November 18, 2013 - 9:16 AM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY – Ouch.
We’ll let the numbers speak.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, yes from the Garden State, has a higher favorability rating in New York than the Empire State’s own Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In the latest Siena College poll out this morning, Christie has a 63 percent favorability rating in New York compared to 61 percent for Cuomo.
Other numbers show continued problems but also some good news for Cuomo.
On the problem side, 56 percent give his job performance a negative rating, his worst since taking office in January 2011. Forty-four percent give him a positive rating. Upstate, the numbers are gloomy: 65 percent say they don’t like the job Cuomo is doing in office.
Fifty-one percent of New Yorkers say they would vote to re-elect Cuomo -– down from 62 percent last December -- with 41 percent saying they would like someone else in the governor’s office.
But New Yorkers, at least right now, aren’t impressed by the possible opponents Cuomo might face next year. The Siena poll shows Cuomo beating Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino by as much as 41 points.
As for the 2016 presidential election, more New Yorkers -– 47 percent to 42 percent –- would vote for Christie than Cuomo. But 56 percent said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, compared to the 40 percent of New Yorkers who would vote for Christie.
November 13, 2013 - 3:03 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY – As his economic development agency Wednesday proposed emergency rules to implement his START-UP NY program, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said hundreds of companies have expressed an interest in getting tax-free benefits in return for locating start-up businesses on college campuses.
“It will sell itself,’’ Cuomo said of the tax-free program that was approved earlier this year. At an event on Long Island, he added, “I wish I could do zero taxes for the entire state. Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s impossible.’’
Cuomo did not identify any of the companies interested, nor is it certain how serious their interest might be or whether they would even qualify under the law’s provisions that restricts the kinds of companies eligible.
The governor believes the program will lure companies and workers to New York with the promise of no taxation, including for employee wages for 10 years. The companies would be located on public or private colleges, or nearby. Critics call the program a corporate giveaway that only rewards a select few companies while taxes still remain high for other businesses struggling to remain in places like upstate.
The Department of Economic Development Wednesday published in the New York State Register its emergency and proposed rulemaking for the START-UP program. It lists various provisions of the program, including that Cuomo and legislative leaders will be the ones choosing -- through their own handpicked board -- what companies get to locate tax-free at private colleges while those going to state university campuses will need final approval by Cuomo’s economic development commissioner.
The rules note a company must guarantee job creation in the first year and that it “not be engaged in the same line of business that it conducted at any time within the last five years in New York without the approval of the commissioner. Companies must also certify that they “would not compete with another business in the same community but outside the tax-free area.’’
The emergency rulemaking document also shows the governor’s economic development office does not believe it has to conduct an analysis of various effects the tax-free program might have on such things as job creation and impact of lost property tax revenues for localities. Such cost analysis work is often performed by agencies when proposing new rules.
“Because it is evident from the nature of the proposed rule that it will have a net positive impact on small businesses and local government, no further affirmative steps were needed to ascertain that fact and none were taken. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis for small business and local government is not required and one has not been prepared,’’ the rules state.
As for a “job impact statement,’’ the rules state none is needed because the program “will have either no impact or a positive impact on job and employment opportunities.’’
The new rulemaking notice also includes this paragraph: “Cost to the state government: none.’’ Cuomo’s budget office earlier this year projected the program will cost the state $323 million by 2017.
November 7, 2013 - 7:58 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY –- After weeks of growing tensions between the executive and legislative branches, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate co-leader Dean Skelos met face to face Wednesday to try to end their war of words and legal tussles.
Neither side was talking about the private session. It came after lawyers for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, controlled by Skelos, last week filed a court challenge seeking to block Cuomo’s Moreland Commission from gathering internal documents about the financial workings of the committee.
The Moreland Commission, appointed by Cuomo, has been scathing in its criticisms of the Senate Republicans for not cooperating with its work. Senate Republicans said in court papers the Moreland subpoena seeking information about their political activities crossed legal lines.
One scenario insiders suggest: a deal struck by Cuomo and Skelos, and then with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to enact some sort of additional improvements in the state’s ethics and campaign finance laws. In return, the Moreland Commission would go away. Of course, that was a scenario outlined more than a month ago before relations between the two branches worsened.
The meeting between Cuomo and Skelos came the same day as the governor hit the Catskills and Binghamton area to celebrate voter approval of his casino expansion plan, a tour that included pro-casino Senate Republicans in those areas giving shout-outs to the governor.
November 6, 2013 - 11:27 AM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Nassau County Republican, this morning was taking a victory bow after some important GOP local victories around the state on Tuesday. Skelos and his Republican colleagues are looking for any hints from voters that they might be willing to help keep the GOP in partial control of the Senate in the 2014 elections.
The words, or some of them, from Skelos:
The resounding victories by Republican county executives in Nassau and
Westchester counties, county executive candidates in Orange, Rockland,
Montgomery and Chautauqua, as well as triumphs by a mayoral candidate in
Binghamton, comptrollers in Nassau and Erie, along with turning a
Democratic county legislature from Democrat to Republican in Erie and to a
supermajority in Chautauqua, are all important victories for hardworking
taxpayers and their families.
In addition, they have sent a very powerful
message about the future of the Republican Party in New York State,
particularly in the New York City suburbs and across Upstate.
New Yorkers want their public servants at all levels to focus on reducing
taxes, partnering with the private sector to create new jobs, and bringing
competence, functionality and leadership back to government. That's what
County Executives Mangano and Astorino, County Executive-elects Neuhaus,
Day, Ossenfort and others, along with Republicans in the State Senate who
represent many of the same communities, have worked tirelessly to do.
November 5, 2013 - 11:57 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- It was his plan first floated two years ago, so here is the reaction from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to passage of the statewide ballot measure authorizing development of up to seven non-Indian casinos:
"The passage of Proposal One is a big win for local governments, school districts, and taxpayers across New York State. This vote will keep hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year in neighboring states right here in New York, while increasing revenue for local schools, lowering property tax taxes, and bringing proper regulation to the industry. This vote builds on the landmark agreements we reached with Native American tribes this year, ending expensive court battles and unnecessary discord and restoring hundreds of millions of dollars to local governments. Since taking office, my administration has focused on reviving the state's economy, and today's vote will further pave the way for the creation of new jobs, construction, and increased tourism in communities across the state."
November 5, 2013 - 6:39 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY – The state’s largest union has turned on its potent political machine to get voters out for today’s statewide casino referendum.
Mario Cilento, the state AFL-CIO president, ordered his union into high gear to spread the word about its backing of Proposition One. In an off-year election, where turnout across most of the state will be low, the political operational support that unions are giving Proposition One could be a key component if the casino expansion plan wins tonight.
The work done by the AFL-CIO does not include other member-to-member outreach efforts by individual unions, such as those representing hotel workers and teachers, who are part of the umbrella labor organization.
The AFL-CIO, which represents 2.5 million public and private sector workers, has done the following:
• Sent 200,000 pieces of mail to a targeted group of unionized voters identified as swayable and likely to vote today;
• Sent another 500,000 mailings in local campaign races around the state that also mention the AFL-CIO’s support of Proposition One;
• Made 300,000 phone calls to union households urging a yes vote;
• Run door-to-door canvassing that, with its computerized phone banking operations, has reached a total of 500,000 union members;
• Handed out literature at worksites;
• Had people all day today at 300 “high volume’’ polling sites in voter-rich New York City, where pre-election polls show the casino plan winning a majority of residents' support.
November 5, 2013 - 4:29 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- NY Jobs Now, the pro-casino group pushing for Proposition One on today's statewide ballot, has grabbed a few more last-minute donations to finance its advertising, mailings and get-out-the-vote campaign.
With new donation disclosures coming in this afternoon to the state elections board, NY Jobs Now, which is composed of casino and union interests and has worked with aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on the casino effort, has now reported raising $3.9 million in the four weeks of its existence. How it has specifically spent all that money won't be known until early December when post-election reports are due at the elections board.
The newest donations coming in during the past 24 hours include $50,000 from the Washington-based Teamsters union, $25,000 from the Las Vegas-based casino company Bally Gaming, and $25,000 from the Kansas City-based EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust with money invested in the entertainment and recreation industries.
The $3.9 million does not include hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional pro-casino efforts that are being made directly by would-be casino developers.
The main anti-casino group, Coalition Against Gambling in New York, says it expects to spend about $1,000 on its campaign.
November 4, 2013 - 4:40 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Casino giant Caesars Entertainment has given a last-minute, $100,000 donation to a group pushing to get passage of the casino expansion proposition on the statewide ballot tomorrow.
It represents the first major flow of money from Las Vegas to help NY Jobs Now, the pro-casino group funded by gambling and union interests, though it is run out of the offices of the Business Council of New York State.
The group has raised about $3.75 million in the last four weeks, according to disclosure reports it has filed with the state elections board. Its money has come from a Malaysian-headquartered gambling company, owners of New York racetrack-based casinos hoping to get licenses to permit real slots and table games, and unions whose members would be hired for temporary construction or permanent casino resort jobs.
Insiders last week speculated that the major Las Vegas casino companies were sitting on the sidelines because most are only interested in the big casino prize: New York City. And placement of casinos there, if the referendum passes, is not supposed to happen for seven years.
Caesars, like the other big Las Vegas casino conglomerates, made its presence known during the gambling expansion's debate this past legislative session. It paid $15,500 per month to the politically wired Bolton St. Johns lobbying firm.
The $100,000 donation by Caesars was made Nov. 1 but did not show up on the election board's 24-hour reporting web site until this afternoon.
November 4, 2013 - 4:02 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Andrew Cuomo 2014 Inc., the governor's re-election campaign account, didn't reach the $28 million level with tiny, little donations.
Expect that to change when the governor files his next report in January, thanks to the Piano Man.
Team Cuomo 2014 is raffling off for $5 per ticket the chance to sit in the front row of Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom when Billy Joel plays at Cuomo's Dec. 3 birthday party/campaign fundraiser. "Are you a Billy Joel fan? Of course, you are!'' reads the invite. Give $5 and you are "automatically entered in a sweepstakes'' for the seats, it adds.
"With a contribution of $50 you will automatically receive 10 entries into the sweepstakes,'' it further proclaims.
And if you act in the next one hour ... oh, wait, that's an infomercial.
It's uncertain how many chances a "rock star" gets. That's the level you reach if you donate $50,000 to Cuomo's campaign for the event. Those giving $1,000 will be called "supporters,'' but an online payment form notes there are "limited quantities'' of those tickets available.
November 4, 2013 - 1:11 PM
By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants the world, or maybe just Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to know that he's not stirring up any trouble when it comes to questions about whether a state anti-corruption panel should take a look at Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
With lawmakers and Cuomo battling over the legal authority of the governor's Moreland Commission, there has been grumbling within legislative quarters that maybe the anti-corruption panel ought to take a look at Duffy and his recent job interview with a Rochester business group. Duffy also chairs the regional economic development councils that give out hundreds of millions of dollars annually to local groups around the state for job creation efforts.
But Silver issued a statement this afternoon that offered nothing but praise for the governor's lieutenant.
Silver said: "I have known and worked with Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy for many years, first as Rochester’s chief of police and later as that city’s mayor, and he has always been a strong advocate for his community. It has been my privilege to serve with him for nearly three years and my admiration for his skill and energy has only grown.
"Unquestionably, Bob Duffy has done an outstanding job as lieutenant governor both in representing the Cuomo administration and in addressing the interests and concerns expressed by New Yorkers in every region of our state. I consider Bob a friend and colleague who brings integrity and character to our government and I hope he will continue to serve our state for many years to come.''
The New York Post today reported that Democratic and Republican legislators are gearing up to ask the Moreland Commission to look at Duffy. It comes after Ed Cox, the state GOP chairman, last week called on the Moreland Commission to investigate Duffy for any possible conflicts regarding his job interview and his administration's duties.