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Video: Year in Politics 2010

News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy takes a look back at the year in politics, including Carl Paladino's run for governor and area state legislative races.

--Aaron Besecker

Cino gains backing of Cox; GOP House members

The chairman of the New York GOP and the state's Republican congressional caucus are uniting behind Buffalo native Maria Cino to become the new head of the Republican National Committee.

Chairman Edward F. Cox, along with three sitting congressmen and five incoming members, all expressed strong support today for the graduate of Mt. St. Joseph's Academy and St. John Fisher College.

"What we need now is experienced, committed and focused leadership," Cox said. "Throughout her career in politics and government Maria has demonstrated clearly she has the skills necessary to ensure the RNC is an effective driver of our values and our candidates in time for 2012."

Cino, who entered the Washington arena as an aide to former Rep. Bill Paxon of Newstead, also received the backing of eight members from New York - Reps. Peter T. King , Christopher J. Lee and Thomas W. Reed; along with Representatives-elect Ann-Marie Buerkle, Chris Gibson, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna and Nan Hayworth.

"Maria's national political experience is unparalleled. Her organization and fundraising skills are world-class, the members said. "We all know what is at stake in 2012. We also know that our party is unprepared for the campaigns that lie ahead. Saddled with a historic debt, an expensive convention to plan, and a total rebuilding of our Victory programs, we are confident that Maria can once again save our party."

Cino has emerged as a top candidate in the effort, with backing from major GOP figures like former Vice President Dick Cheney.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Gianaris to head campaign effort for State Senate Dems

Michael Gianaris, a rookie senator from Queens with a high statewide profile, will become the new head of the effort to elect Democrats to the State Senate.

Gianaris was appointed by Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson to replace Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx after the Democrats were knocked out of the majority in the November election.

“Mike Gianaris is a dynamic fundraiser and effective leader who will work with our members to win more Democratic seats. With his energy and expertise, Senate Democrats are gearing up for a successful election cycle,” Sampson said. “I’d also like to applaud outgoing DSCC Chair Jeff Klein whose leadership was instrumental in key victories this year. Jeff will continue as deputy leader for the conference and will focus his efforts on our legislative agenda over the next two years.”

Gianaris is no stranger to Western New York after he was mentioned prominently in past years as a candidate for attorney general, but decided to instead run for the Senate this year.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Kevin Hardwick on the county budget battle

News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski spoke with Republican Legislator Kevin Hardwick on Monday night about County Executive Chris Collins' budget veto message and the next steps in the hotly contested fight over the 2011 Erie County budget. Check out the post, and listen to an audio interview with Hardwick, at the Gusto Blog.

A chair leaves the Senate

In Albany, legislators know their time is over when one thing happens: their leather chair is rolled off the floor of the Senate or Assembly chamber.

So went the way of Sen. Dale Volker's dark brown chair shortly after 2 p.m. today when a maintenance worker unceremoniously -– meaning no one else was around other than a reporter just passing by -– moved it from the ornate chamber and down into the Capitol's basement.

Volker, a Depew Republican, has been in the Senate 35 years. He decided to retire this year from Albany, a place he began serving in 1973 following his election to the Assembly before joining the Senate in 1975.

By tradition -– and by the state's finance law -– retiring lawmakers can purchase their Senate chairs for $25. No word on what was happening with Volker's chair, but his name tag was already taken off its back.

Even with the departure of Volker's chair, that has not stopped speculation of the Senate returning one more time this year to wrap up some unfinished business (mostly dealing with a reorganization bill of a state-owned off-track betting corporation).

--Tom Precious

Paterson to media: You clean up your act, too

ALBANY –- Gov. David A. Paterson is leaving Albany on a media-bashing blitz. Today’s installment has him likening reporters to Tammany Hall political hacks.

"This is the new political club," he said of reporters. "These people are not interested in reporting the news. They’re not even still interested in making the news. They want to run the government."

The governor’s latest criticisms of the media -– shared in recent "exit" interviews with news outlets, including The Buffalo News a couple weeks ago – came this morning on WWRL, a New York radio station.

The governor, leaving office in a few weeks, has been most critical of the Rumor Phase of his administration, which occurred earlier this year when speculation spread like wildfire of some sort of a career-ending scandal about to him. (What was eventually revealed were Paterson’s telephone calls to a woman who had accused one of his top aides in a domestic violence incident. Paterson then decided against running for governor this year. David Johnson, the aide accused in the still-unresolved incident, was terminated from the state payroll last month, the state comptroller's office said today.)

In his radio interview, Paterson portrayed reporters –- in a broad brush -– as more interested in revenge and getting their faces on television than truth-seeking.

"Anybody who speaks against them is castigated. Anybody who objects to the unprofessionalism is labeled. And what we know we have, in my opinion, is a situation where the dysfunction is in the media as well as the government," he said.

Instead of reporting or "keeping government clean," reporters have become publicity-seekers, he said. "They are on TV more than the elected officials. They have no standards at all," he said, while insisting he is not making excuses for his "colleagues" in government and, presumably, the problems Albany has witnessed at the Capitol in recent years.

"What you see going on now is absolutely outrageous," he said of the media. "And the media, who you think in the American value of competition, would question itself on occasion."

In response to a caller, Paterson also told the radio audience that he made mistakes in the debacle that became the 2009 selection process for a replacement for former U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. That was the time when Caroline Kennedy put her name in the running, only to later drop out; sources close to Paterson told news outlets, including The Buffalo News, that Kennedy had some personal problems that forced her to bow out.

Paterson, who has lamented in the past the way he handled the Kennedy situation, said that she had been "insulted" and "castigated by people who worked for me."

In retrospect, Paterson said, he should have immediately fired "all people potentially involved ... in leaking to the media about her, which by the way was false information and gossip."

--Tom Precious

The News' Meyer discusses city snow removal on WBFO

Brian Meyer, The News' City Hall reporter, addressed a number of topics as a guest of Eileen Buckley's on WBFO-FM 88.7 this morning.

Download the clip and take it with you

Cuomo names top advisers

ALBANY -- Gov-elect Andrew M. Cuomo has announced his inner circle of advisers -- with few surprises.

The incoming governor is keeping with him a tight circle of trusted aides, some from his attorney general's office and a couple going back to the administration of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, father of the governor-elect.

Here is the list released by Cuomo's transition office:

Steven M. Cohen will serve as Secretary to the Governor. Mr. Cohen served as Counselor & Chief of Staff to New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. Prior to joining the New York State Attorney General's Office, Mr. Cohen was a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, where he was a member of the firm’s Litigation Department. Mr. Cohen also served for a decade as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School teaching a course in federal criminal prosecutions and served as the Chair of The Mayor’s Committee on New York City Marshals. Before entering private practice, from 1991 to 1998, Mr. Cohen was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he served as Chief of the Violent Gangs Unit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mr. Cohen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stanley Sporkin, U.S. District Judge and then the Honorable Frank X. Altimari, U.S. Appellate Judge. 

Mylan L. Denerstein will serve as Counsel to the Governor. Ms. Denerstein has served as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice from January 2007 to the present managing almost 100 attorneys statewide in the areas of Charities, Civil Rights, Environmental Protection, Health Care, Labor, and Tobacco Compliance.  Prior to her current appointment, Ms. Denerstein served as the Deputy Fire Commissioner for Legal Affairs for the New York City Fire Department, the largest municipal fire department in the country. From 1996 - 2005, Ms. Denerstein served in the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District, first as  an Assistant United States Attorney, prosecuting complex securities and insurance fraud, money laundering and organized crime.  She later became Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division where she assisted in managing the Criminal Division with over 100 Assistant United States Attorneys.

Yrthya A. Dinzey-Flores will serve as the Chief Diversity Officer. Ms. Dinzey-Flores previously served as Manager at the Toyota USA Foundation and Program Officer for National Philanthropy Programs at Toyota Motor North America. She also served as a community relations and philanthropic consultant for the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Prior to that she was Director of the Office of School CBO Partnerships at the New York City Department of Education, managing relationships and providing support to more than 350 community-based organizations. The Chief Diversity Officer is one of three statutorily required positions within the executive chamber, along with the Secretary and the Counsel. The Chief Diversity Officer’s task is to reform and strengthen the State’s programs and efforts encouraging the growth of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises within the state government and in the private sector.

Andrew J. “Drew” Zambelli will serve as Counselor to the Governor.  In that capacity he will serve as senior advisor to the Governor and be responsible for the oversight and strategic integration of the communications, inter-governmental, legislative and constituency efforts of the Office of the Governor.  From 1985 to 1994, he served in the administration of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo including as Secretary to the Governor from 1991 to 1994.  Since 1995, he has been a market strategy and research consultant to corporate, political and non-profit clients including many Fortune 500 corporations. During this period, he has been affiliated with Strategic Frameworking of Washington and Massachusetts and Summit Strategy Group, LLC which he founded in 2007.

Judge Leslie G. Leach will serve as Appointments Secretary. Judge Leach was appointed Executive Deputy Attorney General for the Division of State Counsel in February 2007. Prior to the appointment, he had served since 2004 as the Administrative Judge of the Eleventh Judicial District, Supreme Court, Queens County. Judge Leach was appointed as a Judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York by Mayor David N. Dinkins in 1993, reappointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2002, while serving as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court, and was elected a Justice of Supreme Court in November 2003. He has taught Business Law at York College, CUNY, since 1982.

Howard B. Glaser will serve as Director of State Operations and Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor.   During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Glaser served in several senior management roles at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including Counselor to the Secretary, Deputy General Counsel and Deputy Assistant Secretary. After leaving HUD, Mr. Glaser was Senior Vice President and General Counsel to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington, DC.  At the state level, Mr. Glaser served at the Department of Taxation and Finance as Special Assistant to the Commissioner and in the Executive Chamber as Special Assistant to the Governor.

Jeremy M. Creelan will serve as Special Counsel for Public Integrity and Ethics Reform. Mr. Creelan is currently a partner at the law firm Jenner & Block LLP.  Mr. Creelan joined Jenner & Block after serving as Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.  At the Brennan Center, he developed numerous high-profile cases to reform New York’s election laws to protect voters’ rights and reduce corruption, advocated for democratic reforms in such areas as ethics and campaign finance, and published a comprehensive analysis of the legislative process in the New York State Assembly and Senate.  In 1998-99, he clerked for the Honorable Denise L. Cote, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

Benjamin M. Lawsky will serve as Chief of Staff. Mr. Lawsky was appointed Deputy Counselor and Special Assistant to the Attorney General in January 2007.  In the Attorney General's Office, Mr. Lawsky led the nationwide investigation of the student loan industry and oversaw the investigations of Wall Street bonuses and the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger.  Mr. Lawsky also served as General Counsel of the Cuomo 2010 campaign. Prior to joining the Attorney General's Office, Mr. Lawsky served from late 2001 until 2007 as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted securities fraud, organized crime, and terrorism cases.  Prior to that, Mr. Lawsky was Chief Counsel to Senator Charles E. Schumer.  From 1997 to 1999, he was a Trial Attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice in Washington. 

Adam S. Cohen will serve as Special Policy Advisor.  Mr. Cohen is a Lecturer at Yale Law School and a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project.  He was a member of the New York Times Editorial Board from 2002-2010, and before that, a journalist and a lawyer, a law fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., and a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He is the author of Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America and The Perfect Store: Inside eBay, and the co-author of American Pharaoh: Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation."

-- Tom Precious 



Collins takes to airwaves for support

Erie County Executive Chris Collins has taken to the airwaves in his effort to draw public opinion to his side in his latest budget scrape with the Legislature.

Collins today began a series of advertisements on local radio paid by his campaign account. The spots label the Legislature's additional spending for 2011 as reckless and likely to trigger a tax increase if allowed to stand.

"The career politicians in the County Legislature and their special-interest friends are at it again," Collins, who is heading into an election year, says in the advertisement.

"In this most recent budget, they want to undo some of our reforms and make you pay for their pork-barrel spending, even if it means raising your taxes."

Over Collins' objections, the Legislature returned $4 million he had cut from the library system. Lawmakers gave an array of cultural organizations $1.2 million when Collins wanted them to receive no county support. They restored jobs for Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz's staff when Collins had cut the department run by his potential political rival by 36 percent.

Legislature Democrats, who drove the additions, says their plan takes money from other areas of the budget so no tax increase is necessary.

-- Matt Spina

Charlie Rangel's bad day

The moment Charlie Rangel hasn't been waiting for will come later this afternoon, as the House takes up a resolution to censure the 40-year Harlem lawmaker and dean of the New York House delegation for assorted fundraising and tax violations. 

If, as expected, he is centured, the rancorous Rangel -- who recently stormed out of an Ethics Committee hearing on the charges against him -- will face an archaic form of punishment that's not much used these days: a public shaming. 

He will have to walk to the well of the House chamber and face House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she reads the charges against him.

It's expected to be a traumatic moment not only for the 80-year-old former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, but also for longtime Democrats who have long supported him.

That being the case, members of the Congressional Black Caucus this afternoon were trying to build up support for a reprimand, a less onerous punishment that would spare Rangel that public shaming.

House sources said it's unlikely, though, that a House majority would seek the lesser punishment.

The House Ethics Committee found that Rangel failed to report 17 years worth of income from a Dominican Republic vacation home. In addition, Rangel used congressional staff and letterheads to solicit funds for a center named after him at City College of New York.

"I am truly sorry for mistakes and would like your help in seeing that I am treated fairly," he wrote in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday, in which he pleaded with them to flood House offices with pleas for leniency.

Censure, the punishment the bipartisan Ethics Committee recommended for Rangel, is a relatively rare House punishment. It was last used in 1983 against Rep. Dan Crane, R-Ill., and Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., both of whom engaged in sexual relations with teen-age House pages.

(Update: Rangel has been censured.)

-- Jerry Zremski

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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.

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.

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 |

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 |