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25 minutes | Mar 8, 2021
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is a 3-mile span over the Hudson river that connects Rockland and Westchester counties, just 25 miles north of New York City. It's a major commuter route, and bears hundreds of thousands of vehicle crossings each day. It replaced the long-ailing Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017, amid much fanfare from state and local officials. Now a comprehensive report from Brendan Lyons, the Times Union's managing editor for investigations, details a whistleblower’s account of the alleged coverup of potential structural flaws in the construction of the bridge — a dispute at the heart of a court case that remains under seal. On this episode of the Capitol Confidential podcast, Times Union Editor Casey Seiler speaks to Lyons about the story, and its implications.
22 minutes | Mar 5, 2021
A Perfect Storm over Albany
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing perfect storm of threats to his administration, finding himself both in the crosshairs of an investigation by the FBI and the Justice Department into his handling of nursing home deaths due to COVID-19, and accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. Cuomo addressed the sexual harassment allegations during a press conference this week, in which he apologized for his behavior. On this episode of Capitol Confidential, Times Union Capitol Bureau Managing Editor Brendan Lyons speaks to an alleged victim of sexual harassment, who says Cuomo's apology falls short and he should resign immediately.
35 minutes | Feb 19, 2021
Nursing home scandal roils Cuomo administration
A recent admission by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top aide, Secretary Melissa DeRosa, that they withheld nursing home coronavirus data to state legislators over fear that President Donald J. Trump would use the data against New York continues to roil the governor’s administration. In turn, a federal investigation into Cuomo’s handling of the virus in the long-term care facilities is on the docket and legislators are seeking to impeach the governor. On this episode of the Capitol Confidential Podcast, Times Union Capitol Bureau Managing Editor Brendan Lyons and reporters Amanda Fries and Ed McKinley discuss the latest news surrounding Cuomo and his administration, and the legislature's unrest. We also hear from Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay and Assemblyman John McDonald and get their take on the nursing home controversy that has engulfed New York.
19 minutes | Jan 29, 2021
A Scathing Report
New York Attorney General Letitia James released a searing report this week finding that the state Department of Health underreported the deaths of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 by as much as 50 percent. The 76-page report follows a months-long investigation by the attorney general’s office into allegations of patient neglect and other conduct that jeopardized the health and safety of residents and employees. State health officials responded by again defending their actions, and pointed to specifics in James’ report that reaffirm the findings in a state-commissioned study released in July. On this episode of the Capitol Confidential Podcast, Times Union Capitol Bureau Managing Editor Brendan Lyons and reporters Amanda Fries and Chris Bragg break down the report and its implications.
30 minutes | Jan 22, 2021
A Tale of Two Budget Proposals
This week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled two budget proposals. Both are contingent upon how much New York state receives from the federal government. Cuomo even threatened to sue if the state doesn't get the $15 billion in federal aid that he has requested. That's enough to fill the budget gap that the governor and budget officials have cited for months. Capital Confidential host Amanda Fries talks with reporters about what the executive budget means for the region. What happens if the state doesn't get the requested federal aid? Capital reporter Edward McKinley answers that question and the possible revenue generators that could help close the gap. The executive budget paints a bleak picture for localities – especially those that rely on state aid. Albany reporter Steve Hughes shares what this means for the region's cities, and how they're preparing for the reduction in state aid. There are some promising elements in the proposal that would help revive the economy and support small businesses, business reporter Larry Rulison says. Even though the state has rolled back its financial support of schools, education reporter Rachel Silberstein says federal relief funds from the last stimulus will be directed to school districts. Read more about the highlights in the executive budget proposal.
18 minutes | Jan 15, 2021
Stefanik's Red Wall
North Country Representative Elise Stefanik has been a steadily rising star in the Republican party since she joined Congress in 2014. Her stock rose sharply during the Trump presidency, when she aligned herself with the administration and actively supported its policies. She won a fourth term representing New York's 21st district handily this past November, with widespread support from local leaders and lawmakers. Yet more than a week after a violent siege at the U.S. Capitol and the second impeachment of Donald Trump, she remains steadfastly supportive of the outgoing president and his unfounded claims of election fraud. And that stance has produced blowback from both inside and outside of her district—signaling potential cracks in a previously sound red wall.
24 minutes | Jan 8, 2021
A Tale of Two Violent Capitol protests
As a violent mob of President Trump's supporters broke into the United States Capitol Wednesday afternoon, a smaller protest also turned violent outside the New York State Capitol. Times Union Managing Editor Brendan Lyons, Washington correspondent Emilie Munson and State reporter Ed McKinley discuss the events of this week, New York lawmakers' reactions, and what it all means for government at both the federal and state levels. *This podcast was recorded on Thursday, a day after the protests.
32 minutes | Dec 15, 2020
New York's first dose
The first FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines have arrived in New York this week, and the state has started vaccinating front-line healthcare workers. Times Union Capitol Bureau reporter Amanda Fries leads a discussion of the state's plan for the initial doses with reporter Ed McKinley and Washington correspondent Emilie Munson. Also on this episode, the latest on sexual harassment allegations leveled against Governor Andrew Cuomo this week, and an interview with State Senate-elect Michelle Hinchey.
20 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
This week New York State Senate Democrats declared that they'd gained a history-making "supermajority," after the absentee ballot count in several key races swung the results in their favor. Times Union Capitol Bureau reporters Amanda Fries and Chris Bragg join Managing Editor Brendan Lyons to talk about the development, and what it means for legislative priorities going into the year. Will they address progressive agenda items like recreational marijuana? And will they exercise their veto-proof majority to go over Governor Andrew Cuomo's head? That all remains to be seen as the Legislature prepares for the new session in January. Also on this episode, Brendan Lyons checks in with Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Michael Gianaris, for his take on the supermajority.
15 minutes | Nov 12, 2020
Crimson surge or red mirage?
As the counting of absentee ballots in New York continues, the ultimate power balance in the state Senate and Assembly remains somewhat murky. A number of close races in both chambers that initially appeared in favor of Republican candidates after Election Day seem to be narrowing even further as the numbers come in, and the final outcomes are still not definitive. The process may take weeks yet, and will determine whether this historically blue state saw a legitimate surge in support for Republicans, or simply witnessed a red mirage. In this episode of the Capitol Confidential podcast, Times Union Capitol Bureau reporters Amanda Fries and Chris Bragg weigh in on where things stand in with as-yet un-called races, and what the future may hold for absentee voting in New York's elections.
17 minutes | Nov 5, 2020
Election 2020: GOP Celebrates, Dems Wait
State Senate Democrats were confident going into the 2020 election that they'd come out with a supermajority. But as the returns came in this week, it became clear that it wasn't as likely as they'd hoped. Instead, it was the GOP leaders who celebrated a potential increase in their ranks. But as Times Union Capitol Bureau reporters Amanda Fries, Chris Bragg and Edward McKinley observe in this episode of Capitol Confidential, the final outcome of the balance of power in New York is still being tallied.
19 minutes | Nov 2, 2020
6 Questions About Election Night
What are the scenarios that could play out on Election Night? Will it be decided before the sun rises, or will there be protracted legal battles that will delay the final result for weeks? Capitol Bureau reporter Ed McKinley and Washington correspondent Emilie Munson answer these questions and more in this special edition of Capitol Confidential.
25 minutes | Jun 10, 2020
Repealing 50-a and making police records public in New York
Times Union editor Casey Seiler and state editor Brendan Lyons discuss the history of the controversial New York law 50-a, which protects police records, and the likelihood of a historic repeal this week.
30 minutes | Apr 2, 2020
COVID-19: New York in Crisis - Rep. Paul Tonko and a frontline nurse
As New York state battles the coronavirus pandemic, Washington correspondent Emilie Munson checks in with Capital Region Rep. Paul Tonko on the $2 trillion stimulus package Congress passed. Meanwhile, state editor Brendan Lyons connects with a nurse working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight at a hospital in Long Island.
23 minutes | Mar 23, 2020
Coronavirus pandemic: Cuomo’s health commissioner on state's battle
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker talks to the Times Union's Brendan Lyons about the coronavirus, how it spreads, and what New Yorkers should be doing to slow it.
61 minutes | Feb 28, 2020
Sen. Stewart-Cousins in Conversation at Times Union's Hearst Media Center
What's it like to be the first woman in the room during state budget negotiations after decades of all-male closed-door talks? A special edition of the Times Union's CapCon political podcast features a discussion with state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins that addresses that very question.
17 minutes | Oct 18, 2019
Medicaid maladies in New York
Two recent reports are sounding the alarm about the state's Medicaid spending this year, which could result in future cuts to health care or education. Mark Ustin, a health care lobbyist and veteran of the Pataki administration, joined the podcast to explain what this means for New Yorkers who use and pay for Medicaid. The conversation touched on recent efforts to curb Medicaid spending in New York, creative budgeting practices and what might be gleaned from the state's mid-year financial update.
20 minutes | Sep 6, 2019
New York's bet on casino gambling
New York's gambling landscape is far from settled, with the next big shakeup likely to be the introduction of casinos into the New York City area. One potential recipient of a casino license is the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, where harness racing and electronic gaming is available. Empire City Casino President Uri Clinton joined the podcast to discuss the continuing evolution of gambling in New York, the future of racing in Yonkers and the competition for gaming dollars in the region. He also explained what the January purchase of the facility by MGM Resorts means for the development of the site.
32 minutes | Aug 30, 2019
The Assembly's loyal opposition
Assemblyman Ed Ra isn't naive enough to think that even his best floor debate can stymie legislation being advanced by his Democratic colleagues, who enjoy an overwhelming majority in the chamber. But the Long Island Republican, who serves as the assistant floor leader for the GOP, does believe he plays an important part in the legislative process by raising concerns, asking questions and (in some cases) prompting bills to be amended. Ra joined the podcast to talk about life on the floor in the Assembly, including the preparation involved in a debate, his goals as a member of the minority, and his preferred candy for a sugar rush.
22 minutes | Aug 23, 2019
Getting from red light to green
Legislation enabling undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses had a lot working against it in Albany this year. Despite Democratic-control of the state government, the proposal was wildly unpopular with members from the New York City suburbs and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seemed unenthusiastic about the issue. Sen. Luis Sepulveda, the Bronx Democrat who helped shepherd the proposal across the finish line, joined the podcast to explain the uphill battle for the year's most unlikely new law. The conversation addressed the last-minute declaration from state Attorney General Letitia James, support from upstate Senate Democrats and the governor's relationship with the legislation.
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