Cino Dropping In RNC Chair Vote

Republicans have completed their third round of balloting in the RNC chair election, and things aren’t looking good for Buffalo native Maria Cino.

She finished third in the first round, according to the following results forwarded to me by Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey, who is in the room to observe, not participate:

Priebus 45
Steele 44
Cino 32
Anuzis 24
Wagner 23

She held her own in the second round, losing ground a bit, but maintaining her place in the line-up:

Priebus 52
Steele 37
Cino 30
Wagner 27
Anuzis 22

By the third round, however, she had dropped to fourth place:

Priebus 54
Steele 33
Wagner 32
Cino 28
Anuzis 21

In order to win, a candidate must garner votes from 85 of the 168 RNC members. So far, no one has dropped out.

Report: President Reschedules Schenectady Trip

The Associated Press is reporting that President Obama has rescheduled his trip to Schenectady for next Friday, January 21st.

The visit was originally planned for Tuesday of this week, but was postponed after the tragic shooting in Arizona that killed 6, and injured 14 others including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

This will be Obama’s second trip to the Capital Region as President, and his 5th trip to upstate New York. His other stops were in Buffalo, Troy, and two trips to West Point.

WNY Delegation Sees Hope For UB2020

Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Assembly members came together in Buffalo today for a united press conference to highlight the importance of the UB2020 project. In total, more than 11 members of the Assembly and Senate attended the event, which was set up by Republican Senator George Maziarz and Democratic Assemblyman Robin Schimminger.

The project has several parts. First they need the legislature to allow the University of Buffalo to increase tuition at the school, and also give them more flexibility in how they spend money they raise. If they can get this to pass, they will be able to reinvest millions into building the school into a state of the art medical center.

The Senate passed the UB2020 bill back in 2009. But many Assembly Democrats have been resistant to the plan because they want to make sure tuition remains affordable.

The Western New York lawmakers who gathered today say this year will be different though, because they have a powerful ally in Governor Cuomo. Often outspoken Democratic Assemblyman Mark Schroeder was on hand for the press conference, and was asked what was different in the Assembly this year.

“I don’t know if anything is going to be different, except for the strength of the governor. The governor is very creative. And I would not be that concerned if the governor doesn’t put it in his executive budget. I don’t believe that is the end of the world,” Schroeder said.

“Because the speaker has made it clear that that has been a deal breaker in the past. So the Governor, being creative, and the governor trying to figure out a way to be successful may come up with some different solutions.”

Squadron Helps Haitian Amputee Profiled On CNN

We missed it earlier this week, but on the one-year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake CNN did a profile piece on a Darline Bertil. She is a Haitian women who was trapped in rubble for 5 days. When she was finally rescued, she had to have one of her hands and most of her other arm amputated after the earthquake.

Bertil says handicapped people are shun in Haiti, so she was worried that she would not be able to find work. That’s where Senator Squadron comes into the story. Bertil’s doctor contacted him, and Squadron helped secure a visa for her, and her family to come to New York and live with family they already had here.

NY In The House At RNC Chair Vote

I just got off the phone with Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey, who is in Washington, D.C. to watch this afternoon’s battle over the RNC chairmanship, and he said: “You can’t predict this.”

“A lot of these people are very independent,” Dadey said of the 168 Republican leaders who will be deciding the fate of the current chairman, Michael Steele, this afternoon.

“They’ve made their own money. They’ve done their own thing. They’re going to vote however they want.”

Dadey, who is not voting today (state GOP Chairman Ed Cox has a vote, as do the state’s two national committee members), is in Washington with Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy. The two were in town on unrelated business and decided to drop in on the RNC meeting to watch the show.

A cheat sheet of the field, compliments of Politics Daily’s Tom Diemer:

Steele is opposed by Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus (pegged as the frontrunner), former Bush administration official Maria Cino (endorsed by House Speaker John Boehner), Missouri’s Ann Wagner (the former ambassador to Luxembourg) and Saul Anuzis (former head of the party in Michigan).

Cino is a Buffalo native, and she’s supported by Cox and the eight GOP members of the NY congressional delegation. (They’re not at the RNC meeting because they’re attending a members-only retreat of House Republicans).

She’s considered a long-shot in today’s vote, although she told the Buffalo News earlier this week that if there’s at least two ballots today, she has a chance at winning.

(The paper has been covering this race very closely and is liveblogging the RNC meeting).

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Duffy Feels Secure, Even Without Packing Heat

LG Bob Duffy told me last night on CapTon that he feels completely safe with his State Police security detail in the wake of the Arizona shooting last weekend, but also speculated that his old habits as a law enforcement official probably die hard.

I asked the chief-turned-mayor-turned-LG whether it’s difficult not to get involved when it comes to his own protection after so many years of being responsible for the security of others.

He recalled that during his first year as mayor of Rochester, he “bailed out of my car and helped a police officer make a robbery arrest,” adding: “I’m very unpredictable.”

I asked the LG if he’s still carrying a weapon – something several members of Congress are now doing following Jared Loughner’s shooting spree in Tucson that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely injured. He chuckled and replied:

>”No, I don’t. I’m being very good. I don’t have one. But it’s one of those things that you don’t lose those instincts or those feelings. The detail I have. I have a team of state troopers that’s involved that has been tremendous.”

“…It’s a small, modest detail,” Duffy continued. “But I feel very good with the people assigned. I like them personally and respect them professionally. And I don’t feel unsafe, but also, I trust my instincts and if i did not feel unsafe for some reason, I would say it.”

Duffy, true to form, said he’s more worried about other people – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo – than about himself when it comes to safety.

He declined to say whether security has been heightened since last weekend’s tragedy. But he did say that he’s confident the State Police would take “every possible precaution” in the event that a threat was received.

More Cuomo Nominations And Appointments

As was earlier reported, the Cuomo Administration has nominated Joan McDonald to be the next Commissioner of the state DOT. So, the General Contractors Association of New York only jumped the gun by a little more than an hour. The Cuomo administration has also announced that Yomika Bennett will serve as Assistant Secretary of Transportation.

And two commissioners are going to be held over from the previous administration. Brian Fischer will be reappointed Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services. And Dr. Michael Hogan is staying on as the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health.

Complete biographies on all candidates after the jump.
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New DOT Commissioner?

It would appear the Governor Cuomo is going to nominate Joan McDonald to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. The administration has yet to announce the pick, but the General Contractors Association of New York has already voiced their support for McDonald.

“Governor Cuomo’s selection of Joan McDonald to be commissioner of the state Department of Transportation will serve the taxpayers of New York State well,” said Denise Richardson, the Managing Director of the General Contractors Association of New York.

“ It is our hope that swift approval by the legislature will ensure that New York can get back on the road again in creating an infrastructure that moves us beyond the recession by creating jobs, energizing the economy and investing in our future

McDonald is currently Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. She was appointed to that position by Republican Governor Jodi Rell back in 2007. And there have been reports that incoming Democratic Governor Dan Malloy wasn’t going to keep her on the administration.

McDonald does have deep New York ties though. She served as Senior Vice President for Transportation at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. She is also the former Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Traffic Operations for New York City DOT.

Full press release, which was emailed out at 9:18am, is after the jump.
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Here And Now

Despite the Arizona shooting, federal lawmakers appear less receptive than ever to passing stricter gun control laws.

Nine-year-old Chrisina Taylor Green was buried yesterday.

Her death appears to have struck a nerve with the normally reserved president, whose daughter, Sasha, was born three months before Christina.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for a boycott on Glock.

Staffers at the Tucson hospital where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is recovering were fired after a security breach.

Giffords has been able to open both eyes, move both arms and legs and, with doctors’ help, sit up in bed.

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand discussed seeing Giffords open her eyes for the first time with NBC’s Brian Williams.

Gillibrand, Giffords, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz are members of a fairly small club: Younger female members of Congress.

The RNC is scheduled to select a new chairperson today.

House Republicans are edging back to business as usual and will consider the repeal of the health care reform law next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will tailor his State of the State speech to fit Watertown’s needs today.

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Medicaid Redesign Input Not Limited To 27-Member Team

At the first of several public meetings designed to overhaul New York’s expensive Medicaid program, newly-appointed state Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson pledged that all groups impacted by Medicaid will have a seat at the table, not just the 27 member team. The team has been criticized because it has several hospital lobbyists and union leaders, leaving some to say they would not be inclined to enact reforms.

“Often times with a state as large as New York, with as many groups as there are, it’s very hard to determine who the right 25-28 people are for the committee,” said Helgerson.

“I understand that there are other groups that would love to be at this table. That’s why we’re going to go out and meet with any group that is interested in meeting. We’re going to sit down with them. We really, really take seriously the responsibility of reaching to the broadest set of stakeholders as we can.”

Helgerson says he’s optimistic the groups will set aside they’re own interests and embrace the collective interest of the state, which he says includes both trimming spending to address the state’s projected $10 billion budget gap as well as developing a plan to redesign the system to make it more sustainable in the long term.

Today’s gathering, which involved a free-for-all of ideas from each stakeholder at the table, is the first step in meeting a March 1st deadline set by the governor. Those proposals will then lay the ground work for a final report designed at overhauling the entire system. That report is due to Cuomo in November.

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