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Grisanti in senator's dog house

ALBANY – Freshman Sen. Mark Grisanti says there’s nothing to apologize for remarks he made about gay marriage, and that a Senate colleague took his critique out of context.

Grisanti on a public radio show this week outlined his opposition to a gay marriage measure, noting, in part, that the term “marriage’’ has been around thousands of years and is between a man and woman.

"It’s like calling a cat a dog," Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican, said on the Capitol Pressroom radio show of changing the definition of a word.

But Sen. Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat who is openly gay, called it “truly sad and unfortunate’’ that Grisanti compared “my right to marry the person I love with cats and dogs.’’

Duane asked for an apology.

“He’s taking it out of context,’’ Grisanti said, saying he was merely talking about an effort that would change the definition of a word.

Beyond Duane’s focus on Grisanti, the new senator over the weekend was the subject of a shout-out by Lady Gaga during her Buffalo concert, at which she urged people to contact Grisanti to get him to support the gay marriage effort.

-- Tom Precious

Dems' blast at Corwin hints at campaign ahead

   If you're wondering how Democrats will portray Republican Jane L. Corwin in her bid for the 26th Congressional District, officials of the state party gave a pretty good indication today.

   "Wall street banker and Albany politician" is how state Democratic Chairman Jay S. Jacobs began his first comment on the Clarence assemblywoman.

   “Wall Street banker and Albany politician Jane Corwin seems to think that if she just repeats the word conservative over and over again, her record as a big spending Albany politician and Wall Street banker will magically disappear,” said State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs.  “Not only does she avoid her time in Albany, but Jane Corwin even tried to trick the voters by changing her bio to hide her history of working on Wall Street.  It’s clear that Wall Street banker Jane Corwin’s campaign strategy is to hide her real resume and record from the voters of Western New York.”

   Jacobs said Corwin's 2010 biography listed experience with a Wall Street firm, but that her newest biography omits that reference. He also repeats some earlier Democratic barbs thrown her way by claiming Corwin requested more than $100,000 in earmarks, and spent more than $50,000 on taxpayer funded mailings.

   The Republicans countered with a blast of their own by Erie County GOP Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy, who said: "Taking fiscal advice from Jay Jacobs and state Democrats is like taking life advice from Charlie Sheen –- it may get a lot of media attention but it will end up in disaster. "

   "While Jay Jacobs has been sitting around waiting for his marching orders from Nancy Pelosi about who the Democrat candidate will be, Jane Corwin has spent 36 years helping to create jobs and get Western New Yorkers back to work," he said. "The fact of the matter is that during her short time in Albany, Jane Corwin has fought to cut taxes and reduce wasteful spending, while Jay Jacobs has led the fight to elect and protect the very people responsible for driving New York State into a financial abyss." 

    -- Robert J. McCarthy





Weekly podcast: Jerry Zremski on the week in Washington

Gasoline prices. Budget Battles. Unrest in Libya.

It all has a fallout in Washington.

The News' Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski talks this week about debate over whether the United States should tap into its strategic petroleum reserve, how the nation's leaders are responding to calls for a "no-fly zone" in Libya and why the battle over the budget is likely to drag on for weeks.

Hear more about these issues and find out why Zremski believes there's been a "turnabout" on the budget in this weekly podcast:

Download the mp3 here.

Follow @JerryZremski on Twitter.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Top Collins aide leaves to join Corwin campaign

A top aide to County Executive Chris Collins is leaving the Rath County Office Building to join Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin's Republican campaign for Congress.

Christopher M. Grant, Collins' chief of staff and principal political strategist, began an unpaid leave of absence from the administration on Monday, Collins said.

"Chris is a dedicated and valuable member of my team, and while he will be missed, his talents are needed to help Assemblywoman Corwin bring her common sense approach and fiscally conservative principles to Washington, D.C. to represent the residents of New York's 26th Congressional District," Collins said.

The move reflects the close political relationship between Corwin and the county executive, who recruited his Spaulding Lake neighbor to run in the 2008 GOP primary for the Assembly. Collins has maintained a long friendship with Corwin's family, and had pushed her brother — Rick Lewis — for the 26th District seat when a vacancy occurred in 2008.

The GOP candidate that year eventually was Chris Lee, who resigned the seat on Feb. 9 after a gossip website revealed he was corresponding with a Maryland woman seeking dates on Craigslist.

Collins' long time Washington media consultant — Lancaster native Michael J. Hook — is also assisting in the Corwin campaign.

The county executive said Tuesday that Grant Loomis, his communications director, will serve as acting chief of staff.

Cuomo taps economic development czar

ALBANY -- It's been one of the most anticipated nominations, at least by upstate business interests.

Julie Shimer has been nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be his chair of the Empire State Development Corp., the state's chief jobs creation agency that has the dual role of both retaining and attracting companies to the the state.

Here's the release from Cuomo's office:

"Julie Shimer is joining a first-class team of economic development leaders including Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and Empire State Development Corporation President Kenneth Adams," Governor Cuomo said. "Her extensive experience in the upstate and downstate business communities will be essential to the reconstruction of New York's economy. Attracting and retaining business in New York is job number one, and Julie and the rest of the ESDC team will work tirelessly to make that happen."

Julie Shimer, Ph.D., CEO and President of Welch Allyn, in Skaneateles Falls, New York, is a nationally recognized leader in the computer networking and wireless communications industries. Dr. Shimer was named CEO in 2007 - becoming the first woman to hold this post in the 95-year history of the company. Prior to joining Welch Allyn, Dr. Shimer served as President and CEO of Vocera Communications, a leading wireless communications company based in Cupertino, California. Dr. Shimer also held executive positions at 3Com Corporation, Motorola, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and Bethlehem Steel Company. Dr. Shimer currently holds board positions with Welch Allyn, Netgear, the Engineering Information Foundation and Centerstate Corporation for Economic Opportunity. In addition, she is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Society for Women Engineers. Dr. Shimer holds masters and doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and a bachelor's degree in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She resides in Skaneateles, NY with her husband, Jary.

Jeremy Jacobs, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North Companies said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo's nomination of Julie Shimer to the Empire State Development board. Both the entrepreneurial community and business leaders share the Governor's commitment to the critical importance of attracting business and spurring investment in New York. With her professional experience in leading her own company, Julie appreciates the need for an improved business climate and a stronger competitive position for New York in the global marketplace."

Joanie Mahoney, Onondaga County Executive said, "As CEO and President of Welch Allyn, Julie Shimer has expanded the company and turned it into one of the largest employers in the region. Her big ideas and ability to get things done make her particularly suited for Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation and Governor Cuomo's administration. In addition, having someone from our region, who knows the strengths and weaknesses of the upstate economy, will benefit New Yorkers across the state. I applaud the Governor's choice and congratulate Julie on her nomination."


Welch Allyn is the company whose boss in 1994 made headlines across the state when he wrote then Gov. Mario Cuomo -- the current governor's father -- that his company would flee the state to North Carolina if a planned business tax cut was put off. The then Welch Allyn president, William Allyn, became a poster child for George Pataki's successful campaign ousting the elder Cuomo from the governor's office in the 1994 election.

From a 1994 Associated Press story came this quote from Allyn in his letter to Cuomo: "If your new state budget increases state funded spending by 7.5 percent and does not reduce, and then eliminate, the corporate surtax as promised, you will have finally succeeded in discouraging any potential job growth in this over-taxed, high energy cost, over-regulated, and bureaucratic state.''

Here is Shimer's bio as listed on the Welch Allyn company web site:

President & CEO - Julie A. Shimer, Ph. D.


Julie Shimer, Ph.D., is chief executive officer and president of Welch Allyn, a privately-held, manufacturer of frontline medical equipment and diagnostic solutions headquartered in Skaneateles Falls, New York. Shimer joined the Welch Allyn family in 2002 as a member of the board of directors, bringing with her over 20 years of leadership experience in the computer networking and wireless communications industries. Shimer's business expertise and exceptional grasp of technology proved to be an invaluable asset to the company, earning her the title of president and CEO in 2007 - becoming the first woman to hold this post in the 95-year history of the company. In her first two years at the company, Welch Allyn won "Best Places to Work™" accolades in Ireland and Mexico, began developing an innovative new platform of connected devices, and broke ground on a $30 million expansion project at its global headquarters in Skaneateles Falls.

Most recently, Shimer served as president and CEO of Vocera Communications, a leading wireless communications company based in Cupertino, Calif.  While at Vocera, she led the company in securing more than $29 million in capital funding, shipped the first Vocera Communications Systems, and added key talent to the executive, marketing, and technical teams. As a result of her leadership, the company experienced explosive growth; and its communication system was deployed in leading hospitals in the United States and Europe.

Shimer also held executive positions at 3Com Corporation, serving as vice president and general manager of its networking products. Before joining 3Com, she held executive positions at Motorola, where she was vice president and general manager in the paging division and, prior to that post, vice president in its semiconductor products sector. Shimer also held leadership positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Bethlehem Steel Company. Along the way, Shimer was issued a US patent and authored more than 10 technical papers.

Shimer currently holds board positions with Welch Allyn, Netgear, the Engineering Information Foundation and the Metropolitan Development Association. She is actively involved in programs that encourage women to enter engineering fields and is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Society for Women Engineers.

Dr. Shimer holds master's and doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and a bachelor's degree in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 


She resides in Skaneateles, NY with her husband, Jary.

 -- Tom Precious

Golisano pitches Electoral College reform

Paychex founder and former Buffalo Sabres owner (and former gubernatorial candidate) Tom Golisano got some national airtime this morning for his effort, first announced last month, to reform the Electoral College. At the beginning of the interview, he's asked about his time as Sabres owner, then he gets into his push to change presidential elections.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gun-toting senator pushes gun safety bill


ALBANY – Lawmakers use props all the time to promote some bill.

But Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat, took that practice a step further Wednesday: he brought a semi-automatic assault rifle, bullet clips and even some undercover video shot of himself buying the weaponry at some Albany-area gun shops.

With a state trooper standing guard in an adjacent room and under orders not to bring live ammunition into the Capitol, Adams used the rifle show-and-tell to push his legislation to ban bullet magazines that can carry up to 30 rounds.

“You don’t hunt deer with 30-round clips,’’ Adams said of opposition by some gun groups to his bill.

Holding the FS2000 gun in his hand, Adams said his bill will close a loophole to a 1994 federal and state law that permits the 30-round clips to still be sold.

Adams, a former New York City police captain who owns three guns himself, said the larger clips are too dangerous and can permit terrorists or others to kill and injure large numbers of people before having to re-load.

The bill by Adams and a companion bill in the Assembly would ban the sale, purchase or ownership of the 30-round clips. Present law allows the sale of the magazines if they were made before 1994, but Adams said the law is easily skirted by gun sellers.

Adams said he is a Second Amendment supporter. “This is not an anti-gun ownership bill,’’ Adams said.

-- Tom Precious

Weekly Podcast: Jerry Zremski looks ahead at the week in Washington

Washington is headed for a budget deadline Friday, and The News' Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski is following the action.

Zremski talks this week about the potential for a government shutdown and explains why it's not likely to happen Friday. But in Washington, nothing is certain.

"These days, in the House, you just never know," Zremski notes.

Zremski also explains how Western New York lawmakers stack up on budget pork and why President Obama's reaction to the protests in Wisconsin might give us the first glimpse at his 2012 re-election strategy.

Listen to the conversation:

Download the mp3 here.

Follow @JerryZremski on Twitter.

--Denise Jewell Gee

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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 |