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Video: Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington

News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski talks about what's coming up in Washington, including Tuesday's ceremony awarding the medal of honor posthumously to World War II veteran William Leonard of Lockport.

Paladino still mulling tea party line

   By Robert J. McCarthy

   Buffalo's Carl P. Paladino said Saturday he is undecided as to whether to run for governor this year on a tea party line.
    Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate who had been urging billionaire Donald J. Trump to challenge Democratic incumbent Andrew M. Cuomo, said he will assess the situation over the next several days. He has previously indicated his willingness to explore such an option in the event Trump decided not to enter the race - exactly what the Manhattan real estate developer and television personality announced late Friday.
   Though he has said he will not seek the GOP nomination again this year, Paladino had also explored running on the Conservative line. But state Conservative Chairman Michael R. Long is committed to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who now appears to be the Republican nominee for this year.
   Paladino would have to hire people to circulate designating petitions to obtain 15,000 signatures in at least half the state's congressional districts to qualify for the ballot.

Irish Center lunch kicks off political season


By Robert J. McCarthy

Ever since the late Assemblyman Dick Keane and his pal Tom Blake started the annual St. Patrick's Luncheon at the Buffalo Irish Center 41 years ago, the festive event has always been considered the unofficial kickoff of the Western New York political season.

It was no different on Friday as hundreds of guests descended upon the Irish Center -- presided over this year by Buffalo Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder -- to sample corned beef and cabbage at a place where it's important to "see and be seen."

This year's event was especially marked by a gaggle of judicial candidates, with some observers estimating more than two dozen potential contestants for State Supreme Court, not to mention those making the rounds for Buffalo City Court. That caused several wags to suggest the organizers should have rented out a separate hall for judicial candidates alone.

Other than judge wannabes, the Irish Center was also "crawling with comptrollers." State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli made his annual appearance, proclaiming "the place to be to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is right here in South Buffalo."

He was joined by other "comptroller types" such as Schroeder, Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw and former Buffalo Comptroller Andrew A. SanFilippo.

Amid lots of Irish music and dancers, Bishop Richard J. Malone delivered the invocation and a dispensation -- of sorts -- from the traditional Lenten requirement of abstaining from meat on Fridays.

Malone said he has never granted a dispensation or ordered an ex-communication as bishop, but allowed a "commutation" if those partaking on Friday would abstain from meat some day in the next week.

"It's just not a freebie," the bishop said. "Fair enough?"

 

Video: Bob McCarthy on the politics of snow

From Mayor Stan Makowski's Blizzard of '77 struggles, to Jimmy Griffin's "grab a six-pack" saga in '85, McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer and about the politics of snow. They also discuss cleanup efforts following the recent blizzards:

 

With "new spark," Trump delays decision on run for governor


   By Robert J. McCarthy

    The eyes of New York State's political community were expected to be trained on Manhattan today and a decision from billionaire Donald J. Trump on running for governor this year.
   But after a late Thursday conversation with the real estate mogul, Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy said today he does not expect a final determination for several more days.
   "I talked to him yesterday and he seems to have postponed his decision for the next few days," Langworthy said.
   Trump had indicated last week that he would make his decision by the end of this week. But Langworthy said he is not yet persuaded by increasing speculation that Trump will not challenge Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino formally declared his Republican candidacy.
   "There was a new spark in him yesterday," the chairman said.
    Trump said in January he would not compete in a primary or even vie for delegate votes the May Republican State Convention in Rye Brook, but any decision to seek the party nod would point to a showdown with Astorino at the party gathering.

State Senate releases outline of 2014 budget

The State Senate has released its outline of the 2014 budget. Here is the complete Senate budget resolution. Or find the resolution document here:  Download Senate Budget Resolution

The roll call vote over members of Board of Regents

The controversial Common Core was an issue as the State Senate, Assembly held a rare joint session Tuesday to vote on members of the Board of Regents. Democrats cobbled together enough votes to re-elect three members, a task made politically simpler when a fourth member seeking another 5-year term dropped out of the running just hours before the vote. Here is a breakdown on the roll call vote. Or access the same information here: Download Regentsrollcallvote

Brown headed to Gates Foundation event

By Jill Terreri

Mayor Byron Brown and other mayors from around the country are headed to Washington, D.C., today, for a meeting of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that will focus on education.

Brown will travel with Deputy Mayor Ellen Grant, who is the administration's liasion to the school district, for the two-day event.

Brown was invited by the foundation to discuss "how can we greatly increase the achievement of students, particularly those who are disadvantaged," according to the invitation. 

The event includes a conversation with Bill Gates. It is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors.   

"At the end of the day, we all know that it's not possible to have a great city without great schools," Brown said. 

Late last month, Brown talked about his exploration of mayoral control of city schools, though no formal steps have been made in that direction. The city provides tax revenue to the district but Brown and his administration have no control over its operations. 

The Buffalo Public School District has had its share of problems, including news this week that Martin Luther King School and Bennett High School will be closed or phased out and replaced because of poor performance. 

Cox blasts Cuomo and Moreland Commission for ignoring complaints

By Robert J. McCarthy

   The new probe of a controversial fundraising committee with close ties to political operative G. Steven Pigeon has now entered the political arena.
   State GOP Chairman Edward F. Cox Wednesday criticized Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption for looking the other way on close political allies like Pigeon after the state Board of Elections voted unanimously on Tuesday to probe the WNY Progressive Caucus.
   "Andrew Cuomo sees the Moreland Commission as a tool to punish his political opposition," said Cox. "When it comes to his friends, Cuomo pulls his punches for political purposes.
    "By corrupting his own corruption commission, Andrew Cuomo has become a part of Democrats' culture of corruption," he added.
   Cox referred to several complaints registered with the Moreland Commission about the caucus, to which Pigeon contributed $100,000 of his own money, and which spent $267,000 overall in support of candidates opposed by Democratic Headquarters (which has never enjoyed a close relationship with the Cuomo political operation in recent years).
   County Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, D-Buffalo, reiterated her "extreme disappointment"  this week that the commission never even acknowledged the complaint she filed last fall. Former Assistant District Attorney Mark A. Sacha also filed a complaint about the caucus with the commission, claiming it had illegally coordinated its activities with the candidates it supported.
   But the probe launched Tuesday by the state board at the request of Erie County's election commissioners -- Republican Ralph M. Mohr and Democrat Dennis E. Ward -- will only concentrate on alleged discrepancies in funds reported in campaign finance reports and the actual amounts spent on television advertising.
   Still, Cox said the board is now undertaking a probe that Cuomo's commission would not.
   "I commend the Board of Elections for taking swift action to investigate this apparent illegal activity," Cox said.

Silver tells Democrats budget conference process starts tonight

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just told his colleagues in a closed-door Democratic conference that he expects the "mother ship'' -- the main legislative budget conference committee -- to meet at 7 tonight and the rest of the subject-area committees to start meeting Thursday.

Of course, that all depends on the Senate and its ability to get a one-house budget resolution introduced and passed today. Neither had  happened as 1 p.m. approached.

The conference committee process, which offers rank-and-file lawmakers fiscal crumbs to wrangle over given the size of the overall budget, does at least signal the beginning of the end of the budget negotiations. The "mother ship'' is the committee that features legislative leaders and a few of their appointees. The talks over the most controversial issues will, as ususal, be handled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders in secret over the next several weeks.

The Assembly this afternoon is due to pass its own-one house budget plan.

In the Senate, Republicans and a small group of breakaway Democrats -- who together control the chamber -- have been arguing over everything from the Dream Act, a campaign finance measure, property taxes and public school matters. Albany will know when those arguments end when the Senate puts out its one-house budget plan.

Whether that can all happen by 7 p.m. is unknown, though ambitious would be one word to describe the prospects.

UPDATE: Shocking, but plans made in Albany in the morning didn't quite turn out by the time the sun set. The Senate just broke for the evening and won't be back until 11am Thursday. Senate leaders were unable to agree on a budget resolution to move to the floor this evening, a document that lawmakers say will be intentionally vague and not include any budget bills as have been debated all afternoon in the Assembly. The budget conference committee process cannot start until the Senate adopts its budget resolution.

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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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