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Paterson gets new government gig

ALBANY -- From state senator to lieutentant governor to governor to radio talk show host to ... transit board member.

So goes the latest career path move for former Gov. David Paterson, who was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the subway, bus, railroad, bridge and tunnel system in the New York City area.

Paterson, who hosts an afternoon talk show on WOR radio in New York, will not get paid in the post that requires state Senate confirmation. Cuomo's office announced the nomination this morning.

The Daily News reports Paterson will replace Nancy Shevell. It's not quite the same as when he replaced the disgraced Eliot Spitzer as governor, but Shevell does have her own claim to fame: she recently married Paul McCartney.

-- Tom Precious

Five Questions with Edward A. Rath

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.

Erie County Legislator Edward A. Rath celebrates his re-election at Erie County Republican Committee campaign headquarters on election night 2009. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Edward A. Rath

The Basics:
Age: 45
Party: Republican
Job Title: Erie County Legislator, 6th District – Representing Akron, Amherst, Clarence and Newstead
Family: Married to Amy, proud parents of Louise, 10; Cecilia, 8 and Jocelyn, 6
Education: Graduate of Nichols School, and earned a degree in political science from Syracuse University and my MBA from Canisius College
Salary: $42,588

Continue reading "Five Questions with Edward A. Rath" »

The Read: Political chatter from elsewhere

Each Saturday on the Politics Now blog you'll find a list of stories that caught the eyes of The News' political reporters. Here's a sampling of what they were reading this week:

"How Does Press Irk Cuomo? Document Offers Clues," by Thomas Kaplan, New York Times. A document obtained by BuzzFeed last week provided an inside glimpse into the Cuomo administration's view of the press. The document was a markup of blog posts by YNN journalist Liz Benjamin that highlighted sections and labeled portions "generally snarky." A story in The New York Times notes that the document illustrates Cuomo's reputation as "sensitive to news coverage." One editor told the Times that the annotations were "bizarre."

"Cuomo spokesman: L’Affair Liz much ado about nothing," by Casey Seiler, Capitol Confidential. Seiler reports that the governor's spokesman called into Fred Dicker's radio show to address the governor's office's document involving a reporter's blog posts (see above). "Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto did his level best to tamp down any nefarious extrapolations," Seiler reports.

"Cuomo named to Time’s 100 most influential people," by Jimmy Vielkind, Capitol Confidential. Vielkind writes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a blurb in Time Magazine in its annual list. Cuomo's "in the company of Mark Zuckerberg and Hillary Clinton," Vielkind says of the piece.

And from late last week: "Cuomo's man Dicker to write Cuomo bio," by Dylan Byers at Politico. New York Post columnist Fred Dicker has the cooperation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a biography on the governor. "With few exceptions, Dicker, a Cuomo friendly, gets exclusive on-the-record access to the governor's thoughts" as the "so-called 'dean'" of Albany reporters, Byers writes.

Video: Analysis of Gingrich's Buffalo stop from McCarthy, Meyer

Video: Highlights from Gingrich speech downtown

Live: Updates from Gingrich appearance in Buffalo

Clinton offers his two cents on NYS budget

ALBANY -– Bill Clinton might be "happy" if his wife runs for president in 2016, but today he is absolutely thrilled with the new state budget in New York crafted, in part, by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has his own White House ambitions.

"With the second consecutive on-time budget, major reforms to save taxpayer money, and a commitment to make New York's schools the best in the nation, Gov. Cuomo is making New York's government work again, and making New York the comeback state," Clinton said in a written statement provided by the Cuomo press shop.

It’s not every day that one of Albany’s least read documents –- the Enacted Budget Financial Plan -– can be spun in such a way to churn up the White House chatter.

But Bill Clinton does not disappoint.

There’s the former president commenting not on some worldly event or major domestic issue but the New York state budget –- all in a news release in which the former leader of the free world shares billing with the likes of an executive director of an association representing counties and a building trades union leader.

It was only a few weeks ago that Clinton told a national television audience that he would be happy to see his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, run for president in four years. That set off some scrambling by Cuomo supporters who have been trying to spread the word that he should be the Democratic candidate in 2016.

There is no more routine act than publication of the legally required Enacted Budget Financial Plan, which comes out today a few weeks after the 2012 budget was adopted. It is a lengthy document, whose most favorite audience is likely Wall Street bond rating agencies and even includes a handy glossary of acronyms.

Will the former president's views on New York policy matters become a regular thing? Maybe Clinton on mandate relief? Or Clinton on legalizing mixed-martial arts bouts?

--Tom Precious

Audio from Albany: Michael Gianaris, head of Senate Democratic campaign committee

As part of a regular weekly feature on the Politics Now blog, Tom Precious of The News' Albany Bureau posts an audio interview with a newsmaker from the Capitol.


ALBANY -– State Sen. Mark Grisanti’s 2010 campaign victory was a "fluke" that will not be repeated if local Democratic Party officials can get together behind a single candidate to take on the Republican lawmaker from Buffalo, the head of the Senate Democratic campaign committee said this morning.

Senate Democrats are increasing their focus on Grisanti in their attempts to retake control of the 62-seat chamber -– which Republicans hope withstands court challenges in their quest to increase the membership to 63 senators as a way of protecting Grisanti. For Democrats, Grisanti has been identified as the GOP's most vulnerable member.

"We're trying to make sure we don't end up dividing our efforts as Democrats and making sure what is our best opportunity for a [Senate Democratic] pickup is not squandered by divisions within the Democratic Party," said State Sen. Michael Gianaris, a politically savvy Democrat from Queens who has set Grisanti in the center of the Democrats' cross hairs for the fall elections.

Gianaris said much effort is being made to "get all the Democratic forces in Erie County on the same page" to defeat Grisanti, who, he said, is in "a world of political trouble."

Gianaris was in the Buffalo area over the weekend meeting with various Democrats, including Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Len Lenihan. He also talked with Charles Swanick, who has already beaten Grisanti for the backing of the county’s Conservative Party for the general election this November.

"He's certainly a credible candidate," Gianaris said of Swanick; he noted he is meeting with a
number of Democrats interested in taking on Grisanti.

In his interview this morning, Gianaris also talked of relations between Senate Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo –- Gianaris didn't say it, but they are frayed relations at best. He also discussed last week's veto by Cuomo of legislative pork barrel spending -– which Republicans say targeted mostly Senate Democratic initiatives -– and the prospects that Cuomo and his state Democratic Party will -– or will not -– actively help Senate Democrats this fall in trying to take over the Senate.

And the Queens Democrat talked of a possible mystery candidate emerging in another Senate district in Western New York; he would not elaborate.

UPDATE: Grisanti this afternoon declined to take the Gianaris bait. “My focus always has been and continues to be job creation for Western New York and for New York state as a whole, cutting taxes, cutting government and moving forward in a positive direction … And I think what has been shown the past 16 months is that that is coming to fruition,’’ said Grisanti, who cited his successful push for a large University at Buffalo expansion plan as evidence of his achievements in Albany.

-- Tom Precious

Listen to the full conversation with Gianaris here:

Download audio

What our members of Congress did last week

    WASHINGTON -- It was another week of "recess" in Washington, another week of meetings and public appearances for our local members of Congress. Here are the highlights of what they did:

    -- Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, brought Michael Huerta, the acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to discuss the new runway plans there. In addition, Hochul toured small businesses, farms and senior centers in Erie, Genesee and Orleans counties.

     -- Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, attended an event for Prisoners of War Recognition Day, and toured Graphic Controls, the Larkin Center for Commerce and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. He also attended an event marking the completion of homes renovated by HomeFront Inc  And Higgins, a rabid Bruce Springsteen fan, also was in the crowd at HSBC Arena for the Boss's show on Friday night.

    -- Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, filled the week with meetings with constituents. He also held a pharmacist roundtable in Steuben County and delivered the keynote address at the Alfred State Convocation on Saturday.

    -- Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, continued her recovery from a broken leg at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester -- and did work from her hospital bed. "I'm working now," she said at a press conference at the hospital on Tuesday. "I'm not just sitting here eating bonbons."

    -- Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., attended an event at Vietnam Memorial at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park where he announced that Roland Settimi's first name will be corrected on the Vietnam War Memorial in the nation's capital. In addition, Schumer discussed Chinese counterfeiting issues at at Chautauqua County winery, a small business tax bill in Olean and student loans at Corning Community College.

    -- Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., spoke on the phone with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a top official at the Department of Defense. She also held a roundtable in Oyster Bay on legislation to restore Long Island Sound, and toured a recycling center in Mount Vernon in Westchester County where she held a press conference.

--Jerry Zremski






Slaughter finds ray of hope in Panetta's planned visit to Falls air base

Rep. Louise M. Slaughter held a press conference today at Strong Memorial Hospital. Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News

ROCHESTER -- Rep. Louise M. Slaughter acknowledged Tuesday she is fearful that all of the effort she and other members of Congress previously devoted to saving the Niagara Falls Air Base may be jeopardized by ominous signs that the Defense Department wants to close the sprawling facility.

But just prior to starting a press conference at Strong Memorial Hospital to discuss the broken leg she suffered in Manhattan on April 2, Slaughter said she is encouraged by statements by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indicating he plans to visit the facility before a final decision is made.

"I've known him...since I first got to Congress, she said. "If he made the commitment to come, he will come, and I think it will help."

She added the fact that Panetta has promised to make such a visit "means we have some hope."

The Air Force has rejected a plan that would have provided a new mission and saved most of the proposed job cuts for a National Guard unit at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

The proposal, from the Council of Governors, was an alternative to the Defense Department's budget plan that would eliminate 845 jobs at the base by stripping the mission of the 107th Airlift Wing, which is stationed there.

--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 |