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Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Final preparations are underway for the city's tax foreclosure auction, which starts tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., and lasts for three days, over at the convention center. A new list of 2,829 properties was posted on the city's web site this morning. The list has been cut from nearly 4,400 properties as people settle their tax bills or work out payment plans.  

The Common Council will also hold their pre-meeting caucus at 2 p.m. today, in which they'll discuss hiring DiDonato Associates for work on a second-floor addition to the Hatch Restaurant. They think the work - design, engineering, construction administration and inspection - can be done for $120,000. A request for bids to operate the Hatch is going out this month, and if the expansion is expedited, the city can realize more revenue from a new operator, according to a memo to lawmakers from City Engineer Peter Merlo. 

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Pro-casino group reports latest donations, spending

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– The major pro-casino organization reported it raised $2.1 million in a recent three-week period and spent $361,000, much of it on consulting, digital ads, mailings and production of a television commercial.

[UPDATE: With new numbers in, the total actually goes to $2.85 million.]

New York Jobs Now, whose members include business, casino and labor interests, raised most of its money from companies with an eye toward developing casinos in the Catskills region. The New York City teachers union pumped in $250,000 to the effort; backers claim the proposed seven casinos will bring millions in additional aid for public schools.

The pro-casino effort, run out of the headquarters of the Business Council of New York State with help from advisers to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, beginning Oct. 1 received $500,000 donations from Yonkers Racing Corp.; Genting New York, which runs the big casino at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens; and EPR Properties, which is seeking to run a casino in the Catskills.

Saratoga Harness Racing, which also wants a full casino as proposed under Cuomo’s plan, kicked in $250,000, as did American Racing & Entertainment, which is hoping to build a Las Vegas-style casino in the eastern part of the Southern Tier. The Mashantucket Pequot Indians, which own Foxwoods casino in Connecticut, donated $100,000, while Empire Resorts donated $125,000 and Nevele Investors gave $50,000; all three have Catskills casino plans. Some groups, such as Nevele, which spent $40,000 the past few weeks, also are running their own campaigns separate from the New York Jobs now effort.

[UPDATE: Nevele officials this afternoon said its investment group has donated another $50,000 to the casino group since last week's election board filing deadline. Also, recent 24-hour donation reports, which requires any donation over $1,000 to be reported, show other big donations since last week: $50,000 from IGT Operations in Reno, $225,000 from the New Jersey-based Carpenters Fund, $50,000 from the Oneida Indian Nation, another $250,000 from Yonkers and another $125,000 from American Racing & Entertainment.]

Anti-casino groups say they expect to spend next to nothing in a campaign that relies on grass roots and media outreach.

The new filing by the pro-casino group does not include expenses associated with a television ad campaign that began last week in downstate media markets.

Cuomo’s plan on the Nov. 5 statewide ballot calls for the state to legalize up to seven commercial casinos on non-Indian lands. The facilities would be able to offer real slot machines and table games, such as poker, which are now limited to the state’s six Indian-run casinos.

Monday's must-reads from Washington

WASHINGTON -- I hope you are not already overdosing on Hillary Clinton coverage, because today's top read, from Politico, is about her. It's Maggie Haberman's look at Hillary's 2000 run for the Senate -- and how it can be a model for her 2016 presidential run.

Meanwhile, The New York TImes looks at the possible practical consequences of Obamacare's botched rollout.

And The Times also takes us inside the FDA's decision to reclassify a set of painkillers.

Video: Why will the state GOP chairman will be in Buffalo on Election Night?

Bill aims to raise NYS maximum speed limit to 75 mph

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – New York State would join the fast lane with many of the wide-open Western states if a Bronx lawmaker has his way and the state’s speed limit on highways is raised from 65 mph to 75 mph.

Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda, a freshman Democratic lawmaker, on Thursday introduced legislation that would have New York join 16 other states with speed limits of 75 mph. Nearly all with those higher limits are in the West, though Maine a couple of years ago raised its speed limit to 75 mph on a portion of Interstate 95.

The legislation, which does not have a Senate sponsor, would permit the state transportation commissioner to raise the speed limit to 75 mph on any interstate highway, including the Thruway, and permit 65 mph “for all or part of highways that are designated by the department, have at least four lanes of traffic and have a separation between the roadways moving in opposite directions.’’

The bill would permit counties to adopt their own lower limits on highways, roads and streets that would be below the maximum permitted by the new bill.

The Governors Highway Safety Association said 34 states have raised speed limits to 70 mph and higher since Congress repealed the national maximum speed limit in 1995.

Sepulveda’s bill is certain to be opposed by safety organizations, which have long argued that higher speeds lead to higher traffic death rates.

Orchard Park Supervisor scores Jim Kelly endorsement

By Barbara O'Brien

Orchard Park Supervisor Janis Colarusso has gained the endorsement of one of Orchard Park’s most famous citizens: Former Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.

Kelly, sitting on a bench in the lobby of the Orchard Park Municipal Center in the folksy You Tube video, says he met Colarusso when he moved to the town in 1986.

Colarusso says “experience matters” whether it’s on the football field or in town hall. The endorsement message can be seen here:

Colarusso is facing opposition from retired dentist Patrick J. Keem, in a replay of the election four years ago that gave Colarusso a narrow victory.

Video: Amherst supervisor candidates forum

Amherst Town supervisor candidates answer questions about the zoning board and the open meetings law at a forum at the Amherst Center for Senior Services.

Hillary Clinton dines at Williamsville restaurant given '10 plates' by News earlier this month


Chef Bruce Wieszala's Handmade Potato Gnocchi, with local vegetables, homemade ricotta and fresh herbs in the kitchen at Tabree. (Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News)

Before former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at UB's Alumni Arena on Wednesday night -- recapped by The News' Jerry Zremski here -- she dined at a restaurant reviewed by News Food Editor Andrew Z. Galarneau earlier this month.

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Schroeder doesn't want a compromise on marina

By Jill Terreri

The Common Council's more generous attitude toward the operators of Brand-On Services, the company that owes the city nearly $350,000 in rent from the Erie Basin Marina, according to a recent audit, is not sitting well with Comptroller Mark Schroeder. 

“I sincerely hope that no members of the Common Council would even consider letting this unscrupulous contractor off the hook, but I certainly will not," Schroeder said in a statement. "Brand-On ripped off the taxpayers of Buffalo, and I will not rest until they pay the city back.”

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Cuomo defends King, Common Core

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– While he didn't appoint him, Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended state Education Commissioner John King, who is beating back calls from critics that he resign or the Board of Regents fire him.

Cuomo, in a brief session with reporters today, also defended the Common Core curriculum, which is the subject of intense debate between education officials, teachers and parents across the state.

King has come under increasing pressure after he canceled a series of public forums to discuss the curriculum; King was greeted by a rowdy crowd of protesters in Poughkeepsie and said the sessions would not yield constructive dialogue. He recently changed his mind and is now getting back on the road.

“No, I don’t think he should resign,’’ Cuomo said of King, before quickly adding that it’s not “my place to say’’ since he does not appoint the education commissioner. The commissioner is appointed by the Board of Regents, whose members are selected by the State Legislature, which, given the numbers in the two houses, means that Assembly Democrats essentially pick the Regents.

Of the Common Core, Cuomo said the system is “where the country’s going.’’

“These are obviously major developments and change can be hard and change can be unsettling even when it’s right,’’ Cuomo said.

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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 |