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.

GOP feud erupts between Astorino, Skelos forces

  A Republican feud broke out Tuesday between Senate Republicans who say the state is turning around and a spokesman for the party’s gubernatorial candidate who says New York ranks last in too many economic categories.

  The nasty exchange sprouted a day earlier when William F.B. O’Reilly, an advisor to GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino, referred to Senate co-leader Dean Skelos...

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NY Assembly thanks LI's Weisenberg for 25 years of helping people

Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, 80, a former police officer

ALBANY _ An Assembly debate Tuesday over a bill to provide CPR training to students turned into a teary, hug-filled tribute to the bill’s sponsor, Assem. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), who is retiring after 25 years.

Weisenberg, 80, a former police officer and lifeguard, was praised for being an impassioned advocate for disabled youths and adults.

“I would like to rise and congratulate...

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Pols poised to add Family Court judges across NY, including in Nassau, Suffolk

Lawmakers are closing in on a deal to add 25 new Family Court judges statewide, including one apiece in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

After a three-month standoff, state Assembly and Senate leaders submitted a joint bill late Monday night to create the new judgeships. Twenty of the spots would be created effective Jan. 1, 2015, including the Nassau and Suffolk seats and nine in New York City....

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4th C.D.: Candidates warned for campaign finance errors

Two candidates for the 4th Congressional District received letters last week from the Federal Election Commission detailing a series of campaign finance filing errors.

The campaigns of Democrat Kevan Abrahams and Republican Bruce Blakeman were told that some contributions detailed in their first quarter filings appear to exceed federal legal limits of $2,600 from individuals per election.


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Heroin getting sharpest focus in Albany’s waning session

ALBANY -- A package of measures to combat the statewide wave of heroin addiction has become the most likely bill to emerge from the maw of negotiations in this last week of the legislative session.

“That’s one of my top priorities, to get the heroin bill done,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.

He said the last sticking point in closed-door talks involves how insurance companies will...

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Cuomo says he won’t sign new bill on medical marijuana

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that he won’t sign the latest compromise bill to legalize medical use of marijuana, but said negotiations will continue into Thursday’s final day of the legislative session.

“We made progress in the discussions, but we are not there yet,” Cuomo told public radio’s “Capitol Pressroom.”

“We have three days ... up until the legislature leaves,”...

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Medical marijuana bill amended to pass in both houses; Cuomo uncertain

ALBANY -- The state Assembly and Independent Democratic Conference, which share control of the Senate, amended their medical marijuana bill late Monday to include some, but not all, of the provisions required by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The new bill, which could be voted on Thursday, eliminates an independent panel to guide the use of medical marijuana. Instead, the state health commissioner...

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Liberal upstarts hope to spoil Cuomo’s party

Democratic candidates Tim Wu and Zephyr Teachout during

(Credit: AP / Mike Groll)

ALBANY -- Professors Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu are taking on the daunting task of challenging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Democratic Party he heads. But Wu may have found a more feasible route.

“I know I am an underdog,” Teachout said Monday in a campaign stop in Albany. “But New York loves an underdog.”

She’s raising money and trying to collect enough signatures on petitions...

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GOP candidate Cahill gets trooper union backing for AG

Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill at

(Credit: AP / Mike Groll)

ALBANY -- Republican candidate for state attorney general John Cahill on Monday received the endorsement of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association in part because he promised not to unseal documents from the deadly Attica prison uprising in 1971.

Cahill said he wouldn’t unseal documents from the investigation into claims of cover-up and wrongdoing by officials at the prison...

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Pol: Some Dems want standoff over Women's Equality Act for campaign purposes

Some Democrats in Albany don’t want to break up the 10-point Women’s Equality Act into separate bills so that the party can use a contentious abortion proposal in upcoming elections, a key lawmaker said Monday after a tense meeting among female Democratic legislators.

More than two dozen Democratic assemblywomen convened Monday afternoon in the offices of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)...

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