Iannuzzi Out As NYSUT President

The longtime president of the statewide teachers union was ousted this weekend by delegates at the union’s Representative Assembly.

Richard Iannuzzi, who had been president of the New York State United Teachers union since 2005, lost to a slate led by Westchester County leader Karen Magee, backed by the United Federation of Teachers.

Magee is the third president in NYSUT’s 42-year history, and the first woman to hold the post.

“Our team stands for change and our work begins now,” Magee said in a statement.

“That includes taking on the tough fights and communicating clearly with decision makers at every level. We will be the voice they cannot ignore. We will defend public education and public service. Period.”

In the weeks ahead, Magee said she she and her team of officers will travel the state to call on “each and every member to BE the union, as we unite for change.”

In addition to Magee, delegates re-elected Andy Pallotta as executive vice president and approved two new vice presidents: UFT vice president Catalina Fortino and Paul Fortino, a special education teacher in Patchogue-Medford and president of the Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers.

Iannuzzi was only the second president in the union’s history, and the contested vote to oust him was a rarity in NYSUT’s history.

But Iannuzzi faced criticism for not aggressively pushing back against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policies, especially a 2013 teacher evaluation law.

Delegates at the 600,000-member union’s New York City confab on Saturday had supported an Iannuzzi-backed measure that declared a vote of no-confidence in state Education Commissioner John King and called on him to resign.

Nevertheless, the move had little impact on the final vote count.

The vote also comes as a number of high-profile education issues come to a head this year in Albany, including withering criticism of the state’s rollout of the Common Core assessments.

Magee will take over the union as Cuomo seeks to make changes to the teacher evaluation law after the state budget delayed aspects of the Common Core standards for student assessment.

Cuomo had previously warned against altering the law, but last week indicated he would make changing it a priority in the post-budget session.

It also remains to be seen what impact the union’s change in leadership will have for Cuomo’s political calculus this year.

NYSUT and other public-sector labor organizations have been deeply unhappy with Cuomo’s fiscal agenda this year, and the union-backed Working Families Party has gone as far as to suggest it could endorse someone else for governor this fall.


Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly wants to “beat up” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for demonizing the wealthy. He said as much at a Catholic fundraiser.

Ahead of this weekend’s vote that could oust him from his post, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi appealed to delegates whose local leaders had already pledged support to his challengers.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill, who were at odds over sexual harassment in the military, are spearheading an effort to increase funding to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

There’s $42 million worth of education “bullet aid” in the budget, to be allocated later according to legislative resolutions and budget director agreement.

Former President Bush had an uncomforable “my dog is bigger than yours” moment with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Casey Seiler engages in a debate with Team Astorino over whether New York really is No. 1 in public corruption.

De Blasio met today with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the Regency Hotel.

Crain’s: “Ironically, the state lawmakers’ ethics reform deal may actually erode public trust.”

The man running interference for the Dems under the banner of the “Astorino  Truth Squad”: Mike Morey, former spokesman for ex-NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn.

The Monroe County Democratic Committee announced its candidate for the vacant 134th District: Gary Pudup, who was the director of the Genesee Valley chapter of the NYCLU.

Former Brooklyn BP has been named vice president of borough promotion and engagement by NYC & Company, the city’s tourism office.

The pro-gun NY2A coalition has registered a political action committee in the hopes of influencing 20 legislative races this year.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is barely into the first year of his second four-year term but he’s still fund-raising.

Capital filed three FOIL requests seeking information on the call de Blasio made on Bishop Orlando Findlayter traffic stop. All three have been delayed with no explanation.

A Missouri-based gun manufacturer, Black Rain Ordnance, has introduced a line of “New York compliant” rifles.

A history lesson: How four New York governors became president – with cameos by Cuomo.

How not to run for office.

Gibson Pushes House to Act on Unemployment Benefits

Rep. Chris Gibson is pushing his Republican colleagues in the House to take up legislation that would extend unemployment benefits for five months.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill Monday; House leaders have so far refused to bring the measure to the floor.

As a result of the inaction, Gibson has signed on to a letter, spearheaded by New Jersey Republican Frank LoBiondo, calling on House Speaker John Boehner to put the measure up for a vote.

Late last year, beefed-up unemployment benefits ran out after Democrats and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement on how to extend them, leaving the unemployed with 26 weeks of assistance.

House Republican leaders had initially objected to the extension because it was not paid for. That concern has been addressed in the new Senate bill. Now, leaders say it will be difficult to apply the benefits retroactively.

“If there are issues with backdating this, then let’s take the same Senate bill, with the same pay-fors that I believe will pass the Senate and let’s go forward with it,” Gibson said, referring to his call to apply the benefits in the future.

Meanwhile, Gibson is also breaking with leadership on the Ryan Budget, which is expected to come up for a vote next week.

For the third time in three years, Gibson, who is facing a tough re-election against Democrat Sean Eldridge, says he will vote “no” on a budget he calls a “political document.”

“I’m going to vote no. The thing of it that I find particularly concerning is there’s no need for action on this budget,” Gibson said. “We have a budget. We actually passed it in December. It’s a two-year agreement, a two-year budget framework. What we should be focusing on are the appropriations bills that go with the budget agreement that we passed.”

The plan would slash $5 trillion from government spending over the next decade and overhaul Medicare for future retirees. Democrats are trying to use the plan to paint the Republican party as extreme


With California Eyeing The Late Show, Cuomo Has A Top Ten List For Letterman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office had a little fun this afternoon releasing a “Top 10″ list of reasons why David Letterman is a “New York legend” in honor of the The Late Show host’s retirement.

Among the reasons: “He never left the Empire State for that other coast” and “He inspired the first top ten list by a New York State Governor” (Gov.-elect George Pataki delivered a top 10 list on The Late Show back in 1994, so technically this claim holds up).

The list comes as California elected officials are hoping for a measure of revenue it would seem in luring a late-night TV franchise to their state.

New York was able to lure away The Tonight Show under its new host, Jimmy Fallon, with a suite of generous tax credits to NBCUniversal.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thursday in a letter to CBS Chairman Les Moonves he hoped his city would be able to entice CBS to move the franchise from New York’s Ed Sullivan Theatre to the West Coast.

In her own letter, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito wrote to Moonves that The Late Show has become a part of the city’s “amazing entertainment culture.”

“That is why I’m writing to urge you to keep future production and filming of The Late Show right here in New York City, where the program began and where David Letterman found such great success,” she wrote. “New York City has always been the home of The Late Show, and nothing could be better for the future of the program than to continue in that tradition when the torch is passed to a new host.”

The state’s film production tax-credit has expanded in recent years, which officials say has led to Hollywood films being partly or wholly shot in Rochester, Schenectady and in the city.

New York’s film-production tax credit program is worth $420 million annually, and has been credited with drawing a record number of applicants.

The full “Top 10″ list is after the jump.

More >

Budget Boosts Yonkers School District

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano ultimately did not win broader control of the public schools system in his city.

He did, however, successfully lobby the state for extra funding after a $55 million budget gap was revealed in the school’s 2013 and 2014 financial operations — roughly 6 percent of the city’s overall budget.

The funding from the state in the budget was declared a positive development for Yonkers thanks to a $28 million one-shot was declared a “credit positive” by Moody’s in his weekly update.

The investors service also labeled the state budget overall a “credit positive” as well, citing both the 2 percent limit in state spending increases year over year, plus $300 million in pre-K funding for New York City.

Still, it’s not all good news for the state’s fourth-largest city, Moody’s notes.

From its weekly report:

“An accounting error, which the BOE did not identify until January, caused the large operating gap. In fiscal 2013 and 2014 the BOE budgeted for a total of approximately $55 million of state “spinup” aid. This aid is essentially an advance on state aid from future years’ appropriations. However, the New York State budget did not include the spinup aid, and the loss of budgeted revenue opened the wide gap in the BOE’s budget.”

Updated: A few readers have pointed out the agreement does provide some administrative changes that folded some non-academic functions into the city, an aspect that also led to the credit positive rating.

Skelos On Taxing The Rich

Here’s a quick addendum to the budget debate this week at the Capitol and, by some extension, to the question of overhauling the state’s campaign-finance laws through a public matching system.

The $137.9 billion budget created a pilot public financing program for the state comptroller’s race, a move that good-government reformers and advocates who support a statewide system say is woefully too little.

Public financing advocates pointed out this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision provides even more evidence New York’s campaign finance laws need to be changed.

To hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo tell it, the agreement to include only the comptroller’s race was something of a breakthrough, considering deep-seated Republican opposition in the Senate.

Cuomo in multiple ways on Monday told reporters he can’t just conjure votes out of thin air on the issue.

Indeed, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos in a floor speech at the end of Monday night’s budget debate pushed back against what he called a “tax the rich mantra” coming from Democratic lawmakers. His concern is that high taxes are forcing the wealthy to take their money to other states (There’s some evidence that is contrary to this claim, others disagree).

In doing so, he singled out wealthy New Yorkers for their charitable contributions, who just so happened to be major campaign contributors as well (and not just for Republicans).

“But when somebody’s sick and they have to get world-class medical treatment, I’m glad Ken Langone was successful and we have the Langone Medical Center,” Skelos said. And I’m glad Sandy Weill was successful in his life so we have Cornell-Weill Medical Center. And if you want world-class cancer treatment… you go to Sloan-Kettering where the Koch Brothers have contributed $100 million to that hospital so there can be world-class treatment and world-class research not just there, but at all the institutions I mentioned.”

Sitting next to him, Deputy GOP Leader Tom Libous — who is receiving cancer treatments at Sloan — nodded in agreement.

Skelos’ remarks begin at the 9:45 mark in this video.

Langone has emerged as a prominent Republican backer for Cuomo who had apologized last month after comparing the income inequality movement to the rise of Nazism in Germany.

The Koch Brothers, of course, have become Exhibit A in advocates arguments that there is too much money in politics.

Moody’s: Budget A ‘Credit Positive’

The passage of a state budget that includes a voluntary 2 percent spending cap is a “credit positive” for New York, Moody’s Investors Service found in a report released on Friday.

The budget, approved Monday, is the fourth spending plan to be approved before the April 1 deadline, the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“Last Monday, the State of New York (Aa2 positive) enacted its third consecutive budget that conforms to the state’s 2% spending cap, a credit positive for the state,” Moody’s found. “Last week’s enactment of the budget also marks the fourth year in a row that the state legislature adopted the budget by the 31 March deadline.”

Moody’s gave credit to the Cuomo administration for keeping spending increases under a growth rate of 2 percent over the last three years.

The $137.9 billion budget increases state spending by 1.9 percent (The state still added $1.1 billion in school aid, a more than 5 percent increase in education spending, along with $340 million earmarked for pre-Kindergarten programs.

“The state considers approximately one third of all districts in the state as high need, and the additional funding will benefit most school districts in the state, especially in the face of a state-imposed 2 percent property tax cap that restricts local revenues,” Moody’s found.

Updated: Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the findings by Moody’s in a statement.

“Today’s positive rating by one of the nation’s top credit agencies is further evidence that the arrows are pointing in the right direction and New York State is on the right path,” Cuomo said. “Four years ago, New York was hemorrhaging jobs, passing budgets months late, spending at a rate far higher than the people of this state earned, and driving away businesses and families by increasing taxes. We made a commitment to end the dysfunction and restore fiscal discipline to the Budget process, and the positive news from Moody’s demonstrates that our smart reforms and targeted investments are working for the people of this state.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.

At 8 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others attend OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services’ Inaugural Legislative Breakfast, at the offices of Bernstein Global Wealth Management. 1345 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 8:35 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the COPS Office Director’s Forum, Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., during a 10-mile march from JFK to LaGuardia Airport, NAACP’s state conference President Hazel N. Dukes, SEIU 32BJ President Hector Figueroa, Rep. Charles Rangel, state lawmakers, City Council members, airport workers and others mark Friday’s 46th anniversary of civil rights leader MLK Jr.’s assassination, and promote union representation; AirTrain JFK’s Lefferts Boulevard station, Lefferts Boulevard and Pan Am Avenue, Queens.

At 10:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivers checks from unclaimed funds; The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Malcolm X Blvd., Manhattan.

At noon, Sen. Mark Grisanti hosts a roundtable discussion on domestic violence, Senate Hearing Room 6, Walter J. Mahoney Building, 65 Court St., Buffalo.

At 12:30 p.m., DiNapoli releases a report about the prevalence and costs of asthma in New York, 161-169 East 110th St., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Sen. Greg Ball hosts a roundtable discussion with school superintendents about local heroin and opioid abuse, Carmel Town Hall, 60 McAplin Ave., Carmel.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio holds an invite-only and off the record reception for the City Hall press corps, Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., DiNapoli attends Order Sons of Italy Cellini Lodge No. 2206’s 46th anniversary dinner, 440 Old Country Rd., Carle Place.


Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican, is being mentioned as a possible running mate for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

State Board of Elections commissioner Doug Kellner said the board was not consulted about administering a public financing system, and was not given additional resources to carry out the process.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he was completely left out of discussions about the financing system, which only impacts his office, but also believes there’s “still time to fix it.”

Rumors began flying in the state’s information technology community about chief information officer Brian Digman after a job posting went online for his job.

New York is forging ahead with its casino plans even though gambling revenue is down across the country and other states are facing a saturation point with local gaming facilities.

Dozens of environmental activists showed up to crash a Hudson Valley fundraiser for Cuomo and protest against hydrofracking. He avoided them – and reporters – by using a side entrance.

“My sense is if you’re saying we’re going back to having private funding for this, that’s basically what we’ve already got, so the governor isn’t doing anything,” said Robert Scott, the executive director of Cornell University’s Prison Education Program.

In his second major address since taking office, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio next week will assess his administration’s accomplishments and discuss his agenda moving forward.

A federal court upheld New York City’s ban on religious services in public-school buildings in a 2-1 ruling on Thursday, but de Blasio signaled that he may change the Department of Education’s policy.

De Blasio as he approaches the 100-day mark: “I think the sheer math of the job — the number of items that come, and the speed with which they come up — is something that would surprise anyone…The good news is, you get used to it pretty damn quick.”

De Blasio described Albany to pre-K students as a “strange and mysterious land.”

Top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz said New York City officials waited until the final hours of state budget negotiations to ask for additional speed enforcement cameras.

More >


PEF President Susan Kent hopes Gov. Andrew Cuomo will face a Democratic primary challenger or a Working Families Party opponent.

Howard Glaser: “I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more progressive budget than we’ve had this year.”

Larry Schwartz called criticism of the budget “very silly” and “short-sighted,” adding: “The people that are criticizing it are the same people who for the last 30 years haven’t been able to get anything accomplished.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bonded over pre-K and worms.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the New York City Department of Education may restrict churches from using public school facilities for religious worship services.

Progressives’ plan after public finance loss: “(T)he best thing that can be done is to blame the Governor for failing to achieve what would have been an historic victory.”

Discovery and wire-walker Nik Wallenda will team up for a traverse of the Chicago skyline – tetherless! – this fall.

“The Spano family and the Cuomo family go back many, many decades,” former Senator and ex-con Nick Spano said.

The DMV will begin issuing red-bordered license plates to government officials and first responders.

Former Assemblywoman Diane Gordon, who was once imprisoned for taking bribes, has filed to run for district leader against Councilwoman Inez Barron.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on whether Hillary Clinton runs in 2016: “In every conversation I’ve ever had with her, I just have a sense that she knows how important this is for the nation and the world.”

Nearly 20 consultants and lobbyists are co-hosting a Ready for Hillary PAC fundraiser tonight at Capitol Hill restaurant Johnny’s Half Shell.

Rubain Dorancy, a candidate for Brooklyn BP Eric Adams’ old Senate seat, is holding a fundraiser April 14.

A state fund for researching spinal cord injuries received a $7 million boost in the budget.

Upstate is facing a doctor shortage.

A new scorecard rates 12 vulnerable House Republicans – including NY Reps. Michael Grimm and Chris Gibson – on their positions on immigration reform.

AG Eric Schneiderman announced a new program that will equip state and local police with a heroin antidote to treat overdose victims at the scene.

Ralph Wilson’s widow, Mary, now is running the Buffalo Bills.

David Letterman is expected to discuss his plan to retire in about a year on tonight’s edition of “The Late Show.”

WFP: This Is Not A ‘Progressive Budget’

In promoting its upcoming May 31 convention, the labor-backed Working Families Party on Thursday knocked the approved state budget for lacking statewide public financing, the Dream Act and tax cuts for businesses.

“The Governor’s aides are going around the state touting a “progressive” budget,” wrote the WFP’s Organizing Director Mike Boland in an email sent to 250,000 WFP supporters. “Well, WFP knows progressive — and this budget is not it.”

The email raises the possibility of the WFP not granting Cuomo its line in May (This, as 2010 proved, can always change later in the year).

“On May 31st at the WFP Convention, we’ll have a serious decision to make as we endorse a candidate for Governor and other statewide elections,” Boland wrote.

Meanwhile, PEF President Susan Kent told Gannett she is hopeful there’s a Democratic primary for Cuomo later this year.

“I’m hopeful that the Democratic Party will come up with a primary candidate,” Kent told Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “I think that it’s important, especially in light of this budget, where progressive issues were really not pushed by the governor. I think it’s incumbent on the Democratic Party, the Working Families Party to come up with a primary challenger if they want to be true to the spirit of the parties.”

The full email from the WFP is after the jump. More >