This user hasn't shared any biographical information
Posts by Liz Benjamin
Mar 9th - 7:20 pm
The state is expanding the “I SKI NY” bus service to make it easier for New Yorkers to hit 13 upstate ski slopes.
The Assembly’s one-house budget resolution will include a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for caretakers of the disabled and others at state-funded nonprofits.
With the state budget due at the end of the month, the Cuomo administration has yet to formally solicit requests from colleges interested in a much-debated plan to provide free courses to prisoners.
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing legislation that would more than double the federal child care tax credit — and also make it refundable.
Calling gun-show operators “our allies in the fight for gun safety,” AG Eric Schneiderman visited a Long Island gun show to trumpet a safeguard intended to ensure background checks.
The New York Times wants Cuomo to increase the amount of money the state is spending on the environment.
The Staten Island Advance editorialized in support of the IDC’s bipartisan approach.
The GOP-controlled state Senate Rules Committee introduced Cuomo’s ethics bills Friday night – including the one that would create a public campaign finance system. But as usual with Albany, all is not quite what it seems.
NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray on pre-K: “I’m not ready to settle for crumbs or table scraps or band aids. I’m ready to fight. I told my husband, I’m ready to go to Albany. I’m ready to make sure they see me…I’m ready to get loud.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio nominated Meera Joshi to head New York City’s taxi and limousine commission. She had served as the agency’s top lawyer from September 2011 until last month.
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James not only plans to sue to shut down “co-located” charter schools — her team wants a judge to suspend the admissions lottery for the 2014-15 academic year.
Erie County’s two elections commissioners this week will submit to the state Board of Elections results of their probe into a fundraising committee involving political operative G. Steven Pigeon, opening the possibility of a further investigation by State Police.
Rep. Greg Meeks, a Queens Democrat, and Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, have what one aide described as a “weird bromance.”
The Madison County Board of Supervisors plans to vote on a resolution opposing Cuomo’s tax freeze, and endorsing a state takeover of the local share of Medicaid.
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore has been laid up in an Albany hospital for a week with broken ribs and a possible punctured lung after slipping on ice outside his Buffalo home.
A pro-life group is employing the voice of an unborn fetus in a hard-hitting radio ad that targets Sen. Tim Kennedy, who recently “evolved” his position on Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act.
Sen. John DeFrancisco is upset that Cuomo is excluding state lawmakers from multi-million dollar economic development decisions, like the new nanotechnology hub in DeWitt.
Glens Falls education officials are skeptical universal pre-K will ever come to them, and worry it will be yet another unfunded mandate.
Erie County Republicans are divided over whether to support Sen. Mark Grisanti for re-election.
Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann slammed Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration during her speech at CPAC 2014, saying “We will have a woman president. Just the right one.”
Clinton is bringing on Terry McAuliffe’s political director from his successful Virginia gubernatorial run as a scheduler based in her personal office in New York.
New York Air National Guard Col. Dawne Deskins, commander of the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, is being promoted to brigadier general.
Mar 7th - 6:03 pm
Former “Manhattan Madam” Kristin Davis, a former NYC comptroller candidate and ex-gubernatorial contender, admitted to selling prescription pills.
The chairman of the Schuyler County Legislature called the governor’s property tax freeze plan a “cockamamie” idea.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Sen. Jose Peralta want to see DREAM Act fundnig in the Senate’s one house budget resolution.
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been called a “sleeper candidate” for 2016, but she insists she likes “the platform I have today.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled 50 proposed new outdoor access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts to 380,000 acres of untapped state-owned lands.
The Communications Workers of America is pitching upstate households on de Blasio’s plan to expand pre-kindergarten with a downstate tax.
Streetsblog wonders why Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said nothing about undoing the $40 million MTA raid in Cuomo’s budget, even though 32 Assembly members have called for a restoration of the funds.
Former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik says he hasn’t spoken to his old boss, ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in “years.”
The legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures is fighting to require two ex-aides to Gov. Chris Christie to provide records related to the matter.
Federal prosecutors have their eye on former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr.’s future pension.
Kathy Weppner, who earned a loyal conservative following as WBEN Radio’s “Kathy from Williamsville,” launched a challenge to Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez is unphazed by her potential primary challenger(s).
The Nassau Conservative Party will back Republican Bruce Blakeman in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy.
Sen. Bernie Sanders says he would make a better president than Hillary Clinton, even though he doesn’t have a “burning ambition” to do the job.
Former NYC Councilman Lew Fidler is returning to City Hall – this time to work for the Council as a part-time counsel.
The Ontario County Board of Supervisors debated Cuomo’s college-for-convicts plan before tabling a resolution in opposition to it.
CNN has been calling Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin about the AR-15 raffle at a Troy church.
Rochester has a new police chief.
The state has approved 12 tax-free zones tied to the University at Buffalo where businesses that locate new jobs could pay no state or local taxes for 10 years through the Start-Up NY initiative.
Mar 7th - 5:47 pm
When Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino brought his post-gubernatorial announcement statewide tour to Syracuse today, several high-profile local Republicans were quite obviously AWOL.
The first was Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey, who is hosting Donald Trump at a fundraiser next week. He told the Post-Standard that Astorino “certainly would be a very strong candidate for the Republican Party,” but stopped short of issuing an endorsement.
The second was Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, who angered fellow local Republicans – including Dadey – by crossing party lines in 2010 to endorse then state AG Andrew Cuomo for governor. Mahoney has been a close Cuomo ally ever since he was elected that fall, and has even been floated as a potential replacement for LG Bob Duffy on the ticket this fall, though that would likely require her to switch her enrollment.
I spoke to Mahoney earlier today for an interview that will air on CapTon this evening. I noted her absence at Astorino’s Central New York event, and asked if she would even consider endorsing him against Cuomo.
“I fully anticipated your question, and what I want to do is as much as it’s under my power, I want to stretch the political season out as much as I can,” Mahoney replied. “…Everybody’s really working well together, and we’re geting a lot accomplished. I know when the political season gets here and everybody moves to their own corners and is afraid to make the other side look good…That’s going to come, inevitably, but I’m really trying to push that out as far as I can.”
Mahoney went on to note all the bipartisan effort that went into local projects like the ampitheater/Onondaga Lake waterfront redevelopment (coming instead of the new Syracuse sports arena) and the $15 million nano/film center announced by Cuomo this week at Mahoney’s State of the County address.
I asked when Mahoney thought she might be ready to talk politics, and she replied:
“It’s not entirely under my control, because at some point the whole world is only talking politics. I don’t think we’re there yet. There hasn’t been any buzz about politics, it has really been about these projects.”
“So, sometime between now and November it will be the political season, and we’ll have those conversations. But I really am just trying to put that off as long as I can to try to keep everybody – Republicans and Democrats – continue to try to do things that we have not seen happen in Onondaga County in the recent past. It’s been great what’s been going on, and I really wish we could just push the politics off the to the side.”
You can catch my full discussion with Mahoney at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Capital Tonight.
Mar 7th - 4:39 pm
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has bucked the GOP establishment in his endorsement of George Demos over Sen. Lee Zeldin in the battle for the right to face Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1 this fall.
In a statement released by the Demos campaign, Giuliani called the candidate “a fiscal conservative who says what he believes and believes what he says.”
“As a former prosecutor, he knows the good guys from the bad,” the former mayor continued. “He will rattle the cages of the establishment. He’ll make a difference. And George would never support Obamacare. His voice will be heard in the halls of Congress, and I predict, throughout America.”
“I am impressed with George, his passion, his intellect, and his integrity. I am proud to endorse his candidacy and prouder still to call him a friend. George Demos is one of us. And it’s time for George Demos for Congress.”
In backing Demos, Giuliani is not only at odds with the majority of Republican and Conservative leaders in NY-1, who have lined up behind Zeldin, but he’s also on the same side as former Gov. George Pataki – an early supporter of Demos, who worked for Pataki when he was in office.
Pataki and Giuliani have not always seen eye to eye over the years, either on politics or policy, though their relationship improved markedly after 9/11 and toward the end of the governor’s tenure in Albany.
The state GOP has been vehemently opposed to Demos’ candidacy (sometimes a little too vehemently). The party is very keen on putting forward a united front against Bishop, who came close to losing his seat in 2012 and continues to be the subject of an ethics investigation in connection with his campaign fundraising.
Division within the party – and between Republicans and Conservatives – has previously weakened candidates’ chances of unseating Bishop.
UPDATE: A knowledgable reader notes that Demos’ campaign is run by two consultants: Jake Menges and Rob Cole. Giuliani is longtime Menges client, Pataki a longtime Cole client. So, there’s a certain element of doing some political favors here that is worth noting.
Mar 7th - 2:15 pm
The one-house budget bill submitted by the Assembly Democrats next week will include a revised version of the Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize marijuana for medical use.
Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who has long championed med-mar, confirmed that this is the first time in Albany history that the provision has been included in a budget bill by his conference.
“Unless something dramatic changes, yes, that is the plan,” Gottfried told me during a telephone interview this afternoon. “It’s my bill with some changes that we’ve worked up over the last couple of weeks that would have eventually gone into my bill except we’re putting them into the one-house instead…By putting it in our budget bill, we jump start a three-way discussion.”
“People might ask: Why does this belong in the budget? The answer is: When creating a new state program that’s going to cost money to administer and create a new source of state revenue, it’s perfectly acceptable to have it in a budget bill.”
One change was to have the excise tax proposed in Gottfried’s bill (being carried in the state Senate by IDC Sen. Diane Savino) from a certain number of dollars per pound to a percentage of the dispensing price. This was necessary, Gottfried said, because the sponsors realized that “a pound of dried leaf and a pound of oil extract are very different and should not be taxed the same.”
The other, more substantive change was the addition of provisions to speed up – at least on a temporary basis – the recognition of organizations that are registered to dispense medical marijuana. The way the bill had been written, it could take a year or two before product was available to patients, Gottfried said, due to the time required to write regulations, process registration applications and grow the plants.
How quickly marijuana could get into the hands of the people who need it remains something of an unanswerable question, due to the fact that the federal government would have to sign off if New York is to procure product from states where it is already legal.
“In order for this concept to work, we would have to get the Department of Justice to acknowledge that there’s nothing wrong if the product goes from one tightly regulated state to another tightly regulated state,” Gottfried said. “Because if not, there’s really no practical way anyone can think of to make product quickly available…And I really do not want to see babies dying for a year or two while they’re waiting for New York to get its system up and running.”
There has been considerable movement on med-mar in recent weeks in the Senate, with several Republicans expressing support for the Compassionate Care Act. This is widely attributed to the strong lobbying efforts put forth by a group of Western New York parents whose children suffer from devastating seizures, either caused by epilepsy or a disorder known as Dravet’s syndrome.
At least one Republican senator – Patrick Gallivan – has said he supports a very limited bill that would legalize a high CBD, low THC oil type of medical marijuana. In Colorado, it’s known as “Charlotte’s Web,” named after Charlotte Figi, who suffers from Dravet’s syndrome and was the first patient who had success with the treatment.
Gottfried said he considers it “inhumane” to patients who would need different kinds of med-mar treatment – like smoking to offset the nausea brought on by chemo, for example – to severely limit access to just one or a few types of the plant, adding: “It’s highly unlikely you could ever develop a production process in New York just to serve a dozen patients.”
The Assembly budget bill will not include any money in the coming fiscal year for med-mar, Gottfried said, because the assumption is that there will be little – if any – initial cost in setting up a med-mar system. The cost – as yet unknown – would ramp up in the 2015-16 fiscal year, but the assumption is that it would be more than covered by the revenue generated once the system gets up and running – revenue that Gottfried said could “possibly” exceed $100 million a year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a limited medical marijuana plan in his budget proposal that would be established via executive order, reviving a 1980s-era law that has been dormant for years. Gottfried and others panned this approach as cumbersome and too limited in scope. Asked if the the administration has taken any steps to implement the governor’s plan, Gottfried replied:
“If you find the name of anyone in the Health Department who’s working on this project, would you let me know? I’ve been trying very hard to find out that name, and so far I’ve gotten no response.”
The administration has indicated, through top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz, that the governor would “support” the Compassionate Care Act if it passes both houses and ends up on his desk.
Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos appears to have softened his stance on med-mar, saying he’s now open to legalizing marijuana-based oils and possibly vaporizers, but still doesn’t like the idea of “public smoking.” Skelos also has not yet agreed to letting a bill to legalize med-mar come to the floor for a vote.
Mar 7th - 6:27 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
GOP gubernatorial candidate/Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino continues his post-announcement statewide tour, starting with a 10 a.m. stop in Rochester at Beikirch Ammunition, 930 Linden Ave. He’ll be joined by Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.
At 9:30 a.m., Assemblyman Joe Lentol and Sen. Daniel Squadron discuss the Expedited Missing Persons’ Identification Act, which would require the state DCJS to promptly distribute information about unidentified dead bodies to law enforcement agencies statewide and, on request, to agencies outside of the state; 32 Penn St., Brooklyn.
At 10 a.m., Rep. Grimm Michael Grimm and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis will host NJDOT Commissioner Simpson at a meeting with local leaders to discuss the potential impact on traffic, infrastructure, and quality-of-life on Staten Island posed by the Pulaski Skyway closure, Community Board 2, Lou Caravone Building, 460 Brielle Ave., Staten Island.
Also at 10 a.m., The Geraldo Rivera radio show includes interviews with the Daily News’ Denis Hamill and Astorino, WABC.
At 10:30 a.m., the Cuomo administration hosts a “Pay for Success” symposium in the Blue Room, state Capitol, Albany.
At 11 a.m., Rep. Greg Meeks, Greater Jamaica Development Corp. executives and other local officials discuss plans for BRP Development Corp. to build a $225 million commercial and residential tower next to a station for the commuter railroad line serving John F. Kennedy International Airport, AirTrain JFK; 93-43 Sutphin Blvd., Queens.
At 11 a.m., County Executive Brooks and United Way CEO Peter Carpino will kick-off Monroe County’s 2014 United Way Campaign, Watts Conference Center, 47 S. Fitzhugh St., Rochester.
At 11:30 a.m., MTA member Allen Cappelli, Sens. Marty Golden and Diane Savino and Malliotakis mark the start of a campaign calling for the authority to establish a toll discount plan for Brooklyn residents; entrance to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Gatling Place and 92nd Street, Brooklyn.
At noon, Astorino will hold an event on the steps of Syracuse City Hall, 233 E. Washington St., Syracuse.
At 12:30 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will be at SUNY Sullivan to discuss the impact of the recent Farm Bill on rural economic development initiatives, Paul Grossinger Dining Room, 112 College Rd., Loch Sheldrake.
At 12:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray host 20 parent bloggers in the Blue Room at City Hall to discuss pre-K and after school programs.
At 12:30 p.m., Sen. Tony Avella and Environment New York host press conference to release information against the implementation of hydrofracking at Avella’s District Office at 38-50 Bell Blvd, Suite C, Queens.
At 2:30 p.m., Assemblymen Michael Benedetto and Jeffrey Dinowitz, IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane discuss efforts to help families afford college; Tognino Hall, second floor Duane Library, Rose Hill campus, 2691 Southern Blvd., the Bronx.
At 3 p.m., Astorino will hold an event at the LCA Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.
At 4 p.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter, Sen. Joe Robach and state DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald kick off an informational open house and public hearing on high speed rail, The Strong, 1 Manhattan Square, Rochester.
With Cuomo proposing hundreds of millions of dollars this year to pay for a pre-K expansion, a small group of school officials are arguing that the state should shore up its kindergarten offerings first.
Some 7,100 students, or 4 percent of New York’s kindergartners, are now in school for only about three hours a day, according to the State Education Department.
After being convicted on federal corruption charges, former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. could face as many as 100 years in prison when he’s sentenced in June.
One day after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced his gubernatorial candidacy, HUD opened an investigation into allegations of housing discrimination in the politically connected town of New Castle – home of Cuomo and Sandra Lee and (in the hamlet Chappaqua) Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Astorino kicked off his statewide campaign tour in one of New York’s most Democrat-dominated districts in the Bronx, invoking Ronald Reagan and pledging to “go where Republicans don’t typically go.”
A group of protesters held signs criticizing Astorino’s opposition to abortion rights and strict gun laws. Some joined the crowd behind him as he spoke, jostling with his supporters to position their signs in the view of the cameras.
Astorino then flew (commercial) to Buffalo, where Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy declined to appear with the county executive, saying he’s waiting to see if Donald Trump runs.
A supposedly hard-pressed Westchester County homeowner featured in Cuomo’s video promoting his property tax freeze is also the owner of a company, Candela Systems, that has received about $500,000 in contracts with the state Power Authority over the last few years.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was in Chicago last night for a summit with other big-city mayors on the challenges of governing urban cities, and defended his position on charter schools.
At the summit, de Blasio focused on “loftier” matters than his fellow mayors, lamenting the Tea Party’s influence on national politics, bemoaning what he described as the “culture wars” over education policy, and frequently referring to social inequality as his city’s greatest challenge.
Bertha Lewis, the former CEO and chief organizer of ACORN, says Cuomo is turning his back on public school kids by supporting charters.
Mar 6th - 5:13 pm
Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, said he is considering crossing party lines to endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for re-election.
Following the conviction of former Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. on corruption charges, there are now 12 vacancies in the state Legislature, and no sign of interest from the governor in calling any special elections.
Senator and congressional candidate Lee Zeldin will speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke at CPAC today, and urged conservative activists to set their sights on defeating liberal Democrats instead of purging moderate Republicans.
Contrary to the belief of Donald Trump, former President Jimmy Carter is not dead.
Trump and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani plan to attend a Friday, March 14 fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach.
Democratic NY-21 candidate Aaron Woolf, who has refused to answer reporters’ questions since he was selected to run by party leaders three weeks ago, says he’s a “press release kind of guy.”
Cuomo said a legislative solution which could provide “co-location” of charter schools within traditional public schools is being discussed with legislative leaders.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is proposing a new statewide database to help track what he calls a rising epidemic of heroin abuse.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is at odds with Cuomo, again.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio joked that he should take some time off work to catch up on “House of Cards.”
De Blasio claimed Cardinal Timothy Dolan as a high-profile ally in his fight for universal pre-kindergarten – but Dolan stopped short of supporting the tax on the wealthy de Blasio wants to fund the plan.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat has tapped NAN’s national field director to join his campaign as a senior adviser, adding another high-profile weapon to his repeat bid to unseat Rep. Charlie Rangel.
Marking the start of National Consumer Protection Week, AG Eric Schneiderman released the list of the top 10 consumer fraud complaints received by his office in 2013.
The Gotham Gazette has a new executive editor.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says New York’s multi-billion dollar, long-term capital planning process should be reformed to ensure funds are wisely spent.
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg might be called in to testify in the bias lawsuit against the FDNY.
Sen. Dave Valesky wants to create a Career and Technical Education diploma to recognize students for schoolwork that measures on-the-job learning and employability rather than traditional curriculum.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has named his seven appointees to a committee exploring the possibility of building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills.
The Buffalo chicken wing is 50 years old.
Mar 5th - 5:24 pm
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will move to dismiss ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s lawsuit that sought to scuttle a law banning biased-based profiling and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue the NYPD for racial profiling.
The Republican Governors Association was quick to praise Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s entry into the gubernatorial race.
Democratic NY-21 candidate Aaron Woolf plans to make himself available to the press – just not now.
“(Woolf) struck me then as a great guy to sit down and have a beer with. But we don’t elect candidates based on their charm.”
Joe Torre stars in a new “I (Heart) NY” tourism ad about Cooperstown.
New York City first lady Chirlane McCray will lobby for her husband’s pre-kindergarten plan in Albany next week.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos has softened his opposition to some forms of medical marijuana.
After pressure from gun control advocates and AG Eric Schneiderman, Facebook announced new policies to prevent people from using the site to illegally sell guns.
Facebook acted after a six-week online campaign by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns – Bloomberg-funded gun control advocacy organizations.
Sen. Chuck Schumer is lamenting the trade today that sent Rangers captain and Rochester native Ryan Callahan from New York to Tampa Bay.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said a space “crisis” in New York City schools should be fixed before Cuomo helps secure space for charter schools.
Rep. Dan Maffei broke with House Democrats again today to help Republicans pass a bill that delays penalties if individuals fail to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Hudson Valley Republicans sent a complaint to the FEC alleging Democratic congressional candidate accepted an illegal in-kind donation from a local economic group.
A church in Troy is giving away a “legally modified” AR-15 at an event focused on whether the Bible defends the right to keep and bear arms.
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Richard Cooper formally filed his paperwork with the state Board of Elections.
The Bloomberg Administration shelled out a record amount of overtime to municipal workers in 2013 – nearly $1.5 billion.
Every freshmen member of the Assembly has signed on to a bill that would strip public officials convicted of felony corruption of their pensions.
The DOT has fined CSX Railroad a total of $10,000 for failing to report as required two derailments last week that involved tank cars transporting crude oil.
Bloomberg will be the principal speaker at Harvard’s 363rd commencement.
Mar 5th - 3:11 pm
Lobbyists may be prohibited from buying lawmakers’ drinks, but apparently what goes underneath those drinks is fair game.
A reader forwarded this photo of a coaster that has been popping up in bars all over Albany, compliments of the state’s libraries.
The coaster is simple, direct and memorable way for libraries to urge legislators to fully fund their state aid at $102 million, as stiuplated in state Education Law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget included a 4.7 percent cut to library aid, providing just $81.6 million — the same amount that libraries and library systems received 16 years ago in 1997.
The coasters have been making appearances at establishments frequented by both legislators and legislative aids. This photo was taken at Pinto & Hobbs Tavern on Washington Avenue, but the coasters have also been spotted at Center Square Pub and LAX Lounge, and anecdotal reports place them at McGeary’s and The Victory Cafe, too.
So far, no one I’ve spoken to can recall ever seeing this tried before.
UPDATE: Mike Neppl, director of government affairs for the New York Library Association, sent me the following explanation of this initiative:
“NYLA is a statewide organization with 4000 active members, but we have a small staff. I needed a time and cost efficient way to get our message to policymakers that funding should reflect what New Yorkers have long recognized – libraries are a core component of our state’s educational infrastructure on which our children, families and seniors rely.”
“Having worked in government, I know that breaking through the wall of noise is difficult. So, why not get our message in people’s hands after-hours when they’re a bit more relaxed and might be more receptive? They’ve been in action for a week or so, and have gotten a great reception from members and staffers. Plus, they’re different. NYLA brought me on to ramp up our advocacy efforts and do things differently.”
Mar 5th - 12:59 pm
The war of words between former Oliver Koppell and the IDC, whose leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, the former councilman is eyeing as a potential political target, escalated still further this morning, with Sen. Diane Savino jumping to Klein’s defense.
In a statememt, Koppell accused Klein of declaring “war on Democrats across the state” by endorsing a Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant’s second primary challenge to “regular” Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy in Buffalo, and discussing a potential challenge to Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins by Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez.
Koppell noted that Stewart-Cousins is the first woman to serve as a legislative leader in Albany, and laced into Klein for daring to consider backing someone against her.
“He is nothing but a lapdog for Senate Republicans,” Koppell said of the IDC leader. “In acting to weaken Democratic Senate leaders, he is empowering Dean Skelos and his Republican colleagues to block progressive legislation.”
Savino responded to Koppell during an interview on “The Capitol Pressroom” with Susan Arbetter, calling the former councilman’s attack “most ridiculous comments” he has made to date.
“When it comes to be declaring war on Democrats and democracy, Oliver Koppell is guilty of that in spades,” Savino said. “…I think he should be very careful about the allegations or the charges he throws around.”
Savino noted that in 2009, it was Koppell who introduced the bill that extended term limits in New York City, allowing then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg and all Council members who were about to be out of a job – including himself – to ask voters to let them stick around in office for another four years.
“That was not just a slap in the face of the Democratic Party,” said Savino, who pointed out that Bloomberg’s Democratic challenger, former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, should have had a clear shot at the office and came close to unseating the billionaire mayor that year. “That was a skap in the face of democracy, directly overturning the will of the people.”