Politics & Government

Political news

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

A former Cuomo Administration official is among those  named in a criminal complaint by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and accused of carrying out kickback and bribery schemes over a period of several years. Many of those illegal acts, the complaint alleges, involve the governor’s much touted Upstate economic development programs, including the Buffalo Billion.


A national security expert at Syracuse University says suspect linked to the four bombings in and around New York City doesn’t appear to have any links to an international terrorist group..so far.  Director of National Security Studies Bill Smullen says it seems 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami of New Jersey is a home-grown terrorist who may have allegedly had help planting the bombs.  Smullen says the presence of cameras assisted in his capture. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

  Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney presented her budget proposal to lawmakers Thursday, which includes no property tax increase for 2017.   The $1.3 billion spending plan represents a 1.9 percent increase over 2016.  But there are signs that the budget is a bit more strained than in recent years.  While the property tax levy stays flat, Mahoney says they’re also predicting a modest increase in sales tax revenue that’s roughly half of what it has been.  

A group of state lawmakers is teaming up with environmental groups to ask Governor Cuomo’s administration to ban the use of waste water from hydrofracking and other oil and gas extraction from being spread on public roadways.


  Central New York voters and business owners have a way to measure the performance of their state lawmakers according to the criteria of a pro-taxpayer, pro-business advocacy organization.  The group Unshackle Upstate is out with its latest scorecard of senators and assemblymembers.  Executive Director Greg Biryla says they release the results every legislative cycle…

"The purpose behind the scorecard is to try to distil the very complex machinations of Albany into an objective analysis of legislators and their performance on issues that we feel through feedback and other means are very critical to the economy, the employer community, and other communities in Upstate New York."

Biryla says their analysis looks at a range of issues.

"The cost of energy, the tax burden, the regulatory burden, unfunded mandates," Biryla said.  "These are all issues thar get voted on in various ways on various bills over two years, and it can be very difficult to keep track.   So we try to provide an easy, handy voter education tool for the public."

In the Syracuse area, republicans including John DeFrancisco in the senate, and Will Barclay and Gary Finch in the assembly all scored an 88.  But democrats like Senator Dave Valesky scored a 68, while Assemblymembers Bill Magnarelli and Al Stirpe scored 37 and 42 respectively.  While the results may seem to favor republicans, Biryla says their focus has always been on lawmakers who support pro-growth policies…and not on party politics.

"Our ultimate goal would be to see everybody regardless of party  score high on these marks," Biryla said. "We think a lot of the bills involving reform on things such as workers compensation, scaffold law, and other regulatory items are very common sense measures that unfortunately have been blocked for a number of years by powerful special interests."

Biryla says the scorecards are also a factor in their endorsement process.  

Here's how lawmakers are graded:

The scorecard grades are comprised of points accumulated or lost based on legislators’ sponsorships and floor votes on bills that Unshackle Upstate either supported or opposed.  A complete list of bills is available here. Votes and sponsorships were divided into four categories and graded with a maximum score of 100:

Elana Sukert/WAER News

  This November there will be 3 candidates vying for the New York State Senate Seat currently held by Senator Chuck Schumer.  He will have to face off against Republican Wendy Long and Libertarian Alex Merced.  In the current political atmosphere, third-party candidates such as Merced see an opening for more than just the traditional 2-party campaign.

Scott Willis / WAER News

  Visitors arriving at the new main gate of the state fair Thursday afternoon might have spotted about 20 people holding signs denouncing an executive order issued by Governor Cuomo in June that they say supports Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights.  Ariel Gold is campaign organizer with Code Pink Women for Peace, and happened to get the governor’s ear as he left the fairgrounds.

"I said to the governor you need to rescind your executive order creating a blacklist for those boycotting Israel, and I told him the reasons why we boycott."


  New York State is putting more money this year into helping residents get federal disability benefits.  This is a help for those who need the financial assistance and the state and local communities benefit as well. 

Many New Yorkers are denied when they apply for federal disability assistance.  The recourse is an appeal – which can take years and require extensive legal paperwork.  Dan Altwarg is senior managing attorney at Legal Aid Society of Mid- New York which helps a broad range of people navigate those waters. 

    There’s more evidence that the Presidential race may be effecting which party controls the State Senate.

Currently, the GOP is holding on, with the help of one Democrat who meets with them. But a new Siena College poll finds that nearly two thirds of voters think that Donald Trump at the top of the ticket will not help Republicans hold on to the Senate, and Hilary Clinton as the Democratic Presidential candidate will actually help Democrats regain the Senate, says Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

A routine oversight hearing by the state Assembly turned testy when Governor Cuomo’s Economic Development Czar, Howard Zemsky, endured over two hours of questions about Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs, which are currently under federal investigation.

  Zemsky answered questions for over two hours from Democratic and Republican Assemblymembers, who wanted to know why the economic development program known as Start UP, which offers a ten year tax break for new high tech businesses who locate on college campuses , is seeming to take so long to begin.