Mar 9th - 11:38 am
The occasionally frosty, competitive relationship between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be entering its detente phase, at least publicly, when it comes to piecing together a new, less generous retirement plan for future public workers.
Bloomberg, entering the twilight of his tenure as mayor, has been a voiceforous proponent of Cuomo’s Tier Six proposal, assembling a coalition of local government leaders from both parties to push for the plan, which was baked into the first-term governor’s budget.
In a Talk-1300 radio interview today that also featured Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Bloomberg had praise for Cuomo.
“I don’t think the governor is going to get rolled here,” Bloomberg said. “Here’s too smart.”
By the very nature of their offices, the mayor and governor of New York City and New York state usually have strained relations. The Bloomberg-Cuomo dynamic in some respects has been no different than, say, Lindsay and Rockefeller or Koch andMario Cuomo or Giuliani and Pataki.
But Tier Six, which includes an optional defined contribution component, has been seized on by the mayor as a issue he can help Cuomo with as the governor faces public pushback from organized labor and some lawmakers uneasy with the plan.
“I don’t agree with the governor on everything, but he is trying to do what’s right here,” Bloomberg told Fred Dicker in the interview.
Bloomberg helped form
NY-LEAD New York Leaders for Pension Reform, a coalition of mayors and county executives pushing for the pension overhaul. Cuomo has complained that he hasn’t received much support in Albany for the proposal, with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli the leading voice against certain aspects of Tier Six.
Bloomberg reiterated Cuomo’s concern in the interview.
“The taxpayers are not organized the same way the reitrees and the people who get pensions are.”
Passage of the plan at least in some form seems likely, unless lawmakers want to run the risk of a government shutdown in an election year against a popular governor.
Feb 24th - 11:24 am
The bipartisan coalition of elected leaders backing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Tier Six proposal wrote a letter to Comptroller Tom DiNapoli today urging to see the issue their way.
“The consequences over time of dismissing this crisis will be deeply painful to citizens and taxpayers – resulting in higher taxes and service cuts – and we urge you to lend your support to Governor Cuomo’s efforts,” the officials, led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, wrote.
DiNapoli has been the most outspoken opponent of the Tier Six proposal, at least when it comes to elected officials. Labor unions, many of which donated to DiNapoli’s bid for a full term as comptroller, have also come out against the plan, saying it will hurt recruitment.
Though the governor has said he’s virtually alone when it comes to pushing for a new, less generous retirement package for future state workers, he has the backing of the state’s well-financed business lobby.
Feb 22nd - 12:38 pm
Mayor Bloomberg’s press office just blasted out an announcement about the creation of New York Leaders for Pension Reform, a bipartisan coalition of mayors and county executives around the state who will advocate in favor of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pension reform plan.
The organization, whose members collectively represent some 15 million New Yorkers, plans a “vigorous” statewide campaign to pressure state lawmakers to approve Cuomo’s proposed creation of a sixth pension tier that includes a 401(k)-style option – something unions vehemently oppose. They’ll also be traveling to Albany for some in-person lobbying.
“Taken together, annual pension costs to local governments across the State have gone from $1.7 billion in 2002 to $12.5 billion today – an increase of more than 630 percent,” the release reads.
“Despite opposition to reform by Comptroller DiNapoli and others, members of the coalition know first-hand how runaway local pension payments have already significantly reduced localities’ ability to fund education, public safety, social services, economic development and other services – and how skyrocketing costs threaten to force severe budget cuts or tax increases in the years ahead. That is why local government leaders are demanding action from the Legislature now.”
“Governor Cuomo’s plan will create a new tier of pension benefits for yet-to-be-hired employees who are participating in the New York State and New York City retirement systems. Existing employees and retirees will be unaffected. The new plan would reasonably raise the retirement age for newly hired employees, and exclude overtime from the formula used to calculate the final average salary for pension payments.”
“Further, the proposal would provide employees with the option of participating in a defined contribution plan – similar to plans common in the private sector – that some employees may decide is a better choice for their individual career path.”
The first quote in the release goes to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican who has been mentioned as a potential 2014 opponent to Cuomo. (It appears that the quotes are alphabetical, as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat who won last fall with Cuomo’s support, appears next, so perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into this).
Said Bloomberg (quote #3):
Feb 13th - 3:14 pm
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli sustained a double whammy today over his aggressive opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed creation of a sixth pension tier that includes a 401(k)-style option for new public employees.
State Business Council Heather Briccetti released a statement proclaiming herself and her members “surprised and disappointed” by DiNapoli’s “attacks on pension reform,” adding:
“When given an honest presentation of the facts there should be little dispute that a Tier VI plan is needed in New York. Pension costs are exploding at all levels of government across the state and we are rapidly approaching a tipping point.”
“Taxpayers are already struggling under the burden of existing pension obligations, and the Tier VI proposal will avoid this in future years without taking benefits away from anyone currently in the pension system.”
(Recall that the Business Council is a member of the pro-Cuomo Committee to Save NY, which has been holding events around the state to call for pension reform and also has said it may spend millions of dollars on another ad campaign to push back against the anti-reform effort paid for by organized labor).
Also today, Mayor Bloomberg, who is very supportive of Cuomo’s pension reform proposal (although he has had differences with the governor on other policy matters), expressed disbelief this afternoon that the comptroller isn’t on board.
“It is virtually impossible to argue that we can continue to do what we’re doing; it is certainly not sustainable whatsoever,” the mayor said during his Q-and-A with reporters.
“…I don’t know of anybody in the private sector that either hasn’t or isn’t contemplating switching from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. No company can possibly survive – particularly since our national government…both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have been unable, and unwilling, to focus on reducing real cost.”
Feb 13th - 6:25 am
The UFT is out with an ad that continues the latest trend: Shooting the message, but avoiding the messenger.
The 30-second spot, which features a number of real-life educators lauding their students’ achievements and a cameo by UFT President Mike Mulgrew, does not address any specific woes. Instead, it laments “some politicians,” who shall remain nameless, and their propensity to “go after teachers.”
It’s well-known that the UFT is locked in battle with the Bloomberg administration over the creation of a teacher evaluation system, leading Gov. Andrew Cuomo to threaten to force the issue in the 2012-13 budget, and is also none too pleased – along with its fellow unions – with the Tier 6 proposal Cuomo has proposed.
Yet this ad makes no mention of any of that, despite the fact that Thursday is the deadline set by the governor to automatically amend his executive budget to unilaterally impose teacher-evaluation requirements statewide.
The ad starts airing today on broadcast stations and cable television networks in the New York area. In addition to running on NY1, it will appear during the Today Show, Good Morning America, Morning Joe, Top Chef, Project Runway, Jeopardy , David Letterman, the Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, Conan, and Rangers and Knicks games,
The broadcast buy is designed to reach more than 8 million broadcast and cable TV viewers multiple times, according to the UFT. The spot was produced by Shorr, Johnson and Magnus Strategic Media.
Feb 8th - 5:27 pm
Mayor Michael Bloomberg blamed the advertising campaign from teachers unions for a Quinnipiac University poll that shows voters trust him less when it comes to dealing with public education.
He told reporters earlier today that he “could spend some money” to reverse public opinion (he has before), but largely shrugged off the criticism.
“Well, you know, somebody goes and runs a bunch of ads everyday on television, you can create exactly that poll,” Bloomberg said. “I guess I could spend some money and reverse the poll. The press would love it because it pays. A lot of this stuff is how you ask the question, but the point is the public agreed with the individual policies.”
The survey comes as Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers engage in a high-profile spat over criteria for a teacher evaluation plan.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew was quick to crow about the poll’s results.
“I want to thank millions of public school parents and other New Yorkers who have given their teachers such a vote of confidence,” he said in a statement. “Despite years of ugly rhetoric about teachers and their union from the Mayor and his allies, New Yorkers come down overwhelmingly on the side of those who go into schools every day and work hard to make children’s lives better.”
As he alluded, there was some good news for Bloomberg in the survey, which showed voters liked his idea to provide merit pay for teachers who do well.
Feb 3rd - 1:05 pm
Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: A sneak peak of the anti-illegal guns ad recorded by Mayor Bloomberg and his Boston counterpart, Mayor Menino, that will air during the big game this Sunday. (H/T to City&State’s Chris Bragg).
The two mayors are rocking the necktie-football jersey look and showing some love for their respective home team quarterbacks – Tom Brady for Menino, Eli Manning for Bloomberg. The spot, made by Bloomberg’s go-to firm, KnickerbockerSKD, will cost several thousand dollars to air instead of the usual millions for Super Bowl ad time, because it will be shown regionally.
The ad is an outgrowth of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization that Bloomberg funds and also co-chairs along with Menino. It should be noted that not everyone thinks this ad is such a hot idea.
Like many of their fellow Massachusetts and New York elected officials, the two mayors also placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the game. Blomoberg is jetting to Indianapolis for the big day. No word (or at least none that I could find) on where Menino will be watching.
UPDATE: A (New York) reader reminds me that Bloomberg, who’s originally from Medford, MA, used to cheer for at least one Boston team – the Red Sox – and took a lot of heat for that during his first mayoral campaign in 2001. By 2003, the mayor had wised up and traded his Sox cap for Yankee pinstripes.
Also, in the interest of fairness, WNYC’s blog, The Empire, posted the ad before Bragg did. Sorry, Chris.
Jan 30th - 3:00 pm
Boston Mayor Tom Menino and NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg have announced their friendly wager on the upcoming Patriots vs. Giants Superbowl, and they’ve added a new twist to this long-standing tradition.
Usually, the executives of a team’s home city and state (or, in the case of the Giants and Pats, home cities and regions? I haven’t seen anything from NJ Gov. Chris Christie yet….), wager local delicacies – there was cheesecake, salsa, cheese curds and root beer riding on the Giants vs. Packers game, for example. The food often gets donated to a local food pantry or shelter.
Another favorite is to make the executive of the losing city and/or state do something silly and/or publicly shameful.
Last year, Bloomberg lost his bet with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on the AFC Championship game between the Jets and the Steelers and had to hang a “Terrible Towel” on the outer wall of the New York Public Library’s main branch in midtown Manhattan. Bloomberg also had to post video proof of his towel-hanging escapade.
This time around, Menino and Bloomberg have decided to let some lucky family from one of their respective cities benefit from their bet. The losing mayor has to provide a whirlwind getaway weekend to a family from the winning mayor’s hometown.
If the Giants win, one NYC family will win a Super Tour of Boston, including:
Jan 24th - 2:39 pm
Part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s shtick is to snap at reporters and as we prepare to finally bid farewell to the mayor, it’s become a (sort of) charming tic.
Our NY1 colleague Zack Fink learned about the legendary Bloombergian snippiness today when he asked about the status of negotiations on the teacher evaluations with the United Federation of Teachers.
It’s a contentious and complex issue that has already produced a tough TV campaign from the UFT.
In Albany yesterday to discuss state aid to city schools, Chancellor Dennis Walcott indicated the two sides had a lot of work left to do.
“The major issue of disagreement is that the UFT wants an outside arbitrator to hear appeals of teachers who receive a rating of ineffective for,” Walcott said. “This would add a new burdensome procedural layer that is a major departure from the current appeals process which will cause months of delay.”
But today Bloomberg, in Albany to testify for the so-called “Tin Cup Day”, didn’t really want to discuss the status of the negotiations and got a bit haughty when Zack presented the evidence that they were still not going all that well.
“I don’t know that, how do you know that? Any negotiations we’ve had with the UFT we certainly would not talk about. I just don’t know why you assume things all the time,” Bloomberg said.
Asked about the ad the UFT is running, Bloomberg claimed he hasn’t seen it.
Here’s some of the Q and A, which also includes the mayor’s thoughts on the pension overhaul.
Jan 16th - 1:52 pm
The Partnership for a New American Economy, an organization formed in June 2010 by Mayor Bloomberg and business leaders – including News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch – to push for immigration reform, has released a 60-second ad that will air in the next GOP presidential contest state, South Carolina, in hopes of pushing the topic to the forefront in tonight’s debate.
The ad, entitled “No Debate,” shows the major Republican candidates – Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman (who dropped out of the race this morning), Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum – all calling for reforms to the nation’s immigration system that essentially would link green cards with job creation.
“Visa reform for high-skilled immigrants is a no-cost way to create jobs and a unifying issue in the 2012 presidential election,” said John Feinblatt, a top Bloomberg advisor who serves as spokesperson for the Partnership.
“At a time when the media and the candidates themselves are focused on emphasizing areas of disagreement, the Partnership is highlighting an area of agreement – that our country must do everything possible to attract and retain these high-skilled job creators from around the world.”
The ad begins airing on the day of the first GOP presidential candidate debate in South Carolina and runs throughout the week on broadcast television and in online publications. The primary is this coming Saturday, and is being seen as the last chance Romney’s opponents have to stop – or at least slow – his march to the GOP nomination.