Hochul: Theories Over Access ‘Laughable’ And ‘Absurd’

Claims of her invisibility have been greatly exaggerated, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul insisted last night to reporters in Broome County.

Hochul’s recent stops on the campaign trail and meetings with elected officials have not been advertised to the press in advance. Instead, Hochul’s Twitter feed has been posting photos of her meeting with Democratic officials across the state, only after the fact.

Questions over the whereabouts of Hochul first gained traction this week when The New York Post quoted Democratic sources suggesting Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t want Hochul available to reporters in part because of her moderate positions on gun control and immigration.

“It’s basically laughable,” she said. “It’s so absurd.”

By contrast, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Chris Moss has had campaign schedules emailed to reporters in advance by Rob Astorino’s gubernatorial campaign.

Hochul said the discussion over her availability is being fueled by Republicans.

“Basically, I think the media is just listening to opposition that’s trying to find something to throw at us,” she said. “They don’t like how I’ve fought all my life for the working men and women of this state.”

Hochul, the former Democratic congresswoman selected to replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy on Cuomo’s ticket, said she made herself available to the press early on in the campaign, but few reporters were interested in talking to her.

“I need to get out and meet the people,” Hohul said. “I’m not going to hold a press conference every time I go meet a county chairman or a member of the Assembly or the Senate. But what’s more important for me to be an effective partner for the governor is to hear first hand from the people of this state what their concerns are.”

She added that her first media availability was held 24 hours after she was nominated for the lieutenant governor’s post, which was held in Buffalo.

The Cuomo campaign did not make her available for questions at the state Democratic convention, held in Suffolk County.

“I was asked almost no questions, that’s fine,” she said.

In that news conference Hochul references, she did make some news, saying she supports the Dream Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, after she was asked by the press in attendance.

“I held two major press conferences and no one showed up,” she said. “So that was a decision of the media and I’m find with that. I know it’s a long campaign season.”

She added that a broader roll out of her campaign will soon be under way.

“After I’ve had my listening tour we’ve been ready to roll out whenever the media wants to find me,” she said.

Hochul’s first television appearance is scheduled she appears on NY1′s Inside City Hall next week.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also in the Big Apple with no public events scheduled.

At 8:45 a.m., state Education commissioner John King speaks at a professional development conference for teachers, Clark Auditorium, New York State Museum, Albany.

At 9:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James and families call for city Department of Education officials to require school buses for children with disabilities to have air conditioning; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on WNBF radio with host Bob Joseph. Listen here: http://wnbf.com/.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Independent Budget office releases a report looking at the changing caseload and increasing collections by the NYC Office of Child Support Enforcement.

At 1:05 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Long Island News Radio with host John Gomez. Listen here: http://linewsradio.com/.

At 5 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Great Empire Walk For the Kickoff of Liberty Games, Colonie Center Mall, 131 Colonie Center, Albany.

At 6:45 p.m., Astorino will attend the Lake George Association annual dinner, Inn at Erlowest, 3178 Lake Shore Dr., Lake George.

Headlines…

After seven months on the job, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking a break from City Hall and hitting his ancestral homeland of Italy for 10 days with his family. They leave July 18 for what will be the longest vacation for any NYC mayor in recent memory.

Westcheter County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is reeling in about $30,000 a year as a consultant to a major media conglomerate. The pay is on top of his $160,000 annual public salary.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo lost the endorsement of a local Democratic club in Manhattan Thursday night after the group decided to back one of his primary opponents, Zephyr Teachout. The vote was 14 to 6.

A Democratic Westchester County legislator accused Astorino of having something to do with the Journal News story about the under-assessed home shared by Sandra Lee and Cuomo.

Cuomo said he believes the damages caused by tornadoes in Madison County, where four people were killed, and in other Central New York communities will not qualify for federal disaster aid. If that’s the case, the state will step in.

Paving the way for half a million undocumented immigrants living in New York City to obtain identification, de Blasio signed legislation to create a municipal ID card. It’s scheduled to launch in January.

There are still questions about how the ambitious ID program will work.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout said she had gathered more than 45,000 signatures to get on the September primary ballot, and raised some $200,000 from 600 donors.

Queens Councilman Paul Vallone is drafting legislation to combat the “rampant proliferation” of illegal drones buzzing around New York City.

Former Queens Councilman Dan Halloran allegedly tried to get a developer to give him $15,000 by saying the man would “co-own” a congressional seat (when and if Halloran won it, that is, which he did not).

A draft report shows city owned buildings and parkland in Buffalo require up to $607 million in repairs and updates over the next decade.

More >

Extras

Greg David does some poll comparisons and finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s gains over the past four years have come largely among Republicans, while his standing among liberals has suffered.

The New York Public Library announced that Iris Weinshall, US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s wife, will serve as its chief operating officer, starting Sept. 1.

Plumbers Union Local 1 endorsed Sen. Tony Avella.

Sen. Ted O’Brien is calling on the state Education Department to rework its contract with a London-based education company to allow for standardized tests to be released publicly.

…some questions have been released, but SED officials say the full tests are kept private to ensure some questions can be used on future tests.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg said some disparaging things about rural Colorado.

A municipal identification card meant to ease access to New York City services for illegal immigrants and others faces numerous challenges.

AG Eric Schneiderman says “buffer zone” laws designed to prevent harassment at abortion clinics remain in effect in NY despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley decision.

Justin Timberlake gave a shout-out to the late Bills owner Ralph Wilson while playing a concert in Buffalo.

The Brooklyn and Staten Island Democratic chairs slammed a Staten Island GOP official for what they called “outrageous bigotry” in a fundraising e-mail sent on behalf of Rep. Michael Grimm.

A Brooklyn blogger made cookies on a baking sheet that used to belong to the de Blasios.

Conservatives are giving Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney a hard time for his “extravagant” wedding video, which features footage captured by a drone.

Former Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson, a primary challenger to Sen. Adriano Espaillat, is a fan of Zephyr Teachout.

A panel of Manhattan appeals court justices nixed back pay for 1,300 state judges who claim 12 years of low salaries violated New York’s constitution.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum cafe opening this month has dropped booze and gourmet food for bread and coffee.

Longtime New York City labor operative and activist Camille Rivera has joined the de Blasio administration.

The FCC began its review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger today by putting out a public notice seeking comments on the deal.

Hillary Clinton’s book has been replaced at the top of the New York Times best sellers list by an expose of the Clintons’ rocky relationship with President Obama.

WFP Criticizes Wu’s Triborough And Scaffold Comments

The labor-backed Working Families Party fired its first salvo at the Teachout-Wu ticket, saying in a statement the party “strongly disagrees” with comments made by Columbia professor Tim Wu on potentially scaling back regulations like the Triborough amendment and the Scaffold Law.

Wu, the candidate for lieutenant governor on the Teachout ticket, told Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom Wednesday morning that he would be open to considering reforming the laws when it came to helping small businesses.

“I think the regulatory burden on small businesses in New York is too strong,” Wu said in the interview. “There is too much red tape, there is too much regulation. Part of how I’d rejuvenate the upstate economy is by relieving small businesses of the onerous regulatory requirements.”

The WFP this afternoon criticized those comments as a “slippery slope.”

“We strongly disagree with Tim Wu’s comments about the need to deregulate essential worker protections in the Triborough Amendment and Scaffold Law. Stripping away basic rights for working people is a slippery slope that would set the labor community back decades,” said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for the WFP.

Zephyr Teachout sought the WFP ballot line at the party’s May convention, but ultimately failed to get a Wilson-Pakula waiver to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Teachout and Wu are running to the left in many respects to Cuomo and his running mate, Kathy Hochul, especially on issues of taxes and schools funding.

But Cuomo’s support from the WFP also comes with the backing of key labor groups that are also pushing for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate.

Nevertheless, Teachout and Wu say they have collected 45,000 signatures to achieve primary ballot access this September.

Teachout-Wu To File 45,000 Signatures

Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout says she has more than 45,000 signatures that she’ll file this evening in order to achieve ballot access and challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic Party ballot line on Sept. 9.

Teachout had initially sought in May the endorsement of the Working Families Party, which ultimately went to Cuomo after he agreed to help Democrats retake control of the state Senate.

Teachout, along with her running mate Tim Wu, needed 15,000 signatures for ballot access, but the conventional wisdom is to file three times that amount in order to withstand challenges.

The campaign on Wednesday sent a fundraising email urging contributions in order to pay for expected legal challenges.

“We are challenging Governor Cuomo and Kathy Hochul because we believe in an economy and democracy that work for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected,” Teachout said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo has abandoned New York and abandoned Democratic values. He has visited one public school in four years in office, while transferring school funding to big bank tax breaks. He has failed to enact a ban on hydro-fracking that would poison our beautiful state, failed to pass the Dream Act, and failed to live up to his promise of publicly-funded elections and of fairly districted elections.”

Astorino Proposes Regional Debates With Cuomo (Updated)

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Thursday challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to a series of eight regional debates around the state to highlight issues specific to those areas.

“New York is a vast and diverse state with many needs and nuances. Issues that might arise in a Binghamton debate, might not apply to voters in Brighton Beach, and vice versa,” Astorino said in a video news release. “So I propose — I challenge — Governor Cuomo to a series of at least eight regional debates around New York State between now and Election Day.”

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, trails Cuomo in public opinion polls. A Wall Street Journal/Marist College released this week showed the incumbent Democrat held a 35-percentage point lead over Astorino, whose name recognition remains low among most voters.

Astorino, a declared candidates since March, has dismissed concerns about the low name recognition, noting that voters become more engaged by the fall.

Still, a series of televised debates, even just one, would provide a boost to Astorino’s profile.

Astorino has made clear he opposes the inclusion of third-party candidates who have ballot access, including Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, who is currently polling at 6 percent.

The 2010 gubernatorial debate — which featured all candidates who appeared on the ballot — verged into a farce as Jimmy McMillan, running under the “Rent is 2 Damn High” ballot line, stole much of the show.

Updated: Peter Kauffmann, a spokesman for the Cuomo campaign, responded in a statement.

“Rob Astorino has taken so many sides of various issues, he could hold 8 debates just with himself. Which Rob is going to show up — the candidate who promised to cut property taxes by 20 percent or the county executive of the highest taxed county in the nation?”

Astorino to Cuomo: Let’s Have Eight Regional Debates from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Libous Files Petitions For Re-Election

Sen. Tom Libous, the Binghamton Republican under indictment for lying to the FBI, filed petition signatures on Thursday to run for re-election in his Southern Tier district.

“I’m truly humbled by the overwhelming support we’ve received from the people of the 52nd District,” said Libous in a statement. “There’s still much work to be done for the families in our community, and I’m excited to continue working hard for them.”

Libous, the number two Republican in the state Senate, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to the single charge of lying to the FBI, based on a June 2010 interview stemming from his role in securing a job at a politically connected law firm for his son, Matthew.

The younger Libous faces six charges, including filing false tax returns.

Libous, who will run on the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party line, faces a likely primary challenge from Republican Denver Jones.

Democratic former Vestal town supervisor Anndrea Starzak is also running for the seat. Though the district is heavily Republicans, Democrats in the Senate believe the indictment gives them a potential chance at winning the seat.

Libous was first elected to the Senate in 1988.

Cuomo’s Book Gets A New Cover, Pushed Back To September

The publication of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s forthcoming book “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life” is being pushed back from August to Sept. 16, according to this publisher HarperCollins.

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning the book will receive a 200,000-copy first print — an unusually large run.

The book’s cover, also, was switched from a picture of Cuomo standing in front of a wood-paneled wall to a tighter portrait shot of the governor.

Cuomo’s financial disclosure forms and publicly available income tax records show the book deal is worth at least $700,000.

Pew: Statehouse Media Coverage Declines, But It’s Growing In Albany

The number of reporters who cover state Capitols nationwide continues to decline overall, but the number of reporters who cover Albany full time is growing, a Pew Research study found.

The bump in Albany coverage is due in large part to Capital New York, the for-profit website and magazine purchased by Politico publisher Robert Allbritton last year.

Capital fields a bureau of six in the Legislative Correspondents Association, which now tops out at 39 full-time reporters covering the legislative session.

Critics of Albany political coverage have often contended — with some merit — that coverage many times consists of “bubble” reporting as many reporters rarely leave the confines of the building, if not the third floor where our bureaus are based.

That being said, Pew makes the case that having more eyes and ears in the Capitol — or at least watching state officials elected and appointed — is necessary.

“State officials themselves have attempted to fill what they say is a reduction in coverage by producing their own news feeds for public television, broadcast outlets or the Internet,” the report found. “Newspapers and other media have tried to compensate for the changes by hiring students and increasing collaboration among outlets. It is not uncommon these days for former competitors to share reporters or stories, a trend that would have been unheard of in years past.”

A troubling detail not covered in the Pew study is the overwhelming homogeneity of the press corps, at least here in Albany. The LCA, quite frankly, is overwhelmingly white and male.

The full report can be found here.

Cuomo Surrogates: Astorino ‘Stonewalling’ On FOIL

A group of Westchester County Democrats supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid aren’t happy Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s office is taking a long time to respond to a Freedom of Information Law request.

The FOIL request was launched by a county lawmaker, Democrat Peter Harckham, seeking whether Astorino’s campaign or public office played a role in the so-called “permit-gate” saga in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s live-in partner, Food Network host Sandra Lee, did not obtain the required permits for renovations at the Westchester County home they share.

Republicans have seized on the news, noting that with the permitting and renovations would likely come a higher assessment and increased property taxes.

For what it is worth, the Astorino campaign denies it played a role in the story, and The Journal News reporter who broke the story, David MacKay Wilson, says it was good old fashion shoe-leather reporting.

Nevertheless, Cuomo surrogates are shocked Astorino’s office is taking its sweet time in responding to the FOIL request, and the “Astorino Truth Squad” no plans a daily ticker showing the days it’s taken for them to get back to them.

“Time and time again, Rob Astorino talks about transparency and time and time again, he does something totally different,” said Truth Squad spokesman Mike Morey. “Whether its his refusal to release his county schedule or now his stonewalling the release of his communications with the Town of New Castle, Rob Astorino proves yet again, you cannot trust a word he says.”

There is a certain degree of irony here.

Of course, the Cuomo administration does not have the best track record when it comes to responding to Freedom of Information Law requests despite pledges of transparency early on.

Formal requests for information from the press have often taken months before they are resolved. In some cases, seemingly innocuous information is redacted out of security concerns.