June 5, 2014

Your morning reading from PLA – A sampling of today’s New York news

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Cuomo does an about-face after targeting Senate GOP Buffalo News (Tom Precious)

ALBANY – Just a few days after calling for the ouster of Republicans from their power base in the State Senate, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday sought to characterize his relations with GOP lawmakers as vibrant and productive.

In Rochester, the governor was asked by a reporter if his call for a Democratic takeover of the Senate, done Saturday night to win the backing of the liberal Working Families Party, would make it hard to get things done in the Senate for the rest of the session.

Labor leaders persuade Jeff Klein to sever GOP alliance New York Post (Carl Campanile)

Labor leaders are putting on a full court press to persuade Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein and his five-member caucus of renegade Democrats to sever their governing alliance with the GOP.

The pressure on Klein and the Independent Democratic Caucus to unify with their party brethren comes just days after Gov. Cuomo vowed to help Democrats win outright control of the state Senate as part of a deal to secure the leftist Working Families Party endorsement.

Senate Republicans issue a reminder to 1199 Capital New York (Laura Nahmias)

ALBANY—Senate Republicans are reminding 1199 SEIU of the conference’s longtime support for health care workers, after Capital reported the union would not be donating to the G.O.P.’s campaign committee this year, for the first time in more than a decade.

“We are pleased to continue to work with all parties to protect patients and ensure the safety and well-being of thousands of hospital workers and other health care professionals across the state. Politics aside, it’s right for New York,” Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos and health committee chairman Kemp Hannon said in a joint statement today.

New bet over Hudson Times Union (Jim Odato, Kenneth C. Crowe II and Alysia Santo)

The Rensselaer Common Council moved quickly Wednesday night to give Rochester developer David Flaum the local approval he needs in the competition for the Capital Region’s casino license.

The council’s 6-1 vote capped a 24-hour period that saw Flaum reach agreement with Peter Marx on Tuesday night on an option to purchase the 24-acre DeLaet’s Landing site on the Hudson River’s east bank for the proposed casino and hotel complex.

NYRA adds $730,000 in top pay Times Union (Jim Odato)

The New York Racing Association said it has added $730,000 in salaries to beef up its executive team.

After a request more than a week ago, NYRA disclosed it is paying $280,000 a year to Lynn LaRocca, who is filling the newly created post of chief experience officer. It is the same salary paid to Joe Lambert, the new general counsel.

A third post, chief compliance officer, was created. It is filled by Kevin Rogan at $170,000.

Cuomo announces first 12 companies for tax-free zones Newsday (James T. Madore)

The first beneficiaries of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s tax-free zones for businesses that locate near colleges will be upstate and in Brooklyn, the governor announced Wednesday.

Eight of the 12 companies will be affiliated with the University at Buffalo, two with the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and one each with the Rochester Institute of Technology and Cornell University.

GMO labeling bill endorsed by NY Assembly committee Newsday (AP)

ALBANY – A proposal to require labels on food products containing ingredients from genetically modified crops is inching closer to a vote in the New York Legislature.

The labeling legislation was endorsed Tuesday by the state Assembly’s Committee on Codes, a key panel that often signs off on bills before a vote of the full chamber.

Proponents say labels would inform consumers. Many agricultural and food companies disagree, saying evidence shows GMO foods are safe and that labels will make prices go up.

OMH battling office bedbug Times Union (Rick Karlin)

Bedbugs typically live in mattresses or in hidden spots within eight feet of where people sleep, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

But they’re also turning up in the Holland Avenue headquarters of the state Office for Mental Health.

The discovery has prompted a wake-up call among state officials who are spraying for the pests and union leaders who wonder if enough is being done at the work site.

NY leaders make tepid push for Obama library Chicago Sun-Times (Lynn Sweet)

WASHINGTON — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are lending support — tepid and unspecific so far — to Columbia University’s expected bid for the Obama presidential library and museum, a contrast to the gung-ho push coming from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials in Hawaii.

I write this as the first round of bids are due to the Chicago-based Barack Obama Foundation on June 16. Columbia, I bet by design — and in a vastly different approach than that of the University of Chicago and the Hawaii players—is deliberately flying under the radar.



New York City Soda-Ban Fate Weighed Wall Street Journal (Michael Howard Saul)

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration urged the state’s highest court on Wednesday to allow New York City to impose former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large sugary drinks in restaurants and other venues.

The arguments before the Court of Appeals in Albany mark the most significant step Mr. de Blasio has taken to advance a policy that supporters say would fight obesity and opponents call a government over-reach. The city’s Board of Health, a panel appointed by Mr. Bloomberg, approved the ban in September 2012, but two lower courts have since blocked it, saying the mayor should have sought City Council approval.

Higher Minimum Wage Gains Support New York Times (Patrick McGeehan)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s about-face on raising the minimum wage in New York has increased hopes among the city’s lowest-paid workers that their pay will soon rise sharply.

But despite the talk around City Hall of a minimum wage in the city as high as $15 an hour, an increase of that magnitude is probably at least a few years off, according to political and labor leaders. On Monday, Seattle became the first large city in America to approve a local minimum wage of $15 an hour, but for New York City to follow suit would be more complicated.



Cuomo planting the seeds of change in Buffalo Buffalo News (David Robinson)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has a lot in common with the mythical Johnny Appleseed.

The governor stopped in Buffalo on Wednesday to plant eight more seeds in his quest to rebuild the Buffalo Niagara economy, announcing the first eight companies picked to be part of the state’s Start-Up NY tax-free zones for new businesses.

That came on the heels of the announcement earlier this week that 2,600 entrepreneurs had survived the first cut in the state’s $5 million business plan competition, aimed at luring 11 fledgling companies to the region in a bid to make the region a more innovative place and more appealing to people with a promising idea for a new venture.

Number of primary care physicians plummets in WNY Buffalo News (Jerry Zremski)

WASHINGTON – Western New York’s supply of primary care physicians plummeted by nearly a quarter between 2010 and 2013, Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Wednesday, providing the starkest evidence yet of a family doctor shortage plaguing upstate New York and likely to get worse in the future.

The state’s four westernmost counties had 74 primary care physicians per 100,000 people in 2010. But by last year, that figure was down to 57 to 100,000 – a 23 percent drop.

“This is one of the biggest health care problems that upstate New York faces,” said Schumer, D-N.Y.

Cuomo announces 8 firms as part of Start-Up effort near UB campuses Buffalo News (Stephen T. Watson)

Eight biotechnology and information-technology companies promise to hire up to 200 workers as they move into tax-free zones tied to the University at Buffalo in the first wave of the state’s Start-Up NY economic-development plan, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday in Buffalo.

The companies – including three from outside New York – will spend $6.4 million as they set up shop in office and laboratory space in downtown Buffalo and Amherst, according to state and university officials. They are among 12 companies that expect to invest $50 million and hire nearly 400 workers over the next five years in Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca and New York City under the program.



Former Syracuse Councilor Hogan considering Democratic primary against Sen. Valesky Syracuse Post-Standard (Michelle Breidenbach)

SYRAC– USE, N.Y. – Pat Hogan, a former Syracuse city councilor, said Wednesday evening he is considering a Democratic Party primary against Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida.

Hogan said people in the community suggested he run after news reports earlier this week said Gov. Andrew Cuomo and downstate Democrats were looking for a Democrat to challenge Valesky.



Analysis: ‘Game Changer’ ad games reality of taxes Times Union (Jordan Carleo-Evangelist)

The television ad is a heck of a lure.

Saratoga Harness Racing is the first of the Capital Region gambling businesses to craft TV ads extolling the benefits of the planned Casino at East Greenbush — a $300 million complex off Route 4 on Thompson Hill.

And for residents who are being asked to support the project, the grabber comes just seven seconds in — an “up to 30 percent reduction in the town of East Greenbush property taxes is on the way.”

Albany mayor/developer: Casino site not viable Times Union (Jim Odato)

Officials with the Flaum Management casino team are anticipating a unanimous vote of support from the City of Rensselaer council on Wednesday night, after pursuing a similar favorable resolution from the Albany Common Council the past two months without success.

But it is clear that the Flaum team has left Albany in their rear view mirror without a vote coming to the floor.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said she was told by members of the team late Wednesday morning that the Exit 23 casino is not going to happen, but that it wasn’t because of the lack of a vote of support.



Nassau GOP picks Blakeman for Congress run Newsday (Paul Larocco)

Nassau Republicans last night formally endorsed Bruce Blakeman as their candidate to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in the 4th Congressional District — a seat the party has not held in 18 years.

The party executive committee, at a nominating convention at Wisdom Lane School in Levittown, backed Blakeman, a former presiding officer of the county legislature, over Frank Scaturro, a New Hyde Park attorney who is making his third run in Nassau’s 4th District.

From Brooklyn, a Bid to Represent Staten Island in Congress Wall Street Journal (Mara Gay)

Domenic Recchia has a few things going for him in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, including that his opponent is under federal indictment.

One thing Mr. Recchia is missing: a Staten Island address, something every representative serving the district in Washington, D.C., has had since 1906, according to a local historian.

The district, the only Republican-held congressional seat in New York City, is being hungrily eyed by national Democrats as a possible pick-up in the fight over the House of Representatives this November. But the district often presents an uphill battle for Democrats—President Barack Obama narrowly won in 2012 but Mayor Bill de Blasio lost by nearly 10 percentage points. The race is expected to be close.

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Posted by Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher (Twitter @HHSYC).