Dems Call For GOP To Denounce ‘Rigged Election’ Comments

Leaders of the Erie County Democratic Committee are putting the pressure on their Republican counterparts. They called for members of the GOP in Western New York to denounce the remarks made by Donald Trump during last night’s debate regarding whether he would accept the outcome of the election.

Trump would not commit when pushed by moderator Chris Wallace. The Republican nominee has repeatedly claimed on the campaign trail that he believes the election is being rigged against him.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said while some Republicans have already disavowed the statements, party members in WNY are trying to avoid the conversation.

“All across the board you have lots of candidates, lots of Republicans who are trying to hide after many months of being ‘Rah-Rah’ and supporting Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a danger to our democracy. Donald Trump is willing to put himself before our democratic institution,” he said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who is also the state Democratic Party chairman, said while he has heard many surprising things from Trump throughout the election cycle, this was the most surprising.

“One of our major principles has been the free and fair transfer of power in this country. For an candidate running for president, the Republican nominee, to say he potentially would not abide by the results of the election, by people of every state in this nation speaking for who they want to elect as their president – it threatens our very democracy,” he said.

Congressional candidate Diana Kastenbaum and state Legislature candidates Steve Meyer and Amber Small also spoke at the press conference Thursday afternooon. They specifically called on their opponents to address Trump.

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy and State Chair Ed Cox are holding a joint media availability Friday afternoon.

Cuomo’s Office Reiterates: No Collusion On Bridgegate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Thursday once again refuted the testimony at the ongoing trial in New Jersey over the lane closures that he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussed a never-released report that would have given an alternative reason for the closures.

Testimony was given today by Scott Rechler, a former vice chairman at the Port Authority appointed by Cuomo.

“Gov. Cuomo told me that in one of his conversations he was having with Gov. Christie, Gov. Christie mentioned to him that David Samson was, once again, complaining about Pat Foye interfering, getting involved with politics,” Rechler said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Former Christie ally David Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty in connection to the scheme to close the lanes on the bridge out of political revenge, testified earlier this month the governors discussed a report that would have blamed the closures on a traffic study. The report was never released.

But in a statement from Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s office reiterated the New York-appointed executive director Pat Foye was the whistle blower in the case. The statement insists there was “no conversation” between both governors on a narrowly defined plan to have Executive Director Pat Foye stand down. Cuomo at the time the scandal was unfolding insisted his primary source of information on the lane closures was from the media.

“Today’s testimony confirms what we have said all along and further disproves Mr. Wildstein’s false hearsay testimony from earlier this month. There were long time tensions between New York and New Jersey staff at the Port Authority before, during and after Bridgegate that were discussed at all levels. That’s well known and was brought to light again in today’s testimony,” Azzopardi said. “However, there was no conversation between the Governors concerning a ‘plan’ to have Pat Foye stand down or to have the issue ‘whitewashed’ through a report. Pat Foye was in fact a whistle-blower – he never stood down and no report was ever prepared or issued.”

Langworthy Calls Upon Small To Cancel Fundraiser Hosted By ‘Disgraced’ State Senator

The Erie County Republican Committee is calling upon Democratic state Senate candidate Amber Small to cancel a fundraiser scheduled for this evening. The event is hosted by incumbent senators Marc Panepinto and Tim Kennedy at Panepinto’s law office in Buffalo.

Small received the Democratic endorsement for the 60th District earlier this year after Panepinto announced he would not seek re-election, amid rumors of alleged misconduct in his office. He said he was not running again for both personal and professional reasons, vaguely referencing a staff turnover issue in his office.

The Buffalo News reported shortly after the March press conference that the Legislature’s Joint Committee On Public Ethics (JCOPE) had opened up a preliminary investigation into complaints surrounding Panepinto’s office. We also learned a former female staffer had retained an attorney.

GOP boss Nick Langworthy said Small, who had initially intended to run in a primary against Panepinto, shouldn’t now accept his support.

“From a self-described reformer to a politician cozying up to a walking ethics violation like Senator Panepinto, all in six short months – that’s a head-spinning transformation,” Langworthy said. “Western New Yorkers know Amber Small has set a record for the fastest sprint to the Albany feeding trough.”

The race between Small and Republican Chris Jacobs is one of the most high-profile in the state, as both parties are jockeying for control of the Senate. Both candidates have received significant support from outside interests already.

We’ve reached out to the Small campaign for a response.

Statewide Unemployment Ticks Upward

New York’s unemployment last month increased from 4.8 percent in August to 5 percent in September, the Department of Labor announced on Thursday.

The New York unemployment rate of 5 percent is the same as the overall nationwide unemployment rate of 5 percent.

The Department of Labor’s announcement, however, sought to put a rosy spin on the numbers, pointing to a year-over-year gain in jobs of 115,100 between September 2015 and last month.

Overall last month the private-sector job count decreased by 4,400.

Marcellino Calls For Mangano, Venditto To Resign

Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino in a statement Thursday called on both Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto to resign as they mount a defense to charges of bribery and contract rigging.

In the statement, Marcellino said he is “disappointed and outraged” by the allegations made against his fellow Republicans.

“These are serious charges,” he said. “I do not believe these officials can effectively lead the county or town and represent the people in the manner they deserve with this cloud over their heads. The best course of action for all parties involved is for them to step down from their posts, dedicate themselves to their defense and allow government to move forward with the public good being the sole focus.”

Marcellino is facing a stiff challenge for re-election to his Long Island Senate seat from Democrat Jim Gaughran, who has made the problems facing Oyster Bay an issue in his campaign. Gaughran and other Democratic Senate candidates earlier in the day also called on both Mangano and Venditto to step down.

Senate Dem Candidates Pounce On Corruption Arrests (Updated)

Senate Democrats are pressing their advantage after Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay town supervisor John Venditto were arrested by federal law enforcement on bribery and kickback charges.

Democrats had already sought to run competitive races in Nassau County Senate districts, including an open seat being vacated by incumbent GOP lawmaker Jack Martins as well as seats held by Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon.

Four of the Democrats running in Long Island races — Jim Gaughran, Ryan Cronin, Adam Haber and John Brooks — released statements blasting the corruption scandal and alleged kickback scheme that has also engulfed Mangano’s wife.

At the same time, Venditto is the father of Republican Sen. Michael Venditto, though he occupies what is considered a safe seat in the chamber and has not been charged in the case.

Gaughran, in particular, has sought to make the financial issues surrounding Oyster Bay a major theme of his campaign against Marcellino.

“This is a sad day, and an urgent reminder that we need to address public corruption and pass meaningful ethics reforms. All elected officials should be judged on what they have done to fight corruption, and my opponent, Carl Marcellino, has consistently enabled and supported Ed Mangano and John Venditto,” Gaughran said.

“Senator Marcellino’s longtime support of these two corrupt officials – both of whom should resign immediately – means he can’t be relied upon to bring the reform and change we so desperately need. As State Senator, I will fight to clean up Albany and root out corrupt officials on the state, county and local level.”

Long Island occupies some political importance for Republicans, given the power they held with the original “Long Island 9” bloc of GOP lawmakers, which was upended when Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky won the special election to fill the seat formerly held by Dean Skelos, the majority leader ousted after a corruption charge he is appealing.

“These politicians have spent years empowering Ed Mangano and John Venditto and protecting them as they abused their offices to line their pockets,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.

“Let’s be clear, the Nassau Republican Machine has done enormous damage to the residents, businesses and taxpayers of Long Island, and they are all to blame for the continued corruption festering on the Island. From supporting Dean Skelos to propping up Ed Mangano and John Venditto, every elected officials within the Nassau Republican establishment shares in the blame for the corruption and dysfunction which have plagued our communities for decades. These corruption enablers standing up now is not only laughable but offensive. It’s is easy to feign outrage after the fact but let’s be clear they are part of this Nassau Republican Criminal Enterprise.”

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“Senator Martins, Senator Hannon and Senator Marcellino and the Republican candidates who are running there have already called on the County Executive and Town Supervisor to resign. We have absolutely no tolerance for corruption of any kind, regardless of whether it is committed by a Democrat or Republican.

It’s important to note that the Senate Democrats were the subject of a very serious criminal referral and remain under investigation for an illegal scheme they hatched with Mayor de Blasio to circumvent the state’s campaign finance limits and steal the elections in 2014.”

Moody’s: Districts Will Have Limited Success At Overriding Tax Cap

School districts in 2017 are being handed a virtually flat property tax cap — a development that will likely force them to rely more on state aid as overrides will likely have limited success, according to an analysis released Thursday by Moody’s Investor Services.

The cap, which limits how much local governments and school districts can raise in property taxes, stands at 0.12 for school districts as a starting point.

“The close-to-flat allowable growth in the tax levy for fiscal 2017 will further deepen the financial challenges facing school districts,” Moody’s found.

“Allowable growth has fallen considerably since the cap was implemented, with the nearly 0% growth in fiscal 2017 further challenging districts already constrained by the cap. The limited growth strains property tax revenue generation, which is the largest revenue source for many districts.”

Attempting to override the cap has been an increasingly popular effort as the number of school districts in the 2017 fiscal year seeking to pierce it doubled it.

But Moody’s notes that while more than three-quarters of the 36 districts voting to override the measure were successful, marshaling the 60 percent of voters to do so remains a “relatively high hurdle.”

“With generally low voter support for piercing the cap, school districts may be forced to reduce fund balance levels to meet rising expenditures in the absence of revenue growth,” Moody’s found.

In some respect, that lack of revenue from taxpayers on the local level has been partially supplemented on the state level. After dipping to $19.5 billion in 2011-12, the state has gradually increased aid to school districts to $23.5 billion.

And it is not all bad news for budget officers at schools. Credit quality is expected to remain “relatively stable” in light of the cap. At the same time, school districts have seen modestly declining contribution rates to the state teacher retirement system.

“Growth in state aid has outpaced levy growth, benefiting less wealthy districts that tend to be more reliant on state funding,” the Moody’s report found. “All districts have received some relief in pension obligations, notably with the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System decreasing contribution rates in fiscal 2016 for the first time in five years.”

The tax cap limits levy growth to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Inflation has been low in the four years since the cap has been place, and some local government and school district advocates have called for a decoupling of the inflation index from the measure — a move Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rejected.

The Online Rent Wars Step Up

From the Morning Memo:

With a bill aimed at curtailing online rental companies like Airbnb in New York City sits on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk, a sustained effort is picking up to influence his decision.

Supporters of the bill — including affordable housing advocates and New York City tenants — are emailing Cuomo’s office urging him to sign the bill that would outlaw the advertising of multifamily dwellings on websites, a measure seen as being aimed squarely at Airbnb.

At the same time, advocates have in their first day generated hundreds of calls pushing the bill.

Proponents of the measure insist it is aimed at bolstering affordable housing in New York City and cracking down on so-called illegal hotels advertised online.

“Airbnb has been breaking the laws for years, and lining their pockets at the expense of our affordable housing stock,” said Michael McKee, the treasurer of Tenants PAC. “They have built a multi-billion empire by stealing thousands of housing units and driving up rents and displacing tenants. If Governor Cuomo wants to protect NYC tenants and not Silicon Valley billionaires, he will sign this bill into law.”

The campaign comes amid a renewed push from advocacy coalition like ShareBetter, which have sought to limit Airbnb’s impact on affordable housing in New York City.

Airbnb isn’t standing by, however.

In addition to funding an independent expenditure campaign aimed at lawmakers who backed the legislation earlier this year, the company released a memorandum on Wednesday signaling a more conciliatory tone on regulatory issues.

In a memorandum, the company proposed “simple, mandatory registration” for those offering short-term rentals.

At the same time, company proposed having hosts pay local and state lodging taxes.

“Unfortunately, current state law does not distinguish between everyday New Yorkers who occasionally rent out their homes to make ends meet and illegal hotel operators who remove permanent housing from the market,” the memo states.

“By embracing comprehensive reform that promotes responsible home sharing, we will not only help thousands of New Yorkers who share their homes as a way to pay the bills or make the mortgage, but will also support businesses in communities far beyond the traditional tourist hotspot of Midtown Manhattan.”

Sharing for a Stronger New York – Briefing Memo – 10192016 – Google Docs by Nick Reisman on Scribd

NY-19: Another Super PAC Enters The Fray

From the Morning Memo:

Yet another Super PAC has decided to weigh in on the NY-19 fight to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, adding to the rapidly mounting tally of outside spending on this hotly contested race. 

National Horizon, a conservative group, this morning is launching its first – and so far only – TV ad in New York, aiming to boost the Republican contender in this contest, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso. 

The ad echoes a theme Faso and his allies have been pushing hard lately, accusing the Democrat running in NY-19, Zephyr Teachout, of wanting to significantly raise a plethora of taxes. 

The script features a female narrator who says: 

“More of the same, that’s Zephyr Teachout. More taxes. More political double-talk. Teachout opposed a cap on property taxes here. She backed a new ten billion dollar tax on investments. and on energy, Professor Teachout wants something she calls a quote fee and dividend system, a quote tax is what regular folks might call it. Zephyr Teachout, more of the same with more taxes.”

Republican strategist Nelson Warfield, who has long been involved with National Horizon, said the Super PAC is spending about $150,000 on this ad, ($10,000 of that is to cover production costs), which will run on Albany-area network and cable stations for the next week. 

Warfield said National Horizon decided to get involved in this race because it believes Teachout “presents a unique threat to the public purse,” adding: “A kooky professor is fun at a cocktail party, but in Congress, it’s another matter entirely.” 

This is a potentially potent line of attack against Teachout, especially when it comes to her opposition of the popular property tax cap, which she first expressed in 2014 when she was challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. 

Teachout recently released a video explaining her position on taxes and pushing back against what she characterized as “lies” about her position. She expressed support for a circuit breaker, which is an idea long embraced by progressive advocates and organizations in New York. 

National Horizon hasn’t done much work in New York since 2012, when it spent $500,000 to assist Republican Wendy Long, who was then challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. 

Long ended up losing to Gillibrand in a landslide that year. She’s now running a long-shot campaign against the state’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer. 

Cuomo: ‘The Issue Is Economic Justice’

From the Morning Memo:

Celebrating the passage of a minimum wage increase approved earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday night took an impromptu trip to the New York Communities for Change Gala, saying the new defining issue for people is “economic justice.”

“The working families in this country have been going backwards for 20 years,” Cuomo said after receiving an award from the group for pushing the wage increase this year.

“They are desperate. They believe they are going backwards because they are,” he added. “It is not an irrational feeling. In terms of earning power, the middle class, the working families have gone backwards from where they are 20 years ago. Meanwhile all the costs have gone up.”

The comments come as the group was celebrating the wage increase, which will grow to $15 over the next several years on different time tables for New York City and the surrounding suburbs. Upstate, the wage will hit $12.50 and then be subject to an economic study with the eventual goal of attaining $15.

Cuomo, who had initially suggested he was skeptical a wage increase could pass the Republican-led Senate, framed his effort — named after his late father — as “an outrageous campaign when we start.”

“When we say $15, people said, ‘That’s a joke, right? You’re starting at 15, you’re going to end up at nine.’ We said, ‘No. We start at 15. We’re ending at 15.'”

Cuomo said the “economic justice” issues continue on — a signal that he isn’t done bolstering support from the left in New York, which has occasionally viewed him with suspicion, especially on economic concerns.

“Now, the fight goes on because the fight for justice never really ends because we’re never going to get to perfect justice in society,” Cuomo said.

“But, the trick is to keep going, keep making process and that’s what we’re doing: exploited workers task force, economic rights for the new immigrants, economic rights for undocumented people. 421-a is an economic justice issue. 421-a is a housing plan that is pending now for passage for affordable housing.”