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Grant an apparent lock for Erie County Legislature minority leader.

By Harold McNeil

It's not official yet, but it looks like Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant is in line to become the new minority leader when the new Republican-aligned majority takes control of the Legislature after January 1.

All five members of what will soon constitute the Legislature's Democratic minority caucus met on Tuesday for an informal vote and Grant got the support of both Thomas A. Loughran of Amherst and newcomer Patrick B. Burke of South Buffalo. Along with her own vote, that gives Grant three votes going forward, which is a majority of the minority.

Grant said no other names were submitted for the post. Unlike the Legislature chairman, the majority and minority leaders of the Legislature do not have to be ratified by the full 11-member body.

Meanwhile, the incoming GOP-aligned majority weeks ago decided on Republican John Mills of Orchard Park as its choice for chairman and Conservative Party MemberJoseph C. Lorigo of West Seneca for majority leader. The full Legislature will have to vote on the Legislature chairman selection at its January reorganization meeting.  

Zellner: Gaughan a 'damn good Democrat'

By Jill Terreri

Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said he would try to incorporate supporters of Kevin Gaughan, a regionalism advocate who lost his bid to be Erie County's next comptroller, into the party. 

Gaughan cares deeply for taxpayers and reform "and is a damn good Democrat," Zellner said before Gaughan spoke to a small crowd gathered in Erie County Democratic headquarters. "He did everything we asked of him." 

Gaughan's downsizing efforts have not pleased some party leaders in the past, on both sides of the aisle. 

Continue reading "Zellner: Gaughan a 'damn good Democrat'" »

Does anyone care about local races?

By Janice L. Habuda

Visits to polling places in Cheektowaga and West Seneca revealed voters had reasons other than the town board races to cast their ballots.

"I really came out because of the .... amendments," Desiree Cummins said, using a profanity, as she left the Seneca Hose Fire Company in West Seneca. Specifically, the proposal that would allow state judges to stay on the bench until age 80.

A woman leaving Hearthstone Manor in Cheektowaga said it was the Erie County comptroller's race that she was interested in. The nice weather also helped get her out.

Perhaps no one said it better than Dolores Mendolia, who cast her ballot at the Harvey D. Morin Post 2940, Veterans of Foreign Wars, in West Seneca: "It's just my privilege to vote and I always like to exercise that," she said.

Golombek calls for casino money to be spent on ECC

By Jill Terreri

North Council Member Joe Golombek will call for the Common Council to use a "significant portion" of the city's share of casino revenue to fund an expansion of Erie Community College's city campus during a news conference at 1 p.m. today.

The city received $15.5 million in slot machine revenue from the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in July.

Golombek is asking Mayor Byron Brown to "rally behind the proposal."

Brown said during a debate in August that he is in favor of ECC expanding in the city but said the response he got from the college was not promising.  

ECC has announced plans to expand in Amherst, but the Council has gone on record opposing those plans, saying science and health programs should be accessible for city students, which make up 47 percent of the college's student body. Young Citizens for ECC, which is leading an effort to try to get the college to change course and expand in the city instead, have said that such programs should be located near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where health science graduates will end up working.  

"This is an opportunity to transform the City Campus into the flagship, rather than the smallest, of ECC's three campuses," Golombek said. 

Golombek will be joined by Bernice Radle, co-chair of Young Citizens for ECC, during today's news conference at the ECC city campus. 

Erie County Legislature calls for repeal of SAFE Act

By Denise Jewell Gee

Erie County legislators have added their voices to a chorus of people across the state calling for the new state gun law to be repealed.

The County Legislature voted, 7 to 4, on Thursday to approve a resolution calling on the state to repeal and revise the New York State SAFE Act of 2013 “in a manner that is respectful of the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers.”

Read the full story here.

Bring your comments and questions to our Election Day chat

The Buffalo News and will have all the issues and races covered on Election Day from the minute you wake up until the results unfold.

Starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday, we'll have a live chat with guests to talk about the important issues, key races and the latest updates from across Western New York. Reporters Mary Pasciak and Patrick Lakamp will be your hosts. We'll also bring you insight from Political Reporter Bob McCarthy and Columnist Donn Esmonde. Here's what we have so far in terms of guests:

*10 a.m.: Reporter Gene Warner on what early-morning voters were saying at the polls

*10:30 a.m.: Deputy Managing Editor Stan Evans on what to watch for throughout the day

*11 a.m.: Washington Columnist Doug Turner on the national scene

*12 p.m.: Turner and Managing Editor Brian Connolly open it up for a discussion with readers

*1:10 p.m.: Health Reporter Henry Davis on health care issues

*1:40 p.m.: Business Editor Grove Potter on economic issues

*2:10 p.m.: Siena Research Institute pollster Steven A. Greenberg

*2:40 p.m.: Editorial Page Editor John Neville on The Buffalo News' endorsement process

*3:10 p.m.: Reporter Dan Herbeck on the Seneca Nation elections

*3:40 p.m.: Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski reports from Chicago

*4:10 p.m.: Buffalo News Editor Mike Connelly gives a Florida perspective

*4:40 p.m.: Reporter Jay Rey from the swing state of Ohio

*4:55 p.m.: Reporter Matt Glynn on local town board upsizing votes

*5:10 p.m.: Reporter Barbara O'Brien on area State Assembly races

*5:40 p.m.: Reporter Sandra Tan on the Erie County comptroller's race

*6:10 p.m.: Rochester D&C Reporter Jessica Alaimo on the Slaughter-Brooks race

*6:25 p.m.: Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska on the Witryol-Maziarz State Senate race

*6:40 p.m.: Reporter Denise Jewell Gee on the Collins-Hochul race

*7:10 p.m.: Reporter Charity Vogel on the Grisanti-Amodeo-Swanick race

*7:40 p.m.: Reporter Tom Precious reports from Boston

*8 p.m.: Metro Columnist Donn Esmonde chimes in

*8:30 p.m.: Political Reporter Bob McCarthy

We've also got a live video broadcast starting at noon. Check out that schedule.

Bob McCarthy: Building bridges, and walls

Check out Bob McCarthy's column from today, with news on Byron Brown, Steve Casey and Jeremy Zellner, as well as Mark Poloncarz, Frank Max, Chris Collins and Kathy Hochul.

Fracking fighting words in the 60th

Add fracking to the list of hot-button issues that are occupying candidates in the 60th Senate district race this campaign season.

Mike Amodeo, the Lake View resident who is running against incumbent Republican Mark J. Grisanti for the 60th district seat, this week released a statement criticizing Grisanti for being endorsed by the pro-hydrofracking group Unshackle Upstate.

The Rochester-based group’s policies and agenda are not in the best interests of Western New York residents – many of whom oppose fracking – and Grisanti should distance himself from them, Amodeo charged.

Democrat Amodeo, in his criticism, called Grisanti “one of the biggest pro-hydrofracking Senators in the state.”

Grisanti’s office said the Senator’s position on fracking is this:

Grisanti is awaiting the results of a public-comment period that was recently held by the Department of Environmental Conservation, which gathered some 80,000 comments on the issue.

And, Grisanti also said that he presses for protections for upstate residents wherever possible in environmental matters.

 --- Charity Vogel

The governor and a new stadium

A proposed 25,000-seat soccer stadium in Queens has the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, according to the New York Times.

Pitched as the home for a new Major League Soccer team, the facility would be built on the site of an existing park.

There was no mention of whether state funding will be requested for the project.

Cooperation among several parties was seen as key to moving the proposal forward:

Lawrence S. Schwartz, an aide to Mr. Cuomo, said, “If all the parties work together and want it to happen, it can happen in 2013.”

Prodding Albany in the 60th Senate District race

Mike Amodeo, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Mark Grisanti in the 60th Senate district, is drawing attention this week to the status of a measure that would further boost the efforts of historic rehabilitators and preservationists across the state.

Amodeo has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, asking for quick action on a measure known as the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, or HRTC. The measure would lift the maximum dollar figure on the tax credit available to developers and rehabbers from $5 million to $12 million. The measure builds on legislation that was approved several years ago.

 Amodeo urged Skelos to send the measure – which was sponsored by Grisanti earlier this year – to the governor for a signature, arguing that it is holding up the creation of new jobs in Western New York.

 "I am imploring you on behalf of the residents of Buffalo and the 60th Senate District to advance this historic rehabilitation tax credit bill immediately,” stated Amodeo, a Hamburg attorney, in his letter, “so economic development can continue and prevailing wage jobs can be restored to Buffalo.”

A spokesman for Senate Republicans contradicted the notion that the GOP is in any way holding up the measure.

"Not only does Mike Amodeo oppose the Governor's property tax cap, but he has no understanding of how the legislative process actually works," the spokesman, Scott Reif, said in an email to The Buffalo News. "The Legislature works with the Governor's office to ensure that their counsel has adequate time to review each of the hundreds of bills that are passed every year, and they simply haven't requested this bill yet."

--- Charity Vogel


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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 |