Senate’s Break Extended To April 28

The state Senate will extend its spring break and not meet for two days next week, a Republican conference spokesman confirmed.

Senate lawmakers were due to return next Wednesday and Thursday. Now, the plan is return on April 28, the same day the Democratic-led Assembly will hold a session day.

“The Senate will reconvene on April 28, which matches up with the Assembly and better accommodates Passover, which ends on the evening of April 22nd,” said the spokesman, Scott Reif.

The sixth-month session is due to conclude June 19.

The Senate hasn’t convened since approving the $138 billion budget plan a day before the April 1 deadline.

The Assembly, however, returned for two days last week.

The initial Senate and Assembly session days showed the chambers scheduling an unusual number of days apart in Albany.

Gibson: Ryan Budget Vote ‘Wasn’t Necessary’

Rep. Chris Gibson, facing a well-funded challenge from Democrat Sean Eldridge, questioned the point of voting on the latest budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, suggesting that it was a mistake for the House leadership to do so.

“Yes. It wasn’t necessary,” Gibson said when asked if he thought the Ryan budget vote was a mistake. “We already have a budget. We should be focusing on the appropriations bills.”

Gibson has supported one spending plan proposal made by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who was the party’s vice-presidential candidate in 2012 and a potential candidate in 2016 as well.

Since then, Gibson has supported a variety of budget compromises he has framed as having far more bipartisan support.

In a Capital Tonight interview, Gibson called the latest Ryan plan “a political messaging document.”

“The Senate does the same with their particular issues,” Gibson added.

Despite Gibson’s no vote on the Ryan budget, Eldridge has still criticized Gibson for basically wanting it both ways, noting that he backs aspects of Ryan’s proposals, but still gets to claim his opposition.

Gibson has sought to stress his moderate credentials in the Hudson Valley congressional district, which was redrawn in 2012 by a federal judge during the re-apportionment process.

He once again noted that Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, “married well” as he first did with Politico.

“He married into money,” he said. “He did well on that score.”

Gibson added that Eldridge is trying to buy the congressional seat.

“The only reason why this guy is the candidate is money,” Gibson said. “It’s money. That’s the only reason.”

Eldridge, has contributed roughly $900,000 to his own campaign, but has emphasized his small-dollar donations when reporting his campaign contributions.

His campaign, in turn, has criticized Gibson for accepting money from political action committees.

Republicans, as well as Gibson, are also continuing to paint Eldridge as a carpetbagger in the district with little experience.

“He has relatively no experience,” Gibson said. “He has no ties to the district. It shows he’s out of touch in the district.”

Miner: No Plans To Run For Governor

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who stepped down from her post as Democratic Party co-chair, will not accept the Working Families Party line for governor if offered by the union-backed organization.

Miner resigned as co-chair on Thursday following a publicly rocky relationship with her patron, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The resignation, a month before Democrats meet in Suffolk County for their state convention, fueled talk among Cuomo’s liberal critics that she could potentially challenge the governor with the WFP line, which has not ruled out granting the spot to someone other than Cuomo.

In an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom on Friday morning, Miner laid that theory to rest.

“I’m a Democrat, I have great friends in the Working Families Party,” she said. “But I’m a Democrat.”

A spokesman for Miner went further with Time Warner Cable News’ Bill Carey, telling him of a potential run for governor by the mayor “No. It’s not happening.”

While advocacy groups with a liberal bent as well as unions remain restive over Cuomo’s fiscal policies, most self-identified liberal voters tend to give the governor high marks, polls have shown.

At the same time, Miner’s qualms with Cuomo don’t match up with what critics on the left have lobbed at Cuomo.

Miner’s original foray into criticizing Cuomo was leveled at his pension-smoothing proposal, which she didn’t go far enough in combating the financial woes of upstate cities. In other words, her issues stem from relieving local governments from Albany mandated cost drivers.

Lately, she had been clashing with the state, as well as Cuomo ally Joanie Mahoney, the Onondaga County executive, over a new sports arena in her city.

Liberals, on the other hand, remain upset over Cuomo’s tax policies, specifically those aimed at businesses.

Miner in the radio interview added that she remains focused on the job of being Syracuse’s mayor, calling it a 24-7 job.

“You don’t have the luxury often of thinking five years down the road,” she said.

“No. It’s not happening.”

We All Feel The Pressure Sometimes…

There are basically two stories in western literature – ‘A person goes on a journey,’ and ‘A stranger comes to town.’ Most of what we have read falls neatly into one of those two narratives. In the news business there are two types of people – those who lose their minds as deadline approaches, and those who actually get calmer. I like to think of myself as being in the latter category, although I have had my moments.

On the Flack side of the business, there are a handful of tactics one can employ to mitigate bad news coverage. Some believe that anger, threats and intimidation are the best approaches. And let’s be honest, sometimes that works, particularly with greener reporters. But the most effective flacks are those who can broaden your understanding of the story by explaining where they are coming from without using phrases like “inaccurate,” “the whole premise of your story is wrong” and my personal favorite “I’d be careful if I were you.” ( Um, you are not me. Thanks though ).

As first reported by Jimmy Vielkind, IDC Communications Director Eric Soufer will be leaving the post to take a job with Risa Heller’s growing public relations firm.  Seen here in Mike Groll’s photo where he looks a little bit like Michael Corleone after allowing Kaye to ask him about his business just this one time, Soufer brought a tremendous amount of dignity to what can sometimes be an unpleasant job. Soufer was not one to threaten death or destruction if he didn’t get his way. What he did ( better than most ) was make you want to rethink your story if he takes issues with certain facts and angles. That’s tough to do with reporters who often bathe in our own righteousness.

There is no doubt that Communications Directors and Spokespeople in general sometimes go under-appreciated in what is by design, a no glory job. The truth is it takes tremendous skill to hold these positions. And those who do it well are worthy of our recognition. Former NY1-er and author Jennifer Rainville steps into the IDC job and I have every confidence she will be great. The truth is, all of the com directors in Albany are very good, even if we don’t always see eye to eye. Mike Murphy with the Senate Dems is as smart as he is likable. The low key Mike Whyland with the Assembly, who occasionally reminds you with the depth of his knowledge that he might actually be a covert CIA operative. Melissa De Rosa of the esteemed Governor’s office who manages to keep a lid on the clamoring hysteria from reporters all over the state. And of course, Kelly Cummings with the Senate Repubs who has been doing this longer and better than just about anyone.

So let’s put down our arms every now and again and remember that hacks and flacks are merely two sides of the same coin. A coin that we are all sometimes tempted to toss off the Empire State Building in frustration.


Here and Now

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

From 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., NYU Steinhardt Panel Discussion on “Testing and Policy: What’s Best for Our City and Our Nation?”; NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life, Rosenthal Pavilion, 60 Washington Square South, 10th Floor, at LaGuardia Place, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the state Department of Financial Services holds a daylong availability to assist homeowners facing foreclosure, Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Ave., Baldwin.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tours the stage at at Steiner Studios, Steiner Studios – Stage 3, 15 Washington Ave., Brooklyn. A press conference will immediately follow at Stage 11.


Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner insists she left her post as state Democratic Party co-chair on her own volition and wasn’t pushed out by the governor. “If he were going to push me out for speaking out against him, it could have happened a lot earlier than now.”

Miner’s formal resignation letter did not include her reasons for leaving the post to which she was appointed by Cuomo in 2012.

Rep. Dan Maffei said he believes Miner stepped down as co-chair of the state’s Democratic Party so she can focus on running Syracuse, saying he has no reason to think she was pushed out.

IDC spokesman Eric Soufer is leaving the public payroll to take a job with Risa Heller Communications, which draws its name from the former spokeswoman for US Sen. Chuck Schumer and former Gov. David Paterson.

With an assist from Cuomo, a contract agreement struck by the MTA and its largest union, the TWU, fell short of the agency’s stated goal of no net increases in labor costs, but officials said the pact won’t result in fare increases or alter plans for service or capital projects.

Asked why the transit workers merited raises, Cuomo pointed to the state’s improved finances compared with conditions when he took office in 2011.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren remained hospitalized last night after being admitted for flu-like symptoms and dehydration late Wednesday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly will appoint Cynthia Lopez to be commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting today.

De Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, will appear on “The View” next week – their first joint TV sit down since the mayor took office in January.

De Blasio’s campaign will return more than $15,000 in cash raised by Sant Singh Chatwal, the hotel magnate and prolific national fund-raiser who pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance fraud.

A group of ministers, led by the Rev. Dennis Dillon of the Brooklyn Christian Center, took to City Hall’s steps to demand that de Blasio appoint more African-Americans to high-ranking positions.

Does the fact that Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child impact Hillary Clinton’s thinking on whether to run for president again in 2016?

UN Ambassador Samantha Power, a former advisor to President Obama who called Hillary Clinton a “monster” during the 2008 campaign, has had a change of heart about the ex-secretary of state.

Clinton has been focusing on women voters for months.

De Blasio’s effort to get rid of the city’s horse-drawn carriages in Central Park is stuck in neutral, hindered by opposition in the NYC Council.

Amid a pitched debate over the fate the carriages, a potential successor, known as the “Horseless eCarriage,” debuted at the New York International Auto Show.

More >


Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Needless to say, Hillary Clinton is very happy.

President Obama and VP Joe Biden took a selfie, and the Internet has been going wild with the photoshopping ever since.

Thre well-known current or former Democratic spokesmen – Glen Caplin, Blake Zeff and Max Young – reportedly turned down a job as de Blasio’s communications director.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a tentative contract agreement between the MTA and TWU that gives subway and bus workers raises after five years and lays the groundwork for a similar deal for LIRR workers.

The governor’s race has divided John Catsimatidis, who’s backing Cuomo, and his son, who’s helping GOP candidate Rob Astorino raise money.

For the second time, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio held a Sandy-related event on Staten Island, and for the second time, Rep. Michael Grimm did not attend.

Another anti-Cuomo column by Harold Meyerson – this time arguing the governor has driven a wedge between himself and the Democratic primary electorate.

Former Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young is being summoned to court by creditors alleging that he has defaulted on at least $23,000 in loans.

In time for his third run in NY-21, Republican Matt Doheny has finally settled some old campaign debts.

AG Eric Schneiderman appointed Gail Heatherly to lead his Conviction Review Bureau.

New York ranks 33rd in the nation for the percentage of women holding state Legislature seats at 21 percent. The national average is 24 percent.

Mike Bloomberg’s new gun control push relies on getting women involved, but the ex-mayor’s bombastic approach might turn some of them off.

Beau Biden won’t seek a third term as Delaware’s attorney general in November, opting instead to focus on an election two years away for governor.

The NRCC bumped GOP NY-24 candidate John Katko to “On the Radar” status, the first of three tiers for its “Young Guns” program.

Days after a POLITICO report highlighted Sean Eldridge’s less-than-stellar relationship with the media, the NY-19 hopeful is looking to hire a communications director.

A hotel executive who has supported Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harry Reid and other top Democrats pleaded guilty to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

An effort to revive the dormant Empire State Games through a non-profit group has fizzled out.

SCOTUSblog has been denied a US Senate press pass, which in turn means it cannot be issued a press credential for the Supreme Court

EJ McMahon parses today’s jobs numbers.

GOP Tries To Push Maffei Off the WFP Line

The incomparable Bill Carey reports that Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei could lose a key spot on the November ballot if Republican leaders win a new court battle.

Maffei has the endorsement of Democrats for his re-election bid in NY-24. He also has the support of the labor-backed Working Families Party – but the GOP is trying to change that.

The Republicans filed an order to show cause today that seeks to invalidate Maffei’s WFP petitions, claiming a staffer of the congressman who witnessed requirement signatures on the petitions is not properly registered to vote in New York.

The GOP claims William Miller is registered in two other states – North Carolina and Georgia – and they raise questions over the validity of his registration here. Of just over 170 signatures gathered for the petitions, Miller was the witness for 117.

Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, has the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines. If this challenge to Maffei’s WFP line is successful, the congressman would only have one line in November – the Democrats’ Row A. (Theoretically, that is, unless he creates a new, independent line to run on).

WFP State Director Bill Lipton blasted Katko and his “Tea Party allies” for filing this suit, which he said “has no merit and is simply an effort to disenfranchise voters.”

“Maffei’s campaign has the endorsement of the Working Families Party and the qualifications necessary to circulate and collect Working Families Party signatures,” Lipton said.

Frank Hoare, an Albany-based Election Law attorney representing Maffei’s campaign, called the challenge “a political stunt” designed to “distract Central New Yorkers from the fact that Katko won’t take a position on tough issues and doesn’t have a plan to create jobs in Central New York.”

“Representatives from the Friends of Dan Maffei Campaign followed the letter and spirit of the law and had the proper qualifications to circulate and collect the requisite signatures to qualify and appear on the ballot,” Hoare said.

A state Supreme Court justice has ordered a show cause hearing on the matter for May 5th.

Republicans try to push Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei off the WFP line. by liz_benjamin6490

Mayor Miner Steps Down From Democratic Party Post (Updated)

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who has made headlines by publicly opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a number of high-profile policy issues, today submitted her resignation from the position of state Democratic Party co-chair – a post for which Cuomo hand-selected her two years ago.

It has been speculated for some time that Cuomo would force Miner out of her political position, thanks to her criticisms of key elements of his agenda – especially where financially ailing upstate cities are concerned. But Miner insisted during a brief phone interview this afternoon that she was not pressured to depart.

“It’s time,” the mayor said. “I want to give them a chance to put somebody in there who can help them with a full slate of elections moving forward. It was my decision.”

But a Democratic source insisted that had Miner not resigned, she would not have received sufficient votes at the state party convention in Melville next month to be re-elected along with her fellow co-chair, Manhattan Assemblyman Keith Wright. UPDATE: Miner told Gannett’s Joe Spector that she won’t be attending the convention at all. Instead, she’ll attend a conference on cities in Boston.

UPDATE2: Miner spoke briefly with TWC’s Bill Carey, who told her about the Democratic source’s comment. Her response: “That’s laughable.”

Miner tendered her letter of resignation (which appears below) to Cuomo and members of the state Democratic Committee this afternoon. In it, she pledged to “do all I can to ensure Democrats continue to get elected to office this year and going forward.”

Miner and Wright were tapped by Cuomo to co-chair the party in May 2012. They replaced Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who was a holdover from the era of former Gov. David Paterson. (Incidentally, Jacobs also insisted that he wasn’t forced to give up his state post, but rather had decided that the time was right after three years on the job for him to move on).

Miner was elected mayor of Syracuse – the first woman to hold the position – in 2009. She was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2013, and is barred by term limits from running again.

Last spring, Miner made headlines when she publicly questioned Cuomo’s plan – or lack thereof – to address the fiscal problems faced by cities like hers. She also penned an OpEd criticizing the governor’s proposal to let municipalities borrow to offset ballooning pension costs, calling that idea ”an acconuting gimmick.” A modified version of the plan did end up in the 2013-14 budget.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s resigns from NYS Democratic Party co-chairmanship. by liz_benjamin6490

Spano’s Board of Elections Appointment Raises Eyebrows

To fill a vacancy on the state Board of Elections, Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned to an old foe of his likely Republican opponent this fall: Former Westchester County Executive Andy Spano

It’s an appointment that is raising eyebrows from both Rob Astorino, who unseated Spano in 2009 for the county executive post, as well as good-government advocates.

“It’s just another one of the many political tricks and gimmicks that this governor does,” Astorino said in a radio interview this week on Talk-1300.

Spano will have a vote on a board that regulations how elections are conducted.

The appointment is the all more intriguing, given that Spano’s former deputy is now a top aide to Cuomo, Larry Schwartz. At the same time, Spano has said he hopes Astorino is defeated this year against Cuomo.

“Clearly even in his public comments that I hope I lose then he needs to recuse himself from the Board of Elections decisions on anything that comes before him in the governor’s race,” Astorino said in the interview.

Good government groups have long derided the Board of Elections for having an equal number of Republicans and Democrats for calling the shots and failing to promulgate any meaningful regulations. Governor Cuomo says that could ultimately change with the creation of independent enforcement counsel. The counsel would be appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate and Assembly.

“We passed the Public Trust Act that accomplished what we set out to accomplish last year: Real enforcement at the Board of Elections, change the bribery laws so the district attorneys have a tool to enforce, more dislcosure laws, etcetera,” Cuomo said after the budget was approved.

But ethics reformers say tapping Spano for the post only confirms their criticism of the Board of Elections.

“I think it continues what we’ve seen at the Board of Elections. It’s a partisan entity that’s designed to protect the political parties and protect many of the incumbents who are currently in office,” said NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney.

And it’s not just Democrats that try to stack the Board of Elections, Mahoney points out. Republicans, too, install their own people at the board, but the effect is the even number of party members cancel each other out.

“People who are there are there because they’re party loyalists,” he said.

Grisanti Fundraises Off Peralta, Moya Knocks

After DREAM Act supporters in the Legislature blasted his first TV ad that highlighted his opposition to the bill, Buffalo Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti is using the statements as a fundraising tool.

In a fundraising email with the subject line “That didn’t take long…” (Some could say the same thing on the quick turnaround time with the email after we reported on the statements here), Grisanti’s campaign says he’s already being targeted by “the liberal NYC attack machine.”

The 30-second TV ad released this week highlighted Grisanti’s opposition to the Dream Act, which provides tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants, as well as public financing of political campaigns and the scuttled, Cuomo-backed plan to provide college classes to prison inmates (the governor is now turning to private sources for the funds).

DREAM Act sponsors in the Legislature, Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya subsequently blasted the ad.

“As soon as I started standing up for Western New York, the liberal NYC attack machine kicked into overdrive,” the campaign writes. “Donate Now To Fight Back Against New York City! They want to use your tax dollars to give college degrees to convicts and free college education to people who broke the law and are here illegally. I’m standing up to them, but I need your help.”