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Buffalo's credit ratings yield savings

By Jill Terreri

The city borrowed $33 million on Wednesday for major capital projects at rates of less than 2 percent. 

The city's strong credit ratings drew 18 bidders for $33 million in short- and long-term bonds the city sold to finance upgrades at Coca-Cola Field, the Buffalo Zoo and Erie Basin Marina, among other items. In prior years, only six firms had bid on city bonds. 

The city borrowed $25.6 million in long-term bonds at an interest rate of 1.88 percent, and sold $7.4 million in short term notes at a rate of .29 percent. Both interest rates were less than what the comptroller's office expected. 

"Buffalo's rising bond ratings, as well as favorable market conditions have resulted in outstanding interest rates for the city," said Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder. 

The city has credit ratings of A+ from Standard & Poor's, A1 from Moody's and A+ from Fitch. 

The long-term bonds, which will mature in nine years, were purchased by Guggenheim Securities, one of 13 bidders. The short-term bonds, which are one-year notes, were purchased by Raymond James. 

The borrowing will cover about two years worth of capital projects, those ready to be bid out this year, and projects from prior years that were not ready in the past. 

North, Niagara GOP back Grisanti

By Robert J. McCarthy|

   Republicans in Buffalo's North and Niagara districts unanimously backed Mark J. Grisanti for re-election to the State Senate Tuesday.
   The new support marked a show of strength for the incumbent, who is facing at least one primary opponent in attorney Kevin T. Stocker and possibly County Legislator Kevin R. Hardwick as well.
   In the meantime, Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy has shown no preference for any candidate and has not ruled out an open primary with no endorsement by party leaders.

Paladino ends 'Draft Trump' effort

   Carl P. Paladino -- Donald J. Trump's most vocal champion -- has finally ended his quixotic effort to draft him for governor.
   And to nobody's surprise.
   Just as more and more speculation surrounds Trump's interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, Paladino said he will no longer try to convince the party to turn to the Manhattan billionaire. Paladino, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, said he had deferred to the wishes of presumptive nominee Rob Astorino, who noted that Paladino's constant complaints were hurting his efforts.
   "Rob convinced me that to further support a draft Trump campaign while saying that Rob can’t raise money and doesn’t have the name recognition was hurting him," Paladino said in a letter to state GOP Chairman Edward F. Cox, "so I am dropping the Trump initiative and I will ... support Rob's ability to raise money."
   But Paladino took one more shot at Cox, whom he accused of dealing with a "losing strategy."
   "You have a strategy and identity problem with the Republican base upstate and on Long Island," Paladino told Cox. "They are the framework of the coalition necessary to beat Cuomo. They include Democrats, Independents, Republicans and Conservatives, (the gun owners, Independents and Reagan Democrats who are fed up with the liberal bubble).  They will not engage because they don't trust the losing strategy of you and the candidate."

Grisanti airs first campaign ad of 2014

By Robert J. McCarthy

The campaign for the 60th State Senate District is already under way -- almost seven months before Election Day -- with ads on television sponsored by Republican incumbent Mark J. Grisanti.

Entitled "Would You?", the spot that began airing Tuesday features local citizens reacting to the question: "Would you support using taxpayer money to pay college tuition for illegal immigrants?" -- the essence of a failed proposal advanced earlier this year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Grisanti calls the reactions of those citizens "negative."

"I'm proud to have taken the lead on stopping this ill-considered proposal. I also strongly opposed the governor's plan to pay college tuition for prison inmates," Grisanti said Tuesday. "Finally, I also honored my pledge to oppose taxpayer funding of political campaigns by voting against that portion of the state budget.

"This ad is the first of many that will continue to highlight my fiscally conservative voting record in the Senate," he added.

Grisanti is expected to face a tough Republican primary this year, with attorney Kevin T. Stocker already campaigning and County Legislator Kevin R. Hardwick contemplating a challenge. Hamburg Trustee Laura Palisano Hackathorn is expected to receive the Democratic endorsement, while some Democrats have not ruled out the possibility of another Democrat entering the race.

email: [email protected]



Today in City Hall

By Jill Terreri

Good morning, 

Today the Common Council will meet and is expected to approve a labor contract with Teamsters, who repair city water lines. The caulkers are in line for 2 percent raises, retroactive to 2007. Lawmakers are also expected to approve a $75,000 settlement with a retired police lieutenant who said she was discriminated against by the city. 

A measure that would revive the city's public art program, which requires that 1 percent of capital project spending goes toward public art, is expected to be adopted today. 

Cox continues criticizing Cuomo on Moreland Commission

By Robert J. McCarthy

   State Republican Chairman Edward F. Cox is not letting up on his criticism of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his handling of the Moreland Commission to probe corruption that Cuomo appointed last year.
   Cox again on Monday called on Cuomo to reveal who in his administration may have interfered with commission investigations, after Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara asked for files of the commission the governor recently disbanded.
   "Andrew Cuomo's meddling corrupted his own corruption commission," Cox said. "The governor must reveal who in his office interfered with the Moreland Commission, how they did so and for what reasons."
   Cox last month also rapped Cuomo and his commission for looking the other way on close political allies like Buffalo political operative G. Steven Pigeon after the state Board of Elections voted unanimously to probe the WNY Progressive Caucus -- a political committee that last year raised money for opponents of Erie County Democratic Headquarters and that has close ties to Pigeon.
     Cox then referred to several complaints registered with the Moreland Commission about the caucus, to which Pigeon contributed $100,000 of his own money, and which spent $267,000 overall in support of candidates opposed by Headquarters (which has never enjoyed a close relationship with the Cuomo political operation in recent years).

Kennedy, Stewart-Cousins make East Side rounds

   By Robert J. McCarthy
   State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy continues to make his presence known in Buffalo's black community, where his re-election may very well be decided in the September Democratic primary.
   This past weekend, for example, the senator was spied several times throughout the East Side with Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins as he made the rounds of events and several churches on Sunday morning. And as is the custom for many East Side politicians and residents on Sundays, that meant a stop at Gigi's on East Ferry Street for breakfast.
   But Betty Jean Grant, who is challenging Kennedy in the Democratic primary, just happened to follow him there after spotting the Kennedy party at True Bethel Baptist Church.
   "I said I can campaign there just as much as he can," she said, adding she handed the minority leader her palm card and told her she looked forward to working with her.
   Grant has also been courted by the Independent Democratic Caucus that shares majority power with the GOP in the Senate, but emphasizs she has made no commitment to any group should she win.

Video: Jerry Zremski's Week in Washington

News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski talks about upcoming projects including a story on the quarterly campaign financial statements (due April 15) in the Congressional race between incumbent Tom Reed and Democratic challenger Martha Robertson.

GOP chairman: What did the president, er, governor know, and when did he know it?

By Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Here is a portion of a release/statement today from Ed Cox, chairman of the state Republican Party, on the controversy brewing over Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Moreland Commission. The panel was prematurely disbanded last week as part of a possible political deal, according to a U.S. Attorney who has since gotten his hands in the past 24 hours on the commission's documents.

As an aside, might some Democrats whisper to the history-deprived that Cox is the son-in-law of the late President Richard Nixon?

Either way, the situation has given Republicans -- chiefly GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino -- an issue that New Yorkers should expect to be hearing about into the fall.

The Cox statement:

Chair Ed Cox today called on Andrew Cuomo to reveal precisely who in his administration interfered with the Moreland Commission and why.

"Andrew Cuomo's meddling corrupted his own corruption commission," said Cox. "The Governor must reveal who in his office interfered with the Moreland Commission, how they did so and for what reasons."

The Moreland Commission on public corruption is shutting down this week and US Attorney Preet Bharara will be receiving all of its case files. Speaking to WNYC yesterday, Bharara did not rule out an investigation of Cuomo's office.

State plans new multi-state lottery game

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Looking to raise cash for the state, the New York Gaming Commission is moving ahead with a plan to enter a new multi-state lottery game that promises jackpots of up to $1,000 a day for life.

The game, Cash 4 Life, was tentatively approved at a recent gaming commission board meeting but published as a proposed rule this week.

The game offers a top jackpot that pays $1,000 a day for life.

Well, with one chilling condition. "In the event that a winner dies prior to the expiration of 20 years, the prize winner's estate would be paid the unpaid portion of a guaranteed prize amount," a state document reads.

The new game, if given final okay by the state, will have drawings every Monday and Thursday. Bettors will have to pick five numbers out of a field of 60 and one additional number out of a field of four.

The estimated odds of winning the top prize: one in 21,846,048.

For the state, Gaming Commission officials estimate the new lottery – to be run with some states now in the Powerball and Mega Millions consortia – will bring Albany about $9 million a year in additional lottery revenues.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

[email protected]

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

[email protected]

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]