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Church leaders urge Catholics to lobby Albany on tax break bill

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Catholic church leaders are making a last-minute appeal to parishioners this weekend asking them to help push the stalled Education Investment Tax Credit, which would give a tax break to people who give money to non-profit groups that, in turn, give donations to Catholic and other private -- as well as public -- schools.

What follows is a statement being sent by the Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the spiritual leader of Catholics in New York state, as well as all the state's bishops, that will be contained in church bulletins distributed this weekend to more than 2 million people attending services.

"More than 200 Catholic schools have closed in the last 15 years throughout New York State , as families and parishes, who strongly believe in the value of Catholic education, struggle to keep up with increasing costs. Many of our public schools also desperately need help.

To address these needs, the NYS Catholic Bishops joined a broad coalition of faith groups, community organizations and labor unions backing legislation called the Education Investment Tax Credit . The measure would encourage increased charitable donations to generate more private scholarships as well as dedicated additional resources to public schools. It also helps all teachers provide needed materials and supplies for every classroom in New York.

The vast majority of legislators support the bill. Why? It’s because the legislation will help all children, regardless of where they go to school. It’s a win - win for all families!

Although Governor Cuomo assured us he would fight to include the proposal in the state budget, in the end, we were left out.

As the legislative session ends in Albany this coming week, we pray that Governor Cuomo won’t let us down. W e ask that you join us in that prayer. Pray that Governor Cuomo will put children ahead of politics and fight for the Education Investment Tax Credit . We also ask that you contact him immediately with that same message.

You can send a message to the Governor through the website of the New York State Catholic Conference: Time is short. Please act today. God bless you.''


Sources: Senate, Assembly sponsors agree on same-as medical marijuana bill

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – The Senate’s lead sponsor of a measure to legalize medical marijuana has amended her bill in a way that is designed to address concerns raised by some legislators, paving the way for a possible vote by both houses of the Legislature on the long-stalled effort before the 2014 session ends in the next two weeks.

Sources say changes introduced by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, are expected to be matched on Monday with amendments to the Assembly bill by its lead sponsor in that house, Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat.

If a final deal is struck, the two houses could vote on the bill as early as this coming week, though it remains to be seen if the Senate's Republican leaders will let it to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.

The Assembly has already passed a medical marijuana legalization bill, but the legislation did not match changes Savino had made some weeks ago designed to lure more lawmakers onto her bill. As a result, Savino and Gottfried need to match their bills, which they did on Friday, sources say. (The Assembly for years has passed a medical marijuana bill and appears willing to go along with what Savino can get through her legislative chamber.)

Savino says she has 40 senators she is counting on as yes votes, and the newly amended bill includes 26 co-sponsors, including Western New York Senate Republicans George Maziarz and Mark Grisanti of the Buffalo area and Joseph Robach of Rochester.

Savino and Gottfried last week both said they were negotiating a set of new amendments to introduce a same-as bill. If approved, the new measure would be sent for consideration by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been moving on a separate track that advocates say is too restrictive and time-consuming to get the drug to qualified patients.

The new version of the legislation tightens some rules as to the conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, eliminating psoriasis from the list, but keeping in such conditions as cancer, HIV, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and adding Huntington’s disease to the list of covered conditions for access to the drug.

It establishes rules to prevent what could be seen as marketing marijuana to teenagers, and keeps in place a previous ban on smoking of marijuana for approved patients under the age of 21. The new bill also sets limits on the levels of THC – the compound in the drug that gets people high – for oil-based medical marijuana; such forms of marijuana are used in Colorado and California to treat children with rare and debilitating seizure disorders.

The new version also sets more rules on doctors dispensing the drug, including requiring them to state such things as the dose and variety of marijuana to be used by a patient. It requires, for instance, specific doses directed at treating “the patient’s specific certified condition.’’

The amendments also put pressure on the state Health Department not to delay implementation of the program, if it is approved by the Legislature and Cuomo, and places an expedited process for the department to get the drug into the hands of patients in serious, debilitating states of health; sources say that provision is designed to ensure that children suffering from the rare forms of seizures can get access to the oil-based form of marijuana soon.

A number of Western New York parents have been lobbying for the bill for their children, and some have begun the process of moving to Colorado if New York does not legalize medical marijuana for their children.

The amended bill also gives a percentage of money the state receives under the program to state and local law enforcement efforts.

Medical marijuana sponsors pushing ahead with legalization effort

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The legislative sponsors of an effort to legalize medical marijuana in New York say they will not be dissuaded in their effort by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that the state will conduct a clinical trial on the effectiveness of the drug for children who suffer from rare seizure disorders.

Sen. Diane Savino, a State Island Democrat, and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat, said the governor’s latest plan -– along with a previously announced effort aimed at adult patients with certain health conditions -– does not swiftly enough address the medical needs by everyone to people with cancer to HIV.

“Nobody opposes the concept of clinical trials, but that trial has already been done in five states and produced little or no benefit,’’ Savino said of the new Cuomo effort, which was recently signed by the state health department and British drug company GW Pharmaceuticals.

“No one should assume that addresses the issue of medical marijuana. It affects only one group of patients with one illnesses and does not do anything for the tens of thousands of people with other health conditions,’’ she said.

Gottfried and Savino have begun discussions to create a same-as bill that will be ready for a vote before the end of session on June 19. The Assembly already passed a medical marijuana bill and Savino has said 40 senators have said they would vote yes on a bill if it hits the Senate floor. Several Republicans, including Western New York Republicans George Maziarz and Mark Grisanti, are co-sponsors of the Savino bill.

“Dick and I are in the process of moving forward to get the bills to match as soon as possible,’’ Savino said.

Gottfried on Tuesday declined to provide specifics of how his bill and Savino’s legislation will be amended to become same-as bills for a floor vote by the two houses. “Our hope is we have a bill that can be printed in both houses that could command a majority in both houses,’’ he said.

Gottried called a clinical trial a “good thing,’’ but cautioned, like Savino, that it will not address the need advocates say exists for people with health conditions who could be helped by marijuana instead of often costly and addictive pain killers.

Cuomo walking a political tightrope

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– With the Working Families Party set this weekend to decide whether to give its gubernatorial line to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo or to someone else more in line with the party’s ideals, the governor has been steering to the left in what some political observers say is a transparent, last-ditch attempt to grab the small but influential party endorsement.

The latest example came Thursday when Cuomo said the coalition-style system that runs the State Senate will be considered “a failure’’ if it does not go along with his idea for a taxpayer-funded campaign finance system. This from a governor who, despite a campaign promise four years ago, let Senate Republicans draw their own district lines a couple years ago to improve GOP chances in key areas of the state. This from a governor who for four years has praised his self-touted accomplishments won with the backing of the small group of breakaway Democrats and Republicans who rule the Senate.

This also from a governor whose own government-funded web site features photograph after photograph of Cuomo at events with members of the coalition. And this, Republicans privately chuckled, from a governor who is running a television ad boasting of his ability to work across the partisan aisle to get things done.

The governor had his best opportunity to force Senate Republicans to go along with his taxpayer-funded campaign finance plan during the budget talks in March. With extraordinary powers given to New York governors in the budget process, Cuomo could have held up adoption of the budget as leverage to try to force reluctant lawmakers his way. But Cuomo insisted from the start that he wanted the fourth on-time budget in a row as a sign of progress in Albany.

Instead, the governor ended up with a pilot program affecting only the state comptroller’s race and only for this year -– a plan rejected by government watchdog groups and even the state comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli.

Now, just two months later, Cuomo is suddenly making sounds that he will help the Democrats take control of the Senate if the Republicans don’t go along with him on a broader campaign finance plan.

Cuomo administration officials said there was nothing sudden about the governor's warnings on Thursday, noting a 2012 "litmus test'' he issued on 10 policy proposals of his on which, depending on if a legislator opposed or supported them, he would base his political support of that legislator. One of those items at that time was a campaign finance bill; another was his plan to expand the state's abortion laws.

Officials also point to a Huffington Post piece he penned earlier this month about the need for a taxpayer-funded campaign finance system in New York. He said that "to end the session without the Senate majority coalition agreeing to public finance would be a true failure and a lost opportunity.'' The difference is, however, that on Thursday he said the failure to act on a bill would mean that the coalition itself is a "failure.''

About an inch behind the scenes in all this is the Working Families Party, which meets Saturday to pick a gubernatorial candidate. If it breaks with Cuomo and taps a liberal with a name or the right qualifications, the governor could find himself in the fall losing thousands of votesof by left-leaning New Yorkers, of which there are a few.

But does Cuomo face bumps with this path? Will it seem to some voters that he only started the idea of helping Senate Democrats regain control of the Senate when his own political fortunes with the left-leaning Working Families Party was put at risk? Will some New Yorkers recall the last time Democrats briefly held the chamber and the dysfunction that erupted and question why Cuomo might re-form his alliances with many of those Democrats from that period who are still in office today?

And what will this mean for Cuomo’s push for four years to try to convince voters that he can work equally well with Republicans as Democrats?

Senate Democrats in the main Democratic conference note that half their membership was elected after 2010 and that Jeff Klein, the current Senate co-leader who brokered the deal to share power with Republicans, was the floor leader during the time when Democrats ruled the chamber.

A spokesman for Senate co-leader Dean Skelos said the Republican Long Island lawmaker did not have any immediate comment to Cuomo’s “failure” remark. Senate Republicans are under intense pressure from the state Conservative Party, whose endorsement can matter in some of the GOP districts, to not go along with the publicly funded campaign finance plan.

But the other Senate co-leader, Klein, a Bronx Democrat, put out what amounted to a “head-scratching’’ reaction to Cuomo’s comments. Klein, in a written statement this afternoon, said that “in totality’’ the coalition -– his five Democrats and the Republicans -– “has been successful in passing marriage equality, the toughest gun law in the nation, fully funded, full-day universal pre-k and increasing the minimum wage and I’m proud of this string of successes.’’ He said he’d keep fighting for the campaign finance measure until the session ends; Klein and his fellow breakaway Democrats met privately with Cuomo earlier this week to discuss campaign finance and other issues.

More than one legislator has noted the coziness in the past couple weeks between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, despite a rather bumpy start the mayor had in Albany -– and notably with Cuomo -- when he took office in January. Cuomo even put de Blasio’s mayoral seal alongside his on a press release his office put out today for Hurricane Sandy-related event today on Staten Island led by the governor and mayor.

De Blasio, in fact, has been working the phones in recent weeks to try to convince the Working Families Party, with which he has many allies given his liberal credentials, to stick with Cuomo in 2014.

At the Staten Island event, Cuomo told reporters he is “pessimistic’’ that the Senate GOP will go along with his campaign finance bill that many GOP lawmakers say their constituents do not support because it would allow taxpayer money to go to candidates with ideas they do not embrace.

“But it’s not over,’’ Cuomo said of the session that is scheduled to end June 19. And then he came out with a warning, albeit a vague one, about what might happen if the Senate GOP and the breakaway Democrats do not back the campaign finance plan. “If they do not pass public finance, I will consider the coalition a failure. I have said that, I repeat that, and I will act accordingly,’’ he said.

Precisely what he meant by “accordingly’’ was not elaborated upon by the governor.

Savino: 40 senators now back medical pot bill


By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- The Senate sponsor of the measure to legalize medical marijuana said tonight she has never been more optimistic than now that her bill will get passed in the coming six weeks before the 2014 session ends.

The confidence by Sen. Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, came after Sen. John Bonacic, a veteran senator from the Mid-Hudson Valley, today became the fifth Senate Republican to publicly support her measure. [The Assembly has long passed bills to legalize medical marijuana.]

Savino said she now counts 40 senators officially backing her bill -- more than enough to pass it in the 63-member Senate.

"We have a solid 40 yes votes. He's a welcome addition,'' Savino said of Bonacic.

She said amendments to her bill have addressed a number of concerns about the smoking of marijuana; some lawmakers want the drug to be prescribed in only a liquid form, which is now only available in Colorado and California and is used mostly in those states as treatments for children suffering from rare seizure conditions. Recent amendments she made include banning smoking of the drug for any eligible patient under the age of 21 and permitting doctors to still have the ability to make the drug available in a non-smoking form for those over age 21.

"But for some patients, smoking is the fastest, most effective way to achieve relief,'' Savino said in an interview with The Buffalo News Friday evening.

Here is the release from earlier this afternoon by the Drug Police Alliance, announcing Bonacic's support. He joins four other Senate Republicans, including WNYers George Maziarz and Mark Grisanti, in backing Savino's bill.

New York: Today in a meeting with patients, caregivers and providers, Senator John Bonacic (R-Middletown) announced his support for the comprehensive medical marijuana bill known as the Compassionate Care Act ( S.4406-B (Savino) / A.3567-A (Gottfried)). With this announcement, Bonacic becomes the fifth Republican state senator to publicly endorse the bill, which would allow eligible patients with serious and debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana under the supervision of their healthcare provider.

Patients, healthcare providers and advocates with the statewide Compassionate Care NY coalition praised Bonacic and called on more Republican leaders to take their cues from the growing list of Republican supporters. Bonacic’s announcement happened almost simultaneously with another development -- today, Republican Senator Phil Boyle introduced his own medical marijuana bill. Patients, families and advocates called the Boyle proposal inadequate for thousands of patients in New York – for instance, the measure excludes serious conditions such as PTSD and Parkinson’s as a qualifying conditions, while those patients who need to administer medical marijuana via inhalation would be required to purchase expensive vaporizing equipment that use only highly-concentrated oils.

While coalition members raised concerns about the limitations of Boyle’s proposal, they applauded his acknowledgment that medical cannabis needs to be made available to those with serious and debilitating conditions, noting that this is another sign that leaders from both sides of the aisle understand that seriously ill patients need and deserve the relief that medical marijuana can bring.

“As a person living with MS, I was thrilled when Senator Bonacic told me today in our meeting that he supported the Compassionate Care Act,” said Jessica Koock a mother of two sons from New Paltz. “I know that once this bill passes thousands of New Yorkers with serious illnesses will benefit. Why prolong their suffering? Please join with Senator Bonacic and leaders from all parties to pass this bill now.”

“I was thrilled when Senator Bonacic told us he sided with patients and would now support the Compassionate Care Act,” said Cindy Tangney of Chester, who was also part of the group that met with Bonacic. “My daughter and granddaughter, Mable, moved to Colorado so that they could access medical cannabis for my granddaughter’s seizures. The growing bipartisan support makes me hopeful that we are one step closer to bring baby Mabel home.”

Bonacic’s announcement comes just days after Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy published an op-ed supporting the Compassionate Care Act and two weeks after Republican Senator Joseph Robach became a co-sponsor of the bill. Over the last few months, Republican support for the bill has continued to grow, with five Republican State Senators publicly supporting the Compassionate Care Act, including Senator George Maziarz (R – Newfane), Senator Mark Grisanti (R, IP – Buffalo), Senator Joe Robach (R, C, IP - Rochester) and Senator Tim O’Mara (R, C – Big Flats, Elmira). Last week, Sen. Robach took his support one step further by signing on as the first Republican a co-sponsor of Compassionate Care Act.

“I’m glad to see Senator Boyle recognizing the need for medical cannabis,” said Nancy Rivera for Troy, a four time cancer survivor. “But as a cancer survivor, I was dismayed to see Boyle’s bill isn’t as comprehensive as the Compassionate Care Act. I hope Senator Boyle will join with Senator Bonacic and others to support the comprehensive bill. I’d like to see him join Senator Robach as a co-sponsor of the Compassionate Care Act.”

As the debate about medical marijuana builds in Albany, physicians have weighed in by calling on the Senate to pass a bill that allows medical professionals to recommend the mode of ingestion, just as they would with any other medication. Sunil Aggarwal, MD, PhD and Co-chair of NY Physicians for Compassionate Care, said: “Gold standard clinical trials continue to show that inhaled marijuana in organic, whole plant botanical form is very therapeutic, and for some conditions such as HIV neuropathy, the treatment with the strongest evidence for efficacy. Ironically, restricting medical cannabis to only concentrated oil forms would restrict options to only increased potency forms, making it hard for some patients who would not tolerate them. The National Institute of Health just today announced a name change for their complementary and alternative medicine center, including the term Integrative Health. As such, we should keep all options for whole plant medicine available as integrative medicine calls for. As with all other medications, doctors, not politicians, should be deciding which form of the medicine is best suited for a particular patient. That’s why the senate should pass the Compassionate Care Act.”

The Senate Health Committee is slated to vote on the Compassionate Care Act next Tuesday. A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 88% of New York voters support medical marijuana. Twenty-one states and the District Columbia have passed laws creating legal access to medical marijuana for patients with serious and debilitating conditions. Advocates, many of whom have already waited years for relief, have vowed to return to Albany every week until the bill is passed.

“Thank you, Senator Bonacic, for pushing the Compassionate Care Act forward,” said gabriel sayegh, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “New Yorkers have waited long enough for relief. Political leaders across the state and New York voters know that patients and their families deserve compassion. There is strong bipartisan support to help patients in need – now we need our leaders to pass a workable solution that will help patients across New York.”

DOJ's written statement on Bruno verdict

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Here is the press release this evening from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding today's verdict in the case of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno:


ALBANY, NEW YORK – A federal jury in Albany found Joseph L. Bruno, the former New York State Senate Majority Leader, not guilty of honest-services mail fraud following a two week trial before the Honorable Gary L. Sharpe, Chief United States District Judge.

Today’s verdict follows a prior trial and two appeals. In December of 2009, a jury convicted Bruno of carrying out a scheme to defraud the State of New York and its citizens of the right to his honest services by soliciting private business from, and entering into financial relationships with, persons or entities who were pursuing interests before the New York State Legislature or other state agencies, and concealing and failing to disclose the existence and true nature of such financial relationships, and the resulting conflicts of interest, while taking discretionary official actions benefitting parties with whom he had those relationships. Then, in 2010, the United States Supreme Court decided United States v. Skilling, holding that the honest services statute criminalizes only fraudulent schemes involving bribes or kickbacks.

On November 16, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an opinion vacating Bruno’s conviction and authorizing a retrial, as requested by the United States. The Court of Appeals noted that the jury had been instructed pursuant to the law in effect at the time of the trial, which had not required bribery or kickbacks to constitute honest services fraud, but the subsequent Skilling decision had changed the law. In determining that a retrial was proper, the Court of Appeals reviewed the case against the elements of honest services fraud as altered by Skilling and held that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that Bruno engaged in a quid pro quo bribery scheme under the standard announced in Skilling.

On May 3, 2013, a federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment, and Bruno filed a motion to dismiss that indictment on double jeopardy grounds. Chief Judge Sharpe denied the motion, and Bruno filed an interlocutory appeal denied by the Second Circuit on August 6, 2013.

United States Attorney Hartunian said, “Although this was not the outcome we expected based on the evidence presented, we believe that justice is served when a case is fully and fairly adjudicated before an impartial, attentive jury who listened to facts that were presented and tested by talented lawyers on both sides of the issue; that is what happened here, and we accept the jury’s verdict. We bring cases based on the facts and the law, not popularity or other good works, and we do not shy away from difficult cases, especially those involving the conduct of public officials who intertwine personal business and the public trust. No less than the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit examined this case and found that there was sufficient evidence of a quid pro quo bribery scheme for a reasonable jury to convict Mr. Bruno on these counts. As the history of this case demonstrates, whether Mr. Bruno’s conduct constituted a federal crime needed to be decided by a jury.”

The investigation which led to this indictment was conducted by the Albany Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States was represented in this prosecution by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth C. Coombe and William C. Pericak.


Video: Astorino chooses Moss as running mate

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino today named Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss as his running mate in November's bid to unseat Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In this video, Astorino explains his decision.

New Gaming Commission board member offers reality check on casinos

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -– Sixteen months after the agency was created, the state Gaming Commission finally has a representative on its board appointed by the State Legislature.

Peter Moschetti, an Albany-area lawyer, was confirmed this afternoon by the State Senate to serve on the agency that will be selecting which developers will win the four commercial casino licenses up for grabs this year. The agency also regulates horse racing, Indian casinos, charitable gambling and runs the state lottery system.

In a Senate racing committee meeting this morning, Moschetti was asked by lawmakers about the expansion of casino gambling in New York. “I can see that it’s here. It’s coming. I think certainly there’s a great deal of opportunity for revenue. There’s also many pitfalls that go with that,’’ Moschetti said.

While noting the idea of the casino expansion is to create new economic development opportunities in some upstate communities, he said, “I don’t know if it’s the panacea that everybody thinks it is.’’

“Certainly, there’s an opportunity for revenue raising and jobs … Hopefully, it will work out well,’’ he added.

Moschetti was nominated to the post by Senate co-leader Dean Skelos. He previously had served on a state panel about a decade ago that regulated the state’s lobbying industry. He has been a trial lawyer, county prosecutor on Long Island and is an avid horse rider.

The Gaming Commission is dominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s five appointees. With the confirmation of Moschetti, there is one slot -– to be filled by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver -– still open. The Albany Times Union recently reported that Silver has nominated former Democratic Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza for the opening, but she still needs Senate approval to take the post.

Golombek steps up Senate exploration; Zellner remains uncommitted

   By Robert J. McCarthy

   Democrat Joseph Golombek Jr. addressed the Erie County Democratic Town Chairs Association on Monday night in his most serious demonstration to date of his interest in running against Republican State Sen. Mark J. Grisanti this year.
   The North District Council member, who unsuccessfully ran twice for the Assembly in recent years, made his case before an influential group that will have a significant say in deciding between him and Hamburg Trustee Laura Palisano Hackathorn for the Democratic endorsement.
   In the meantime, Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner said he remains impressed by Hackathorn's campaign effort but is open to hearing more from Golombek following a meeting with him last week.
   "I have not committed to anyone at this point," Zellner said. "Laura is doing a good job, but now that Joe has put his toe in the water, we'll see how it plays out."
   "I think he is definitely serious," he added.
   Zellner said he believes that Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, who heads the State Senate's Democratic election efforts, remains strongly committed to Hackathorn. He said some of Golombek's more conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriage could cause concerns among Senate Democrats.
   The chairman said Golombek also fielded "tough questions" during Monday's meeting regarding lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender issues. He said the party will endorse a candidate by late May.

State plans new multi-state lottery game

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Looking to raise cash for the state, the New York Gaming Commission is moving ahead with a plan to enter a new multi-state lottery game that promises jackpots of up to $1,000 a day for life.

The game, Cash 4 Life, was tentatively approved at a recent gaming commission board meeting but published as a proposed rule this week.

The game offers a top jackpot that pays $1,000 a day for life.

Well, with one chilling condition. "In the event that a winner dies prior to the expiration of 20 years, the prize winner's estate would be paid the unpaid portion of a guaranteed prize amount," a state document reads.

The new game, if given final okay by the state, will have drawings every Monday and Thursday. Bettors will have to pick five numbers out of a field of 60 and one additional number out of a field of four.

The estimated odds of winning the top prize: one in 21,846,048.

For the state, Gaming Commission officials estimate the new lottery – to be run with some states now in the Powerball and Mega Millions consortia – will bring Albany about $9 million a year in additional lottery revenues.

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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 |