Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics

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Rick Brand

Rick Brand, a Newsday reporter for nearly three decades, writes about politics and government on Long Island.

The veteran reporter has covered a variety of assignments for Newsday in Washington, Albany and around the country and was part of the Long Island staff that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800.

During his career, Brand has been the paper’s lead reporter covering Suffolk county government, and spent three years as the paper’s beat reporter covering LILCO during the height of the controversy over the Shoreham nuclear power plant. He has also headed the paper’s East End bureau and even spent a summer doing a gossip column on the Hampton’s social whirl.

Brand had also worked several stints in Newsday’s Albany Bureau during the Carey and Cuomo administrations. He covered the upset victory of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Long Island’s first woman congresswoman, and the 1997 U.S. Senate battle between Alfonse D'Amato and Chuck Schumer and part of the marathon Senate campaign that led to the election of Hillary Clinton.

Before joining Newsday, Brand, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, worked as news editor of Suffolk Life Newspapers and as a reporter for the Long Island News and the Buffalo Courier Express.

Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations calls for halt to speed camera program

Speed cameras in front of the Dutch Broadway

(Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

A coalition of Nassau County civic groups has joined the chorus calling for the halt to the county’s speed camera program.

Leaders of the Coalition of Nassau Civic Associations wrote to Nassau's 19 county lawmakers on Thursday, requesting an immediate moratorium on the issuance of speed camera tickets and an immediate legislative hearing on the issue.

While county officials said...

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Watchdog issues scathing report on Tappan Zee funding (Update)

(Updates with comment from EFC and sponsor of bill that created watchdog)

ALBANY - A report states the Cuomo administration used secretive means to push through its questionable proposal to use an environmental fund to pay for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s high-profile project to the replace the Tappan Zee bridge.

The state Authorities Budget Office, based on a complaint by the Environmental...

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Cuomo gets praise, defends decisions in Buffalo snow emergency

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday drew some praise for his order to bring state resources and National Guard troops to Buffalo as it was pounded by more than 6 feet of snow.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said Thursday that Cuomo’s order is speeding removal of the snow even as more snow was expected to pile up at a rate of 3 inches an hour.

But Cuomo, in Buffalo, also had to defend...

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Rochester-area politician re-elected leader of Assembly GOP

   Assembly Republicans re-elected Assemb. Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) as their leader Thursday.

   Kolb, 62, whose district covers all of Ontario County and parts of Seneca, has been Assembly member since 2000 and minority leader since April 2009.

  In recent days some of the conference’s more outspoken conservatives, including Assemb. Steve McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke),...

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Tolls might double throughout NYS to pay for Tappan Zee, expert says

New York might have to double tolls on its highways and bridges over the next  five years to help pay for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, a financial expert said Wednesday.

 Cuomo already has started what he estimates to be a $4 billion project to replace the span, located 25 miles north of Manhattan, but hasn’t disclosed how it...

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For Cuomo, the question is who takes top jobs after exits

Re-elected executives commonly reshuffle top staff as a new term commences. Now comes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's turn.

For those who deal with his office, the big question is less a matter of who moves out, but who moves in, either from down the ranks or outside the administration.

At least 10 of Cuomo's highest-level aides and commissioners have already either left or said they'd do so...

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Man who helped save NYC, working on Detroit, calls for gas tax to save NY transit (Update)

Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch thinks New York

(Credit: iStock)

(Updates with cost per 1-cent increase in gas tax; adds Cuomo comment)

ALBANY — Former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who had a historic hand in the fiscal recovery of New York City and is now involved in Detroit’s recovery, said New York State needs a new gasoline tax to meet serious infrastructure needs.

Ravitch’s idea came as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature are expected to devote...

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NYC: Poll results tell a tale of two de Blasio perceptions

Twenty years ago, it was remarkable to note how polls showed a stark difference in perception of Mayor Rudy Giuliani between African-Americans (largely negative) and whites (largely positive). 

Things seem similar now, but in reverse. Blacks view incumbent Bill de Blasio with strong favorability, and whites view him unfavorably.

And as was the case back in the 1990's, those responding...

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Senate: Schumer, Gillibrand to vote no on Keystone XL pipeline

New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said they will vote against a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline in a vote early this evening, despite the pleas of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Landrieu, who faces a run-off election on Dec. 6, needs 60 votes to pass the measure, which is the bill sponsored by her opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.)....

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Silver talks, but says little about upcoming Albany action

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) speaks at

(Credit: Craig Ruttle)

ALBANY -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was in Albany Tuesday and, true to his inscrutable image, revealed almost nothing about what, if anything, will happen in Albany in coming weeks.

Silver met with newly elected Democrats in a closed-door session. On the way into the conference room, he indicated the Assembly could come back for a special session in December, that he could support a...

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