No Jail Time For Libous

libousTom Libous, the former deputy majority leader of the state Senate, will not face jail time for his felony conviction of lying to the FBI, TWC News reporter Emily Lorsch reported.

Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti sentenced Libous, who has terminal cancer, to six months of home confinement and two years probation. He is also being fined $50,000.

Briccetti is making exceptions for Libous to visit his father, who is in a nursing home, as well as his son Matthew, who is serving prison time for tax evasion. He will also be able to leave his home for medical appointments.

Libous’s attorneys and the prosecution had sought no jail time for the former lawmaker, citing his ill health and the likelihood he had less than a year to live.

Libous was found guilty in July of lying to federal law enforcement in a case stemming from Matthew receiving a job at a politically connected law firm. The conviction on the felony charge automatically expelled Libous from the Binghamton-area seat he had held since 1988.

During his time in office, Libous wielded power in the Senate and helped bring state resources to the otherwise economically struggling area of the state.

A special election to fill the seat earlier this month was won by Republican Fred Akshar.

Updated: Libous told reporters he will appeal his conviction.

DiNapoli: Retirement Fund Posts Negative Return In Q2

The state pension fund during the second quarter of the fiscal year posted a negative 4.13 percent rate of return, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday announced.

In a statement, DiNapoli pointed to ongoing volatility in the market during the summer. The fund is valued at an estimated at $173.5 billion, which is reflective of benefits that were paid out during the quarter.

The second quarter ended on Sept. 30.

“Volatility in the late summer continued to seriously challenge investors across multiple markets,” DiNapoli said. “Fortunately, New York’s pension fund is built on a conservative, long-term investment strategy to weather such ups and downs and provide retirement security for generations to come. While we’ve seen some recovery in the third quarter, there is no question that this is a tough year for investors.”

Alcoa Jobs Saved After New York Intervention

A $68 million agreement with New York state will keep jobs at Alcoa’s North Country factory in Massena, state and company officials announced on Tuesday at the plant.

The announcement came several weeks after the company announced the plant would close due to macroeconomic forces being placed on the world aluminum market.

“Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo have been tremendous allies for Alcoa’s Massena operations for many years and we thank them for their continued support,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement. “Today’s agreement helps better position the smelter in light of prevailing market conditions, providing this facility a bridge to a stronger commodity market and maintaining jobs in the North Country. We remain focused on ensuring our Upstream business is well-positioned to succeed throughout the cycle.”

The agreement secures 600 jobs at the plant for at least 3-1/2 years.

The plant’s announced closure came on top of an increasingly dire economic picture for upstate New York and the North Country in particular, which has lost jobs — and population — at a steady pace over the last several decades.

The announcement also comes in the wake of a state agreement that kept Heinz-Kraft from closing three plants in different areas of upstate New York, while state officials are working with the company to find a buyer for another factory that was due to close. The state is due to spent at least $20 million helping to upgrade those factories.

The news of Alcoa’s pending closure came amid more bad economic news upstate: Entergy Corp. is moving to close a nuclear plant in Oswego County, a move that state officials are fight as well.

New Ad Campaign Touts Common Core

commoncoreFrom the Morning Memo:

High Achievement New York, a group that has been supportive of Common Core, is launching a six-figure radio campaign aimed at boosting support for the education standards.

The campaign, set to run through December, is being launched as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force convened to study and potentially recommend changes to the standards is concluding its round of public hearings.

In the ad, two Buffalo teachers discuss their support for the standards, saying they “are working” for students.

“But opponents want to pull the rug out on teachers,” says teacher Lucy Mendola in the spot.

Teacher Heather McCarthy adds: “Help us strengthen New York Standards, not dismantle them.”

The ads will be targeted for audiences in New York City, the Capital Region, Buffalo and Rochester.

The spot will also air on Pandora stations and directs listeners to the task force’s comments page as well as the Department of Education’s feedback survey.

Cuomo’s task force is expected to recommend changes to the standards in time for his State of the State address in January.

Education policy issues are due to dominate the legislative session once again next year after lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to changes in the state’s teacher evaluation the state’s teachers unions deeply opposed in part due to the weakening of tenure and making it harder to obtain.

NY-19: Lopez Makes It Official

ny19From the Morning Memo:

Assemblyman Peter Lopez is formally entering the crowded Republican field for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, he announced late Monday night.

Lopez is joining businessman Andrew Heaney and former Assembly Minority John Faso in the Republican primary for the seat that’s currently held by Rep. Chris Gibson.

“If there is one thing the voters are saying this year, is that we need to aggressively challenge the status quo,” Lopez said in a statement. “My message is that we need to someone who is grounded in the community to represent the hard working people back home and not let Washington insiders and power brokers decide who will represent you by buying the seat.”

Lopez had previously filed the necessary paperwork to launch the campaign.

Adding a dose of intrigue to the primary is Lopez’s resume: He once worked in Fasos’s district office.

His entrance into the race comes amid a clash between the Faso and Heaney campaigns. A super PAC aligned with Heaney’s campaign has knocked Faso’s work for the last decade as a lobbyist in Albany; Faso’s campaign has shot back pointing out the video was taken from an interview in which Faso was discussing his work on behalf of autism speaks.

Gibson, a Republican who retires at the end of his current term in 2016, is considering a run for governor in 2018.

On the Democratic side, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is being urged to run by a group of Democrats in the area.

Senate Republicans Could Face Key Tests Upstate

ororom the Morning Memo:

On the surface, Senate Republicans should not have an upstate problem.

The conference controlled its fate in the last round of redistricting, enabling them to choose their voters and ensconce their incumbents in a cocoon of enrolled Republicans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo remains deeply unpopular in the rural and suburban communities and threat of New York City Democrats running Albany remains a potent concern. More tangibly, the conference kept a Southern Tier district in the GOP column with Fred Akshar defeating Cuomo’s preferred candidate for the job, Democrat Barbara Fiala.

Republicans in 2014 swept out not just Democratic incumbents in key battleground Senate districts in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, but the party did well in Congressional races as well.

And yet, there are problems on the horizon for the party among conservative activists who had taken to heart pledges candidates last year made: Complete repeals of the gun control law known as the SAFE Act and the controversial Common Core education standards.

To be sure, the battleground for control of the Senate next year will likely be Long Island. But restive voters upstate in an election season that’s already gearing up with a strong anti-incumbent, anti-establishment vibe, could throw a curve ball at the Republicans.

In a statewide context, the SAFE Act is a non-issue. Approved in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, the measure continues to enjoy broad majority support. Cuomo is so bolstered by his push for the law that he’s taking it on a national road show.

Common Core remains a stickier wicket for Albany, with polls showing both upstate and suburban voters deeply concerned about the impact the standards are having on their children. Perhaps sensing the political danger after 20 percent of students opted out of April round of standardized testing, Cuomo announced a task force to consider potential changes.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has indicated he would prefer to have the task force act on the changes and not have lawmakers take up the measures.

“The task force is with an eye toward looking what have we done, where have gone and where are we going in the future,” Flanagan said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom last month. “What can and should happen is you get a lot of work done at the Board of Regents level and SED, state Education Department, and if need be, which I think is unnecessary, legislative intervention.”

Even so, both the SAFE Act and Common Core resonate with activists on the local level. They represent differing, but related forms of government overreach. And Republican incumbents, especially in the narrowly divided state Senate, haven’t done enough. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is St. Lawrence, Queens, Kings and New York counties.

Jury deliberations begin in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the trial on corruption charges of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son, Adam, continues.

At 6:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear live on CNN’s New Day to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement at the Alcoa Plant West, Rt 131 Entrance, Area 3 Entrance, Massena.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul reads to children at Cornerstone Manor’s Women’s Shelter, 150 E. North St., Buffalo.

At 10:50 a.m., Hochul tours Buffalo City Mission Men’s Shelter, 100 E. Tupper St., Buffalo.

At 11 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams, Sen. Jesse Hamilton and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker distribute 700 turkeys for Thanksgiving, Full Gospel Assembly, 131 Sullivan Pl., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., NYPIRG releases its 30th annual pre-Christmas report on toxic toys, 9 Murray St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Cardinal Timothy Dolan leads the annual Catholic Charities distribution of Thanksgiving meals to nearly 700 New Yorkers, Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center, 34 West 134th St., Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., after assembling and delivering food packages with Joel Berg of NYC Coalition Against Hunger, de Blasio makes remarks about food insecurity, St. John’s Bread & Life, 795 Lexington Ave., Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito holds a pre-stated press conference, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan, after which, she will preside over the Council’s meeting.

At 1 p.m., Hochul participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle as part of the governor’s commitment to feed 35,000 people statewide this holiday, Maplewood YMCA, 25 Driving Park Ave., Rochester.

At 1:15 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with the Rev. Patrick Young, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens.

At 2:15 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger Super Pantry, 2004 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 3:30 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Rep. Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright and NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club, 2155 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Harlem.

Also at 3:30 p.m., Hochul joins elected officials in a Thanksgiving food donation drive, Reverend Dr. Bennett W. Smith Family Life Center, 833 Michigan Ave., Buffalo.

At 4 p.m., de Blasio joins a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers – including Cuomo’s 2014 GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino – to host a press conference to highlight the need for increased federal transportation funding as New Yorkers prepare for holiday weekend travel, Amtrak Rotunda, Penn Station, Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, 210 Sherman Ave., Manhattan.


Assemblyman Pete Lopez formally announced his bid to seek the Republican/Conservative nomination for the NY-19 seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson at the end of next year, joining an increasingly crowded GOP field.

With closing arguments complete, Judge Valerie E. Caproni is expected to instruct the jury in former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption case today, after which it is to begin its deliberations.

“Don’t be barreled over by somebody’s view of what the Assembly should be,” the assemblyman’s attorney Steven Molo urged the jurors. “Instead, consider the law.”

The founder of the struggling environmental services company at the heart of the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, testified at their trial yesterday that days after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, the senator provided valuable business intelligence that the company felt would be helpful.

Former North Hempstead Councilman Thomas Dwyer testified he handed Adam Skelos a $20,000 check from his title company at a restaurant in 2013 to avoid the payment being linked to a politically connected developer.

A top-level state Senate staffer, Welquis “Ray” Lopez, left the Skelos corruption trial courtroom after being accused of coaching a witness on the stand and warned by the judge that he would be expelled.

New York State’s highest court declined to hear an appeal from several groups seeking the public release of transcripts from the grand jury that considered evidence in the death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officers. The decision, in a six-word ruling published on its website, ended a yearlong legal effort to pry open records from the private proceeding.

Two days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill to halt for two years the state’s plan to cull mute swans, the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Tony Avella, suggested the birds are the victims of a hazy political conspiracy. “There’s something else going on here,” he claimed. “…Somebody who has real political influence doesn’t like (the swans).”

Making the “See Something, Say Something” mantra high-tech, Cuomo announced a new smartphone app that will allow New Yorkers to report suspicious activity.

Wading deeper into the fray on college campuses over institutional racism, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he “absolutely” believes Yale University should change the name of Calhoun College, the building on its campus where his son Dante lives, because it is named after a “segregationist leader.”

De Blasio’s eyes welled with tears during an announcement of a major mental-health initiative as he spoke of the addiction challenges faced by both his late father and college-age daughter.

The state Gaming Commission is proposing a set of sweeping new rules aimed at combating what the group’s executive director described as the “entrenched drug culture in horse racing.”

After bids languished for nearly three years, the Cuomo administration has contacted developers about revamping proposals for Belmont Park and informed them that one significant parcel is no longer on the table.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached a settlement with one of four fitness and tanning franchises that he sought to sue in April over alleged violations related to tanning safety.

The company, Planet Fitness, has agreed not to offer “unlimited” indoor tanning sessions as part of its premium membership packages.

More >


A prosecutor called former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a “master of deception” as summations began in the Manhattan Democrat’s closely watched corruption case.

“The defense all boils down to this: this is all just a coincidence,” said Andrew Goldstein, the assistant U.S. attorney who gave the summation. “You know the quid and the quo are connected. It’s obvious. It’s common sense.”

Arriving at court today, Silver continued to insist he’ll be “vindicated.”

Glenwood Management, the real estate developer at the center of the corruption trials of both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, gave half a million dollars in 2011 to the Committee to Save New York, a business-backed advocacy group that focused solely on supporting Cuomo’s agenda.

The Court of Appeals rejected efforts to make public the testimony heard by the Staten Island grand jury in the death of Eric Garner.

The state Gaming Commission is putting forth a series of sweeping rules regarding the use of drugs for Thoroughbreds following their report on a series of allegations that PETA made following an investigation they conducted during the 2013 racing season at the Saratoga Race Course.

The Syracuse Common Council voted 5-3 to appoint veteran politician Joe Nicoletti to fill the vacancy left by Pam Hunter, who resigned this month after winning a seat in the state Assembly. Some councilors were angered by the speed with which he had been chosen.

Frank Parlato Jr.’s unusual role as a newspaper owner writing about his own criminal case prompted the prosecution to ask for a gag order. The judge in the case said no.

Horse racing and wagering is now legal on Palm Sunday, thanks to a bill Cuomo signed into law this past weekend.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg expressed little faith in the ability of state and federal elected leaders to make progress on climate change, saying that business, consumers and mayors will have a much greater impact.

Bronx Assemblyman José Rivera shared a bizarre photo of himself sitting in the washroom of an airplane with his Facebook friends yesterday.

Nassau Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said lawmakers have reached a deal they hope will avoid steep budget cuts from NIFA.

Cuomo also signed a bill that would create a commission for the state women’s suffrage 100th anniversary commemoration in 2017.

A Central New York man was charged with masterminding a $1.6 million scheme to sell high-tech audio earbuds to state employees while charging their insurance carrier for hearing aids.

The US Senate Democrats’ campaign arm outraised its Republican rivals in October by about $1.5 million. The DSCC brought in $3.8 million compared to the NRSC’s $2.3 million.

NYC is looking at bringing in drones for everything from catastrophic fires and natural disasters to tree pruning and traffic jams.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested he would be open to running for president as an independent if he concludes the GOP isn’t treating him “fairly.”

Young Knocks Krueger’s Coal Power Plant Proposal

Republican Sen. Cathy Young blasted an op/ed written by Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger that called for a phase-out of the state’s four remaining coal-fired power plants.

Krueger, a Manhattan lawmaker, made the case for closing the facilities in a Gotham Gazette op/ed, arguing the plants contribute to 13 percent of the state’s carbon pollution, but do not turn a profit.

At the same time, the Dunkirk-based plant alone has received $90 million to continue operating through the end of the year, with an additional $200 million over the next decade. In Cayuga, the plan there is receiving $155 million to continue its operations through 2017.

“If we stop clinging to policies that keep our energy sector stuck in the past, the Empire State has the potential to lead the world in the bold transition to a clean energy economy,” Krueger wrote. “Governor Cuomo could lead us there by speeding up his commitment to phase out coal-fired power and taking a key step toward ensuring carbon pollution becomes a thing of the past.”

Young, an Olean senator, called the proposal “disturbing but not surprising” and tied it to overall push against upstate jobs.

“This latest outburst fits perfectly with the Senate Democrats’ abysmal track record as anti-upstate job killers and tax hikers,” Krueger said. “It is hypocritical and terrible public policy to export New York State jobs and tax revenues while importing power from out-of-state Pennsylvania coal plants which are the filthiest in the nation, the source of 99 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and other toxic air pollution. We need our plants operating to keep the lights on for our consumers in upstate, and grow our manufacturing jobs. Dunkirk NRG is set to be repowered into a clean natural gas facility that will grow jobs, protect the environment, and stabilize the local tax base. That’s what our state needs.”

Cuomo: More Ethics And Disclosure Than Ever Before

cuomogunsAmid the twin corruption trials of the former state legislative leaders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday insisted the state’s ethics and disclosure laws are stronger than ever.

“We have passed more ethics and disclosure laws in Albany than ever existed before,” Cuomo said in New York City earlier in the day. “We’ve passed disclosure laws that, frankly, would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.”

Among those Cuomo cited included a new requirement that state lawmakers disclosure their outside legal clients, a measure that was approved in the wake of the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Final summations were made in the Silver case in federal court earlier today; the trial of ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos — who is accused of his using power to aid his son’s business interests — began last week.

“When you are in government you have to maintain the highest standards, you have to maintain the highest trust, you have to be a model of integrity,” Cuomo said. “I hope all those watching the trial understand that.”

New ethics and anti-corruption laws have been approved nearly every legislative session since Cuomo has been governor and he ran his 2010 campaign on the push to clean up Albany. But the state Capitol has been marred by a parade of public officials being led out in handcuffs.

“We’ve done lots, but we can never do enough,” he said. “There will always be dishonest people, there will always be people who find a way around the system.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo once again wouldn’t rule out curtailing donations to his campaign from Glenwood Management, the real-estate firm that has played various roles in the Silver and Skelos cases.

“Let’s see what happens with the trial. Let’s see what the outcome is,” he said. “If someone is convicted of a crime, then obviously not.”