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Video: Should names of major parks patrons be posted on public banners?

Some parks-related issues are stirring debate in City  Hall. The News' Jill Terreri talks with Brian Meyer about a plan to display banners that recognize major parks donors. She also talks about possible increases in some parks fees.

Area, state politicians gather to honor 'Vinnie' Graber

By Robert J. McCarthy 

Former Assemblyman Vincent J. Graber was remembered as a veteran, railroad man, assemblyman, lobbyist, husband and father Friday during a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Orchard Park.

Tributes were offered by two close friends from his days in Democratic politics -- Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico and state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The judge recalled his long friendship, which began in Graber's Assembly office, noting his many stories and remembering his friend as "someone you enjoyed being with."

DiNapoli, meanwhile, went back to his first days in the Assembly when Graber wielded a no-nonsense gavel as speaker pro tempore. It wasn't until he really got to know Graber later, DiNapoli said, that he learned Graber was a "really nice guy."

A host of  figures from Graber's political life attended the service, including former County Executive Dennis T. Gorski, former Sens. Dale M. Volker and Raymond F. Gallahger, former Assemblymen Francis J. Pordum and Richard A. Smith, and current Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns.

Also attending were current Democratic Chairman Jereny J. Zellner and a predecessor, G. Steven Pigeon.

Graber, 83, died of cancer July 2.

'Daily Show' jabs at Cuomo's Albany 'clean up'

By Robert J. McCarthy

Among the more frequent topics of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's speeches about "cleaning up
Albany" is that New York State government is no longer the butt of late night talk show skits.

He may have to revise that speech.

"Daily Show" host Jon Stewart devoted a whole segment Thursday to the investigation into Cuomo's investigation of public corruption -- tainted Wednesday by a New York Times story pointing out alleged political interference by his administration.

“You know the ‘I made it, I can do what I want with it excuse,’ only works for George Lucas,” Stewart said during his own skit, jabbing at the governor's contention that because he created the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption he could control it, too.

Another Stewart line:

"It turns out Gov. Cuomo may be like the boss at work that says, 'Yeah, no, we'll play hoops at lunch. You can go hard.' And then when Jimmy from accounting blocks his shot and drives the lane, he's like, 'Hey, you're not allowed to touch the ball because I started the game.' "

The TV jabbing may have inspired Republican opponent Rob Astorino to launch his own tongue-in-cheek shot Friday. Spokeswoman Jessica Proud continued the "Where's Andrew" theme by asking for the third day in a row why the governor has not faced reporters to ask about the Moreland controversy.

"Is anyone else concerned that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gone missing for the past three days? Has an all-points bulletin (APB) been issued? The governor's whereabouts have been unknown since ... well ... since that blockbuster, A1 New York Times story came out on Tuesday about interference with a New York anti-corruption commission," she said.

"It's an unusual thing, a governor going missing for three days. Isn't it? Should someone be alerted?"

  

Video: Did Cuomo forces interfere in public corruption probe?

Did the Cuomo administration meddle in the work of the Moreland Commission, a panel that was probing public corruption? The News' Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about the controversy:

GOP ratchets up pressure on Cuomo over Moreland controversy


   By Robert J. McCarthy

   New York Republicans have apparently adopted a strategy of relentlessly calling attention to a controversy surrounding Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's handling of his Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.
   GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino continued that pressure Thursday with two press releases calling on Cuomo to face reporters following a Wednesday story in the New York Times outlining alleged interference by the administration over Moreland probes of interests near to the governor.
   "Mr. Cuomo still hasn't made himself available to the scrutiny of the New York press corps," said Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud. "New Yorkers need and deserve to hear from their governor. The Times outlined serious, potentially criminal allegations against the governor and his team. Mr. Cuomo needs to answer questions."
   Similar press releases were also offered Thursday by other Republican sources.

Ortt launches campaign with anti-SAFE Act pledge


  By Robert J. McCarthy

    If there is any doubt as to how Republican Robert G. Ortt is about to conduct his campaign to succeed George D. Maziarz in the State Senate, the Orleans County Fair should provide the answers Monday night.
  That's where the North Tonawanda mayor was slated to sign a pledge to repeal the NY SAFE Act, the strict gun control law championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and abhorred by conservatives.
   Ortt announced late Monday he will meet with members of SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) and sign the pledge at a 6:30 p.m. fair event.

Stocker irks GOP with Working Families effort


  By Robert J. McCarthy

   Kenmore attorney Kevin T. Stocker, the Republican challenging State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti in the Republican primary, continues to earn no friends among the GOP hierarchy.
   Republican sources in Buffalo and Albany are none too pleased about the petitions he filed seeking to wage a write-in campaign on the Working Families Party line  -- the same party aiming to help establish a Democratic majority in the Senate come 2015.
   Others take a burn to the candidate who portrays himself as a true conservative now seeking to run on what could be considered the state's most liberal party line.
   "When I talk with Working Families voters, we resonate with each other," he said. "There is a huge disconnect between them and party bosses. The voters are meat and potato families that work hard and are not liberal."
   If successful, Stocker would challenge Democrat Marc C. Panepinto on the WF line while simultaneously running against Grisanti on the GOP line.

Democrats seek to bounce Cuomo foe from primary ballot

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– Democrats have turned to a lawyer who helped craft some of the state’s complex election laws to try to keep a challenger to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo from getting onto the September Democratic gubernatorial primary ballot.

Martin Connor, a former State Senate minority leader from Brooklyn and one of the state’s most respected election lawyers, is in charge of the legal team seeking to challenge the designating petition submitted last week by Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who is seeking to run against Cuomo in a primary.

As is typical in ballot signature challenges, which will have its first stop before the state Board of Elections and eventually the courts, two unknown Democrats were tapped as the official objectors: Harris Weiss from New City in Rockland County and Austin Sternlicht from Rye in Westchester County.

Teachout submitted 45,000 signatures to try to get a place on the September primary ballot against Cuomo, who she has accused of abandoning a number of the Democratic Party’s core, liberal positions.

New York election laws can be difficult for challengers to incumbents to overcome and making a single mistake on a page of signatures can lead to that entire page being bounced in the counting process.

Teachout relied, in part, on gathering names at rallies and other public events, including street fairs, by volunteers not heavily experienced in the state’s election law. Such signature gathering is not nearly as safe as having party insiders going door to door seeking signatures from known Democratic voters based on enrollment sheets obtained from election board offices.

The law requires a minimum of 15,000 valid signatures from enrolled Democrats in order for Teachout to force a primary.

Connor was Senate minority leader until he was defeated in that post by then-Sen. David A. Paterson in 2002; Paterson, who would go on to become governor, is the Democratic Party’s current chairman. In May, Connor questioned whether Teachout was eligible to run because of his claim that she had not resided in the state for a minimum of five years. Teachout, originally from Vermont, has said she moved to the state just over five years ago.

Connor did not return calls for comment.

Teachout has been insisting for the past week that she gathered plenty of additional signatures to withstand an expected challenge by Cuomo or his surrogates.

Who precisely will be paying Connor’s legal tab is uncertain. A spokesman for the state Democratic Party, which is run by Cuomo, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The "general" challenges received Monday by the state elections board serve as an initial legal notice against Teachout’s signatures. The next step in the process is for Connor to submit the specific challenges to individual signatures or signature pages.

Video: Bob McCarthy on Steve Casey's exit from City Hall

First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey is leaving City Hall for a job in the private sector. The News' Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about Casey's exit and the new role he will play with a local development company:

Grisanti survives on Independence line; new entrant in Peoples-Stokes primary

    By Robert J. McCarthy

    The latest developments from the Board of Elections as candidates react to designating petitions filed last week:
   --  Republican Sen. Mark J. Grisanti is now assured of a line on the November general election ballot after the Erie County Board of Elections dismissed nominations of an entity calling itself the Erie County Independence Party. Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr said the board recognized earlier State Supreme Court rulings granting the state Independence Party the right to control all local nominations.
   As a result, he said the board invalidated the local group's backing of Democrat Marc C. Panepinto in the Grisanti district, making the incumbent Republican the official Independence nominee -- barring any further court action.
   The board also invalidated the local backing for Camille Brandon in the Assembly district formerly represented by Democrat Dennis H. Gabryszak; Betty Jean Grant in the Senate district represented by Democrat Timothy M. Kennedy, and for Christine Adamczyk for Cheektowaga Town Board.
   -- Niagara County officials reported objections have been filed to the Democratic petitions filed by Democrat Johnny G. Destino in the Senate district now represented by Republican George D. Maziarz.
   -- Erie County officials noted a new entrant -- Veronica Nichols -- into the contest for the Assembly district now represented by Democrat Crystal S. Peoples-Stokes, and also featuring challenger Antoine M. Thompson. Objections have been filed to the Nichols petitions, officials said.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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