Astorino: Will The Missing Plane Be Found Before Hochul?

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino mocked the seemingly low-key campaigning of former Rep. Kathy Hochul, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s candidate for lieutenant governor, comparing her to the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner.

“Which will be found first — the Malaysian airlines (plane) or Kathy Hochul on the campaign trail? I mean, it’s a legitimate question,” he joked at an Albany news conference on Tuesday.

Hochul, a western New York Democrat added to the ticket in May after Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy announced he would not seek re-election, has not been advising her stops around the state, but has popped up on social media, advertising her meetings with Democratic politicians.

Today, she met with Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, according to her Twitter feed.

By contrast, Astorino’s running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, has made numerous appearances around the state and advised them with a public schedule the day before.

“I will never put duct tape and shove my lieutenant governor candidate in a proverbial trunk,” Astorino said. “Chris Moss is out everyday around this state doing radio and TV interviews, talking to forums. I’m proud of my running mate. We compliment each other very, very well and people are extraordinarily impressed with him.”

Of course, Astorino and Moss could use the exposure and free media that comes with it as they face a well-known incumbent governor with a deep campaign war chest.

Hochul’s addition to the ticket comes as he seeks to win western New York counties he lost in 2010.

“If Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul play it secret and safe for the next four months, that’s up to them, but it’s not fair to the people of this state,” Astorino said.

Espaillat Back In State Senate Mode

After losing second bid for the congressional seat held by Rep. Charlie Rangel, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat is back in campaign mode for retaining his job in Albany.

The Democratic lawmaker on Tuesday released a fundraising appeal to supporters in an email, advertising a Wednesday event at the Negro Claro Lounge in Manhattan.

“P.S. Individual, Partnership, Corporate and PAC contributions accepted,” the email notes.

Marisol Alcantara, a Washington Heights district leader, is also running for the 31st Senate district, as his former city Councilman Robert Jackson.

espaillatfundraiser

Libous Still Running for Re-election, Says He’s Done Nothing Wrong

One week after being indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI, Senator Tom Libous says he is innocent. Libous did a phone interview with Binghamton area radio station WNBF Tuesday morning, and repeatedly asked voters to have confidence in him.

The charges brought by US attorney Preet Bharara relate to a case against Libous’s son Matthew, who is accused of filing false tax returns and making false statements about his income.

Prosecutors say Tom Libous urged a Westchester County law firm to hire Matthew Libous, and then arranged for a lobbying firm to pay his salary.

In the interview, Senator Libous said he did not want to comment on his son’s case but had plenty to say about his own defense. Libous pointed out that the accusations were that he made a false statement, not that he accepted bribes or abused his office. And furthermore, Libous told the host “I know it in my heart, I didn’t do anything wrong” and he expects to be found not guilty.

Of course, the case won’t go to trial immediately and in the meantime Libous does have an election to worry about. Libous said he is still planning to run for re-election, denying a suggestion from 2010 gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino that he planned to eventually drop out in an attempt to pick his own replacement.

That suggestion was made on the same radio station last month, but Libous said Paladino “is not my doctor” and that in fact despite his ongoing battle with cancer his doctors have encouraged him to run. That cancer is manageable but not curable according to the senator.

The accusations against Libous have lead to conflicting responses from his own party. State GOP chairman Ed Cox suggested that Bharara’s decision to indict Libous so close to the election was politically motivated.

Libous neither agreed nor disagreed with Cox, saying only that people can say what they want. Libous also said he was not surprised that the GOP candidate for governor, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, seems to believe he is guilty. Last week Astorino called the case evidence that Governor Cuomo has not done enough to clean up Albany.

Astorino has introduced his own ethics plan, which focuses largely on the state legislature, citing the growing list of federal indictment against lawmakers as major problem in state government.

Meanwhile the current governor is largely staying out of the matter. But Libous said Cuomo did call him and left a message, although the two have not spoken directly and Libous would not say what was in the message.

Libous does face a possible primary challenger, businessman Denver Jones, and a Democratic opponent, former Vestal town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak. He did use the radio interview to remind voters of past accomplishments, like saving the psychiatric center and helping bring new construction to Binghamton University, and ask them to have confidence in him moving forward.

Finding Kathy Hochul

For the 1,700 people who follow former Rep. Kathy Hochul on Twitter, her whereabouts aren’t a mystery.

Hochul, selected as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate in May, has been traveling the state and have small gatherings with local Democrats.

Pictures on her Twitter feed — which doesn’t identify her as a candidate for the number two post in Albany — show her with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Rep. Jerry Nadler and, over the July 4th weekend, marching in a parade with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

“Silly me,” Poloncarz wrote in a tongue-in-cheek tweet. “I thought I paraded w @KathyHochul on July 4th but must have been impersonator.”

The dose of Poloncarz snark came after The New York Post’s Fred Dicker noted in a column on Monday that Hochul has been largely out of public view since she joined the statewide Democratic ticket, potentially out of concern that her moderate-to-conservative views on gun control and immigration could be a liability.

As expanded upon by Tom Precious this morning in The Buffalo News, the sit-downs in small groups with prominent Democrats gives Hochul a chance to introduce herself beyond western New York.

But by contrast to Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Chris Moss, Hochul’s events are never advised in advance to reporters.

She did appear alongside Cuomo after being selected for the ticket this spring, appearing in the Buffalo area, which is a region the governor has aggressively courted during his first term in office.

At that event, Hochul clarified her views on the Dream Act, a measure that would provide tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants. Hochul says she supports the bill.

Nevertheless, the spotlight on Hochul’s whereabouts gave the rival Democratic ticket of Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout and her running mate, Columbia professor Tim Wu, some ammunition.

“When is Kathy Hochul going to come out of hiding? Maybe someone should file a missing persons report,” Wu said in a statement this morning that seems designed to needle the Cuomo-Hochul ticket into engaging. “Or maybe — just maybe — she’s in hiding because she knows that her anti-immigrant, pro-gun record won’t cut it among Democratic voters in New York state. There is no doubt about it: there’s a giant gap between my beliefs and Kathy Hochul’s.”

The man Hochul is replacing on the ticket — outgoing Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy — disagrees with the assessment that the former congresswoman is being kept under wraps.

“I have spent 4 years working alongside the Governor, and at no time was I ever ‘muzzled’,” Duffy wrote on Twitter. “Gov. Cuomo expanded the role of the LG.”

Duffy, whose own Twitter feed of late ranges from economic development news to his rooting for the U.S. Men’s soccer team, does not appear to be muzzled these days.

A Bridge Too Far?

From the morning memo:

While the Cuomo administration continues to insist that it is within its legal rights to use federal clean water funds to help offset the cost of building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, the Obama administration still isn’t ready to sign off on that idea.

EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck said during a CapTon interview last night that her office will be carefully reviewing each and every bridge-related project the governor wants to fund with a $511 million loan to the Thruway Authority from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund overseen by the Environmental Facilities Corp.

“The EPA has a legal obligation to make sure that every single dollar is spent in accordance with federal laws and rules,” Enck said. “And so we indeed may do an analysis and find that some projects are appropriate for this funding and some are not.”

“We can disallow some of the spending,” Enck continued. “…We want to be fair. But we really don’t have a lot of subjectivity here: Either it meets the requirements of the law, or it doesn’t.”

Enck, who raised a list of questions about the $511 million loan plan before it was (unanimously) approved by the EFC, said some of the projects the Cuomo administration plans to use the money to pay for are more questionable than others.

She noted, for example, the $100,000 proposed for relocating a peregrine falcon nesting box from the old bridge to its replacement, saying:

“I love falcons. But does it really take $100,000 to move one box? These are the questions that career, professional staff at the EPA who do this across the board with all projects will simply look and see if it meets the requirements.”

A formal response to her questions did not come from the Cuomo administration until yesterday morning, Enck said. As of last night, she was still reviewing the numbers.

Enck said her agency is in “unchartered territory” with the $511 million loan, since no other administration has ever proposed using federal cash specifically earmarked for clean water efforts to pay for a construction project.

She said she has concerns that this effort will set a precedent that will then be followed by other governors at a time when sewage treatment facilities are in desperate need of upgrades and repair to improve water quality.

The $511 million loan must still be approved by the Thruway Authority – a move widely viewed as pro forma – and also the Public Authorities Control Board.

The board is set to meet on July 16, and the loan approval is not necessarily a slam dunk there. Any one of its three members – Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Budget Director Bob Megna – could vote “no” and tank the project.

Appearing on CapTon last week, DeFrancisco did not rule out the possibility of voting “no” if he doesn’t receive specific information ahead of time about how the Cuomo administration plans to pay for the entire Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

The senator said he has been seeking details on the money end – especially on the question of how high tolls will be raised – for months, but the governor and his aides have been playing those cards very close to the vest.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet today with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. The get-together is closed to the press.

At 10 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.” Listen here: http://www.talk1300.com/

At 11 a.m., Astorino will announce the creation of the “StopCommonCore” ballot line, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy speaks at the St. John Fisher College’s new science building groundbreaking, St. John Fisher College, Skalny Science Center, 3690 East Ave., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins holds a press conference on corruption, Surrogate Court County Courthouse lawn, 92 Court St., Binghamton.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Francisco Moya and immigration, legal and minority advocates encourage children of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally to enroll or reapply as part of the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” initiative; Q. 455 Newtown High School, 48-01 90th St., Queens.

At noon, a “Women for Cuomo” luncheon will take place at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Anti-fracking advocates plan to demonstrate outside, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., de Blasio makes an announcement, Multipurpose Room, Wagner Houses Community Center, 435 East 120th St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., NYCLASS demands NYC revoke the license of horse carriage industry driver and spokesperson Christina Hansen, who was videotaped operating her carriage in defiance of the NYPD’s heat-related suspension last week, corner of 59th Street and 6th Avenue, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., S.J. Jung, who is mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Toby Stavisky, announces his petition signature count prior to filing, Queens County Board of Elections, 126-06, Queens Blvd., Queens.

At 6 p.m., Astorino has a fundraiser at the Saratoga National Golf Course, 458 Union Ave., Saratoga.

At 6:30 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the LULAC National Convention opening reception, Mercury Ballroom, New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Headlines…

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio used his City Hall scheduler to arrange a family college visit to Columbia University, according to emails obtained by Capital NY.

New York is the 23th state to legalize marijuana for medical use, and now has the strictest program in the country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure Saturday, but held a ceremonial signing yesterday, saying the new law “gets us the best medical marijuana has to offer in the most protected, controlled way possible.”

Cuomo’s running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, has been meeting in small to mid-size groups in mostly private settings and much of it in downstate areas almost exclusively out of the media’s eye.

The governor said it’s “silly” and “absurd” to suggest that he’s purposely keeping Hochul under wraps, even though the duo has made just one post-convention joint appearance and her public events are never advised by the campaign.

There is “little-known but potent” bad blood between Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz that stretches back nearly 10 years.

Cuomo signaled he is not stepping into the contract fight between the MTA and the unions representing 5,400 Long Island Rail Road workers, saying Congress is better suited to break the stalemate if a strike occurs in less than two weeks.

A judge granted John Haggerty, a Republican political operative convicted of bilking former Mayor Mike Bloomberg out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, two more weeks of freedom to care for his sick aunt.

The SU athletic department, believing it could make millions of dollars more, broke its contract last week with IMG – the sports marketing firm that sold virtually everything that could be sold within the Syracuse football and basketball programs.

More >

Extras

The gun-control group founded by former NYC Mayor Bloomberg will begin surveying all midterm elections candidates on gun issues as it tries to become a political counterweight to the NRA.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has created a campaign account for 2017 with the CFB and has been quietly fundraising during the past few months.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo sat down to ceremonially sign the medical-marijuana bill into law, he was joined by Amanda Houser, a 10-year-old Rockland County who suffers from Dravet syndrome.

A monument with a piece of the wire used in Nik Wallenda’s 2012 Niagara Falls walk affixed to the top was unveiled in a ceremony today on Goat Island.

Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who led the GOP ticket against Cuomo in 2010, is supporting Rus Thompson for Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti’s seat.

Queens BP Melinda Katz broke from the Democratic pack and endorsed her former rival, NYC Comptroller John Liu, in his primary challenge to Sen. Tony Avella.

Madonna briefly did jury duty in New York City today.

More tourists are visiting the Big Apple, but they’re not spending as much as projected.

The Organization of Management/Confidential Employees is out with a warning about a group soliciting money online for a supposed legal battle to get raises.

The two sides of New York’s “Raise the Age” debate.

Cuomo says the looming LIRR strike is the federal government’s problem, not his.

For reasons unknown, Syracuse University has terminated its multi-million dollar agreement with the sports marketing colossus, IMG.

The union for State Police endorsed Assembly candidate Andrew Falk, a Democrat challenging Assemblyman Steve Katz.

Crain’s editorialized in favor of NYC’s municipal ID cards.

The casino industry in Atlantic City is in free fall.

The Buffalo school board plans to appoint former Erie 1 BOCES Superintendent Donald Ogilvie as interim superintendent – the first in a likely series of dramatic changes to come for the district.

A coalition of groups opposed to fracking held a news conference in Binghamton to call on the state to withdraw a six-years-in-the-making environmental review.

So, this happened.

Klein Files 9,000 Petition Signatures

Independent Democratic Conference Sen. Jeff Klein’s campaign says he has filed nine times the number of required petition signatures with the state Board of Elections.

Klein is making a show of his petition force as he faces a Democratic primary challenge from former city Councilman Oliver Koppell.

“This illustrates my support in every corner of the district. It’s tremendously gratifying when 9,000 Democrats want you to be the standard bearer of the Party,” Klein said. “I want to thank each and every person who knocked on doors throughout my district and each and every person who signed one of my petitions for their support. I’d also like to thank the political clubs that carried my petitions through the 34th State Senate District.”

The deadline to file petitions is Thursday.

Klein on Monday was also endorsed by the labor group that represents bridge And tunnel officers.

State Gaming Commission Appoints Two To Casino Siting Board

The state Gaming Commission on Monday appointed attorney Dennis Glazer and Long Island Association President and CEO Kevin Law to its casino siting board both of whom have ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Glazer and Law join former city Comptroller Bill Thompson, former gubernatorial advisor Paul Francis and Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz to the board that will have the power to decide which casino projects move forward with lucrative licences this fall.

Up to four non-Indian commercial casinos will be constructed in the first round of construction in the Albany area, the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier.

Glazer is the husband of Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, the former Cuomo-appointed chairwoman of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

“Dennis has had an accomplished career and evidences his commitment to public service by taking on this important role,” said Gaming Commission Chairman Mark Gearan. “His legal expertise and impressive leadership in varied sectors combine to make him a valuable asset to the Board, and I thank him for volunteering his time and talent.”

Law has been the leader of the pro-business Long Island Association since 2010 and at one point was considered a potential running mate for Cuomo.

“Throughout his career, Kevin has repeatedly answered the call to public service in New York State,” said Gearan. “His commitment to and knowledge of economic development is tailor-made for the Gaming Facility Location Board, and I thank him for taking on this important task.”

Cuomo: ‘Absurd’ And ‘Silly’ To Suggest He’s Keeping Hochul Hidden

Gov. Andrew Cuomo knocked on Monday the suggestion he’s keeping his running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, out of the public view because of her moderate-to-conservative opinions on immigration and gun control.

“How absurd a theory is that? I select a person to run on the ticket with me who I don’t want anyone to know who she is? Silly,” Cuomo told reporters after a signing ceremony for a law that would create a medical marijuana program.

Cuomo was responding to a column from The New York Post’s Fred Dicker, who cited unnamed Democratic sources noting that Hochul hasn’t made many public appearances with Cuomo since she was selected to replace outgoing Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy on the Democratic statewide ticket.

Hochul has appeared alongside Cuomo at a campaign swing through the Buffalo following the state Democratic convention in May.

Cuomo has not done much, if any, campaigning in public since as the legislative session was still wrapping up in June.

Hochul, a congresswoman from 2011 until she lost re-election in 2012, was added to the ticket as Cuomo aggressively has courted the western New York counties he lost to Carl Paladino in 2010.