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  • Republicans Face Moment of Truth After Conviction of Senate Deputy Leader

    Flanagan Libous

    Sen. Flanagan, standing, & former Sen. Libous (photo: Lori Van Buren)


    When Senator Tom Libous, deputy majority leader for the state Senate Republicans, was convicted last week it sent a shockwave through the capital. Sure, indictments and convictions of powerful sitting legislators are a dime a dozen these days thanks to the efforts of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but many in Albany felt Libous' case was different.

    Well-liked

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  • Despite Unprecedented Scandal, Calls for Special Ethics Session Fall on Deaf Ears

    john sampson

    Recently convicted former Sen. John Sampson (photo: @SampsonVictory)


    It would reason to think that the conviction of two legislative leaders would lead to a flurry of anti-corruption activity in any state capital. But in Albany, where the new normal appears to involve multiple convictions and indictments of sitting lawmakers every year, last week's crime blotter appears to have barely turned a head. The convictions of Republican Senate Deputy Leader Tom Libous and Democratic Sen. John Sampson, a former Majority Leader, on

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  • Cuomo Waves Left with Executive Actions, Is Met with Shrugs

    Cuomo wage rally

    Cuomo at Wednesday's rally (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    On Wednesday, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo streamed live video of the wage board he convened as its members recommended a multi-year plan to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast food workers across the state. As the meeting ended the same stream cut to a jubilant rally in New York City. In stark contrast to previous

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  • In End of Session 'Scorecard,' Plenty for Next Year's Albany Agenda

    Cuomo Heastie Flanagan

    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (L-R) (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In the Democrat-controlled Assembly, it was 122-13; in the Republican-controlled Senate, 47-12. With those votes and a Governor Andrew Cuomo signature, a final policy package brought an underwhelming end to a tumultuous 2015 legislative session in New York's capital. 

    Look at ...

  • Albany Lawmakers Putter Past Deadlines, Surprising No One

    Cuomo Heastie

    Two of the 'three men' (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    Albany has a reputation for procrastination. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature seem to meet no sunsetting regulation that impacts millions of people, mandated federal action with millions of dollars at stake, or other serious deadline that is too important for them to skirt. State government loves to push issues right to the edge, pause, and then shove them over the cliff just when everyone is looking.

    It is a habit so ingrained in capital

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  • Does 2015 Offer Return of the Albany Big Ugly?

    Cuomo

    Cuomo had linked the EITC & DREAM Act (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Pop quiz: what do the DNA of felons, casinos, teacher performance, the drawing of legislative district lines, and pension reform have to do with one another? This isn't a trick question - in Albany all of these issues were crammed together by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders in 2012 to form the traditional Albany deal that has come to be known as "The Big Ugly." The only thing that stood out about it was that the 2012

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  • Mostly Questions and Criticism Ahead of Cuomo Email Summit

    Cuomo Indian Point

    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    On Friday - the Friday of Memorial Day weekend - Gov. Andrew Cuomo will host a summit on email retention policy. It is a much-anticipated meeting that a large number of key stakeholders don't see a need for, and it's unclear what attendance will look like in terms of representation from the major entities in state government being called together to agree on a uniform approach to keeping and deleting official emails.

  • Amid Further Ethics Scandal, What Can Cuomo Do Now?

    cuomo side

    Gov. Cuomo (photo: @NYGovCuomo)


    Last March Gov. Andrew Cuomo killed the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Now, a little more than a year later, both legislative leaders have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of federal corruption. Surrounded by scandal, it isn't immediately clear what the governor can or will do next. One thing that is sure, though, is that the worse Albany looks, the worse Cuomo looks.

    After

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  • Dean Skelos Thwarted Reform and Maintained Power, Despite the Odds

    Skelos Silver Cuomo

    Dean Skelos in 2012 (photo: The Governor's Office via flickr)


    In June 2008, after serving 23 years as the State Senator from Nassau County, Dean Skelos inherited the troubled Republican conference from retiring Majority Leader Joe Bruno. It wasn't exactly the most enviable position.

    Facing an aging conference and with Democrats enjoying a huge enrollment advantage across the state, 2009 saw

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  • Left Out of Ethics Deal, LLC Loophole Faces Renewed Scrutiny

    Cuomo Heastie

    Gov. Cuomo & Speaker Heastie shake on an ethics deal (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The New York State Board of Elections opened up a floodgate in 1996, allowing cash to flow virtually unabated to political candidates. The BOE issued a ruling that allowed limited liability corporations, or LLCs, to be treated as individual donors and individuals to donate unlimited funds to candidates for state-level offices by creating multiple LLCs. Efforts to change the law in the Legislature have failed miserably and

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  • City Council Unveils 'Council 2.0' Digital Engagement Plan

    council tech plan alatriste

    Council members unveil Council 2.0 (photo: William Alatriste)


    NEW YORK - City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several council colleagues released today a civic technology plan aimed at making the legislative body more transparent while facilitating direct engagement with constituents.

    The "public technology plan," dubbed Council 2.0, is being touted as a new "roadmap to digital inclusion and open

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  • New York's Unique Campaign Finance Ecosystem

    mmv speech

    Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: Joyce Choi Li)


    New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has been the subject of much speculation of late. She is the most powerful member of the Council and influential in politics beyond the city. As a woman of Puerto Rican descent she represents a voting bloc that is woefully underrepresented in New York elected offices. She also maintains a busy travel schedule and ties to a wide swath of

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  • Albany Sunshine Week Looked Like an Eclipse to Advocates

    Cuomo Heastie ethics

    Cuomo and Heastie embrace over ethics deal (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    The Cuomo administration and the state Legislature are doing battle on a variety of fronts, perhaps none more intense than that over ethics reform. Last week, the administration launched a two-pronged attack in response to criticism of its 90-day email deletion policy and over a push for increased financial disclosure by administration employees and their significant others.

    The pushback came during Sunshine Week, when

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