Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Extras

PEF President Susan Kent hopes Gov. Andrew Cuomo will face a Democratic primary challenger or a Working Families Party opponent.

Howard Glaser: “I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more progressive budget than we’ve had this year.”

Larry Schwartz called criticism of the budget “very silly” and “short-sighted,” adding: “The people that are criticizing it are the same people who for the last 30 years haven’t been able to get anything accomplished.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bonded over pre-K and worms.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the New York City Department of Education may restrict churches from using public school facilities for religious worship services.

Progressives’ plan after public finance loss: “(T)he best thing that can be done is to blame the Governor for failing to achieve what would have been an historic victory.”

Discovery and wire-walker Nik Wallenda will team up for a traverse of the Chicago skyline – tetherless! – this fall.

“The Spano family and the Cuomo family go back many, many decades,” former Senator and ex-con Nick Spano said.

The DMV will begin issuing red-bordered license plates to government officials and first responders.

Former Assemblywoman Diane Gordon, who was once imprisoned for taking bribes, has filed to run for district leader against Councilwoman Inez Barron.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on whether Hillary Clinton runs in 2016: “In every conversation I’ve ever had with her, I just have a sense that she knows how important this is for the nation and the world.”

Nearly 20 consultants and lobbyists are co-hosting a Ready for Hillary PAC fundraiser tonight at Capitol Hill restaurant Johnny’s Half Shell.

Rubain Dorancy, a candidate for Brooklyn BP Eric Adams’ old Senate seat, is holding a fundraiser April 14.

A state fund for researching spinal cord injuries received a $7 million boost in the budget.

Upstate is facing a doctor shortage.

A new scorecard rates 12 vulnerable House Republicans – including NY Reps. Michael Grimm and Chris Gibson – on their positions on immigration reform.

AG Eric Schneiderman announced a new program that will equip state and local police with a heroin antidote to treat overdose victims at the scene.

Ralph Wilson’s widow, Mary, now is running the Buffalo Bills.

David Letterman is expected to discuss his plan to retire in about a year on tonight’s edition of “The Late Show.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office has not yet released his public schedule, though he’s likely to continue touting the 2014-15 budget.

At 8 a.m., Stroock Government Relations holds the Government Leadership Forum: What’s Going On at the World Trade Center?, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center honors New York City Council members who received an A grade in the New York City Council Human Rights Report Card, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes an announcement, Suffolk County Police Department Training Academy, 502 Wicks Rd., Brentwood.

At 9:25 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate/Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will be a guest on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” with Chuck Todd.

At 9:30 a.m., Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Environment New York Field Associate Sarah Vitti holds a press conference to release a letter against the implementation of hydrofracking, Gottfried’s district office, 242 W. 27th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, union representatives and drivers hold a press conference to call for UPS to rehire 250 drivers, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., members of the Real Affordability for All campaign march through downtown Brooklyn to call for de Blasio to make affordability for low- and moderate-income residents a priority in his affordable housing plan, 149 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., Queens BP Melinda Katz, Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry will announce the introduction of legislation to reform the Queens Library and hold the Queens Library System accountable, Queens Borough Hall.

At 10:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli addresses the NYS Government Finance Officers Assoc. Conference, Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Rd., Colonie.

At 11 a.m., advocates hold a rally and press conference on the “30% rent cap” affordable housing protection for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS that was approved in FY15 state budget, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, P.S. 1 – Atrium, 8 Henry St., Manhattan. Following the announcement, the mayor will visit a pre-K classroom; he’ll be joined by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

At 12:25 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will speak at the 20th Annual Women Mean Business Luncheon Benefitting the Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Job Training Program, The Pierre Hotel, 2 East 61st St., Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Black and Latino Caucus Chairman Assemblyman Karim Camara, members of the state Senate and Assembly and fast food workers hold a rally to call for the state Legislature to act on Raise Up NY legislation, McDonald’s, 1651 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on Talking Back, WYSL Rochester 1040 AM & 92.1FM and WKAL in Rome Utica.

At 1:30 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees holds a meeting to discuss the University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital, The Global Center, Global Classroom, 116 E. 55th St., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., McCray delivers remarks at Staten Island Advance’s Women of Achievement Awards, Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Staten Island.

At 2 p.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton discusses “Shop-and-frisk” in a private meeting with Al Sharpton, NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman, representatives from Barneys, Macy’s, Saks, Lord & Taylor and others, at One Police Plaza. Sharpton and others will speak to reporters after the meeting, around 3 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m., Cuomo is expected to attend a high-dollar fundraiser to benefit his campaign committee at the Doubletree Tarrytown, 455 South Broadway, Tarrytown. (Note: This event has not been publicly advised by the governor’s office).

Headlines…

New York City began accepting applications on Wednesday for 4,268 new full-day prekindergarten seats in public schools, marking the first wave of pre-K seats resulting from new funding in this year’s state budget.

President Obama issued a statement congratulating Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio on the expansion of pre-K. (The president’s initial statement got the mayor’s name wrong).

Cuomo told charter school advocates to organize the rally that coincided with de Blasio’s pre-K rally in Albany during the height of the budget battle. It was all part of the governor’s active push for charters at the mayor’s expense.

De Blasio is still trying to figure out whether the money he’s getting from the state will be enough to also expand after-school programs.

Michael Powell calls Cuomo and de Blasio “our very own Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, if only Butch would stop shooting Sundance in the knees.”

A late bill slipped through the Legislature as part of the $138 billion state budget by IDC Leader Jeff Klein will provide millions in tax benefits to a Bronx condo complex built by a politically connected developer.

Democratic gadfly, fundraiser and donor Bill Samuels says he would support Oliver Koppell in a primary against Klein.

More >

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The US Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling has opened the door to a legal challenge to the $5,000 overall campaign contribution limit per calendar year for corporations in New York.

NY-19 Democratic candidate Sean Eldridge and the NRCC engaged in a war of words over the McCutcheon ruling.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says this ruling indicates the US Supreme Court wants to take the country “back to the days of the robber barons.”

Anti-Fracking groups plan to stage a protest with hundreds attending tomorrow when Gov. Andrew Cuomo visits Tarrytown for a campaign fundraiser at the Doubletree Hotel.

A slate of candidates running on their enthusiasm for a potential Hillary Clinton presidential bid swept the field in Tuesday’s District of Columbia Democratic primary.

The cover of Cuomo’s forthcoming memoir has been revealed.

The Jewish Voice on the death of the Moreland Commission: “Shame on Governor Cuomo for sending his own pet project to the gallows in exchange for yet even more political patronage.”

WFP National Director Dan Cantor says there continues to be a “lot of internal debate” and “concern” over endorsing Cuomo for re-election.

Teamsters Local 237, which represents 24,000 workers in NYC, endorsed Rep. Charlie Rangel for re-election.

Now that the state has reached a budget agreement, business groups are trying to turn Albany’s attention back to the Scaffold Law before the Legislature wraps up  this year’s session.

Sen. Simcha Felder: “Of the 137 billion dollar budget, less than one hundredth of one percent of it will benefit non-public school issues. They are giving us bubkes.”

With the help of a federal judge, all of the federal wrongful death suits in the Flight 3407 case have been settled.

PETA released a star-studded video thanking de Blasio for continuing to oppose the Central Park horse-drawn carriages.

The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has issued draft rules for the new paid sick leave law, which took effect Tuesday.

Schumer will urge federal regulators to investigate the “mind-boggling” increase in New York electric rates this winter to see whether they resulted from price gouging or market manipulation.

The NY-22 GOP primary is now a two-person race. Tea Partier Michael Vasquez dropped out and endorsed Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney against Rep. Richard Hanna.

The Empire Center’s “spend-o-meter” calculates how much the new budget is spending per second, minute, hour, day, week and month. It’s a lot.

Fracking is stalled in New York, but the supply of fracked natural gas coming into the state from elsewhere is greater than ever.

James A. Ferro, a high-ranking official in the inspector general’s office of the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has been placed on leave amid an investigation into sexual harassment.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Deputy mayor Alicia Glen speaks to the Association for a Better New York about the city’s “tech ecosystem” at the Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson speaks at a conference about the NYPD’s counterterrorism program, 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio visits a pre-K classroom at Police Officer Ramon Suarez School, 17-15 Weirfield St., Queens. He’ll make an announcement directly after that visit.

At 2:30 p.m., Nancy Zimpher distributes SUNY chancellor’s awards, Convention Center, Concourse, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Citizen Action of New York members and other advocates for campaign finance regulations participate in a rally outside Cuomo’s NYC office, as part of demonstrations planned nationwide in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission; 633 Third St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto speak at 32BJ rally for a fair contract, 83rd Street and Park Avenue, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli attends the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York dinner, The Pierre, 2 East 61st St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., state Operations Director Howard Glaser is a guest on Time Warner Cable NY1′s “Inside City Hall.” The show re-airs at 10 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m., de Blasio will speak at the Jewish Community Relations Council Gala, The Pierre Hotel – Grand Ballroom, 2 East 61st St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Did Cuomo’s desire to get an on-time budget constitute an “emergency” worth of messages of necessity?

Cuomo insisted there simply are not enough votes in the state Legislature – specifically, the Senate – for an expansion of public campaign financing beyond the much-maligned, comptroller-only pilot program in the new budget.

Richard Brodsky: “If Cuomo can maneuver a nomination by New York’s left wing, he has strong evidence that the national Democratic Party could do the same. If he can’t he shows up in Iowa with the Scarlet Letter of tea Party austerity around his neck.”

Cuomo opened the door to delaying the use of Common Core test results when evaluating teachers after months of opposing the idea.

Thousands of Long Island students in grades three through eight refused to sit for the state’s English Language Arts exam Tuesday as the so-called “opt-out” movement picked up momentum in districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties.

At least a couple of hundred students in the Lower Hudson Valley (including GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s kids) are not taking the state tests this week, although the number of elementary and middle-schoolers who are “opting out” varies greatly from district to district.

Now that the budget battle is behind them, the governor and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had nothing but nice things to say about one another.

But de Blasio was less than effusive about his relationship with Cuomo during a roundtable with City Hall reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

The roundtable was part of de Blasio’s effort to reboot with both the public and the press after a bumpy first few months in office.

The de Blasio administration insists that if the mayor hadn’t pushed his tax-the-rich-plan for pre-K, Albany wouldn’t have coughed up $300 million for the plan.

“The city’s got half the kids, but I don’t understand why they got more than half the money,” said Rick Timbs, a school finance consultant and executive director of the Statewide Schools Finance Consortium.

On Common Core, Cuomo said: “”Parents can now exhale, students can now exhale; the test scores don’t count.”

The Hotel Trades Council has embarked on a push for stricter public review of new hotel development that could help it gain more members, setting up an early test of de Blasio’s loyalties to labor.

A provision tucked into the state budget by Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein seems designed to slow a Bronx Hospital’s plans to build a new medical clinic in Riverdale.

More >

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While at the anti-SAFE Act rally, Donald Trump ignored Carl Paladino’s commens that he should still consider running for governor as a Republican.

Might Trump buy – or invest in – the Buffalo Bills?

Trump has a pistol permit in Manhattan.

The City of Plattsburgh passed a fracking ban.

Schenectady is No. 11 on a list of most dangerous small cities in the US. It’s the only New York city mentioned.

There are no New York municipalities on a lsit of the top ten most miserable cities in the country.

Josh Gold, who took a leave of absence to run NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pre-K lobbying effort, is returning to his union job.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz pulled a successful April Fool’s Day prank on the local media.

Rep. Charlie Rangel is using his dancing skills to raise campaign cash.

Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein’s budget maneuvering this year was all about staving off a primary challenge from Oliver Koppell.

Koppell hasn’t yet decided whether he’s running, (he’ll make that call in two weeks or so), but says he’ll need upwards of half a million dollars if he does.

Why Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s win on charter schools matters outside New York.

GOP AG hopeful John Cahill penned an OpEd (in Spanish) chastising the governor and legislative leaders for leaving the DREAM Act out of the budget.

Former President Bill Clinton has changed his Twitter background to mimic his wife, Hillary Clinton’s, famous photo.

The president of a Michelle Rhee-founded nonprofit wrote in support of state Education Commissioner John King’s position in the Common Core fight.

Why is Washington, DC’s bike share program flourishing while NY’s is struggling financially?

George Marlin endorses Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run.

Many New York gun shops are offering a simple fix – changing the grip – to make assault weapons legal (and not requiring registration) under the SAFE Act.

Congressional candidate Matt Doheny signed the “SCOPE” pledge, promising to support 2nd Amendment rights and repeal of the SAFE Act.

MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough’s quiet visit to South Carolina, an early presidential primary state, has reignited speculation about his political aspirations.

Here and Now (Updated)

Thanks to messages of necessity issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for two bills, the Senate and Assembly both passed the $138 billion 2014-15 budget before the midnight deadline, which means New York has its fourth on-time budget in a row.

UPDATE: Cuomo will sign the budget at Red Room press conference at 9:15 a.m.

According to Cuomo, the state hasn’t delivered four on-time budgets under the same gubernatorial and legislative leadership in more than forty years – not since the days of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Assembly Speaker Perry Duryea, and Majority Leader Earl Brydges.

In a joint statement issued with the Senate co-leaders and Assembly speaker – the first of the end-of-budget whirlwind – Cuomo lauded the budget deal for maintaining the “fiscal discipline” that has characterized his tenure in office, and said it includes a “framework that will allow us to build a new New York.”

Of course, it is Cuomo’s fiscal discipline that so upsets the left, which was not at all happy with the finished product this year – not only because it didn’t include a robust public campaign finance system, but also due to tax cuts liberal advocates say will mostly help the wealthy.

The Senate is not going to return to Albany until April 23, even though it’s scheduled to remain at the Capitol through Wednesday. According to Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, who spoke to me on CapTon last night, his house is planning to stick to its April schedule.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Albany to watch the budget pass, and presumably is still here. But he has so far issued no public schedule for today.

At 6:45 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate/Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will be a guest on Fox & Friends, Fox News Channel.

At 8:30 a.m., Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye details the authority’s capital plan at a New York Building Congress forum, Midtown Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito distributes flyers about paid sick leave regulations, 116th Street and 3rd Avenue 6 train station, Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., the Long Island Association will host developer Bruce Ratner at its Melville HQ for a discussion with the region’s top business leaders on his redevelopment plans for the Nassau Coliseum, 300 Broadhollow Rd., Melville.

At 10:30 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on Fred Dicker: Live From the State Capitol, Talk 1300.

At 11 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter, WCNY Radio.

Also at 11 a.m., New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) and State Legislators Against Illegal Guns (SLAIG) will hold a press conference to tout the SAFE Act and discuss additional efforts for gun control, Million Dollar Staircase, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., gun-rights activists rally against the SAFE Act, West Capitol Park, Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tapes television interviews, Governor’s Room, City Hall.

At 1:30 p.m., Astorino will attend and address the Stand Up For Your Rights Rally. Also attending: Donald Trump and Carl Paladino.

At 1:45 p.m., de Blasio hosts a radio roundtable, Committee of the Whole room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2:15 p.m., de Blasio hosts a City Hall media bureau chiefs roundtable, Committee of the Whole room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio’s pre-taped interview with Errol Louis airs on “Inside City Hall,” NY1 Time Warner Cable News.

At 7:30 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Queens County Conservative Committee Dinner, Roma View Caterers, 160-05 Cross Bay Blvd., Howard Beach.

Headlines…

The budget designates roughly $380 million to members of 1199 S.E.I.U. – one of the state’s most powerful unions, which has close ties to Cuomo – to help subsidize a salary increase for home health care workers.

Tom Precious: “The final spending plan is a classic election year grab bag of spending boosts and tax breaks, providing financial benefits for everyone from farmers and thoroughbred jockeys to bank holding companies, Medicaid health care providers and the estates of wealthy dead people.”

Good government watchdogs are disappointed Cuomo traded the life of the Moreland Commission for some – but not all – of the ethics and campaign finance reforms he sought from the Legislature.

Bill Hammond: “(T)he investigative commission gave Cuomo immense leverage to get what he wanted — and he gave it up for a half-a-loaf ethics deal that allows candidates, including himself, to go on exploiting a shameful fund-raising system.”

After largely failing to deliver on public campaign finance in the budget, Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein is now planning to make a post-budget push for a broader program.

A Cuomo administration source told the TU that the comptroller-only public finance pilot was based on DiNapoli’s own plan, introduced in 2007 and passed by the Assembly in 2011. DiNapoli opposes this new plan.

Markos Moulitsas: “Makes you wonder what the comptroller did to piss of Cuomo, as this appears to be a surgical strike intended to punish the guy.”

More >

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Tenants PAC is prepared to back Oliver Koppell against IDC Leader Jeff Klein in a primary if the former councilman opts to run.

Moreland Commission co-chair/Onondaga County DA Bill Fitzpatrick says people “erroneously thought we were super cops,” urges anyone with tips to contact local prosecutors.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is a self-professed Red Sox Fan, was loudly booed before he threw out the first pitch at Citi Field’s Opening Day.

De Blasio appered unperturbed by the boos, saying: “I’m a sports fan and I think sports fans have a right to express themselves any way they want.”

On the eve of another anti-SAFE Act rally, the gun rights advocates are sniping at one another.

CNN has tapped POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman to serve as a political analyst, bolstering its political coverage ahead of the 2014 elections.

MetLife was hit with the largest New York fine against an insurer – $50 million – to settle allegations that its international operations sold insurance in the state to multinational companies without proper licensing.

Click here to see the RFAs approved by the Gaming Commission’s Facility Location Board that will be required of casino operators and developers seeking a license.

New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness puts a new twist on Cuomo’s property tax “freeze.”

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams quietly introduced a bill requiring businesses with 10 or more employees working at least six months each to provide paid vacation days.

Coming off the heels of a colder-than-normal March, Whiteface Mountain Ski Center is poised to stay open deep into April and perhaps even May.

OGS RoAnn Destito confirmed she gave Homeland Security Commissioner Jerry Hauer a special “verbal” waiver to carry a handgun in state offices only as recently as January.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City has raised $333,243 for victims of the East Harlem gas explosion.

The state budget deal includes a tax credit for touring stage productions that hold their technical rehearsals in New York.

The state last year allocated $27.7 million for the implementation of a database and technology to support the SAFE Act, and $7 million has already been spent.

Of the 10 richest House districts, only two have Republican congressmen. Democrats claim the top six.

The influential healthcare workers’ union 1199 SEIU has endorsed Lori Boozer in  the race to replace disgraced former Assemblyman William Boyland.

After blowing up last week at the DN’s Ken Lovett, Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper said she wants reporters confined to chairs at the front of the chamber.

Cuomo To Skip Nassau Dems’ Dinner Tonight

The legislative budget debate, which is expected to drag on into the night, is preventing Gov. Andrew Cuomo from attending a Democratic dinner in Nassau County where he was scheuled to co-headline a tribute to retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said he received a call from Cuomo aide Joe Percoco a little over an hour ago with the bad news. But Jacobs also received a heads up last night that the way things were shaping up at the Capitol, it was possible Cuomo would need to stay in Albany to make sure the budget vote went smoothly.

Jacobs and Cuomo have been at odds lately, thanks to the chairman’s call for the governor and his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, to reject the Independence Party’s endorsement in hopes of starving it out of existence.

Astorino, who was unlikely to receive the party’s nod anyway, quickly heeded Jacobs’ call. But Cuomo has hedged, preferring instead to let Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano blast Jacobs at an unrelated Red Room press conference.

During a brief telephone interview this afternoon, Jacobs, a former state Democratic Party chairman, insisted his difference of opinion with Cuomo on the Independence Party has nothing to do with the governor’s decision to skip tonight’s dinner.

“We knew going in when we picked this date that there was a distinct possibility that the governor would not be able to attend because budget wrangling would be going on in Albany,” Jacobs said. “And as I understand it, there is a lot of budget wrangling going on in Albany.”

Jacobs said Pelosi is still scheduled to attend the event, as are a number of McCarthy’s congressional colleagues, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Latimer: Astorino’s Kids Are ‘Political Props’

Sen. George Latimer, a Westchester County Democrat, has been deployed to respond to County Executive/GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s announcement this morning that he and his wife have decided to have his kids opt out of the upcoming Common Core exams to protest the controversial curriculum.

In a statement, Latimer, who is the ranking minority member on the Senate Education Committee, accused Astorino of sinking to a “new low” by “using his children as political props to make points that are pure fiction.”

“Mr. Astorino’s latest venture into the absurd includes blaming Bill Gates for the creation of Common Core standards and Governor Cuomo for implementing them,” Latimer continued. “We need to set the record straight.”

“Governor Cuomo has been a strong voice for parents and students in opposing the flawed implementation of common core. On this very day, the state is passing laws he proposed which eliminate all testing for kindergarten through second grade and negate common core test scores for all students.”

“This is the kind of strong leadership we need – not the type of attacks and stunts that puts political posturing ahead of public policy. Governor Cuomo deserves our thanks for his substantive vision and forceful leadership.”

Astorino has been hammering on the Common Core for some time, calling it yet another unfunded mandate handed down to local governments (in this case, the school districts) by the state. He has also said he would eradicate it completely if he’s elected governor in November.

The slam on Astorino for using his kids as “political props” seems unfair. It’s not as if he’s the first elected official to highlight family members to make a point during a political campaign. Actually, it’s a time-honored tradition to involve one’s children and spouse to demonstrate familial ties to the voters. In this case, the Astorinos are joining many other New York parents in opting their kids out of what they consider onerous and unfair testing.

McCain To Headline Zeldin Fundraiser

US Sen. John McCain will headline a fundraiser in support of state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run on April 22 in New York City.

Tickets to the event is being held at a private residence on E. 70th Street in Manhattan (which happens to be the building where Christopher Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, is listed. Ed Cox and his wife, Tricia, are listed as hosts). Tickets start at $1,000 and run as high as $5,200.

McCain, a senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, endorsed Zeldin last October, saying his “service in the military, as a federal prosecutor and in state government demonstrate his deep commitment to advancing causes greater than his own self-interest.”

Zeldin is seeking the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in November. He is being challenged for the GOP line by George Demos.