Dec 9th - 3:37 pm
The legislative director of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association announced at a public employees conference in Puerto Rico on Monday he will challenge Democratic Sen. Jose Peralta next year, potentially setting up a major labor battle in the Queens district, according to a source at the event.
Alles has been interested in the seat for a while now, and The Observer’s Politicker blog reported in October he had considered launching a bid for the seat as Peralta sought the Queens borough presidency. Ultimately Peralta would drop his bid for borough president.
“Yes, there is interest,” Alles said back in October to The Observer. “It’s a little premature to say much more. I’m testing the waters, trying to solicit support.”
Peralta was one of several lawmakers secretly recorded by federal officials while meeting with ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley, but he has not been charged or implicated in any wrongdoing.
Still, as The Politicker noted, an Alles candidacy does face some challenges in a district that is 59 percent Latino.
Dec 4th - 12:56 pm
Bronx Sen. Ruben Diaz is something of an outlier for the mainline Democratic conference, notably being a vocal social conservative on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
But he’s also one of the few, if only, Democratic lawmakers in the chamber opposed to public financing of political campaigns.
And in his latest What You Should Know email blast, Diaz praises the seven members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption who dissented on the recommendation that a donor matching system be introduced.
Diaz questioned the use of public money for political activities, when he believes it should be directed to programs for the needy.
“There were seven dissenters and I stand with these magnificent seven members of the Moreland Commission. I stand with these magnificent seven members of the Moreland Commission in their statement that public funds should not be used for political campaigns,” Diaz wrote. “Why should public funds be used for my political campaign when just the other day the New York Daily News described the Bronx as “the hungriest borough?” Why should public money be used to finance political campaigns when our homeless shelters are overflowing and affordable housing is so scarce? How can any politician in good conscience accept public money for his or her campaign when so many of their constituents continue to struggle to support their families?”
Senate Republicans are in staunch opposition as well to public financing, having blocked the most recent efforts this year to create a system.
Diaz’s no vote is illustrative of the uphill slog a public matching system faces in the Legislature, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom today he’ll continue to push the measure and would have already had an ethics measure had not been for holding out on public financing.
Nov 27th - 11:44 am
The Senate Republican Campaign Committee has withdrawn its motion to quash a request for additional, non-public information being sought by the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, according to a joint statement on Wednesday from the panel’s co-chairs.
The SRCC had filed a motion to quash subpoenas seeking additional information, including communications relating to campaign donations, from the campaign committee.
“We are pleased that the Senate Republican Campaign Committee has withdrawn its motion to quash the subpoenas issued by the Moreland Commission,” said co-chairs William Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Rice and Milton Williams. “Cooperation and reason prevailed and we look forward to continuing to work with the SRCC on this matter.”
The move comes after legislative leaders of the Senate and Assembly filed a legal challenge to Moreland’s authority in seeking more information on legislators’ outside income and business clients.
Updated: Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview after the news broke indicated that a compromise had been struck, which resulted in SRCC lawyers withdrawing the motion to quash the subpoena.
“They are now saying they will work it out,” Cuomo said while adding, “It’s very common to negotiate the scope of the subpoena. That’s a fine thing and a normal thing.”
According to a statement released by SRCC lawyer Michael Chertoff, the campaign committee will release a “limited set of documents” under the deal reached with the commission.
The agreement also stipulates that no internal communications would be released.
“In light of the Commission’s offer to withdraw most of its demands, the SRCC has agreed to produce a limited set of documents reflecting financial records and certain external communications associated only with the Committee’s housekeeping account,” Chertoff said. “Accordingly, the Committee will now withdraw its petition to quash the subpoena, while reserving its right to refile should circumstances warrant.”
Still, Cuomo believes the compliance by SRCC, even while limited, was a step forward in the ongoing Moreland investigation.
Lawyers for law firms that employ state lawmakers are still challenging subpoenas seeking more information on lawmakers’ private employment.
Cuomo said in the radio interview that SRCC’s compliance undermines the argument that the commission can’t investigate a separate branch of government. He called the separation of powers argument “baloney.”
“When you fight the subpoenas, it sounds like you have something to hide,” Cuomo said.
Updated X2: A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, Michael Whyland, said the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee has already complied with the commission’s request for information last week.
Nov 19th - 3:17 pm
A repeal of the MTA payroll tax for local governments and the 18a assessment on utilities, a permanent 2 percent cap on spending increases set in state law and a simplification of the state’s tax code are among the recommendations by Senate Republicans to enact tax reform in New York.
A number of the proposals in the 41-page report have been made by Sens. Carl Marcellino and John DeFrancisco have come up from the Republican conference in the past.
And Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature over the last three years have proposed and approved spending plans that keep to a voluntary 2 percent limit in state spending.
But the report comes as new talk is being generated in Albany for some sort of tax reform and as Cuomo has hinted at proposing a tax cut next year even as incoming New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pushes for a tax increase for those making $500,000 and more in New York City to fund universal pre-K.
Last week a report released from one of two tax commissions created by Cuomo made a set or “revenue-neutral” tax changes including a clawing back of tax credits and new applications of the state sales tax for digital products like Netflix subscriptions and iTunes downloads.
The second commission, created this year and helmed by former Comptroller Carl McCall and ex-Gov. George Pataki, is expected to recommend ways of reducing the state’s tax burden.
“It’s unacceptable that New York ranks 50th in business tax climate and first in population loss. Senate Republicans are recommending strong and dramatic actions to improve our business climate, create good jobs, and give families the opportunities they need to stay in New York,” Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said in a statement said. “We are proposing a plan to greatly reduce the tax burden on New Yorkers at every level, making it more competitive for businesses to locate and grow here. There is nothing more progressive than empowering the private sector to create good-paying jobs.”
Also among the Republican proposals include a simplification of the state’s personal income tax calculation, making all retirement income tax free, and an end to the corporate tax on manufacturers.
Fees such as the metropolitan region car registration and driver’s license fee increases would als end under the GOP plan.
The report today also comes after liberal advocates at the Capitol called for a progressive bent to the state’s tax code, including a tax hike for the rich.
Nov 14th - 4:45 pm
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos and his governing partner, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, sent a subtle message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday afternoon: He needs the majority coalition to govern.
In a joint statement, both Skelos and Klein note that Cuomo’s signature economic accomplishments of the last several legislative sessions wouldn’t have been achieved without help from the Senate, specifically the coalition of Republicans and four independent Democrats.
Among the measures they are touting: the expansion of casino gambling, the tax-free START-UP NY program and the tax cap — all of which needed IDC-GOP support to pass.
“Over the past three years, our conferences have been proud to partner with Governor Cuomo to help grow New York’s economy. On issue after issue–from casino gaming, to Start-up NY, to a historic property tax cap–our members have provided Governor Cuomo with the critical votes needed to make his economic agenda a reality. Without the bipartisan support of the Senate Majority Coalition, some of the Governor’s key economic programs, such as Start-Up NY, would still be bottled up in the Legislature. Recent history has shown us that in order for the Governor to continue making progress on sensible economic policies, such as those proposed by his tax commission today, he will need bipartisan support. As we all recognize, smart economic policy comes only with a bipartisan, results oriented-approach to governing. It’s clear that anything less threatens to send our state’s economy backward, not forward, and that’s something New York simply cannot afford.”
The statement comes as Cuomo and mainline Senate Democrats have been inching closer and closer together.
Cuomo criticized the coalition at a political rally in Westchester County last month for not approving the full women’s agenda, which stalled over the effort to codify Roe v. Wade in state law.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have increasingly started to act as surrogates for Cuomo in his political fights with state Republican Chairman Ed Cox as he heads into his re-election next year.
Republicans are in a numerical minority in the Senate, but with the four-member IDC in a power-sharing agreement, have been able to retain the trappings of the majority conference, including most committee chairmanships.
Nov 14th - 1:23 pm
Democrat Justin Wagner is making a second run at Republican Sen. Greg Ball next year, and in a statement said his campaign will be themed around government reform.
“If my campaign has a theme, it’s reform. To preserve our quality of life and keep our Hudson Valley communities affordable, we need some help from Albany,” Wagner said in a statement. ”Governor Cuomo has made tremendous headway, but we could do so much more with a pragmatic State Senate – not one that’s paralyzed by petty politics. That’s going to require leadership that’s ready to put families, common sense, and our communities ahead of political extremism or opportunism.”
The release today was the formal entry of Wagner into the race for the Hudson Valley Senate district.
Wagner narrowly lost to Ball in 2012 by 2 percentage points in what was one of the more expensive legislative races last year.
It’s a relatively early start for a Senate race, suggesting that fundraising will again be pretty aggressive in the district.
What’s interesting, however, is Ball’s status.
And as first reported by Gannett, a statement from Ball’s camp was not definitive on whether the second-term Republican would actually run again for the seat. Ball previously — and pre-emptively — announced he would not run for the area Congressional seat held by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Ball is one of the more unpredictable members of the Republican confernce, but has a well-oiled get-out-the-vote machine and even some Democrats acknowledge he’s an energetic campaigner.
Nov 8th - 1:39 pm
ICYMI: Sen. Cathy Young, who took control of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee over the summer, told me on CapTon last night that the GOP’s focus in the 2014 elections will be to protect its current members and grow its conference, leaving little left over to provide assistance to members of its power-sharing partner, the IDC.
“You know we’re really focused on the Republican seats, and that’s really where we’re really going to put our efforts,” Young said. “I think we’ve got great opportunities moving forwaard.”
“I really feel that because of the success we just had in this election, it bodes very well; it’s a great bellweather for what’s going to happen….The success that we had across the state, I think is going to translate in the coming year.”
That’s a departure from Young’s predecessor, Sen. Tom Libous, who said back in June that he would be “very open” to helping IDC members “any way I could” in the coming elections, though he did also acknowledge that his first priority would be to assist members of his own conference.
It was recently reported that NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have discussed targeting the four IDC senators – especially their leader, Jeff Klein, and his girlfriend, Sen. Diane Savino - during the September primary next year in retaliation for their failure to get “progressive” legislation like the governor’s Women’s Equality Act and campaign finance reform passed in the Senate.
Klein responded by announcing his plan to champion de Blasio’s plan to hike taxes on the rich to fund universal pre-K and after school programs – a proposal Cuomo has more or less said is a non-starter in the 2014 legislative session.
Young also hedged het bets a little bit, telling me that whatever happens in the 2014 elections, the Republicans will still be interested in working with the IDC, explaining:
“We’re looking to gain more seats for the Senate Republicans, but if you recall with the IDC we actually had a good working relationship even when we had the majority the last time. So, I expect that relationship to continue. It’s been very positive. As you know, we don’t agree on everything, but it’s been a very successful power-sharing agreement thus far, and I anticipate that it will continue.”
Young brushed off any talk of the SRCC being hurt by the departure from the public stage of Mayor Bloomberg, who has been the single biggest individual donor to the Senate GOP’s campaign coffers since he took office 12 years ago. She insisted a wide variety of donors are interested in supporting the Republicans’ political effort, though she didn’t name names.
Nov 4th - 12:52 pm
Sen. Diane Savino, a member of the breakaway Senate conference blamed by any number of her fellow Democrats – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo – for the death of “progressive” legislation in the chamber this past legislative session, is urging New Yorkers to vote on the uber-liberal Working Families Party line tomorrow.
“As an early supporter of the Working Families Party and a member of the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, I have always believed that voters should have choice,” Savino said in a statement released by her campaign committee this afternoon.
“For over 15 years the WFP has been the progressive voice for working class and middle class New Yorkers, it was founded to fight for good jobs, affordable housing and quality schools. I am urging people to vote for Democrats Bill deBlasio, Tish James and Scott Stringer on the Working Families Party line. So make your vote stand something, remember to vote for the Democrats on row D, VOTE WFP!”
Despite the fact that she has thrown in her lot with the Independent Democratic Conference that enabled the Senate Republicans to remain in power (a move that has a personal component, given the fact that she is dating IDC Leader Jeff Klein), Savino has a long history with the labor movement – one that predates her election to the Senate in 2004.
Savino began her career in public service as a caseworker for NYC’s Child Welfare Administration. She was an active member of her local labor union, DC 37, and eventually became its the vice president for political action and legislative affairs.
The WFP is poised to win big tomorrow with NYC mayoral frontrunner de Blasio, whom the labor-backed party has supported throughout his career. (De Blasio has a long history with organized labor, and is the cousin of John Wilhelm, the former president of Unite Here).
Savino’s embracing of the WFP is yet another on a quickly growing list of “screw yous” from the IDC (well, mostly Klein) to Cuomo. The governor has had a rocky relationship with the WFP, and actively tried to neuter it (and other minor parties) earlier this year by proposing an end to the Wilson Pakula process, which would have robbed third party leaders of the power to control who gets their endorsement. (Note: I originally wrote that Cuomo proposed doing away with fusion voting, which is the bread-and-butter of minor parties. He did not. But minor party leaders found the idea he did float almost as onerous).
The WFP has weathered its share of challenges over the past several years. Cuomo made the party sweat it out in 2010 while he delayed accepted its endorsement due to a US attorney’s office investigation into the actions of its now defunct for-profit arm, Data and Field Services, in the 2009 NYC elections.
The feds found no wrongdoing, and Cuomo did accepted the WFP line – but not before forcing the party to accept his New New York Agenda in full, including a number of proposals that were not popular in progressive labor circles like the property tax cap and wage freezes for state workers.
Though the WFP is out of the woods with the feds, it remains in the crosshairs of a special prosecutor requested by Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in 2011. That special prosecutor, Roger Adler, told the Daily News he expects to convene a grand jury shortly after Veterans Day as part of his probe into allegations the WFP illegally gave candidates below-cost campaign-related services in 2009.
Nov 1st - 2:21 pm
Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who spends a lot of time excoriating the Tea Party Republicans he says have hijacked the agenda in D.C., spent some quality time today with one of the state Senate’s most conservative – dare I say, Tea Party-esque? – members: Sen. Greg Ball.
Maloney and Ball teamed up for what was billed as a “Main Street Listening Tour” of Mahopac, Putnam County, which happens to be located in both of their respective districts.
Ball sent out a press release touting the event, complete with the photo that appears here and the following quote from the senator:
“The Mahopac business district is a vital economic corridor in Putnam County. I am happy to work together with Congressman Maloney to enhance the small business climate for business owners and residents not only in Mahopac, but for the entire Hudson Valley Region.”
“Our ma and pa shops in Mahopac have so many wonderful goods and services to offer, they also have a unique insight into the red tape and obstacles that government often creates. I look forward to continuing my friendship with Congressman Maloney as we work in unison for a brighter and more prosperous future for all our constituents.”
The congressman had this to say:
“Small businesses are the backbone of communities like Mahopac and drive economic growth in the Hudson Valley. I ran my own company – I know how difficult running a business can be. Unfortunately, many small businesses in the Hudson Valley still face bureaucratic hurdles and government red tape.”
“I am eager to roll up my sleeves and partner with our local business leaders, Senator Ball and Assemblyman Katz to reduce unnecessary regulations and help our hardworking business excel and grow.”
While railing against the Tea Party, Maloney spends a lot of time promoting himself as a political pragmatist, sometimes voting against his own party and with the GOP in order to demonstrate the sort of independence that plays well in his closely divided Hudson Valley district.
Maloney is facing a likely rematch against the woman he ousted in 2012, Republican Nan Hayworth, who has been raising campaign cash and loaning herself money as she gears up for another run.
Ball and Hayworth have a history of not getting along terribly well.
As you may recall, he was toying with the idea of primarying her back in 2012, and spent a lot of time publicly criticizing her on a variety of issues, but ultimately decided to seek re-election for his Senate seat instead.
Oct 30th - 12:10 pm
In a court filing late yesterday in Manhattan, lawyers for the Senate Republican Campaign Committee asked a state Supreme Court judge to toss out a subpoena from the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, calling the effort an overreach on the part of the panel.
“The subpoena seeks documents and information that go to the heart of the Committee’s political functions, and it reaches beyond the campaign finance-related information that the Committee is already required by law to disclose,” wrote Senate GOP attorney Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush administration. “By issuing an overbroad and burdensome subpoena without sufficient justification, and in a manner that strongly suggests partisan bias, the Commission both disrupts the careful balance struck by the State’s existing campaign finance disclosure regime and infringes deeply upon the Committee’s rights to free political expression and association.”
The filing was first reported by Bloomberg News.
In the filing, details are provided as to what the commission is seeking from the SRCC.
Among the information being sought by Moreland, the the campaign committee is being asked to release an organizational chart of its operations, full-time employees, along with job titles and responsibilities.
The committee is also being asked to turn over documents relating to financial transactions, including contributions and transfers.
And Moreland wants to view the SRCC’s “commmunications about elections,” according to the filing.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo created the Moreland Commission in July after a legislative agreement for an ethics reform package following the spate of corruption scandals in Albany was not reached.
Cuomo last week told reporters in Albany it would be a “mistake” for state lawmakers to put up a legal fight against Moreland’s efforts. The commission itself has come under criticism for reportedly working too closely with the governor’s office and initially not investigating Democratic fundraiser (the commission subsequently issued a subpoena to the state Democratic Committee, which Cuomo ostensibly controls).
“I think they’re compounding the public’s sense they have something to hide,” Cuomo said. “I believe it’s in everyone’s best interest for the public to have trust in the Legislature. I think it would make it a more rewarding job.”
The governor, who had initally said the commission could probe any part of campaign finances it wants, has said recently the main point of the panel is to investigate the Legislature.
Today brought more signs of concerns from lawmakers that the Moreland panel is too cloe too the governor. Two state senators — Republican Andrew Lanza and independent Democrat Diane Savino — signed on to a bill that would seek to make future Moreland Commissions independent of the governor’s office, according to The Daily News.
In September, attorneys for the Democratic-led Assembly and Senate Republicans argued in a joint letter to the Moreland Commission it would not voluntarily turn over information on legislators’ outside income and legal clients, citing a separation of powers and Moreland’s purview to only investigate the executive branch.