Heastie’s Speaker Bid Gets Partnership Nod

As the Democratic conference rapidly coalesces around Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie for speaker, his bid won some institutional support on Saturday from the Partnership for New York City.

In a statement, the group suggested Heastie becoming the successor to Sheldon Silver was a march toward inevitability, despite Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan remaining in the race.

The group, which represents a consortium of monied New York City interests, holds sway over the business community and has often spoken warmly of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s own policies.

As speaker, Heastie will be a “strong and responsible leader” the group said.

“The New York State Assembly must move promptly to put leadership in place that can get a budget completed before April 1 in order to prevent further loss of confidence in our state government,” said the group’s president and CEO, Kathryn Wylde. :It appears that Assemblyman Carl Heastie will be the next Speaker and, after many years of working closely with him on issues of importance to the business community, I believe that he will be a strong and responsible leader. Carl is not only a smart political strategist, but also understands complex fiscal and economic issues, which is a combination of qualities that prepare him well for this new role.”

Silver is due to resign as speaker at 11:59 p.m. on Monday night after his arrest late last week on corruption charges. He will retain his seat in the chamber as he fights the charges.

An election for Silver’s replacement will be held on Tuesday.

Silver To Resign As Speaker Effective Monday Night

Sheldon Silver will resign his post as Assembly speaker effective 11:59 p.m. on Monday, his spokesman confirmed this evening.

Silver, who has held the job since 1994, will submit his letter of resignation to the Assembly clerk.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, is not stepping down from his Assembly seat.

The resignation is the cap on a tumultuous week in Albany that began with members of the Democratic conference announcing they had lost confidence in his ability to continue as speaker.

Silver was arrested last Thursday and charged with five counts of felony corruption stemming from referrals that federal prosecutor allege were actually bribes and kickbacks.

Assembly Democrats had emerged from closed-door meeting on Tuesday to announced Silver would vacate the office — either through a resignation or a forced ouster — by Monday.

Assembly Democrats over the last several days have coalesced around Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie to succeed Silver. If elected, he would become the first African-American to hold the post.

Also in the race for speaker is Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan.

Extras

Following Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s demise, restoring the public trust in government through a robust reform agenda should be Cuomo’s top priority, the NYT says.

Here’s what Assembly Speaker-in-Waiting Carl Heastie looked like in 1985.

Heastie will meet with a caucus of reform-minded lawmakers on Monday.

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill slammed the potential Thruway Authority-Bridge Authority merger, saying the Bridge Authority shouldn’t subsidize a new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The Senate Republicans released their analysis of the governor’s 2015-16 budget.

A long-sought measure to permit Buffalo to handle traffic violations within city limits and keep the revenues has been vetoed by Cuomo. He pledged to adress the issue in the budget.

The end of an era: There are plans at the Daily News to close down the Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens bureaus in the coming weeks.

Sen. Simcha Felder tried to chase down a shoplifted, who was later taken out by three NYC sanitation workers.

Public service commissioner Garry Brown has submitted his retirement papers and will step down next week.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged not to harm any groundhogs next week, though it’s unclear if he’ll be on Staten Island for Groundhog Day.

Cuomo has made his first pocket veto by failing to act on a 2014 bill that would have made the disciplinary process for police officers a matter to be worked out in labor negotiations.

…”Better late than never,” says EJ McMahon.

The governor also rejected a bill that would have allowed Nassau County Off-Track Betting Corp. to get a share of revenue from a local competitor – Belmont Park.

Former Sen. Greg Ball appears to have spent campaign funds on his new consulting business in Texas.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne says Rep. John Katko’s bill calling for a security study of the northern U.S./Canadian border “appears to be purely political.

Mitt Romeny won’t be making another presidential run in 2016.

Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate, sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs.

Add Manhattan Sen. Liz Krueger to the long list of people with questions about Cuomo’s $450 million plan to build an elevated train to LaGuardia Airport.

Cuomo wants to pull the plug on a free state website that provides details about New York doctors’ medical malpractice records, hospital affiliations and other background information.

This weekend’s Super Bowl won’t only be showcasing the NFL’s top football teams. It will also show off a new stadium lighting system that was created in Syracuse.

Never before seen footage shows the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie falling out of a chair last June during a visit to the WIP Morning Show.

Andrew Doba, who was communications director to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, has joined New York City-based Stu Loeser & Co. to expand into the Nutmeg State.

Great profile of veteran New York Daily News reporter Kerry Burke. (AKA a NYC “tabloid warrior”).

Under Heastie, Committee Chairs May Stay Put For Now (Updated)

In the short term, lawmakers do not expect Carl Heastie to make wholesale changes to the Assembly’s leadership structure if he succeeds – as it now appears he will – in becoming the chamber’s next speaker.

A number of lawmakers with deep ties to the embattled incumbent speaker, Sheldon Silver, have key committee chairmanships: Denny Farrell at Ways and Means, for example; Joe Lentol at Codes and Deborah Glick at Higher Education – to name a few.

Already, Heastie has pledged to keep Joe Morelle, of the Rochester area, the majority leader, publicly announcing that intention not long after Morelle announced he was ending his bid for the speakership and throwing his support to Heastie. Farrell, too, is expected to stay Ways and Means chairman – at least through the budget season.

Lentol, who had sought the speakership until bowing out on Thursday and backing Heastie, acknowledged the Bronx Democrat is likely to make changes.

“If he decides in his wisdom to make changes, he’ll make them,” Lentol said. “It doesn’t make sense for him in the beginning of his tenure to change things all over the place. That’s just my opinion…I didn’t have the temerity to ask for anything. It’s up to him. He’s going to be the speaker.”

But Lentol made a pitch, too, for saying on as chairman of his committee, which will have a key role to play this year as lawmakers mull criminal justice reforms in response to the upheaval surrounding the Michael Brown an Eric Garner cases.

“I think I can help (Heastie) as Codes Committee chairman and help him with the tumult of becoming speaker,” Lentol said.

Heastie is expected to become speaker as early as next week. Silver is expected to vacate the office on Monday and state lawmakers today said they expected a vote either Monday or Tuesday.

Silver will not be resigning his seat in the Assembly as he he battles federal corruption charges. He isn’t required to give up his seat unless he is convicted of a felony. It’s not clear where Silver will be assigned to sit in the chamber once he is no longer speaker, though Lentol expects him to be in the back of the room, with other senior members.

The back of the chamber is actually a choice spot, given the proximity it offers to staff.

UPDATE: A source close to Heastie confirms the speaker-in-waiting isn’t planning to make any wholesale changes once he takes the speaker’s chair.

“One thing about (Heastie), he’s very deliberate,” said the source, who has been in close contact with the Bronx assemblyman throughout the speaker’s race. “You can’t step in amid a budget process and make everythig chaotic. You need to keep as much institutional knowledge in place…Once the budget is done, he can take a long break to breathe, and then look at what needs to get done.”

In other words: There will be changes under the Heastie regime, but not in the near term.

This source said Heastie did not make any promises to members regarding committee or leadership posts in return for votes. There are, however, several empty positions available for him to dole out, some of which are high profile and/or carry big lulus – including speaker pro tempore ($22,000) and assistant speaker ($25,000), held by former Long Island Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, and former Brooklyn Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, respectively.

The Environmental Committee and the Aging Committee are also currently without chairs, thanks to the retirement at the end of last year of Long Island Assemblyman Robert Sweeney and Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman.

On Wednesday, a joint legislative budget hearing on the environmental portion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget was held regardless of the committee vacancy in the Assembly.

Also worth watching: The future of the Education Committee, currently chaired by Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, who so far has refused to join her (now former) fellow speaker candidates and drop out of the race to clear the way for Heastie. Nolan is an outspoken champion of public schools, and a strong NYSUT/UFT ally. Losing her at a time when the unions are gearing up for a major battle with Cuomo over education reform would be disruptive – to say the least.

It would be difficult for Heastie to bounce Nolan, however, even if she hangs in until the bitter end with her bid for the speaker post. Punishing her would run counter to the “reform” mantra the Assembly Democrats – including Heastie – have been repeating in the face of Silver’s demise, and it also would not likely sit will with the female members of the conference.

Heastie Picks Up Five More Votes For Speaker

A group of five state lawmakers from Manhattan on Friday afternoon endorsed Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie for Assembly speaker.

Among the latest batch of Heastie supporters is Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who has been acting as an unofficial spokesman of sorts for the “Reform Caucus” of lawmakers.

The other Heastie supporters include: Guillermo Linares, Dan Quart, Robert Rodriguez and Rebecca Seawright.

“Having carefully considered the candidates for Speaker of the New York State Assembly, we have endorsed the Honorable Carl Heastie, as the best choice to lead the Assembly,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We look forward to working together with him to ensure that the Assembly lives up to our aspirations to serve our respective constituents and all New Yorkers equitably, honestly, and effectively, through a truly participatory legislative process.”

Queens Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan remains Heastie’s only opponent after Joe Lentol and Joe Morelle dropped there bids and endorsed him.

Wage Recommends Hike For Tipped Workers

A wage board convened by the state Department of Labor recommended on Friday that workers in the hospitality and service industries who receive tips should have their minimum wage increased from $5 to $7.50 by the end of 2015.

A component of the recommendation would require servers be paid $1 less if their hourly pay exceeds the minimum wage after tips.

The state’s minimum wage is set to increase from $8.50 to $9 by the end of the year.

Advocates for a minimum wage increase had pushed Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call for the wage board after a minimum wage agreement with state lawmakers excluded tipped workers.

The move, which still must be approved by the state labor commissioner, was blasted by industry groups who said it would threaten their ability to hire and keep prices low for customers.

“This decision will handcuff small businesses’ ability to create jobs, decrease the pay of non-tipped employees, and reduce hours for tipped employees,” said Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. “Nobody won today.”

Cuomo this year supports another increase in the minimum wage, up to $11.50 for New York City and $10.50 for the rest of the state.

Speaker Vote Likely Next Week

With Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie locking up support to become the next speaker, lawmakers acknowledged on Friday it was likely a vote could be held as early as Monday or Tuesday to have him permanently replace the embattled Sheldon Silver.

“We could potentially do it by next week,” said Westchester County Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “If Carl has enough support, which considering Joe (Morelle) pulled out and Cathy Nolan is left in the race, it’s very possible.”

Initially, the plan was for Morelle, the Assembly majority leader, to become acting speaker until Feb. 10, with a leadership vote held by then. Morelle today dropped his own bid to become speaker, and backed Heastie.

The idea was to give the candidates for speaker enough time to build support over the next several weeks. But with support for Heastie rapidly gaining steam, that plan at this point appears to be moot.

Another suburban lawmaker, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti said it was preferable to get the new speaker in place sooner rather than later.

“There could be a vote on Monday,” Abinanti said. “We’ve resolved the issue. We’ve come to someone who has the votes it appears, so there’s no reason to amend the rules.”

Lawmakers expect at the very least to have a vote potentially as late as Tuesday to replace Silver, who is expected to vacate the office by Monday.

Silver is yet to resign from the post and could face a public ouster by his colleagues if he does not.

Either way, lawmakers are pointing to the Assembly’s rules, which make the majority leader the interim speaker until the Assembly reconvenes in Albany.

If the Assembly meets in an actual session on Monday and without a resignation from Silver in hand, the rules would have to be amended for a leadership vote the following day, Tuesday.

“Either we’re going to have an election on the third or the 10th,” said Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan. “It matters pretty much whether we can get a consensus in the conference.”

Regardless, lawmakers may want to wait and huddle in closed-door conference on Monday with Heastie to discuss what direction he’ll take the chamber.

Lawmakers are hopeful the next speaker will bring needed changes to the chamber and potentially democratize aspects of what is considered a place that follows a top-to-bottom approach in governing.

“I, along with any member of the body for less than five years we want to shake up the rigidity based on seniority,” Ryan said. “We’re hoping that with the new speaker there will be more openness of bringing the assembly into really a modern body.”

Through Pocket Veto, Cuomo Nixes Police Discipline Bill

A bill that would have made police disciplinary procedures subject to collective bargaining has been nixed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo let the bill die through a pocket veto, essentially taking no action on the measure after he received it at the end of December from the state Legislature.

The bill, approved at the end of the legislative session, had received renewed attention after Staten Island man Eric Garner was killed in a choke hold by a New York City police officer, who was subsequently not indicted by a grand jury, setting off a debate about police procedures, community relations and arrest tactics.

Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said in a statement that previous incarnations of the legislation had been struck down by Cuomo’s predecessors, including the current governor himself.

“Versions of this legislation have been passed by the Legislature fours times over four different administrations. Each previous administration believed this issue is best left in the purview of publicly accountable elected officials and thus, the bills were not signed into law,” Azzopardi said. “At this time, this administration does not see a compelling reason to disagree.”

The legislation was backed by the police unions, but opposed by the NYPD’s leadership as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Heastie: Morelle To ‘Play A Greater Role’ As Majority Leader

Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the leading candidate to become speaker of the state Assembly, said he has asked incumbent Majority Leader Joe Morelle to stay in that post and have more influence in that office, the Bronx Democrat said in a statement.

Morelle dropped his bid to become speaker in a statement this morning as support for Heastie to succeed Sheldon Silver is coalescing.

In a statement, Heastie says that both he and Morelle will “work hard every day to build consensus” and bring about new reforms.

“I have been proud to call Joe Morelle a friend for many years and I am honored to have his support to become the next Speaker of the New York State Assembly,” Heastie said. “Over the past week, he and I have spoken daily about our shared commitment to restoring the integrity of the State Assembly, an institution we both care about greatly. In the days and months ahead, I will continue to rely on his counsel. I have asked Joe to remain as the Majority Leader and to play a greater role in that capacity. Joe and I, along with our very talented colleagues in the Democratic conference, will work hard every day to build consensus, enact meaningful new reforms, and create opportunity for all New Yorkers. We look forward to starting a new chapter for the New York State Assembly and the people we all serve.”

Morelle, of the Rochester area, is considered popular among his colleagues and the majority leader’s post is traditionally given to an upstate lawmaker.

Morelle was the lawmaker who informed Silver personally he had lost the confidence of the Democratic conference this week.

Friends Of Democracy Pushes Speaker Candidates On Public Financing

The political action committee that has for the last several election cycles pushed public financing for campaigns in New York is out with letters to the two remaining candidates for Assembly speaker to push them to publicly support a small-dollar matching system.

“Specifically, I urge you to publicly state that you will insist that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to provide matching funds for small donations for all state offices is not removed from the Governor’s budget proposal,” wrote Friends of Democracy Director David Donnelly. “Your public pledge would signal to the citizens of the state that a new day is possible in Albany.”

Donnelly noted that adopting such a system would restore the public trust that “has been shattered by a parade of money in politics scandals over the past decade.”

Outgoing Speaker Sheldon Silver faces five counts of corruption charges stemming from his use of referrals, which federal law enforcement alleges are masked as bribes.

The letter was sent today to both Carl Heastie of the Bronx and Cathy Nolan of Queens, the two remaining lawmakers who are running for speaker.

Friends of Democracy is an independent expenditure committee supported by Jonathan Soros, the son of liberal financier George Soros.

The group has been largely the most active in state Senate campaigns on behalf of Democratic candidates that back public financing.

Ny Speaker Letters by Nick Reisman