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Politics Now live chat with Bob McCarthy at 1:30 p.m.

Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington, June 18, 2012


Five Questions with Kevin Gaughan

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.


Kevin Gaughan goes door to door in 2010 during a government reform effort.(Adam Wolffbrandt/ Buffalo News File Photo)

Kevin P. Gaughan

The Basics:
Age: 58
Party: Democrat
Job Title: Attorney and civic activist
Family: Bachelor poster-child (but working on it), with five sisters and one brother, each of whom are smarter, funnier and far more charming than me 
Town: Buffalo
Education: Harvard University, A.B. American History; Georgetown University Law School, JD; London School of Economics, graduate studies in International Relations

Continue reading "Five Questions with Kevin Gaughan" »

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:

"'Moneyball' Godfather Bill James Tackles Politics In Super PAC Age," Sam Stein, Huffington Post. The "high priest of baseball number-crunching" has turned his attention to political campaign fundraising. 

"A Senate Primary Stuck in the Shadows," Thomas Kaplan, New York Times. A Republican primary for U.S. Senate later this month isn't drawing much attention. The winner faces Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

"Absent an actual Dream Act, Obama relaxes deportation requirements," Reid Pillifant, Capital New York. Before a speech to a major Latino group, President Obama changes immigration policy. It doesn't grant citizenship, but it defers deportation.

"Cuomo says final decisions on hydrofracking in New York remain undecided," Teri Weaver, the Post-Standard. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is weighing the desires of local communities when it comes to hydraulic fracturing. 

Photo gallery, Washington Post. In honor of Father's Day, historian Douglas Brinkley looks at presidential fathers - the good and the not so good. 


Erie County Politics Now live chat with Denise Jewell Gee

The News features a live chat on Politics Now weekly at 1 p.m. Thursdays. Today's is hosted by Denise Jewell Gee, with the focus being on Erie County politics and the happenings at County Hall.

The schedule for other Politics Now chats is: First Thursday of month: Jill Terreri on Buffalo City Hall; third: Tom Precious on Albany; fourth: Jerry Zremski on Washington. The News' Bob McCarthy also joins the chats when available.


GOP also biding time on Hochul district airtime

   First, it was the Democrats who skipped NY 27 in reserving airtime for this fall's big race involving incumbent Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul.

   Now, Republicans appear to be putting the race on the back burner, too.

   Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, reported Wednesday that the National Republican Congressional Committee -- the panel charged with electing more Republicans to the House of Representatives -- has also failed to reserve any airtime in the Hochul district. The seat is considered vulnerable in 2012 because of the significant Republican advantage provided by reapportionment, but so far neither party is gearing up for an "air war" on television.

   The move does not preclude, however, purchase of airtime in the future.

   Meanwhile, Washington sources familiar with the Democratic counterpart to the NRCC -- the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- say nothing should be read into the fact that they also have reserved no airtime for the Hochul effort. They say New York is not yet on their radar screen, and to stay tuned.

-- Robert J. McCarthy

Audio from Albany: 101-year-old barber Anthony Mancinelli

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 — There are all sorts of people who come through the state Capitol every day — but none who can boast of beginning a career of haircutting when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House.

Meet Anthony Mancinelli, who Tuesday was enjoying, as he noted, his 101st year alive — plus 2 months and 26 days — by having the state Senate honor him with a resolution as the world's oldest practicing barber.

It's a distinction the Guinness World Book of Records first bestowed five years ago upon Mancinelli, who is still cutting hair at a shop in Orange County south of Newburgh.

Barber"Excuse me," Mancinelli said as he turned my head, as only a barber can twist a head, to critique a recent haircut I was given. His opinion: unimpressed.

"I don't go for that square back," he said.

(The encouraging news: a 101-year-old said I was not old and can still have a younger hair style.)

Born in Italy and cutting his first hair for pay at the age of 12, Mancinelli has seen all the trendy styles, all the different clients and all the different kinds of demands.

With two weeks to go before the end of 2012 legislative session, we could talk about the hundreds of bills that will be enacted in the final flurry at the Capitol. Or, we can take a brief break, and listen to Mancinelli — called a "true asset to society" by the Senate resolution — talk about how to cut a musician's hair the right way, the art of customer satisfaction and how a barber clearly doesn't rely on big tips to make ends meet.

--Tom Precious

Listen to the full conversation with Mancinelli here:

Download audio

Analyzing the latest votes in Congress

WASHINGTON -- Amid a collection of routine votes in the House last week, one stands out for its local impact.

The House rejected an amendment, put forth by Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, that would have increased funding for a key anti-terrorism program by $58 million. Buffalo was recently shut out of the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program -- which once brought the area upwards of $10 million a year -- and Higgins' amendment was an attempt to give Buffalo and other such communities a fighting chance of landing some of the funding.

But the vote failed amid the budget-consciousness of the Republican majority -- although Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, joined Higgins and Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, in supporting it.

On the Senate side, lawmakers rejected an effort -- pushed strongly by Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y. -- to expand federal equal-pay legislation for women.

-- Jerry Zremski


Here are the votes of Western New York's four members of the House of Representatives and the state's two U.S. senators on major legislation in Congress last week. A "Y" means the member voted for the measure; an "N" means the member voted against the measure; an "A" means the member did not vote.



* Energy Efficiency, Renewables: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The amendment would have increased funding for the Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by $180 million and offset the increase by cutting funding for nuclear programs. Tonko said efficiency programs "save money, create jobs, and improve our energy security." An opponent, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said the amendment would provide unnecessary funding for efficiency and renewables while making cuts that "would put at risk our nuclear security activities, the things we're doing to modernize our nuclear stockpile."

The vote June 1 was 148 yeas to 236 nays.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Y; Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, Y; Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, N; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, A.

Continue reading "Analyzing the latest votes in Congress" »

Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington, June 11, 2012


Five Questions with Sean Ryan

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.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, is a the former chief of staff of the Erie County Legislature. (Sharon Cantillon / Buffalo News)

Sean Ryan

The basics
Age: 47
Job title: New York State Assemblymember, 144th District
Family: My wonderful wife of 16 years, Cathy; we have two daughters: Bridget, 12, and Kate, 13.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY Fredonia, Law Degree from Brooklyn Law School
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous work experience: Attorney in private practice; executive director and general council of the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company; chief of staff of the Erie County Legislature; board member of many non-profit organizations including Buffalo Niagara River Keeper, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Autistic Services Inc, Coalition for Economic Justice, and the City of Buffalo’s Living Wage Commission.
State salary: $79,500

Continue reading "Five Questions with Sean Ryan" »

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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 |