May 17th - 1:49 pm
Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry Snyder criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for “playground bully tactics” for his handling of an ongoing dispute over the nation’s contract.
Cuomo maintains the Seneca Nation has a contract with the state that is “not in good standing” and argues $500 million is owed in exclusivity payments.
The governor and the Oneida Nation announced Thursday it had reached a sweeping land claims deal that removed the central New York region from one that could be bid on for a new commercially run casino should a constitutional amendment pass.
Cuomo has said the state won’t honor contracts with either the Seneca or the Mohawk-St. Regis nation in the North Country when it comes to citing casnios. He wants to build three casinos north of New York City, but the Seneca operate within an exclusivity zone.
Yesterday’s agreement with the Oneida created an exclusivity region for Turning Stone casino and a revenue-sharing deal with the state and local governments.
“Yesteray we all witnessed another symptom of the unfortunately strained relationship the Seneca Nation of Indians has with Governor Andrew Cuomo. yet again he has chosen a path of playground bully tactics rather than one of maturity, dignity and mutual respect,” Snyder said in a statement.
In a radio interview this morning with The Capitol Pressroom, Cuomo said the “ball is their court” when it comes to striking a deal with the state and resolve the ongoing disputes.
“I’ve said to both of them, it’s up to them,” Cuomo said. “It’s really the ball is there court. No one has made an effort to try to settle.”
May 17th - 12:40 pm
Add Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the chorus calling for Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign not next month, but right now.
“As I said yesterday, there should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated,” Cuomo said. “Vito Lopez should not spend another day in office, let alone a whole month. He should resign effective immediately and if he does not, he must be expelled.”
The governor yesterday said Assembly lawmakers should boot Lopez from the chamber if he didn’t resign. Lopez announced today he would resign, but not until June 20, the final day of the legislative session.
May 16th - 11:31 pm
What impact, if any, will the deal the Oneidas made Thursday, have on the Seneca Nation in its ongoing dispute with the state over casino revenue payments? According to at least one observer, “none.”
John Kane is a Mohawk Indian, and the host of the “Let’s Talk Native” radio show in Buffalo. He sharply criticized the deal that would guarantee the Oneidas exclusive territory for their Central NY casino.
“The Oneidas pay and pay, and then call it a landmark decision. They pay for an exclusivity that doesn’t exist anyway,” Kane said.
Under the deal, the state agreed not to build any new competing casinos in a large section in the middle of the state. In exchange, the Oneidas will give 25 percent of its casino’s net revenue to the state, agree to a permanent cap of about 25,000 acres of land, and apply sales tax on cigarettes and gasoline.
“The Oneidas are the losers in this deal. This is a perfect example of what not to do,” Kane said.
The Senecas, like the Oneidas, have been locked in a long standing dispute with the state. The Western NY tribe claims the state violated a 14-year gaming compact by allowing gambling at racetracks in Hamburg, Batavia and Canandaigua.
In the meantime, the Senecas are holding $572 million in escrow from three casinos in Western NY. It’s Revenue that would have been shared with the state and the cities of Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca.
“These communities did get cheated. But they got cheated by the state not by the Senecas,” Kane said.
The deal with the Oneidas comes just two weeks after the Governor proposed a plan to allow state run casino to be built in three regions including Western NY. It’s a move some say showed the Governor’s skills as a negotiator.
“Governor Cuomo has found a way to break the logjam and find a solution that works for everyone,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
Dyster’s city has lost $60 million dollars during the dispute with the Senecas. After Thursday’s announcement, he believes Cuomo could strike a deal with the Senecas as well.
“I have said from the beginning that I thought a negotiated settlement was the preferred way to resolve the outstanding issues. If there is a way to settle that dispute at the bargaining table, Governor Cuomo will find it,” Dyster said.
Seneca Leadership is honoring a gag order imposed by an arbitration panel. President Barry Snyder refused to take questions on the issue as the Senecas hosted a four-day conference for the United South and Eastern Tribes at the Seneca Niagara Casino this week.
“They’re not worried,” said Kane.
Kane said the Senecas didn’t “flinch” after Cuomo announced his plan to permit up to seven new non-Indian casinos in the state.
“Western NY is saturated with gaming. Why would someone want to compete with the Senecas? They don’t have to pay a dime in taxes. The Senecas have a huge advantage,” Kane said.
The 14-year gaming compact with the Senecas expires in 2016. Governor Cuomo suggested Thursday that the dispute would make it unlikely the compact would be renewed.
“Governor Cuomo has put himself in a no win situation,” Kane said.
Kane doesn’t believe the Governor’s comments, or the deal with the Oneidas weaken the Senecas position.
“If anything, this would make it more difficult to negotiate around arbitration. And I think both sides know arbitration is going well for the Senecas right now,” Kane said.
Kane even offered a suggestion for Mayor Dyster who appears to be banking on the Governor’s ability at the bargaining table.
“Eventually these communities would be better off negotiating directly with the Senecas to get part of the $600 Million.”
May 16th - 5:58 pm
Getting around to this one a little late:
As state lawmakers consider a proposal to expand casino gambling in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo cleared away possible opposition by striking a sweeping deal with the Oneida Indian Nation.
“We recognize together with the United States that peace and friendship shall be perpetual between our nations and we’re here in that spirit today,” said Oneida Representative Ray Halbritter at a Red Room news conference announcing the deal.
The deal creates exclusive gaming rights in central New York for the Oneida-run casino Turning Stone. The Indian nation will share some revenues from the casino with Madison and Oneida counties, along with the state. Under the same deal, the sovereign land for the Oneida Nation is capped at 25,000 acres. Cuomo says the deal remains even if a gambling expansion isn’t approved this year.
“This agreement was not dependent upon either an act of the Legislature or the eventual outcome of the referendum,” Cuomo said.
But the agreement removes potential opposition from the Oneida Nation, which has the money and resources to fund an ad campaign to block expansion. If lawmakers approve second passage of a Constitutional amendment, creating non-Indian casinos goes before voters this fall in a referendum.
State lawmakers and Cuomo remain at odds over how to cite casinos, with the governor pushing for the process to be controlled by his own gaming commission and legislators seeking some input in the process.
“We’ve been clear from the beginning that any expansion of gaming in the state needs to make sure it doesn’t conflict with any existing economic development and this agreement achieves that goal,” Halbritter said.
But deals with the state’s other Indian nations that operate casinos will be more complicated. In western New York, the Seneca Nation and the state remain in a dispute over $500 million in deferred payments.
“With the Senecas, it’s more just a question of the basic standing of the relationship and their ability to honor a contract,” Cuomo said today.
The Mohawk-Saint Regis tribe of the North Country is in a similar dispute with the state.
“The Mohawks are in a situation where they haven’t been on the contract, either. It’s analogus to the Senecas,” the governor said.
Cuomo considers the contracts with both the Seneca and Mohawk nations are “not in good standing.” Should a gambling expansion move forward, Cuomo plans to open up their regions to possible construction of casinos that would compete with the Mohawk and Seneca casinos.
May 16th - 4:56 pm
Not surprisingly, Republicans aren’t pleased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s comment today that it would be the “height of hypocrisy” if lawmakers failed to pass the women’s agenda in the wake of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
New York GOP spokesman David Laska sent over this statement in response:
“Out of one side of his mouth, Andrew Cuomo calls for Vito Lopez’s resignation. Out of the other, he calls for public financing for campaigns.
“The height of hypocrisy is for Andrew Cuomo to claim to support women’s rights while asking New York’s women to spend their tax dollars on reelecting serial sex abuser Vito Lopez and his enabler Sheldon Silver. If the Governor were serious about protecting women, he would join us in calling for Silver to resign as Speaker.”
Cuomo called on members of the Assembly to expel Lopez in the wake of a JCOPE report detailing allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse by the Brooklyn Democrat toward legislative aides.
Cuomo did not call for the resigation of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the case, arguing that wasn’t his role to say who should be in charge of the chamber. Earlier in the day Republican Chairman Ed Cox called on Silver to resign as speaker, a post he’s held for 1994.
The women’s agenda includes measures to strengthen domestic abuse laws and discrimination in the workplace and in housing. But Republicans are balking at an effort to enhance abortion rights through what Cuomo says is a codification of Roe versus Wade.
May 16th - 4:17 pm
A financial disclosure statement filed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, part of the revamped transparency effort stemming from the 2011 ethics overhaul legislation, shows he is worth at least $1.8 million and as much as $2 million, according to documents made public today on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics’s website.
The filing shows that Cuomo’s AMG National Bank “blind trust” is worth between $1.75 and $2 million. Cuomo on the report also stated he receives between $5,000 and $20,000 in deferred compensation as the Housing and Urban Development secretary during the Clinton administration.
Cuomo’s 2012 tax return revealed he had exchanged $668,539 in the trust at a net loss.
Cuomo’s financial disclosure also shows that he accepted a complimentary airplane ride from his former boss, Andrew Farkas, which was diclosed because it cost more than $1,000.
The filings are significant because the updated ethics law included more narrow income disclosure ranges for elected officials (a table of those ranges can be found here).
The filings were due Wednesday with JCOPE.
With limited exceptions, those state officers and employees who earn more than $88,256, including members of the state Legislature and those in policy-making positions, are required to file disclosure reports.
Legislators’ reports were first filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission, which will make those documents available to JCOPE by June 30.
May 16th - 3:11 pm
Not passing his 10-point women’s agenda in the wake of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment would be the “height of hypocrisy,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this afternoon in a Red Room question-and-answer session.
“I think it would be the height of hypocrisy for a body that just recognized the problem up close and personal within their own colleagues and to not take action,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo this afternoon called for the resignation of Lopez, adding that if the he doesn’t — and Lopez has given no indication he’ll do that — the Democratic-led chamber should begin proceedings to expel him.
The women’s agenda is most discussed in terms of the provision that Cuomo says would codify the Roe versus Wade decision, but opponents believe will expand abortion rights to an uncomfortable degree.
But the agenda — which is yet to be released in bill form — also includes measures aimed at curbing violence against women, discrimination in housing and the workforce and human trafficking.
The governor told reporters at the Q-and-A that changes need to be made to the procedure for handling sexual harassment claims in the Assembly.
“Whatever procedures they have have to be dramatically reformed because this can’t be allowed to happen again,” Cuomo said.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is fending off calls for resignation — mostly from Republicans and editorial boards — after the report was released that showed he pushed early on for a confidential settlement with Lopez’s victims.
Cuomo didn’t want to weigh in on whether Silver should resign. But he agreed that the situation was poorly handled and mismanaged by the Assembly leadership.
“I think people have the right to expect, change the rules so this doesn’t happen again or change the rules the best you can to prevent it from happening again,” Cuomo said.
The Lopez scandal — along with the graphic details involving young women working in government – was especially personal for him as a father, Cuomo said.
“I have three young daughters who would love to work in the government, volunteer in government so I relate from that way also,” he said.
May 16th - 2:22 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Democratic-led Assembly this afternoon to expel Assemblyman Vito Lopez if he doesn’t resign from office in the wake of the release of an ethics report detailing allegations of sexual harassment.
“The reaction should be zero tolerance. If he doesn’t resign, they should expel him,” Cuomo said in the Red Room.
But Cuomo said the actions of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in seeking to keep the settlement money paid to Lopez’s victims a secret were “not comparable” and did not call him to step down from his post.
“I don’t opine on who they (the Assembly) should elect or should not elect,” Cuomo said, adding that “dramatic reforms” are needed to how the Assembly handles sexual harassment cases.
May 16th - 11:00 am
From the morning memo:
With a scandal-scarred Legislature choosing to stay home this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had the Albany spotlight virtually to himself this week.
Cuomo clearly does not want the myriad scandals — ranging from a trio of arrests to the lurid details of Vito Lopez’s sexual harassment of legislative aides — to bog down the remaining weeks of the session while there’s still so much to do.
So instead of letting the press focus on corruption and scandal, Cuomo distinctly wanted to tell a different story.
This week so far he’s held three public events at the Capitol. It’s not necessarily rare for him to make himself so visible, but with both the Senate and Assembly largely empty, Cuomo can control the story coming out of the Capitol.
On Monday, Cuomo took to the Red Room to talk about the privatization of the Long Island Power Authority. On Tuesday, he talked budget restructuring on the local level. And on Wednesday, it was an economic development roundtable.
The governor seemed downright hesitant to even address scandal on Monday, asking reporters, “Do you really want to talk about this?”
Of course, there’s a downside to focusing on decidedly vanilla topics.
When the disturbing details of the Lopez sexual harassment case was made public through the release of a 70-page Joint Commission on Public Ethics report on Wednesday, the Capitol press corp largely stayed on the third floor, while Cuomo conducted an economic development council presentation on the second floor (that’s not to say the event wasn’t covered, and in fact some local press upstate picked up the event).
Cuomo’s argument for success as governor has been leading a government that functions. Sure, the details may be a bit messy, but the bar has been set so low in Albany with missed budget deadlines and deals on needed legislation that fall apart, sometimes just going about the routine can help.
And in large part, Cuomo is lucky that the scandals — so far — have not threatened the order of things at the Capitol.
Yes, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was a key player in the Lopez case and yesterday’s report outlined how Manhattan Democrat and his top aides feared the media fallout from the scandal almost immediately, which ultimately drove the effort to keep the settlement a secret.
But so far, Silver has not been publicly challenged by any of his rank-and-file conference members for his handling of the case after he admitted mistakes were made last summer.
In the Senate, the arrests have so far focused on Democratic lawmakers (though a story from Bloomberg News found Tom Libous, the number two Republican lawmaker in the Senate GOP may have some trouble on the horizon).
At any rate, the scandals don’t threaten how things get done at the Capitol or upend the status quo for now.
To be sure, Cuomo is still pushing a variety of anti-corruption measures and a bill designed to strengthen anti-bribery laws. But that is only a subset to a broader agenda that he’s been pushing since January with major provisions like public financing and enhancing abortion laws that has largely stalled.
Cuomo, still, seems to be seeking to turn the page in his own right at the Capitol as he tries to not make it distraction, telling reporters, “I think it’s basically irrelevant unless you allow it to become relevant.”
May 14th - 3:38 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to the criticism of his abortion strengthening push by Cardinal Timothy Dolan by noting the opposition to the policy is nothing new.
Cuomo, in a Red Room question-and-answer session, said he and Dolan will “agree to disagree” on the issue.
“The archbishop has mentioned his opposition to the choice law multiple times,” he said. “The Catholic Church has made their opposition to choice known for many, many, many years. So there’s nothing new to that. We agree to disagree on that respectively and that’s where we are.”
In an interview on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show this morning, Dolan said the murder conviction of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is evidence that Cuomo’s support for codifying the Roe v. Wade decision should be abandoned.
Dicker at one point asked whether Cuomo was a Catholic “in good standing” because of his support for abortion rights. Dolan declined to go into detail, but did say he’s spoken to the governor before on that issue.
Cuomo dismissed the idea that Dolan was questioning his standing in the Catholic faith.
“I didn’t hear that in what he said,” Cuomo said.