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Massa finally stops paying his wife

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- Three years after leaving office in tickle-party-induced disgrace, former Rep. Eric Massa, D-Corning, has finally stopped paying his wife from his leftover campaign funds.

Massa, D-Corning, had been paying his wife, Beverly, as much as $2,404 a month out of his campaign account. But in the quarter ending March 31, Massa did not report any such payments, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which reviewed Massa's latest campaign filing.

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Cuomo to LCA: lighten up

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Turns out reporters just don’t have a good sense of humor.

So is the thinking today of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who seemed to take exception that reporters yesterday took serious his chat yesterday about why he doesn’t always release actual legislation – instead of just press releases – on major policy matters.

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Poll finds little public interest in taxpayer-funded campaign system

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The public’s support for plans to use their tax money to finance political campaigns is still being opposed by a majority of registered voters, a new poll has found.

The Quinnipiac University poll out today shows 53 percent of registered voters oppose public financing of campaigns for governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature. Thirty-seven percent favor the idea, down from a high of 45 percent last June.

The poll results come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some lawmakers are pushing new plans to publicly finance campaigns. Cuomo has not released his specific proposals, though Assembly Democrats unveiled their new idea in actual legislation yesterday. Republicans who partially control the Senate have long opposed the taxpayer financed election system idea.

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Wednesday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

It's all about guns and immigration -- and the economy -- in today's must-reads.

First, The New York Times takes an in-depth look at the wild-west world of gun sales on the Internet.

Meanwhile, as senators unveil a bipartisan immigration reform proposal, Politico explains how the immigration deal got made.

And The Washington Post examines why the economy is enduring yet another spring swoon.

Weiner making comeback in NYC?

By Robert J. McCarthy

One of the most interesting stories in today's Daily News involves a new poll showing former Rep. Anthony Weiner emerging as a serious contender for mayor of New York this year.

Lazio reflects on lunch with Margaret Thatcher

   By Robert J. McCarthy

   An interesting retrospective on Margaret Thatcher provided by former Rep. Rick Lazio, who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. senator in 2000 and for governor in 2012:

My Lunch with the Iron Lady

by Rick Lazio.


MT This week funeral services will be held for Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was Britain's longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th Century and perhaps their most consequential and dominant political leader since Winston Churchill.  She was the first woman elected Prime Minister and through force of personality, determination and principle, she became a world leader that changed the course of history.

Several years ago, I had lunch with Baroness Thatcher in the House of Lords.  I recall, upon arrival, being escorted to the dining room by one of her colleagues in that chamber.  Despite having served in one of the world's most historical legislative buildings, it was impossible not to be impressed by the sense of significance, history and authority reflected in Westminster.  I was seated, and almost immediately Mrs. Thatcher greeted me and took her seat.  Now several years out of the Prime Minister's office, she appeared physically frail and her voice had softened.

She was meticulously dressed, nothing out of place.  Her hair was crafted in the familiar style.  We exchanged some pleasantries before she asked about the state of American politics in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and the subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Iron Lady listened and then explained the political and moral necessity of standing up to bullies, dictators and terrorism.  She saw the need for America to pull the world toward freedom.  She talked about her experience in the Falklands conflict and how our nations stood together to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1990.

For a time she seemed to be lost in her own thoughts, but would spring back to occasionally remind me of what she and President Reagan accomplished together.  She was clearly proud of her relationship with both Reagan and America.  She saw the alliance as essential, and the former actor as a political soul mate willing to stand up to the world's nefarious forces abroad and to champion personal responsibility, free enterprise and limited government at home.  She said that she had no tolerance for those that campaigned on these principles but compromised them away once in office to retain their political position.  Watching her and listening to her points, I thought to myself that, even in declining health, she continued to exude a remarkable strength.  That strength was incubated by conviction.

She hated deficits, government over-reach and  politicians who bought votes by making promises that destroyed individual initiative and responsibility.  In a recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Thatcher was drawn to "what is best in America: freedom, enterprise, opportunity and the urge for self improvement."  She said she wanted everyone to have the opportunity to be a shopkeeper, an entrepreneur, an investor.  She saw that potential limited by a government that constructed barriers to achieving that goal: rules that limited work, flexibility, investment and accountability.  She believed instinctively that enterprise must be in the hands of people in the private sector and spent enormous political capital devolving state owned enterprises to the private sector.  When she took office as Prime Minister, the government employed about 30% of the workforce and ran many of the largest and best known companies in key industries.  Its record was horrendous.  However, by 2009, state owned industries were responsible for only 2% of the economy, because of the programs put in place by Thatcher.

For the next eleven and one half years Thatcher "stopped printing excess money to kill inflation, cut marginal tax rates to unleash private incentives, privatized public housing so the poor could own their own homes, did away with the currency, and price and wage controls to eliminate the distortions they imposed on the economy, curbed runaway spending and sold off one state asset after another so they might be competently and profitably managed." said the Journal.

I said to Lady Thatcher that I was amazed and impressed that she was able to accomplish so many necessary, but controversial changes and stay in power for over eleven years.  She looked at me for a brief moment, clearly not charmed by the compliment, and said that the Conservative Party stayed in power because the British people wanted the country to work.  It was fed up with unions and interest groups that had caused paralysis.  Thatcher said they were allowed to govern because they stayed true to their principles and precisely because their knees didn't buckle when the fight came to them.

True, Margaret Thatcher had an unrivaled reservoir of political courage, but she realized that she had to win people over.  Like her contemporary, Ronald Reagan, she combined a sense of purpose and a cohesive political philosophy with an understanding of the demands of leading in a democracy.  She once said that "Democracy isn't just about deducing what the people want.  Democracy is leading the people as well."

She knew who she was and, with Ronald Reagan, she decisively lead at a pivotal moment for the world.   I will long remember the way the aging leader spoke about Reagan.  She greatly admired him, generally referring to him as President Reagan but occasionally calling him just plain "Ronnie" during a story.  She talked about how, together, they saw the world; about how she could depend on America and how America could depend on Great Britain.  She explained the alliance without sentiment, but with gratitude.

The world is a better place because of the life of Margaret Thatcher.  When she is put to rest this week, America should likewise feel gratitude for the leadership and unwavering friendship of the Iron Lady.  Three decades after the UK's first female Prime Minister took office, her vigorous, principled foreign policy and transformational free market economic ideals continue to shape the world.

May she rest in peace.



Cuomo: Deals trump legislative transparency

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reached a new level compared to governors in recent memory when it comes to offering policy proposals but not making public the actual legislation to spell out how those policies might work.

Today, he offered up some new ideas for cleaning up the political process in Albany. When might the public see the specifics beyond what goes into his press release?

"I will give you a hint. Normally, when we release bill language before an agreement it means the probability of that bill passing is very, very low ... To put forth specifics when you don't have an agreement in my experience polarizes the parties. It makes it harder to come to agreements because you pushed people to their respective corner,'' Cuomo told reporters.

Too bad the state constitution doesn't permit that I-will-show-you-when-I'm-ready approach with the single most important function governors and lawmakers do each session: the state budget.

For Silver, it's Chapter 27 of campaign finance reform epic

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – If it’s Tuesday, must be time for another piece of campaign finance legislation.

The latest is sort of a greatest hits for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who first proposed the idea of having taxpayers fund political campaigns in New York back in 1986.

On Tuesday, he offered the idea again, with some new twists, like creating a new, five-member panel to do the enforcement work that the state Board of Elections, which is controlled by the Democrats and Assembly, has long ignored. The new board’s members would be selected by the governor and four majority and minority party legislative leaders.

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New push on for medical marijuana bill

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Sponsors of a newly amended measure legalizing use of marijuana for medical purposes said support is growing for the legislation, and that the major person left to be convinced is Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We’re going to get this bill done in the Senate this year," predicted Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat. Passage of the bill in the Assembly, given is past support, is certain. Savino said she has 38 "solid" yes votes in the Senate, with 32 needed for passage.

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A Stashenko is honored

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The American Heart Association is at the Capitol trying to get lawmakers to pass legislation requiring schools in New York to teach hands-on CPR to students. The simple course, now voluntarily taught by some schools, has already been credited with savings lives.

One of those students who learned the technique is Casey Stashenko, a 14-year-old. Last May 31, he used what his teacher at an Albany-area middle school taught him to save the life of his father, Joel Stashenko. The younger Stashenko, who has a sense of humor nearly as dry as his father’s, was honored on the Assembly floor this afternoon.

Joel Stasheno is near and dear to the hearts of reporters at the Capitol. He is the former Capitol editor at the Associated Press and today covers legal affairs for the New York Law Journal from his bureau across the street from the Capitol.


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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 |