Dec 6th - 5:54 pm
Sen. Liz Krueger will introduce a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New York, saying she sees it as a “starting point” for a conversation about “rational” pot policy.
The house Sen. Chuck Schumer shares with two fellow Democrats is a serious pit.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has terminated her congressional campaign committee and has transferred the remaining funds to her political action committee.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver quietly slipped into Buffalo for a Sabers game and a hockey night fund-raiser.
The Federal Railroad Administration ordered Metro-North Railroad to modify its signal system to provide better safeguards against speeding in response to Sunday’s fatal derailment in New York City.
In his final days in office, Mayor Bloomberg is reaching out to the families of all 69 former city employees who died in the line of duty over the course of his 12 year term.
At least a dozen potential candidates have expressed interest in challenging Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei next year.
The pro-frackers are spending more on lobbyists than the anti-frackers, but to no avail. (So far).
As the dust settles from Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s two-day spree of administrative appointments, all eyes have now turned to his next big decision: who he’ll pick for New York City schools chancellor.
Bloomberg said those who criticize his admittedly halting Spanish should “get a life.”
The Obamas, the Clintons and the Bushes will all travel to South Africa to participate in memorial events honoring Nelson Mandela
Schumer is optimistic about the budget talks taking place in Washington.
Only one of the NYC Council speaker candidates – Brooklyn’s Jumaane Williams – has openly criticized de Blasio’s selection of Bill Bratton to return to the NYPD commissioner’s post.
Williams cited his church-going Caribbean roots and a traumatic personal experience involving a pregnancy in explaining his views on gay marriage and abortion.
A mid-level appeals court dismissed a challenge to New York’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions, ruling it was filed well outside the statute of limitations.
A new Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice will be located in Brooklyn’s Boys and Girls High School campus, in honor of the civil and human rights activist.
A controversial appointee of Governor Chris Christie has resigned from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Dec 6th - 5:00 pm
Taxes, Taxes, Taxes. Maybe an anti-corruption bill, perhaps a painfully complicated compromise on funding universal Pre-K in NYC. If I were a betting man, these would be the issues on the table for the beginning of the legislative session that starts in January. Let’s note what is NOT on this list: a revived Women’s Equality Agenda, publicly funded elections and the DREAM Act.
Let’s take them one at a time…The Women’s Equality Act stalled in the final days of the legsilative session over the controversial abortion component. Observers say the poison pill of abortion helped doom the entire act in a year when Senate Republicans had already stuck their necks out over tighter gun control restrictions in the SAFE Act, and an increase in the minimum wage ( remember those two haunting words? “Job Killer” ). No way, no how was the Republican leadership going to allow their members to take a vote, any vote, on a long settled hot button issue like abortion. Why would they? What is the upside? Proponents say New York’s law needs to be updated, and I’m sure it does. But many also agree there is no emergency here. Although it will be a new year, the same issues will likely surface rendering a 10-point agenda dead on arrival.
On publicly financed elections we are also right back to the same stalemate that doomed it earlier this year. The Fair Elections campaign is gearing up to promote reform once again, but if it didn’t pass last year, what makes them think anything is different now? The hope was that the supposedly unbiased, bi-partisan Moreland Commission would recommend public financing, but they couldn’t even hold it together when seven of the Commissioners dissented on page 50 and concluded,
“The reality of independent expenditures illustrates how extraordinarily difficult it has become to keep private money out of the electoral system. Simply adding taxpayer money to the pot will not change that reality.”
This week, Fair Elections relaunched their campaign on the steps on New York City Hall, but it wound up being a NY-1 exclsuive for most of the press conference. Nick Powell from City and State showed up, and I believe the great Jon Campbell wrote a piece for Gannett, but at the press conference it sorta felt like we were retreading old ground.
That brings me to the DREAM Act. for Latino members, this is it. This is the one they want, and they want it included in the budget. Specifically, it would allow undocumented students ( who were educated for free in New York high schools ) to have access to state funds for college tuition. There was a near revolt last year in the Assembly Chamber during the budget vote when it was not included, but ultimately the disturbance was quelled. This year, some are saying there will be no such appeasement.
Sources say Assembly Democrats and the Speaker himself reached out to Governor Cuomo for a meeting on this just recently, but they were refused. The Cuomo Administartion says this is not true. The Speaker also denies this, claiming he is still working with the Governor to come up with an agreement. Some are also saying that the Governor will direct Secretary of State Cesar Perales to come up with a “watered down version” of the bill that will allow the Administration to reach a compromise. Senate Republicans oppose it in current form.
Proponents recently had to back down from claims that Republican Governor Chris Christie had committed to supporting it. The good Governor of our neighbor state to the south has since backed away from a committement he allegedly made at a gala one month before the election. Ceratinly that takes some of the pressure off Cuomo, but not all.
Dec 6th - 3:36 pm
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos in a statement this afternoon called for “broad-based tax relief” recommendations in the upcoming tax commission report due to be released by a panel led by Carl McCall and George Pataki.
Sources familiar with the tax commission’s work do not expect the report to be released today as initially anticipated, in part because of an ongoing disagreement over including broad cuts to the state’s personal income tax, or PIT.
Pataki, a three-term Republican former governor, is pushing for estate-tax exemptions, ending income taxes on manufacturing and creating an education tax credit for low-income families worth $300 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The commission is said to be considering a property tax cut proposal worth more than $1 billion, which may include the creation of a “circuit-breaker” that would tie property tax relief to income.
Senate Republicans — as they do every year but even more so in election years — will likely push the issue of cutting taxes this coming legislative session. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has said there will be some form of a surplus that would help pay for a tax cut in 2014.
But Cuomo, while indicating a willingness to consider the circuit breaker option, has been less enthusiastic about another income tax cut or making the tax code overhaul of 2011 permanent.
Here’s the full statement:
In the very near future, Governor Cuomo’s second tax relief commission will unveil its much-anticipated recommendations. I continue to believe that these recommendations must include broad-based tax relief measures that help create jobs, reduce the cost of doing business in New York, bolster small businesses and assist hardworking, middle-class families – - similar to the comprehensive tax reform proposal Senate Republicans advanced more than two weeks ago. Simply shifting the burden from one taxpayer to another won’t reform our tax structure for the future or provide the meaningful tax relief New Yorkers need and deserve.
The Senate Republican plan would reform, simplify and reduce personal income taxes, business taxes and estate taxes, and utilize every dollar in savings from a permanent spending cap for tax cuts. In short, it advances sweeping recommendations that will reduce the tax burden for all New Yorkers.
This is an historic opportunity for the Legislature and Governor to cut taxes to create new private sector jobs, give a shot in the arm to the state’s economy and allow hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their own money. It’s time to seize this opportunity for real and lasting change.
Dec 6th - 3:31 pm
Universal pre-K, which is widely accepted to be one of the best ways to improve student performance in the long term, has been in the news a lot these days, thanks to NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s signature policy proposal to tax wealthy city residents to pay for the program for every student in the five boroughs.
Establishing full day pre-K was chief among the proposals released last December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education reform commission. Cuomo subsequently included $75 million in the 2013-14 budget for education reform initiatives – including about $25 million for the expansion of pre-K - with the money to be awarded through a competitive process.
The allocation of this money has been slow in coming, in part because only a fraction of the districts eligible for the cash have applied.
Now education advocates are talking about building on the momentum of de Blasio’s victory and pushing the governor and Legislature to expand pre-K statewide. The Citizens Budget Commission has estimated it would cost $4 billion to achieve that goal, which is $2 billion more than the entire surplus Cuomo has said he expects the state will see at the end of the current fiscal year if spending controls continue. (And he wants to use at least some of that for tax cuts).
Advocates and elected officials have been trying to expand pre-K for decades. But despite all the talk, state spending on this important program has actually gone down instead of up.
That’s according to a report conducted by Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research, whcih found 28 percent of America’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in a state-funded pre-school program in the 2011-2012 school year – about the same percentage as the year before. That stagnation was compunded by an unprecedented drop in funding of $500 million nationwide – the largest one-year drop in history.
The NIEE found that New York spent $5,306 per child enrolled in pre-K in 2002, but that figure plummeted to $3,707 in 2012.
There were 102,568 New York children enrolled in the 2011-2012 school year, representing approximately 44 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds - a decrease of approximately 1,000 students from the previous year. Approximately 75 percent of those kids attend half-day programs.
The good news for New York was that despite its drop in the number of students attending pre-K, it maintained its national ranking of 9th overall in terms of enrollment. And despite its flat funding, that state’s ranking improved from 24th in the nation to 21st in the nation in the per-child spending category, although in 2002, New York was 11th overall for resources per child.
The report did note the $25 million for pre-K included in the 2013-14 budget, which would allow for more full and half-day K slots across the state.
Dec 6th - 2:48 pm
In the wake of last Sunday’s deadly Metro-North derailment, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is directing the MTA to “explore what new measures” to improve train safety.
Cuomo’s office released a letter the governor sent today to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast, in which he makes clear that he believes the actions of engineer William Rockefeller, whom federal investigators determined was doing 82 miles per hour heading into a sharp 30 mile per hour curve, “were the initiating cause of this tragic accident.”
“Various state and national agencies are now examining Mr. Rockefeller’s conduct,” Cuomo wrote. “I am sure that the MTA is also taking the necessary disciplinary measures.”
Cuomo has already said he thinks Rockefeller could face criminal charges for his conduct, but legal experts aren’t so sure. Rockefeller has been suspended without pay, and the MTA is reportedly preparing disciplinary charges that could result in his dismissal, though he could appeal that ruling.
In his letter, Cuomo also reiterated his call for the MTA to expedite automated speed control for vulnerable track locations across the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road systems, and he said installation of positive train control should be “accelerated,” though he acknowledged that to do so will be “challenging” (presumably due to cost contraints). And the governor did not stop there.
“Furthermore, I am requesting you to confer with all relevant personnel and experts to identify what actions can be taken before PTC is installed, and design recommendations to address hazards revealed in Sunday’s derailment in the immediate and long-term future,” Cuomo wrote.
Specifically, please consider and evaluate the following:
- Implementing regular safety stand-downs to reinforce a safety culture among MTA employees, similar to the immediate safety stand-downs I previously directed you to conduct this week.
- Participating in the Federal Railroad Administration’s Confidential Close Call Reporting System, which provides a way for front-line employees to anonymously warn of potential safety hazards without fear of retribution.
- Identifying technical solutions to enforce speed control, compliance with operating rules, engineer alertness and any other measures that can improve safety for New York commuters.”
Train safety is going to be a focus for some time as a result of this accident, and it’s a safe bet there will be numerous proposals on the subject from elected officials at many levels of government.
Dec 6th - 12:12 pm
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office plans to use its audit authority to review the reporting of hate crimes at the Division of Criminal Justice Services, according to a letter released Friday.
In statement, DiNapoli said the audit was spurred in part by a request from Manhattan Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman, who issued a report earlier in the year raising concerns on whether law enforcement was giving proper identification to hate crimes as is required by state law.
The report also raised questions as to whether law enforcement officers were properly trained to ID and report crimes motivated by basis.
“Hate crime is a very serious issue and recent media reports indicate these heinous incidents are on the rise,” DiNapoli said in the statement. “Hatred against people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation has no place in a civil society. We need to make sure police departments across the state are reporting these incidents correctly and that they are being trained to handle the crimes properly and effectively.”
Dec 6th - 6:24 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
If you happen to see the governor, wish him a happy birthday. He was born Dec. 6, 1957, and as of today, he’s both the 56th governor of New York AND 56 years old.
NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is also in the city with no public schedule.
From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Manhattan BP and NYC Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer and executives, philanthropic officials and scholars speak during the Citizens Budget Commission’s conference about budget and economic concerns of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s administration; 58 E. 68th St., Manhattan.
At 8:30 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko holds a fundraiser, 6 Colonial Green, Loudonville.
At 8:45 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg delivers remarks at the Partnership for New York City’s annual meeting, Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave. at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn.
At 10 a.m., four Assembly committees and the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus hold a public hearing on the state’s laws governing the age of criminal responsibility, Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, 19th Floor, Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., Tonko calls on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to save money by exempting fire hydrants from EPA lead regulations in primary sources of drinking water, Latham Water Garage, 347 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham.
At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Joe Crowley is joined by elected officials, civic organizations, advocates and community members to announce the Silent Skies Act to address aircraft noise pollution in communities surrounding airports in Queens; LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal Rotunda.
Also at 10:30 a.m., AARP NY holds press conference to announce major recommendations for state support for 4.1 million unpaid family caregivers, Lilly Apartments, 36 Arthur Ave., Blasdell.
At 6:30 p.m., New York City Councilwoman and Manhattan BP-elect Gale Brewer serves as a guest ringmaster at the Big Apple Circus, Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, Manhattan.
From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil for Nelson Mandela outside the South African Consulate, at 333 East 38th St., Manhattan.
Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio on his new NYPD commissioner, Bill Bratton: ““I am choosing the best police leader in the United States of America. Plus (he’s) someone I trust on the philosophical level. We are kindred. We share the same beliefs.”
Although a man of modest background, Bratton, 66, has become part of a global law enforcement elite.
“Broadway Bill is gone. It’s Hollywood Bill whom de Blasio just hired.”
The job to which Bratton is returning is very different from the one he left. Crime is at all-time lows. New independent overseers will soon likely monitor the NYPD. Counterterrorism has become an important focus.
There’s skepticism that Bratton was the right pick to enable de Blasio to keep his pledge to reform stop-and-frisk.
People familiar with Bratton’s thinking said there would be significant changes in personnel, priorities and how the NYPD is organized and run.
Cuomo’s second tax commission is weighing a proposal with more than $1 billion in mostly property tax cuts, but debate over former Gov. George Pataki’s plan to slash the personal-income tax on the highest earners has helped delay the release of the group’s report.
It appears the commission will miss today’s deadline for issuing its report; members are now looking to next Tuesday.
Speaking at the Association for a Better New York’s breakfast at the Brooklyn Marriott, Mayor Bloomberg predicted New Yorkers will be living better for a long time due to his efforts on various fronts.
“The biggest risk we face…is the risk of failing to stay true to the values that made our city great, the values that make New York New York,” said Bloomberg, who was uncharacteristically emotion during his speech.
According to documents and interviews, state, local and federal officials had been aware for years that the crucial maps of flood risks were inaccurate; some feared they understated the dangers in New York City’s low-lying areas.
Dec 5th - 11:54 pm
Carl Paladino may have a powerful ally in his quest to oust the current Republican Leadership in both houses of the state Legislature. During a book a signing in Paladino’s hometown Thursday night, well known political operative Roger Stone seemed to back Paladino’s efforts.
“I think it’s unlikely the legislative leaders will step down from their incredibly lucrative positions where they don’t have to disclose their outside income. Although I agree with Carl Paladino, they certainly should be forced to do that,” said Stone.
Stone was in Williamsville signing copies of his book “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.” The event was not only held at a building owned by Paladino’s Ellicott Development, Paladino was on the guest list.
Paladino has been lukewarm about the prospects of mounting another run for governor in 2014. But he has made it clear he’ll challenge the Republican endorsed candidate on the Conservative line if they don’t join his efforts to remove Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“I think Carl is healthy in that he keeps the party honest. He’s kind of the party’s conservative anchor and you can’t win with just the conservatives, but you can’t win without the conservatives,” Stone said.
While Paladino continues to mull a re-match against Cuomo, several of his political allies are trying to recruit one of Stone’s friends, another bigname businessman, to run. Two Western New York assemblymen were part of group of Republicans who met with Donald Trump in New York City Wedenesday.
“I know some people over there. In fact, Roger (Stone) helped me make the meeting and it turned out to be a lot more than we expected,” said political strategist Michael Caputo.
Caputo, Stone’s protégé, ran Paladino’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Even after the meeting Caputo admitted convincing the real estate mogul to run for Governor will be a tough sell.
“I do believe the notion of Trump running for governor is still more of a fantasy than a reality, but it’s something he’s strongly considering. I think he was firmly in the no column when we asked for the meeting and yesterday, he told us after the meeting, he was in the maybe column. I’m not sure we’re going to get him to the yes column, but it’s a long drawn out process and something he has to talk to his family about over the holidays,” Caputo said.
Stone, who said he wasn’t directly involved in Wednesday’s meeting, believes Trump has his eye on something bigger, but he applauded the recruitment effort.
“I think Mr. Trump has made it pretty clear that he’s not interested in running for Governor although he has been a critic of the current administration. He’s certainly a proponent for fracking. He’s a proponent for tax reduction and job creation,” Stone said.
Whether a Republican candidate for governor would abide by Paladino’s demands remains to be seen, but Stone seemed to suggest they should at least listen.
“The party’s regular wing and the Tea Party wing have to come together. A divided Republican party, particularly in a blue state like this, would have no prospect.”
No matter who faces Cuomo in 2014, even Stone knows they’ll be facing an uphill battle.
“I would have to concede that Governor Cuomo looks very strong right now. He’s got $30 Million in the bank,” Stone added.
Dec 5th - 5:37 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo heads to Washington on Monday to raise hundreds of thousands more dollars – this time from some of the most wired lobbyists in the nation’s capital.
“Three press aides to the governor could not immediately confirm the event; his 2014 campaign office and the Washington lobbying firm hosting the fundraiser did not return calls for comment.”
Cuomo’s second tax commission is divided over former Gov. George Pataki’s push to recommend an income tax cut, and it may not issue a report tomorrow as planned.
In a rare display of public emotion, Mayor Bloomberg choked up when talking about his unborn grandson and the city that he hopes to leave for him
Chris Smith: “After all that talk about Sandinistas, Bill de Blasio may turn out to be a closet conservative.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton isn’t 100 percent on board with de Blasio’s pick of Bill Bratton to return to his old job as NYPD commissioner.
With this new job, Bratton’s role as an analyst at NBC News will be ending.
In the deeply divided Senate, 30 Republicans have opposed public campaign financing, as well as two Democrats. That leaves the measure one vote short heading into the January legislative session
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not pressed to weigh in on the most pressuring international current events of the day at a foreign policy forum last night.
Donald Trump cut two checks totalling $15,000 to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s successful re-election campaign this year.
Mayor Stephanie Miner said the Detroit bankruptcy case – and the ruling on pension rights in particular – might influence union contract talks in Syracuse, even though there’s little chance the city will enter bankruptcy.
Former Gov. George Pataki will headline a $1,000 a head fundraiser for Republican Congressional contender George Demos next week.
A new TV ad from Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns appears to show a gunman walking into a school at the same time Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook.
Rep. Pete King is heading back to New Hampshire.
Bill Clinton is a doodler.
De Blasio has trouble being on time.
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were in Central New York today.
Former Daily Gazette reporter Dave Lombardo and former Record city editor Jim Franco are teaming up to anchor a Sunday morning public affairs talk show on WGDJ-1300 AM.
Dec 5th - 4:40 pm
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is joining a coalition of investors to push corporate sponsors of the 2014 winter Olympic Games to use their influence and have Russian officials crack down on anti-LGBT activity and legislation in the country.
“The Russian government’s discriminatory laws have cast a shadow over the Olympics,” DiNapoli said. “We call upon these corporate sponsors to stand up for the respect and equality enshrined in the Olympic movement, advocate for human rights and confront abuses. Taking a stand against these prejudicial laws and policies is not just the right thing to do, it protects shareholder interests and corporate reputations.”
The coalition includes the state’s $160 billion pension fund, as well as the combined power of the city comptroller’s office and 19 investment firms as well.
The letters, sent to Olympic sponsors AtoS, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Omega (Swatch), McDonalds, Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung and Visa, said they companies have a “reputational risk” of being associated with the Olympics in Russia if they fail signal they oppose the country’s anti-LGBT laws.
Here’s the letter: