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NYSNYS NEWS INSIDE THE LCA: TImes Union changes, reporters leaving, Cuomo's dog.
By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 16) -- The LCA show is named after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's dog. Changes in store for the Times Union bureau. Spectrum, Politico, NY Law Journal reporters leave.

New faces at the Times Union

Byline change continues to be the byword at the Times Union's LCA bureau.

The paper has hired Rachel Silberstein of the Gotham Gazette and David Lombardo of Statewatch NY. Longtime Capitol reporter Rick Karlin's beat will now include education.

Still at the helm of the Capitol Bureau is investigative ace Brendan Lyons, who stepped in after Casey Seiler was promoted to senior editing duties at the main office as well as continuing to write a column, contribute to Capitol coverage, and host public TV's "NY Now." The hirings were prompted by Seiler's new assignment as well as the recent departure of Matt Hamilton, who quit journalism to go into public relations with Gramercy Communications of Troy.

Silberstein has worked in the Capitol about a year for Gotham Gazette, a website focused on government published by the Citizens Union Foundation. The Foundation describes itself as "a nonpartisan, nonprofit good government organization." The Citizens Union, which was founded as a political party, is the more well known affiliate of the Foundation. Its activities include making candidate endorsements, lobbying and "influencing policymakers, the press and the public," according to its website.

The Foundation has posted the LCA job on its website, but as of yet has not hired a replacement for Silberstein, a Brooklyn College graduate who has freelanced for many different publications.

Lombardo has worked for Statewatch for the past two years and has a podcast called "Poozer Politics." (Poozer is Lombardo's nickname.) Lombardo is the son of longtime Saratogian editor Barbara Lombardo and, for a time, was a reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

Lombardo "was fired by the paper a week after an election-night outburst at the victory celebration for Saratoga Springs mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen," the Times Union reported back in 2013. "According to multiple witnesses who attended the event at the Inn at Saratoga, Lombardo loudly expressed his displeasure after Yepsen went into a room for a brief interview with the TUís Dennis Yusko."

As for Statewatch, the Texas based company says it sells "an unmatched combination of comprehensive data, analytical tools, real-time entry, broad-spectrum delivery, and experience that provides the most innovative lobbying tool to the legislative professionals of New York."

The two organizations are examples of the shifts that are continuing in the LCA, where traditional general news organizations are being overtaken by new entities that primarily cater to lobbyists and special interest groups.


Three departures

Three of the youngest members of the LCA have new jobs and two are leaving Albany.

Rhiannon Youngbauer, a producer for Spectrum News who worked closely with LCA president Nick Reisman, has moved up to work as a investigative producer for the CBS affiliate station in Atlanta. That metro area is the #10 TV media market in the U.S., compared to Albany at #59. Not surprisingly, the top three markets are NYC, LA and Chicago.

At The New York Law Journal, Josefa Velasquez is leaving for a new startup called "Sludge" that focuses on money and politics. "Sludge will investigate the shadowy ways that special interests have captured Americaís political system, revealing hidden networks and conflicts of interest," its website says ( ). The startup with have no ads and be financed by reader support using cryptocurrency.

Velasquez has worked at the Law Journal for the past 8 months. She previously worked for three years at Politico NY, the subscription service that has been in the press room for the past four years. She is not saying much about her plans, but the Sludge website says she is based in Albany.

Keisha Clukey has left Politico NY to join the reporting staff at Newsday. She was a former reporter for the Times Union and was serving as the LCA show chair in 2018.

The departures leave only a handful of women working out of the pressroom.


LCA show has a name

The 2018 LCA show has a name -- "Captain: The Dog That Saved The Executive Chamber!" Captain is the name of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new pet dog.

Reporters learned about the dog when Cuomo held a reception at the Executive Mansion for the Conference of Mayors in February, posing with the dog for his in-house video and photography unit. As usual, reporters were not invited nor advised in advance of the event.

Cuomo's dog will provide some fodder for show jokes. Cuomo has mentioned several times that the dog is not housebroken, talking about the animal's bowel movements.

The show is scheduled for the Hart Lounge of the Egg on Tuesday, May 8. No rebuttal speeches are yet nailed down.

Once again, Cuomo is not expected to participate. Cuomo stopped holding formal press conferences in Albany in 2017 and has shown no inclination to have more interaction with the press since the conviction of his top aide Joe Percoco.

After dodging reporters in Albany for weeks, Cuomo was forced to talk to the media after the Percoco guilty verdict. But he did so after an event outdoors in New York City, allowing reporters just 7 questions in the 9 minute Q&A after reading from talking points notes.