Cable providers yank anti-Larkin commercial (updated)

Two cable TV providers have acceded to demands from lawyers for Sen. Bill Larkin’s re-election campaign to stop showing a commercial that accused the Cornwall-on-Hudson Republican of voting “to get a 47 percent raise,” an accusation they called “false and defamatory.”

Cablevision pulled the ad Monday morning, and Viamedia agreed that night to do the same, according to an email exchange forwarded by a spokesman for the Senate Republicans. The commercials were paid for by the Fund for Great Public Schools, which is the political action committee of New York State United Teachers, a union that has endorsed Larkin’s Democratic challenger, Chris Eachus.

The 47 percent raise referred to in the commercial is a figure suggested by a member of the appointed panel currently considering salary increases for state lawmakers and officials. That commission hasn’t approved raises yet. Larkin and other lawmakers voted for the budget bills last year that created the commission, but they did not vote on raising salaries and have no need to so, since the panel can award increases with no further action by the Legislature.

Update: Scott Reif, the Senate Republicans’ spokesman, said this of the commercial: “Colonel Larkin is a beloved Senator and war hero who was unfairly attacked in a television ad that has now been exposed as a lie.  The truth is Senator Larkin opposes a pay raise.”

Both Larkin and Eachus, a Orange County legislator from New Windsor, have said they’re against any salary increase for legislators, although Eachus has gone a step further by promising to return to the state any amount over the current $79,5000 base salary that the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation decides to give. The commission, which is due to decide by Nov. 15, was supposed to hold a public hearing in New York City on Tuesday but canceled it, saying no legislators or others “directly impacted” by future raises wanted to testify.

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Skoufis announces backing of local Republican officials

Assemblyman James Skoufis has announced 15 Republican mayors and village trustees in the 99th Assembly District who have endorsed him over his Republican opponent in his bid for a third Assembly term.

“Over the past four years I’ve partnered with anyone and everyone who’s willing to check parties at the door and do the people’s work,” Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, said in the press release.  “I’m very proud to have the confidence of so many Republicans who have generously crossed party lines to lend their support.”

Skoufis released the list shortly before his debate Monday night against Republican challenger Colin Schmitt, an event held at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh and sponsored by the Times Herald-Record. Skoufis alluded to his GOP support during the debate, when Schmitt brought up complaints of illegal blockbusting in the Village of South Blooming Grove and his suggestions for stopping it. Skoufis countered by mentioning that four Blooming Grove elected officials have endorsed him.

The GOP officials on Skoufis list include Chester Mayor Tom Bell, South Blooming Grove Mayor Rob Jeroloman and Highland Falls Mayor Patrick Flynn. There are also 12 village trustees from South Blooming Grove, Cornwall-on-Hudson, Harriman, Washingtonville and Woodbury.

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Larkin campaign protests TV campaign ad (updated)

Attorneys for Sen. Bill Larkin’s re-election campaign are demanding TV stations stop showing a commercial by a state teachers’ union that accuses the Republican of supporting 47 percent raises for state lawmakers.

In an Oct. 13 letter to Cablevision, David Lewis, an attorney for Manhattan law firm of Lewis & Forte, says the claim is “false and willfully so,” pointing out that Larkin merely voted for a budget bill last year that created the commission that is now considering raising salaries for senators and Assembly members. A member of that panel suggested 47 percent raises in July, but the commission has made no decision, and Larkin hasn’t voted for a 47 percent pay increase, Lewis wrote.

“I respectfully demand that your cable network refuse to air the advertisement,” he said.

Larkin previously has said through his spokesman that he opposes any raises. Eachus not only only opposes raises but has promised to return any amount over the current $79,500 base pay if the commission hikes lawmakers’ pay.

The ad was paid for by the Fund for Great Public Schools, the political action committee of the New York State United Teachers, which has endorsed Larkin’s Democratic challenger, Chris Eachus. The Fund for Great Public Schools has reported spending $259,308 on TV commercials and $40,835 on mailings opposing Larkin, plus $40,835 on mailings in support of Eachus and $36,000 on telephone surveys, a polling memo and research book for the 39th Senate District.

Larkin’s campaign had spent $131,000 on its own TV ads in September alone, after getting a $79,000 cash infusion from the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee, according to state Board of Elections records. His race against Eachus, an Orange County legislator who came within 5 percentage points of unseating Larkin in 2012, is a key race in this year’s battle for control of the Senate, currently in the GOP hands.

Larkin, who is 88 and has been a state legislator for 38 years, has declined to debate Eachus or be interviewed. His spokesman, Brian Maher, confirmed Friday that Larkin won’t attend a scheduled Times Herald-Record debate with Eachus at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Ritz Theater in Newburgh. “The Senator’s time and energy is currently focused on helping his constituents and reaching voters,” Maher wrote in an email to executive editor Barry Lewis on Friday.


NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said in response to letter from Larkin’s campaign that the commercial is accurate, because lawmakers effectively voted for raises by creating the appointed commission. That panel is empowered to hike salaries with no further action by the legislators, insulating them from political fallout.

“There is no additional vote,” Korn said. “This was the vote.”

He said he knew of no ad cancellations by the TV stations and added that NYSUT was “proud to support out endorsed candidates across the state,” candidates who support public education.

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Oliva: Trump “better choice” of two flawed candidates

Republican congressional candidate Phil Oliva says the lewd boasts that Donald Trump made about forcing himself on women on a recently leaked recording were “awful and indefensible,” but argues that the Republican nominee remains the “better choice” for president over Hillary Clinton.

Oliva, who’s challenging Democratric Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat, said in a statement that he plans to vote for Trump, arguing that Trump would be more adept than his Democratic opponent at “changing Washington, creating jobs, keeping us safe and securing our borders.” He spoke at length about Clinton’s own gaffes and scandals, including damaging remarks she and her aides have made in private that recently came to light through a series of Wikileaks releases of hacked emails.

Here’s Oliva’s full statement:

“We have two flawed candidates for President. The leaked Trump tape is awful and indefensible, but also troubling is what we are learning of some of Hillary’s behavior. The leaked speeches Hillary gave where she ‘dreams’ of open borders and admits to switching her policy positions depending on whether she is in public or private. Her alleged mistreatment of Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assault victims. Her disastrous response to Benghazi, mishandling top secret classified information, destroying 30,000 emails and 18 devices with hammers and bleach after claiming she had only one device. Her castigation of tens of millions of Americans, calling them deplorable. The list goes on and on, for both candidates. It is hard to defend either one. Voters will have to decide for themselves on November 8th which direction they want to go in.  Every day there is new negative information on both candidates but as of today, I am voting for Trump because I believe we need a change in direction in this country. That’s why I’m running for Congress. While I certainly don’t agree with everything Donald Trump says, and rarely agree with how he says it, I do think he is the better choice of the two when it comes to changing Washington, creating jobs, keeping us safe and securing our borders.”

Maloney, meanwhile, issued a broader condemnation of Trump’s conduct in response to the leaked recording from a 2005 “Access Hollywood” segment with Trump, connecting his comments about women with his public feud with the parents of a soldier who was killed in Iraq and his public mockery of a reporter’s physical disability. Here is Maloney’s full statement:

“We can do better than this. Denigrating women, attacking military families, mocking the disabled — these things should be out of bounds, and none of it helps solve problems in the Hudson Valley. I hope those expressing outrage, especially if they have daughters like I do, will think hard about who they’re supporting for president.”

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Faso “offended and disturbed” by Trump statements, may not vote for him

Congressional candidates for New York’s 19th Congressional District have weighed in on an 11-year-old recording of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in which he’s heard bragging about how his fame allowed him to “do anything” to women.

The campaign of Republican John Faso, a 63-year-old lawyer and former Republican minority leader in the state Assembly, emailed a statement to the Times Herald-Record on Tuesday explaining his position on Trump.

Faso is a tight and bruising race with Democrat Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law school professor and anti-corruption crusader, to capture the open seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, a retired Army colonel.

Here’s Faso’s full statement:

My position has always been that I will support the Republican ticket that was the product of the primary nominating process. At the same time, I have some significant policy differences with our nominee. Moreover, as a father and husband, I was deeply offended and disturbed by the comments made by our nominee in the 11 year old video. That type of comment has no place in public or private conversation, especially from a candidate for public office.

I find both candidates for president to be seriously flawed. I cannot support Hillary Clinton for president due to our policy differences on a range of issues and I have not endorsed Donald Trump nor have I decided to even vote for him in November.

What is clear to me is that Ms. Teachout, who after calling Hillary Clinton corrupt last November prior to running for Congress, has now embraced her candidacy. How can this self-described opponent of corruption decide to back a candidate she has labeled as corrupt? Has her ambition for election clouded her judgement on such a fundamental question?

The fact is neither candidate for Congress in the 19th district has any control over who will be elected President. Instead of being focused on real issues and challenges facing our district, Ms. Teachout prefers to distract attention away from her radical economic and political views. That is no surprise, since the more voters learn of her support for new energy taxes, support for the Iran deal and a radical expansion of government, her policies will be rejected.

On Friday Teachout’s campaign released a statement from Teachout condemning Trump’s remarks as “crude and vulgar” in the recording. Here’s her statement:

John Faso has repeatedly affirmed his support for Donald Trump, despite Mr. Trump’s troubling pattern of degrading women. The recently released recording of Donald Trump is deeply offensive. Even if John Faso disavows Mr. Trump’s comments, it’s too late. John Faso can’t be expected to stand up for the needs of the women in this district if he can’t even stand up to Donald Trump.

Since the leak of the video, many prominent Republicans have withdrew their endorsements of Trump and condemned his remarks.

Speaking on a microphone aboard an “Access Hollywood” bus, Trump told Billy Bush how he unsuccessfully tried to “f–k” a married woman. He said about women that “when you’re a star they let you do it” and “you can do anything…grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

The 19th district includes all or part of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan counties.




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Pay raise commission schedules hearing

A seven-member state panel due to decide before Nov. 15 on potential raises for state lawmakers and officials has scheduled a public hearing and meeting in New York City on Oct. 18, with no indication if it will vote then on hiking salaries.

A commissioner who was skeptical about raises for legislators had suggested the hearing at the panel’s last meeting, suggesting lawmakers should appear in person to justify a pay increase. Though there are unlikely to be many takers, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie saved his colleagues the trouble this week by sending the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Commission a five-page treatise in support of raising legislative pay. All lawmakers currently get a $79,500 base salary, plus stipends of as high as $41,000 in Heastie’s case.

“The evidence is overwhelming that a raise in compensation is warranted; indeed, it is long overdue,” Heastie wrote, going on to say that legislators should get the same percentage increase as the administration officials whose salaries are also under consideration. One commission member suggested pay increases for department heads at the last meeting that would set the raise bar as high as 76 percent.

“Low legislative salaries compared to other government positions and the private sector tend to discourage members of the middle and working classes, particularly people with families, from seeking public office,” wrote Heastie, a Bronx Democrat. “The people who can afford to pursue these positions will disproportionately become the retired, the independently wealthy, and younger people who plan to serve for a short time and then move to the private sector. While these groups often produce excellent legislators, it should not be the only pool from which legislators are drawn.”

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Larkin campaign spent $131,000 on TV ads

State Sen. William Larkin Jr. got a $79,100 cash infusion from the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee in September and spent about $131,000 on TV commercials during that same month, according to the financial disclosure report Larkin’s campaign filed on Friday.

The Cornwall-on-Hudson Republican finished the reporting period with almost $207,000 in his coffers on Oct. 3, well ahead of his Democratic challenger, Chris Eachus. Eachus, an Orange County legislator who gave Larkin his closest Senate re-election race four years ago and is making a second run for the office, reported a little over $33,000 in his coffers. Unlike Larkin, he reported no large transfers from his party’s reelection pot and no spending on advertising. (Larkin also bought $22,000 in Times Herald-Record ads on Oct. 3.)

Here’s the full lineup of candidates for Senate and Assembly in districts that cross Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties, the ballot lines on which they are running on Nov. 8, and the amount of money their reported in their campaign accounts as of Oct. 3.

Senate District 39

* William Larkin Jr.: R, I, C, Ref

Cash on hand: $206,561

Chris Eachus: D, WF, WE

Cash on hand: $33,188

Senate District 42

John Bonacic: R, I, C, Ref

Cash on hand: $720,789

Pramilla Malick: D

Cash on hand: $6,862

Senate District 46

* George Amedore: R, I, C, Ref, Gre

Cash on hand: $186,272

Sara Niccoli: D, WF, WE

Cash on hand: $133,959

Senate District 51

* James Seward: R, I, C, Ref

Cash on hand: $454,236

Jermaine Bagnall-Graham: D, WE

Cash on hand: $5,168

Assembly District 98

* Karl Brabenec: R, TCN

Cash on hand: $2,076

Aron Wieder: D, I, C, Gre, Ref, WE

Cash on hand: n/a

Assembly District 99

* James Skoufis: D, WF, WE

Cash on hand: $75,591

Colin Schmitt: R, I, C, Ref

Cash on hand: $18,358

Assembly District 100

Aileen Gunther: D, I, WF (unopposed)

Cash on hand: $120,214

Assembly District 101

Arlene Feldmeier: D, WF

Cash on hand: n/a

Maria Kelso: C, Ref

Cash on hand: $307

Brian Miller: R, I

Cash on hand: $1,666

Assembly District 102

Peter Lopez: R, I, C, Ref (unopposed)

Cash on hand: n/a

Assembly District 103

* Kevin Cahill: D, WF

Cash on hand: $72,794

Jack Hayes: C

Cash on hand: n/a

Assembly District 104

* Frank Skartados: D, I, WF

Cash on hand: $14,110

William Banuchi Sr.: C, Ref

Cash on hand: $4,145

* denotes incumbent

R = Republican

D = Democrat

I =Independence

C = Conservative

Ref = Reform

WF = Working Families

WE = Women’s Equality

Gre = Green

TCN = Tax Cuts Now

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Wieder has 6 ballot lines for Assembly race

Democratic Assembly candidate Aron Wieder’s name will appear on six ballot lines on Nov. 8, the result of a series of victories in low-turnout primaries that weren’t fully evident until the names of write-in votes were tallied and the ballot lineups released this week by the state Board of Elections.

Wieder, a Rockland County legislator who’s making his third run for the 98th Assembly District, won a Democrat primary against Krystal Serrano and beat Karl Brabenec, the Republican incumbent, in a separate primary for the Independence Party line on Sept. 13. But he also won a series of write-in challenges that day, stripping Serrano and Brabenec of ballot lines for which they had been authorized and winning an open contest for the Green Party line.

The end result, according to the state’s certification of the general-election ballot, is that Wieder will run on six lines, a pile of parties with no ideological coherence: Democratic, Independence, Conservative, Green, Women’s Equality and Reform. In most state races, Republicans run on Conservative and Reform lines, and Democrats run on the Women’s Equality line and maybe the Green line. Wieder, with as few as the four votes cast in the Women’s Equality “election,” claimed them all.

Brabenec, who won a Republican primary against John Allegro on Sept. 13, will be on the GOP line and an independent-party line called “Tax Cuts Now.” He had petitioned to run on a “United Monroe” line as a maneuver to block Allegro — one of the leaders of the United Monroe citizens group — from running under the name of his own party, prompting a bitter backlash and a lawsuit by United Monroe. Ultimately, Allegro withdrew from the race, forgoing an independent-party run with Brabenec’s agreement not to use the United Monroe.

“Tax Cuts Now,” it turns out, was his alternative.

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Oliva renews criticism of Maloney response to Hudson River anchorage proposal

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is facing criticism from Republican opponent Phil Oliva over his response to a proposal to create 10 anchorage sites for vessels on the Hudson River.

As Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced legislation on Monday that he predicted would defeat a Coast Guard proposal to create 10 anchorage sites for vessels on the Hudson River, the Republican challenger for his House of Representatives seat continued criticizing how Maloney has handled an idea that is drawing widespread opposition from environmentalists and elected officials and residents in river communities.

Phil Oliva’s chief criticism: Maloney was slow in weighing in on the plan – first made public in June 9 – as opponents missed a June 30 deadline to request a public hearing. In a statement, Oliva said “we didn’t hear from” Maloney until 70 days after the June 9 introduction of the proposal, a reference to an Aug. 18 press conference at which the congressman and other local officials criticized the plan.

“Today’s announcement is just more political theatre from Sean Patrick Maloney, trying to save face five weeks before Election Day, with legislation that will go nowhere,” Oliva said.

Oliva also criticized Maloney for his vote against the “Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act,” a Republican-backed piece of House legislation that would essentially give Congress power to approve or reject agency regulations with an economic impact of $100 million or more.

House Republicans characterized the legislation as a check on what they consider to be an over-regulation of industries that is stifling economic growth. Among the criticism from some Democrats opposed to the bill was that it would give some of those industries and their lobbyists major control over federal regulations.

Just two Democrats voted for the bill when it passed the House on July 28, 2015.

Maloney was asked about Oliva’s criticisms as he stood at the City of Newburgh’s waterfront to announce the anchorage legislation. The assertion that he was slow to act was “old news,” Maloney said.

“I’m not surprised that in the political season, people want to make political points,” he said.


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Republican George Amedore wins Green Party line, is blasted by Green Party co-chair

Incumbent Republican state Sen. George Amedore has beat out his Democratic opponent, Palatine Supervisor Sara Niccoli, in a write-in campaign for the left-leaning Green Party line.

Amedore, R-Rotterdam, secured the Green Party ballot line as a write-in candidate in the primary, according to state Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin.

According to Conklin, Amedore won 63 write-in votes and Niccoli won 48. The endorsed Green Party candidate, Marina Karuma-Seales of Saugerties, received 12 votes. A single vote went to former Congressman Maurice Hinchey.

Amedore will carry the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform party lines in the November elections. Niccoli will carry the Democratic, Working Families Party and Women’s Equality Party lines.

The New York Green Party platform has several planks that some may not consider traditional Republican issues, such as public divestment in fossil fuels, criminalization of hydraulic fracturing and public financing of campaigns.

Gloria Mattera, co-chair of the Green Party of New York, blasted Amedore for picking up their party line and saying he “has a terrible record on the environment.”

“The Green Party of New York not only does not support George Amedore as a candidate on our ballot line but we condemn him for engaging in deceiving registered Greens in AD-46 by using the arcane ballot law of Opportunity to Ballot to steal our party line,” Mattera said in an email.

An “opportunity to ballot,” or OTB, creates a primary election when there otherwise would not have been one, allowing voters the ability to write in a candidate’s name in a primary to secure a party line.

“OTB is another rule in New York’s election law that has been crafted and used by both the Democratic and Republican parties to maintain the two party cartel in this state,” Mattera said. “This is why the Green Party is opposed to fusion voting which is only allowed in a handful of states. We ask good government groups to add their voice to opposing ballot access laws that suppress voter choice.”

Mattera said the Democratic Party candidate — Niccoli — “also engaged in this ballot-stealing practice but this time around their candidate did not win out.” Mattera said neither candidate deserved the Green Party line.

Amedore is running for a second term as senator in the 46th Senate District, which includes part of Ulster County.

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