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Audio: Bob McCarthy discusses upcoming election on WNED

News Political Reporter Robert J. McCarthy discussed the upcoming election, just over a week away, on WNED-AM 970 during a segment with host Jay Moran:

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Video chat previewing county executive race

The News' Denise Jewell Gee and Charity Vogel, who have profiled the views of Republican Chris Collins and Democrat Mark C. Poloncarz throughout the week, look ahead to Election Day. Submit your questions about the race in the chat console below.

Note: The beginning portion of the video chat is missing from the archived versions.

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Occupy Albany becomes Occupy Capitol -- briefly

ALBANY -- Occupy Albany protesters moved their cause inside the Capitol this afternoon to chant just down the hall from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's second-floor office against his opposition to an income tax surcharge on millionaire New Yorkers.

Cuomo could not hear them: He was 150 miles south in Manhattan. The loud demonstration, in the ornate War Room, ended in about a half-hour. Protesters were surrounded by state troopers.

"We'll be back,'' nearly 100 demonstrators chanted as they marched back out of the Capitol.

Like other Occupy movements in other cities, the nearly weeklong one in a park across the street from the Capitol has its many targets: banks, Wall Street, the rich, war and cutbacks in services for the poor. But the Albany one has tried to ratchet up support for extending a 3-year-old income tax surcharge expiring at the end of the year, which will save wealthier New Yorkers about $5 billion next year.

The group included old and young demonstrators, including state university students, members of, and a few members of the Public Employees Federation, the state workers union battling Cuomo for months over a new collective bargaining agreement.

"This is a call to an emergency,'' Rob Smith, with a group called Interfaith Impact, urged the gathering.

"Cuomo serves the 1 percent,'' one sign said.

The Albany protest has gotten relatively extensive press coverage since it was revealed Cuomo tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get the city's mayor to evict demonstrators last week after an 11 p.m. curfew in the park just across Washington Avenue from the Capitol.

--Tom Precious

Politics Now expanding as go-to source for political, government news

We have a newly revamped blog here at We are expanding our politics blog, Politics Now.

While we are still keeping our eyes on the ins and outs of Western New York, Albany and Washington politics, we will also be taking a closer look at what the city and county government are doing.

A lot of decisions that affect the daily lives of Western New Yorkers are made in City Hall and the Rath Building. We have reporters on those beats staying on top of the latest city and county news.

County government reporter Denise Jewell Gee and City Hall reporter Aaron Besecker will join political reporter Bob McCarthy, Tom Precious from the Albany bureau and Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski in making Politics Now your go-to source for political and government news about Buffalo and Western New York, as well as on the state and federal levels.

Picnics, credit cards and the race for Erie County executive

The candidates for Erie County executive have found all sorts of ways to disagree.

Parking spaces, short-term borrowing and library funding are just a few of the items over which County Executive Chris Collins and County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz have clashed in the years they've shared the Rath Building.

They even quarreled in 2009 over whether the county should foot the bill for a $416 fridge from Rosa's.

The latest: Who's responsible for implementing an online reservation system that lets people rent a park shelter and pay for it with a credit card.

Collins touted the system as an initiative of the Lean Six Sigma corporate efficiency program he brought to county government in an interview with The News.

"It's a Lean Six Sigma program, which my opponent doesn't think works," Collins told The News. "We know which shelter is being rented. We make sure it's clean."

Poloncarz's spokesman wasted no time in criticizing Collins for taking credit for what he claimed was actually a "collaborative effort" between the Comptroller's Office and the Department of Parks.

"Since this electronic payments program for parks was actually initiated by the Comptroller's Office and not a Six Sigma project, I guess we should take Collins' praise of the program's efficiency as a compliment,"said Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson.

So who's right?

It turns out, they both are, sort of.

The reservation system was an early initiative of Collin's Six Sigma program. The News wrote about it in 2008 -- as well as the fact that it didn't work out so well for one picnicking family.

But Poloncarz, whose official responsibilities include collecting money owed to the county, did lead the effort to implement the electronic payment system that finally let county residents pay by credit card.

It was Poloncarz's office that sent out a request for proposals from banks to provide the payment service.

So go ahead and plan your family picnic online -- thanks to your candidates for county executive.

--Denise Jewell Gee

Collins trumpets Slominski endorsement

For 18 years now, politicians running for countywide office have sought the blessing of a diminutive but still fiery figure -- former County Comptroller Alfreda W. Slominski.

That proved no different Wednesday when Republican incumbent Chris Collins trumpeted another endorsement for him by Slominski (she also backed him in 2007). Republican Slominski, now 82 years old and retired, has often proven a powerful force, as in 1993 when she endorsed newcomer Republican Nancy A. Naples to succeed her, and in 1995 when she endorsed incumbent Democrat Dennis T. Gorski for re-election as county executive.

Now, Collins has turned the tables on his Democratic opponent -- current Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz -- by quoting Poloncarz's description of Slominski as "the gold standard of elected leaders."

“I can’t agree more with Mr. Poloncarz that Alfreda Slominski is the ‘gold standard’ for office holders." Collins said. "This places an even higher value on her endorsement of my candidacy for Erie County executive."

Collins said he considers the only three endorsements with "real value" in the race to stem from Slominski, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

"I am proud to have all three," he said. "The business community strongly supports me because I am the only candidate who has created private-sector jobs.”

The Slominski endorsement also will be carried to the airwaves in a radio ad that begins airing Thursday.

Mark Poloncarz has politicized the independence of the Comptroller’s Office to advance his own political career," Slominski says in the ad. "Don’t be fooled. In this election, there’s only one taxpayer watchdog we can all count on. Chris Collins."

--Robert J. McCarthy

Argument No. 984 against Twitter: Skelos vs. Baldwin

ALBANY -- It’s not quite your Lincoln-Douglas debates, but raging today in the world that is Twitter is an argument, er, debate, no, let's just say slapfest between Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and actor Alec Baldwin. (Yep, that's not a sentence you write every day in Albany).

Turns out the actor, a Democrat, didn’t like the portrayal of him on the Capitol Pressroom radio show Tuesday by Skelos, a Republican, who basically made Baldwin out as a rich guy OK with raising taxes in New York.

Skelos may have started things off in the real world, but Baldwin began his barbs this morning on Twitter. His first entry: "Dean Skelos says I want your taxes to go up and not my own." He followed with a challenge to debate Skelos, and told the senator to bring 10 years' worth of tax returns and his itinerary. Another: “Only a Nassau County Republian tool like Dean Skelos could drag my name into a debate on state income tax.”

Later, Baldwin followed with this:

Alec Baldwin @AlecBaldwin Alec Baldwin

C'mon Dean Skelos!! You professional distorter of facts!! Join me in a press conference. And bring your tax returns!!
Skelos, who probably has at least one ghostwriter in a certain Senate office helping him out, responded with references stretching from Andrew Cuomo to Baldwin's 30 Rock television show:

SenatorSkelosSenator Dean Skelos
@AlecBaldwin BTW, think Jack Donaghy gets together with Liz Lemon in the end.
Hypocritical @AlecBaldwin rages against corporate greed yet is a paid spokesperson for corporate giant Cap One.
If @AlecBaldwin thinks I'm wrong, he must think Gov Cuomo is too since he agrees with me u can't raise taxes on businesses, working people.
Tomorrow, maybe we can hope for Shelly Silver versus Chuck Norris.

--Tom Precious

First flooding, then unemployment for tiny upstate county

ALBANY -- As Cuomo administration officials go back in the field this week to see the impact of Tropical Storm Irene, they need look no further than the new unemployment statistics for battered Schoharie County.

Unemployment figures out today for the state show the rural county west of Albany failed to match the positive trend seen in nearly every other location in the state in September: Its unemployment rate rose rather than fell. 

As the state’s unemployment rate fell from 8.2 percent in September 2010 to 7.8 percent last month, Schoharie County saw its jobless level jump from 8 percent a year ago to 9.2 percent last month. Nearly everywhere else -- from Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse to New York City and Long Island -- saw modest improvements from the previous September.

Just as Irene swept away houses, farms, animals and businesses from whole sections of Schoharie County, jobs also went missing.

For a county the size of Schoharie, the numbers are relatively small: 1,400 were listed as unemployed last month, up 200 people from the previous September. But a walk through the historic village of Schoharie, where many businesses are shuttered, neighborhoods are missing houses that have been demolished, and places like the local B&B are on the market, questions still remain about ow the state will be able to help it  rebuild.

The jobless figures come as some state lawmakers are pushing for new bailout measures for the affected counties in the eastern parts of the state.

-- Tom Precious

Cuomo's public schedule getting a tad less transparent

ALBANY – Wasn’t that long ago that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s public schedule would at least provide the name of the county in which he was to be located for the day.

But, when he’s downstate anyway, there’s a new trend: “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is in the New York City area.’’

So states his schedule for today, same as yesterday.

That means, depending on your definition for New York City “area,’’ that could have him being in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, Westchester County – or maybe across the Hudson in New Jersey or just to the east in Connecticut.

-- Tom Precious

"Gimme Jimmy" tonight at Coca-Cola Field

    Friends of the late Jim Griffin will gather tonight for one last fund raiser for "the mayor."
   A committee hoping to raise funds for a memorial to Buffalo's longest-serving mayor will gather at Pettibone's Grille at Coca-Cola Field at 5:30 p.m. to raise funds for what it hopes will be a permanent memorial to Griffin. He is credited with being the driving force behind the construction of the downtown ball park in 1988, and now his friends and supporters seek to erect the monument outside Coca-Cola Field.
   Remaining funds will benefit the James D. Griffin Fund at Dent Neurological Research Institute. 

Robert J. McCarthy

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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 |