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Trump set to talk to GOP faithful - in New Jersey

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Donald Trump may be thinking about a run for governor in New York, but he’s heading across the Hudson River to help raise money for a local New Jersey GOP group.

The Daily Record newspaper is reporting today that Trump will be the keynote speaker at the Somerset County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner on Feb. 26. People will have to pay the local party group $80 to hear Trump speak.

Some GOP leaders in New York have urged Trump to get around the state - more than just his very brief trek to Buffalo last week -- and meet with GOP organizations if he is serious about running for governor. But Trump has demanded that the New York GOP clear the way for him – no campaigning, no convention fight, no primary – if he is to run for governor on the GOP line.

By the time Trump speaks in New Jersey, it may all be moot anyway. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is promising a decision by the end of this month about whether he will seek the GOP nomination to run against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the fall. If Astorino announces, Trump has indicated he won’t run.

UPDATE: The New York State GOP sent around an invitation this evening from the New York County Republican Committee for its annual Lincoln Day dinner on Feb. 12 that will feature Trump as the keynote speaker. Tickets for the event at the Grand Hyatt start at $500 and go to $1,000 for "preferred seating'' and a photo op presumably with Trump.

Assembly leader calls for Common Core delay

 

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Education Chairwoman Cathy Nolan today called on the state Board of Regents to delay the state's common core program for two years. The views of the Assembly Democrats generally influence the Regents, since its members are essentially selected by the Democrats who control the Assembly.

In a written statement, the two lawmakers said:

"New Yorkers share the same goal – to improve our schools and help prepare our students to be successful and college- and career-ready upon graduation. However, given the serious issues that have been raised over the past year, we feel it is both prudent and wise to take the following actions. The use of Common Core aligned tests for high-stakes decisions for teachers, principals and students should be delayed, at a minimum, for two years. At the same time, SED (State Education Department) should continue to develop Common Core aligned curricula and assist local school districts in developing their own curricula so that teachers will be able to successfully teach Common Core aligned subjects while at the same time helping students reach their maximum potential.

"As we have stated in the past, there are equally serious concerns and potential flaws regarding plans to share student data with a private third party vendor. There are persistent questions regarding the ability to protect such data from security breaches, the necessity of the details and categories of such student data that is being shared, as well as the highly inappropriate potential for commercialization. SED should delay the use of inBloom or any third party vendor in developing a “data portal” until all these questions have been answered and the concerns fully satisfied."


Assembly: Snow day Wednesday (Senate now too)

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- With a winter storm heading into New York state tomorrow, the Assembly has decided to cancel tomorrow's session, which was to be the last day of session this week.

The Senate, according to a spokeswoman, is on for tomorrow as of now, but that could change later today.

UPDATE: The Senate has now also decided late this morning to cancel session for tomorrow.

Paladino on Trump: "I see good things coming"

By Tom Precious

COLONIE -- Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino told a state Conservative Party gathering today he believes billionaire Donald Trump is serious about running for governor.
"I feel very solidly we're going to hear good things from Donald Trump,'' Paladino told an audience of Conservative Party leaders at a hotel here outside Albany.
Trump said he had dinner with Trump last week. "I had one question: are you taking advantange of us or are you serious?'' Paladino said he asked Trump.
Paladino said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been "sending out emmisaries" to try to convince Trump not to challenge him this fall. "I see good things coming,'' Paladino said of Trump.

GOP to Cuomo: We agree with your tax claim

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave a campaign season sound clip to the Republicans this morning.

Talking during a radio interview about how years of big education aid increases haven't made New York's students the best-performing, Cuomo added that the state can't keep raising taxes to pay for large public school state aid hikes.

"We're the highest taxed state in the nation,'' Cuomo said.

It brought a we-told-you-so response from the state GOP.

"He acknowledged the same thing before he took office so essentially that's a tacit admission that he has failed to change New York's status as the tax capital,'' said David Laska, a spokesman for the state Republican Party.

 

Cuomo suggests right-wing Republicans might consider another state

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested today that “extreme’’ conservatives don’t fit in with the vast majority of New Yorkers.

“If they are extreme conservatives they have no place in the state of New York,’’ Cuomo said in a radio interview today.

Cuomo defined extreme as being what he called “anti-gay’’ for opposing same-sex marriage rights, opposed to abortion rights and favoring legalization of assault weapons.

The governor made his remarks in discussing what he called a battle within the state Republican Party between its conservative and moderate wings. “They are searching to find their soul,’’ he said of GOP leaders on both sides.

"Moderate Republicans have a place in this state,’’ said Cuomo, adding that he has cut deals with such moderates in the Legislature on an assortment of social and fiscal matters for the past three years.

Cuomo said people with far-right views regarding the social issues he raised with the interviewer on The Capitol Pressroom radio show represent just a small minority in New York.

On the issue of campaign finance, Cuomo dismissed as “baloney’’ issues about him raising so much of his re-election funds from deep pocket donors. The New York Public Interest Research group said Thursday that 45 percent of the money Cuomo has raised the past three years – he has, after expenses, $33.3 million in his re-election account – came from people and entities giving more than $40,000 apiece.

“I don’t care if someone gave me a ton of money or gave me no money. It makes no difference,’’ Cuomo said.

Senate GOP has lots of money, but fundraising totals off

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- It's always curious when donations drop off in Albany to political campaign committees.

Take the Senate Republicans. They raised $856,000 during the past six months, according to filings this afternoon with the state elections board. That’s down from the $1.7 million the Senate Republican Campaign Committee raised in its January 2012 election report. (Senators run every two years for re-election.)

The Senate Republicans, desperate to keep in partial control of the Senate in November elections, reported $2.3 million on hand. That is just a tad more than the $178.29 the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee reported as being left in the bank after raising $663,000 during the past six months.The Democrats did, however, pay off $665,000 in past campaign debts, and their fundraising take was up from the $548,000 they reported in their January 2012 filing.

Why the lower Senate GOP take? Officials weren’t providing an on-the-record explanation.

But Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said that the GOP will have, when a separate "housekeeping'' account is included, about $3 million more on hand than Senate Democrats. "Senate Republicans have proven we can govern and get results, and New Yorkers are reacting in a positive way. No one wants to go back to the dysfunction and chaos they witnessed when Senate Democrats were in charge,'' Reif said.

One explanation for the GOP drop in fundraising money from its 2012 to 2014 filings could be related to campaign funding probes under way by an anti-corruption panel appointed last year by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Or maybe corporations were tapped out by the New York City mayor's election last fall.

Or, more likely, it could be that the Senate GOP now is in a power-sharing period with a group of four breakaway Democrats. That group, the Independent Democratic Conference, did not yet show up on the elections board’s website, but officials on Monday said its campaign account has more than $3.6 million on hand.

Over in the Assembly, the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee said it has raised $453,000 in the past six months, up from $422,000 two years ago, and has $1.8 million on hand. (No report had been filed yet by former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, a Cheektowaga Democrat who resigned in disgrace this week.)

The GOP money drop wasn’t restricted to its overall campaign account. Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican, brought in $43,000 the past six months; that is down from the $248,000 he raised during the same reporting period two years ago. A spokesman declined comment.

All legislators are up for re-election this year.

 

 

 

Year after SAFE Act, groups call for further gun controls

 

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Gun control advocates are out this morning with their legislative wish-list for the 2014 legislative session. They are proposing everything from new sales restrictions on handguns to microstamping of shell casings.

Here is part of the press release issued by a couple lawmakers and gun control groups:

NEW YORK, NY —Today, on the first anniversary of enactment of the historic NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE Act), Assemblymembers Michelle Schimel and Brian Kavanagh, Co-Chairs of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns-NY (SLAIGNY), Leah Gunn Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), and other legislators (below) released a comprehensive gun safety legislative agenda for 2014.

The legislation proposed for the new session that began on January 8th is designed to build upon the NY SAFE Act, which was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and to maintain New York’s role as a national leader on sensible gun safety laws.

The NY SAFE Act included crucial and widely popular provisions like background checks on all gun purchasers, a prohibition on sales of assault rifles with certain characteristics, a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other measures. As a result of these and other protections in state law, New York earned an “A-minus” grade and ranked among the top 5 states in America for sensible gun laws, according to the Brady Campaign and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s 2013 State Scorecard.

Notwithstanding this success, the legislation announced today would represent a significant step toward greater gun safety and raise New York’s rating even higher. SLAIGNY Co-Chair Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said, “While some seek to go backwards and undo the SAFE Act—and make it legal once again, for example, to sell guns to strangers with no questions asked, or to have guns with 30-round ammunition magazines—we’re taking our next steps forward to prevent gun violence without undue restrictions on responsible gun owners.With NYAGV, Assemblymember Schimel, and our colleagues and allies working together, I know we’ll succeed in building upon last year’s great achievements.”

SLAIGNY Co-Chair Assemblymember Michelle Schimel said, “As long as children and innocents are murdered with illegal guns, we cannot stop. Our moderate voices for sensible gun laws will not be silenced.”

NYAGV Executive Director Leah Gunn Barrett said, “The first anniversary of the historic NY SAFE Act is an important moment to take stock of the great progress New York has made and the important work yet to be done. NYAGV and SLAIGNY will continue to work this session with the legislature and Governor Cuomo to keep our citizens, and particularly our children, safe from gun violence. We are confident that New York will continue to show other states and the federal government the way forward by passing common sense gun safety measures that will save lives.”

The 2014 legislative priorities include: Child Access Prevention:

* Require safe storage using a gun safe, trigger lock, or secure gun cabinet when a gun is not in the immediate possession or control of the owner, to prevent improper access and unintentional shooting, particularly by children.

* Microstamping: Require all semiautomatic handguns sold or delivered in New York to be equipped with a feature that imprints a unique code onto the shell casing every time a gun is fired, to assist in solving crimes and to deter straw purchasers and gun trafficking.

* One-Gun-a-Month Limit and Waiting Period for Purchases: Limit buyers to one handgun a month to reduce straw purchases and trafficking, and require a 10-day waiting period before a buyer takes possession of a firearm to give law enforcement officials enough time to perform a background check and help guard against impulsive acts of violence.

* Protection for Domestic Violence Victims: Empower law enforcement officers to remove firearms from the scene of a domestic violence dispute. Ban on 50-Caliber Military-Style Sniper Rifles: Ban the sale of certain .50 caliber rifles with very high power and long range, in the manner the SAFE Act banned sales of assault weapons with certain features.

* Better Use of Background Checks: Require dealers to report to law enforcement when failed background checks reveal that people have attempted to buy guns they are prohibited from owning. Require gun dealer employees handling weapons to pass background checks.

Gabryszak's name goes away, and comes back

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- It's gone, it's back. It's still here, no, it's gone.

So goes the minor, and what will be fleeting, intrigue around the announced resignation of Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, which came Sunday a month after he was accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment.

This morning, The Buffalo News snapped a photo of Gabrszak’s former desk in the Assembly, where his nameplate had been removed. A couple hours later, the nameplate was back on, and his name was on the voting tally board high above the floor of the Assembly.

His web page was, however, taken down from the main Assembly web site.

An Assembly official said the nameplate off-and-on maneuverings was likely because Gabryszak had not yet officially resigned. Gabryszak’s lawyer said the official paperwork is likely to be submitted on Tuesday.

Asked for his reaction to the resignation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “I called upon him to resign if the allegations are true. I assume enough of those allegations are true that he followed through on my request and resigned."

Silver, who is counsel at a Manhattan trial law firm, said the civil suits looming against Gabryszak by his female accusers “will certainly continue."

Whether the Assembly Ethics Committee continues to look into the allegations –- even though it could no impose punishment on the resigning lawmaker -– is up to the committee, Silver said.

Will Gabryszak make it to Albany Monday?

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Embattled Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak is weighing his options this weekend in an examination that could end his political career.
Accused by seven women, all former staffers, of sexual harassment, the Depew Democrat the past couple days has been meeting with members of his family and his legal team, which includes Buffalo lawyer Terrence Connors and, as of late this week, Albany lawyer Mark Glaser. Glaser is a former top Assembly staffer whose duties included serving as the chamber's chief ethics counsel.
Gabryszak's case is being investigated by the Assembly's Ethics Committee.
Connors has said that Gabryszak has been planning to attend the legislative session this Monday, which marks the unofficial opening of the 2014 session. He skipped the ceremonial opening this past Wednesday when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo gave his annual State of the State address.
Connors today said Gabryszak is weighing all his options.
Judging by hallway chatter this week in Albany with lawmakers, Gabryzak is in for a freezing reception by his colleagues if he shows up on Monday.

 

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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.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


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.

tprecious@buffnews.com


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 | jterreri@buffnews.com


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 | jzremski@buffnews.com

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