Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

‘Breaker of Dreams’

A reader forwarded this photo of a “diploma” found posted in the women’s room on the 6th floor of the LOB following the failure of the DREAM Act on the Senate floor.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is meeting at City Hall in Manhattan with Sen. Chuck Schumer this morning.

At 8:30 a.m. NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Inez Dickens, and Rep. Charlie Rangel host a business breakfast in Harlem, 2620 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., transportation engineer and planner Sam Schwartz and representatives of MOVE NY and the Regional Plan Association outline a new congestion pricing proposal; conference center, room 14-220, The William and Anita Newman Vertical Campus, Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson speaks at student assemblies during a school tour, Sullivan West Secondary School, State Route 52, Lake Huntington.

At 10 a.m., Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle holds a press conference on the local impact of the proposed state budget for health programs, Finger Lakes Health System Agency, 1150 University Ave., Building 5, Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will testify before the NYC Council Public Safety Committee on the budget, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Gibson meets with state and federal officials to for a roundtable discussion on rural development, SUNY Sullivan, 112 College Rd., Loch Sheldrake.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Rep. Dan Maffei holds a forum on green jobs, Gateway Center, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1 Forestry Dr., Syracuse.

At noon, financial executive Dimitri Akhrin, Sen. Martin J. Golden, the president of the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Robert Howe, and other business officials hold a news conference to outline a legislative proposal that would require credit cards issued to state residents to include “smart chip” security technology; 251 86th St., Brooklyn.

Also at noon, Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Steve Englebright will be holding a press conference to discuss the status of the Port Jefferson Power Station repowering, Jeanne Garant Harbor Park at the Village Center, Port Jefferson.

At 12:45 p.m., de Blasio makes an announcement, Seward Park, corner of Essex Street and Canal Street, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., Assemblyman Luis R. Sepulveda, Bronx Community Board 6 members and other government officials hold a news conference to mark this month’s 24th anniversary of the deaths of 87 people in an early Sunday, March 25, 1990, arson fire at the Happy Land Social Club Inc.; Southern Boulevard and Tremont Avenue, the Bronx.

Also at 1 p.m., Sens. Bill Larkin, Greg Ball and George Maziarz will tour Taylor Biomass Energy, 350 Neelytown Rd., Montgomery.

At 4:15 p.m., hundreds of public school parents and teachers from Kenmore, Lakeshore, Hamburg and across WNY are expected to rally at Sen. Mark Grisanti’s office to “hold him accountable for breaking his promise to fully fund public education,” 65 Court St., #213 (Corner of Court & Niagara Square), Buffalo.

At 4:30 p.m., Cuomo is scheduled to host a reception at the executive mansion for Somos el Futuro attendees, but it’s unclear if many lawmakers will attend, due to their upset over the DREAM Act. (This is not on the governor’s official public schedule).

At 5:30 p.m., Sen. Tim Kennedy hosts a fundraiser, Statler City, 107 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

At 6:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman attends welcome event for Somos El Futuro conference, City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Albany.

At 8:30 p.m., Assemblymembers Peter Lopez and Nicole Malliotakis hold an event as part of the Somos El Futuro conference, Ballroom A, Hilton, 40 Lodge St., Albany.

At 10 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the NYC Council/public advocate reception at Somos el Futuro, the Hilton Albany, Ballroom B, 40 Lodge St., Albany.


The Cuomo administration spent $15.2 million since December on START-UP NY TV ads, $8.9 million of which was spent outside the New York media market.

The governor is reportedly pressing NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to settle the city’s charter school issues – including three lawsuits – so the state doesn’t have to step in. It’s unclear if Cuomo delivered this message personally, because he hasn’t spoken to the mayor in a week.

De Blasio said he didn’t know the “particulars” of the Cuomo administration’s efforts to discourage support for the mayor’s pre-K plan, but also insisted that pressure won’t stop legislators from backing it.

The governor and legislative leaders still have no deal on pre-K funding. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “We’re not close on anything until we’re close on everything.”

There will likely be an additional $240 million for education in the budget on top of what’s added for pre-K.

The de Blasio administration plans to quit fighting against the “prevailing wage” law — even though the Bloomberg administration had, so far, been successful in blocking it in court.

De Blasio is expected to name his new parks commissioner today.

An unusual partnership of Capital District OTB and a Rochester developer is proposing a casino development at Exit 23 of the Thruway at the compound of secluded homes where the prominent Noonan family – related to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – lives on the outskirts of Albany.

More >


State Police arrested Rochester Deputy Mayor Leonard Redon for drunk driving after stopping him for speeding on Interstate 490. He says his newly diagnosed diabetes was to blame.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders were meeting behind closed doors on the budget, protestors were getting arrested at the state Capitol.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the first bill into law of his administration: a mandate to require all businesses in New York with five or more employees to provide paid-time off to its workers.

Queens Sen. Tony Avella raged against the upcoming “Crow Down” contest in Palenville, calling it “inhumane.”

The New York State Gaming Commission is probing allegations of racehorse abuse unveiled by an animal-rights group’s undercover investigation at Saratoga last summer.

Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group, has spent $3.6 million on TV ads over the past three weeks attacking de Blasio.

Citizens Union released a report on how public campaign financing has provided more competition and more choices for voters in NYC.

Two workers were badly burned in a fire at the Larchmont home of former Public Integrity Commission Chair Michael Cherkasky.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that financial information for more than 500 state and local public authorities is now available on his transparency website,

Two Long Island legislators want Cuomo to halt the ongoing installation of overhead transmission lines strung between 80-foot poles from Great Neck to Port Washington by PSEG.

The Senate Democats are lobbying for the restoration of $92.5 million worth of state park funding that was left out of the chamber’s one-house budget.

Rep. Charlie Rangel and his two primary challengers will hold their first debate at the Harlem church that was once led by Rangel’s precedessor, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is abandoning Rangel and endorsing his chief challenger, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.

Congestion pricing, not dead after all?

Subways are getting dirtier.

Will former NYC Comptroller John Liu primary Sen. Tony Avella? Stay tuned.

Sen. Tom Libous: “I think the Dream Act has sailed this year. Its ship has sailed.”

The Assembly has adopted the first bill of the 2014 session: A measure authorizing the state to pay $6.2 billion in the coming year on past and new borrowing.

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis gets down to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

No big surprise here.

Here and Now

Happy Vernal Equinox! (Finally).

It’s going to be crowded at the state Capitol today, as advocates on the left plan to “occupy” the building at noon to protest the governor’s budget proposal. Some plan to engage in civil disobedience, so expect arrests.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany. At 10 a.m., he will host the Veterans and Military Families Summit, Hart Lounge, Egg Center for Performing Arts.

At 8:45 a.m., Rep. Dan Maffei speaks at the Small Business Administration’s Operation Start Up and Grow: Veteran Business Conference, Onondaga Community College, Gordon Student Center, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

At 9 a.m., Suffolk County Democrats host fundraiser, Albany Room Restaurant, Concourse, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 9:15 a.m., Sen. Joseph Griffo and Assemblyman Phil Steck hold press conference on legislation that would allow municipalities to join county self-insured health plans, LCA Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 9:30 a.m., the joint legislative budget conference committees on public protection, criminal justice and the judiciary; mental hygiene; and higher education will meet in hearing rooms A, B and C, respectively; LOB, Albany.

At 10 a.m., the joint legislative budget committees on environment, agriculture and housing; transportation; and human services and labor will meet in hearing rooms A, B and C, respectively; LOB, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Cuomo will host a Veterans and Military Families Summit in the Hart Lounge at the Egg Center for Performing Arts, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Joseph Crowley outlines a legislative proposal concerning child care for low-income families; The Child Center of NY’s Corona Head Start/Early Learn Program, 34-10 108th St., Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Michael Grimm will present a Congressional Recognition Award to I.S. 34 teacher Steve Curreri before an assembly of the school’s student body and faculty hosted by Principal John Boyle, I.S. 34, 528 Academy Ave. Staten Island.

At 11 a.m., during an event organized by the group Families for Excellent Schools, charter school administrators, community officials and families promote a state legislative proposal regarding the allocation of space in public school buildings to charter schools; Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 11:30 a.m., the joint legislative budget committees on economic development; health and education will meet in hearing rooms A, B and C, respectively, LOB, Albany.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a roundtable with working New Yorkers to discuss the paid sick leave bill, after which he will sign the legislation into law, Steve’s Craft Ice Cream, 4th Floor, 630 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Albany Law School is hosting “Game of Drones,” a symposium on the U.S. military’s use of unmanned aircraft here at home and overseas, 80 New Scotland Ave., Albany.

At 5 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will address members of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association and the Catskill Association of Tourism Service, Copper Tree at Hunter Mountain Ski Lodge, Klein Avenue, Hunter.

At 5:30 p.m., Rep. Chris Collins holds a fundraiser at The Clubhouse at Diamond Hawk, 255 Sonwil Dr., Cheektowaga.

At 6 p.m., Cuomo will headline a fund-raiser for Rep. Joe Crowley at The Dream Downtown Hotel- PHD, 355 West 16th St., Manhattan. (This is not on the governor’s public schedule).

At 7:20 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks to the Women’s Initiatives Networking, a forum of New York City-based women’s groups organized by the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women, Shiva Art Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 860 Eleventh Ave., Manhattan.


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s privately financed campaign to offer pre-K to all 4-year-olds in New York City spent nearly $236,000 in January and February, spreading much of the money among the same core group of political consultants behind his winning campaign last year.

Eight-six percent of voters support universal pre-K but they prefer Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to pay for it from the state budget over de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the rich by a margin of 54 percent to 35 percent, according to a new Q poll.

Cuomo’s office has pressured elected officials and others to pull support from de Blasio’s pre-K plan. Top Cuomo aide, Joe Percoco, is making the calls.

Cuomo promised to visit the site where two buildings collapsed on 116th Street in East Harlem, but did not say when.

A group of 13 Republican state senators has signed off on a letter to Cuomo asking him to ensure upstate hospitals get a share of $8 billion in federal Medicaid waiver funds.

The governor sweetened his unpopular property tax freeze plan, offering to provide property-tax rebates to homeowners in communities even if they don’t raise taxes.

Cuomo’s memoir, titled “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” will run 384 pages and will be priced in hardcover at $28.99. It will be available in bookstores on Aug. 5.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein caught some minor blowback from a group of labor and progressive protestors for his support this week of Cuomo’s plan to freeze property taxes.

People who ride MTA buses throughout New York City are now able to use their smartphones to find out when the next bus will arrive at their stop.

For the first time in two decades, NYC’s top officials are all Democrats and, broadly speaking, they have been supportive of the mayor and his agenda.

Howard Levine, A former top judge picked by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to oversee an ethics case appeal for Assemblyman Micah Kellner, works for Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, a prominent lobbying firm that has donated thousands of dollars to Assembly Democrats.

More >


Former Republican AG Dennis Vacco has been approached by party leaders and businessmen and asked to run for his old job. He’s considering it.

AG Eric Schneiderman says Marketwired has agreed to stop selling to high-frequency traders direct feeds of the information it distributes for clients.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed in a “town hall” telephone conference last night that he spends “less money than the preceding 10 governors, Democrats and Republicans.”

Cuomo is sweetening his property tax freeze plan in hopes of convincing skeptical lawmakers.

After months of work on his memoir, Cuomo appears to have settled on a publication date and title for his forthcoming book.

Competitors are questioning a proposal tucked into Cuomo’s budget that would give a Long Island-based company a health-care contract worth tens of millions of dollars without seeking competitive bids.

East Hills businessman and former Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Adam Haber next week will formally announce his challenge to Republican Sen. Jack Martins.

Common Core President Miles Rapoport says “America is watching” to see if Cuomo delivers on a publicly funded campaign finance system.

Hillary Clinton will turn 69 years old just before Election Day 2016, which would make her the second-oldest president after Ronald Reagan, who was also 69 and a few months on Election Day.

Clinton jokingly said she’s considering the title “Bossy Pantsuit” for her forthcoming memoir.

In the Chinese edition of his book “My Life,” Bill Clinton’s nickname is “Mr. Watermelon.”

New York State is “very close” to securing a final deal with federal officials for an $8 billion Medicaid waiver.

A handful of organizations, including Reinvent Albany, Citizens Union and the New York Public Interest Research Group, used smart phones to broadcast four Assembly committee meetings.

Republican Rob Astorino still intends to attend Somos this weekend despite a call from the Legislature’s two main DREAM Act sponsors that he stay away.

Ben Akselrod, a conservative Democrat who nearly unseated Brooklyn Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz two years ago, will challenge the state lawmaker again.

Darren Bloch, a veteran of both the media and government sectors, will become the new executive director of the Mayor’s Fund To Advance New York City.

Sen. Chuck Schumer’s wife, Iris Weinshall, the former transportation commissioner and current CUNY administrator, is a leading contender to chair the Prospect Park Alliance.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be this year’s principal speaker at Williams College’s 225th commencement on Sunday, June 8

Tenney Circulating NY-22 Petitions

Though she hasn’t yet formally declared her candidacy, it appears Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is moving forward with a primary challenge to Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

A source forwarded one of Tenney’s petitions that he said is being circulated in NY-22 by a Tea Party group. The assemblywoman and her conservative allies are apparently seeking volunteers to carry petitions in the district, which partially overlaps with the serpentine assembly district she currently represents (and was drawn into during the last round of redistricting, compliments of the Assembly GOP leadership, with whom Tenney doesn’t always see eye-to-eye).

In a brief telephone interview, Tenney said she still hasn’t made up her mind about running, but recognized she needed to be out with petitions if she wanted the option of doing so. (Due to the court-ordered June 24 congressional primary date, petitioning started on March 4 and only runs through April 10). The assemblywoman said she has “a couple more people, things that are going to go one way or another” before she decides whether to pull the trigger on a campaign, adding: “We’re working on that today and tomorrow.”

Tenney has repeatedly confirmed she was giving serious consideration to challenging Hanna, despite being discouraged from doing so by party leaders. Hanna is one of the more moderate members of the GOP conference in the House, and Tenney has accused him of being out of step with his district, which she says is more conservative since redistricting, and also “taking populist positions as opposed to taking the positions he said he would.”

Tenney has also slammed Hanna for joining a congressional gay rights caucus and consistently supporting abortion rights during his two terms in office.

A poll conducted recently for Hanna by McLaughlin & Associates found he would defeat Tenney by a wide margain.

Hanna has survived a conservative primary challenge before. Two years ago, he easily defeated a Tea Party candidate, Michael Kicinski of Earlville, who is planning a re-match this summer. The congressman then went on to a general election victory against his Democratic challenger, Dan Lamb, a former aide to retired Rep. Maurice Hinchey.

Michael Vasquez, a former stockbroker living in Binghamton, has declared his intention to challenge Hanna, which means this will be a four-way race if Tenney gets in. Congressional petitioning started March 4 and ends April 10.

Hanna has been endorsed by seven of the eight GOP county committees in NY-22 – Tioga County so far hasn’t weighed in – and also landed the Independence Party’s nod.

Thanks to the Legislature’s refusal to move the state-level primaries to coincide with the June House primary, the assemblywoman would not necessarily have to forgo seeking re-election to her current seat if she challenges Hanna and loses. But she insisted that she hasn’t given any thought to that strategy, telling me: “ I’m not going this because I’m planning on losing, and honestly, I haven’t given (an Assembly run) a lot of thought. I haven’t even gotten on the ballot yet.”

NY-22 petition for Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney by liz_benjamin6490

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

From 9 a.m. to noon, NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Inc. President and CEO Nick Lugo, U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel and officials from the Business Initiative Corp. of New York, ESD, the MTA and the U.S. Small Business Administration speak during a community economic development and small business seminar; The Silberman School of Social Work Building, CUNY’s Hunter College, 2180 Third Ave., Manhattan.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the New York State Transportation Equity Alliance holds its 3rd Annual NYSTEA Transportation Equity Conference at The Albany Room, One Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 10:45 a.m., state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah will speak at the “End AIDS New York” rally – an event that will outline steps the state can take to eradicate the disease by 2020 – the Well, LOB, 198 State St., Albany.

At 11:45 a.m., supporters of the Coalition for a Real Minimum-Wage Increase hold a rally; 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At noon, state lawmakers who represent the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese will present retiring Bishop Howard Hubbard with a proclamation honoring his years of service, Assembly chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks at the New York Building Congress Luncheon, STV Group Inc.m 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., IDC members and advocates for senior citizens will outline legislative proposals on how to address this growing affordability crisis for low-to-middle-income seniors, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1:15 p.m., state Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky will deliver remarks on financial regulatory enforcement at an event hosted by the Exchequer Club, St. Regis Hotel, 923 16th St., N.W., Washington.

At 1:30 p.m., Matthew Edge, founder of Money Out of Politics Democracy, a grassroots group hanging pro-campaign finance banners on highways and other landmarks in all 62 counties of New York, holds a press conference on getting Cuomo to keep his promise to include small donor matching funds in the budget, Capitol steps, Albany.

Also at 1:30 p.m., outgoing NYC Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty will testify at a budget hearing hosted by the NYC Council’s Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee, committee room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., victims of past alleged ConEd negligence hold a press conference in support of victims of the East Harlem explosion and call on the utility to replace decaying infrastructure to avoid further tragedies; Offices of Wigdor LLP, 85 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees holds a public hearing, State University Plaza, Front Courtroom, 353 Broadway, Albany.

At 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, Assemblyman Dan Stec and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis host separate fundraisers at the Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, International Brotherhood of Teamsters union President James Hoffa, Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Rangel, Israeli TV host Noa Rothman and AG Eric Schneiderman attend the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center’s award ceremony honoring Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd; Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Queens.

Also at 6 p.m., Sen. Jose Serrano holds a fundraiser at the University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 6:30 p.m., Sen. George Latimer holds a fundraiser at the Plaza, Empire State Plaza Concourse, Room 130, Albany.

Also at 6:30 p.m., the New York State Youth Leadership Council hosts a Shining The Light For The New York DREAM Act event, across the street from 250 Broadway, Manhattan.


Following the failure of the DREAM Act in the Senate, the blame game is well underway.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino blamed Cuomo for the DREAM Act’s demise.

Juan Gonzalez hasn’t been impressed by Cuomo’s “whispered response” to the DREAM Act, and says he has work to do if he doesn’t want to lose the support of Latino voters this fall. He’ll have a chance to start doing so at Somos el Futurp this weekend.

Carl Paladino is not running for governor, but he’s still trying to draft Donald Trump into the race.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval rating among New Yorkers has dropped since he took office in January, a new Q poll found, while NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton’s job approval remains high among voters.

The poll showed there is a “sharp racial divide” in voters’ optimism about the city’s future.

Astorino sought support from a crowd of conservatives gathered in Albany, saying, “Liberty is indeed on the line in the Empire State.”

“Republicans for Cuomo” co-chair Ken Langone issued a statement of apology for his “inappropriate” choice of words in linking the progressive strategy to fight income inequality to Nazi Germany.

That appeared to be enough for the governor, who was called on by liberals and Astorino to repudiate Langone’s comments and return his campaign contributions.

Cuomo is planning to make it easier for the state to yank the vehicle registrations of motorists who zip through toll lanes without paying and ignore collection efforts.

More >


Compliments of Bill Samuels’ EffectiveNY: “Cuomocchio.”

Former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell will wait until after the budget to decide whether to primary IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

A new Q poll poll gives NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio a 45 percent approval rating, with 34 percent of New Yorkers polled saying they disapprove of the mayor’s work.

Liberal advocates called on Cuomo to denounce Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone’s Hitler-related comments and return his campaign contributions.

Langone has issued an apology, calling his choice of words “inappropriate.”

Republican NY-21 candidate Elise Stefanik has a revamped campaign website.

SUNY has a new website, too, which you should visit ASAP for “mascot madness.”

Jeffrey Fenster is returning to the private sector in two weeks after a four-year stint as executive director of the Workers’ Compensation Board.

To mark Sunshine Week, the Cuomo administration touted the year-old open data initiative known as Open NY.

Chelsea Clinton says her father, the former president, has significantly improved his heart health by becoming “the world’s most famous vegan.”

“Probable U.S. presidential contender” Hillary Clinton is speaking tonight in Montreal.

Longtime NYC election lawyer Henry Berger has a new job with the de Blasio administration.

Another political action committee, “HillaryPAC,” joins the nine existing groups dedicated exclusively to electing, or defeating the former Secretary of State - who hasn’t yet declared a run.

Former Rep. James Walsh, a Republican who held the NY-24 seat for two decades, guided GOP candidate John Katko around D.C. last week. Katko might yet face a primary.

Organizers of a gun rally being held in Albany on April 1 say Donald Trump will speak at the event planned for West Capitol Park.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino picked up the endorsement of the state Rifle & Pistol Association.

NYC will pay $98 million in a settlement with a group of black and Hispanic firefighters who claimed that two FDNY entrance exams discriminated against minority applicants.

GOP Rep. Tom Reed, a top DCCC target this fall, formally announced his re-election campaign.

Village elections are taking place across New York today. Check TWCNews for results.


Here’s the gaggle Gov. Andrew Cuomo held with reporters following his property tax relief event in Utica earlier today. I’m posting it at the request of several colleagues and in response to the governor’s press office, which says my characterization on Twitter of the governor not taking off-topic questions is “false.”

TWC News’ Cara Thomas was at the event, and told us here at CapTon that she was unable to get any questions in – neither off-topic nor on – during the roughly five-minute Q-and-A session.

As you can see, there isn’t a moment when the governor or his spokesman, Matt Wing, say outright that off-topic questions won’t be entertained, but the reporters all start with on-topic questions – as is generally the practice, especially for TV folks who need soundbites for packages – and then run out of time when the governor informs them he has to get back to Albany.

Cuomo did get one off-topic question before he departed. It was about a local issue (the Stanley Center for the Arts).

Could the local reporters have been more aggressive in their questioning? Yes – they could have ignored on-topic questions entirely, and started right off the bat with off-topic questions about the DREAM Act and the Nazi comment by “Republicans for Cuomo” co-chair Ken Langone (both issues on which we here in Albany were hoping to get the governor’s comments).

But perhaps they thought they would have more time with the governor, and, to be fair, local reporters might not be used to the take-no-prisoners sorts of gaggles in which members of the LCA typically engage.

Make of this what you will.

Watch Here >> (TWC ID required)

After DREAM Act Fails, Senate Dems Divided On Klein (Updated)

The Senate Democrats aren’t all reading from the same playbook on the question of who’s to blame for the failure of the DREAM Act last night.

Some, like Deputy Minority Leader Mike Gianaris, are point fingers directly at IDC Leader Jeff Klein. Gianaris, who has long been at odds with Klein, said Klein had “failed miserably” because he was unable to get any of his power-sharing Republican colleagues to vote “yes” on the bill, and rejected the IDC’s argument that the Democrats aren’t united on this issue, either, saying: “If Senator Klein thinks things should pass when there’s only Democratic support, why did he leave?”

But others, including Sen. Jose Peralta, sponsor of the DREAM Act, declined to blame Klein, saying the Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame for refusing to produce even a single vote for the legislation.

UPDATE: After having some time to process the DREAM Act loss, Peralta changed his tune. At a press conference earlier today, the Queens senator said the DREAM Act supporters were “set up” by a surprise vote that was doomed to fail. He also said it’s time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step up and push for this issue to be part of the budget deal.

And Sen. Daniel Squadron, of Brooklyn, even gave Klein some half-hearted praise during a Capital Tonight interview, saying he IDC leader deserves credit for at managing to get the bill to the floor for a vote.

“Look, I am glad it was out there,” Squadron told me. “I don’t think you could call today a victory for anybody. The bill didn’t pass. The fact that we got 30 votes against 29 is a positive sign. The fact that there was the kind of passion that you saw was a positive sign.”

“But the victory here isn’t about some sort of parliamentary step. It’s about creating the DREAM Act in this state for the 4,000-plus students for whom it would make the difference in being able to get an education…I do think that having a vote is a positive step, and I think Senator Klein deserves credit for that. But today is not a positive day for the DREAM Act by any measure.”

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., who recently flirted with the idea of joining the IDC (which doesn’t appear to want him), was far more effusive in his praise, saying in one of his frequent “What You Should Know” missives that’s it’s time for his fellow regular Democrats to swallo their pride and work to get Klein and his fellow renegades back into the fold.

“We needed 32 votes in the Senate for the DREAM Act to pass, and sad to say, we lost by 2 votes,” Diaz Sr. wrote. “The vote tally was 29 Nays to 30 Ayes. Two Democratic senators voted against the DREAM Act. They were Simcha Felder from Brooklyn and Ted O’Brien from Monroe County in upstate New York.”

“All of the IDC Members, I repeat, were united with their leader, Senator Jeff Klein, voting yes for the DREAM Act … and we Democrats were left with egg on our faces.”

“You should know that there are reasons for many of my colleagues to be angry at Jeff Klein and the IDC Members. That is understandable! But we cannot continue to hold grudges. For the good of the Senate Democratic Conference, we should all put our pride aside.”

“By being able to convince the Republicans – even though they all voted against the DREAM Act – Senator Jeff Klein has proven to be a worthy leader. He is someone who keeps his word, and someone who could be of tremendous help for us Democrats to get back into the Majority.”

Watch Here >>