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Video: State Assembly race pits Fahey against Kearns

News political reporter Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about a state Assembly skirmish that will pit Christopher J. Fahey against Michael P. Kearns:

Preservation Board to tackle addition planned behind Delaware Ave. mansion

Plans to put an addition on a carriage house behind a Delaware Avenue mansion are among the proposals going before the City of Buffalo Preservation Board on Thursday.

The address of the project, being undertaken by Courier Capital Corp., is 1114 Delaware Ave., at Highland Avenue. Courier Capital bought the property in October from the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Western New York for $650,000.

The company wants to split the mansion property from the carriage house property, making the carriage house its own residential property, a representative said last week.

Bradley Hamm, an aide to Delaware Council Member Michael J. LoCurto, told the city Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday that the property sits in the Linwood Preservation District. Hamm also said the Council office received two emails in opposition to it. 

Here's the Preservation Board's full agenda.

The board meets at 3 p.m. in Room 901 in City Hall.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

Stanley Cup making stop in -- yes -- state Capitol

ALBANY -- You might not want to read this if you are a fan of the Buffalo Sabres, or for that matter, one of New York state's other two NHL teams.

The Stanley Cup will make a stop at the state Capitol on Tuesday morning, as part of a yearlong victory tour honoring last year's NHL champions -- the Boston Bruins.

Yes, Lord Stanley's Cup arrives in New York's seat of government where it will be carefully carried between stops at the Assembly and Senate chambers.

There is a New York connection: Buffalo's Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the Delaware North Cos., owns the Bruins and might be on hand for the Tuesday visit.

Two questions: Will Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a die-hard Rangers fan -- who's even traveling to Buffalo next month to watch his team play the Sabres -- be photographed touching the storied trophy honoring, of all teams, the Bruins?

And, if the Sabres pull a surprise and win the Cup this year, can Faneuil Hall be on the victory tour in 2013?

--Tom Precious

Recent hires in City Hall

--Updated 4:09 p.m.--

The City of Buffalo has a number of recently hired employees.

At the Buffalo Sewer Authority, Michael Crapo, Brian Ray, Matthew Dunford and Brian Nagy were hired as seasonal laborers at a pay rate of $95 per day.

Mark Lewandowski and Daniel O'Sullivan were made permanent wastewater treatment plant operators at an hourly rate of $16.89.

In the Comptroller's Office, Ronald L. Wachowski was given a temporary promotion moved from provisional senior accountant to assistant auditor. Wachowski was bumped from his previous position because of a series of personnel changes. His starting salary is $44,375.

Deborah Tucker was hired as an intern in the City Clerk's office at a rate of $10 an hour. Tucker had been an aide to Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen.

In the Office of Strategic Planning's Real Estate Division, Mark Welch was hired as a seasonal laborer at $11.87 an hour.

Last month, Lyana M. Luciano was appointed to an $11.87-an-hour seasonal clerk post in the Department of Assessment and Taxation, a job she previously held.

Also last month, the Sewer Authority provisionally appointed Dawn Cordero as a senior sanitary chemist, at a $66,015 salary. At the same time, Robert Carroll was appointed as a temporary sanitary chemist, with a $62,084 salary. Two others were made permanent laborers: William Conroy and Gregory Reusch. Their pay rate is $16.39 per hour.

Here's a recent story I did about other recent hires in the comptroller's and clerk's offices, as well as to Common Council central staff.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN


Lancaster town Democratic chairman resigns

For the first time in a decade, Lancaster Democrats are looking for a new chair for the town's party committee.

Terry McCracken, who was elected last November to the Erie County Legislature, officially informed other committee members of his decision this month. Speculation on McCracken's exit first bubbled up Monday on SpeakUp Western New York, a website that closely covers politics and government in Lancaster.

McCracken said he made the decision soon after the November elections.

"The time was right to step down," McCracken told the Politics Now blog. He noted that he took over the position 10 years ago from Art Herdzik, a lawyer and the Lancaster village attorney.

McCracken also serves as the general crew chief for the town's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

He said his decision to give up the post had nothing to do with the loss of Democrat Bob Giza to Republican Dino Fudoli in last fall's hardfought town supervisor's race. Democrats won the two other Town Board seats up for grabs and hold a 4-1 advantage on the board.

The vice chair of the town party, Sarah Ruffino, wife of Town Board member Ronald Ruffino Sr., will run the committee on an interim basis until a new chair is elected, McCracken said.

This may not happen for a few months, he added, because the committee may end up waiting until elections for committee seats are held this year.

--- Stephen T. Watson




Brown appoints former deputy mayor to housing authority

Former Deputy Mayor Donna M. Brown is pictured in this 2009 file photo. (Bill Wippert/Buffalo News)

Mayor Byron W. Brown has appointed former Deputy Mayor Donna M. Brown to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority board.

Donna Brown left City Hall in June 2010 for what was a newly created job of patient advocate at Erie County Medical Center.

Here's the mayor's appointment memo.

Donna Brown will fill the rest of the term of Crystal Rodriguez, who left the authority board in 2008 to become executive director of the city's Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations.

Rodriguez is a former executive assistant to the mayor. 

Check out Phil Fairbanks' story from when Donna Brown left her City Hall post for Erie County Medical Center.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN


Wilson calls Senate candidacy 'very unlikely'

Harry Wilson, the 2010 Republican candidate for state comptroller who ran a competitive race against Democratic incumbent Thomas P. DiNapoli, has been mentioned prominently as a potential candidate against Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand this year.

His name even surfaced just last week in the latest Siena College poll testing Gillibrand's re-election effort.

But in a conversation with The Buffalo News today, Wilson said such a race probably will not happen this year.

"I have given it great consideration, but I am very unlikely to do it," he said.

Wilson, who amassed a fortune as a corporate turnaround guru, has been mentioned as a candidate along with Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Marc Cenedella, a Fredonia native who founded a national job search website called Wilson said today he believes he has the ability to work across the aisle to confront the "pending disaster" of out-of-control spending.

He said family obligations and new business opportunities will most likely preclude a run this year, though he acknowledged he has not dismissed future opportunities.

"She is also a formidable candidate," he said of Gillibrand. "I think she is underestimated as a candidate."

--Robert J. McCarthy

Hinchey retirement roils redistricting

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a senior House Democrat from the Catskills, is retiring at the end of this year -- a move that could end up saving the congressional seat of either Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, or Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

Hinchey's spokesman, Mike Morosi, told the Poughkeepsie Journal today that the 10-term lawmaker will announce his retirement Thursday in Kingston.

Because New York will lose two congressional seats in a reapportionment that the State Legislature must approve this year, Hinchey's retirement could have statewide implications.

Legislators traditionally have tried to protect incumbent lawmakers, with legislative veterans such as Hinchey as a priority. That could have boded ill for Hochul or Higgins, who have less seniority than Hinchey, if the Catskills lawmaker had opted to run for re-election.

Now, though, legislators will be able to carve up an open Democratic seat if they so choose.

A legislative commission in Albany is working on the redistricting plan, which will take effect in the November election. Lawmakers are expected to eliminate one Democratic seat and one Republican seat.

--Jerry Zremski

Silver: No rush on casino gambling amendment

ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said there is no reason a plan to amend the constitution to permit more casino gambling in New York has to be taken up before budget talks are resolved -- theoretically by the end of March.

The Manhattan Democrat said the casino push by Gov. Andrew Cuomo can be taken up by the Legislature "post-budget.''

Silver said he has also not read details of a tentative resolution drafted by Cuomo's office to permit Las Vegas-style casinos -- complete with table games and other forms of gambling now banned -- on non-Indian lands. Sources who have seen the draft said lawmakers are already raising questions about it being too broad for leaving out any mention of where the possible casinos might be located.

Administration officials have said they believe the resolution language can be vague, and that lawmakers can enact separate, more precise "enabling'' legislation next year.

It takes two successive state legislative sessions to change the constitution, and then a statewide referendum by voters. That statewide vote could not occur until November 2013, at the earliest.

A poll out this week by Siena College found mild public support for permitting another dramatic spread of gambling in New York. Among the opponents is Robert Odawi Porter, president of the Seneca Nation, who was at the Capitol today lobbying against any effort to permit casinos on non-Indian lands in Western New York.

-- Tom Precious

Randall Terry's Super Bowl shocker

WASHINGTON -- Football fans know that Super Bowl ads are often more entertaining than the game itself, but that is certainly not what anti-abortion crusader Randall Terry has in mind.

Terry has bought television time in 11 markets -- and hopes to buy time in upwards of 20 more -- to air graphic anti-abortion ads during the big game.

"I am running these TV ads to help create a national crisis of conscience concerning child killing, in order restore the full protection of law for unborn babies," said Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue. "We must make it a crime to murder a human being from conception till natural death."

You may not have noticed, but Terry is running for the Democratic presidential nomination -- just so he can air such anti-abortion ads.

While television stations can usually refuse to run ads that include graphic content, that's not the case within 45 days of a presidential primary or caucus, when Federal Communications Commission rules mandate that TV outlets have to run ads paid for by presidential campaigns.

But Buffalo will not be seeing Terry's ads. He said the Super Bowl ads will not be airing in Buffalo because the New York primary is not scheduled until April, which, obviously, is way more than 45 days away.

-- 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 |