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Lazio's policy committee lacks presence from upstate

ALBANY -- Rick Lazio, who struggled to capture the backing of some traditional upstate areas in his 2000 U.S. Senate race, has spent much time upstate over the past year wooing the region's Republicans in his quest for the party's gubernatorial nomination.

So it was curious today when Lazio unveiled a panel of 21 scholars, businessmen and others to advise his campaign on how to "fundamentally change New York" and only two of the people on that list are from upstate.

And those two live in the Albany area.

Lazio said he is honored to have the counsel of "so many intelligent and knowledgeable individuals" on his policy committee, including financiers, scholars, lawyers and others.

His big name on the list: Henry Kissinger.

The list includes advisers on topics like education, the economy, law enforcement, small business development, as well as advisers on foreign policy, counter-terrorism and Israeli affairs.

The sole upstate residents are Gene Zeltmann, a former New York Power Authority president who will advise Lazio on energy, and Roger Hannay, a small business adviser who runs a manufacturing company outside Albany. Why does the policy group of 21 include only two people from upstate?

"Our policy committee is an evolving group that will include talented and diverse New Yorkers from different backgrounds and geographic locations as our campaign to build a better New York continues," responded Barney Keller, a Lazio spokesman.

--Tom Precious

Paladino's latest forwarded e-mail is titled "This explains why I forward jokes, and it says it all"

New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino forwarded an e-mail titled "This explains why I forward jokes, and it says it all" to undisclosed recipients Saturday. In recent weeks, Paladino's fowarding of controversial e-mails had come to light. Below is the e-mail forwarded Saturday:

From: Carl Paladino [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Sat 4/24/2010 4:31 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: FW: This explains why I forward jokes, and it says it all

--
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 7:00 PM
To: Carl Paladino
Subject: Fwd: This explains why I forward jokes, and it says it all


This explains why I  forward jokes, and it says it all for me.


A  man and his dog were walking along a road.
The man was enjoying the scenery, 
when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered  dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years.
He  wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they  came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.

It looked like  fine marble..

At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it, he saw a  magnificent gate in the arch that looked
like mother-of-pearl, and the  street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked  toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one  side.


When he was close  enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven,  sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?'  the man asked.

'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'

The man gestured, and the gate began to  open.  'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his
dog, 'come in, too?' the traveler asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept  pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the  road and continued the
way he had been going with his dog.

After  another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt  road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. 

There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning  against a tree and reading a book....


'Excuse me!' he called  to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over  there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveler gestured  to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump,'  said the man.

They went  through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump
with  a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink  himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog  walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you  call this place?' the traveler asked.

'This is Heaven,' he  answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveler said.

'The man down  the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the  gold street and pearly gates?  Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy  that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'


Soooo. Now you see, sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding stuff to us without writing a word.  Maybe this will explain it.

When you  are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do?   You forward mails.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don't  know what, and don't know how.... you forward stuff.


A  'forward' lets you know that you are still  remembered, you are still important, you are still  loved, you are still cared for.

So, next time if you get  a 'forward', don't think that you've been sent just another forwarded joke, but  that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your  computer wanted to send you a smile.


You are welcome at  my water bowl anytime !!

Even Albany lobbyists feel economic pain

ALBANY -- Gulp. Just how bad was New York's economy last year?

Consider the steadiest economy in Albany next to the state work force: its lobbying industry.

For only the second time since 1978, the amount of money paid to lobbyists declined in 2009 from the previous year, as those who get paid to influence everyone from the governor to the legislators saw a dip in income, a new report has found.

Big and small companies, as well as other government agencies and not-for-profits, paid Albany's 5,887 lobbyists $167.8 million last year for representation at the Capitol. That is down from $173.9 million in 2008, according to the Commission on Public Integrity, a state agency whose duties include monitoring lobbyists.

Lobbyists all year have said clients were cutting back on both payments and expenses to deal with the recession, pushing back on the usual inflation-busting increases in the overall amount paid to the Albany lobbying industry.

The last time lobbying expenses saw an annual dip was 2000.

The report, showing a 3.5 percent dip in the overall amount spent on lobbying last year, covered 3,499 clients and 52 public corporations.

But some things didn't get rattled: Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker remained the highest-paid lobbying firm in Albany, reporting receipts from its 152 clients — realtors, bankers, Broadway theater producers, gambling interests, hospitals and more — of $10.8 million, the same level as 2008.

Patricia Lynch Associates, run by a former top aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose lobbyists include former Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz, ranked second in compensation, at $8.4 million, up from $7.9 million the previous year. Lynch has an assortment of Western New York clients, including the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus ($30,000 to her firm last year), Buffalo Niagara Partnership ($48,000), Buffalo State College ($25,000), the City of Buffalo ($40,000), Erie County ($55,000) and Delaware North ($105,000).

Coming in third again was Bolton St. John's, which had $5.3 million, down from $5.8 million the previous year. The group represents a broad range of clients, including Kaleida Health, which paid $115,000 last year for its services, and its local lobbyists include Maurice Garner, who is tight with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and John O'Donnell, a local political consultant.

— Tom Precious

Hoyer: Massa scandal isn't like Foley scandal

Hoyer
 
When a Steny Hoyer staffer was told of the allegations against Eric Massa in February, the majority leader's office told Massa's office to report the concerns to the House Ethics Committee within 48 hours, or else Hoyer would do so himself.

WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer today scoffed at any comparison of the Eric Massa scandal with the downfall of another disgraced former lawmaker, Mark Foley, which helped end the Republican Party's House majority in 2006.

Republican leaders knew of Foley's problems "and sat on the situation for a year," Hoyer, D- Md., said at a breakfast for reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Contrasting that with the Massa controversy, Hoyer said: "Three and a half weeks after I heard about it, Massa was gone."

Foley, R-Fla., resigned in October 2006 after it was revealed that he had sent suggestive e-mails to young male House pages.

Massa resigned in March amid allegations that he had sexually harassed male staff members.

Four years ago, Democrats made much of the fact that the Republican leadership — including then-Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence — had talked Foley into running for re-election months before the scandal broke.

And now, Republicans are questioning whether Democratic leaders acted quickly enough against Massa.

"We need answers to serious questions: what did Democratic Leaders know about former Rep. Massa's conduct?" House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday. "When did they know? What did they do to protect the staff and interns who were being subjected to harassment by their boss?"

A Massa staffer told an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about concerns regarding the Southern Tier lawmaker's behavior last fall, months before the allegations became public.

Hoyer said he didn't know enough about what was said in that conversation to comment on whether more should have been done at the time.

But when a Hoyer staffer was told of the allegations against Massa in February, the majority leader's office told Massa's office to report the concerns to the House Ethics Committee within 48 hours, or else Hoyer would do so himself.

Hoyer's comments at the breakfast came a day after the Ethics Committee announced it was expanding its investigation of Massa to find out whether lawmakers or their employees inappropriately failed to act on their concerns about his behavior.

In addition, the FBI has begun an investigation of the Massa situation, focusing initially on a $40,000 payment from Massa's campaign account to Joe Racalto, his congressional chief of staff. The payment was made in early March a day after Massa announced he would not seek re-election.

— Jerry Zremski

Paladino steps into NYC lion's den tonight

Buffalo's Carl Paladino steps into the New York City lion's den tonight when he holds an "Ask Carl" town meeting at a Staten Island hotel.

And it is apparent that the Republican gubernatorial hopeful will need to repair an image already damaged by the revelation that he forwarded a string of pornographic and racially degrading e-mails to a large circle of friends over the past several years.

The New York Daily News published a highly critical editorial today, questioning if Paladino might be the "sleaziest candidate ever" for governor.

"The racist, pornographic and otherwise vile e-mails circulated by millionaire governor wanna-be Carl Paladino reveal him as a Grade A creep unfit to occupy a barstool, let alone the state's highest office," the News wrote.

This followed a Tuesday editorial by the New York Post headlined "Bigot from Buffalo."

"Late yesterday, Paladino's campaign issued a statement denouncing disclosure of the e-mails as a 'liberal Democrat blog smear,' " The Post wrote. "That is, it's all somebody else's fault. And we thought Carl Paladino was supposed to be a stand-up guy. Guess not."

Paladino's comments resulted in a rescinded invitation from Albany County Republicans and denunciations from Democratic officials like New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, an ally of expected Democrtic gubernatorial candidate Andrew M. Cuomo.

"This behavior would disqualify a candidate for the school board, let alone a candidate for governor. I hope all New Yorkers, regardless of party, can agree that Mr. Paladino’s campaign and candidacy do not represent the values of our state," de Blasio told the Post.

-- Robert J. McCarthy

Three strikes could mean Paladino is out

   Racism. Bestiality. Porn.

   Any one of those three might be enough to end a political career -- but with his emails to someone who obviously didn't find them amusing, it seems Carl Paladino has hit the trifecta.

   Needless to say, if you send around emails that show the president dressed like a pimp and a woman with a disturbing fondness for horses, some might question if you are, in the end, gubernatorial.

   And that's just what's happening to Buffalo's "tea party" candidate for governor just now.

   How bad is it?

   Well, liberal scold Keith Olbermann of MSNBC on Monday declared Paladino to be "today's worst person in the world."

   And the righter-than-right New York Post labeled him "The Bigot from Buffalo."

   In wake of it all, imagine the scene in Albany next New Year's Day.

   Can you really see Carl Paladino taking the oath of office?

   -- Jerry Zremski

State lawmakers focus on OTB, not budget

The state's finances are heading south. School districts and hospitals want to know how much state aid will be reduced in the coming year. The government has been running on an emergency basis since the fiscal year began April 1 without a budget in place.  

So, this is what has preoccupied the branches of government the past 48 hours: how to keep New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., a state entity, from shutting down. 

With budget talks stalled — "We are where we were yesterday," a government budget negotiator said today — focus at the Capitol turned to the NYCOTB, which is threatening to shut down later this week if a rescue plan is not adopted.

Two years ago, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to shut down the OTB, once derided as the only bookie operation in America to lose money. So, Albany stepped in and took control of the OTB — and its red ink, which has only worsened since then.

Sides this afternoon were nearing a rescue arrangement, in which payments to racetracks and others would be cut for the next year to keep the OTB afloat.   

But more than one lobbyist and legislator noted the obvious: How bad of a sign is it for the unresolved budget talks if the sides have taken so long to deal with the OTB?   

Gov. David Paterson has loosely threatened to use his special session powers to keep lawmakers here longer this week. Lawmakers are slated to leave town tomorrow — they are on a three-day Capitol workweek this time of year; Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, though, has floated to his members to expect to be here Thursday.

But a budget resolution is no where in sight. For starters, Senate Democrats, desperate to hold onto their thin majority in the November elections, are not so trusting of Silver that the deal he wants — which calls for lower spending cuts, tax hikes and a massive borrowing program — will be good for their political future this fall.   

And all eyes are on Paterson. Will he, as a lame duck and without the worries of having to considering polling or fundraising, stick to his guns and insist the Legislature move sharply higher on how much they are willing to cut in spending?

Or will he, as his critics have accused him over the past couple years, cave to pressure by lawmakers and erase the lines-in-the-sand he has drawn many times in recent weeks over the 2010 budget?

   — Tom Precious

Albany shows no sign of resolving budget battle

 
Did a weekend away from each other make the sides at the state Capitol more willing to cut a deal on the stalled budget?

Hardly.

The Legislature's most powerful Democrat ratcheted up his rhetorical wars against Democratic Gov. David Paterson, saying the governor is relying on old numbers to base his attacks against lawmakers for not cutting enough spending to help erase the state's $9.2 billion deficit.

And Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, for good measure, suggested maybe the governor isn't working hard enough. Asked about comments Paterson floated that lawmakers might have to remain in Albany all week to negotiate a budget deal -- the session is due to end for the week on Wednesday -- Silver said, "It's possible, but certainly if he's in Cortland, the Legislature is here so, you know, we have been doing our work." Paterson was in Cortland this morning to announce a deal with the New York Jets for a three-year summer training camp arrangement at the state college.

"I suggest that we've been here more than the governor," Silver said of the governor's work load at the Capitol.

The governor submitted his 2010 budget deal more than two months ago. He has been awaiting the two Democratic houses of the Senate and Assembly to try to come to terms on a joint budget response to the governor's plan, but that has not been going too well.

Paterson, a reporter noted to Silver, talked to of having to maybe "intervene" with the Legislature to get negotiations moving.

"I see," Silver said. "That's all I'll say."

The Legislature this afternoon is poised to approve a one-week emergency spending plan to keep the government running in the absence of a full, 2010 budget. The temporary bill, proposed by the governor, does not include a scheduled 4 percent pay hike for state workers. Silver said lawmakers have no choice but to approve the bill Paterson proposed or risk hospitals not getting paid for Medicaid patients they treat or a whole range of other payments included in the emergency bill.

Paterson has portrayed the Legislature as unwilling to cut deeply enough to close the deficit, and has criticized the Assembly for promoting a $2 billion borrowing plan without first finding more to trim in the budget that totals approximately $135 billion.

Silver, on his way into a closed-door meeting of Assembly Democrats, said Paterson's characterization of the budget cutting interest by lawmakers as "rather inaccurate."

"If only he would talk to his budget director and get the scoring on what was originally presented and where we are today," Silver said.

Asked how much the Assembly Democrats were willing to cut, Silver would only offer up a number of about $6 billion, but that also includes new revenue proposals, such as a hike in the cigarette tax.
 
  -- Tom Precious

Dems going 'upstate' for their convention

Well, it's a bit closer to upstate.

The New York Democratic Party, whose top government leaders are all from New York City, reconsidered things Thursday and decided against holding their nominating convention next month in midtown Manhattan.

The new venue: a hotel in the Westchester County community of Rye Brook, near the Connecticut border, yet a short drive from the homes of party leaders in the city.

"Democrats believe that Westchester and our suburban counties are a key part of what makes New York great and are committed to using the convention to showcase our commitment to them," said Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs." 

The convention, May 25-27, will be where the party emerges with its slate of statewide candidates, including Andrew Cuomo, the likely gubernatorial candidate. Cuomo, the attorney general, has not announced his candidacy, which he expected to do by the end of this month.

Four years ago the party held its convention in Buffalo, while the Republicans held court in Nassau County. This time, the GOP is heading nowhere near its base of support, but rather into the heart of Democratic-controlled Manhattan for its convention, which will follow right after the Democratic gathering.

"By holding the convention in Westchester, we will highlight the need to address the state's property tax crisis and renew our party's commitment to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers," Jacobs said.

--Tom Precious
 

Syracuse meets Paladino on the campaign trail

It was Syracuse's turn Wednesday to be introduced to Buffalo's Carl Paladino, the attorney and developer who is making a splash on the statewide political scene in his newly announced campaign for governor.

Here is a look at today's story in the Syracuse Post-Standard. Charles McChesney writes:

Paladino, a lawyer and real estate developer from Buffalo, met with about 75 supporters at the Palace Theater in Syracuse’s Eastwood section. Some carried orange Paladino signs topped by his campaign slogan, “I’m mad as hell too, Carl.”

Paladino spared few state officials in his remarks, calling Gov. David Paterson “pathetic,” and referring to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a likely Democratic candidate for governor and son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, “Prince Andrew.” He called state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, who has endorsed another candidate, “Mr. In the Box.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver got special attention. Paladino said state budget negotiations were no longer three men in a room, as they were once depicted, but just one man. “This is the negotiations:” he said. “Sheldon Silver sitting by himself in the bathroom. Everybody’s outside the door waiting for him to come out.”

Silver, he said, “looks like rigor mortis has set in.” He said that once elected governor, he’ll turn Silver upside down to get the blood flowing and then “send him up to Attica.”

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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.

[email protected]


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.

[email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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