campaign spokesman Jacob Tugendrajch. “It is clear Martins cares far more about using money taken directly from the wallets of Nassau County taxpayers to campaign for himself than he does about ethics reform, which he has blocked at every turn in Albany. He should refund the taxpayers for mailers sent so close to Election Day and he should cease this abuse immediately.”

It’s not unusual for a campaign to use office mail to reach out to constituents right as Election Day is around the corner. But Haber’s campaign is also questioning the timing of the mailer: Oct. 13, according to one voter who received the mail.

The Martins campaign, in turn, blasted Haber for having to yank a TV ad from the air for not complying with FCC guidelines.

“We receive the same mail allotment as other committee chairs, republican and democrat, and all our non-political government mail was mailed prior to the deadline as required. We follow the rules, unlike Adam Haber, who repeatedly tried to hide his campaign finances and broke federal law causing his TV ad to be pulled while trying to buy a state senate seat.”

The Senate race is expected to be one of the key district battles for control of the state Senate.

Cuomo Takes A Tour Of TV

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon launched a satellite tour to promote his book, “All Things Possible.”

At least one TV station declined to take the interview — or subsequently had it canceled — because they didn’t agree with the ground rules: Only talk about the book.

We took one of the four-minute satellite windows offered up, which was being coordinated by the book’s publisher, Harper Collins (For the record, we don’t consider this “exclusive”).

Four minutes is’t a lot of time to interview someone about a 500 page book. But interviews with Cuomo are rare, especially on TV, a medium that he’s largely stayed away from over his time in elected office.

Cuomo’s book, though, covers a lot of ground: His relationship with his father, his work at HUD, the passage of the SAFE Act and sames-sex marriage and his vision of moderate Democratic politics.

So, four minutes being our window of opportunity, I managed to ask Cuomo two questions with a desire to not re-litigate settled issues:

1. Is this book tacitly criticizing President Obama, Washington and about seeking higher office one day?

2. Why was this book — along with planned trips to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico — released as he runs for re-election?

I didn’t have time — or an inclination, really — to ask about the planned televised debate, a question he’s been asked before and answered.

Hopefully, we’ll have more time to sit down with Cuomo before Election Day.

The full interview airs this evening on Capital Tonight.

State Dems: Do Astorino & Moss Have ‘Dirty Hands’?

The state Democratic Party is out with yet another attack TV ad this time targeting both GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino AND (I believe for the first time) his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss.

The issue: The candidates’ failure to make public a sufficient number of past tax releases to satisfy the Democrats.

Astorino has released just one year of his tax returns, while Moss hasn’t released any so far.

Just a reminder: It’s traditional, but not legally required, for candidates to at least let reporters review their tax returns. And it’s equally traditional for the opposition to make a campaign issue out of however many years worth they release – especially if it’s zero.

I’m not sure how much voters actually care about this issue, though it does provide an opportunity for candidates to accuse one another of a lack of transparency.

Candidates who have declined to release their returns have managed to win anyway.

Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, declined to heed the tax return call of her GOP opponent in 2006 – then-Rep. John Sweeney – but defeated him handily in the general election.

Since she moved from the House to the US Senate, Gillibrand has made a point of not just making her returns public, but also posting them on her website. In 2012, the senator made five years worth of returns available online.

Here’s the text of the state party’s new ad:

“For decades, candidates for state-wide office have released at least five years of taxes. Governor Cuomo has released twenty.”

“Lieutenant Governor candidate Kathy Hochul has released five. Rob Astorino, just one. Astorino’s running mate Chris Moss? Moss hasn’t released a single year.”

“Why are they refusing to release their taxes, even for years when they have been public employees – county executive and Sheriff?”

“Who else was paying them? What are they hiding? You can’t clean up Albany with dirty hands.”

Slaughter, Higgins Endorse Schneiderman

Two western New York congressional members on Wednesday endorsed Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s re-election.

Schneiderman recevied the nods from Democratic Reps. Louise Slaughter and Brian Higgins, whose districts including the Rochester and Buffalo areas, respectively.

“Eric Schneiderman is the people’s lawyer, fighting for equal justice for all New Yorkers,” Higgins said in a statement. “From prosecuting debt collectors that took advantage of military personnel to securing the largest heroin bust in the Western New York history. New Yorkers can count on Eric to fight for them. I’m proud to support his re-election for Attorney General.”

Slaughter in her statement said Schneiderman has held officials in both Albany and Washington “accountable.”

“I’m proud to endorse Eric Schneiderman for re-election,” she said. “We must hold elected leaders in Albany and Washington accountable and Eric has been a key partner in that effort.”

Schneiderman faces Republican John Cahill next month for a second term.

Cahill Unveils Five-Point Heroin Plan

Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill on Wednesday unveiled a five-point plan aimed at combating heroin abuse in the state.

The plan includes tightening drug laws that were scaled back in 2009, when Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was in the state Senate.

Another measure would introduce a state-level version of the Len Bias Law — named after a University of Maryland basketball player — that would strengthen investigators’ efforts in going up the drug cartel’s command chain.

Cahill would seek to pass legislation that would increase penalties for heroin trafficking. Currently, penalties for charging a drug dealer with intent to sell heroin are put in a broad category of “narcotics.”

Cahill says his proposal would remove heroin from the narcotic category and creating an intent to sell penalty defined of up to 1 gram or 20 or more individual bags of heroin.

The final two points of the proposal deal with treatment, including mandatory in-patient treatment for heroin.

Cahill backs an effort from Republican Sen. Kemp Hannon that would limit prescription painkillers to a 3 to 10 day supply.

“As I have traveled the entirety of this state, it has been made painfully clear that too many of our communities have been ravaged by heroin,” Cahill said in a statement. “As a father especially, I recognize that taking a proactive approach to tackling this issue is critical. As Attorney General, I vow to partner with law enforcement, advocates, healthcare professionals, and experts across the state to put a stop to heroin’s deadly scourge.”

The proposal comes after state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed at the end of the legislative session this year to a package of bills designed to curtail heroin and opioid abuse.

The measures included expanding available treatment options as well as new penalties for the sale or distribution of heroin.

D-Trip Slams Zeldin On Social Security

A new TV ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released Wednesday knocks Republican candidate Lee Zeldin on Social Security.

The from DCCC claims Zeldin would support privatizing Social Security in Congress, featuring senior citizens speaking into the camera that such a move would be a “disaster.”

“Zeldin would put our retirement in the hands of the same banks that crashed the economy,” the ads narrator says.

The spot comes as Zeldin, a state Senator, faces Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in the first Congressional district.

Bishop, who has been office since 2002, is considered vulnerable this year following an ethics scandal over securing a fireworks permit for a constituent.