Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Campaign Fundraising At The Tina Turner Musical

What’s guv got to do with it?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign in October will hold a fundraiser at a preview performance of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, with tickets ranging from $250 to $15,000.

The Oct. 24 event at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre also includes a private reception before the show with Cuomo to those who pay a premium rate.

The event is the second high-dollar fundraiser Cuomo is holding in the fall. His re-election campaign on Oct. 7 will hold an event in Yonkers, with top tickets fetching $25,000.

Cuomo during his 2014 re-election campaign used Turner’s “Simply The Best” as a theme song for his entrances.

Trump Signals Willingness To Fund Second Ave. Subway

From the Morning Memo:

The extension of the Second Avenue subway needs $2 billion in federal funding, and President Donald Trump caused a stir over the weekend by signaling he’s open to helping pay for the project.

Trump turned heads in a Twitter post on Saturday, writing that he is “looking forward” to helping Gov. Andrew Cuomo get the project, which would extend the line to 125th Street in Harlem, over the finish line.

“Long in the making, they now have the team that can get it done!” he wrote.

This, understandably, cause a bit of confusion considering it largely came out of the blue. MTA officials are also banking on a significant chunk of its five-year financial plan to be federally funded.

At the same time, Cuomo has been nudging Trump repeatedly on federal support for the Gateway Tunnel project as well as renovations at LaGuardia Airport.

“The Governor continues to have ongoing discussions with the president and federal Department of Transportation over advancing major infrastructure projects, including the Gateway Tunnel project, LaGuardia Airport and the Second Avenue Subway,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor.

“The president’s tweet suggests good news but we have no specific funding or approval and that is all that is relevant. If an agreement actually materializes, we will provide an update.”

In other infrastructure news, Cuomo on Sunday feted the opening of the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City.

“While the federal administration obsesses over building walls, in New York we are building bridges and other infrastructure critical to moving our 21st century economy forward,” he said. “With the opening of the second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge on Wednesday, we will once again demonstrate to the nation that it’s possible to take on big projects and to get them done on time and on budget.”

A portion of the bridge opens Wednesday to pedestrians and cyclists before opening to cars earlier Thursday morning.

Reed and Cuomo’s Offices Exchange Choice Words Over Thruway Issue

A war of words has spawned over the condition of a portion of the New York State Thruway that runs through Seneca Nation territory in Western New York.

The road has deteriorated over a number of years, but the issue was brought back to the forefront earlier this month when Republican Congressman Reed put in writing that the state should be held liable if a serious accident on the stretch. Reed suggested the governor was playing politics with traveler safety because of an unrelated dispute with the Seneca about casino revenue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office had mostly deferred to the Thruway Authority regarding the timeline for repairs but during a press conference this week, suggested there was a connection between the casino dispute and the I-90 issues. He did suggest it was the Senecas potentially holding up the rehabilitation.
Still, Reed pounced Thursday, calling Cuomo’s stance appalling and questioning whether the governor was abusing his authority. That didn’t sit well with Cuomo’s office which offered up a rather harsh statement.
“Everyone knows that the congressman is used to being the president’s patsy but he shouldn’t be the Senecas’ patsy as well. He should do his job, stand with the communities he represents and demand that the Senecas make good on the arbitrators’ decision and make their neighbors whole,” Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to the Governor, said.
Friday, Reed’s office struck back and like its Albany counterpart, didn’t pull any punches.
“Patsy? Unlike the Governor, none of Tom’s aides are in prison for taking bribes in exchange for sweetheart deals. Tom just wants I-90 fixed for the safety of the travelling public. The Federal funds have been delivered. Just fix the road before someone dies,” Communications Director Will Reinert said.
We will wait to see if Cuomo’s Office returns the volley.

Cuomo Signs Bill Targeting Scammers Of Vets

A bill meant to crack down on those who seek to scam veterans through unnecessary financial products or services was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation blocks entities from receiving compensation for aiding veterans and their dependents by preparing a claim for benefit services they are not authorized to provide.

“Our veterans bravely put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedoms, and we owe it to them to help ensure they have the protections and resources they need to be financially stable in the future,” Cuomo said.

“There are plenty of business that legitimately assist veterans and their families. However, there are far too many bad actors who prey upon the individuals who have valiantly served our state and our nation, causing irreparable financial harm. In enacting the strongest state legislation in the nation to protect our veterans and their families from these pension poaching schemes, we are sending a clear message to these unscrupulous entities that we will not allow them to abuse our service members and recognizing the sacrifice these brave men and women have made.”

The measure is meant to tackle “pension poaching” — scams that often involve financial planners, insurance agents or other entities that have targeted elderly or disabled veterans.

The pitch sometimes masked as helping veteran families obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but often lead to veterans repositioning their assets in order to qualify for benefits they aren’t eligible for. In turn, the entities sell veterans unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblyman Walter Mosley.

“This legislation which I sponsored with Assemblyman Mosley will crackdown on the despicable crime of pension poaching by preventing scammers from profiting off a veteran’s service,” Carlucci said. “Veterans are heroes who have served our country selflessly to defend our freedoms. Now it’s our turn to help protect them from scam artists who seek to steal their hard earned money.”

Rep. Reed Criticizes Cuomo For Stance On Thruway Repairs, Seneca Nation

Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY-23, expressed “great concern” about comments the governor made earlier this week.

During a trip to Western New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to acknowledge a connection between a section of the New York State thruway on Seneca Nation that has fallen into disrepair and an ongoing dispute between the state and the Senecas over casino revenue. He says Cuomo essentially acknowledged he is putting the traveling public’s safety at risk because of a separate political dispute.

“When you see a bully like that, you need to stand up to that bully and stand with the people and their safety and so we’re going to stand up to the governor and say, you know, this is wrong,” Reed said.

Cuomo, Tuesday, said the state would fix the couple mile stretch of road but he does not believe the Senecas would allow it. He said the state would not go in without permission, lest it jeopardize its legal standing in the casino dispute.

Reed seemed skeptical the Senecas would have a problem with the state making repairs based on the public statements they have made.

“I believe the nation agrees tremendously with us in regards to making sure that the traveling public’s safety is paramount.”

The congressman said the “strategy” could represent an abuse of the governor’s authority. Earlier this month, he sent letters putting the state on written notice it would be liable should the road cause a significant problem for drivers.

“We have heard from numerous people about accidents they’ve been involved with, damage to their vehicles as a result of going through that stretch of highway,” Reed said.

He said his office is keeping close tabs on the situation and there could be more to come.

“Everyone knows that the congressman is used to being the president’s patsy but he shouldn’t be the Senecas’ patsy as well. He should do his job, stand with the communities he represents and demand that the Senecas make good on the arbitrators’ decision and make their neighbors whole,” Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to the Governor, said.

New Law Strengthens Protections For Minors Against Sex Offenders

Felony sex offenders will be blocked from having a child placed in their custody by courts, based on a law signed Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The law is meant to strengthen protections for minors against contact with sex offenders, and at the same time prevents sex offenders from having unsupervised visits with a person who has been convicted of a felony sex offense.

“No child should have to endure the trauma of sexual abuse and it is critical that children going into the custody of another individual are safe,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This new law is common sense: it mandates that minors not be placed in the custody of or have unsupervised visits with anyone who committed a felony sex offense against them and ensuring the future wellbeing of these vulnerable children.”

The measure was sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Fall and Sen. Diane Savino.

“The effects that abuse can have on a child over their course are wide-ranging, from depression to alcohol and drug abuse to withdrawal and suicide attempts,” Savino said.

“It is our duty to ensure that they are protected when it comes to custody and visitation rulings. Those convicted of sex offenses should have to prove that they are suited to have custody or unsupervised visits, not the other way around. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill into law and to seeing the improvements it ultimately makes in our family court system.”

As Campaign Commission Meets, Parties Fret Fusion Voting

From the Morning Memo:

New York’s campaign finance laws could soon be overhauled by a commission meeting over the next several weeks, with the headline change being the creation of a system of public financing.

But smaller parties in New York, including the Working Families Party, have increasingly viewed the commission as a vehicle for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to get rid of or alter fusion voting, a mechanism that has allowed entities like the WFP and the Conservative Party to retain influence.

Fusion voting allows candidates run for multiple offices on the same ballot, an arrangement party chairmen have grudgingly lived with over the years, and one that enables parties on the left or right flanks to influence Democratic and Republican platforms.

The WFP, which had initially endorsed Cynthia Nixon’s campaign for governor in 2018 before backing Cuomo’s re-election after he won the September primary, sees the commission’s broad mandate as a threat.

The commission met for the first time on Wednesday and voted to advance any package of changes as a single proposal. This was an “aha!” moment for the WFP.

“Cuomo’s hand-picked state party chair and hand-picked commissioner Jay Jacobs is the state’s most vocal fusion opponent,” WFP Executive Director Bill Lipton.

“At today’s commission meeting, he today pushed through a resolution binding all recommendations together into one vote. It’s a transparent effort to tie public financing and ending fusion voting together. This is Cuomo’s poison pill to eliminate fusion voting.”

Jacobs, the state party chairman, has been critical of fusion voting in the past. He said in an interview last month he would keep an open mind about the issue while serving on the commission.

The governor’s office scoffed at the suggestion, noting Lipton and the WFP are on the same side of this argument with the Conservative Party.

“The mandate of the commission is to create the strongest public financing system possible,” said Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo. “I have no reaction to the WFP’s latest bout of paranoia or the craven political motivations of Boss Bill and his new best friends, the Trump lovin’ conservatives.”

Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul received 114,478 votes on the Working Families Party ballot line, more than twice the 50,000-vote threshold for the party to retain ballot status in the current election cycle.

Cuomo Backs His Brother In ‘Fredo’ Flap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sympathized with his brother’s heated exchange last week with a man who called him “Fredo” — saying it’s understandable when you are confronted by a hostile critic when out with your family.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in a video that went viral last week confronted a man who compared him to a character from “The Godfather” — a jibe he said an anti-Italian slur and at one point threatened to throw the man down a flight of stairs.

Cuomo earlier this week blasted a column by an editor at the Times Union for making light of the incident. And on Wednesday he sympathized with what happened to his brother.

“I think what he said was right. I think he should be better than his opposition,” he said. “This is a very hostile political climate. It’s a very emotional political climate. People are hostile on both ends of the political spectrum. It’s hard when you’re with your family and you’re in a personal day and someone attacks you. Your normal instinct is to defend yourself and your family.”

The governor said he has experienced similar moments of being criticized as well and chalked it up to the polarized political era.

“People are very heated, they’re very emotional. A lot of the issues are emotional. They get very passionate. They get very enraged. That’s the climate of our times as unfortunate as it is,” he said. “I think my brother was right in the statement that he issued afterwords that he should have been better than that.”

Cuomo’s comments came at the state fairgrounds outside of Syracuse, where the governor did the traditional spin around the fair. He shook hands with fairgoers, including several people who acknowledged they were Republicans.

One man held a sign behind him saying, “Where’s Fredo?” Cuomo ignored him.

Cuomo Defends License Plate Replacement Plan, $25 Fee

The plan to replace license plates in New York is needed in order to have the plates be picked up by cashless tolling censors, which will soon be everywhere on the state Thruway system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Wednesday.

“The license plates are not designed for our license plate readers,” Cuomo said. “The license plate readers, electronic tolling, needs a light color background and a darker color number-letter for the license plate reader to work. The majority of cars in the state today are going through electronic tolling.”

At the same time, Cuomo defended the $25 fee for a new plate, which will be required beginning in April for any driver with a 10-year-old license plate or older, beginning to effect the blue and white plates first. The state charges $20 for keeping the same plate number.

The state announced this week announced a contest for the next license plate design. But state lawmakers from both parties blasted the plate change, calling it a stealth tax hike.

Cuomo said the fee was meant to cover the cost of the plates, which are manufactured in a state prison in Auburn by inmates who earn well under the state’s minimum wage.

“It’s your license plate, you should pay for the cost of the license plate,” he said. “If you don’t pay, then you’d have to pay out of tax dollars.”

The current $25 plate fee, Cuomo noted, was approved under his predecessor David Paterson.

“The $25 for the plates we did not establish,” he said. “That was established in law, 2009, before I was even governor.”

State lawmakers are urging Cuomo to waive the new plate replacement fee. The initial wave of replacements could generate about $75 million in revenue for the state.

New York Sues EPA Over Hudson River Cleanup

New York on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming the federal government failed to fully complete its removal of PCB-laden muck from the Hudson River.

The challenge to the cleanup’s completion has been telegraphed for the last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and environmental officials in his administration as they cast doubt on the EPA granting a certificate of completion to General Electric Co. for the removal of polychlorinated biphenyls from the river.

“Trump’s EPA is failing New Yorkers and the environment by putting the priorities of polluters first,” Cuomo said.

“The Hudson River is among New York’s most precious natural and economic resources, but despite years of dredging, levels of PCB contamination are still unacceptably high in the river and in fish. We have an obligation to protect the health and vitality of both the Hudson River and the communities along its banks for current and future generations. Since the EPA has failed to hold GE accountable for restoring the river, New York is taking action to demand a full and complete remediation.”

The cleanup of the Hudson River began with a dredging project in 2009 and completed in 2015, focused on two areas of the river: Hudson Falls to Troy and in the lower portion of the river from Troy to the tip of Manhattan.

“We will not allow the EPA to let big polluters like General Electric off the hook without a fight,” said Attorney General Letita James, whose office filed the lawsuit.

“The facts are clear: Hudson River fish remain much too contaminated with PCBs to safely eat, and EPA admits they don’t know when – or if – they ever will be. EPA can’t ignore these facts – or the law – and simply pronounce GE’s cleanup of PCBs complete. That is why we filed this lawsuit to force EPA to follow the law and require GE to truly complete its PCB cleanup and finally return the full use of the Hudson River to the people of New York.”