Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paladino takes a 'Titanic' shot at Cox

Last week, Essex County Republican Committee Chairman Ron Jackson told WNBZ he was completely disgusted with state GOP Chairman Ed Cox. Jackson is openly calling for Cox's resignation.

And Jackson is only one of dozens of Republican officials from across the state angered at Cox at the moment.

What, you might ask, would prompt such intra-party anger towards the state party boss?

Cox has openly endorsed Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy for Governor.

The problem? Levy is a Democrat.

Now, GOP Gubernatorial long shot Carl Paladino has gotten artistic with the rage, distributing this dandy little piece of campaign sniping aimed directly at Cox.

Oh, and GOP nominee-appearent Rick Lazio hasn't stopped throwing haymakers at Cox since he endoresed Levy almost two weeks ago.

Paterson to push back school aid payments until June

Governor David Paterson announced today that he will be pushing back school aid disbursements that were supposed to be distributed tomorrow until June 1.

In December, Paterson got slammed by Superintendents from across the state when he delayed payment of $750 million in school aid until January.

The move could be just another kick in the gut for districts like Tupper Lake, which is quickly running out of cash.

Here's the statement from the Governor's office.

“The only way our State can put its long-term fiscal house in order is through significant, recurring spending reductions. In the short-term, however, plummeting revenues and record deficits have once again forced me to take extraordinary cash-management actions in order to ensure the continued orderly operation of our government. New York State is facing severe cash-flow difficulties at the close of the current fiscal year. This requires immediate action, and as a result, a $2.1 billion School Aid payment originally planned to be made on March 31, 2010 – but not statutorily due until June 1, 2010 – will be made at a later date. The State intends to meet the June 1 statutory deadline for making this payment, assuming sufficient cash is available at that time.

Branch to serve as deputy mayor

We received word this morning that Saranac Lake Village Trustee Jeff Branch has accepted a request from Mayor Clyde Rabideau to serve as deputy mayor.

Earlier this month, Rabideau edged out Branch in the race for mayor. Both candidates have since pledged to work together as new officials prepare to take the oath of office.

In a release issued by Rabideau, the mayor-elect called Branch "an experienced and earnest trustee to whom we will confidently entrust the duties of Deputy Mayor."

Monday, March 29, 2010

Counterfeit state OPRHP press release - Adirondacks closing?

Well this was mailed to us at WNBZ. It's pretty damn funny, but entirely false.

It details a fake plan by Governor David Paterson to save the state parks and historic sites tagged for closure by shuttering the Adirondacks and displacing the locals. They (we) would be given tent cities to use temporarily.

I get the feeling that whoever wrote this thing has more than just a sense of humor, but also a background in PR.

It's worth a read.

OPHP-- Counterfeit press release

Schumer in Plattsburgh tomorrow

Senator Charles Schumer will be in the North Country tomorrow to discuss jobs.

The Democrat will arrive at the Nova Bus facility in Plattsburgh at 2:45 p.m. today, where he’ll tour the manufacturing plant and meet with local business and community leaders.

Schumer spokesman Max Young said the Senator will hear from constituents about how the recession has impacted the economy and get ideas from officials as to how best to put people to work here in the North Country.

Franklin County Conservatives announce endorsements

The Franklin County Conservative Party has endorsed a trio of candidates for public office ahead of this fall’s elections.

Party Chairman Robert White issued a series of press releases over the weekend announcing that his party will support Rick Lazio, Doug Hoffman and David Kimmel.
Lazio, a former Long Island Congressman, is running for governor as a Republican – but he’s gained endorsements from county Conservative Party committees throughout the state.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Comptroller: Open space pays off

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released this report today, arguing that open space protections have statewide economic benefits.

He points to a reduction in demand for services and community attractiveness as two of the benefits.

I think everyone is familiar with the never-ending controversy surrounding the Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks. So, I will leave the contextualization alone and just provide the report.

Here it is:


It's wild out there

No, the title of this post does not refer to the rugged Adirondack terrain. Nor does it refer to the circus in Albany.

I'm talking about the wild animals roaming through human habitats in... New York City.

The Associated Press is reporting that another coyote has been spotted in Manhattan:

Murphy condemns threats

Congressman Scott Murphy released this statement yesterday regarding threats of violence against some House members who voted for President Barack Obama's health care reform bill:

"The recent reports of threats of violence to some of my friends and colleagues are distressing and disgusting. Not only are the actions of outside individuals deplorable, but the dehumanizing comments and violent imagery being promoted by some in Washington are wildly inappropriate and set an underlying tone that condones these despicable acts. They must stop now. This is not about politics or policy; this is about common human decency. These threats and attacks must end."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Senate sparring over ORDA continues, even if Assembly wants it funded

Senator Betty Little sent this letter to the Senate Democratic Conference today blasting them for proposing to zero ORDA's funding:

March 24, 2010

Senator John L. Sampson
Senate Democratic Conference Leader
409 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247

Dear Senator Sampson:

The Senate Democratic Conference one-house budget resolution’s elimination of the Olympic Regional Development Authority’s (ORDA) $6.6 million state appropriation has sent shock waves throughout the Adirondacks.

It is hard to believe such an ill-conceived proposal could make it into a budget resolution that is being described as a “road map” for the enacted state budget due April 1. A change of direction on this so-called budget road map is desperately needed now.

Without question, eliminating ORDA’s funding would economically devastate the North Country. Doing so would crush much of our tourism industry, upon which we rely very heavily. Hotels and motels would close. Restaurants and shops would close. Families would leave. I have no doubt the ripple effect would extend far and wide.

Assembly restoring ORDA funds

That didn't take long. The New York State Assembly has been in and out of conference all day, and Teresa Sayward is telling WNBZ the Assembly will restore $6.5 million to the Olympic Regional Development Authority's operating budget.

And, the Assembly is sparing Moriah Shock as well.

Stay tuned.

Is the state Senate budget a case of downstate provincialism?

A lot has been said recently as the budget process grinds forward. The age-old us vs. them arguments continue to broil.

When Governor Paterson first released his executive budget, there were rumblings from local officials alleging the Governor was throwing the 9.2 billion deficit on the backs of the North Country.

A few phone calls quickly showed this to be false. Paterson wanted to cut over $1 billion -- over $300 in municipal aid alone -- to his hometown of New York City.

But the Senate's version seems like a different beast.

Until two years ago, the state's upper house was the lone bastion of GOP power in New York. Then Majority Leader and now convict Joe Bruno ran the floor with an iron fist -- and made some enemies on the other side of the isle.

Did lawmakers watch the Olympics?

Following the announcement this week that the state Senate is proposing to slash $6.6 million from the Olympic Regional Development Authority, I'm wondering if Betty Little passed the word about our local Olympians along to her fellow lawmakers.

I know, I know. The economy sucks. The state's fiscal situation sucks. I get all that.

But in Buffalo, the state is about to spend $800,000 on two double-wides for conjugal visits. If the economic situation is so dire, why are we spending close to one million dollars for inmates to get it on?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Murphy to vote 'yes' on health care bill

President Obama picked up one more Congressional vote for his health care overhaul legislation -- Scott Murphy, who represents New York's 20th Congressional District.

Last year, Murphy voted against the bill along with several other House Democrats. Below is Murphy's official statement regarding his stance on the legislation:

“Last November, I voted against the House health care reform legislation because I did not believe it adequately addressed the fundamentally flawed system that has led to skyrocketing health care costs, bankrupt families, and excessive profits for insurance companies. In the months since that vote, I have worked closely with my constituents, my colleagues in Congress, and with President Obama to address many of these concerns and ultimately strengthen this legislation.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Murphy's office swamped with phone calls

Scott Murphy is an awfully popular guy this week. Whether or not he welcomes the popularity -- I can't say for sure.

The Democrat, who represents New York's 20th Congressional District, is being targeted by lobbyists, special interests, fellow Representatives and President Barack Obama as a vote on sweeping health care reform looms.

Jon Alexander penned this piece yesterday. Murphy originally voted against the Congressional health care bill.

On Wednesday, Murphy's office was swamped with so many phone calls, his staff put out this statement:

"Because of our recent high call volume if you call Congressman Murphy’s offices, they may occasionally continue to ring or be busy. We are responding to all of the calls as quickly as possible. Congressman Murphy wants to hear your comments and concerns and encourages you to reach out to him through phone calls and emails.

Congressman Murphy prides himself on the openness and ease of contact with constituents and appreciates people’s understanding during this time."

Levy to seek GOP nod

Steve Levy, a Suffolk County executive, announced this week he wants the Republican nomination for governor.

The catch? Levy is a Democrat.

Last fall, Levy ran a successful re-election bid for his current seat, and he did so on the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saranac Lake village elections

Okay, I should probably be getting to sleep; after all, I do need to be in the studio before 6 a.m. tomorrow.

But I'm a political junkie, and I feel the need to publish at least one post regarding the village elections here in Saranac Lake.

Unofficial results have Clyde Rabideau besting Jeff Branch in the mayoral race; Jeff was most gracious in his defeat. It's not easy to walk into a room full of supporters representing the other team and concede.

Allie Pelletieri and Tom Catillaz took the two open trustee seats. The board now consists of two Democrats (Rabideau and Catillaz) and three Republicans (Branch, Pelletieri and John McEneany).

Tom Glover and Ken McLaughlin won the two justice seats.

In Lake Placid, Jason Leon won his bid for a full term as village trustee. He ran unopposed, but did garner 90 votes.

Finally, voters in Port Henry opted out of dissolving the village.

That's it for now -- I'll have plenty more, including response from all the candidates, during tomorrow morning's newscast.

Tax amnesty efforts not working

The Associated Press is reporting that a tax amnesty program in New York hasn't panned out the way lawmakers had hoped:

"Delinquent New York taxpayers apparently don't owe that much after all, or they just refuse to pay up.

Either way, Gov. David Paterson says the projected windfall from a tax amnesty program was way off. Even after it was extended, the program now is expected to pull in about $50 million, just one-fifth of the $250 million he expected.

The tax shortfall is part of the current deficit of $2.1 billion.

The current tax amnesty allow debtors to settle their bills as long as they weren't already under audit or facing a bill for the delinquency.

In December, Paterson and the Legislature agreed to the new tax amnesty program to help close a multibillion dollar deficit."

Scary situation avoided in Saranac

Law enforcement and school officials say a student has been expelled from an area high school after it was revealed she planning an attack at the school.

Plattsburgh-based state police received reports of a potential threat at the Saranac High School last Thursday.

Troopers say the school has a resource officer who launched an immediate investigation while school officials – quote – “simultaneously took proactive measures to assure the safety of the students and the faculty.”

Ziegler bests Stec in Warren in race to challenge Murphy

Just got off of the phone with Burnt Hills business man and Tea Partier Pat Ziegler, who last night bested Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec and secured the Warren County GOP Committee endorsement.

Sources close to the story told WNBZ, Ziegler recieved six more votes than Stec, even though Warren County is Stec's home.

Ziegler told me he is a passionate follower of all things political, but he expects the federal healthcare legislation to drive the upcoming election.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How much influence do local governments have in Albany?

Adirondack local government officials often argue they don't have enough influence in Albany.

They assume the environmental lobby has the ear of the Governor (whoever that may be) and pull in the legislature.

They claim the North Country -- and particularly the Adirondack Park -- are political after thoughts, doomed by low population density.

Moriah Shock anyone?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hoffman will move into 23rd Congressional District

Tomorrow's newscast features excerpts from an interview I conducted with Doug Hoffman this afternoon.

Just days after officially announcing his intent to challenge Congressman Bill Owens this fall, Hoffman has indicated he'll move to Saranac Lake, where he attended high school and grew up.

"I plan on running again in 23rd District," he told me. "People didn’t like the idea that Lake Placid was gerrymandered out of the district a couple years ago, so I've got to step over the boundaries and get back in. Saranac Lake is my home town; it's where I grew up, so I’m moving home."

Ravitch's plan to salvage New York's economy is out

Lt. Governor Richard Ravitch released his plan to salvage New York's faultering economy and maybe begin to payoff the state's $60 billion cumulative deficit.

Ravitch calls for moving the state fiscal year from April 1 to July 1 and for the state to borrow up to $2 billion a year.

As I type, he is briefing legislators on his plan.

Here's the report.


Patriotism: Our biggest strength or weakness?

Our station Graphics Designer Michelle Clement posted a new picture atop the WNBZ website today. It's a really nice shot of the American Flag flying outside of the Tupper Lake LP Quinn Elementary School with Adirondack peaks in the background.

Emboldened with a recent re-read of Bertrand Russell's Political Ideals, in my opinion one of the finest mental exercises of the 20th century, I exclaimed, "Patriotism is the mother of tyranny."

Surely, patriotism has been regularly employed by the autocratic class to rouse the fury of the masses, to drive them into a predefined action that only furthers the agenda of the power-laden elite.

A quick look back at the rise of Nazi Germany stands alone as a clear example of this. No one understood the power of patriotic fervor, especially in a time of economic strife, as a means to rally and control the mob like the Nazis.

No one could put on a nationalistic show like Hitler.

Murphy not tipping hand on health care bill

Upstate Congressman Scott Murphy isn’t tipping his hand in regards to his stance on the latest version of a health care reform bill.

Congressional Democrats are dismissing claims that President Barack Obama and supporters of sweeping health care reform are pressuring 39 representatives who have reservations about the bill in its current form.

New York Democrat Eric Massa resigned recently amid allegations he sexually harassed a male aide. He’s since told news outlets he was pressured to quit because of his opposition to health care reform.

March Madness

If you're a sports junkie like myself, you're probably looking forward to the NCAA March Madness tournament. I've already taken an oath to fill out no more than five brackets -- an oath I fully expect to break.

WNBZ's sister station, ROCK105, will again be hosting a bracket challenge. I'll keep you posted on the details of that competition; Selection Sunday is March 14.

Over at the Adirondack Almanack, the staff is hosting its own unique bracket challenge -- but they need your help. It's called the "Adirondack Bracket," and it seeks reader input to create a bracket of items, places, people, etc. that are unique to the Adirondack Park.

Check it out here and contribute your ideas!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marist Poll: Paterson’s troubles and Cuomo’s investigation hurts both men

A Marist College Poll released Tuesday concludes that the majority of New York State voters want Governor David Paterson to finish the remainder of his term and want state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to remove himself from investigating the governor.

Faced with a fast-approaching April 1 budget deadline and a $9 billion deficit, Paterson has spent much of the last two weeks defending himself against accusations that he tampered with a domestic violence victim to benefit a top aide and lied to state investigators when he said that he had paid for tickets to a World Series Game at Yankee Stadium last fall.

But the poll found 68 percent of registered voters want Paterson to remain in office for the rest of his term, while only 28 percent are calling for his immediate resignation.

Vermontville honors Bill Demong

The town of Franklin and the greater Vermontville community have honored Olympian Bill Demong with a sign on Fletcher Farm Road.

Check out a photo taken of the sign by Saranac Lake photographer Mark Kurtz over at North Country Public Radio.

The sign reads: "Fletcher Farm Rd.; Home of Billy Demong, Olympic Gold and Silver Champion."

Very cool.

By the way, I had a chance to chat with Billy over the weekend during the Dewey Mountain Day celebrations. He's a great interview, and I will be airing segments later this week.

Doug Hoffman declares candidacy

Okay, so this isn't exactly earth-shattering news, but Lake Placid accountant Doug Hoffman has officially declared his intent to challenge Congressman Bill Owens in next fall's election.

Read the quick Associated Press brief here.

Hoffman and Owens squared-off last fall in a special election to replace Army Secretary John McHugh. Gouverneur Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava also ran in the race, but dropped out just days before the election.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Friday in the Adirondacks...

... and there's plenty to do, even though it's March (a traditionally quiet month in the Tri-Lakes).

First off, for those of you who can make it, swing by Saranac Lake for the local Olympian parade. It starts at 4 p.m. and runs from the Post Office on Broadyway to the Harrietstown Town Hall.

The Tri-Lakes area was well-represented at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Read more details about the parade here.

This weekend marks the 26th installment of the Colby Classic. The annual fishing derby kicks off at 7 a.m. both days. I know my old kitchen cohorts at Desperados in Lake Placid -- Deed and Louie -- will be gunning for that top spot, as well as plenty of other ice fishing buffs.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inspired by Lake Placid man, state Senate passes new DWI law

In 2002, Olympic gold medallist and Lake Placid resident Jack Shea was struck and killed by a drunk driver near his home.

The drunk driver evaded prosecution even though he registered a blood alcohol content of .15 because of a loophole in state law that requires a physician be on scene when blood is drawn, which there wasn’t.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Zuckerman out of Senate race

The New York Times is reporting that Daily News Publisher Mort Zuckerman will not challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The billionaire Zuckerman had been mulling a run for the Senate on the GOP line.

With the departure of former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Gillibrand is currently unopposed for the seat.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Senate Finance Committee appointment hearings backlogged months

If recent history is any indication, the pending appointment of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners could take some time.

On Tuesday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved 24 gubernatorial nominations of would-be agency commissioners plucked to serve on state boards ranging from the Buffalo and Fort Erie Bridge Commission to the Empire State Plaza Art Commission.

Appointments in Senate Finance Committee backlogged months or longer

If recent history is any indication, the pending appointment of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners could take some time.

On Tuesday, the state Senate Finance Committee approved 24 gubernatorial nominations to would-be agency commissioners plucked to serve on state boards ranging from the Buffalo and Fort Erie Bridge Commission to the Empire State Plaza Art Commission.

Many of these appointments have been waiting for Senate approval for months, if not longer.

For example, Governor David Paterson appointed John Hilscher to the Citizen’s Policy and Complaint Review Council last July. Hilscher’s appointment was finally approved by the Finance Committee Tuesday.

Sources close to the story told WNBZ, it could be months before the Hornbeck appointment reaches finance, where it must pass before reaching the floor for full legislative approval.

Last week, Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Antoine Thompson said he was under pressure from the Governor’s Office to expedite Hornbeck’s appointment.

Ford out... Zuckerman in?

Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has dropped his potential bid to challenge Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in a Democratic primary.

The Associated Press is reporting that Ford isn't running because "it might help a Republican win."

AP reports indicate that Republican may be real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher Mortimer Zuckerman. Here's the rest of the AP brief:

"The real estate tycoon and newspaper publisher is considering a U.S. Senate run on the GOP line.

Two people familiar with the conversation say he has even discussed the idea with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another wealthy businessman-turned-politician. The people spoke on condition on anonymity because the conversation was private.

Zuckerman says he hasn't decided anything.

He is the publisher of the Daily News and editor of U.S. News & World Report. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $1.5 billion."

NOW calling for Paterson's resignation

The Associated Press is reporting that the National Organization for Women has called for Governor David Paterson's resignation:

"The National Organization for Women is urging New York Gov. David Paterson to resign because of a report he directed two staffers to contact a woman about a domestic violence incident involving 1 of his top aides.

The group is highly influential in Democratic politics and has a record of strong support for Paterson and his efforts to combat domestic violence.

NOW New York State President Marcia Pappas says Tuesday it's inappropriate for Paterson to have any contact with a victim of alleged violence.

She says that despite his excellent record on women's issues, it's time for him to step down.

The New York Times reports that Paterson contacted a woman who accused former aide David Johnson, but Paterson denies he tried to get her to change her story or drop the charge against Johnson."

Benefit slated for Fire Chief Roger Smith

Some folks in the Lake Clear/Paul Smiths/Gabriels area have graciously organized a benefit for Roger Smith.

Roger is fire chief for the Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department. He's currently preparing to undergo treatment for brain cancer.

The benefit is scheduled to run from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 6 at Charlie's Inn in Lake Clear. There's no set cost, but organizers are suggesting a donation of $10. The menu includes BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw and baked beans. The event also features live music and a Chinese auction.

Maybe I'm biased because I was born and raised here in the Adirondacks, but our communities are so supportive when these situations arise. This weekend, folks in Tupper Lake are hosting an all-day fundraiser for Bergan Flannigan, who was severely injured in an IED attack in Afghanistan. In February, four different benefits were held throughout the Tri-Lakes -- all on the same night. It seems everywhere you turn, people are helping people.

For more on the Bergan Flannigan fundraiser, click here.

Village candidate forum tonight

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce -- in conjunction with WNBZ and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise -- is hosting a village candidate forum tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Harrietstown Town Hall.

Republican Jeff Branch and Democrat Clyde Rabideau are running for mayor; incumbent Tom Michael opted not to run against Rabideau in a primary.

Vying for the two trustee seats are: Democrats Susan Waters and Tom Catillaz; Republicans Allie Pelletieri and Diana Howard; and Independent Shawn Boyer.

Sylvie Nelson, chamber executive director, will act as moderator. Enterprise senior staff writer Chris Knight will join me on the panel. Mr. Knight and I have formulated the questions, but have not and will not be sharing those questions with anyone ahead of tonight's forum -- that keeps the process fair for all candidates.

The mayoral candidates are up first, followed by the trustee candidates. Justice candidates will be on-hand to meet with voters; however, justice candidates are limited in the amount of campaigning they can do, so they will not be debating. Those candidates are Ken McLaughlin and Tom Glover for the Republicans, and Jon Vinograd and Paul Hermann for the Democrats.