Rep. Hinchey ‘Resting Comfortably’ After Colon Cancer Surgery

Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s office announced the Hudson Valley Democrat underwent colon cancer surgery today at Albany Medical Center, where he is now “resting comfortably” and is poised to receive follow-up care.

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“Following his release from the hospital, Hinchey will spend the next two to three weeks recovering in New York as per his doctor’s orders,” the statement continued.

“All of the congressman’s offices will, as always, remain open, fully staffed, and prepared to help every constituent with any issues, comments, or concerns they may have regarding Congress and the entire federal government.”

No word on the success of the procedure.

In late April, the 72-year-old Hinchey released a statement from his doctor, Randall Rissman, of Woodstock, about his “curable” form of colon cancer. The doctor predicted the congressman would “respond extremely well to the course of treatment we’ve developed for him” and “make a full recovery.”

The Rissman also said at the time that Hinchey would be able to maintain a “full congressional schedule” while undergoing treatment, which started with radiation at Ulster Radiation Oncology Center in Kingston. A brief course of chemotherapy will follow today’s surgery.

Hinchey weathered a tough re-election battle last fall. His campaign was marked by several missteps, most of which stemmed from his dust-up with Kingston Freeman correspondent William J. Kemble.

Republicans and hydrofracking supporters tried to help Hinchey’s Republican opponent, George Phillips, who was making a second attempt at unseating the congressman. Hinchey won, but Phillips didn’t concede until Nov. 19.

Phillips has since indicated he intends to try to unseat Hinchey a third time next fall, and he’s already raising campaign cash. Of course, the lines of NY-22 will be different by then – assuming the district continues to exist.

That’s a safe bet at the moment, considering the NY-9 developments and the target on Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle’s back in NY-25. But things could change considerably between now and then.

Silver For Weprin

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this afternoon issued a statement in support of Assemblyman David Weprin’s special election bid to replace ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, saying the Queens Democrat can be counted on to be a “strong voice for Israel in Congress.”

“I have known David Weprin, and his family, for years,” said Silver, who replaced Weprin’s father, Saul, in the speaker’s seat after the elder Weprin’s death in 1994.

“We have worked together on many issues important to New Yorkers in general, and the Jewish community in particular. David Weprin has always believed in the safety and security of the State of Israel.”

Silver, as you’ll recall, is an Orthodox Jew. Weprin is an observant Jew who routinely describes himself as “shomer Shabbos.”

But Weprin has come under fire for being, for lack of a better way of putting it, not Jewish enough.

The Orthodox newspaper Hamodia ran a scathing opinion piece that accused the assemblyman of paying for the Democratic nod in NY-9 with “his very soul,” noting in particular his “yes” vote on same-sex marriage.

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Cuomo: We’re Transparent

The Times’ piece on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first six months pointed out a largely forgotten campaign pledge: that he would post his meetings online.

The governor does release a daily schedule that includes advisories for events, closed-door meetings with his cabinet and gives a general description of where he’ll be on a given day.

But often it’s not a detailed account of who he’s meeting with and when. So that duty has largely fallen to nosy reporters with itchy twitter fingers walking past the Cuomo’s second floor offices in the Capitol.

Cuomo did open the second floor of the state Capitol to the public; it had been closed since the Pataki administration, which was known for its secrecy.

The budget process this year was also conducted largely behind closed doors and the public leaders meetings of recent years — often derided as dog and pony shows — were not held this legislative session.

The final version of the massive “Big Ugly” omnibus bill which included the tax cap and rent control measure was released only a few hours before the vote was held.

Azi Paybarah, who was good enough to post a YouTube video of Cuomo’s question-and-answer session, asked the question about the daily schedules.

“I think I disclose on a daily basis where I am, what my public scheudle is. I think we’ve been doing it on a daily basis,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo: Obama Faces Different Situation Than NY

Closing the deficit and raising the nation’s debt ceiling is much different situation at the federal level than in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today during a question-and-answer session in New York City.

OK, that may sound pretty obvious. But after Cuomo has received praise (mainly from conservative pundits) for closing a $10 billion deficit in New York without raising taxes to do so, there’s been calls for President Obama to take the same road his fellow Democrat has.

Not so fast, Cuomo said.

“They have a different situation than the state has. The federal government has some capacities that a state doesn’t have, primarily the capacity to print money,” Cuomo said.

New York had to remain competitive with other states by holding the line on taxes, which included Cuomo siding with Senate Republicans on allowing a surcharge on upper-income households to expire, he said.

“They have a much different situation than the state. From the state’s point of view, you raise taxes, you put yourself at a competitive disadvantage, right? People don’t have to be in New York, people can move to Connecticut, people can move to New Jersey, they can move to Pennsylvania. We’re literally hemoraghing people from our borders right now. So the state is in a fundamentally different position than the federal government,” Cuomo said.

Obama and Congressional Republicans failed to agree on a $4 trillion deficit-reduction deal. Obama on Monday urged Republicans to strike a deal that not only include entitlement reform, but also adjustments to the nation’s tax rates.

The governor said he was backing Obama.

“I tend to agree with the president’s position in these negotiations,” Cuomo said.

Schneiderman On DSK: Let Vance ‘Do His Job’

ICYMI: AG Eric Schneiderman sat down last night for his first extended CapTon interview since he took office back in January, touching on everything from his antitrust probe into the ongoing NFL lockout to his investigation into the mortgage/foreclosure mess.

Schneiderman declined to provide much in the way of details on those investigations, falling back on every attorney’s favorite excuse: “They’re-ongoing-and-so-I-can’t-comment.”

He was a bit more forthcoming when I asked whether he thought Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s rapidly deteriorating case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn was appropriate and should be purused – but only a bit.

“I don’t have the evidence that the DA had…and frankly, neither do all the other people who seem to be voicing their opinions on this,” Schneiderman said. “I don’t know, and they don’t know.”

“I do know Cy Vance is a person of tremendous integrity. He and I served on the sentencing commission together. Great prosecutor. And I think we should let the DA do his job.”

“And again, I talked about evidence-based practices, getting all the facts. I think you’re seeing a lot of cases where people just don’t have access to the information – because they can’t- that the district attorney’s got. Let’s let him do his job.”

Interception!

Here’s the letter I received from US Attorney Preet Bharara informing me that I was “intercepted” pursuant to wire taps connected to the Sen. Carl Kruger, Richard Libsky et al corruption case.

City Hall’s editor Adam Lisberg reported earlier today that a whole slew of these letters went out, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. Lipsky spoke to any number of reporters on a weekly – if not daily – basis, pitching stories and spinning on behalf of Kruger and other clients.

Kruger also could be one of the chattier members of the Senate Democratic conference when he was in the mood.

The letter very nearly gave me a heart attack, until I got to the line about how it was sent only to “provide notice.” Then I thought it was sorta neat, and I’m not the only one. Nick Reisman’s reaction when I told him about this correspondence was: “Cool!”

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State GOP Reschedules Annual Dinner

The state GOP sent out a “Save the Date” message about its annual dinner – the third so far this year – informing supporters the event has finally been rescheduled to Sept. 14 and will be headlined (again) by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

(H/T Reid Pillifant).

The dinner was supposed to be held on June 2, but that was called off back in May to, as Cox put it, “accomodate some of our guest speakers.”

With the July 15 fundraising report right around the corner, it will be interesting to see how the GOP, which has struggled to raise cash, is doing in the money department. At least their payroll is lighter than it used to be.

This is the second time Barbour has keynoted the New York Republicans’ big dinner. Last year, however, he shared the spotlight with another man who flirted with – and eventually took a pass on – a 2012 presidential run: Donald Trump.

Barbour, as you may recall, heads the Republican Governors Association, and backed up state GOP Chairman Ed Cox in his (eventually failed) effort to convince former Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy to switch parties and try to run for governor on the GOP line in 2010.

Cox’s Levy campaign caused a split between the NYS chairman and then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who did not approve of his Empire State counterpart’s push to push former Rep. Rick Lazio out of the race.

Steele was so upset that he circumvented Cox when it came time to hand out so-called “Victory” funds (cash intended to help with GOTV efforts), giving the money directly to county chairs instead of to the state party.

In the end, Levy failed to make it onto the ballot (good thing, too, knowing what we know now – to the degree we actually know anything – about his fundraising practices), and Lazio was defeated in the GOP primary by Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

Cuomo Signs Tough Texting While Driving Law

That text message can wait.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed into a law a tough texting and phoning while driving measure that would make the use of electronic gadgets behind the wheel a “primary” offense.

Previously, police could cite motorists for using cell phones while driving, but only after pulling them over for a different offense.

“I am proud to sign this bill today, both as the Governor and as a father of three teenagers,” Cuomo said in a statement. “It’s plain and simple: distracted driving leads to tragedies that have affected families all across New York. This new law will help ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. I thank Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman Weisenberg for their hard work on this legislation.”

The law takes effect immediately and comes with a $150 fine.

The new measure includes sending texting messages, browing the web, viewing or taking images and playing games on an electronic device.

It does not include the use of GPS units mounted to a car’s dashboard. Police officers and firefighters are also exempt from the law.

In Buffalo, It’s A Battle Of The Seans

Erie County Republicans have nominated Sean Kipp in the 144th Assembly District, a seat that’s being vacated by Democrat Sam Hoyt who was elevated to a spot at the Empire State Development Corp.

Democrats previously picked Sean Ryan in the special election contest that will be held Sept. 14.

Kipp, a Buffalo resident, is a 2005 graduate of SUNY-B and the Director of Sales for Towne Hyundai in Orchard Park.

“If we keep electing the same old candidates to the state legislature, things are never going to change in Albany,” said Kipp. “As a homeowner, I was happy to see the state legislature pass property tax relief this past session. However, in typical Albany fashion, our legislators failed to pass any meaningful mandate relief and that will just pass the increases on down to the local level of government and further burden on middle class families.”

As Liz wrote earlier, the Hoyt elevation is the result of some musical chairs being played out in western New York.

Refusing To Enforce Marriage Law, Clerk Resigns

A town clerk in Broome County is stepping down, saying that she could not enforce the state’s new same-sex marriage law, which takes effect July 24.

Her resignation letter, posted on the website for New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms, the organization that lobbied against the bill, Baker Town Clerk Laura L. Fotusky writes that “there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible.”

From her letter:

“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.”

Earlier this month, a town clerk in tiny Volney, Oswego County, said she could not provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples. That brought a rebuke from Sen. David Carlucci, who said elected officials must enforce the law.

The state’s same-sex marriage law, approved on June 25, includes carve-outs for religious institutions and organizations. The amendment was a key provision for the measure’s introduction and passage in the Republican-led Senate. Four GOP lawmakers joined in voting yes on the bill.