Jan 6th - 4:30 pm
We have one departure and a relocation to report in New York’s world of ever-shifting political staffers.
- Nicholas Dhimitri is leaving his position as legislative director to Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Western NY Democrat, to become Sen. Chuck Schumer’s WNY regional coordinator.
Dhimitri was the field director for Kennedy’s successful 2010 campaign in which the former Erie County legislator defeated fellow Democrat (and former senator) Bill Stachowski in a September primary, and then beat ex-GOP Assemblyman Jack Quinn in the general election. (Stachowski was in the general, too, running on the WFP and Independence Party lines).
Kennedy’s re-election this fall will be key to the Democrats’ quest to retake the majority. Like Stachwoski before him, Kennedy ran with Conservative Party support, thanks in part to his pro-life stance, although he did publicly support – and vote in favor of – same-sex marriage.
Dhimitri also served as a campaign consultant for Rep. Brian Higgins in 2010. He ran Democrat Chuck Cornell’s failed campaign for Chautauqua County Executive in 2009.
- Erica Sackin emailed colleagues and reporters yesterday to announce that Jan. 12 will be her last day as the spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of NYC. On Jan. 16, she’s moving to Chicago to start working for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Sackin has been at Planned Parenthood for three years. Previously, she was an account executive at the PR firm Fenton Communications.
Good luck Nick and Erica! Anyone else who is moving on and/or up, please feel free to drop us a line.
UPDATE: Ask and you shall receive. Ulster County Executive Mike Hein’s office emailed to remind us that former NYSAC Legislative Director and Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Ken Crannell has joined Hein’s administration.
Hein announced late last month that he planned to appoint Crannell deputy county executive for health and human services. He had been at NYSAC for 16 years.
Dec 19th - 3:28 pm
The House of Representatives is expected to vote up or down on the 2 month extension to the payroll tax that the Senate passed over the weekend with bipartisan support. But Speaker John Boehner says he does not expect it to pass and is calling for the Senate to return to DC to debate a year long extension.
Speaking to reporters in Washington County today, Senator Chuck Schumer urged members of the House to vote for the bill. He still predicts that if there is an up or down vote on the measure, that it will pass. He also suggested that passing the bill for 2 months will eventually lead to a full year extension.
“The House said they would support it. But they are having a little trouble. I guess what I am urging the Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner of Ohio to do, is put the bill on the floor tonight and let his membership vote. And I believe if they put it on the floor they will pass it,” Schumer said.
Schumer went on to say that if it does not pass in the House, he doesn’t see how they will get the bill “resuscitated” again. If an extension isn’t passed by January 1st, taxes on all workers would increase. Though some argue that Congress can pass the payroll tax extension retroactively after the holidays.
On a side note, this trip to Washington County completed the Senator’s trip to all of New York’s 62 counties. Something he has done every year he has been in the US Senate.
Dec 14th - 12:23 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer isn’t a slouch when it comes to voicing support for various New York products. Working at a local paper hungry for content, nary did a slow-news day Sunday go by that I wasn’t writing about Schumer’s efforts on behalf of the state’s dairy/maple syrup/alpaca farm industries.
Now as the football season slides into playoff time, Schumer (on a non-Sunday) is advocating on issue that will bring Democrats and Republicans together: help local beer makers.
In a letter that appears after the jump sent to the New York State Restaurant Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores and Fuel Retailing, Schumer asks them to stock locally manufactured brews.
“Local breweries across the state are proven job creators, helping support 60,000 New York jobs and brewing not simply great beer, but billions for our local economy too,” said Schumer in a statement. “Craft breweries have catapulted New York to the top shelf of beer states, and our beers are more than ready for prime time. Whether you are searching for a six-pack at your local 7-Eleven or grabbing Buffalo wings with a beer after work, you should have a wide assortment of locally brewed beers to choose from. I’m strongly urging New York restaurants, bars and convenience stores alike across the state to take a close look at New York’s beers, and consider putting them on their shelves or on their menu. It would be a win-win, both for those selling the beer, and for the breweries making it.”
As usual, Schumer also includes a region-by-region analysis of beer production. Not surprisingly, central New York, home to the makers of Saranac Lake, produced the most: 287,883 barrels of beer last year, and there are plans to open 3 new breweries, Schumer said.
Nov 28th - 2:03 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer insisted today that the odds will improve for a deficit reduction deal next year, despite the presence of a knock-down, drag-out political battle for control of both Congress and the White House.
New York’s senior senator followed up his Grover Norquist-bashing “Meet the Press” appearance yesterday with an appearance this morning in Central New York (Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, to be exact, where he was pushing for new helmet safety standards), telling reporters:
“We have a serious deficit problem; we have to deal with it…(enter blindfolded man analogy – a new Schumer standard – here)…So, it’s imperative of both sides to come to the middle.”
“There are some very left wing Democrats and very right-wing Republicans who don’t want to have any deal, but I think the majority want to come together. And unfortunately the supercommittee coudln’t do it. But I believe that the chances in 2012 are actually greater than 2011 to have this happen. For this reason: In 2013 two very bad things happen. One, the trigger that would make deep, across-the-board cuts if we don’t solve the problem will go into effect. And second, the Bush tax cuts expire, raising taxes on everybody, not just the wealthy, but even the middle class.”
“I’d be very much opposed to raising any taxes on the middle class. So the fact that those things are getting closer is going to push the sides together.”
Schumer was also asked to respond to the breaking news that Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank had decided not to seek re-election.
“The hallmark of his career is the bill that put some really tough standards into financial institutions – banks, security firms, insurance – to make sure that what happened a few years ago doesn’t happen again, and I think that’s how he’ll best be remembered,” the senator replied.
Nov 22nd - 3:46 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer, who (correctly) predicted weeks ago that the supercommittee would fail, told reporters at an Albany event earlier today that Congress is now going to have to get over its partisan games or face automatic massive cuts to defense and domestic government programs – neither of which is 100 percent palatable to either side of the aisle.
Thankfully, Schumer said, the cuts don’t take effect until January 2013, which gives lawmakers plenty of time to get their collective act together.
“Well, look, I had hoped that the supercommittee could have reached an agreement,” said Schumer, although that seems to run counter to his comments on Nov. 7 when he said failure was all but certain, and the Republicans would be to blame. “But I think we’ve got to keep at it because our deficit problem is a very serious problem.”
“We’re like a blindfolded man walking towards a cliff. And if we keep walking in that direction we’re going to fall off the cliff, the financial cliff. Some will say the cliff is only 500 feet away. Some will say it’s five miles away, but no one can deny if we keep walking that way we fall fall off the cliff. So, we have to do something. Now, the only good news is the sequestration cuts, which are quite severe, don’t take effect for a year. And I would hope that Democrats and Republicans can come out of corners, come into the middle and come up with an agreement within the next year before that sequestration takes effect.”
But this whole situation sort of begs the question: If Congress needs the impending threat of a deadline for cuts to put aside partisan differences and make hard decisions, then why didn’t the legislation that created the supercommittee following the debt ceiling debacle move the threat of cuts up a year? Curious.
Oct 27th - 2:05 pm
Despite a valiant attempt by my YNN colleague Bill Carey, Sen. Chuck Schumer refused during a stop in Syracuse yesterday to take a position on a true state-level millionaire’s tax, despite the fact that he is pushing the exact same thing down in Washington, D.C.
The senator succeeded in rallying his fellow Senate Democrats in pushing the Obama administration to bump up the tax-the-rich threshold from $250,000 to $1 million, arguing that a family income of $250,000 doesn’t qualify as “rich” in New York City.
But now that Democratic state lawmakers have largely abandoned their call to simply extend the current PIT increase (about to sunset at the end of December) in favor of a millionaire’s tax that would actually live up to its name, Schumer is declining weigh in.
Carey noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has endorsed increases taxes on millionaires at the federal level, but opposes the idea here in New York, insisting it will make the state less competitive, business-wise, with its neighbors. Asked by Carey how he would reconcile those two positions, Schumer replied:
“Well, look, I advocate taxing people whose income is above a million dollars on that income that’s above a million dollars. I haven’t mixed in on the state level.”
Here’s how the rest of the Schumer-Carey exchange went:
BC: “If (Cuomo) says it’s a bad idea, why shouldn’t people listen to him?”
CS: “You’d have to talk to him. I believe it’s a good idea at the federal level.”
BC: “But not at the state level?”
CS: “I haven’t mixed in at the state level.”
Now, Schumer has never been shy about “mixing in at the state level” on a variety of issues when it suits him. But tangling with the state’s most powerful Democratic elected official – whose poll numbers are even higher than Schumer’s, despite his post as the second most powerful man in the US Senate majority – obviously isn’t something that appeals to the senior senator.
Oct 20th - 4:27 pm
Here’s a roundup of reaction from New York’s two senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Rep. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee to the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
There’s no mention of politics (i.e. the merits of the U.S. strategy of “leading from behind” in the effort to oust the longtime ruler) but a general sense that the death of the man who helped fund the deadly Pan Am bombing in 1988 is a good thing.
“New Yorkers know better than almost anyone else how evil a man Moammar Gadhafi was. Hopefully his death will bring some degree of closure to the many families who lost loved ones on Pam Am Flight 103. The world is a better and safer place without him.”
“Qaddafi was a brutal dictator who killed 189 Americans and his own people. His death will allow the people of Libya to unify and write the next chapter of Libya’s history. As the new Libyan government moves forward on the path toward democracy, they must hold all those responsible for terrorist acts under Qaddafi’s brutal reign accountable. The Transitional National Council must get all the information we can learn about the Lockerbie bombing and put Al-Megrahi back in prison where he belongs.”
“This is a great victory for the people of Libya and the world. Gadhafi obviously was a mass murderer and a reckless dictator. With him gone, it certainly gives an opportunity to stabilize the Middle East but, the United States must do all that it can to ensure that the radicals do not hijack the Libyan revolution.”
Sep 28th - 11:11 am
Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging supporters to sign a petition supporting the so-called “Buffett Rule” proposed by President Obama, which is aimed at increasing taxes on the mega-rich.
Schumer, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, writes that “we could have a game-changer” in the tax debate.
There’s not a doubt in my mind: We could have a game-changer in the tax debate. Last week, President Obama stepped up to propose the so-called Buffett rule, which would close some of our deficit with new revenue from those making over $1 million a year, rather than relying simply on cuts to middle-class programs. Contrast that with the Republicans trying to leverage the deficit debate to cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. That contrast will make the Republican position almost indefensible with voters. And all the signs point to the president getting ready to go all in on this. But to make the gambit work, we need every Democrat behind him.
Still, given the lack of support for the tax plan in Republican-led House and even among Schumer’s Democratic majority in the Senate, the passage of the tax is doubtful.
Sep 14th - 12:14 pm
After canceling his own conference call (on getting federal disaster aid for flood-ravaged NY farmers), Sen. Chuck Schumer teamed up with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to push back against the GOP spin that Congressman-elect Bob Turner’s upset win in NY-9 spells bad news at the national level for Democrats, and President Obama in particular.
Schumer, who represented NY-9 for 18 years, insisted the district is about 75 percent the same today, geographically speaking, as it was when he was in office, but drastically different when it comes to demographics. There are more Orthodox Jews, he said, and also more immigrants, making the district skew even more conservative than it had been back in his day.
The senior senator said it would be a “big mistake” for anyone to try to extrapolate between what happened in NY-9 last night and what might happen in New York – or, for that matter, the nation – in 2012. He noted that when he last ran statewide (in 2010), his two worst-performing Assembly districts in New York City (where he received just over 50 percent of the vote) were in NY-9.
“It’s not a bellwether district, and trying to read what any specific group or any specific person did does not make sense,” Schumer stressed.
Schumer said he believes Obama will not only carry NY-9 in 2012, but “do well” there, particularly as he shifts the focus to jobs and the economy. Wasserman-Schultz said that anyone looking for predictions in next year’s presidential election should look at Obama’s standing in battleground states, where his numbers remain respectable.
The DNC chair insisted NY-9 became vacant “in what can be called unusual circumstances,” and can’t be considered indicative of anything in particular. As for NV-02, where the Republican won an open House seat, she said the Democrats had expected to lose that race and “didn’t really play” there as a result.
Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida Jew, also predicted Obama – and the Democrats in general – “have consistently received the Jewish vote and will again” due to the president’s “strong record” on Israel and other issues Jewish voters care about.
Apparently, she hasn’t spoken with former NYC Mayor Ed Koch lately.
UPDATE: There’s a recording of the entire conference call after the jump.
Sep 12th - 2:49 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer is touring upstate flood damage today. This video is from his stop earlier today in Amsterdam. He’s in Binghamton, where some 1,000 people are still in shelters, this afternoon.
It’s a long clip, but at about the 2:30-minute mark, Schumer, who known for his ability and willingness to speak on any subject at any time, anywhere, is interrupted by a passing train.
He even manages to turn that into a positive, saying it’s proof that things are returning to normal, adding: “That’s a good sign…We’ll take the noise with the trains rather than no noise and no trains.”
The senator says he believes FEMA is going to move quickly to get a disaster declaration for impacted counties and help people get recovery assistance in the Mohawk Valley, and insisted he’s “very optimistic” that will happen.
“I was just on the phone right here with Administrator Fugate. The good news is that FEMA is a good agency. They don’t look to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and find 12 reasons why you shouldn’t get assistance. They’re very, very cooperative, and they are flexible…We are going to need lots of help from FEMA.”
Schumer said he thinks it’s “totally unfair” to ask local taxpayers to pick up all the recovery costs. Tomorrow, he said, the Democrats will put up a proposal to replenish FEMA’s funding, and those Republicans who had opposed that “seemed to be backing off…my view is that once the Senate does it, the House will do it as well.”