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Video: McCarthy, Meyer on Grisanti altercation

Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about possible political fallout from an altercation involving State Sen. Mark Grisanti at Seneca Niagara Casino.

Poloncarz picks Glascott to head Central Police Services

A Cheektowaga police captain who challenged Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard in 2009 will be the next commissioner of Central Police Services.

County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has appointed John A. Glascott to head the department.     Glascott, a Democrat, unsuccessfully ran for sheriff in 2009.

Glascott has worked for the Cheektowaga Police Department for more than 30 years. He began his law enforcement career as a corrections officer for the Attica Correctional Facility from 1973 to 1978. He started as a patrolman in Cheektowaga in 1978.

Central Police Services handles dispatching, training, crime lab analysis and other administrative functions.

Poloncarz submitted Glascott's name to the Legislature on Thursday.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Reed backs payroll tax compromise

WASHINGTON -- Without sounding entirely thrilled about it, Rep. Tom Reed has signed onto the bipartisan deal to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of the year while extending unemployment benefits and fixing payments to doctors under Medicare.

Reed, a Republican from Corning who served on the conference committee on the payroll tax issue, said he was disappointed that the deal did not offset the payroll tax cut with spending reductions to cover the cost of the lower levy.

"Not paying for the tax rate is not good policy," Reed said. "But allowing the government to take more of what hardworking taxpayers earn is worse."

Continue reading "Reed backs payroll tax compromise" »

Slaughter takes aim at high credit-card rates

WASHINGTON -- If you're sick of sky-high credit card interest rates, you have a friend in Rep. Louise M. Slaughter.

The Fairport Democrat, whose district extends into Buffalo, Thursday announced that she is sponsoring legislation that would cap credit card interest rates at 16 percent. 

“We must do what we can to help people who are trying to make ends meet in the face of card rates that suddenly jump to 20, 25, 30 percent or higher,” said Slaughter. “It’s time for Congress to put the needs of the middle class ahead of banks and card issuers.”

Sponsored with Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., Slaughter's "Renewing America's Commitment to Consumers Act" would also cap late fees and insufficient funds fees at $15.

The legislation most likely faces bleak prospects in the Republican-controlled House, but it has won the support of consumer groups such as the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

-- Jerry Zremski

Grisanti to gain Independence nod, source says

   Embattled State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, coping for almost a week with the aftermath of a barroom brawl late last Friday at the Seneca Niagara Casino, has received one encouraging bit of political news.

    A source close to the senator said Thursday that Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican, will receive the Independence Party line in the November election. The source called the information "solid."

  The development comes as Grisanti struggles to retain the Conservative line he earned during his successful campaign in 2010 in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. Conservatives now say it is unclear if he will gain the often-crucial line again in 2012 after he voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010.

   Former County Legislature Chairman Charles M. Swanick of Kenmore, a one-time Republican who returned to the Democratic Party several years ago after leaving County Hall, is also reported to be exploring a candidacy against Grisanti on the Democratic line. Swanick has had a long association with the Conservative Party.

   Still, the Independence line looms as a positive development for Grisanti after it was left vacant in 2010.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Kearns, Fahey try to 'out labor' each other

   Just a day after Assembly candidate Michael P. Kearns touted two endorsement by organized labor in his bid for the special 145th Assembly District election on March 20, the camp of opponent Christopher J. Fahey summarized his union backing with more endorsements -- lots more.

   A top Fahey supporter pointed to the following sources of labor support already listed on his website: 
  

  • IUOE Local 17
  • IBEW Local 97
  • AFSCME Local 1095
  • AFSCME Local 930
  • Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
  • ATU Local 1342
  • Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local No. 3 NY
  • International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 14
  • New York StateTroopers' Police Benevolent Association
  • Buffalo Teachers Federation
  • Ironworkers Local 6
  • Painters District Council 4
  • Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters
  • United Auto Workers, Region 9
  • Communications Workers of America

  The dueling labor endorsement efforts underscore what is expected to prove a spirited campaign to replace Mark J.F. Schroeder in the Assembly after he was elected Buffalo comptroller in November.

   Fahey is the endorsed Democrat; Kearns is a Democrat running with Republican support.

--Robert J. McCarthy

Louise Slaughter, taking STOCK with Jon Stewart

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, is among the wittier members of the New York House delegation, but she let Jon Stewart get most of the laughs when she appeared on "The Daily Show" Wednesday night.

Slaughter appeared to push the STOCK Act, her proposal to ban insider stock trading among members of Congress. The House and Senate have approved different versions of the bill, and Slaughter urged Stewart's viewers to contact their congresspeople to push for appointment of a conference committee to finalize the bill.

For his part, Stewart made no secret of his support of the STOCK Act, which Slaughter has been pushing for six years.

The full clip can be seen below, with Slaughter's appearance beginning at about the 14:45 mark:

 http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/wed-february-15-2012-louise-slaughter

-- Jerry Zremski

Teacher evaluation deal coming

ALBANY -- Officials in Albany are preparing to announce a deal this afternoon on a system to
evaluate the performance of public school teachers based, in part, on student performance on
standardized tests.

The expected agreement comes after intense talks in recent weeks between the state education
department and the New York State United Teachers union.

Sources close to the talks say there is always the possibility that last-minute snags could
delay a deal. If that happens, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has threatened that today is the deadline
for the sides to get an agreement; if not, he said he will submit later today his own teacher
evaluation plan into his proposed 2012 state budget proposal.Officials with Cuomo's office, as
well as the state Education Department and NYSUT, either declined comment or were unavailable
this morning.

Richard Iannuzzi, president of NYSUT, said in a hallway interview at 11am: “I think we’re very, very close. I think by noon it will be done.’’

The NYSUT leader declined to provide details, but said the final deal will contain more “rigor’’ in the evaluation standards than a 2010 law that first set the teacher evaluation standards.

“The highlights will be everybody will say New York’s students are better off and New York’s teachers are better off,’’ Iannuzzi said.

He said the talks are down to “words.’’

“And I don’t expect there to be any differences in those last couple of words,’’ he said.

The state already enacted a teacher evaluation system in 2010, including a provision that 20
percent of a teacher's performance rating be based on student achievements on state-written
standardized tests. But Cuomo last year insisted on stronger provisions that could end up
having 40 percent of teacher evaluations based on the state tests. The Board of Regents, the
chief education policy-setting body for the state, went along with Cuomo's plan, which led
NYSUT to take the matter to court.

The final deal is expected to keep the original 20 percent standardized testing piece in
place, and set new criteria for how districts can use student testing -- including
examinations developed that can vary by locality or use of state-provided tests -- for the
other 20 percent.

Sources close to the talks this morning said final details were still being negotiated as of
9:30 a.m. after an all-night session by the sides; the student testing components, though, had
been resolved and locked down.

"But until everything is done it can still all blow up," one source close to the talks said
this morning.

In a radio interview on Albany-based WGDJ, Cuomo said no final deal has been made yet.
"Conversations are still going on, and they have been basically all night," Cuomo said.

A major sticking point the last several days has been how to resolve a nasty battle, including over the appeal rights of teachers.The state was already awarded $700 million by the federal government for its 2010 teacher evaluation deal. The federal education department has threatened that it might want the money returned if an evaluation plan is not implemented.Cuomo has proposed in his budget to hold back promised 4 percent state aid increases in the coming year to any of the state's 700 districts that don't agree to the components of the teacher evaluation system that is expected to be announced today.

UPDATE:

An announcement of the deal is scheduled for 12:15 at the Capitol.

Iannuzzi later this morning said the near “imminent’’ deal will settle the lawsuit that NYSUT brought last year against the change imposed by the Regents to the 2010 evaluation law.

The NYSUT president said there were discussions about Cuomo’s threat to kill promised 4 percent aid hikes if districts and unions do not strike deals by January on the global settlement being announced this afternoon. “We kept that out of the conversations because this needed to be a conversation about student quality and teacher quality,’’ he said.

 -- Tom Precious

NYSUT president: Teacher evaluation deal by noon

ALBANY -- Richard Iannuzzi, president of NYSUT, said in a hallway interview at 11am: “I think we’re very, very close. I think by noon it will be done.’’

The NYSUT leader declined to provide details, but said the final deal will contain more “rigor’’ in the evaluation standards than a 2010 law that first set the teacher evaluation standards.

“The highlights will be everybody will say New York’s students are better off and New York’s teachers are better off,’’ Iannuzzi said.

He said the talks are down to “words.’’

“And I don’t expect there to be any differences in those last couple of words,’’ he said.

-- Tom Precious 

Napolitano: "Strong case" made for pre-clearance at the Peace Bridge

WASHINGTON -- Two border crossings will be chosen as pilot projects where U.S-bound cargo will be cleared on the Canadian side, and "a strong case" has been made for the Peace Bridge to be one of those pilot projects.

That's the message Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered Wednesday in response to questions from Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, at a House Homeland Security hearing. Previous expectations had been that there would be just one such pilot project.

"I think we envision two, not just one locale" for the pre-clearance pilot projects called for under the U.S.-Canada "Beyond the Border" deal, Napolitano said. "And a strong case has been made for the Peace Bridge, but no final decisions have been reached yet."

Higgins continued building that strong case at the hearing.

"That's a very, very important border crossing at the Peace Bridge for commerce, for our shared communities in the U.S. and Canada, and I just wanted to urge you in the strongest possible terms to consider the Peace Bridge for that pilot project. It's very important," Higgins said.

-- 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.

[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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