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Video: Discussion of changes in mayor's cabinet

Mayor Brown's finance chief is leaving. A new deputy mayor is being hired. News City Hall Reporter Jill Terreri talks with Brian Meyer about key changes in the mayor's cabinet:

Another Senate IDC member speaks, sorta

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– If Mario Cuomo was dubbed Hamlet on the Hudson for his presidential ruminating ways, can we call David Valesky Hamlet of Oneida?

The Democrat from Oneida in Madison County broke his silence today, as the Syracuse Post-Standard reports, about the mystery swirling over him and three other breakaway Senate Democrats. They have been flirting with the idea of joining with the GOP to help keep the Republicans at least partially in control of the Senate come January.

And, the answer from Valesky: What’s the rush for a decision?

Like the Independent Democratic Conference’s leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, Valesky isn’t saying which side the group is leaning to help take over the running of the Senate.

“We continue to believe, from a philosophical perspective, that, working in a bipartisan fashion, we can get votes on and have votes taken on the floor of the Senate on a wide range of issues that ought to be considered,’’ he said, citing such issues as a hike in the minimum wage and some unknown changes in the state’s campaign finance laws.

Of course, things aren’t necessarily rushing along, as The Buffalo News reported today, and even Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t exhibiting the urgency he did just two years ago when he went so far as to ask the state’s top judge to expedite court cases involving unresolved State Senate contest so there would be no chaos in the upper chamber when lawmakers return to Albany after the 2010 elections.

There are two races still undecided. One is based in Dutchess and Putnam counties where the GOP incumbent, Steve Saland, apparently has zero chance of closing his gap in the paper ballot counting process. The other one, the nail-bitter, is the 46th, between Republican George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk. Amedore leads by just 110 votes after a recent round of paper ballot counting, but 877 contested absentee and affidavit ballots remain subject to a court challenge that begins in earnest in a Montgomery County courtroom Monday morning.


Video: McCarthy on power struggle in State Senate

Brown names new deputy mayor

By Jill Terreri

Mayor Byron W. Brown named a new deputy mayor today, Ellen E. Grant, who will leave her post as commissioner of senior services at County Hall. 

The first draft of the story is here. More will follow. 


Photo courtesy of the mayor's office. 

Poloncarz letter: $8.5 million in budget cuts 'irresponsible'

By Denise Jewell Gee

A plan to cut $8.5 million from Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz's 2013 budget proposal drew sharp words from the county executive on Wednesday.

You can read about the proposed cuts in stories that appeared in Wednesday and Thursday's editions of The News.

Here's the letter Poloncarz wrote to legislators, urging them not to pass the cuts and explaining why he believes they would be "irresponsible and reckless."

Erie County executive's response to Legislature's proposed budget amendments

Panera, Ambrosia get OK

A new Panera Bread on Elmwood Avenue and an expansion of a restaurant on the same street won approval yesterday from the Zoning Board of Appeals. A list of decisions is posted below.  

Panera will take the place of Blockbuster, at 765 Elmwood Ave., and though the footprint of the building is not changing, the space doesn't conform to the code for the area, and a variance was necessary. 

At 451 Elmwood Ave., Ambrosia is taking the place of Nektar. Both restaurants are owned by Stavros Malliaris. The patio at Nektar will be enclosed to make way for Ambrosia, which is moving in from down the block. Nektar will close. 

Also approved were plans by David Pawlik to convert a church at 786 Kenmore Ave. into 12 apartments. The space had been used by Buffalo Covenant Church. 

PUSH Buffalo also won approval for new homes, that will contain apartments, on West Utica, Vermont, Normal and Sherwood. 

What wasn't approved was a plan by an Adams Street man to sell firearms out of his home. A neighborhood meeting, initiated by Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen will be held before the board votes. 


Zoning Board decisions 11.28.12

Live chat with Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski at 11 a.m.

State GOP chairman blasts Silver, again

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox yesterday lashed out at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for the lawmaker's prediction to The Buffalo News that he will be vindicated by a state ethics agency over his handling of a $103,000 payment to resolve sexual harassment complaints against Brooklyn Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

This afternoon, Cox, in a new written statement, wants to add some more thoughts:

“Yesterday, Silver told the Buffalo News that he ‘acted in the best interests of the victims’ in concealing sexual assaults by a powerful Democratic member of the Assembly. Speaker Silver, it is reported that the settlement agreement required that the VICTIMS pay a $10,000 fine if they publicly disclosed the settlement. If true, this fact alone shreds your defense. And if you were concerned with victims, why did you fail to report the assaults to the Assembly Ethics Committee, as your Assembly rules required, with the result that a serial sexual abuser struck additional victims? And why have you failed to take responsibility for these victims? And why did the reported official misconduct happen of disguising payments to victims as for "legal services." Speaker Silver, your stated defense is in tatters, and there are unanswered questions which carry ethical and criminal liabilities.”

Cuomo names advisors to improve emergency preparedness

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Here is the long list of people Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon appointed to three different panels charged with helping the state better prepare for future disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Sandy, and to bolster the state’s aging infrastructure that has been battered by a number of major weather events in the past decade.

Western New Yorkers named to the panels include Erie Community College President Jack Quinn, a former member of Congress; University at Buffalo associate geography professor Chris Renschler; and Daniel McCartan, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Western New York Regional Resource Center & Erie County Medical Center.

Here’s the full list of names and the tasks of the panels to which they have been appointed as contained in a press release from Cuomo's office:

Continue reading "Cuomo names advisors to improve emergency preparedness" »

Newly elected Collins launches 2014 fundraising campaign

By Robert J. McCarthy

   Chris Collins has not yet taken the oath of office as the new representative of the 27th Congressional District, but is nevertheless starting to raise funds for his re-election effort in 2014.

   In what is billed as a "holiday celebration with Congressman-elect Chris Collins," his campaign organization is sponsoring the fundraising event on Dec. 11 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Collins supporters can join or rejoin the "Collins Congressional Caucus" for $1,000 or $2,500 for membership throughout 2013, or pay $100 for the general reception.

   Collins lent his campaign $650,000 of his own funds during his successful effort against Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, according to federal records. In previous campaigns as a candidate for county executive, he also lent his campaign $800,000 in personal funds and then paid himself back through additional fundraising efforts.


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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 |