Some FAQs about politics around here:
• Why does mayoral control of Buffalo Public Schools face serious obstacles in Albany?
One reason is “Art and Dale’s” departure from the Capitol. In the old days, Democratic Assemblyman Art Eve of Buffalo and Republican Sen. Dale Volker of Lancaster would tag-team important regional matters. But as of late last week, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes’ effort to put Mayor Byron Brown in charge of Buffalo schools still lacked a critical Republican sponsor in the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy is leading the upper house charge, but with no majority sponsor, it could prove a tough sell.
Does Brown really want such an onerous new responsibility? Good question. A really committed mayor would be lobbying his former Senate colleagues in these crucial end-of-session days, but nobody has recently spotted Brown in his old Capitol haunts. And his efforts can hardly compare to the full-court press mounted for mayoral control by New York City’s Michael Bloomberg back in 2002.
• Is Mark Grisanti still devastated over narrowly losing his Senate seat last November?
Nope. Not after Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week appointed him to a nine-year term on the Court of Claims at $174,000 annually. And there is now little question about the bond between Grisanti and the governor after the former senator took a risk and supported Cuomo’s same-sex marriage effort in 2011. Cuomo did not forget.
• Speaking of judges, who are emerging as this year’s favorites for State Supreme Court?
If Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner and Republican counterpart Nick Langworthy were to stage their “two men in a room” judicial meeting today, most sources say they would offer Democrat Frank Sedita III (the current district attorney) and Republican Emilio Colaiacovo for cross-endorsements and guaranteed election.
No muss. No fuss. The voters will have spoken.
• Still on judges, will Buffalo soon have a new federal judge?
Attorney Larry Vilardo appears well on his way to confirmation after a successful Wednesday appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the Politics Column’s experience, Sen. Chuck Schumer’s appointment of Vilardo may have generated more legal community enthusiasm than any previous.
Friends are helping Vilardo along the way. The Gioia brothers – Democrat Robert and Republican Tony – have double-teamed their Washington connections for their old summertime pal from Thunder Bay, Ont. Former Rep. John LaFalce has also chimed in among Washington’s decision makers.
Schumer’s recommendation of former U.S. Attorney Denise O’Donnell, meanwhile, has so far not fared as well. Though the senator recommended her seven weeks before Vilardo, the White House has still not followed with a nomination.
• As Western New York Republicans begin choosing favorites for the 2016 presidential election, where does Chairman Langworthy land?
He’s not proclaiming anything official, but Langworthy was among a handful of New York Republicans recently meeting with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Manhattan. He liked what he heard, said he admires the governor’s accomplishments, and all but announces his support.
“If you want to speculate about me moving in that direction, that would be very fair,” the chairman says.
• Where do some of New York’s big-time pols gather to watch big-time boxing on TV?
At the waterfront condo of Buffalo political operative Steve Pigeon, of course. Our spies report the roster for watching last weekend’s Mayweather-Pacquiao bout at the Pigeon pad included Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, in town for the Grassroots political club’s annual dinner at the Golden Nugget. Brown also made the scene, as did former Deputy Mayor Steve Casey, Kennedy and other Pigeon pals.
While most labeled the fight “boring,” can’t say the same for the guest list.