The Weekend That Was

Some photos from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Afghanistan trip can be found here.

Cuomo said he decided two weeks ago, in the days following President Barack Obama’s declaration that the U.S. would pursue the destruction of the Islamic State, to participate in the trip because “it is now abundantly clear that this terrorist threat, even though it has been quiet for 13 years—that this is the new normal.”

Hillary and Bill Clinton are grandparents. Their daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to a baby girl: Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.

A “longtime friend” says NJ Gov. Chris Christie respects Cuomo’s “political savvy and has no desire to spar with him.” The two governors have forged an extraordinarily close and politically useful partnership, both in public and private.

Public advocate Letitia James is often absent from the office for hours to attend personal appointments and political events, according to seven months of her schedules reviewed by the Daily News.

The botched WEP petition drives for upstate Senate Democrats was bankrolled by Cuomo 2014.

Families for Excellent Schools, an organization that supports charter schools and has become a critic of New York City’s public education system, is launching a weeklong television ad campaign beginning tomorrow as it gears up for a rally this week.

The NYPD has a chokehold problem, the Civilian Complaint Review Board claims in a shot-across-the-bow report ordered by the agency’s new president, civil-rights attorney Richard Emery.

There continue to be divisions within the Erie County Democratic Party, and they might worsen after the November elections.

The DN wants AG Eric Schneiderman to come “completely clean” about his office’s dealings with his ex-wife/Democratic consultant Jennifer Cunningham.

A top official in Israel reportedly tried to intimidate the rabbi who claims Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm shook him down for donations.

Registered lobbyists in New York are now able to take an online ethics training course that was mandated in the 2011 law that created the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York commissioned a secret internal investigation of itself in 2009, uncovering a culture of suppression that discouraged regulatory staffers from voicing worries about the banks they supervised.

India’s new prime minister, once shunned by Washington, appeared before an enthusiastic crowd in a famed New York sports arena today where he appealed for help from Indian-Americans to help develop his country’s economy, vowing that under his leadership, the South Asian nation wouldn’t look back.

A $45 million discrimination lawsuit filed by a Nassau correction officer against his employer is headed to trial after a federal judge last week denied parts of the county’s request to dismiss it.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-decorated Gracie Mansion features $63,155 worth of new furniture, according to records obtained by Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute.

Approximately 300 police department supporters turned out by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk in Staten Island Saturday morning for what is intended to be an annual “Honor Our Police” rally to commemorate the lost lives of officers native to the borough.

With SolarCity’s massive solar panel factory now expected to fill the entire first phase of the RiverBend complex, New York State officials need to find a new home for Soraa, a small company from Fremont, Calif., that is developing a line of LED, or light-emitting diode, lights.

Cuomo: NY Will Mount ‘Most Sophisticated’ Defense Against Terrorism

In a conference call from Afghanistan with reporters back here in New York on Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wanted to build the “most sophisticated” system of defending the state against terror attacks possible.

To that end, Cuomo said he wanted to strengthen New York’s anti-terror precautions, an effort already underway in recent weeks with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (which has caused a degree of political eyebrow-raising as Cuomo runs for re-election).

“New York is at the top of everybody’s threat list,” Cuomo said. “We have spent a lot of time and we will spend a lot of time defending New York at our ports, at our rails, etcetera.”

It’s those concerns that are leading to the state’s enhancement of thwarting terror attacks, Cuomo said.

“My goal is to have the most sophisticated homeland defense system ever designed by any state, period,” the governor said.

Cuomo, however, remained vague as what he’ll propose doing in the future to strengthen security beyond the effort with New Jersey.

“It can’t just be we’ll have the best intelligence and we’ll have the best security system and we’ll catch every threat,” he said during the question-and-session of the conference call.

Cuomo up until this year took very few trips of New York. When he did, for events such as a fundraiser in California or visiting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, he did not stay over night.

By contrast, Cuomo last month visit Israel in addition to his visit this weekend to Afghanistan.

“You have say, ‘What’s causing the continued growth of the source of the problem,’” Cuomo said as to how the trips are informing his work back home. “Why has it metastasized? Why is it spreading? It’s on social media. It’s spreading more than it has ever before.”

He also anticipated a question about whether the almost back-to-back overseas visits portended presidential ambitions.

“No, I am doing my job as governor of New York,” he said.

Cuomo insisted it’s necessary to take visits out of state to help him govern in Albany.

“I pride myself on working very hard… Sometimes doing the job of governor can take you out of state,” he said. “I’m not going to leave this state and go on vacation in Hawaii.”

Cuomo’s office announced on Saturday afternoon he had landed safely in Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan delegation of governors to visit troops stationed there and receive briefings from the military leadership.

“They were an inspiration, these young fellows,” he said of meeting with hospitalized soldiers.

Cuomo said this morning he departed the U.S. on Friday and landed in Germany to meet with injured soldiers and then to Kabul, Afghanistan for confidential briefings from generals.

The governor came away from the briefings, he said, with a better understanding for the complicated network of terror groups that has grown in the Middle East.

“Everyone would say this is a virulent strain of terrorism,” Cuomo said. “They’re not even al Qaeda. They have nothing to do with al Qaeda.”

Cuomo said he returns to New York on Tuesday.

Cuomo Agrees To Two Debates (Updatedx2)

Moments after news of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s surprise trip to Afghanistan broke, the governor’s re-election campaign announced that he has accepted to invitations to debate before the Nov. 4 general election.

Cuomo has agreed to one debate upstate, and one in New York City. The upstate debate will be sponsored by The Buffalo News and WNED-WBFO (not, it is worth pointing out, TWC News, which did issue an invite and also tried without success to get the governor to debate his primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, but to no avail).

NOTE: WNED is a public TV station, and WBFO is its radio partner. This post has been edited to reflect that fact.

The Astorino campaign, as evidenced by its statement below, appears to believe that these debates will not be televised. The Cuomo campaign’s statement about accepting the debates makes no mention of how they will be aired. This post will be updated again when more information is available.

The downstate debate will be sponsored by WNYC New York Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal. Both debates will be held in mid-October, though no specific dates were given.

The NYC debate will be a standard one-on-one format with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, according to the Cuomo campaign.

The Buffalo event will be a bit more of a free-for-all, with Cuomo, Astorino, Green Pasrty gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott, a Long Island realtor.

“Governor Cuomo is looking forward to a robust discussion of ideas at both debates and we want to thank the sponsors for making these events possible,” said Cuomo campaign spokesman Matt Wing.

There is no word yet from the Astorino campaign, which has been hounding Cuomo on the debate issue. The county executive had called for eight regional debates, and criticized Cuomo for refusing to engage in a pre-primary head-to-head with Teachout.

UPDATE: The Astorino campaign has released a statement from its spokeswoman Jessica Proud, and, not surprisingly, they are not at all satisfied with the governor’s radio-only debate plan.

“This is more games from Andrew Cuomo,” Proud said. “Despite their claims, there have been no negotiations between the campaigns. We have called for at least one televised debate between the two major party candidates, as is custom in every election from President of the United States on down.”

“It’s clear Governor Cuomo is terrified to go one-on-one with County Executive Astorino on television. Is it because he doesn’t want people to see his face when he’s asked about his role in the Moreland corruption scandal? The people of New York deserve better.”

UPDATE2: When questioned about the TV issue, Astorino campaign advisor Bill O’Reilly reiterated: “The voters deserve a one-on-one televised debate with the two principal candidates.”

The fact that the four-way debate is the only one that will be on TV is what the Astorino folks have a problem with.

Cuomo Takes Surprise Trip to Afghanistan

With just six weeks remaining before the November general election, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Afghanistan with a bipartisan delegation of governors at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense, which is sponsoring the visit, his office announced this afternoon.

As is fairly standard with these sorts of overseas trips to high security zones, the governor’s office did not provide any advance notice of his plans. The first word of his trip came via the governor’s twitter account – @nygovcuomo – which announced at 12:52 p.m. that Cuomo had arrived safely in Afghanistan. This was followed by a public schedule announcing the governor is in Afghanistan (with no public events planned), and a press release including some details of his itinerary.

Cuomo was invited on the trip by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and is also joined by Under Secretary of the Army Brad Carson, Tennesee Gov. William Haslam, Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and other DoD officials.

While in Afghanistan, Cuomo will receive security briefings on on counterterrorism issues, the evolving global threats that affect New York’s safety at home, and other matters, according to a press release put out by his office.

He’ll also meet with New York and other American troops who are currently stationed in Afghanistan – including those from Fort Drum, New York’s 10th Mountain Division – to thank them for their service.

Approximately 270 members of the New York National Guard are currently deployed in Afghanistan, the bulk of which are based in the Hudson Valley and New York City. Additionally, approximately 900 members of Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division are in the country.

Cuomo departed the US from Washington, D.C. last night after receiving a security briefing from. He left from Andrews Air Force Base and traveled to Ramstein Air Base in Germany en route to Afghanistan.

Cuomo arrived in Germany this morning, and while there, he visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where he met with hospital staff and wounded servicemembers. Cuomo’s office posted photos of the visit on the governor’s Flickr page. He then continued on to Afghanistan, arriving Saturday evening local time.

A Cuomo spokesman said the governor is due back in New York at the end of the day on Monday. (Presumably, this means LG Bob Duffy is in charge until then).

Over the past several weeks, Cuomo has been intensely focused on terrorism, holding four events related to keeping New York safe as members of the Islamic State (AKA ISIS, or ISL) ramp up their activities overseas. Two of those events were held with Nwe Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has agreed to partner with Cuomo on anti-terrorism efforts.

On Thursday afternoon, Cuomo and NYC Mayor bill de Blasio took separate trips on the NYC subway system after the Iraqi prime minister warned of Islamic State plots to attack it. Both Democrats downplayed the reports, saying there was no knowledge of any specific threats made.

Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, suggested there was a political motivation behind the governor’s newfound focus on terrorism. Cuomo, in turn, characterized Astorino’s comments as “irresponsible,” saying the “essence” of his job is to keep New Yorkers safe.

Hochul Says Her Husband Is Staying Put

Kathy Hochul is hoping voters will send her to Albany as New York’s next Lieutenant Governor.  But she’s hoping her husband, U.S. Attorney William Hochul, stays right where he is.

“I like having him closer to home with me here, selfishly speaking.  But Bill’s doing a tremendous job I’m very proud of his work,” Hochul said.

With Eric Holder leaving the Attorney General’s Office, William Hochul’s name has been thrown around as a possible replacement.  Hochul joined the U.S. Attorney’s office as an assistant in the Western District in 1991.

He was promoted to U.S. Attorney in 2010.  While Hochul’s name has been brought up to head to Washington his wife says it’s unlikely he’s going anywhere.

“I think he’s very happy doing what he’s doing right here in Western New York he’s got 17 counties a lot of responsibility and I know he’s proud of the work he’s doing on behalf of the Government so I think he’ll stay right where he is,” Hochul added.

Hochul isn’t the only US Attorney out of New York whose name is reportedly under consideration.  US Attorney Preet Bharara, out of Manhattan, is being considered a possible successor as well.

Extras

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio offered a strong defense of Rachel Noerdlinger, his wife’s chief of staff, one day a report that her live-in boyfriend has a lengthy criminal history.

A Hamburg man agreed to take down the sign on his fence that blasts Cuomo and the SAFE Act. The town said it violated a zonign ordinance.

President Obama will sit down with CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday for a wide-ranging interview on domestic and foreign policy.

It’s possible no matching funds will be given out by the state Board of Elections this cycle through the pilot public campaign finance program.

Rep. Chsrlie Rangel, who has feuded with the Rev. Al Sharpton, does not believe Sharpton will advise the president on who UG AG Eric Holder’s successor should be.

Tim Wu opines on Holder’s “disappointing” tech legacy.

The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park will lose its Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation at the end of the month.

The NRCC is gleeful over NY-21 Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf’s many missteps.

Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel is suing the NYC Council for improperly firing analyst Artyom Matusov, who questioned data in a report by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The ins and outs of the $350 tax rebate checks currently in the mail.

Someone used part of their rebate check to contribute to GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s campaign.

Education activist Diane Ravitch explains why she’s going Green in this year’s governor’s race.

Some Wall Streeters are already concerned US Attorney Preet Bharara could be tapped by Obama to lead the DOJ.

Empire City Casino in Yonkers is warning that they’ll have to lay off workers if a new casino license is awarded in Orange County.

Five candidates will appear on 10 ballot lines in the November governor’s race.

Bill Clinton is Hillary Clinton’s biggest asset should she run in 2016, but also her greatest potential liability.

The Sierra Club and a community group filed a lawsuit seeking to put the $140 million project to convert the coal-fired Dunkirk power plant to natural gas on hold.

Questions remain over the placement of seven high-level sex offenders in a West Seneca neighborhood.

A 74-year-old partner at a Wall Street law firm claims in a federal lawsuit against New York City that he was falsely arrested for talking to an Occupy Wall Street protester.

Before last night’s big game, CC Sabathia presented Derek Jeter with a watch and a blown-up portrait of The New Yorker magazine cover of Jeter tipping his cap.

Ravitch Endorses Hawkins

Diane Ravitch, the education policy expert and advocate who was briefly floated as a possible candidate for governor on the Working Families Party ballot line, has endorsed Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and his running mate, Brian Jones.

Ravitch wrote on her blog today that she voted for Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic Party ballot line.

“I am casting a protest vote for the first time in my life,” Ravitch wrote in the post. “I am voting for the candidates of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones. I voted for Zephyr Teachout in the Democratic primary for three reasons: her position on education, on public integrity, and on the environment. And these are the reasons I will cast my ballot in November for the Green Party.”

A Siena College poll released this morning found Hawkins polling at 7 percent, with Cuomo leading Republican Rob Astorino 56 percent to 27 percent.

Ravitch pointed to Hawkins’ opposition to hydrofracking, support for a full-time Legislature that would ban outside employment for state lawmakers and full foundation aid for public schools.

“Cast your vote as you choose,” she wrote. “This is my choice.”

Ball Versus Lalor

After Republican state Sen. Greg Ball endorsed Demcoratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, fellow GOP state lawmaker Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor went on the attack.

In a news release with the sub-head, “Gropey Greg Ball — Cuomo Lapdog” Lalor blasted Ball for crossing party lines and suggested the endorsement was the result of a feud with Maloney’s opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth.

Ball, after all, had been rumored as a potential candidate for the seat last year after Hayworth lost to Maloney, but bowed out.

“Greg Ball’s attack on Nan Hayworth isn’t about supporting veterans, it’s about sour grapes,” said Lalor. “Ball was the Republican front-runner for Congress in 2010. He had spent years planning his run for Congress. But, when Nan Hayworth entered the race Ball cut and ran rather than face a tough primary. This is personal for Greg Ball. It’s not about the people of the Hudson Valley, it’s about Greg Ball taking one last parting shot at Nan Hayworth. I’m surprised Congressman Maloney would go in for Ball’s games and personal feud.”

The “groping” charge is likely referring to a 2010 incident in which Ball was accused of grabbing an Albany waitress in a “sexual manner.”

Ball’s aides responded on Twitter — mercilessly.

“Failed cong candidate @KieranLalor sounds bitter,” tweeted Ball spokesman Joe Bachmeier. “Assembly minority a great place for fat disgruntled bald men.”

Responded Lalor: “I might be fat and bald, but I keep my hands to myself. #GropeyGregBall”

Another Ball aide, Colin Schmitt, tweeted a photo of Lalor shaking hands with Democratic state Sen. Terry Gipson, a vulnerable Hudson Valley freshman lawmaker.

Lalor, Schmitt wrote, is “bitter couldn’t beat John Hall” — a reference to the Democratic former representative Hayworth unseated in 2010.

Ball is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year.

Jimmy McMillan Bounced From Ballot

Jimmy McMillan, the 2010 candidate for governor who made a viral splash at the sole televised debate that year, was denied access to the statewide ballot on Friday by the Board of Elections.

Commissioners voted unanimously at a meeting to invalidate McMillan and his line, the Rent Is 2 Damn High Party, declaring the petitions submitted did not meet the required 15,000-signature requirement.

McMillan, who turned in a lively performance in an otherwise desultory debate, became a viral Internet sensation, even inspiring a Saturday Night Live sketch.

McMillan received 41,129 votes in the general election.

With McMillan out of the race, the ballot’s third-party candidates include the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, Michael McDermott running on the Libertarian line and Steve Cohn, a candidate for the Sapient Party.

Last Night and What’s Ahead

Election Day is creeping up, and statewide candidates aren’t backing down. We take a look at the race for governor, lieutenant governor, and state comptroller. Plus, what do shared services across counties mean for you, and will tax credits really help the economy? Here’s highlights from last night and a look ahead to tonight:

WATCH (NO LOG-IN REQUIRED):

WATCH:

Full Show – 9.25.14

Candidate for Comptroller: Bob Antonacci Interview

Tax Credit Talks: Ron Deutsch, Blair Horner, and John Kaehny Interview

Counting on Counties: Stephen Acquario and Anthony Picente Interview