Mar 6th - 11:19 am
Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long “personally” endorsed Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino for governor on Thursday, and promised to line up local party officials on his behalf.
“I think he’s the right guy at the right time and possesses the views I’ve been fight for all my life as a member of the conservative,” Long told me in a phone interview after appearing over Astorino’s shoulder at a kick-off tour in the Bronx.
Though the endorsement from Long isn’t blanket approval from the party — the Conservatives are yet to set their state convention — the chairman’s support is key, especially if it comes to fending off potential rivals for either the GOP or Conservative Party ballot lines.
The Republican nominee in 2010, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, has threatened to seek the influential third-party line for governor or create his own line to run. Paladino is dissatisfied that Astorino has not called for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos or Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb to resign.
Long has indicated he doesn’t want to get involved in the Paladino effort oust the legislative leaders.
The chairman praised Astorino’s decision to hold his first formal event as a gubernatorial candidate in the Bronx.
“One of the reasons why he went to the Bronx is people in the Bronx are suffering,” he said. “It’s one of the poorest areas in the United States of America and they’ve been left out. He’s not going to be a traditional Republican that stays out of certain areas.”
Astorino in the announcement on the steps of the Bronx Surrogate Courthouse pledged to visit non-traditional stops for Republicans.
This is a similar strategy he employed as county executive, making in-roads with African-American communities in Mount Vernon, a predominantly black and poor city in Westchester County.
“He’s not going to leave anybody behind,” Long said.
At the same time, Long said he was impressed by Astorino’s brief foray into speaking Spanish at the end of the event.
“I think Andrew Cuomo has already signed up for Rosetta Stone and is going for lesson,” Long said.
Mar 6th - 10:42 am
Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino formally launched his bid for governor against Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo on Thursday — a campaign that faces a steep uphill climb against a better known and better funded Democrat
Astorino, however, indicated he was undaunted by the challenge at a kick-off rally in the Bronx.
“No one goes to the Olympics to get the Silver medal,” Astorino told reporters. “I’m in this to win it. I will win this.”
The GOP hopeful chose the Bronx for his first event of his multi-day announcement tour that will take him to Buffalo later today.
On Friday, he travels to Rochester, Syracuse and Albany.
Noting that the borough is one of the more economically troubled areas of the state, he ended the event in Spanish.
His candidacy will focus on economic issues and knock Cuomo for not doing enough to stem the loss of the upstate population.
“New Yorkers deserve a much better state than they are getting today,” he said.
While he may face some challenges in the path for the GOP nomination, the county executive received a boost from Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long who appeared at the event.
Prominently standing behind Astorino, Long held an Astorino-for-governor sign in a signal he was endorsing him.
Having Long’s support is key for any Republican candidate running statewide.
Astorino will be a guest on Capital Tonight this evening.
Mar 6th - 7:33 am
State lawmakers are in Albany for one more day of the session this week and then it’s back to their districts and the Rob Astorino campaign for governor officially begins.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.
At 8:35 a.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be a guest on HOT 97 in the city.
At 8:45 a.m., the TWU Local 100 union officials at Mile Square School Bus will hold a demonstration to demand wage parity with other Yonkers-based companies. 700, Nepperhan Ave., Yonkers.
At 9 a.m., Stroock Government Relations will host a panel discussion featuring the five city borough presidents, 180 Maiden Lane, Conference Room 38 F and G, Manhattan.
At 9:45 a.m., Sen. David Valesky and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi will call for an overhaul in the Board of Regents diploma standard. LCA Press Room in the Legislative Office Building, Albany.
At 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino holds his first press conference of a campaign announcement tour in the Bronx at the surrogate courthouse steps, 851 Grand Concourse.
Senate session is at 11 a.m.
Also at 11 a.m., the Real Affordability for All launches backing de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 11:45 a.m. Public Advocate Letitia James and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will call for the 11 vacant sats in the state Legislature to be filled with special elections.
At noon, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and labor rights advocates for an announcement, Office of the New York State Attorney General, 120 Broadway, 25th floor, Manhattan
At 12:05, Mayor de Blasio will tour a pre-K classroom with Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, followed by a 12:20 p.m. media availability, Catherine Corry Academy, Saint Francis of Assisi School, 4321 Barnes Ave., Bronx.
At 1:30, Gov. Cuomo and Dolan will speak at the dedication for a memorial of non-Jews who worked to save victims of the Holocaust at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.
At 3 p.m., the Astorino for governor tour heads to Buffalo where he’ll campaign with Rep. Chris Collins, Zeptometrix Corporation, 878 Main St., Buffalo.
At 4 p.m., the state Transportation Department will hold an open house event on the High Speed Rail Empire Corridor, Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, 263 Michigan Ave., Buffalo. A public hearing will be held at 6 p.m.
At 6:30 p.m., Schneiderman will host a forum on labor rights at the Gregorio Luperón High School, 501 W. 165th St., Manhattan.
A Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll found Gov. Cuomo’s job approval rating dropped to 42 percent, and tumbled by 21 percentage points among Latino voters.
This comes as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino launches his campaign for governor, but polls show he faces a steep climb to defeat Cuomo.
Astorino’s tour will take him to Buffalo and the Bronx, plus stops to upstate cities on Friday.
Time Warner Cable News begins an in-depth look at educating inmates in prison.
Former Cuomo aide Rich Bamberger is spearheading a media campaign designed to get insurers in the exchange to offer out-of-network benefits.
A measure designed to delay provisions of the Common Core standards was approved by the state Assembly, but is not expected to be taken up in the Senate.
The New York Times: “At every turn, Governor Cuomo has not only stymied the mayor, but also seized the moment for his own gain.”
Michael Powell: Cuomo is outfoxing de Blasio at every turn.
Nevertheless, it’s not entirely clear what Cuomo means when he says he will “save” charter schools in the city and state.
But the fight over charter schools is putting the issue on the national stage, the Post writes.
De Blasio is pushing for savings in contract talks with city employees.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos says there’s a divide over aspects of the budget, but he predicted the spending plan will be on time.
Airbnb had front-and-center status at Brooklyn Night in Albany this week.
Sen. Mark Grisanti is receiving support for his re-election from a dozen GOP officials.
Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei supported a measure designed to delay penalties for those who fail to buy insurance in the health exchange.
Rookie legislators pushing bill that would end the pensions of corrupt officials.
A coalition of women’s groups and elected officials pushed for public campaign financing saying it will mean more women are elected to public office.
Republicans are making hay out of an FEC complaint leveled at Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge.
NCPR caught up with the elusive Democratic candidate in the North Country Aaron Woolf, who insisted he isn’t staying out of sight.
Warren County Republicans won’t enforce a “loyalty clause” — a development that could make it easier for members to support House candidate Matt Doheny over the county’s preferred candidate, Elise Stefanik.
The MTA is trying to recoup $28,000 from a Long Island woman after they said a pension calculation error was made.
City officials in Troy back an effort to allow residents and members of the public to film the police.
Albany residents raised concerns — as they have over the last several months — over oil train shipments into the city.
A state agreement with Facebook will require the website to delete postings seeking illegal purchases of firearms.
Mar 6th - 1:16 am
It appears Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins will have a challenger for this fall’s midterm election. The Erie County Republican Committee confirmed Wednesday Night that Kathy Weppner will announce her candidacy in New York’s 26th Congressional District, Friday morning.
The former conservative radio talk show host will make it official during a press conference at Amherst Town Hall. A well-known caller, Weppner was given her own weekend show on WBEN before leaving the station in November of 2012.
Weppner announced on her website this week she’d be challenging Higgins:
“I want you to join me in a fight to take back Washington and return it to the people. This is not a Republican, Democrat, Conservative or Independent fight. This is an American fight and we better rise up together before it is too late! Elect me to represent you and I will fight for the liberty, freedom and prosperity that brave Americans have fought and died for. All of our futures and the future of those we love depend on us to do this.”
Taking on Higgins won’t be easy. The incumbent Democrat has name recognition and a significant Democratic enrollment advantage in the district.
Weppner may even have to win over some in her own party. Several well-known Western New York Republicans have not only supported the South Buffalo Democrat, they’ve raised money for him.
Higgins has not made an official announcement but his supporters are already passing out petitions.
Mar 6th - 12:14 am
Just hours after officially entering the Governor’s race, Rob Astorino announced Western New York would be one of his first stops. Given the extra attention paid to the region by Governor Cuomo, local Republican leaders aren’t surprised.
“It’s important for any candidate for statewide office to travel the state as much as they possibly can. They need to get in front of people. He won’t just come here to do a press conference. He’ll certainly meet with business leaders and people in the community,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.
Gaining Langworthy’s support seems like a must for any candidate wanting to win the GOP nomination. Langworthy helped engineer Carl Paladino’s unlikely primary upset out of Buffalo in 2010.
Both Astorino and potential Republican candidate Donald Trump have already appeared at fundraising events for the Erie County Republican Committee. Langworthy told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen Wednesday he’s still not ready to make an endorsement.
“I’ve said I wouldn’t endorse candidates until they declared their formal candidacy. Rob now has. We’ll see if we have one candidate or two candidates,” Langworthy said.
Langworthy has been supportive of Astorino, but, like many Republican County Chairs, he’s waiting to see if Trump is still interested before giving out his coveted endorsement.
“Do we have one have candidate or two candidates that want the endorsement? We will hear from Donald Trump on Tuesday in Syracuse as to what maybe his plans might be. I haven’t talked to him in about a week but looking forward to hear what he has to say when he visits Syracuse,” said Langworthy.
Astorino will appear at the ZeptoMetrix Corporation headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo Thursday Afternoon with Republican Congressman, and former Erie County Executive, Chris Collins. Collins a shareholder in the company, and was not available for comment on Wednesday.
“They have a longstanding relationship back to when they served together as county executives and they have a great appreciation of one another. So he may very well endorse him. I do not know if he will or not,” said Langworthy.
No matter who wins the GOP nomination to challenge Governor Cuomo, Langworthy believes the party’s running mate should come from Western New York. State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s name was mentioned as a possible Lt. Governor candidate Wednesday and Langworthy loved the idea.
“I think they share a lot of common values. I think she has fought for the same common sense business perspectives that we need in Albany, not just more of the same special interest nonsense. She would be a great Lieutenant Governor for any Governor,” Langworthy added.
The Erie County Republican Committee has its regional screening meeting April 12. It’s hoping to vet as many statewide candidates as possible, including gubernatorial candidates.
No matter what happens, Langworthy hopes the party will unite behind one candidate.
Mar 5th - 8:11 pm
The Democratic-led Assembly approved a measure on Wednesday that would delay the implementation of Common Core standards for teacher evaluations and student assessments for the next two years.
The bill, which passed 117-10, is a direct rebuke at the state’s much-maligned roll out of the standards by the Department of Education.
At the same time, the measure addresses privacy concerns raised by the collection of student data through an online portal — a move that will be pushed back from September to July 2015.
“I think we’ve finally recognized that it is going to take legislation to finally put the breaks on what has been a debacle,” said Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.
While Senate Republicans have rejected the Assembly bill directly, they have not taken up the legislation in that chamber.
An amendment from Assembly Republicans that would have withdrew the state temporarily from Common Core entirely, was beat back by Democrats who claimed it would have resulted in the loss of federal funds.
Still, the concerns over the Common Core roll out of united the strange political bedfellows of conservatives in the Legislature and lawmakers who are generally supportive of teachers unions.
“The roll out of the Titanic went better than the Common Core,” Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said on the floor during the debate over the amendment.
The measure itself that was approved wasn’t resoundingly embraced by rank-and-file Democrats, either. Assembly sources said the reaction to the bill in a closed-door conference was mixed at best, with some members register problems with the scope of the legislation.
“It doesn’t cover everything, but at least it gets us closer to somewhere toward reform,” said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes during the floor debate.
The measure comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created an education panel to study and recommend changes to the implementation of the standards.
He wants a legislative package to be voted on by June, but some observers at the Capitol believe the standards could be packaged together in the budget negotiations.
The governor has strongly registered his opposition to any changes to the teacher evaluation law approved last year.
Mar 5th - 5:24 pm
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will move to dismiss ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s lawsuit that sought to scuttle a law banning biased-based profiling and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue the NYPD for racial profiling.
The Republican Governors Association was quick to praise Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s entry into the gubernatorial race.
Democratic NY-21 candidate Aaron Woolf plans to make himself available to the press – just not now.
“(Woolf) struck me then as a great guy to sit down and have a beer with. But we don’t elect candidates based on their charm.”
Joe Torre stars in a new “I (Heart) NY” tourism ad about Cooperstown.
New York City first lady Chirlane McCray will lobby for her husband’s pre-kindergarten plan in Albany next week.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos has softened his opposition to some forms of medical marijuana.
After pressure from gun control advocates and AG Eric Schneiderman, Facebook announced new policies to prevent people from using the site to illegally sell guns.
Facebook acted after a six-week online campaign by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns – Bloomberg-funded gun control advocacy organizations.
Sen. Chuck Schumer is lamenting the trade today that sent Rangers captain and Rochester native Ryan Callahan from New York to Tampa Bay.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said a space “crisis” in New York City schools should be fixed before Cuomo helps secure space for charter schools.
Rep. Dan Maffei broke with House Democrats again today to help Republicans pass a bill that delays penalties if individuals fail to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Hudson Valley Republicans sent a complaint to the FEC alleging Democratic congressional candidate accepted an illegal in-kind donation from a local economic group.
A church in Troy is giving away a “legally modified” AR-15 at an event focused on whether the Bible defends the right to keep and bear arms.
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Richard Cooper formally filed his paperwork with the state Board of Elections.
The Bloomberg Administration shelled out a record amount of overtime to municipal workers in 2013 – nearly $1.5 billion.
Every freshmen member of the Assembly has signed on to a bill that would strip public officials convicted of felony corruption of their pensions.
The DOT has fined CSX Railroad a total of $10,000 for failing to report as required two derailments last week that involved tank cars transporting crude oil.
Bloomberg will be the principal speaker at Harvard’s 363rd commencement.
Mar 5th - 4:22 pm
Polls show Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has a ways to go to raise his statewide name recognition as he runs for governor, and he may want to start with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The longtime Assembly speaker at a news conference this morning incorrectly referred to the GOP gubernatorial candidate by the incorrect name when asked about the campaign.
“I really don’t know Bob Astorino at all, so I can’t tell you,” Silver said, shrugging. “But I think the governor’s record will speak for himself and I anticipate he’ll have an overwhelming victory in this state.”
Now, there are a few ways to read this.
Silver may have simply flubbed his name. Or the “mistake” may not have been much of an error at all. There’s a long, glorious history in politics of purposely mispronouncing an opponent’s name just to tweak them a bit.
Updated: Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly in a statement noted “everyone now knows who Sheldon Silver is” thanks to the spate of sexual harassment scandals in the chamber.
“One of the great tragedies in this state is that everyone now knows who Sheldon Silver is. He’s that guy who tried to pay off victims of sexual assault with taxpayer money — you know, the one who’s rear end was saved by Andrew Cuomo,” O’Reilly said. “Yes, that very guy whom newspaper editorial boards from around the state called on to resign. Everyone knows his name.”
Mar 5th - 3:19 pm
A coalition of business groups — including several organizations that have been strongly allied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo — sent a joint letter to his office on Wednesday raising concerns with design-build language in his $142 billion budget proposal that would, among other things, require project-labor agreements.
“Delivering projects faster saves taxpayers’ money, creates good paying, private sector construction jobs, and results in stronger communities with safer infrastructure,” they wrote. “Including arbitrary and unnecessary labor requirements on the program will have the opposite effect. Our organizations strongly oppose mandating PLAs in conjunction with design-build projects, and urge this proposal to be removed before the 2014-15 state budget is finalized.”
The design-build process, of course, was enshrined in the state’s law for five agencies back in the December 2011 session to use the alternative project deliver method for public works projects.
Cuomo’s original budget proposal would have made the design-build law, which is due to expire, permanent.
At the same time, the spending plan would have extended design-build to local governments for projects over $50,000.
But in Cuomo’s 30-day amendments, the design-build language changed.
Now the law would be granted a three-year extension as opposed to a permanent one.
Local governments were also removed, and project-labor agreements would be mandated on all design-build projects worth more than $10 million.
The business groups aren’t happy with the changes to a measure they had feted less than three years ago — especially the project-labor stipulation, according to the letter.
“This provision will stifle the progress that New York State has made in infrastructure improvement and storm recovery efforts. Requiring the use of PLAs on design-build projects will negate all of the program’s potential benefits, rendering the application of design-build useless,” the wrote.
Mar 5th - 3:11 pm
Lobbyists may be prohibited from buying lawmakers’ drinks, but apparently what goes underneath those drinks is fair game.
A reader forwarded this photo of a coaster that has been popping up in bars all over Albany, compliments of the state’s libraries.
The coaster is simple, direct and memorable way for libraries to urge legislators to fully fund their state aid at $102 million, as stiuplated in state Education Law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget included a 4.7 percent cut to library aid, providing just $81.6 million — the same amount that libraries and library systems received 16 years ago in 1997.
The coasters have been making appearances at establishments frequented by both legislators and legislative aids. This photo was taken at Pinto & Hobbs Tavern on Washington Avenue, but the coasters have also been spotted at Center Square Pub and LAX Lounge, and anecdotal reports place them at McGeary’s and The Victory Cafe, too.
So far, no one I’ve spoken to can recall ever seeing this tried before.
UPDATE: Mike Neppl, director of government affairs for the New York Library Association, sent me the following explanation of this initiative:
“NYLA is a statewide organization with 4000 active members, but we have a small staff. I needed a time and cost efficient way to get our message to policymakers that funding should reflect what New Yorkers have long recognized – libraries are a core component of our state’s educational infrastructure on which our children, families and seniors rely.”
“Having worked in government, I know that breaking through the wall of noise is difficult. So, why not get our message in people’s hands after-hours when they’re a bit more relaxed and might be more receptive? They’ve been in action for a week or so, and have gotten a great reception from members and staffers. Plus, they’re different. NYLA brought me on to ramp up our advocacy efforts and do things differently.”