Here and Now

Nothing yet on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s public schedule or whereabouts today.

At 7:15 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino ill be a guest on WPIX Morning News.

At 8:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill is a guest on Frankly Speaking with Frank Acomb, News/Talk 1230 AM, WENY.

At 9:30 a.m., on the eve of the 2nd anniversary of Sandy, Astorino will hold a press conference slamming Cuomo “for hijacking $37.5 million in federal funds earmarked for storm victims for his election year television ads”, outside FEMA, 26 Federal Plaza, #1337, Manhattan.

At 9:45 a.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss joins Erie County Comptroller Stefan Michajliw to tour Accadia Site Contracting’s Brighton Road Reconstruction Project, Corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Brighton Road, Amherst.

At 10:30 a.m., Cahill is endorsed by the Westchester Policeman’s Benevolent Association, Van Der Donck Park, Dock Street, Yonkers.

At 10:45 a.m., Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, state Education Commissioner John King and New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina participate in a panel discussion at New York State School Boards Association annual conference, Sheraton Times Square, 811 7th Ave., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Moss and Michajliw tour Response to Love Center Soup Kitchen and Shelter, 325 Walden Ave., Buffalo, NY.

At 12:15 p.m., Moss greets voters at Dog-E-Style Hot Dogs, 128 Genesee St., Buffalo, NY.

At 12:30 p.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul speaks at a rally hosted by the Broome County Democratic Committee, Sons of Italy Lodge Order 487, 62 Carroll St., Binghamton.

Also at 12:30 p.m., NYSCOPBA releases a new report on assaults in the state’s prisons it says are being underreported by DOCCS, outside Attica Correctional Facility, 639 Exchange St., Attica.

Also at 12:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability, 1918 First Ave., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees academic medical centers and hospitals committee meets, The SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th St., Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter and state DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald will be joined by state and local officials and industry leaders for an announcement about the new Rochester Train Station, 320 Central Ave., Rochester.

At 2:30 p.m., Hochul tours Byrne Dairy Farm, Finger Lakes East Business Park, 1710 Rte 13, Cortland.

At 3:00 p.m., Moss appears live in-studio on “The Tom Bauerle Show” on WBEN 930 AM Buffalo.

At 4:30 p.m., Moss Joins Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard to greet voters at Gigi’s Restaurant, 257 E. Ferry St., Buffalo, NY.

At 5 p.m., Hochul speaks at a rally hosted by the Oneida County Democratic Committee, Italian Heritage Club Of the Mohawk Valley, 644 Bleecker St., Utica.

Also at 5 p.m., de Blasio and his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, host Gracie Mansion’s Halloween Open House, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and the NYC Health Department hold a town hall forum on Ebola, Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

Headlines…

Federal health officials have revamped guidelines for doctors and nurses returning home to the United States from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, stopping well short of controversial mandatory quarantines that are being imposed by some states.

The US Army has begun quarantining soldiers who deployed to in West Africa, even though they have not shown any symptoms of Ebola and are not believed to have been exposed to the virus.

Following New York and New Jersey, Connecticut has ignored the federal guidelines and enacted a mandatory quarantine as a precaution against Ebola.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s unified, bipartisan front with Cuomo on responding to Ebola appeared to evaporate in just two days – a rare fissure between the two governors.

A five-year-old boy who was being tested for the Ebola virus has tested negative for the diseease, according to New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

With a spotlight trained on City Hall, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – known more for flights of rhetoric than feats of management – has seized on a largely unfamiliar role: the coolheaded executive, stern and sober, urging New Yorkers to go about their lives.

City officials launched an investigation into reports that two boys who recently immigrated from Senegal were bullied during a scuffle last week at a Bronx school by classmates who at one point teased them with chants of Ebola.

Kaci Hickox, the nurse whose outcry against being quarantined in New Jersey after working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone upended the debate about stopping the spread of the virus, was allowed to return to her Maine home. Hickox, who is asymptomatic, agreed to stay inside and not venture into large public spaces.

Cuomo spokesman Melissa DeRosa sent the NYT what she described as a “word for word” transcript of a portion of the governor’s Friday Ebola news conference, which she said showed he had intended all along for the quarantine to take place primarily in private homes. But the transcript omitted language showing Cuomo agreed with Christie that some patients would be held in designated facilities. DeRosa said the omission was a mistake.

A panel created by Cuomo laid out a plan to guide the spending of a $2 billion bond for increasing technology in schools, but voters will have to approve the borrowing first.

Citing “his diligence and his independence,” the Times Union endorsed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for re-election.

Ditto, The Journal News, which said: “There is more to do, and DiNapoli deserves the chance to keep the comptroller’s office evolving.”

Cuomo’s erstwhile Democratic primary opponent Zephyr Teachout won’t be endorsing the governor prior to the Nov. 4 election.

More >

Hevesi Makes First Major Public Appearance Since Prison Release

From NY1′s Bobby Cuza

Since being sprung from prison almost two years ago, disgraced former state comptroller Alan Hevesi has managed to keep out of the public eye.

That is, until today – when Hevesi delivered a speech to an audience at the Central Queens Y in Forest Hills that attracted roughly 70 people, most of them seniors.

Hevesi’s speech was by turns professorial and fiery. Over the course of an hour and a half, he touched on nearly every national political issue imaginable – from climate change to Benghazi to gay marriage to the Secret Service – offering candid opinions on the Obamacare rollout (“a calamity”) to the lack of civility in Congress (“it’s amazing how cutthroat it is”) to the midterm elections (“if you’re a Republican, you should be delighted”).

But he steered totally clear of state or city politics, including during a Q&A afterwards with the handful of reporters who turned out, studiously avoiding questions about the Moreland Commission, the makeup of the state senate and even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Indeed, Hevesi betrayed ignorance on a couple of state issues. He seemed surprised to learn, for instance, about Proposal One on next Tuesday’s ballot, which would reform the state’s redistricting process.

When asked why he chose this venue to make his first public foray, he replied: “Because they asked me.”

(To be clear, Hevesi has a longtime connection to the facility, whose library is named after his grandfather.)

And while he said he has no ambition to be in the public eye and is content being a full-time grandfather, he also acknowledged he misses politics:

“I miss it tremendously. I loved it. I had a great career. A couple of bumps in the road. And accomplished a lot – proud of that. And I had not intended to retire.”

Hevesi is clearly still sensitive about those “bumps in the road” – the scandals that wrecked his political career, including serving 20 months on felony corruption charges for his role in a pay-to-play scandal while state comptroller.

He shut down any questions about it, and in his remarks to the audience only referred to it only euphemistically, noting his “early retirement.”

On balance though, the event went off well.

The audience was receptive and engaged throughout. It was almost enough to make you wonder about a political comeback – if it wasn’t for the fact that under terms of his 2006 plea deal (when he plead guilty in a scandal involving the personal use of state employees), Hevesi is barred from ever again holding elected office.

WWNY-7 News/Siena Poll: Stefanik Opens Up 18-Point Lead

It appears Republican congressional candidate Elise Stefanik is approaching lock status on flipping a Democratic House seat to the GOP fold.

Stefaink has opened up an 18-percentage point lead over Democrat Aaron Woolf in the 21st congressional district race, according to a WWNY-7 News/Siena College poll released on Monday.

The poll found Steafink leading Woolf 50 percent to 32 percent, with Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello earning 11 percent of the vote.

Stefaink’s lead is largest in the southern area of the district, where she bests Woolf by 32 percentage points.

“The eastern part of the district remains a closely divided battleground between the two major party candidates,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said. “Stefanik continues to lead Woolf by about a dozen points with women and has increased her lead with men to 24 points.”

The race for the 21st congressional district opened up last year when Democratic Rep. Bill Owens announced he was retiring rather than running for a second term.

Meanwhile, the poll found Gov. Andrew Cuomo narrowly leading Republican Rob Astorino.

Cuomo holds a 43 percent to 39 percent lead, which has shrunk from a nine-point gap when Siena polled in the area last month.

Green Party gubernatorial hopeful Howie Hawkins received the support of 10 percent of voters in the NY-21, according to the poll.

The poll of 670 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 20 through Oct. 22. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Ebola quarantine policy is drawing strong opposition from people who work closely with him on another infectious disease: AIDS.

Cuomo bravely ventured a joke at a news conference about Ebola quarantines, saying impacted health care workers should “read my book” to pass the time.

“De Blasio has seemed to want to talk Ebola into submission, and Cuomo has acted as if he wanted to punch the virus in the nose.”

The mayor’s effort to quell fear of the Ebola virus began weeks before the disease appeared in the metropolis, at an Oct. 9 City Hall gathering of top aides to plan response protocols.

“At worst, Christie and Cuomo – whose respective presidential ambitions are no secret – are capitalizing on those fears to score cheap political points by appearing to be guardians of their constituents’ safety.”

Some poll workers in Dallas, TX have decided to sit out Election Day 2014 citing worries over Ebola.

Hillary Clinton implored a crowd to “redouble your efforts” to re-elect Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a longtime friend who also worked as an aide to her husband, President Bill Clinton.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino has a cross on the wall in his government office “for inspiration.”

Sapient Party gubernatorial candidate Steve Cohn was “rather shocked” he wasn’t included in last week’s debate in Buffalo.

With voters deciding next week if the proposed Smart Schools Bond Act should be approved, an advisory panel issued its report today on how the $2 billion could be spent.

Former 1199 SEIU political coordinator Dell Smitherman, who lost a Democratic primary to indicted Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson last month, plans to run again for Sampson’s seat if the senator is convicted on corruption charges.

Republican former Rep. Nan Hayworth released an internal Public Opinion Strategies poll showing her tied with Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney at 42 percent each.

Both national political parties are increasing their spending in the NY-24 race between Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei and his GOP challenger, John Katko, making it one of the top House races in the nation when it comes to the influence of money from outside of Central New York.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo took to Twitter to urge a “yes” vote on Prop. 2.

New York has a new instant lottery game: the $2 “The Walking Dead.” It comes with a top prize of $25,000 and started last month – just in time for Halloween.

Former Assemblyman Ryan Karben notes that Cuomo has a suburban problem, which could spell trouble for Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey in NY-17.

A pipeline that will bring more of Pennsylvania’s fracked gas to New York cleared another key federal hurdle last Friday.

While the State Senate races garner more attention, Democratic and Republican campaign committees are spilling a lot of last-minute cash on two Assembly races on Long Island.

State Police arrested two Bronx men Friday night in Cayuga County on the state Thruway after their vehicle was going 105 mph and for allegedly having 118.5 grams of cocaine in the car.

Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Christ (a Republican-turned-Democrat) called former President Clinton “one of the greatest Americans in the history of our country.”

NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE Spends $463K For Senate Dems

The political action committee of the New York State United Teachers union on Monday spent $463,840 on behalf of Senate Democratic candidates and incumbents, Board of Elections records show.

The filing shows NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE independent expenditure committee spent $96,271 on mailers and polling in support of Democratic Sen. Terry Gipson in the Hudson Valley and opposing his Republican opponent, Sue Serino.

In Buffalo, the group announced spending $125,000 on TV ads shoring up Democrat Marc Panepinto, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti. The group also announced a combined $38,890 on mailers opposing Grisanti’s re-election as well as backing Panepinto.

NYSUT has garnered some controversy in the 60th Senate district. The group opposed Grisanti’s primary race by painting him as a supporter of tax hikes and this month NYSUT was blasted for mailers with images depicting a battered woman. Grisanti today called on the group to apologize for the mailers.

On Long Island, NYSUT spent $145,000 in TV ads opposing Tom Croci, the Republican running for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Lee Zeldin. He faces Democrat Adrienne Esposito.

In another open Senate seat in the Hudson Valley, NYSUT reported spending a combined $96,132 backing Democrat Justin Wagner and opposing Republican Terrence Murphy. The two candidates are competing for the seat held by Republican Sen. Greg Ball, who is leaving the Senate this year.

Kellner Appeal In Sexual Harassment Case Denied

Assemblyman Micah Kellner’s appeal of a decision by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to strip him of his committee chairmanship and office allocations was denied by a former state judge, according to a report released Monday by the Assembly Ethics panel.

In the ruling from Judge Howard Levine, who was appointed a hearing officer in Kellner’s appeal, both the Ethics Committee’s ruling that the Manhattan Democrat engaged in inappropriate behavior that created a hostile working environment as well as Silver’s decision to impose penalties were upheld.

Levine said it was a “rational conclusion” of the Assembly Ethics Committee that Kellner created a hostile working environment through flirtatious comments directed at his office staff.

Kellner had argued in his appeal through an attorney that he did not receive his constitutional right to due process, nor did he have sufficient time to respond to the charges of sexual harassment.

But Levine wrote in the report that Kellner had “sufficient opportunity to refute and clear his name with respect to allegations of misconduct.”

Transcripts reviewed by Levine — including interviews with the Assembly Ethics Committee — showed Kellner apologizing for his comments and acknowledging they were immature.

At the same time, Levine found that a full hearing with evidence and witness testimony given is not a guarantee under the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.

“Rather, the Assembly process at issue here (including the appeal) is governed by the Assembly Sexual Harassment Policy, which contains no provision for — or even any suggestion of — a full evidentiary hearing with open discovery and full cross-examination rights, either at the Ethics Committee level or in the context of an appeal,” Levine wrote.

Levine pointed the rejection of a legal fight brought by former Sen. Hiram Monserrate, a Democratic former lawmaker from Queens who sought to overturn his explusion from the state Senate following domestic abuse charges.

Kellner lost his Democratic primary for city council last year and did not run for re-election to the state Assembly this year.

Decision of HAL 09 05 14.pdf by Nick Reisman

Cuomo: No Shift In Quarantine Policy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on Monday he did not change the 21-day quarantine policy over the last several days, but instead said Sunday’s news conference was meant to provide more details on stopping the spread of the virus.

“The policy that we outlined on Friday was the policy that we detailed on Sunday,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday, announced a 21-day quarantine of health-care workers and travelers returning from countries in west Africa that have a large number of Ebola cases, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

The quarantine policy was laid out after Dr. Craig Spencer was found to have Ebola after working for Doctors Without Borders in the region.

Over the weekend, critics of the policy said the move would limit the number of people going to west African countries to help treat patients there.

At the same time, a nurse returning from Africa was detained and quarantined despite not showing any symptoms, which is when Ebola becomes contagious.

On Sunday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo said the quarantine would allow returning health care workers and others to stay in their homes during the 21-day period. The state would pay for any lost compensation during this time, Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the stipulation that health care workers can stay at home was simply an added detail, not a change in the policy.

“We outlined it on Friday, we detailed last night which was just two days later because people want the details, people wanted the information,” Cuomo said. “The policy I detailed is the same policy that we outlined on Friday. It is a policy that applies to the Port Authority, New York and New Jersey. It is the same policy.”

He also insisted the White House didn’t seek to apply any pressure on him to change the quarantine policy and added that his move is more strict than the guidelines in place by the Centers for Disease Control.

Cuomo repeatedly praise health-care workers in west Africa today, which comes after he wrongly suggested Spencer violated a quarantine (Cuomo on Saturday said he did not meant to critical of Spencer).

“I think we should have the highest respect for health care workers who volunteered to go to west Africa to do this. I mean, these are courageous, inspirational people,” Cuomo said, adding, “I have tremendous, tremendous respect for them and I’m going to encourage more people to do it.”

Nevertheless, he urged returning health care workers to remain at home during the quarantine, a period during which they will receive random checks from health officials to take their temperature. Cuomo joked those quarantined can read his memoir, “All Things Possible.”

“I’m asking those people who were in contact with infected people — stay at home for 21 days. We will pay,” Cuomo said. “Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, read a book, read my book, you don’t have to read my book, but stay at home for 21 days.”

Grisanti Calls For Apology Following NYSUT Mailer

Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti is calling for an apology from the president of the New York State United Teachers union on Monday following bipartisan outrage over a mailer that depicts a victim of domestic violence.

The mailer has been denounced by Republicans, but also by Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who called it “horrible.”

The mail piece was funded by NYSUT’s VOTE-COPE was aimed at calling attention to the stalled Women’s Equality Act, which includes a provision aimed at curtailing domestic violence. Grisanti backs that measure, but is opposed to an abortion plank in the package which is aimed at codifying Roe v. Wade in state law.

A near replica of the mailer is also being circulated downstate in the 40th Senate District aimed at Republican Terrence Murphy, who is seeking the Senate seat held by outgoing Republican Sen. Greg Ball.

Grisanti, in a letter to NYSUT President Karen McGee called the mailer’s intent “disgusting.”

“The depiction of a battered woman for political gain is not only improper and insensitive, but an exploitation of survivors of domestic violence,” he wrote in the letter.

Grisanti adds NYSUT should apologize to women and to survivors of domestic violence.

Starzak Ad Blasts Libous On Indictment

Democratic Senate hopeful Anndrea Starzak has a new television ad that knocks embattled Republican Sen. Tom Libous for his federal indictment as well as his personal wealth.

“Since joining the Senate, Tom Libous has gained a half a million lakefront house, a hundred thousand dollar taxpayer-funded job for his wife, four Florida homes,” the ad’s narrator says. “What happened to the jobs Tom promised us? He’s been indicted for lying, paid $50,000 bail and the FBI raided his home.”

Libous faces a charge of lying to the FBI in a case stemming from his son receiving a job at a politically connect law firm in Westchester County.

The longtime Binghamton lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing.

Throughout the 30-second commercial, the sound of a cash-register plays, along with a photoshopped image of Libous holding bags of money.

Starzak’s campaign spent $19,193 on television advertising, along with $796 on radio.

Libous is expected to vastly out-spend Starzak, a former Vestal town supervisor. She reported having $19,403 for the final week of the campaign.

Libous’ campaign account reported $584,960 in cash on hand and spent $81,865.

Pro-Charter School Groups Shore Up Martins, Funke And Murphy

Two groups funded by wealthy supporters of charter schools continued to spend heavily in contested Senate races over the weekend.

Balance New York reported spending $68,364 on mailers opposing the re-election of Rochester-area Sen. Ted O’Brien and the campaign of Democratic hopeful Justin Wagner.

O’Brien faces Republican Rich Funke next week, while Wagner is competing for an open seat against Republican Terrence Murphy.

A second group, New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany, reported spending $120,397 in ad production for the Long Island race between Sen. Jack Martins and Democrat Adam Haber.

Balance New York reported spending a combined $649,957, while New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany spent $2.5 million during the most recent fundraising period.

The groups are funded in part by hedge fund managers Paul Singer, Julian Robertson and Louis Bacon, all of whom have supported charter schools expansion.

Robertson gave New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany the bulk of its money, $1 million.