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Maziarz to PSC: Not so fast on possible rate hike plan

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Senate Energy Committee Chairman George Maziarz is accusing the Cuomo administration's Public Service Commission of trying to "plunder'' hydropower revenues from Western York to help finance the possible closing of a downstate nuclear power plant.

The Newfane Republican said statewide energy rates could rise by nearly $1 billion if the funding plan goes through and if the Indian Point plant along the banks of the Hudson River in Buchanan closes, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo desires.

Here is part of a press release issued by Maziarz this afternoon:

The PSC began a process last November to examine contingency plans for replacing the 2,000 megawatts of generation produced at Indian Point, should the facility close. Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority(NYPA) were asked to submit a document to the Commission which was delivered on February 1st, which specified certain projects and costs necessary to accomplish this goal. The transmission projects identified would cost a minimum of $811 million, costs which are proposed by NYPA and Con Ed to be recovered entirely by taxpayers. In a departure from past precedent, the money would be collected from ratepayers in every region of the state, not merely those in New York City and other parts of downstate New York who are receiving the benefits.

Continue reading "Maziarz to PSC: Not so fast on possible rate hike plan" »

Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning,

Today, the Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 2 p.m. to consider granting a live music license to the Acropolis restaurant in the Elmwood Village. Neighbors have said they will speak out against the variance, while Acropolis owner Paul Tsouflidis has said neighboring restaurants have live music licenses, and he should have one too. 

Also on the agenda is a height variance for a new medical office building at 1001 Main St. on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. In a surprising turn of events yesterday, the development, from Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., was denied tax breaks by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. 

The ECIDA did approve tax breaks for Rocco Termini's developments in North Buffalo. 

There was a lot of news yesterday in City Hall, including final approval for the Buffalo Sabres' HarborCenter Development project and public meetings on the Michigan Avenue African American Heritage Corridor. 


Buffalo Zoning Board agenda 2.20.13 by

SUNY union and Cuomo sign tentative contract deal

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The union representing 35,000 state university employees has struck a tentative deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a new five-year labor contract.

The deal with the United University Professions calls for zero percent wage hikes in the first three years going back retroactively to 2011 until 2013. In the final two years of the proposed contract, UUP members would get 2 percent raises each year.

Continue reading "SUNY union and Cuomo sign tentative contract deal" »

Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning,

Today the Common Council will hold a public hearing on the sale of the Webster Block during its 2 p.m. meeting in Chambers. A vote on the $2.2 million sale is expected today. The Council does not meet again until March 5, and the Buffalo Sabres' Harborcenter Development is planning a groundbreaking on or around March 1. 

Harborcenter is planning a $172.2 million hockey-themed mixed-use development near the waterfront between Main, Perry, Washington and Scott streets. Also today, at 143 Genesee St., the Erie County Industrial Development Agency is considering a package of tax abatements for the project, including $28 million in real property tax credits, $7.5 million in sales tax savings and $1.2 milion in mortgage recording tax savings. 

The Council will hold a pre-meeting caucus in Room 1417 at 11 a.m. today. 

Also today, the Michigan Avenue African-American Heritage Corridor Commission will hold meetings in Chambers at noon and 6 p.m. on a draft management plan

Of note for Elmwood Village homeowners is Tom Precious's story today about historic tax credits for home rehabilitation, which get a boost in a recent amendment to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2013-14 proposed budget.  

Buffalo Common Council Agenda 2.19.13 by

Tolbert still making the mayoral rounds

By Robert J. McCarthy

Bernie Tolbert, the potential primary challenger to Democratic incumbent in this year's mayoral election, is proving adept at one aspect of politics - testing the waters.

Tolbert, the former head of the FBI's Buffalo office, said Monday he remains interested in running this year, but has made no decision and continues to make the rounds throughout Buffalo to listen and learn.

Continue reading "Tolbert still making the mayoral rounds" »

Video: Week in Washington - The 'sequester'

Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski will be looking at what the looming "sequester" - a series of across-the-board budget cuts slated to happen next month - would mean for the Buffalo area.


Communications boss for Cuomo takes quick exit

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – When Allison Gollust came to Albany just four months ago to run the communications efforts for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, most Capitol observers knew one of her most difficult tasks would be breaking into the tight-knit world that is the close and tiny circle of advisors that Cuomo relies on each day.

On Friday, Gollust announced she was quitting the administration, and rejoining her former boss, Jeffrey Zucker, who she worked with at NBC Universal. She now follows him after he was recently named president of CNN Worldwide.

Gollust, in a letter to Cuomo, acknowledged that the draw back to television and the chance to work again with Zucker are among the reasons for leaving Cuomo so soon. But she also noted that “serving in state government requires an unparalleled commitment to flexible schedules, days away from home and significant time spent in Albany.”

“This commitment required far more time in Albany than I anticipated, and logistically this return to the private sector will work much better for my family,’’ wrote Gollust, who has a husband and two young children in Manhattan, in the letter to her ex-boss.

In her new job, she will be CNN’s senior vice president for communications; she held various public relations posts at NBC, including overseeing all communications divisions for NBC Universal under Zucker.

In her resignation letter, she used every possible adjective to describe working with Cuomo: fascinating, meaningful, rewarding, groundbreaking, historic, extraordinary, tremendous.

Gollust, who had little daily contact with reporters who actually cover Cuomo at the Capitol, was getting paid $169,100 a year working for Cuomo — an amount she will obviously see leap by joining CNN.

Video: Mark Grisanti's political future

Some members of Grisanti's inner circle are encouraging the Republican state senator to consider switching his allegiance to a minor party. News Political Reporter Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about why such a switch is being discussed:

Syracuse mayor keeps pounding away at Cuomo budget plan

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has been causing quite the stir since she first began criticizing the budget ideas of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Politicians with a future don't often like to criticize Cuomo. So have the barbs coming his way from the woman who he handpicked to be the co-chair of the state Democratic Party is just a tad unusual. [Lost, though, in much of the political whirlings is that Miner is elevating the issues that frustrated mayors of upstate cities have been complaining about for years with no results other than finger-in-the-dikes solutions from Albany.]

Today, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, her criticism intensifies, as she suggests Cuomo's pension cost-saving plan could doom localities in the long term. Here is the piece, though a warning for Cuomo supporters: it contains the "G" word three times.

Continue reading "Syracuse mayor keeps pounding away at Cuomo budget plan" »

Ethics agency completes probe of Lopez sexual harassment probe

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The state agency investigating the sexual harassment cases against a once-powerful Brooklyn assemblyman has sent its findings of ethics violations to two legislative panels for further potential action. The probe against Democratic Assemblyman Vito Lopez by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has been described by sources as explosive.

How far it goes in criticizing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his handling of cash settlement cases by two former staffers who accused Lopez of sexually harassing them remains uncertain in the hour since the ethics panel announced it has sent the report to the Legislative Ethics Commission and to the Assembly Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance.

Continue reading "Ethics agency completes probe of Lopez sexual harassment probe" »

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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 |