Wednesday, November 03, 2010
In what turned out to be one of the closest races in New York State, in the wee hours of the morning, Democrat Thomas DiNapoli narrowly beat Wall Street mogul Harry Wilson and retained his seat in the State Comptroller's office.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
From a union supporting Democratic comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
This flier, from Civil Service Employees Association, arrived at my apartment building earlier this week. The other side of the flyer says DiNapoli "believes that public employee pensions should continue to be guaranteed."
Friday, October 08, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Thursday, October 07, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Good news for Democrats who were hoping to see their current state comptroller cleared from the cloud of investigation, this statement from the state attorney general's office:
We have received numerous inquiries from the media asking about the status of current New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. During the investigation, the Office reviewed an investment known as Intermedia, which was approved for investment under then-New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi and increased under Comptroller DiNapoli.The Office has concluded our review of that investment and determined that no action is warranted. Mr. DiNapoli is not involved in any investigation or matter in this Office.
During this week's comptroller debate, Republican challenger Harry Wilson repeatedly referred to Cuomo's investigation which, at the time, had not cleared DiNapoli of possible wrong-doing.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
By Bob Hennelly
So far this campaign season, it has been the battle for governor that has dominated the news. But come November, voters will also be picking the State Comptroller, the chief financial officer who also oversees the state's $129 billion public employee pension fund. It's shaping up to be a slug fest between a Wall Street turnaround specialist and a veteran politician.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
The race for New York State Comptroller is coming down to one question: which place do voters distrust more: Wall Street or Albany. Both are derided as hotbeds of bad behavior, poor decision making and nomadic terrorities with no effective sheriff.
But which one caused New York’s economy to tank?
In the first televised debate between the major candidates for state comptroller, each accused the other of driving New York to the brink of financial ruin.
Republican challenger Harry Wilson sought to paint himself an answer to “a fiscal crisis created by career politicians who’ve taxed and spent our state into disaster.” Democratic State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli quickly sought to make Wilson a product of the financial world.
“This campaign, this election, presents a clear choice for voters – it’s a choice between middle-class values and Wall Street values,” said DiNaopli. “Now, we all know what the risky behavior and the poor choices that Wall Street made” and “what that did tour economy.”
In one early volley, DiNapoli criticized Wilson for wanting to keep a certain tax brak for private equity managers and hedge fund managers. DiNapoli said, “It is not affecting working people at all. It is a giveaway that your type of folks get and benefit from at the expense of the rest of us.” DiNapoli said he favored lowering taxes, especially property taxes, which are crushing homeowners.
Wilson, coolly, responded by saying yes, he did support that federal tax break for hedgefund managers, , and said it illustrated a contrast with DiNapoli’s voting record when he was an member of the Assembly.
“As this point in the economy, given how fragile the recovery is I do not favor a tax increase of any kind on anybody,” said Wilson. “We should get spending under control to deal with our problems. Um, but my opponent spoke about a property tax cap. Of course, the reason our taxes are so high is because of his record in the Assembly of over two hundred tax increases.”
Wilson went on the offensive when he pointed out that DiNapoli’s office was under investigation by the state attorney general’s office. The investigation alleges that “placement agents” who wanted to invest some of the pension fund paid kickbacks to allies of the former comptroller. (The former comptroller himself has not been charged, but is reportedly in works to enter some kind of guilty plea.)
At one point, DiNapoli said, “The office has been under investigation since before I got there. Read the papers. You’ve seen it. Everybody knows that.”
Wilson, needling DiNapoli along, said, “I just want to clarify this. If I’m wrong –“
“Excuse me,” DiNapoli interrupted. “There’s an investigation going on. We all know that.”
Later, DiNapoli said it was Wilson’s private investments that were worth scrutiny, especially the money he made by investing in a company which foreclosed on people’s homes.
“I just read in the paper about SilverPoint Investments,” said DiNapoli, referring to a company that dealt with “home-lending, sub-prime predatory lending. He [Wilson] made millions and people lost their homes. I think that shows you were part of that great wizadry on Wall Street, that hurt people, put people out of their homes and that melted down our economy.”
Wilson said SilverPoint was a company that, ironically, the New York State pension fund – which is under the comptroller’s watch – had also invested in. DiNapoli said the investment had been made before he arrived and that he withdrew from the company immediately.
“I did not personally profit from that money. You did. People lost their homes,” said DiNapoli.
“You lost taxpayer money because you have bad investments,” Wilson shot back.
Their biggest difference, I think, came when they were discussing pension costs. Wilson said those costs were spiraling and that a new, cheaper, pension tier was needed. DiNapoli disagreed, saying, “I think this notion that we have this massive pension problem is one that creates fear among people, especially among our retirees and I think it’s not based on fact.”
Both agreed that the office should be filled by a special election if it’s vacated between elections. Currently, a vacancy is filled by a vote of the state legislature, which is how DiNapoli was installed. Wilson said lawmakers should be subject to term limits. DiNaopli opposed the idea.
The two men said they each had their own tax returns prepared by other people, and neither recalled having bounced a check.
Both also exposed notable distances from the own party’s candidates for governor. Wilson, a Republican, was asked why he wasn’t supporting Republican Carl Paladino for governor. Paladino has made numerous controversial remarks, most recently acusing his rival of cheating on his wife during his marriage. Wilson said he was demonstrating his independence, and not getting involved in the politics of any race other than his own.
DiNaopli said he wore it as a “badge” the fact that he had been criticized by members of his own party – Governor Eliot Spitzer, Governor Paterson and State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, among them.
In their closing remarks, Wilson sought to paint DiNapoli – a famously affable figure in Albany’s capital – as a nice man, but ill-suited for the job.
“He's a nice guy, but a 24-year creature of Albany,” said Wilson. Not to be outdone, DiNapoli described Wilson as a “one of the Don Juans of Wall Street” and now “he preaches like he’s St. Francis of Assisi about how he’s going to save the state through the comptroller’s office.”
Monday, September 20, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Democratic State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is out with his first television ad hitting his Republican rival, Harry Wilson, and branding himself as separate and apart from the Albany establishment.
Monday, September 13, 2010
By Azi Paybarah
Poll numbers showing GOP candidate Harry Wilson gaining momentum on Democratic State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli were leaked on September 8.
It's a common tactic: release internal poll numbers showing your candidate gaining, build buzz, create the reality, etc. etc.
But releasing poll numbers is something that's regulated by state election laws.
Under one specific rule, the release of poll numbers triggers a requirement that the entire poll be released to the State Board of Elections. The information released must include: the person who commissioned the poll, exact wording, sample size, methodology, and margin of error - things that can help determine the validity of the poll and the truthfulness of its claims.
DiNapoli's campaign has drafted a letter to State Board of Elections officials complaining about the leaked poll.
It appears Wilson's campaign "has violated Section 6201.2 of the Fair Campaign Code by failing to disclose and file a complete poll it conducted" according to a letter written by election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder, on behalf of DiNapoli.
I emailed and left a voice message for one of Wilson's spokesmen. I'll update with a response.
WIlson has a 1 pm press conference with Mayor Bloomberg, so, maybe the question will come up there.
UPDATE: Wilson's spokesman Bill O'Reilly emails to say, "We didn't leak the memo to the press, but we're delighted to file it with the Board and show it to anyone and everyone who wants to see it. It's good news for us. We hope it's read as far and wide as possible. I'm grateful to the DiNapoli people for highlighting it again."