The News' Washington bureau chief takes his weekly look at what is happening in the nation's capital and what impact it will have on Western New York. Among the items coming up this week is the controversial Senate committee vote on Buffalo native Tom Perez becoming the Secretary of Labor:
WASHINGTON -- An IRS policy to target tea party groups is the talk of the town this morning, and the New York Times gives us the most comprehensive look so far on what looks like a debacle for the tax-collecting agency.
And while I rarely cite columns or blog posts as must-read items, I'll make an exception for the Washington Post's "The Fix" blog this morning, which focuses on the little-discussed issue of the Democratic Party's demographic difficulties.
An ongoing dispute involving members of the Peace Bridge Authority is becoming an international incident. News Political Reporter Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about behind-the-scenes discussions aimed at resolving the flap:
Leading today's top reads is a Washington Post story that backs up something Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, has been arguing for years: that "political intelligence" firms have undue connections that can benefit investors.
Meanwhile, The New York Times tells us that despite last month's devastating plant explosion in Texas, the state's residents remain wary of government regulation.
Former Senator Shirley Huntley was sentenced by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon to a year and a day in jail for embezzlement.
By Tom Precious
ALBANY – She sat in her living room secretly recording six state lawmakers at the behest of federal investigators, but it wasn’t enough to keep former Senator Shirley Huntley, a Queens Democrat, out of jail.
The 74-year-old lawmaker, who resigned amid her own corruption scandal involving embezzlement of state funds at a non-profit agency she oversaw, was sentenced by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon to a year and a day in jail.
Huntley is the second, known ex-lawmaker who was revealed in recent weeks to have word a wire at the behest of federal investigators to record fellow state legislators in an attempt to win leniency from prosecutors for their own illegal acts.
The growing scandals, including the recent arrests of two former top Democratic leaders of the state Senate on corruption or theft charges, has lawmakers in Albany asking two basic questions: who is next and who else is wearing a wire?
Huntley recorded and photographed six state lawmakers – five from New York City and one from Westchester County – last summer for probes that investigators say are still underway.
The two recently arrested former Senate Democratic leaders, John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens, were among those Huntley caught on tape.
ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just scheduled a 10:30am news conference at the Capitol to make an announcement. Several sources say it is about Cuomo's plan for how to expand commercial casinos on non-Indian lands in New York.
The Common Council kicked off its budget workshops this morning in relatively brief meetings with some of the city's largest departments.
The questions tended to deal with matters of concern to the Council, not necessarily what was in the budget.
The Taxation and Assessment Department discussed the inquiries they were getting about the state's STAR program, which offers property tax breaks to homeowners. Basic STAR recipients must re-apply this year - senior STAR recipients re-apply every year. The city department doesn't administer the program, but it does send out the tax bills. Department officials said they worried that the state won't be able to tell them all of the properties that should be getting the exemption until June, and property tax bills must be mailed by July 1.
The state will provide $10 million for removing part of the Robert Moses Parkway just south of Niagara Falls; the money will be part of the Buffalo Billion that Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised Western New York.
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 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.
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.