Archive for May, 2012
May 8th - 4:31 pm
Obviously Gov. Andrew Cuomo was front and center during President Obama’s brief visit to Albany today. Ditto Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.
Both New York electeds – Democrats, like the president – greeted Obama on the tarmac at Albany International Airport. But at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, only Cuomo merited a speaking role (he introduced the president, and was introduced himself by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher).
CNSE CEO and Senior VP Alain Kaloyeros and GlobalFoundries CEO Ajit Manocha both got to speak, (a sort of consolation prize for Manocha, whose project was snubbed by the White House in favor of Kaloyeros’ easier to reach and less baggage-laden baby).
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has been sparring with Cuomo for CSNE bragging rights, was seated front and center with his former top aide, Dean Fuleihan, who now works for Kaloyeros.
Neither former Gov. George Pataki nor former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, both of whom played a role in the region’s nano-boom, were present – in fact, Pataki, joined by state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, did some pre-speech pushback for the RNC.
Also missing from the VIP section: Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. He was in the area. In fact, he was down at the Capitol, calling on the Assembly to crack down on auto insurance fraud. He also attended the annual remembrance ceremony to honor fallen officers at the Empire State Plaza.
Skelos did not receive an invite to today’s presidential speech until the “last minute,” according to a source familiar with that ask. It probably would have been uncomfortable for him there anyway, since he is the state’s top elected GOP official and has endorsed Mitt Romney against Obama.
Two Republicans of note in the audience: Sen. Roy McDonald and Rep. Chris Gibson. Representing the Senate Democrats: Neil Breslin.
Also not present, although they were invited to attend: State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who delivered the keynote address at the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems in NYC this morning; and state AG Eric Schneiderman, who was prevented by attending by “scheduling conflicts.”
Neither of the state’s US senators – Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand – were in Albany today. They were in D.C., expecting to vote on a Democratic bill to prevent the doubling of some student loan interest rates. The measure was blocked by the Republicans.
May 8th - 3:54 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver used the occasion of President Obama’s address at the UAlbany nanotech facility this afternoon to note that the money to fund the ever-growing complex came from “discretionary dollars” he and others in the Legislature steered there over the years.
“We invested five million dollars and he was off and running,” he said. “It’s grown over the years exponentially. There are thousands of jobs here in Albany as a result of this facility and I’m very proud to point to all of the buildings to see I, my colleagues and the Capital Region Assembly delegation dedicated millions of discretionary dollars to get to this here.”
It also deepens what seems to be an ongoing debate over who can claim credit for the nanotech facility which has played out over the last two days.
Silver is an unabashed enthusiast when it comes to the nanotech campus and its potential for job creation. His former aide Dean Fuleihan works there now as Executive Vice President for Strategic Partnerships.
Silver has also been an unabashed defender of legislative member items, saying that lawmakers know their districts best when it comes to allocating state dollars to local causes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo disagreed and kept member items out of the state’s $132.6 billion budget (though so-called “bullet aid” for education was allowed and allocated by Senate Republicans).
Silver also said the work at the nanotech facility shows government can spur private-sector job growth.
“I think we’re going to see that multiply around the state, improve the economy around the state as a result of this kind of infrastructure we set up for the private sector economy to come in,” Silver said.
May 8th - 3:25 pm
Here’s the full video of President Obama’s speech at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering this afternoon, during which the president praised the Capital Region tech sector and said: “I want what’s happening in Albany to happen all across the country.”
“This school and this community represent the future of our economy. Right now some of the most advanced manufacturing work in America is being done right here in upstate New York,” Obama said.
“Cutting edge businesses from all over the world are deciding to build here and hire here…We know the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, it’s not Washington. But there are steps we can take as a nation to make it easier for companies to grow and to hire.”
The president was on the ground in Albany for just over two hours. His speech clocked in at slightly over 21 minutes. Prior to the speech, he took a private tour of the facilities with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who also met Obama on the tarmac at Albany International Airport.
Obama praised Cuomo for the “extraordinary leadership he’s showing here in the great state of New York,” adding: “He is doing outstanding work.”
Other presidential shout-outs: Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings (“give the mayor a big round of applause; don’t be shy”), SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher (“we appreicate very much), Dr. Alain Kaloyeros (“I want to make sure I say that right, folks mess up my name all the time”), a couple members of Congress – Reps. Paul Tonko, Chris Gibson.
No mention of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, though Cuomo acknowledged him during his introduction of the president, or the various and sundry state and local lawmakers in the room (Sens. Roy McDonald and Neil Breslin, Assemblymen Ron Canestrari, Keith Wright, Denny Farrell, Earlene Hooper, Carl Heastie and Jack McEneny – to name a few).
UPDATE: The full text of the president’s speech appears after the jump.
May 8th - 12:27 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just issued a statement claiming the lion’s share of credit for the NanoTech complex being visited by President Obama today.
This is a continuation of a verbal tussle over who deserves the most credit for the center’s credit. Obviously, the speaker isn’t willing to let this one go.
Here’s his statement in full:
“What began 15 years ago with a proposal by Dr. Alain Kaloyeros and a $5 million commitment from the Assembly, the first commitment of state funds, has transformed the University at Albany into a global leader in nanotechnology education, job training, research, development and commercialization.”
“It established here, in upstate New York, the largest, most state-of-the-art, high-tech complex in the academic world; a complex that is attracting the biggest players in the semiconductor industry, the best and brightest talent, spinning off new ventures, and creating and retaining more than 3,000 jobs.”
“That President Obama chose the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) as the venue for his remarks on economic development attests to the enormous success of our vision and our efforts.”
“The innovative partnership at CNSE, which includes IBM, Intel, Tokyo Electron, Global Foundries and a host of other leading high-tech corporations, is a prime example of American ingenuity and American leadership.”
“Working with Governor Cuomo, we will continue to employ this highly successful university/industry partnership model to nurture high-tech economic development and job creation in Buffalo and Rochester, Syracuse and Utica, here in the Capital Region, and in every region of our Empire State.”
“I join with my colleagues in the Assembly to call upon the United States Congress to invest in America’s future and help us create more jobs for working families.”
May 8th - 11:36 am
IOGA’s latest “postcard” in its pro-fracking campaign focuses on President Obama, coinciding with his visit to Albany today.
This card features a quote from Obama’s Jan. 24 State of the Union address, during which he pledged his administration would “take every possible action” to safely develop natural gas as an alternative resource to help end the country’s dependance on foreign oil.
May 8th - 11:25 am
Here’s the first report filed by Dow Jones reporter Jared A. Favole, who is traveling with President Obama on his trip to Albany:
POTUS arrived at Andrews Air Force Base at 10:43 am ET, wearing a dark suit and grey tie.
Pooler saw Jay Carney, Valerie Jarrett and Alyssa Mastromonaco traveling with POTUS.
We are rolling to Albany International Airport at 10:53 am ET.
POTUS will tour and deliver remarks at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s (CNSE) Albany NanoTech Complex at the State University of New York.
POTUS is also expected to ask Congress to pass a laundry list of proposals to revive the economy. The ideas aren’t new. Republicans also have their own list of ideas they want Democrats to act on.
For more information on the UAlbany’s NanoTech complex see this link.
May 8th - 10:14 am
The popular line of Democratic attack on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is that his positions on every issue change to please popular sentiment or too muddled and unclear to determine.
But today in a conference call, former Gov. George Pataki sought to turn that critique onto President Obama and his stance on same-sex marriage.
“Either you’re for something or you’re against it … President Obama is looking to have both sides,” Pataki told reporters on a conference call arranged by the Republican National Committee prior to the president’s trip to Albany.
The Obama administration is being forced back into the debate over same-sex marriage after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “comfortable” with granting the full legal status to gay couples.
Two cabinet members — HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Education Secretary Arne Duncan — both support same-sex marriage publicly.
Obama, who previously checked off a box as a state senator saying he supported gay marriage, later fell back to the politically safer position of favoring civil unions.
Obama says his views are “evolving” on marriage and speculation has risen over whether he will back full rights before or after the election.
Obama is facing pressure from local party leaders and Democratic lawmakers over approving a plank for the convention’s platform this summer that would back gay marriage.
And of course, Obama will be in Albany at an event attended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose cajoling and political maneuvering helped legalize gay marriage in New York last year.
May 8th - 9:48 am
Hours before President Obama is scheduled to speak here at the nanoscale college at the University at Albany, Republican Chairman Ed Cox and former Gov. George Pataki held a conference call criticizing the president for his job-creation record and sought to draw a distinction on how to spur private sector growth.
But at the same time, Pataki and Cox noted their own involvement in the creation of the nanotech facility the UAlbany campus.
The college was “development 10 years ago by a Republican governor and based on Republican principles,” Cox said on the call.
Pataki, governor from 1995 to 2007, insisted he wasn’t on the call to take credit for nanotech campus, which seems to have grown exponentially every year.
“This isn’t about me,” Pataki said. “This is about the future of America.”
Instead, both Cox and Pataki sought to compare the success of government-sponsored investment in the private sector tied to job creation compared to the loan given to the failed clean-energy company Solyndra.
Pataki mentioned Solyndra at least three times when comparing his efforts during the 1990s on job creation to the Obama administration.
“We did the opposite pretty much of what president obama has done,” Pataki said. “We didn’t give a grant to a (single) company.”
The GlobalFoundries facility in Malta, where Obama was initially scheduled to appear, was also a major development during Pataki’s tenure. But Pataki drew a distinction between GlobalFoundries and Solyndra, noting the government incentive package for what was then AMD was tied to job growth.
“We weren’t competing against any other state, we were competing against two foreign countries,” Pataki said. “It was a very difficult compeitition and by the way, when we put our package in place to get there, we have to pay a 35 percent corporate tax. We actually had to look again at what sort of incentives to lure them here. The federal government wasn’t part of the solution, they were part of the problem.”
The White House has said they changed the site of today’s event for logistical reasons, though the foreign ownership and massive tax credits GlobalFoundries has received would have raised uncomfortable questions for an administration running for re-election.
Pataki said he wasn’t offended by the switch.
“I think it was a wise decision for him not to go there, but I would have been proud of him going to either site,” Pataki said.
May 8th - 8:19 am
(That sign, which says “An America Built To Last” was in the process of being moved just as the press was ushered out of the room for the Secret Service security sweep.)
The president is not expected to give his speech until later this afternoon and as Jimmy reported in The Times Union today, it’s expected to be a “to-do list” of sorts.
Traffic is expected to be snarled in and around the Interstate 90 and upper Washington Avenue area near UAlbany until the middle part of this afternoon, so plan accordingly.
And last night on the show, I spoke to Rep. Chris Gibson, who did not express any concerns about the president switching his itinerary to the nanotech campus from GlobalFoundries in Saratoga County (which is in Gibson’s district).
The official line out of the White House was the trip was changed due to logistical purposes, but the switch highlighted how GlobalFoundries is owned by the Gulf State Abu Dhabi and receives tons of government assistance to get off the ground.
“I take the president at his word,” Gibson said of the official reason for the change. The full interview, including whether Gibson thinks this is merely a campaign event and how he sees the high-tech sector helping upstate is here.
Live coverage of the president’s visit begins at 11:30 on YNN.
May 8th - 7:58 am
…not for myself, for the LCA! A great cause!
Compliment of the (very funny) 2012 LCA Show Chairman Casey Seiler, here are some preview clips from shows of yesteryear – namely 2010, when then-AG Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t commit to either running for governor or delivering a rebuttal, and 2011, when Fred Dicker and Carl Paladino memorably went several verbal rounds at the Sagamore.
In a break from tradition, this year’s show will be held on a weeknight – so you can make it, all you NYC denizens!
Tuesday, May 22 is the big night at the Hotel Albany, with an open rehearsal Monday.
According to Seiler, this year’s gala, entitled ‘iGov,’ features “outstanding rebuttals” from Sen. Mike Gianaris and NY GOP Chair Ed Cox.
“The cast rehearsals presage a 2012 LCA Show that only squares would want to miss,” said Seiler.
CapTon has something special in the works. More to come on that if it all goes according to plan.