Archive for April, 2012
Apr 6th - 7:05 am
It’s going to be a quiet day in NYS politics as the Easter/Passover holiday weekend is underway. Enjoy your observance/celebration.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
The state Education Department issued annual school report cards for the 2010-11 school year, which showed that the ranks of teachers dropped 2.3 percent from the previous year and the number of paraprofessionals fell 17.5 percent.
LG Bob Duffy defended the Cuomo administration against criticism about lack of transparency, explaining: “A lot of the work gets done behind the scenes through shuttle diplomacy.”
NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott admitted he made an “unforced error” when he said he was “supportive” of talks n Albany to limit teacher evaluation data to parents and not the public at large.
UFT President Mike Mulgrew suggested NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn re-think her relationship with SKDKnickerbocker, because it’s representing a NYStudentsFirst, a new organization close to Bloomberg and at odds with the teachers union.
So far, Quinn is the only likely candidate for NYC mayor known to have an Irish grandmother who was a passenger on the Titanic.
State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs ignited one of the most contentious backlashes against a developer in recent memory in the Hamptons when he proposed a sports campground for 400 children on a 17-acre defunct tennis club.
Mitt Romney is expected to win New York’s primary on April 24, but because the contest is no longer winner-take-all, his rivals could pick up some of the state’s 95 delegates, too.
ABC’s new show, “Scandal,” is based on crisis consultant Judy Smith, whose advice made former Gov. David Paterson a “laughingstock,” according to one former aide.
NYC tried – and failed – to fire 14 of 16 teachers accused of inappropriate sexual behavior toward students. Those teachers are still on the job.
Apr 5th - 9:00 pm
Last year, lobbyist spending reached a new high. According to NYPIRG, 2,780 groups spent a total of $220 million. Legislative coordinator Bill Mahoney breaks down the numbers.
Apr 5th - 8:55 pm
As more and more pro-hydrofracking ads hit the air, opponents are also trying to build support. For Water Defense, that includes trying to put a human face on the potential risks. Water Defense Executive Director Claire Sandberg explains.
Apr 5th - 8:52 pm
The governor’s office is promoting the billions of dollars that will be going to infrastructure projects around the state as part of this year’s budget. But Empire Center Senior Fellow and Newsday columnist EJ McMahon is advising caution moving forward. He points out that New York is already one of the biggest spenders on bridge and road repairs, but the conditions of the state’s highways are some of the worst.
Apr 5th - 8:50 pm
The Citizen’s Budget commission has released their take on the 2012-2013 spending plan. And the commision found plenty to praise, but also a few areas of concern. CBC Vice President & Director of State Studies Elizabeth Lynam explains the review.
Apr 5th - 5:40 pm
Rep. Richard Hanna thinks the state pension crisis will be the tipping point that gets national debt under control.
Rep. Ed Towns re-election campaign has a very low profile.
Sen. Roy McDonald has the support of Columbia County Conservative Party – might a Conservative primary between the senator and Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione be in the offing.
Clyde Williams, one of the Democrats challenging Rep. Charlie Rangel, unveiled his campaign team, which includes Mayor Bloomberg’s former spokeswoman Silvia Alvarez.
NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens took Rangel to the hospital after he hurt it moving furniture for his wife, Alma. She says he’s now back home, even though she suggested he stay in.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has rolled out a radio advertisement that says it’s easier for NYPD officers to deal with criminals than with police hierarchy.
More on the awkwardness between Sen. Adriano Espaillat and his once, and possibly future, political rival, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.
Assemblyman Jim Brennan introduced a bill that would let voters approve – or reject – $4.5 billion in new money for statewide infrastructure, to be divided between downstate and upstate interests.
The Citizens Budget Commission gave the 2012-13 budget nine thumbs up and five thumbs down.
Happy Passover…and Easter!…from Cuomo.
And Chag Sameach from President Obama.
Bloomberg thinks being mayor is better than being president.
Keith Olbermann once threw – and broke – a glass mug on the Current TV set, prompting an email to the higher ups from a concerned staffer.
As expected, Olbermann has reportedly sued the network for wrongful termination.
So far, Eliot Spitzer is saving Current TV from being dropped by (our parent company) Time Warner. (Note: Yes, commenter, Time Warner Cable is indeed our direct parent. TY. – LB)
Cuomo announced the appointment of Justice Karen K. Peters to serve as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department. She replaces Judge Anthony Cardona, who died in early December.
Democrats are planning to run a candidate for retiring Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward’s seat.
Former NYC Councilman Allen Jennings is circulating petitions to run against Democratic Rep. Greg Meeks on the GOP line.
Assemblyman George Amedore doesn’t have a back-up plan if his Senate run doesn’t work out. He says he won’t seek re-election for his current seat.
Sen. Tom Libous has a challenger who is not Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.
From the Girl Scout blog, (which, I am sorry to say, I did not know existed): Hillary Clinton congratulating the organization on its 100th anniversary. I also didn’t know the former first lady-turned-senator-turned secretary of state used to be a Brownie, and also a Girl Scout. Ditto, Chelsea Clinton.
Apr 5th - 4:23 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s assistant counsel, Katherine Grainger, is leaving the administration to join Civitas Public Affairs Group as a principal and director of the firm’s new office in New York.
Grainger, who specializes in civil rights, labor, and education, will actually be launching the office for Civitas, a national firm based in Washington, D.C. that specializes in public policy at all levels of government.
Founding members of the firm previously worked for the Gill Action Fund, which is best known for its efforts to unseat anti-gay lawmakers and elect pro-gay-marriage candidates in gubernatorial offices and state legislatures around the country.
“Few people have Katherine’s experience, relationships, and reputation for making things happen and getting things done,” said Patrick Guerriero, a founding partner of Civitas Public Affairs Group (and former executive director of the Gill Action Fund.
“She is someone trusted by her colleagues who has been at the center of some of the leading public policy debates in modern state history. Her wealth of knowledge will be immensely beneficial to our clients.”
Grainger is a well-regarded and low-key presence in the administration. She joined the Cuomo team after working for the Senate Democrats – a stint that required her frequent presence in court during the infamous Senate coup of 2009. Prior to getting her start in state government, Grainger worked at NARAL Pro-Choice NY and the National Center for Reproductive Rights.
Among her portfolio of issues while working for the administration was the Marriage Equality Act – arguably Cuomo’s biggest policy achievement, at least on the national stage, since he took office last January.
Grainger’s decision to depart Albany is also notable because departures from the top echelon of Cuomo aides are rare. The work load for high-level staffers is considerable, and this governor is particularly hard-charging and known from demanding quite a bit from his staff.
Burnout rate at that level tends to be quite high. Nevertheless, we have seen few people leave the administration. The main exception is Steve Cohen, Cuomo’s former secretary, who left last summer after coordinating the administration’s successful push to get the gay marriage bill passed by the Legislature.
Interestingly, Cohen provided a quote to Civitas for its announcement on hiring Grainger. No current members of the Cuomo administration are quoted.
“Katherine is an outstanding attorney, a shrewd strategist, and a tremendously knowledgeable policy expert,” Cohen said.
“She was a critical member of the team that worked so successfully in Albany on behalf of the Governor. I have no doubt that the skill that made Katherine so effective in Albany will be a welcome addition to Civitas and a tremendous benefit to her clients.”
Apr 5th - 3:22 pm
NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich has seized on this morning’s NY Post report of a top Queens GOP official’s suspension by the NYC Board of Elections after being caught soliciting a “finder’s fee” from a voting machine contractor to continue his on-again/off-again war with the borough’s Republican chairman, Phil Ragusa.
The councilman said Ragusa’s defense of Queens GOP First Vice Chair Stephen Graves is a “slap in the face” to rank-and-file party members, and he called on fellow elected officials and GOP leaders to boycott the Queens Republican Party dinner, which is scheduled for April 18.
There has been infighting in the Queens GOP since time immemorial, and Ulrich is allied with the forces that have long sought to oust Ragusa – namely former NYC Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene and the Haggerty brothers.
In a statement released this afternoon, Ulrich said he was “appalled, but not shocked” by the Post story that Graves was suspended from his $66,392-a-year job at the board after being caught on tape soliciting a $25,000 “finder’s fee” from Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, which was competing for a a $65 million electronic voting machine contract in 2009.
Graves reportedly recommended Dominion employ a particular (unnamed) lobbyist for $250,000 a year over five years – as long as he got a cut for the tip. Dominion did not get the contract, which went to Nebraska-based Elections Systems & Software.
Ragusa defended Graves to Post City Hall Bureau Chief David Seifman, calling his first vice chairman honest while also noting that he had no knowledge of what might have happened in 2009. That infuriated Ulrich, who said:
“For Phil Ragusa, as head of the county organization, to defend Graves as ‘honest,’ even after Graves refused to cooperate fully with the Department of Investigation, is a slap in the face to the rank-and-file members of the Republican Party.”
“Ironically, I also received an invitation in the mail today from Mr. Ragusa asking for my attendance at his upcoming spring fundraiser on April 18th. Because Mr. Graves’ name is prominently featured on the invitation, I simply cannot, in good conscience, attend or support this event. I am also urging my colleagues in government and other party leaders named on the invitation to boycott this function.”
Ulrich’s call for a boycott puts a number of elected officials in a tight spot, including Rep. Bob Turner (an Ulrich ally), who is running for the US Senate, and NYC Councilman Dan Halloran, who is running for congress in NY-6. Both are noted as “honored guests” on the dinner invite, along with state GOP Chairman Ed Cox and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
UPDATE: Turner spokesman Bill O’Reilly tells me Turner will NOT be attending the Queens GOP dinner because he has to be in Washington. The House returns from its recess on April 16.
Apr 5th - 2:54 pm
The Committee to Save New York, a statewide coalition of businesses, real-estate companies and chambers of commerce, hasn’t taken a position on increasing the state’s minimum wage.
“We have not discussed this issue as a group at this point,” said CSNY spokesman Michael McKeon in an email. “Our focus has been on the budget, pension reform and getting the economy moving.”
For two years now, the group has backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budgetary aims. Last year, the group ran ads in favor of a budget that reduced spending and closed a $10 billion deficit without raising taxes. Later, they backed Cuomo on the 2 percent property tax cap and the overhaul of the tax code.
The 2011 efforts totaled $11.8 million.
This year, the group focused its resources on the new, cheaper retirement tier for public workers.
As proposed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, the minimum wage would increase from $7.25 to $8.50, one of the highest in the country. It would then be tied to inflation for future increases.
Cuomo has not taken on a position on the Silver proposals or a similar measure that’s backed by Sen. Adriano Espaillat, though has supported past wage hikes.
Cuomo says he does not coordinate with CSNY.
The issue seems to be dividing the business community. The Retail Council tells Gannett they would be open to a compromise deal that would gradually increase the minimum wage. The New York Farm Bureau’s Julie Suarez told me via email that the organization is opposed.
Apr 5th - 2:53 pm
Even the secretary of state’s own husband, former President Bill Clinton, said he would be “happy” if the former senator changes her mind about not running for president.
(He also said he would be equally happy if she doesn’t run, adding that he believes her when she says she’s not interested in another campaign, misses her and is looking forward to having her home in Chappaqua).
But is Sen. Chuck Schumer ready to jump on the Hillary-for-president bandwagon again? Not quite.
“Much too soon to speculate. I supported her in 2008. We’re still good friends. We have dinner every so often. But I don’t bring the subject up, and neither does she.”
Asked if he believes Clinton might change her mind, Schumer replied: “No idea. I have no idea.”
Music to the ears of any number of aspiring Democrats, I’m sure, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.