Maloney denounces Oliva response to Dallas attacks

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney upbraided his Republican challenger on Friday for suggesting on Twitter that the shootings of police officers during a protest in Dallas could be attributed to “racial division” that President Obama has sown “for political gain” since his first run for president eight years ago.

“Now the country is reaping a nightmare,” GOP candidate Phil Oliva concluded in his tweet.

Maloney, responding on Twitter, said Oliva’s tweet offended him as a father of an interracial family, was racist and demanded an explanation. He later called it disturbing that his opponent’s first instinct was to “stoke racism,” rather than honor the victims or call for unity.

Oliva removed the tweet and and conceded “it was wrong” in a Twitter response to Maloney, saying it was a day for prayers, not finger-pointing. He issued a statement elaborating on what he had meant.

“Like millions of Americans I hoped for the ‘post-racial’ society that President Obama promised in 2008.  Sadly, today we have so much racial division, and I believe the President, as the leader of our nation, shares in the blame for that. But today is a day for mourning the murdered police officers, not a time to point fingers; that’s why I removed the tweet.  We need to heal as a nation.”

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Senator introduces Maloney’s bill on public defenders

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney announced Thursday that U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey will sponsor a bill that Maloney introduced in April that would allow federal class action suits against states that effectively deny poor criminal suspects proper legal representation by underfunding their public defender systems.

The bill, known as the Equal Justice Under Law Act, would allow defendants to sue for ineffective representation before they’re convicted, reducing the possibility that those who are wrongly convicted must fight for exoneration while incarcerated. The sixth and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution guarantee all criminal defendants a lawyer, but Maloney and others argue that right is diluted when public defenders are burdened with excessive caseloads because of underfunding.

“Fifty-three years after the Supreme Court reaffirmed our constitutional right to an attorney, public defenders are still juggling hundreds of cases and defendants are still meeting their lawyers only minutes before entering a guilty plea,”  Maloney said in a press release about Booker’s sponsorship of the bill. “Our criminal justice system is broken, and that disproportionately hurts poor Americans. The Equal Justice Under Law Act introduces a vital step to repair our broken system by giving indigent defendants the tools they need to secure their right to effective counsel before it is too late – giving all Americans, regardless of the size of their paycheck, equal justice under the law.”

In New York, where counties bear the cost of indigent defense and long groused that it’s an unfunded state mandate, state lawmakers voted last month for Albany to gradually take over responsibility for the expense. Orange County officials say that under the plan, the state will begin assuming a share of the costs in April 2017 and shift the remainder over the next six years. Orange County has budgeted to spend $2.7 million on Legal Aid and $2.5 million on assigned counsel in 2016.

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Skoufis announces bid for third Assembly term

Assemblyman James Skoufis announced Thursday that he’ll seek reelection, underscoring shortly before he and other candidates file their petitions to run for state Legislature what he already had said in April, when he decided to run again for Assembly rather than seek the Senate seat held by Republican Bill Larkin.

“We’ve accomplished a great deal over the last four years,” the Woodbury Democrat said in a press release. “Still, there’s more work to be done creating jobs, controlling taxes, protecting our Hudson Valley quality of life and cracking down on public corruption. I’m up to the task and ready to attack this agenda as aggressively as ever.”

Skoufis, who’s seeking his third term representing the 99th Assembly District, will be challenged in November by Colin Schmitt, a New Windsor Republican who ran unsuccessfully in a GOP primary for the Assembly seat in 2012 and has been campaigning for months with no Republican rivals. Assembly and Senate candidates file their petitions next week.

“I’ve worked hard every single day to make real progress on the issues that matter most to Hudson Valley families,” Skoufis concluded in his release. “And now that I am engaged to be married and plan to raise my family right here, ensuring we have top notch schools and helping to control property taxes is taking on a whole new significance.”


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Supporters rally behind expelled Newburgh Dems (updated)

Supporters of 11 people expelled from the City of Newburgh Democratic Committee because of a party split in last year’s mayoral election have released a set of photos and short descriptions of the expelled members to protest what they feel were unjust “disloyalty” charges lodged by the committee’s chairman and ultimately affirmed by the Democrats’ county leaders.

The city’s Democratic chairman is Jonathan Jacobson, the former longtime head of the Orange County Democratic Committee and a losing candidate for Newburgh mayor last year. He beat Mayor Judy Kennedy in a Democratic primary last September, but she went on to defeat him in a general election by running on the Independence Party line. The campaign caused a bitter division among Newburgh Democrats and provoked “disloyalty” accusations even before the election.

Jacobson later brought party-disloyalty charges against 11 committee members who supported Kennedy instead of him. One, City Councilwoman Karen Mejia, quit her committee seat in disgust before a hearing on the disloyalty charges in May. The county Democrats’ executive committee removed the other 10 in June, affirming the recommendations of a party hearing panel. All are free to run again in September to try to reclaim their committee seats.

Here are the expelled committee members and the descriptions of them supporters provided this week, accompanied by a statement saying that “these people worked tirelessly to help Newburgh move towards a positive future” and calling their removal “short sighted, arrogant bullying.”

Dr. Benilda Jones, CEO, Imaging Success Group, Inc; Chair, City of Newburgh Human Rights Commission

Kippy Boyle, Member, Conservation Advisory Council

Fernando Cardona, Retired IBM Executive

Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History, Columbia University; Member, Newburgh Board of Ethics

Lisa Daily, Retired teacher, Chairman of Newburgh Planning Board, Chairman of Land Bank

Deborah Danzy, Senior Community Health Promoter, Planned Parenthood

Karen Eberle‐McCarthy, retired Professor of Spanish, Mount St. Mary College; Officer of Latinos Unidos, Member Downing Park Planning Committee

Brian Flannery, 16‐year Member, Newburgh Democratic Committee

Mary Elin Korchinsky, Retired NECSD Teacher, Community Volunteer

Karen Mejia, Councilwoman, City of Newburgh Human Rights Commissioner, mother

Ramona Monteverde, Director of Operations, Safe Harbor; Member, Newburgh Planning Board

(Update: Jacobson responded in an interview on Friday that the Democratic committee members were “duty-bound” to support the party’s nominee after the primary or else keep quiet. Those who couldn’t do so and wanted to remain active for the general election should have quit their committee seats and started their own organization, he said. As for the civic-mindedness of the expelled members, he said: “There’s no question that they’re all part of the community. Everybody’s part of the community – that’s not the point.”)

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Democrats say Oliva will get rogue tracker’s video

The head of New York’s Democratic Party says the party has mailed Republican congressional candidate Phil Oliva the video recordings taken of him by a Democratic operative who was fired for peering inside Oliva’s Westchester County home and startling his wife.

Oliva, who’s challenging Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat, has been demanding that the party or Maloney relinquish any footage taken by rogue tracker Yougourthen Ayouni in case it included any glimpses of Oliva’s wife or children inside their home.  The tracker was working for the state Democratic Party rather than the Maloney campaign, and the party’s executive director, Basil Smikle, told the Times Herald-Record in a terse emailed statement on Tuesday that he had told Oliva “that we tried to email the videos but they are large files and bounced back due to size.  They have been sent via regular mail and should be received within a few days.”

As of Wednesday, Oliva said he still had not gotten the thumb drive that Smikle said had been mailed to him. He has pressed the tracker issue since reporting it to The New York Post last month, calling a press conference in Westchester on Tuesday to discuss his fruitless attempt thus far to “secure the raw and unedited video footage” for the last two weeks.



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Maloney reports $2M in coffers for reelection campaign

Sending out a teaser about the second-quarter fundraising reports due to be filed next week, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s campaign announced Wednesday that it collected $585,000 in the last three month and has more than $2 million on hand for the Cold Spring Democrat’s re-election race.

The haul reportedly includes a whopping $300,000 in the three weeks since the June 8 cutoff for the last campaign filing, a mid-quarter report that preceded New York’s June 28 congressional primaries. Maloney had almost $1.8 million in his coffers at the time of that report.

Maloney faces Phil Oliva, an aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and the winner of last week’s Republican primary for New York’s 18th Congressional District, in his bid for a third term. Oliva did only modest fundraising before the primary and reported $78,000 in his coffers as of June 8. He has made no announcements about the contents of his second-quarter report, which isn’t due until July 15.

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Wieder plans third run for Orange-Rockland Assembly seat

Rockland County legislator Aron Wieder announced plans this week to run again for the 98th Assembly District seat, making him the second Democrat and fourth candidate looking to represent a broad swath of southern Orange County and part of the populous town of Ramapo in neighboring Rockland.

Wieder, a 42-year-old Spring Valley resident who said he works as a salesman in the food industry, is in his 6th year as a county legislator and served as Democratic majority leader for two years. He lost three-way primary races for Assembly in both 2012 and 2014.

After announcing his plans for a third run on Facebook last Sunday, Wieder told the Times Herald-Record he didn’t participate in the Democrats’ endorsement convention on May 31 because he had “literally decided to run yesterday.” Democratic committee members endorsed Krystal Serrano, a Monroe resident who also competed in the 2014 Assembly primary, to run for the office at the convention.

Karl Brabenec, a Republican and former Deerpark supervisor, won the seat two years ago in a three-way race, beating second-place finisher Elisa Tutini by a slim margin after a court fight over absentee ballots. Brabenec succeeded Annie Rabbitt, a Greenwood Lake Republican who left the Assembly in 2014 after being elected Orange County clerk. The seat stayed empty for all of 2014.

John Allegro, a Monroe resident and leader of the United Monroe citizens group, already has announced plans to challenge Brabenec for the Republican nomination in a primary. He created a campaign committee to raise money on June 23.

Assembly and state Senate candidates are now collecting petition signatures to run and must file them by July 14. Assuming all four announced candidates for the 98th Assembly District submit petitions that withstand any challenges, two pairs will duel in primaries on Sept. 13: Allegro and Brabenec for the Republican nomination, and Serrano and Wieder for the Democratic nomination. With third-party lines, more than two candidates could make it to the Nov. 8 general election.

The Orange County section of the 98th District includes Port Jervis and the towns of Deerpark, Greenville, Minisink, Warwick, Monroe and Tuxedo.

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Ballot snafu in Columbia County leaves Republican Bob Bishop on the ticket

Congressional primary ballots throughout Columbia County were distributed, incorrectly, Tuesday with former Republican candidate Bob Bishop’s name on them, according to the county’s GOP Board of Election commissioner.

Four candidates are competing Tuesday in the race for the 19th Congressional District: Democrats Zephyr Teachout, from Dutchess County, and Will Yandik, from Columbia County, and Republicans Andrew Heaney, from Dutchess County and John Faso, from Columbia County.

Bob Bishop, a Delaware County hay and alfalfa farmer, withdrew from the race in May after his designating petitions were challenged by Heaney’s campaign.

Jason Nastke, Columbia County Board of Elections Republican commissioner, said Tuesday that although voting machines were tested and programmed correctly the incorrect ballot was distributed to all polling places in Columbia County.

Polls opened in the 19th district at noon. Nastke said they are currently distributing new ballots at every polling site and should be complete by 3:30 p.m. Votes for Bishop will be considered void, Nastke said.

A little more than 4,700 ballots were cast from Columbia County for Republican candidates in the presidential primary in April. That’s out of about 52,000 ballots cast throughout the 19th district in the GOP primary race.

The 11-county district includes all of Columbia, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

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Siena poll: Faso and Teachout expand leads before primary

Republican John Faso and Democrat Zephyr Teachout have expanded their leads against their congressional primary opponents in the 19th Congressional District, according to a new poll by Siena Research Institute and Time Warner Cable News.

But Republican candidate Andrew Heaney says releasing poll results so close to the primary day a “grave disservice” to the voters of the district and criticized Siena’s conclusions in past polls.

The poll, conducted from June 19-22, shows Teachout leading Democrat Will Yandik by 39 points, 62-23 percent, and Faso beating Heaney by 30 points, 58-28 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points for the Republican poll and 4 percentage points for the Democratic side.

All four candidates are looking to fill the open seat Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, who’s not running four a fourth term in Congress. Gibson has made no endorsement in the race.

The 11-county 19th district includes all of Ulster and Sullivan counties. The new poll shows Teachout has expanded her lead nine percentage points and Faso eight percentage points since Siena and TWC did their last poll three weeks ago.

Siena spokesman Steven Greenberg said Teachout’s lead against Yandik is especially high in our region.

“Teachout leads by 50 points in Dutchess and Ulster counties, where nearly half of expected Democratic primary voters are expected to come from, and by more than 20 points in the remainder of the district. She leads by 48 points among self-described liberals – two-thirds of expected voters – and 17 points among moderates,” Greenberg said. “Yandik has not made up ground with any demographic group in the last three weeks.”

Meanwhile Faso’s lead in Ulster and Dutchess counties, which were within four percentage points three weeks ago, has also expanded, Greenberg says.

“Faso leads by more than 40 points in the counties closest to the capital region, which are expected to produce more Republican votes than any other region, and more than 30 points in the southern portion of the district. Heaney had been within four points of Faso in Dutchess and Ulster Counties, although now Faso leads there by 17 points,” Greenberg said. “Among moderate Republicans, Faso leads by 22 points, however, he leads by 35 points with conservatives, who account for nearly two-thirds of the electorate.”

Greenberg said the polls seem to show Teachout and Faso going head to head in November, though with an asterisk.

“While Faso and Teachout appear to be headed to a November showdown, low turnout elections – like late June congressional primaries – are generally won by the campaigns that do a better job of identifying their supporters and ensuring that their supporters actually cast votes,” Greenberg said. “That said, Heaney and Yandik have huge hurdles to overcome if they are to pull off come from behind upset victories.”

Heaney, in a response to the poll in a press release, said the “only poll that matters is on Election Day.” But he also slammed Siena and Time Warner Cable News, saying their polls have been “wildly inaccurate” before.

“Releasing the Time Warner sponsored Siena poll, literally a day before an election, is in a word irresponsible and a grave disservice to the voters of the 19th Congressional District,” Heaney said.

He went on to point out races where Siena has missed the mark in the past.

“There is no precedent, zero history for a poll in this new 19th Congressional district especially at this time of year. Moreover, Siena polls have a notable and recent poor track record predicting outcomes in low turnout elections. Siena polling was wildly inaccurate in races such as in the the recent Senate race in Long Island and the Rochester mayor’s race. In Rochester, just 48 hours before the election Siena gave Tom Richards a huge 36-point lead, 63-27, over Lovely Warren, instead, Warren beat Richards handily, 58-41 percent. In the Long Island special election to replace Senator Dean Skelos, a Siena poll found Republican Jack McGrath leading democrat Todd Kaminsky 51 percent to 43 percent. Kaminsky would win the race just a few days later.

Greenberg defended Siena’s methodology.

“Sometimes, campaigns behind in polls focus on attacking the pollster rather than trying to win votes,” Greenberg said. “That’s their right, even if they’re wrong. We stand by our record, which has earned us one of the top ratings among all pollsters from”




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Sunday telephone poll dives deep on race for State Sen. Bill Larkin’s senate seat

Voters in the region were hit with a new poll on Sunday that asked a series of probing questions about GOP Sen. Bill Larkin, his Democratic opponent Chris Eachus and several issues in the race for the 39th Senate District.

But Larkin supporters say the poll is no indication that Larkin will be switched out for another candidate in his 14th bid for the Senate seat this November.

The poll, which lasted about a half hour and comes in the midst of petitioning season, first asked voters if they felt if New York was going in in the right or wrong direction. The pollster then got into specifics, asking whether voters had a positive or negative outlook on 11 different locals politicians or those with known political interest. They were:

  • Republican Todd Diorio, president of Laborers Local 17 and the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Republican Assembly candidate Colin Schmitt, who’s looking to represent the 99th Assembly District
  • Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis, a Town of Newburgh Republican with known Senate interest
  • Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis of the 99th Assembly District
  • Republican Sen. Bill Larkin of the 39th Senate District, the 88-year-old state senator who’s seeking his 14th two-year state Senate term
  • Chris Eachus, an Orange County Democratic legislator who’s running his second bid against Larkin this year
  • New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio
  • Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential presumptive nominee
  • Donald Trump, Republican presidential presumptive nominee
  • Town of Stony Point Republican Supervisor Jim Monaghan, whose town is within the 39th Senate District
  • Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus

The pollster then turned to asking what is the most important issue  to voters. Options included everything from public integrity, pocketbook issues, and economic issues.

There were then several open-ended questions asking voters about how they felt about Larkin, then specifically on his votes on paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, a Kiryas Joel annexation bill and extending the state property tax levy cap.

The pollster then asked how voters felt about Larkin, including his military record and assignment guarding Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965, missing multiple campaign filing deadlines, the arrest of Larkin’s former campaign manager and treasurer Carmen Dubaldi, collecting a state pension and salary at the same time, support of the Newburgh Armory and education issues like Common Core and gap elimination.

There were also a few questions about Eachus, including questions asking how voters felt about his legislative votes on reducing funding for a county lawsuit against Kiryas Joel, elimination of a subsidy for stocking fish in local bodies of water, support of the state Dream Act and rescinding the state property tax levy cap.

Mike Murphy, spokesman for the New York State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee,  said in an email that the poll indicated trouble for Larkin.

“The Senate Republicans are realizing that long-time politician, Skelos supporter and pension double-dipper Bill Larkin can’t win this seat and have started their backroom maneuvers to run another handpicked candidate from the Albany Skelos Machine,” Murphy said.

Scott Reif, Senate Republican spokesman,  said as a matter of policy they never discuss their polling or even whether or not they are doing so.  He then pointed to a statement Larkin released in May about his commitment for running for reelection. Here’s it is again:

“I am absolutely 100 percent running for re-election this Fall and my name will be on the ballot in November. I am running for re-election because I believe there is still more that I can do to help the families, seniors, veterans and small-business owners in my district and throughout the Hudson Valley,” Larkin said.

In addition, Reif used the opportunity to point out Larkin’s military record and attack Eachus, saying he is “out of touch” and highlighting his support for repealing the state property tax levy cap.

“You don’t need to commission a poll to understand that there’s a huge difference between the two candidates running for State Senate in November,” Reif said.

Larkin was out of town on a cruise in the Caribbean this week but Brian Maher, Larkin’s spokesman, said Larkin’s camp did not commission the poll. He also said there “was no chance” that Larkin will not be on the ticket this year. He referred back to Larkin’s statement as well and said nothing has changed since then.

Maher also addressed a change to Larkin’s designating petitions this year that reduce the members of his committee to fill vacancies to just the three GOP county chairman that make up the 39th Senate District. Members of the committee to fill vacancies has the ability to appoint a Republican in the district to run in the absence of the person on the petition. That can happen even after petitions have been filed and accepted, but within a certain window of time.

Maher said the changes are a reflection of the changes in Larkin’s campaign staff from previous years. Larkin’s former campaign manager, Dubaldi, is currently awaiting sentencing on corruption charges. Maher said the changes on the petition meant nothing else.

“There’s nothing to read into on that,” Maher said.

Posted in OC Legislature Races, Orange, Ulster, Up in Albany | Leave a comment
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