Rick Perry Coming to Rochester

Former Texas Governor and potential 2016 GOP presidential contender Rick Perry will headline an event for the Monroe County GOP in March.

Monroe County GOP Chairman Bill Reilich announced earlier today that Perry, who was a presidential contender in 2012, will be the guest speaker at a luncheon to be held on March 2 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There will be a private VIP reception prior to the lunch. Ticket prices were not immediately available.

According to Reilich, Perry will be sharing some of his “success stories and challenges” as former governor of the Lone Star State.

“The State of Texas is experiencing an economic boom,” the chairman said. “Governor Perry promised residents he’d work to transform Texas into a haven of opportunity, prosperity and progress and he delivered. I invite everyone to experience his enthusiasm and proven methods of success.”

Just today, Perry said he still plans a “May/June” timetable to make an announcement about a possible 2016 presidential run, despite a judge’s refusal to dismiss an indictment against him on abuse of power charges. He has been making the rounds of early primary states, and says he’s getting a warm reception on the hustings.

Perry was indicted in August. The accusation stemmed from his 2013 veto of state funding for a Texas district attorney’s office after she was convicted of drunk driving but refused to resign. The former governor’s team is appealing the decision.

During his time in office, Perry was a frequent critic of New York, which is known for its high taxes and difficult business climate – both issues Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried to tackle over the past four years and continued to address in his 2015-16 executive budget.

Perry made trips to New York in hopes of luring frustrated business owners to his state, and even went so far as to run ads here (and in other states), urging Empire State residents to “get out while there’s still time.” Last April, Perry challenged Cuomo to a debate on economic policy – an invitation Cuomo turned down. And in his final speech as governor, Perry took a swipe at Cuomo for banning fracking, accusing the Democratic governor of appeasing his political base at the expense of people who need jobs.

Monroe County GOP to host Rick Perry by liz_benjamin6490

Republicans Pile On Silver (Updated)

As expected, Republicans are – rather gleefully, it must be said – piling on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the wake of his arrest on corruption charges this morning, saying he must relinquish his leadership post for the good of the chamber, his constituents and the entire state of New York.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who remained fairly quiet when other Republicans were calling for Silver’s head during the sexual harassment scandal involving former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, now says it’s “imperative” that the speaker step down “immediately,” adding:

“His resignation as Speaker is in the best interest of the Assembly, of the State, and the best way for us to conduct the business that we are elected to do. We cannot afford this distraction with the important business before the Assembly and the people of New York State.”

It’s not clear to me why Kolb has experienced this change of heart. His previous position was that it wasn’t his place to meddle in the business of the Democratic conference, since Silver didn’t tell him how to run his conference (and he has had his share of detractors).

“The ultimate goal is saying ‘whose scandal is this?’ it’s not ours,” Kolb said back in 2013. “So let’s look and hold the people accountable for whose scandal it is.

Than again, the sexual harassment mess – and secret payouts to keep Lopez’s accusers and former aides quiet – was an internal problem with the Democratic conference, where this is a much bigger issue – corruption, which has claimed victims on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of the Legislature.

And, of course, Silver has been arrested and formally charged by the feds, which elevates this situation to a whole new level.

UPDATE: Speaking to reporters earlier today, Kolb said he is “not a person in this business that does personal attacks – never have, never will.”

“Having said that, when it comes to public policy, I think at this point in time when there’s actually an arrest, there’s a clear serious matter to take up,” the assemblyman continued. “And, you know, also the justice system is working on the other things the speaker was dealing with the Vito Lopez case. But I think this certainly raised to the level that he would be servely harmed, I think, by continuing on. I think he should resign as speaker. He does not have to resign as a member unless he’s convicted of a felony.”

One of Kolb’s critics, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, also called for Silver to resign (not the first time she has done so). She called the speaker “a disgrace to the people of New York and a blemish on all those who serve the public in this state. It is time to put the Silver era behind us once and for all.” Tenney also said the governor should get involved here and pressure Silver, a fellow Democrat, to depart.

“The politics of New York have for too long been three men in a room. The culture of corruption is pervasive as pay-offs, backroom deals, and cronyism are business as usual in Albany. This is unacceptable. Silver’s arrest is simply the latest indicator we need substantial reform in Albany,” the assemblywoman said.

“We should immediately move to clean up Albany. Career politician syndrome enabled this ignominious day in the history of New York. We need to institute real term limits, cut legislative pay and benefits, slash the length of the session, and restore the faith of the people in their public officials.”

Another female member of the Assembly GOP conference, Staten Island’s Nicole Malliotakis, who briefly eyed a potential run for the seat of disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm, but stepped aside for the party favorite, DA Dan Donovan, also is calling for Silver to resign – and it’s not the first time for her, either.

“It is beyond time for Sheldon Silver to step down as Speaker of the Assembly,” the assemblywoman said. “The demands of running the chamber and serving the taxpayers cannot be compromised by charges of corruption and a judicial proceeding of this magnitude. There is no doubt that New Yorkers desperately need and deserve new leadership of ‘the People’s House’.”

State GOP spokesman David Laska issued a statement calling for Silver’s immediate resignation, calling this another “sad day for New York,” and insisting that it should not serve as a distraction from “the important business of growing our economy and creating jobs.”

Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey also got in on the fun, calling the situation with Silver “deeply troubling” and saying the Democratic Assembly members from Central New York should join him in demanding that the speaker step down.

“On their own, these allegations will only grow the distrust New Yorkers now feel towards Albany,” Dadey said. “We need more transparency and disclosure, stronger ethics laws, term limits and we need to eliminate the bad apples. I am hopeful that our local Assembly delegation, including Assembly members (Bill) Magnarelli, (Sam) Roberts and (Al) Stirpe will show true leadership and call for the Speaker’s ouster.”

So far, the Democrats haven’t said very much. Still no statement from the governor, for example. Members of Silver’s conference are discussing this matter behind closed doors and will be issuing a joint statement soon, I’m told.

A source who has spoken to some of the members mentioned as potential Silver successors, should it come to that, said everyone is keeping their powder dry for now. Timing is everything here. A wannabe speaker who pulls the trigger on his or her effort to oust the wounded leader too soon, only to see him survive this scandal as he has survived other (albeit smaller) scandals before, would no doubt be wandering the wilderness for many years.

That said, a wannabe Silver successor who doesn’t start lining up his or her supporters and make a move in a timely fashion could risk missing the opportunity to become one of the most powerful people in the state.

Dinolfo To Announce Run For Monroe County Executive Thursday

It’s been called the worst kept secret in Monroe County politics.  On Thursday it’s expected Cheryl Dinolfo will finally make it official and announce she’s running for County Executive.

The Monroe County Clerk has long been a rumored candidate for the office.  With most of her GOP rivals dropping out in recent weeks, Dinolfo’s candidacy has been considered a foregone conclusion.

Dinolfo is looking to follow in the current County Executive’s footsteps.  Maggie Brooks, who faces term limits, used her time in the Monroe County Clerk’s office as springboard to run for County Executive in 2003.

The path to success through the clerk’s office is not limed to Brooks or the Republican Party.  Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul spent nearly eight years in the Erie County Clerk’s Office, four running it, before winning a special Congressional Election in 2011.

Both Brooks and Hochul have learned the post not only provides valuable experience in dealing with state and federal regulations, it can also offer a political soap box.  Dinolfo pushed back against former Governor Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants in 2007.  Six years later she spoke out against attempts to make gun permit records public.

Monroe County Republican Party Chairman Bill Reilich has called a press conference for Thursday at noon.  The timing of the announcement would allow Dinolfo to attend a major GOP fundraising event on Saturday Night as the “heir apparent” to Brooks.

While the GOP hopes declaring its candidate early will help them retain control of a seat they’ve held since 1992, the list of potential Democrats candidates is still pretty long.  New Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Dave Garretson is reportedly considering County Legislature Minority Leader Carrie Andrews, Irondequoit Town Supervisor Adam Bello, former County Legislator Vincent Esposito, former Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel, and former Monroe County District Attorney Mike Green.

Former State Senator Ted O’Brien said Wednesday night he is not a candidate but has urged Garretson to take his time.

“There’s no rush and there’s a long list of qualified candidates. We have plenty of time between now and our nominating convention in May,” O’Brien said.

Funke: All Regions Of the State Must Benefit From Budget

Delivering the response for the Senate Republicans, freshman Sen. Rich Funke, of Rochester, took swipes at two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top policy initiatives – the $1.5 billion upstate economic development competition and the $1.66 billion property tax relief plan – saying his conference wants to make sure all regions of the state benefit equally from the 2-15-16 budget.

Property taxes should be cut “for every middle-income taxpayer in every region of the state, Funke said, adding: “And let’s do it this year.” (He did not mention the 2 percent property tax cap, which sunsets in 2016 and is expected to be tied to the NYC housing laws, which expire at the end of this coming June).

Cuomo has proposed an income-based circuit breaker tax relief plan that is tied to the property tax cap and would provide relief to only some New Yorkers. Singles and seniors are expected to fare the best under his plan, while double-income families might earn just a bit too much to qualify. Only those whose property tax bill is higher than their annual federally adjusted income and make less than $250,000 – about half the state’s homeowners – would be eligible.

Funke also made it clear that the Legislature “should and will” have a role in determining how to spent the $5 billion windfall realized by the state through financial industry settlements over the past year. Cuomo has already suggested using $1.5 billion of that money for an upstate economic development fund in which seven regions would compete, but only three would win up to $500 million.

“It’s essential that every region in this state benefit from this budget so there aren’t any winners and losers from one region to the next,” Funke said. “Five billion presents us with a unique opportunity to boost the entire state. Let’s do it right.”

Cuomo also wants to use $1.3 billion of the settlement funds to prevent any toll hikes on the Thruway. Funke didn’t address that specific proposal, but he did say the Senate Republicans want the settlement cash to be invested in “modernizing” the state’s infrastructure – “roads and bridges, sewer and water systems, projects that are geared toward real economic development.”

Funke expressed the Senate Republicans’ desire to continue working in a bipartisan fashion to deliver the fifth on-time state budget in a row. He noted that despite winning an “outright majority,” the Senate GOP is continuing its “historic coalition” with the IDC, though he did not mention that the terms of that relationship have been modified to provide the breakaway Democrats with less power than they used to have.

Also in his response, Funke noted that the Senate GOP has passed the bulk of the Women’s Equality Agenda. He urged the Assembly Democrats to follow suit because “the women of this state have already waited too long,” adding:

“Let’s show the nation that in New York real progress on women’s health and women’s equality always trumps partisan politics and not the other way around.”

On education, Funke reiterated the Senate Republicans’ main goal of fully eliminating the gap elimination “adjustment scheme” that was implemented during a fiscal crisis by former Gov. David Paterson. He also said that every child in New York should be provided with a “first-class education and the opportunity that goes with it.”

On public safety, Funke said the GOP conference will soon be holding hearings and want to “do everything possible to protect police officers that protect us.” He didn’t address the various criminal justice reform proposals that have been floated since a Staten Island grand jury declined to bring charges against an NYPD officer in connection with the chokelhold death of Eric Garner.

Funke, a former TV broadcaster, turned in a polished performance during the seven-minute response, which was recorded prior to the governor’s combined State of the State and budget address (AKA: the 2015 Opportunity Agenda). He was clearly tapped by the GOP in part due to his experience in front of the camera, as well as to highlight one of the new faces in the majority conference. (He ousted former Democratic Sen. Ted O’Brien in the November elections).

The Republican Prebuttal Focuses On Cuomo’s Promises

From the Morning Memo:

A day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his combined State of the State and budget presentation, the state Republican Committee is releasing a “prebuttal” of the governor’s past speeches that they say haven’t lived up to original promises.

In a six-page report set to be released this morning by the New York Republicans, Cuomo is taken to task for promising efforts to lower the state’s tax burden and Medicaid spending, while also reforming pension costs and pursuing relief from mandated state spending.

For the GOP, the results have been underwhelming.

“The resulting rhetoric has been a mile high, but an inch deep. On many issues, the Governor made promises in his past State of the State addresses that have gone unfulfilled or barely addressed, with just enough substance to support a good press release,” the report states.

Cuomo over the last four years has pushed for lower taxes and engineered a change in the state’s tax code in 2011 that reduced rates from some middle-income earners.

At the same time, Cuomo has also pushed to lower property taxes in the state through a long-sought cap.

Cuomo also pushed to overhaul how Medicaid is paid through a redesign team, with the goal of flattening costs and the state assuming some of the burden.

But the Republicans are also knocking Cuomo for failing to produce on concrete pledges, such as a full-blown casino and convention center at Aqueduct in Queens, while also not developing a publicly available financial plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

And the GOP is faulting Cuomo for falling short on an area he prides himself most on: Ethics. The governor’s folded Moreland Commission is now the subject of a federal inquiry as is the work the panel generated.

Cuomo has spent the last several days unveiling his 2015 legislative proposals ranging from a new hike in the minimum wage to a small-business tax cut along with a “circuit-breaker” solution on property taxes.

The full GOP pre-buttal can be read here.

Lentol’s Wish List for Criminal Justice Reform

In today’s Morning Memo, Nick Reisman reports:

State lawmakers have adopted a wait-and-see approach for what criminal justice reforms Gov. Andrew Cuomo may propose when he delivers his combined State of the State and budget address one week from today.

Senate Republicans starting this month will hold a series of hearings on the issue, with Majority Leader Dean Skelos pledging to review whether elected officials helped create a negative atmosphere that ultimately played a role in the recent shooting deaths of two New York City police officers.

Assembly Democrats, however, are looking in a different direction.

Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, is pushing some long-sought reform measures favored by defense attorneys and Democratic lawmakers in both houses.

Republicans and Democrats both expect a deliberative approach to the issue, raised after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold-related death of Eric Garner.

“It will be kind of like a work in progress,” Lentol said. “We’ve been trying to pass a number of reforms that could help make the criminal justice system operate better. And by operate better, I mean ease certain tensions in the minority community.”

In an interview, Lentol said he would like to see changes to laws governing witness identification such as double-blind lineups and the videotaping of interrogations, in addition to reforming the discovery process in criminal cases.

“We’ve tried to get them done in the Assembly, but they’ve never seen the light of day in the Senate,” Lentol said, adding: “Those are three big reforms that need to be done before we even start talking about grand juries and special prosecutors.”

Senate Republicans plan to hold a series of hearings on criminal justice issues starting this month, but have shown little willingness to take up previously proposed measures in the Democratic-led Assembly.

Skelos, who has been critical of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public statements supportive of protests and demonstrations following the Garner decision, said the hearings will examine the atmosphere in which the two officers were killed.

“We have to remember there have been 50 assassinations of police officers in this country in the past year,” Skelos said. “Is it the mood that’s being projected elected officials? What can we do to protect our police officers?”

“Because people disagree on the outcome of the grand jury does not mean you trash the whole thing,” the senator added.

Added protections for law enforcement could be an area of bipartisan agreement. For example, Lentol said he backed a proposal from GOP lawmakers to install bulletproof glass in squad cars.

“It’s a top priority,” Lentol said. “It’s very simple to start out with bulletproof glass. How expensive could that be? There are a lot of other safety measures that we can take. We can do that together.”

Ms. Malliotakis Goes to Washington

From today’s Morning Memo:

GOP leaders in NY-11 may be coalescing behind Staten Island DA Dan Donovan to run in the yet-to-be-called special election to replace disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm, but Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican, traveled to Washington yesterday to meet with NRCC leaders about her potential candidacy for the lone NYC seat in the GOP’s column.

Her effort could be assisted by the fact that national party leaders reportedly aren’t thrilled by the idea of having the guy best known as the DA in the Eric Garner case as their candidate – a move that would no doubt focus the election on the sticky issues of criminal justice reform and race relations.

NY1′s Michael Scotto caught up with NRCC Chairman Greg Walden after his meeting with Malliotakis yesterday, and the Oregon Republican tried hard to maintain an air of neutrality.

Walden insisted both Donovan and Malliotakis are “very fine candidates” with “different strengths” who would “represent that district very effectively here in Washington.”

“The long and short of it is that the people on Staten Island and Brooklyn will decide who the nominee is,” Walden said. “Our job is to move forward from there and hold that seat.”

“…I’m meeting with them as we do any candidates, but I know I don’t have a vote. The Republicans on Staten Island do. I am really excited about both these individuals. They both bring different talents; they both bring very strong electoral capabilities.”

Asked about the complication for Donovan’s candidacy of the Garner case, in which the grand jury’s decision not to bring charges against a white police officer for the chokehold-related death of an unarmed black man sparked protests and significant unrest in NYC, Walden said:

“I think if Republicans pick Dan Donovan then he will have an opportunity to go explain in further detail his side of the story there certainly that perhaps he hasn’t had a chance to do.”

“But the long and the short of it is we have a good opportunity to hold that seat, and I’m excited going forward.”

Malliotakis was also playing her cards close to the vest, telling Scotto that she had a “very good, pleasant, productive conversation” with Walden.

“We’ll go through the process and see where it ends up,” the assemblywoman said. “We’re not going to discuss any of the particulars of the meetings. We’re going to keep it private. We’re just talking about the landscape of the district.”

Malliotakis said she’s “encouraged” by the grassroots support she has been receiving.

Yesterday, Brooklyn GOP Chairman Craig Eaton released a statement announcing that the majority of his party’s leaders had signaled support for Malliotakis’ candidacy during a recent informal meeting.

Eaton said he will wait until Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls a special election in NY-11 (something the governor has shown no signs of doing any time soon), and then convene a convention of county committee members to which all potential candidates will be invited to make their respective cases.

“I will then bind myself to their vote and deliver same at my meeting with (Staten Island GOP Chair John) Antoniello at the lawfully appointed time,” Eaton said.

“In the very end, my committee and I will support the candidate selected through this process and work diligently to ensure that he or she is victorious in the election.”

But the reality is that Brooklyn will have a very small say in the candidate selection process, since only a sliver of the borough in included in the district, which contains all of Staten Island.

Antoniello has announced his support for Donovan. But Malliotakis said she’s hopeful Staten Island GOP officials will follow the lead of their counterparts in Brooklyn and hold a convention to select a candidate.

“All we’re asking for is an open and transparent process where the rank-and-file members can be heard, she said.

While the Republicans are holding a very public battle over who they’ll select to run in Grimm’s stead, the Democrats have been fairly quiet.

The potential candidates getting mentioned most on that side include former Rep. Michael McMahon, whom Grimm defeated in 2010, and Assemblyman Michael Cusick.

Klein Expects ‘Some Changes’ To Coalition

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein expects there to be “some changes” in the existing power-sharing agreement with his five-member conference and the Senate Republicans, the latter of which is entering the new year with a numerical majority in the chamber.

Nevertheless, the alterations to the coalition are still be determined, with the goal of having the new Senate rules in place once session begins next week.

“We’re still ironing out some of the details,” Klein said in an interview. “We’ll certainly be ready once we adopt our rules on the first day of session. But again, I’ve been saying all along that the most important thing for myself and my colleagues in the Independent Democratic Conference that we remain a separate conference and that’s going to happen.”

Pressed a bit on what those alterations might be, Klein called them “minor details” that are being discussed.

The IDC and Senate Republicans entered into a power-sharing agreement in 2012 after GOP failed to gain a clear governing majority.

The agreement put in place over the last two years allowed Klein, a Bronx Democrat, to share power in the Senate with Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County. The deal gave both men the power of the Senate presidency, requiring them to jointly decide which bills can come to the floor for a vote.

Klein and Skelos both represented the majority coalition in the budget negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cumoo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Liberals outraged over the agreement sought to primary Klein in 2014 with former city Councilman Oliver Koppell with no success.

The GOP-IDC coalition is expected to continue in some form as Republicans want the breakaway faction of Democrats to stay close should they fall into the minority once again after the 2016 elections, a presidential election year.

Watch Here >>

Grimm To Resign (Updated)

Scandal-scarred Staten Island GOP Rep. Michael Grimm will resign following a guilty plea on a federal tax evasion charge, sources tell our colleagues at NY1.

From their report:

The sources say the embattled congressman plans to announce his resignation on Tuesday.

After Grimm plead guilty to a single charge of federal tax evasion on Dec. 23, he said he would not resign from office.

Nearly two months after he was safely re-elected to a third term, Grimm plead guilty to the charge. Earlier in the year, the Staten Island congressman was slapped with a 20-count indictment related to an Upper East Side restaurant he owned prior to becoming a politician.

“If you do something wrong, you can never fully get past it until you accept responsibility for it. And that’s what I’m doing, taking full responsibility so I can close this chapter and move forward,” said Grimm after the plea.

Grimm admitted to cheating the government out of taxes and paying his workers under the table.

UPDATE: Grimm himself confirmed this news with a statement sent out just before midnight last night. His resignation will be effective Jan. 5, 2015.

“After much thought and prayer, I have made the very difficult decision to step down from Congress,” Grimm said. “…This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply.”

“The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters. However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100 percent effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the Office and the people I so proudly represent, it is time for me to start the next chapter of my life.”

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the hardworking families on both sides of the Verrazano, and I am sincerely grateful for the love and support that I have received from so many over the past few difficult months.”

“I have seen first-hand how extraordinary the people of this district are – their values, their love of community, and their care for each other in the best and worst of times – it is humbling. I am grateful, and I will always keep them in my prayers.”

Senate To Hold Criminal Justice Reform/Police Safety Hearings

The incoming Senate GOP majority announced today that four committees – all chaired by Republicans – will hold a series of joint public hearings next month on police safety and public protection, both in New York City and across the state.

According to a press release, the hearings will be held in New York City and in Albany with a focus on examining “serious safety concerns” raised by the recent murders in Brooklyn of two NYPD officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, in addition to “other recent attacks and hostility directed at law enforcement.”

“Police officers have an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous job to do and it’s incumbent upon both the city and the state to give these individuals the support they need and ensure they are always treated like the first-class professionals we know them to be,” said Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos.

“By convening these important hearings, the state Senate is sending a clear and convincing signal that police officers should have every tool they need to promote public safety and protect and defend themselves.”

Officially speaking, these hearings are focusing on “public protection” and “police safety.”

This comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is preparing to deliver his fifth State of the State address (the first of his second four-year term) on Jan. 7 – a speech that is widely expected to touch on the “soup to nuts” criminal justice reform he called for in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

After Cuomo announced his intention to address everything from the grand jury process to police training and practices, the Senate Republicans made clear they would not be going along with any significant changes to a system that – at least according to Sen. Marty Golden, a Brooklyn lawmaker and former NYPD officer – “is not broken.”

Golden chairs the Civil Service and Pensions Committee, which is one of the four that will be jointly holding these public hearings. The others are: Codes (chaired by Sen. Michael Nozzolio), Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections (chaired by Sen. Pat Gallivan, a former State Trooper and ex-Erie County Sheriff) and Investigations and Government Operations (chaired by Sen. Carl Marcellino).

The Senate’s release goes out of its way to note that these committees have subpoena power, and therefore will be able to compel witnesses to testify – if necessary.

The Republicans are hoping to hear from members of law enforcement, legal scholars, New York City and state officials, and district attorneys on a variety of issues.

On tap for discussion: The safety of police officers in the current climate, the impact of community policing (a topic that has been hotly debated in the wake of the Garner case), police training and equipment in light of statistics on assaults on cops, the grand jury process, death and pension benefits for the families of fallen officers and more.

The dates and locations of the hearings are still being worked out.

An interesting side note: Skelos is still referring to himself as co-leader, which, technically speaking, he will be until the end of the year – unless he and IDC Leader Jeff Klein have decided to re-up their old power sharing agreement, the details of which have yet to be made public.

There is no quote in the release from Klein, though he is a law-and-order Democrat who has focused on a fair number of criminal justice issues in the past.