Heaney Takes Issue With Teachout Super PAC Pledge

From the Morning Memo:

Republican congressional candidate Andrew Heaney is not jumping on board with the pledge proposed by Democratic hopeful Zephyr Teachout to reject the use of super PACs in the race for the 19th congressional district.

Teachout proposed all candidates sign on to the “Peoples’ Pledge” to ban the use of super PAC in the campaign for the Hudson Valley House seat.

In a statement, Heaney spokesman David Catalfamo pointed out Teachout recently left her own super PAC to run for office. The May Day PAC, formed as a “the PAC to end all PACs” was put together with the intent of raising the issue of campaign finance reform in the election.

“Andrew Heaney is running for Congress to break the grip of the ‘special interests, big corporations and insiders like John Faso on Washington,” Catalfamo said. “Sadly, Zephyr Teachout, having just stepped away from running a PAC, is reducing the ‘People’s Pledge’ to a political prop rather than engaging in a real dialogue – if she is truly serious about a real dialogue on this important issue, we will be happy to discuss it with her.”

Heaney himself has his own PAC supporting him in the race, the New York Jobs Council. Filings show Heaney contributed to the PAC before he declared he was a candidate for Congress.

The super PAC has largely concentrated its criticism in the race for now on Heaney’s GOP rival for the nomination, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso.

Once Again, Orange County Dems Criticize Larkin

From the Morning Memo:

Democrats in Orange County are once again stepping up their criticism of Republican Sen. Bill Larkin over his use of taxpayer-funded mailers.

This time, Democratic Committee Chairman Brett Broge is knocking Larkin over a mail piece that touts his support for a constitutional amendment for pension forfeiture, a measure that has stalled in the Legislature.

In the statement, Broge points to Larkin taking advantage of a “legal loophole” to collect his pension while he’s still in elected office.

“It’s offensive that Bill Larkin is using taxpayer money to send out a glossy mailer claiming that he is ‘protecting taxpayers.’ Adding insult to injury, Larkin has the gall to talk about pension reform at the same time he is exploiting a legal loophole to collect his own taxpayer-funded pension on top of his Senate salary,” Broge said in the statement.

“After nearly 40 years in office, career politician Bill Larkin is simply out of touch with the residents of the Hudson Valley. We desperately need a fresh voice in Albany.”

Democrats have repeatedly criticized Larkin in recent weeks as they seek to potentially make his Hudson Valley Senate district a competitive one this year.

The GOP-led Senate last year backed a measure that strip public officials of their pension if convicted of a felony. But in the Assembly, lawmakers raised objections to how the amendment was written and whether the language was too broad.

Ultimately, the Assembly approved a different measure that doesn’t match up with the Senate version.

“All New Yorkers are supportive of preventing any lawmaker from collecting their pension if convicted of a felony,” said Orange County Republican Chairwoman Courtney Greene. “It is about time the Democrat lead Assembly get on board. The Democrats have resorted to personally attacking Senator Larkin because they have no one who can match his record of service to our community and our country.”

Here and Now

Good Tuesday morning after the Iowa Caucuses and Happy Groundhodg Day!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, has returned from Iowa after campaigning with Hillary Clinton. He is in New York City, with nothing public planned.

At 7 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has the honor of officiating at the Groundhog Day Ceremony, Staten Island Zoo, 614 Broadway, Staten Island.

At 9:30 a.m., the joint legislative budget hearing convenes on taxes, Hearing Room B, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 10 a.m., New York State Office for the Aging Director Corinda Crossdale Outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State Agenda, R.A.I.N. Boston Road Neighborhood Senior Center, 2424 Boston Road, Bronx, NY

At 10:30 a.m., the Statewide Learning Community releases Expanding Learning through School-Community Partnerships in New York State: Findings and Recommendations of the Statewide Learning Community, Albany Room, Empire State Plaza Concourse, Albany.

At 11 a.m., New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox will announce the details of the state Republican convention, Erie County GOP Headquarters, 715 Main Street, Buffalo.

Also at 11 a.m., Fostering Youth Success Alliance will hold a news conference to announce their goals for 2016. The late Judge Judith Kaye will also be remembered and a scholarship program is being named in her memory, third floor terrace, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Speaker Carl Heastie will hold a news conference with lawmakers and advocates on paid family leave, speaker’s conference room 342, Capitol.

At 1 p.m., the joint legislative budget hearing convenes on economic development, Hearing Room B, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 2 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver the opening remarks at the New York State Association of Counties Women’s Leadership Roundtable, The Desmond, 660 Albany Shaker Road, Albany (This event is closed press).

At 6 p.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity and Director of the State Office for New Americans Jorge Montalvo outlines Gov. Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State Agenda, Dominico-American Society of Queens, 40-27 97th Street, Corona, NY

At 7 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will address the Agriculture and Food Professionals ‎at LEAD New York Class, Department of Agriculture & Markets, 10B Airline Drive, Albany, NY

Your headlines:

Hillary Clinton has narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Caucuses, though Sanders is yet to concede.

Up until just before 5 a.m., the race on the Democratic side was too close to call, making for a long night for the candidates and their supporters.

In an upset on the Republican side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came out on top Monday night in Iowa, dealing a setback to Donald Trump.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, finished a strong third in the caucuses.

The caucus results left former Gov. Martin O’Malley without a ticket to New Hampshire. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also left the race and suspended his campaign.

The Fifth Avenue apartment that was once home to Donald Trump’s parents is now up for sale for $23 million.

Trump’s conservative critics are breathing a sigh of relief after he was denied an Iowa win.

The son of Rachel Noerdlinger, former aide to Bill de Blasio and an ally of Rev. Al Sharpton, has been charged with manslaughter following a stabbing in Edgewater.

After knocking on 2,500-some doors in Iowa for Clinton, de Blasio is heading back to New York City today a day early.

Councilman Eric Ulrich is being talked up as a potential Republican opponent to de Blasio in 2017.

The WHO has declared the Zika virus an international emergency, with state and city officials taking action as well.

Senate lawmakers are pushing legislation that would block sex offenders from gaining access to homeless shelters.

A delayed report on New York City shelter safety violations has been released.

Officials at SUNY and CUNY headquarters are defending the salaries of their top leadership amid criticism from the Cuomo administration.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing the EPA to act on the water contamination situation in Hoosick Falls.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, says Saint-Gobain needs to disclose the extent of the alleged pollution in the area.

The state Senate once again approves the legalization of mixed-martial arts, but the measure’s fate in the Democratic-led Assembly remains in doubt.

The top Democratic leader in North Hempstead is set to resign amid a district attorney probe over his public jobs and salaries.

A Louisiana-based firm received $16 million in Nassau County contracts after giving to the campaign of County Executive Ed Mangano in 2013.

The Democrats who hope to defeat Rep. Lee Zeldin are raising heavily, with each pulling in nearly $1 million.

In the race for Rep. Charlie Rangel’s seat, Assemblyman Keith Wright is leading in fundraising among the candidates.

Syracuse residents want to see the details of any merger and what it would look like before a consolidation with Onondaga County goes through.

The proposal for a “moon shot” to defeat cancer will cost $1 billion in President Obama’s budget.

Students rallied at UAlbany following a racially charged incident on a bus between students.

University police are reviewing the incident and plan to deploy additional personnel.

Republicans plan to hold their 2016 state convention in Buffalo as they nominate a challenger to take on U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.

The district attorney in Erie County hopes to strengthen the county’s ethics codes.

Abuse of opioids is rising to the list of top abuses for health officials in Erie County.

Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter is reporting more than $784,000 in cash on hand for re-election bid.

A $20 million business competition is being launched in the state’s Southern Tier region.

Three times Groundhog Day went terribly wrong.



Iowa, in a nutshell.

While we await tonight’s results, here are some non-caucus related headlines for your reading enjoyment:

The World Health Organization has declared a global emergency over the rapidly spreading Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas, saying it is an “extraordinary event” that poses a threat to the rest of the world.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has introduced a bill preventing air and cruise lines from denying refunds to pregnant passengers and their companions traveling to areas where the mosquito-borne Zika virus is transmitted.

With growing concern about people, including pregnant women, who may have traveled overseas and been exposed to Zika virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is deploying the state’s Wadsworth Center labs to run tests for people who may have exposed to the mosquito-borne illness.

After what he deemed a “disastrous” hearing on the subject, New York City Councilman David Greenfield called for the delay of a vote on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s horse carriage ban, which is scheduled for Friday.

Developers of the planned Lago resort and casino in Tyre, Seneca County have beat back another legal challenge, with a county Supreme Court judge upholding the local town board’s findings that the project wouldn’t have undue adverse impacts on the area.

Uber drivers in New York City called today for a strike to protest the company’s decision to cut fares by 15 percent, as drivers rallied at the ride-sharing app’s New York headquarters.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher was surprised by criticism from Cuomo’s office that top SUNY administrators and professors are earning more than their peers in other states.

Watch out, LG Kathy Hochul! Groundhog Day can be dangerous!

Syracuse lawyer Steve Williams, who jump-started his campaign with $52,000 of his own money, has an early fundraising advantage over two other Democrats seeking the party’s designation to take on GOP Rep. John Katko in the November election.

An Erie County task force to combat opioid misuse got to work today as the prescription painkiller epidemic worsens there and across the nation.

A week after top Ultimate Fighting Championship officials and a former middleweight champion came through the Capitol, the state Senate passed for a seventh consecutive year on legislation that would legalize and regulate professional mixed martial arts fights.

Cuomo announced a series of outreach events across the state to encourage minority and women owned-businesses to take advantage of billions in state contracting opportunities for the LaGuardia Redevelopment Project.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James is suing the Department of Education, accusing it of failing to provide services to students with special needs as a result of a flawed data tracking system.

Thomas A. Farley, the pediatrician who led New York City’s health department through major campaigns against tobacco and sugary soda, was named to head Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation has lost an appeal in its 10-year legal battle to reclaim thousands of acres in the Hamptons.

One of the 100 most romantic restaurants in America is in Albany.

Once Again, Senate Approves MMA Legalization

The Republican-led Senate approved with little trouble on Monday a bill that would legalize mixed-martial arts in New York.

The measure’s fate in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, however, remains up in the air.

Nevertheless, MMA supporters were heartened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inclusion of legalizing the sport in his $154 billion budget proposal.

“New York is the only state missing out on the jobs and other economic benefits that would be created from the legalization of professional MMA competitions,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “As we have done for several years, the Senate has again passed a bill allowing MMA and this year, the Governor has also proposed it as part of his Executive Budget. The Assembly should take up MMA now so that our state can realize the economic potential of competitions here in New York.”

In the Assembly, support was believed to be close for the measure to gain a floor vote for the first time in its legislative history.

“We still haven’t had a chance to conference that yet,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

MMA supporters have insisted a majority of the lawmakers in the chamber back the measure and it would pass if a floor vote is allowed.

Opponents of MMA have raised concerns with the sport’s violence. At the same time, MMA’s top promote, Ultimate Fighting Championship, has been locked in a dispute with labor unions in Las Vegas.

The 2018 GOP Bench

The Republican bench in 2018 for governor could be one of the deepest in years.

While Rob Astorino and Carl Paladino have both signaled an interest in running again, the party could have a slate of first-time candidates including Rep. Chris Gibson, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro and businessman Harry Wilson.

“My grandad had a great lesson for me,” Molinaro said when asked about running statewide. “Do your job well and they’ll consider you for a promotion.”

The next gubernatorial race, of course, is several lifetimes away.

But Republicans have tall mountain to climb when it comes to fundraising, with some GOP officials urging candidates to get an early start now in order to be competitive (We’re already seeing that with Gibson, whose allies have formed an independent expenditure committee on his behalf).

At the same time, having a deep bench could cut both ways: In 2010, Republicans had Paladino, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, former Rep. Rick Lazio and businessman Myers Mermel all run for governor. Paladino lost in a landslide following a primary victory over Lazio.

In 2006, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso was the party favorite over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Molinaro was one of several GOP speakers at the Conservative Party’s annual political action conference on Monday, which also included remarks from Astorino, Gibson and Paladino, as well as Wilson, the party’s 2010 nominee for comptroller.

Considered a rising star since his days in local government, Molinaro has served in the Assembly before he was elected Dutchess county executive in 2011.

And as the voting public this year appears to be in an anti-establishment mood, Molinaro said a politician — even one who has been in public office for most of their career — can channel that frustration.

“I think the obvious answer is there is an anti-establishment feeling because too many elected officials are tone deaf,” he said. “I think any candidate who will just shut up and listen to the voters and try to channel that frustration and anger it something productive can be very successful and can ultimately improve the state of New York.”

Wilson, meanwhile, in an interview specifically noted his business background when asked about running for governor. A hedge fund manager, Wilson narrowly lost to incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli in 2010 — a loss his supporters attributed in part to Paladino’s raucous bid for governor.

“I’m a career businessman. I look this state, there are major problems within our state,” Wilson said. “The economy is a mess, the state of Albany is a mess in terms of government corruption. I think we need major change. As I look at it, I’ll evaluate rather I can deliver that change. We’ll have to see.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he plans to see a third term.

New York GOP 2016 Convention Will Be In Buffalo

The New York State Republican Committee will hold its 2016 convention in Buffalo. The convention is scheduled for March 4th and will be in one of the city’s newest buildings, HARBORCENTER, which is connected to First Niagara Center.

GOP Chairman Ed Cox will be at Erie County Republican Headquarters, Tuesday at 11 a.m., to make the announcement. The committee will name its candidate for U.S. Senate during the convention.

The party has typically held the convention downstate although in 2012 it was in Rochester when Wendy Long was selected as the candidate to run against Kirsten Gillibrand.

Heastie: Education Funding ‘One Of The Larger Issues’

Ensuring provides enough school aid is “one of the larger issues” for the Assembly, Speaker Carl Heasite on Monday said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $154 billion budget increases education aid by $963 million and partially restores cuts made under the gap elimination adjustment.

But lawmakers in both the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled have indicated they would like to see more funds spent on education this year.

The Board of Regents backed a $2.9 billion proposed spending increase, while Senate Republicans want a complete elimination of the GEA and have threatened to not support a budget that doesn’t restore the cuts.

Last year discussion over education dwelled largely on policy, especially teacher evaluations being linked to overall test scores. This year, with those issues more or less sidelined after the Board of Regents agreed to a moratorium on enacting the changes, talk has shifted once again to the traditional debate over spending.

The issue is more complicated for school districts this year, who have a tax cap of less than 1 percent to contend with — a fact that Heastie cited.

“For us in the Assembly, making sure people have the adequate funds around the state to take care of children’s education needs particularly because the locals can’t raise as much because of the tax cap,” he said. “Trying to get as much resources to them I’d say is one of the larger issues for us.”

Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats plan to meet this evening to discuss outstanding budget issues.

“There are a lot of things we like,” Heastie said of Cuomo’s proposal, “and there are some things that we’re going to have to work on.”

Astorino ‘Absolutely Considering’ Another Run For Governor

astorinocpacAndrew Cuomo gave a “terrifying” State of the State address.

He sounded more like Leon Trotsky giving the “most anti-business speech ever” in the state’s history.

And he’s “an extreme liberal con artist.”

Those were the charges thrown out by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino at the Convservative Party’s annual political action conference in Colonie on Monday morning, in which the 2014 candidate for governor reaffirmed his consideration of another run in 2018.

“Am I considering it? Absolutely I am,” he said after a question from the audience, which led to applause.

The speech was of the red meat variety of the Conservative Party and comes as he faces a potential challenge from other Republican candidates for the gubernatorial nomination, including Carl Paladino, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Rep. Chris Gibson and Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

His remarks, given at the Radisson Hotel outside of Albany, ratcheted up the rhetoric against Cuomo, who has emphasized issues in recent months friendly to the liberal base of the Democratic Party, including a minimum wage increase to $15.

“He’s just an extreme liberal and another extreme liberal con artist,” Astorino said. “Everything makes sense again: This is what happens with liberals over time. They can dress in polka dots, but eventually the stripes come through.”

And he took aim at “liberal Republicans” as well.

“It doesn’t just happen with Democratic liberals,” Astorino said. “It happens with Republican liberals, too — even the closet variety.”

Speaking with reporters after the speech, Astorino insisted the remarks weren’t aimed at a potential rival. Gibson, who retires from Congress at the end of the year, has staked out more moderate positions on social issues than Astorino.

“This is not unlike the speeches I’ve given in years past here and I believe it,” Astorino said. “The state is going in the wrong direction. I made that case in ’14 and not enough people heard. I made that case in 2005 in Westchester and not enough people heard until everything caught up with the times.”

But the address was very much aimed at the audience, whose party has sought to keep Republicans to the right in an ever increasingly Democratic-dominated state. No Republican has won statewide without support from the party in recent history and the last GOP candidate to win statewide was George Pataki’s third-term bid in 2002.

Astorino’s address was squarely aimed at liberals. Referring to Cuomo’s State of the State address given last month, Astorino said the political left is ruining the country.

“There on stage was really not the enemy of this country,” he said. “It wasn’t Andrew Cuomo, but leftism itself: an ideology that threatens to take this country down.”

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi on Twitter batted away Astorino’s criticism, comparing him to Triumph, the insult comic dog.

Astorino faces re-election for the county executive post in 2017 and said on Monday he intends to seek another term.

Acting Erie County District Attorney Proposes Ethics Code Reform

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is proposing a number of changes to strengthen the County Code of Ethics. Acting DA Michael Flaherty sent the proposal to the legislature and county executive, Friday.

Among the recommended changes, Flaherty wants to expand the definition of “political party official,” increase penalties for violations of the law, and restrict appointments for party leader. He said he began looking at the laws because he was handed a “widely reported” case about a local elected official.

While he said it was inappropriate to comment specifically, he most likely was referring to County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw’s case, which was placed on his desk as soon as he took office. In December, the Board of Ethics ruled Mychajliw violated the code when he allowed a group of local businessmen to pay for his tuition to a Harvard executive seminar.

“The inspiration was what do I do about this particular case. The answer was, I can’t do anything right now and so what I want to do is be able in the future, should that happen again, have some tools to work with,” Flaherty said.

The district attorney said he would be meeting with the ethics board chairman, Wednesday, to discuss the Mychajliw case. Under the current law, the Ethics Board had permission to fine the comptroller for his violation but the law did not allow for the board or the DA to force Mychajliw to pay back the $12,000 in tuition he received. Flaherty’s plan addresses that.

The district attorney’s proposal also recommended closing the LLC Loophole for campaign contributions by adopting the language of the Moreland Commission recommendations. Governor Cuomo has also proposed the state legislature close the loophole but Flaherty believes the county could get ahead of the curve.

Flaherty said he hopes the legislature and the county executive will take his recommendations even further and add their own. County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he plans to introduce his own ethics reform which could include new rules requiring elected officials who are also attorneys to disclose their client list.