Astorino Campaign: It’s ‘Clear’ Christie Won’t Help

The gubernatorial campaign of Republican Rob Astorino on Thursday said the trip to the Republican Governors Association in Colorado this week “made it clear” that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won’t support the effort to unseat Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

“The Aspen trip made it clear that governors from around the nation will be helping County Executive Astorino become Governor Astorino,” said spokeswoman Jessica Proud. “It also made it clear that RGA Chairman Chris Christie will not be among them. We can live with that and we will move on.”

The campaign also confirmed the RGA had reached out to the Astorino campaign, telling the GOP candidate not to attend the meeting, as first reported by CNN.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — two potential rivals for Christie in a presidential primary in 2016 — told Astorino to ignore the snub and come to the meeting anyway.

Astorino told Fred Dicker in a radio interview this morning he had secured the support of Perry and Jindal, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Hayley.

Christie this week said the RGA wouldn’t invest in “landslides” when asked if he’d offer any help to Astorino in New York.

Astorino responded that Christie’s hesitation could come in part because of the swirling “bridgegate” scandal.

Klein Endorsed By Supreme Court Officers Association

The labor group that represents State Supreme Court officers on Thursday endorsed Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein’s re-election.

“Senator Klein has constantly demonstrated his support of our members by cutting through Albany partisanship to enact meaningful legislation that benefits our members, their families and all New Yorkers,” said Patrick Cullen, the president of the New York State Supreme Court Officers Association.

Klein faces former city Councilman Oliver Koppell in a Democratic primary that was initially fueled in part by the IDC’s coalition with Senate Republicans. Klein and IDC have agreed to form a new coalition with the mainline Democratic conference after Election Day.

“I’m pleased to receive the endorsement of the New York State Supreme Court Officers, who keep our courtrooms safe and orderly each and everyday. I’m proud to be a voice for their hardworking members and all hardworking families across this state,” Klein said.

Cuomo Convenes Wage Board For Tipped Workers

The state Department of Labor on Thursday was directed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to convene a wage board in order to recommend potential changes to the state’s minimum wage for tipped workers.

“When the legislature enacted my proposal to increase the minimum wage, thousands of New Yorkers saw their economic prospects improve,” Cuomo said. “Now, to build on that momentum I am directing Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera to call a Wage Board and hold public hearings to ensure fairness and determine if changes need to be made to the regulations that govern the rates paid to service workers.”

The minimum wage at the end of last year increased by 75 cents to $8, the product of a 2013 agreement that will phase in the minimum wage to $9 by the end of 2015.

Advocates for increasing the minimum wage were not pleased with the compromise, however, pointing to a lack of protections in the legislation for tipped workers such as waiters, who often make less than minimum wage as base pay.

The wage board will be tasked with review current regulations for tipped workers earning less than the wage, the governor’s office said.

Cuomo, under pressure from liberal advocacy groups, labor unions and the Working Families Party, agreed in May to support an even higher increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 in addition to local control for hiking the wage based on a state formula.

The wage board is due to include Business Council President Heather Briccetti, Hotel Trade Council President Peter Ward and former Broome County Executive Timothy Grippen.

The governor’s power to convene the board is one that minimum wage supporters have long pointed to as a way for Cuomo to shore up the current wage laws.

Astorino Calls For Special Prosecutor In Moreland Case

A special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s involvement in the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino said in a radio interview this morning.

Astorino told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show the special prosecutor should be appointed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and act on a parallel track to the work being done by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office assumed control of records generated by the now shuttered commission.

“This is beyond outrageous,” Astorino said. “Obviously, it’s criminal.”

Astorino, along with Cuomo’s potential Democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout, have sought to capitalize in the last two days on a lengthy New York Times story detailing Cuomo’s involvement in the commission’s work, as well as the involvement of his top aide, Larry Schwartz.

Astornio said it’s unlikely Schwartz for the most part was acting alone.

“Every step of the way he took orders from Andrew Cuomo,” Astorino said.

Astorino has insisted Cuomo’s transgressions in the commission make for one of the worst corruption scandals in state history.

“In a way, what Eliot Spitzer did was nothing compared to this,” he said.

Cuomo’s office has insisted the commission was always a creature of the executive branch and not meant to be an independent arm, though the governor at one point said the panel could investigate whatever it wanted.

Christie Won’t Help Astorino, But Four Other Governors Will

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Thursday said in a radio interview four sitting GOP governors — some of whom have presidential ambitions — will campaign for him here in New York.

“We kind of agreed to disagree on this one and we move on,” Astorino said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show.

While Christie won’t be helping him, Astorino says he’s lined up the support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Perry’s Twitter feed posted last night a photo of him with his arm around Astorino at the RGA meeting.

But Astorino, in Aspen for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, indicated a meeting with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not go well.

Christie, the RGA chairman, said this week he was unlikely to help Astorino against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo given the incumbent’s broad lead in public opinion polls.

Astorino, in turn, questioned whether Christie was prevented from helping him because Cuomo may have a “handshake” agreement stemming from the George Washington Bridge land closure controversy.

Having outside help from deep-pocketed governors would be key for Astorino, who lags behind Cuomo in fundraising and name recognition.

Nevertheless, Astorino has seized on The New York Times’ story this week detailing the governor’s office’s involvement in directing and blocking subpoenas from the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.

Astorino said some attendees at the RGA had their “jaws drop” when reading the Moreland story.

Cuomo Opponents Pounce On Moreland

Political opponents of Governor Andrew Cuomo were quick to pounce on an exhaustive New York Times story revealing how a top aide played a key role in directing and blocking subpoenas from the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, created last year.

The story that chronicled the governor’s involvement in the commission, as well as his secretary Larry Schwartz, provided new ammunition to the candidates running against Cuomo this elections season.

Zephyr Teachout, a Democratic candidate for governor and Fordham law professor, previously blasted Cuomo for his handling of ethics in Albany.

Gov, Andrew Cuomo should resign if he directed or even knew what his top aide was doing obstructing with the anti-corruption commission.

Teachout said the governor needs to explain his role in the Moreland Commission’s investigation.

“The people of New York deserve to know. Governor Cuomo needs to come clean immediately about what he knew his top aide was doing,” Teachout said.

While the Times story is a black eye for the governor, it remains to be seen whether his opponents can gain any traction off it. Cuomo leads Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino by 37 percentage points, according to a Siena college poll released this week.

Astorino on Wednesday blasted Cuomo’s apparent hypocrisy of campaigning in 2010 on reforming Albany’s often murky ethics and failing to do so.

“It’s galling that a man who rode in to be a white knight is actually knee deep in scandal right now. Mr. Cuomo needs to come clean and he needs to do that right now,” said Astorino.

In response to the Westchester County Republican, the Cuomo campaign said it takes nerve for Astorino to criticize Cuomo on ethics, citing his $30,000 paycheck for an outside consulting job.

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who registered six percent in that poll, says it could turn the election’s focus to ethics.

“This just corroborates what we already had an inkling was going on. I came out here saying we need a debate on jobs, but after reading that we need a debate on ethics and campaign finance reform,” Hawkins said.

Astorino, meanwhile, traveled to the Republican Governors Association meeting in Aspen to meet with donors and RGA Chairman Chris Christie.

The meeting with Astorino and Christie would come two days after Christie declared the GOP candidate in New York was unlikely to defeat Cuomo. Astorino told reporters he plans to bring a copy of the day’s New York Times.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. (This changed late last night, he was supposed to be in NYC).

At 10 a.m., State Comptroller Tom 10 a.m. DiNapoli announces a fiscal profile, City Hall, 42 Ridge St., Glens Falls.

At 10:15 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol” with host Fred Dicker.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, joined by community officials and others, discusses the release of his office’s audit of the New York City Housing Authority; Raymond V. Ingersoll Houses, 120 Navy Walk, Brooklyn.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton and Eric Garner’s family meet with the U.S. Attorney of the Civil Rights Division for the Eastern District, at Camdan Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro presides over promotion ceremony for 106 FDNY members; Christian Cultural Center, 120-20 Flatlands Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will formally endorse Dr. Terrence Murphy of Yorktown for SD-40, 39 Mt. Ebo Road South, Brewster.

At 11:20 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on AM970 The Answer with host John Gambling.

At 1 p.m., opponents of horse-drawn carriages participate in a demonstration sponsored by the animal rights organization NYCLASS; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1:06 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on WXXI with host Evan Dawson.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds its Stated Meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m. (Italian time), NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will speak at a public ceremony with the Mayor of Grassano Francesco Sanseverino, Palazzo Materi.

At 4:30 p.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, Tim Wu, hold a press conference calling on Cuomo to “come clean” on interference in the Moreland Commission corruption investigations, outside Cuomo’s NYC office, 633 3rd Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Good government activists called on Cuomo to address the NYT bombshell on his administration’s interference with his now-defunct corruption-busting Moreland Commission, but he declined to say anything beyond the 13-page response he provided to the paper.

The story threatens to turn what was a “sleepy” re-election campaign for Cuomo into an effort dominated by the touchy subject of corruption – which Cuomo himself said he was targeting by creating the commission in the first place.

The NYT followed up its report with an editorial on Cuomo’s “broken promises.”

“While the governor has the legal right to involve himself in the workings of a Moreland panel, do he or his staffers face steeper legal peril because this panel was also empowered as deputy attorneys general?”

The governor made no public appearances yesterday and released no statements in response to the Moreland Commission story, but he did sign a bill into law that cracks down on pet theft and mistreatment.

Phil Reisman, in a “Spaceballs” reference: “The Schwartz is definitely with Cuomo.”

Josh Benson says the NYT report should “permanently banish the idea that Cuomo will ever put any skin in the game when he talks about reform.”

LG Bob Duffy declined to give his thoughts on Cuomo’s handling of the commission, saying he did not have “any direct knowledge” of it workings.

New York’s credit rating was raised to AA+ from AA by Standard & Poor’s, which cited strong fiscal management after Cuomo won his fourth consecutive on-time budget. This is the highest rating for the state since 1972.

The Cuomo campaign is now challenging both the petitions and the residency of the governor’s Democratic primary challenger, Zephyr Teachout.

Some attendees at the funeral for Eric Garner, the man who died while in NYPD custody after being put in an apparent chokehold, were upset NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t cut his Italy vacation short to be there.

While in Italy, the mayor ate pizza with a knife and fork – again.

Speaking at the funeral, the Rev. Al Sharpton called for “justice” for Garner and peaceful protests in response to his death.

Sharpton said Team de Blasio is different, compared to how Bloomberg and his police commissioner handled emergencies, and vastly different from Giuliani.

A top de Blasio administration lawyer infuriated cops by tweeting about how the city failed Garner — even as the investigation into his death remains open.

More >

GOP Mayor Hoping to Replace Maziarz Gets Two More Endorsements

North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt picked up two more endorsements Wednesday night in his bid to replace retiring New York State Senator George Maziarz. Ortt was endorsed by the Conservative and the Independence Parties in the 62nd State Senate District.

“What Albany needs is someone who will bring the leadership of a veteran and experience of a chief executive to represent the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe Counties,” said Ortt.

Ortt has already received the backing of the Republican Party.  To appeal to conservatives Ortt has not only promoted his combat service in Afghanistan, he also pledged this week to repeal the New York SAFE Act.

Senator Maziarz, who voted against the SAFE Act, has been criticized by conservatives for not doing enough to repeal it.  Maziarz announced his retirement this month just days before it was revealed a federal investigation was launched into his campaign spending.

“As Senator, I will work toward a smaller, more common sense government that respects the rights of our citizens and the rights of my neighbors. That’s what we have done in North Tonawanda, together, and what we will work to do in Albany,” Ortt added.

Conservative Gia Arnold is challenging Ortt in a Republican Primary.  Niagara Falls resident Johnny Destino is running on the Democratic line.

New York’s 62nd Senate District includes all of Niagara and Orleans counties, as well as the towns of Sweden and Ogden.

Extras

Onondaga County DA Bill Fitzpatrick insists Larry Schwartz never directed him to stop any investigations or subpoenas when he chaired the Moreland Commission.

Democratic Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins defended the governor’s interference in the commission, echoing the administration’s “well, he created it” argument.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino expects “indictments and criminal charges” as a result of the NYT’s Moreland story.

Even after its disbandment in April, five staffers from the defunct commission remain on the state payroll - including its former executive director at a salary of $175,000 a year.

NY-19 Democratic candidate Sean Eldridge is wealthy now, but he once worked at a Taco Bell drive-through.

John Degnan has taken over as the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will be feted like a prodigal son returning home when he visits the small town in southern Italy where his grandfather was born.

Following Eric Garner’s death while in NYPD custody, NYCLU and labor groups are pushing Cuomo to veto a bill they say would hamstring the ability of local governments to discipline police for misconduct.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito refused to say race was a factor in Garner’s death.

CBS’ “Late Show” will remain in New York City after David Letterman retires and Stephen Colbert takes over next year.

…that’s thanks to at least $16 million in state tax breaks and cash.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg released details of his trip to Israel, which he made to show it’s safe to fly into and out of the country.

Jennifer Rubin suggests Bloomberg should challenge Hillary Clinton from the left in 2016.

Bloomberg had a tense interview with CNN host Wolf Blitzer, in which he accused Blitzer of “insulting” America.

The thirteen “best” New York restaurants NOT in NYC – agree or disagree?

Eight Queens Library trustees were booted thanks to their opposition to ousting their free-spending director.

State Education Commissioner John King will be releasing ”instructional reports” on this year’s Grade 3-8 English and math tests early.

Astorino Seeks Detente With Christie, Capitalize On Moreland Missteps

As he hopes to persuade New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to give his candidacy against Andrew Cuomo another look, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino joked he brought a copy of today’s New York Times with him to the meeting of the Republican Governors Association in Colorado.

Christie this week said he had no plans at the moment to aid Astorino’s campaign, which trails Cuomo in public opinion polls.

Astorino, in turn, responded that Christie should potentially step down as head of the RGA, especially if there’s a “handshake” agreement over potentially disclosing more damaging information in the controversy over the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

In conference call with reporters this afternoon, Astorino said he’ll be speaking with Christie while he’s in Aspen today for the RGA’s meeting, suggesting he’ll bring up today’s exhaustive New York Times report on Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.

“Same thing I said to him yesterday,” Astorino said when asked about talking to the likely presidential candidate, “but now I’ve brought a copy of The New York Times with me.”

Astorino added he expects Christie to campaign for him at some point. He also expects other Republican governors to come to New York and campaign for him (Astorino has spoken approvingly of Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker).

“You’ll be seeing that in the weeks to come,” he said when asked which governors will come. “They’ll be coming to New York.”

Astorino used the conference call to again blast Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission as well as his office’s involvement, suggesting the governor’s office broke the law where to issue subpoenas from the panel.

“We’ve seen a govrnor resign over a personal indiscretion,” Astorino said in the conference call. “This is certainly a matter of public trust, of public law.”

Astorino pointed out the commission’s members were deputized by the state attorney general’s office.

“This was not an advisory board that reports to the governor. This was a separate independent commission that was looking into corruption wherever it led. And when it led to the governor’s office it was turned away. It was quashed,” he said. “That’s obstructionist of justice.”

The real test for Astorino though is whether the Moreland issue as any legs for voters, who have shown to care about economic and education issues.

Astorino suggested it could move voters, tying ethical wrongdoing to a “corruption tax.”

“If we can’t have honest officials, then everything else falls by the wayside,” he said.

Updated: Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann released this statement, pointing to the Westchester County executive’s outside consulting job.

“It takes a lot of nerve for Westchester’s king of cronyism to launch attacks on ethics. Rob Astorino should come clean on his outside income and the raises he’s given to political allies.”