May 2nd - 12:45 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district covers much of lower Manhattan, released the following statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden
The long-awaited promise to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice has been fulfilled and with it a painful chapter in America’s history and particularly, the history of Lower Manhattan, has finally been closed.
The assault that ended Bin Laden’s life brought an essential measure of justice to the families of the 9/11 casualties and to the countless residents of my community and first responders from around the city and state who continue to suffer from World Trade Center-related illnesses.
When his moment of truth came, the architect of the 9/11 attacks on America left this world knowing that he had failed to crush the American spirit and that New York – the city he planned to destroy – grows stronger and more diverse with every passing day.
On behalf of the citizens of Lower Manhattan, I commend President Obama and the Administration for their commitment to keeping the promise made to us on September 11, 2001. We salute the courageous men and women of our Armed Services, who have sacrificed so much to bring Bin Laden to justice and who continue to fight terrorism around the world.
Although this face of terrorism has been relegated to the pages of history, we cannot let down our guard. Our resolve to eradicate terrorism – root and branch – must remain firm.
Apr 25th - 11:52 am
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is blocking a bill that would create an independent commission to redraw legislative districts, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch charged this morning.
Koch, speaking on The Capitol Pressroom this morning, called the powerful Manhattan Democrat “the key” to the measure’s passage.
“The key is Shelly Silver. He’s bottled up the bill by introducing it. I have a meeting scheduled with him shortly. We’re going to ask him to please allow a vote, because a majority of his members, Democrats, but there are Republicans as well who signed the pledge, would like to see the impartial redistriciting and the key is Shelly saying I will allow a vote.”
Koch has trained most of the fire from his New York Uprising campaign on Senate Republicans, whose leadership he accuses of reneging on the pledge which included creating the commission in time for 2012.
The Senate did approve a constitutional amendment for an independent commission to draw the lines back on March 14, but that would not in effect until at least 2022.
Republicans have also claimed the effort it is a partisan one meant to help Democrats, who hold an enrollment advantage in the state.
But Silver, unlike Senate Republicans, did not sign onto Koch’s pledge.
Koch said Silver was fearful of losing significant support in his lower Manhattan Assembly district during a fair redistricting process.
“What Shelly would like to do is draw his own lines,” Koch said. “He would have a much more difficult time in getting re-elected because there is a large Asian group that would be expanded into that district that would give him a contest.”
Update: A reader points out that a large swath of Silver’s district already includes Chinatown. In addition, Silver won his last election by a pretty comfortable margin. Indeed, it seems unlikely — but not totally impossible — a serious challenger could be fielded against Silver within his own district.
Apr 18th - 11:43 am
There are no plans for powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to retire in the near future, Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said this morning.
Speaking on The Capitol Pressroom radio show, Canestrari, D-Cohoes, said the departure of Silver’s budget aide Dean Fuleihan (who the Manhattan Democrat described as his “right arm”) was not an indication Silver would step down soon.
“Dean’s been there 32 years; he can’t stay there forever,” Canestrari said. “He’s 60 now, don’t tell anybody.”
“There’s a limit to how much you can do. But the institution survives, there’s a way moving forwarding,” he added. “We’re going to work extra hard.”
Silver has been speaker since 1994, making him one of the longest-serving speakers in the state’s history.
Canestrari added that the chamber would eventually act on a property tax cap, just not necessarily Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent ceiling proposal. The Republican-controlled Senate approved the governor’s bill and has indicated negotiations would only water down the measure. Cuomo says he’s open to negotiating.
“I am convinced we will do something on the property tax cap,” Canestrari said.
Apr 13th - 11:46 am
Assemblyman Sean Hanna, a Rochester-area Republican, is speaking out against what he deemed the “bully tactics” of Ed Koch, accusing the former NYC mayor of being dishonest and disingenuous in his independent redistricting push.
Hanna took issue with being branded as one of Koch’s so-called “enemies of reform”, saying he should not be lambasted for refusing to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting bill, as introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, because he never technically pledged to do so.
This argument is a little twisted, but basically what Hanna is saying is that while he did indeed sign the NY Uprising PAC pledge, said pledge did not actually require his support of THIS EXACT bill, but merely A bill that would establish a nonpartisan commission to redraw the congressional and state legislative lines in time for the 2012 elections.
“As Mr. Koch is well aware, I have joined Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries to sponsor A03432, a truly bipartisan, independent redistricting commission,” Hanna said.
“Our bill assigns the same number of commissioner appointments to the leaders of the majority and minority conferences in each house. So, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have an equal say. By promoting this bill, I am fulfilling my pledge to reform the redistricting process.”
Hanna echoed an accusation first leveled at Koch by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, suggesting the former mayor is actually driven by a partisan desire to see his party (the Democrats) control everything in Albany. (Koch has rejected that allegation).
Hanna released an email exchange between himself and the former mayor, which appears below. He also accused Koch of striking a “backroom” deal to amend the bill to address partisan concerns during a private meeting with the governor last week.
UPDATE: Hanna’s name doesn’t appear on the sponsor list for Jeffries bill, but an aide to the assemblyman said the pertinent paperwork was walked over to Jeffries’ office yesterday. As such, a Koch spokesman said, the statement that the mayor was “well aware” of this development is “flat out untrue.”
Apr 13th - 8:34 am
Just how popular IS Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Well, according to today’s Q poll, more popular than his counterparts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and even New Jersey, which is headed by a Republican to whom the Democrat Cuomo is often compared.
Cuomo has a 64-16 percent job approval rating, which is higher than any other governor in any state where the Q poll has conducted surveys so far this year.
Christie comes in at 52-40 (as of Feb. 9). The other executives – all of them engaged in unresolved budget battles – are under 50 percent.
Cuomo’s rating is up from 56-15 in February, and even Republicans like him (58-18). New Yorkers approve of the on-time budget, 47-31, with 31 percent saying the governor is most responsible for getting it done, while 57 percent said the job was equally shared by the governor and the Legislature.
Voters generally approve of the job their local state legislators are doing, but disapprove overall of the Legislature as a whole (29-58). However, that’s the Legislature’s best grade since its 32-50 rating in February 2009 and up from 20-65 just two months ago.
The near-government shutdown at the federal level didn’t do anything to improve the standing of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer in New Yorkers’ eyes. Schumer is at 55-32, down from 60-26, while Gillibrand is at 49-26, down from 54-20 just last month – her highest Q poll score.
Apr 12th - 6:37 pm
Is a 2 percent cap possible in the Assembly?
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it is. Maybe. Possibly.
Silver, speaking to reporters after huddling in a short Democratic conference this afternoon, said a 2 percent cap could pass his chamber. But some exemptions may apply.
“Obviously it would have a cap on property taxes, probably the 2 percent the governor has in it, and probably beyond that we’ll have a discussion.”
But Silver said exemptions could be built in to the measure, which he dismissed as minimal.
A news conference held by Senate Republicans tried to re-frame the argument that Silver was being recalcitrant on the property tax cap.
Apr 12th - 6:25 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bid farewell today to his “right arm,” a top aide with so many duties he will have to split the job into two (Liz broke that story earlier today).
Silver issued a lengthy goodbye press release to Dean Fuleihan, a 33-year veteran of the Assembly.
“He has been one of the most brilliant, one of the most loyal, one of the most giving of his time in his job and it is really like I’m losing my right arm at this point,” Silver told reporters.
Fuleihan gave no indication during the reporter gaggle about what he would do, and Silver only said it “would not be in this building” referring to the Capitol.
Taking Fuleihan’s responsibilities are Lou Ann Ciccone, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Speaker for Program and Policy; and Matthew Howard, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Ways and Means Committee.
“For all the negatives we hear, there are incredible positives,” Fuleihan said of the Legislature. “It’s an experience of a lifetime. I don’t leave this easy.”
He does plan to stay in New York and added that he wants to “make a contribution.”
Silver also said this was not a sign he would end his tenure as speaker, which began in 1994, making him one of the longest serving Assembly speaker in the state’s history.
The full release on Fuelihan’s departure is after the jump: More >
Apr 12th - 12:46 pm
Dean Fuleihan, a 33-year veteran of the Assembly who has served as Sheldon Silver’s right-hand man – if not an outright extension of his brain – for the entire duration of his speakership (which started in 1994), is departing his post at the end of the month, multiple sources confirm.
A formal announcement will be made by the speaker at the Assembly Democrats’ closed-door conference later today. Fuleihan is not leaving for another job. But he’s also not retiring and is considering a number of options, I’m told.
He’ll likely keep his hand in government, but is not yet sure about his next move.
Silver will also be announcing internal shuffling to fill the considerable gap that Fuleihan will leave behind. The new team – and there will be more than one person stepping up to take over Fuleihan’s duties – will include the elevation of Matt Howard, who has helped Fuleihan with budget negotiations over the past decade.
I can’t really overstate the significance of this. The news will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the Capitol. (Actually, that has already started as word of Fuleihan’s imminent last day is starting to leak out).
For as long as I have covered Albany, there was Dean and there was Shelly. The concept of the Assembly majority without Fuleihan is going to take some getting used to.
Fuleihan started working for the Assembly back in 1978 under then-Speaker Stanley Steingut. Fueled on endless cups of coffee and the ability to function at high levels on very little sleep, he has been the Assembly Democrats’ point man in every budget negotiation I can remember, and I’ve been covering the Capitol on and off since about 2000.
Apr 11th - 4:42 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this afternoon said a cap on property taxes and linking rent regulations were not linked but suggested that a 2 percent cap as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t too low of a ceiling.
Silver, asked at the end of the news conference if he felt the cap as proposed by Cuomo was too low, said it was not.
“I don’t think 2 percent is too low,” Silver said.
The Democratic-led Assembly is expected to vote on and pass a host of rent regulation expansions, measures the GOP-controlled Senate likely won’t support.
Senate Republicans have said they support re-approving rent control laws, due expire June 15. Unlike rent control, there’s no expiration date for the tax cap and, as a result, no real sense of urgency to pass the 2 percent cap in the Assembly as the Republicans in the Senate did on Jan. 31.
It is highly unlikely the 2 percent cap without exemptions (dubbed a “hard cap” by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos) would pass in the Assembly, where Democratic lawmakers fear the effect the cap would have on school districts. Republicans have said they would not compromise on the cap by either raising the ceiling or including more exemptions.
Silver, at the news conference, also fell back on the familiar line that the tax cap and rent control laws are related philosophically because they keep peoples’ homes affordable.
“There’s no linkage per se,” Silver said at a news conference unveiling an expansion of rent regulations. “But those who would argue we need rent regulations, we need the property tax cap, they’re both about keeping in their homes.”
Apr 11th - 9:30 am
Today’s Siena poll finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo heading into post-budget policy negotiations with a very strong hand, as New Yorkers strongly support his top agenda items – from instituting a property tax cap (83 percent) to creating an independent redistricting commission and legalizing same-sex marriage (both 58 percent).
Cuomo saw both his job performance and favorability ratings jump following the budget battle, even though voters believe their local schools and hospitals lost out as a result of the on-time spending plan passed by the Legislature.
“Andrew Cuomo starts his second hundred days as governor continuing to enjoy ‘rock star status’ among New Yorkers,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.
“His favorability rating is back over 70 percent, his job performance rating is up and, by a 61-9 percent margin, voters say he was a winner, not loser, in the just-completed budget battle.”
The governor is viewed favorably by 73 percent of voters and unfavorably by 18 percent, up from 69-20 last month. Fifty-four percent say he is doing an excellent or good job – up from 51 percent last month – and 41 percent say he’s doing a fair or poor job (unchanged).