May 11th - 12:27 am
A day before many expect a second Democrat to enter the race for Buffalo Mayor, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner made an attempt to bring his party together. Zellner urged Buffalo Democrats to get behind Mayor Byron Brown, something his committee did not do four years ago.
“We had a great meeting this week with the Mayor and his Deputy Mayor and I really liked the answers I heard,” Zellner said.
Brown had a strained relationship with former Chairman Len Lenihan. Zellner hopes by endorsing Brown it will put those hard feelings in the past.
“We had a great conversation and I thought it was important that I show leadership and move forward with this recommendation,” said Zellner.
Former FBI agent Bernard Tolbert has been considering a run for mayor for months, and is expected to announce Saturday he’s challenging Brown in a Democratic Primary. Although Zellner is recommending Brown, he said Tolbert will still have a chance to sway the committee in an interview session on May 18th.
Zellner expects the Committee to make a formal endorsement on May 25th. Republican Sergio Rodriguez has already announced his candidacy.
May 10th - 5:02 pm
A top State Department official pressed the CIA and the White House to delete any mention of terrorism in public statements on the Benghazi attack to prevent critics from blaming lax security at the consulate.
The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide – has passed a long-feared milestone, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “The Tea Party folks, they’re off the chain.”
Sen. Eric Adams assured supporters that nothing he said on Shirley Huntley’s secret tapes will implicate him in wrongdoing or prevent his victory in the Brooklyn BP race.
David Griffiths, former executive director of a Bronx nonprofit and ex-law partner of state Labor Secretary Peter Rivera, will spend five months in prison for mail fraud, making false statements to the government and obstruction of justice.
Hillary Clinton will give a free public lecture on Oct. 4 at Hamilton College’s Margaret Bundy Scott Field House in the village of Clinton, 40 miles east of Syracuse.
If former Rep. Anthony Weiner going to run for mayor or what?
New York Water Rangers is calling on state Sen. Tom Libous to recuse himself from fracking deliberations after his ties to a real estate company with a natural-gas lease were disclosed.
Lawyers for the Bank of America say AG Eric Schneiderman can’t sue until the bank has been given time to cure any of the alleged violations.
The NYT makes a lunch match of NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn and actress Holland Taylor.
New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a union-backed parent coalition, released a report questioning Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s success.
The Working Families Party voted to endorse a slew of City Council candidates, with a few candidates getting the nod over the objections of one of the party’s local chapters.
Jared Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, bundled campaign cash for Newark Mayor and likely US Senate hopeful Cory Booker.
CNN is promoting its new morning show with Chris Cuomo with an ad that sounds awfully familiar.
NYC Comptroller John Liu had the stage to himself at a mayoral forum today.
The highest-paid public employee in many states is almost always a football or basketball coach – but not in New York.
The Internal Revenue Service apologized to conservative political groups for giving their tax documents extra scrutiny.
The state has expanded its outdoor smoke-free areas at state parks and historic sites for the summer.
May 10th - 6:44 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts the 15th annual “Bronx Bankers Breakfast,” where state Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky will present a keynote speech to over 400 banking, real estate and technology executives; Villa Barone Manor, 737 Throggs Neck Expressway, Bronx.
At 11 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg speaks at the NYPD Memorial Day Ceremony, One Police Plaza, Manhattan.
At noon, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, NYC Council Speaker/mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and Manhattan BP Scott Stringer attend a Building and Construction Trades Council rally, Coenties Slip Park, Water and Pearl streets, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Bloomberg make a Sandy-related announcement, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 8 p.m., Sen. James Sanders and Black Spectrum Theatre Company members host a discussion and film screening about corruption allegations against black politicians, titled “Attack on Black Leaders: Corruption or Conspiracy?”; Roy Wilkins Recreation Center, Queens.
In Cuomo’s perfect world, New York’s three newest casinos would be destination gaming resorts built in the Catskills/Hudson Valley, greater Capital Region and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes.
Cuomo wants to undo the work of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, by having the Oneidas start sharing their casino cash with the state or face competition from a new state-sanctioned and non-Indian run casino complex.
Cuomo is giving the Senecas until the third week of June to resolve its $600 million casino revenue-sharing dispute with the state or he will push for the right for a commercial casino to locate in Western New York. The tribe declined to comment.
The governor reversed himself on the timing of a casino public referendum, saying he would like it to go before the voters this fall even though there are no statewide elections scheduled, and not in 2014.
Under Cuomo’s plan, there would be no NYC casinos for at least five years.
Ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley was sentenced to a year and a day behind bars for stealing from a nonprofit she ran, which was below the guideline sentence of 18 to 24 months.
Before her sentencing, the almost 75-year-old Huntley asked for leniency, promising to spend her remaining hers trying to redeem herself “in the eyes of those I’ve embarrassed.”
May 9th - 6:07 pm
Shirley Huntley’s attorney says her client knew of bags of cash being taken up in Senate elevators in the state Capitol.
The government did not enter into a plea agreement with the former Queens senator because some of the information she provided was “false, inconsistent and implausible.”
Sen. José Peralta, who was among the seven lawmakers secretly recorded by Huntley, has been racking up legal bills, spending tens of thousands of campaign dollars on lawyers’ fees.
Peralta says he has been assured by the US attorney’s office that he’s not a target of their investigation.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among the participants at a “high-level” White House meeting today focused on how to reduce sexual assault in the military.
Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, recently arrested on corruption charges, used taxpayer dollars to print a pamphlet telling constituents how to avoid getting arrested.
Two Village Voice editors quit to avoid having to lay off more staffers.
The Citizens Budget Commission finds a “troubling story” of back-loading in the enacted FY2014 state budget.
Sen. Thomas Libous denied he has a personal stake in whether New York moves forward with hydraulic fracturing after a report linked him to a developer who has drilling lease deals.
After initially refusing to do so, Libous provided a reporter with a document that shows he severed ties in 2008 from a limited liability corporation that was about to about to invest in land with oil-and-gas leases.
Chirlane McCray, the wife of mayoral candidate and NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, revisits the topic of her sexuality in the pages of Essence magazine.
De Blasio got socked with a $10,000 penalty for “commingling” funds raised for his ’09 campaign and his current bid for the mayoralty.
Sen. Chuck Schumer is a “good sleeper,” but he wakes up worried about immigration reform.
Mayor Bloomberg is a fan of the new government in Bermuda, where he owns a home and spends quite a bit of time.
A mere 4 percent of school districts will try to get voter approval to override the state’s property-tax cap, according to the state Education Department.
LCA show tickets are now on sale.
Ex-Rep. Nan Hayworth discusses her motivation for a potential 2014 re-match against the man who ousted her last year, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
John Catsimatidis: “It’s sad that the son of an NYPD Lieutenant would take verbal shots at the Port Authority Police or any law enforcement organization. Joe Lhota should apologize.”
Rep. Dan Maffei is selling his longtime family home in DeWitt – complete with a basement “man cave” – as he and his wife seek a different house in the area
One of the Buffalo School Board’s newest members, Carl Paladino, puts his new colleagues and the Board of Education on notice.
The state sold the former Camp Georgetown correctional facility in Madison County at public auction for $241,000 to the Brihat Corporation of Yorktown Heights.
May 9th - 12:44 pm
ICYMI: Sen. George Latimer told me during a CapTon interview last night that his two Democratic colleagues most recently charged with wrongdoing – Sens. Malcolm Smith and John Sampson – should either voluntarily give up their seats or face expulsion proceedings by their peers in order to preserve whatever modicum of trust New Yorkers have left in the Legislature.
“We need to have a hard line, and when you cross that hard line and there’s credible prosecutorial information that shows you’ve done this, you need to leave,” Latimer said. “You need to resign. If we need to expel you, if we have, you know, critical mass to do that, then we ought to do that. Because the institution is bigger than me; it’s bigger than them.”
“..I believe both of them should (resign), and not because I hold any personal animus toward them. but in both cases there is substantial prosecutorial information that really questions whether or not people have public trust in an institution.”
“You can certainly defend your right to be proven innocent in the future, but you ought to do that on your own time instead of in the middle of a Legislature where you’re making policy decisions.”
Latimer is a former Westchester County assemblyman who was elected to the Senate last year. He claimed last night that none of the seven lawmakers caught on ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley’s secret recordings is a “new” member of the Democratic conference – in other words, elected post-coup.
The Democrats have been trying to convince the public that they are remaking their conference, have gotten rid of the worst apples among them and deserve another shot at the majority. The recent developments here at scandal central have undercut that argument considerably, however – especially since they have been concentrated in the Democratic conference.
(That is not to say that corruption is a Democrat problem, however. To the contrary, a number of names on the bad actors list belong to Republicans).
Anyway, it turns out Latimer was wrong in his claim, because Queens Sen. Jose Peralta, who replaced former Sen. Hiram Monserrate – the long former member with the distinction of having been expelled from the chamber by his colleagues – back in 2010. Monserrate subsequently ran for Peralta’s old Assembly seat and lost to now-Assemblyman Francisco Moya.
Lasy year, Monserrate was sentenced to two years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to charges he used funds and workers from a nonprofit to finance his Senate run. The start date of that sentence was recently delayed to allow Monserrate to get some much-needed dental work done.
May 9th - 6:51 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City with no public schedule.
At 9:30 a.m., Sen. Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Kieran Lalor announce a bipartisan legislative initiative on term limits, Wappinger Town Hall, 20 Middlebush Road, Wappingers Falls.
At 10 a.m., the New York City Campaign Finance Board meets, OATH Conference Room E, Sixth Floor, 40 Rector St,. Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino and Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano celebrate Kawasaki Rail Car’s 25th Anniversary, Building Four, 29 Wells Ave., Yonkers.
At 3 p.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton and other community, labor and religious officials call for state officials to maintain funding for The State University of New York’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 470 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, followed by a march to – and rally at – the center.
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary of international affairs and chief diplomatic officer, Alan Bersin, discusses “Borders, Law Enforcement, and the Underworld of Globalization”; lecture hall, room L.63, The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 W. 59th St., Manhattan.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli serves as guest auctioneer during the 11th annual “Hearts & Heroes Gala” fundraiser to benefit Canine Companions for Independence, New York Hilton Midtown hotel, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Chuck Schumer and State Operations Director Howard Glaser attend an ABNY Foundation ceremony honoring Sandy heroes, Bill’s Bar and Burgers, 16 W. 51st St., Manhattan.
Ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley is scheduled to be sentenced today in Brooklyn federal court on corruption charges to which she pleaded guilty in January.
Using a broken ankle as an excuse, Huntley lured fellow lawmakers to her Queens home to visit, where, unbeknownst to them, she recorded their conversations while chain smoking and sipping Zinfandel.
After the nine Huntley wiretap names – including seven elected officials – were released, Cuomo called the atmosphere in Albany “miserable” and said progress on reform talks with legislative leaders “has not been especially good thus far.”
The TU: “Failure of the governor and the remaining honorable members of the Legislature to enact such reform this session will constitute an indictment of its own.”
The Assembly canceled yesterday morning’s session, though officials insisted it was because lawmakers were attending a previously planned ethics training meeting. The Senate held its regular session, though senators left town well before the 2 p.m. deadline.
The Legislature sent a letter to the state’s ethics commission demanding extensive edits to an investigative report into the sexual harassment allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, removing details about how Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff handled the scandal.
May 8th - 5:08 pm
Posted by Liz Benjamin in [...]
Assemblywoman Vivan Cook, who allegedly went on shopping sprees with disgraced politician Shirley Huntley (and has not been charged), said her home was burglarized Monday night.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver abruptly cancelled today’s Assembly session because members were occupied with regularly scheduled ethics and sexual harassment training sessions.
In case you missed today’s tourism summit while monitoring the latest corruption developments, here are photos from the event.
A classic video from Sen. Eric Adams, retired NYPD officer, on how parents can spy on their kids. (Yet he didn’t find Huntley’s wire).
Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who was also caught on Huntley’s wire taps, referred a call seeking comment to the Senate Democrats’ central press office.
Why was Melvin Lowe identified in Huntley’s sentencing memo as an “associate” of AG Eric Schneiderman?
…a Schneiderman spokesman says it was in “retaliation” for the fact that the AG was the first prosecutor to indict the former senator. (See Nick’s post above).
Sen. Malcolm Smith’s lawyer confirmed his client spoke with Huntley in 2012, but insisted he’s “confident that there wasn’t a word spoken about criminal conduct.”
Getting caught on the Huntley recordings could have a negative impact on the borough president campaigns of Adams (Brooklyn) and Sen. Jose Peralta (Queens).
The NYC Council voted 45-3 to pass a paid sick leave bill.
The NRCC has some fun with Rep. Dan Maffei’s upcoming “Galactic Trivia Battle” fundraiser.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo honored 16 fallen police officers from across New York State – including four who died in the line of duty in 2012.
New Yorkers Against Fracking debuted a new radio ad.
Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t think his successor will have the “nerve” to roll back bike lanes in NYC.
New Yorkers for Life launched a virtual Mother’s Day-themed postcard campaign.
City Council Speaker Chris Quinn says scandal-scarred Councilman Dan Halloran “is working full-time for his defense, I can imagine, not full-time for New Yorkers,” and so should consider resigning.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct is asking whether judges should have special license plates on their cars.
Bernard Tolbert, the former Buffalo FBI chief who has been exploring a primary challenge to Mayor Byron Brown for more than a year, said he will officially announce his candidacy Saturday.
Hillary Clinton is in Beverly Hills tonight.
More layoffs at the DN.
May 8th - 3:39 pm
The list of nine names of those caught on ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley’s wiretap includes two that might not immediately ring any bells with all but serious political insiders. And so, a little history to refresh your memory.
- Melvin Lowe. He’s described in the sentencing memo as a “former political consultant and associate of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.” His backstory is, not surprisingly, much more complicated than that.
Lowe goes back years with former Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, and he was brought on as a consultant to the DSCC in the 2009 post-coup reorganization days. Prior to signing on with the DSCC, Lowe worked for a number of Democratic pols, including former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall and now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failed 2002 gubernatorial bid.
Updated: Cuomo’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign paid Lowe’s consulting firm $75,000 between 2001 and 2002. In 2003, Cuomo would later thank him in the acknowledgements section in his book “Crossroads.”
At the time he was added to the DSCC roster, Lowe was also a consultant to developer Bruce Ratner on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn – a connection that made some members of the Democratic conference (not to mention opponents of Atlantic Yards) very unhappy.
While working for Ratner, Lowe was also involved in the Ridge Hill development project in Yonkers and was among the people mentioned in subpoenas that came out of the local U.S. Attorney’s office related to the passage of that project.
Democratic conference members were also not happy to learn in 2010 that Lowe had earned over $300,000 from the DSCC through two companies that were set up to appear as separate entites but were actually run and solely operated by Lowe himself.
City&State reported in 2010 that Lowe’s past also includes a stint as the chair of the CUNY Student Senate in the 1980s in which he was involved in some questionable financial dealings at the time, had to be brought to court to compel him to call a new election and was ultimately forced to resign from the position after it was revealed that he was serving in the position, which came complete with stipend and staff, while no longer actually registered as a student at CUNY.
Also, in September 2010, the Senate Democrats hired Lowe’s son, Melvin E. Lowe, as a regional coordinator for the Majority Conference Services department, a 30-hour per week, $32,000 per year position.
- Curtis Taylor. He’s described as a “former press advisor for Malcolm Smith.” Taylor was actually not merely an “advisor, ” but actually was on staff with the Senate Democrats when Smith was majority leader.
Taylor, a former Newsday reporter, resigned abruptly from his post as communications director and press secretary of the conference in 2008 after Smith was quoted as suggesting to some lobbyists at a fundraiser that they should “get in on the ground floor” with the Democrats because the price would go up after they took control of the chamber – a comment the Republicans insisted was an ethics violation and Smith insisted was merely a joke.
Taylor was not jettisoned completely by Smith, however. He moved over to what’s known as “conference services.” In July 2009, Taylor was one of a handful of Democratic Senate staffers who received a raise. His title at the time was “special adviser to the majority leader,” and the $13,500 bump he received took his salary to $135,000.
Taylor and Smith shared a personal connection. They were both members of the Queens-based Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of Greater New York, the church led by the Rev. Floyd Flake, a former congressman and Smith’s political mentor.
May 8th - 7:04 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany
At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo hosts the state’s first-ever tourism summit in the Hart Lounge at the Egg Center for Performing Arts.
At noon, Gay and transgender rights advocates including Empire State Pride Agenda members and city and community officials call for state lawmakers to pass GENDA during the current legislative session, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., LG Bob Duffy (a former police chief) delivers remarks at the Police Officers’ Memorial Remembrance Ceremony, Empire State Plaza, Albany.
The NYC Council will hold a long-awaited vote on paid sick leave legislation at 1:30 p.m., Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan. The vote will be preceded by a rally with advocates, and business and labor leaders on the City Hall steps.
At 2 p.m., a judge will release documents revealing the names of six lawmakers caught on the ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley wiretap – unless prosecutors appeals.
The IDC is holding an ethics and campaign finance reform hearing in Rockland County (home turf of Sen. David Carlucci) from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Valley Cottage Library, 110 New York 303, Valley Cottage.
At 6 p.m, the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee holds a fundraiser, Tuscana West, 1300 I St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is now a Buffalo school board member after winning 79 percent of the vote in yesterday’s elections.
“Something was missing at a public hearing held by the State Senate on Tuesday to examine New York City’s campaign finance system: the public.”
Stunned by the indictment of state Sen. John Sampson, charged with embezzling $440,000 from sales of foreclosed properties, the state Office of Court Administration launched a review of how foreclosure sales are handled.
Sampson’s mole in the US attorney’s office, exposed.
Bob McManus believes corruption in Albany starts at the top, and calls out Cuomo for his taxpayer funded pro-business ad campaign.
Sen. James Sanders, who replaced Huntley in the Senate, slams elected officials who “snitch” on their colleagues.
The state Department of Financial Services has begun an investigation into pension advance firms, the lenders that woo retirees to sign over their monthly pension checks in return for cash.
The Senate GOP’s casino plan, which is still being drafted, protects the Seneca Nation of Indians’ three casino investments in the region by honoring a decade-old compact between the state and tribe to keep new Las Vegas-style casinos from locating in a large portion of the region.
May 7th - 5:37 pm
The Clintons are regular passengers on John Catsimatidis’ Gulfstream IV.
Bill Clinton thinks all the obsessing over his wife’s potential 2016 run is “the worst expenditure of our time.”
At Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s direction, DFS today sent subpoenas to ten companies engaging in pension advances.
Here’s the Citizens Union report on the undisclosed campaign activity of political clubs in New York. (This was featured on last night’s CapTon).
Catsimatidis’ mayoral campaign was endorsed by the Liberal Party.
The recent spate of Capitol scandals, which hit the Democrats particularly hard, could help the Republicans in the 2014 election cycle.
House of Cupcakes is opening a New York City location Thursday with a giant 25-pound, 35,800 calorie-cupcake named “The Mayor.” Mayor Bloomberg’s response: “Oh, come on!”
President Obama says his daughters “have taught me a pretty good ‘Gangnam Style.’”
The Donald is launching a crowdfunding site.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand expressed her frustration at the reported rise in sexual assaults in the military, released less than 48 hours after the head of prevention efforts for the Air Force was himself arrested for sexual assault.
Democratic NYC mayoral hopeful Sal Albanese accused two of his rivals – Council Speaker Chris Quinn and NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio – of hiring political operatives at taxpayer expense as they readied their campaigns.
Marc Ambinder, who had weight-loss surgery, congratulates “the most famous American” to do the same: NJ Gov. Chris Christie.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s sixth annual report examining IDA performance found improved reporting of data, but recommended that IDAs do more to objectively weigh incentives against economic benefits.
“The Senate now has four conferences: Republican, Democrat, Independent Democrat – and indicted.”
Sen. John Sampson’s seat in the Senate chamber was moved, but he’s not sitting next to his scandal-scarred colleague, Sen. Malcolm Smith.
Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. suggests lawmakers of color are being targeted in corruption investigations.
New York finished 49th in CEO Magazine’s 2013 ranking of states that are “best for business,” behind California.
Andrea Catsimatidis (daughter of John Catsimatidis and wife of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox’s son Chris Cox) is an Internet sensation in China.