Good afternoon. Today’s points:
- Too close for comfort -- Cuomo and Percoco
- NASA reveals there’s a fault in our stars
- Clinton, Trump and a diner booth
Another episode of the Bharara show
Critics of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have been tingling with anticipation as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara pursued an investigation into the so-called Buffalo Billion — the governor’s attempt to revive the upstate economy by bringing in economic development.
On Thursday, Bharara held another news conference about corruption in Albany. As expected, this time he took aim at the Second Floor, deep into the executive chamber, hitting former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco — a member of Cuomo’s inner circle whose closeness to the Cuomo family goes back to the days when he and Andrew both worked for former Gov. Mario Cuomo in the 1990s.
Percoco was accused of soliciting and accepting more than $315,000 in bribes from two companies seeking state contracts or project approvals, some of which payments were made to Percoco’s wife, Lisa. Lobbyist Todd Howe, who worked for Cuomo years ago at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and represented the two companies, arranged for the bribes — which the two men called “ziti.” That’s a reference from “The Sopranos,” and an example of the hardball Bharara plays to attract the most media attention.
But for those who want to see consequences for Cuomo, who is planning to run for a third term while harboring national ambitions, the indictments didn’t provide many answers. In his news conference, the U.S. attorney, who harbors his own national ambitions, said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Cuomo in the complaint. He said references to campaign donations to the governor were for “context.”
Howe — who has pleaded guilty to extortion, bribery and wire fraud — is cooperating, according to the complaint. Percoco is very unlikely to talk. (It’s curious, however, that his wife was not named in the indictment.) Prosecutors typically work their way up the chain of authority, convincing smaller fry to turn in order to get the big fish — and when they can’t reel in anything larger, then they indict. And wait to see what happens.
NASA updates the stars
All those years I thought I was a Sagittarius, said to be fun-loving, independent and exciting. Instead, thanks to NASA’s recent explanation of how the sun actually appears to travel through the constellations, and how the Babylonians fibbed in constructing their 12-month astrological calendar, it turns out I fall under the missing 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus.
NASA recently put out an explanation of the 13 signs, which have extremely varied time spans. When people began screaming that NASA had changed their astrological signs, the space agency replied with this snitty Tumblr post, saying essentially that it didn’t change the signs (even though it did), because astrology isn’t real (even though NASA published an astronomy piece about it).
It’s definitely a sign of the times when NASA creates astrology click bait, then disavows it. Or 13 signs of the times.
Sharpen Your Pencil Point
Clinton and Trump go into a diner ...
Newsday cartoonist Matt Davies left this cartoon for you to caption for us: Imagine Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sharing a diner booth before the Hofstra University debate Monday. Click here to caption their conversation.
Late to the Point
The award for dumbest campaign news release so far this season might be this one titled: “Anna Throne-Holst Launches Instagram Account.”
OK, now. Instagram began in 2010 and has 500 million monthly active users. Yet, on Thursday, the campaign for the Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District sent out this silly release: “Joining Instagram is a great way to connect with the people of Suffolk County,” said Anna Throne-Holst. “And as a mother of four, it’s a fun means of keeping in touch with my children as well. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I look forward to sharing photos with my fellow citizens from around Long Island.”
With seven weeks to Election Day, who knows what other newfangled social media platforms Long Island candidates will discover.
Weight of history