Feb 27th - 12:45 pm
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs announced today that he will not pick a favorite from among the candidates vying for retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s seat, and urged party committee members to back whomever they feel is the strongest contender to win in the November general election.
Jacobs wrote the following email to county committee members, and also released it to members of the press:
“Dear County Committee Member:”
“As you know, there is the possibility of a primary contest for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 4th CD. As both candidates have deep roots in the County Committee and both are long-serving public officials who have run on our Party’s line multiple times, I have decided NOT to take a position in this race, should there be one.”
“Accordingly, I leave it to each member of the Committee to make their own judgment and support the candidate of their choosing.”
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice is widely viewed as the frontrunner in race for the Democratic line, and she has been endorsed by McCarthy, who is opting not to seek re-election due to health concerns.
Rice’s decision to run may have caused other Democrats to think twice about throwing their respective hats into the ring. But Nassau legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams remains interested, He’s raising money to see if he can fund a campaign.
DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, who hails from Long Island, has said he hopes there won’t be a primary, but in the event that there is one, he urged candidates to avoid going negative and focus their criticism for the Republicans.
On the GOP side, Bruce Blakeman, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, has announced his intention to seek McCarthy’s seat. Blakeman also ran an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate in 2010, finishing dead last in a three-way Republican primary, and an unsuccessful campaign for state comptroller in 1998.
Blakeman is an attractive candidate to the Republicans due to his local name recognition and ability to self fund. He already has the support of Rep. Pete King, but he’s facing a potential primary battle with New Hyde Park attorney Frank Scaturro.
Petitioning for congressional races starts next week, thanks to the court-ordered June primary date for House races.
Feb 27th - 12:45 pm
In a small conference like the Independent Democratic Conference, it’s perhaps not all that hard to get a leadership title.
Newly minted IDC Sen. Tony Avella has one: assistant conference leader for policy and administration.
The title does not come with a stipend or “lulu” in Albany’s unique parlance, which Avella has rejected in the past.
There is still no word on whether Avella will receive a committee chairmanship now that he is part of the IDC-GOP majority coalition in the Senate.
IDC Leader Jeff Klein has indicated a chairmanship post is in the mix.
Feb 27th - 12:31 pm
Sales tax revenue on the local revenue grew by $739 million in 2013, a 5.2 percent increase over the last year, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found.
Overall, $14.9 billion in local sales tax revenue was collected last year, the report found.
It’s a positive development for local governments following the relative lack of revenue growth in the years since the financial crisis of 2008.
“This is welcome news for our municipalities and comes at a time when local revenues have been experiencing little to no growth,” said DiNapoli. “The majority of the increase appears to stem from storm clean up, which gives these communities a short-term boost. As the economy continues its tenuous recovery, sales tax collections could vary either way for local governments and is generally a more volatile source of revenue.”
Interestingly enough, largely rural counties had the largest increases in sales tax.
Essex County overall had the highest growth rate, with an 8.8 percent increase, followed by Hamilton County at 8.2 percent.
Washington County, meanwhile, grew 6.9 percent.
Downstate communities also saw a sharp increase, which is largely due to the rebuilding efforts following Superstorm Sandy.
Feb 27th - 12:01 pm
As state Sen. Adriano Espaillat gears up for another challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, the Harlem Democrat’s re-election campaign says it is looking forward to a “spirited debate.”
Espaillat nearly defeated Rangel in a crowded Democratic primary in 2012 and is announcing his latest Congressional campaign on Thursday in New York City.
Gearing up for the re-election campaign, he has retained Metropolitan Public Strategies for communications and strategy, the shop founded by Neal Kwatra, a former chief of staff for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Mercury Public Affairs, meanwhile, has been brought on for polling and the mail effort.
In the statement, Rangel’s campaign ties himself to both President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We welcome challengers to the contest and look forward to a spirited debate. The reason Congressman Rangel is running for reelection is because he is the best person to keep fighting for the people of the 13th Congressional District. He’s not done pushing for living wages and unemployment insurance, working to pass real immigration reform, fighting for more affordable housing and standing up for veterans. When it comes to protecting the working families of upper Manhattan and the Bronx, Congressman Rangel is out there raising hell. He has the proven record and is the clear choice. Working with President Obama and Mayor de Blasio, there is nobody who can do more for the families of the 13th district to deliver the progressive results we need.”
Feb 27th - 10:52 am
Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco is pushing back against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s statement earlier this week when the Manhattan Democrat noted upstate municipalities have the power to raise their property taxes to pay for universal pre-Kindergarten.
Silver has made a similar before that’s rooted in the theory of home rule: New York City can’t raise its income tax on its own, but county governments have the power to increase property taxes on their own. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants Albany to approve a home rule message to raise income taxes on those earning $500,000 and more in order to fund a city-wide pre-K program.
“Every locality funds their schools, whether an independent school district or school districts contained within the big five cities outside the City of New York by use of the property tax and they are free to raise and lower that tax without any action from Albany,” Silver said at a news conference touting the Assembly’s support for the Dream Act legislation.
But with Senate Republicans, any inference that property taxes can be raised is being quickly shot down.
“Speaker Silver is flat out wrong to suggest that hardworking Upstate taxpayers should willfully raise their own property taxes if they want access to early childhood education programs for their kids.,” DeFrancisco said in a statement. “Upstate residents are already drowning in high property taxes, a burden lessened somewhat by the property tax cap we shamed him into passing after years of obfuscation, politics and delay.”
Feb 27th - 10:51 am
From the morning memo:
The New York state Senate is something of a confusing place.
Leadership coups, infighting and party switching have all been hallmarks of the chamber in recent years. But Senator Tony Avella’s defection to the Independent Democratic Conference, he says, was motivated by something far simpler.
“Obviously when you’re in the majority that does make it easier to move things ahead and for me it’s all about the job. It’s all about getting things done,” said Tony Avella, Queens, Senate.
Minority legislators in Albany have long complained that being out numbered also means being outgunned. Those in the majority get their legislation approved and on occasion committee chairmanships, which Avella is now in line for.
“Look forward to more committee assignments. A chairmanship would be great. I look forward to the work,” Avella said.
Then again, it’s tough to tell who is precisely in the minority these days given the rather confusing math in the chamber.
The Senate is composed of 29 Republicans, 24 mainline Democrats and five independent Democrats. The GOP and the IDC are in a governing majority. Two Democrats were booted from their conferences when they were indicted on corruption charges, there are also two vacancies. And Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, meanwhile, sits with the Republican conference.
Senate Democrats insist they can still gain a clean majority that will give them the traditional trappings of power.
“The Democrats have the majority. We shall be the governing majority and our focus frankly is serving the people of New York and not poaching members from this place or that,” said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Democratic Leader.
As for Gov, Andrew Cuomo, he is trying to stay above the Senate fray, but noted the coalition has been functioning in the chamber.
“We’ve had good success in Albany working together. Democrats, Republicans, this whole coalition is working and I want to stay away from the politics,” he said.
And just like the governor, IDC Leader Jeff Klein said his conference is focusing not on politics, but upcoming policy issues.
“We’re not here to talk about politics yet. We have plenty of time when we enter the official political season,” Klein said. “Now it’s about governing.”
Feb 27th - 6:39 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 8:00 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers the keynote address at the New York Building Congress Construction Industry Forum, Hilton New York, Trianon Ballroom, 3rd floor, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried attend a Labor Press health summit, New York City District Council of Carpenters, 395 Hudson St., 10th floor conference center, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., LG Bob Duffy joins local business leaders and elected officials for an economic development announcement, Proctor’s Theater Office, 82 Fourth St., Troy.
At 10:30 a.m., New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage hold a press conference on out-of-network legislation, LCA Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.
At noon, Sen. Adriano Espaillat will announce his second challenge to Rep. Charles Rangel in NY-13, kicking off a three-day campaign tour, United Palace, 4140 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Duffy makes an announcement, SUNY IT Student Center, Multipurpose Room, 5701 Horatio St., Utica.
Also at 1 p.m., AARP members advocate for additional assistance for family caregivers in the state budget, Utica State Office Building, 207 Genesee St., Utica.
Also at 1 p.m., the members of Cuomo’s New York Works Task Force meet, Empire State Development Boardroom, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.
At 2:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a Black History Month youth event in the Gracie Mansion Parlor, 88th Street and East End Ave., Manhattan.
At 3:10 p.m., de Blasio visits Precinct 25 with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, 120 East 119th St., Manhattan. He’ll hold a media availability afterwards at 4 p.m.
At 4 p.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Governments Dede Scozzafava will deliver a regional version of Cuomo’s 2014-15 budget, LeRay Town Hall, 8650 LeRay St., Evans Mills.
At 6 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman holds a community forum on Staten Island, P.S. 48 William G. Wilcox School, 1050 Targee St., Staten Island.
At 7 p.m., Sen. Marty Golden co-sponsors a town hall meeting on heroin and prescription drug abuse with the Arab American Association of New York and the Yemeni American Association of New York, Public School 170, 7109-6th Ave., Brooklyn.
At 7:30 p.m., de Blasio attends a Dominican Heritage Month Celebration, Allianza Dominicana, 530 West 166th St., 2nd Floor, Manhattan.
Also at 7:30 p.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney holds an “emergency” telephone town hall meeting with local officials on the heroin “epidemic” in the Hudson Valley, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-225-5441 for details.
Despite his wide lead in the polls and big cash advantage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking the unusual step of involving himself in the selection of his challenger, telling some top Republicans that they should be leery of nominating Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, who is expected to announce his candidacy soon.
Underscoring the importance of Long Island in this year’s elections, Cuomo made “robo” calls to Island residents to encourage them to participate in a “telephone town hall” today in which he will tout his property-tax plans.
Sen. Tony Avella, the IDC’s newest member, insisted he doesn’t care about the political consequences of his switch.
Avella’s move could have an outsize impact on the battle over fracking, as he is an outspoken opponent of the controversial natural gas drilling practice and has pushed for a full ban in the past.
Even though it looks like he has lost the battle over his desire to tax rich NYC residents to fund pre-K, Mayor Bill de Blasio keeps publicly pushing his plan.
First Lady Chirlane McCray lobbied for her husband’s pre-K plan during a private lunch attended by many people who would be hit by the tax hike he’s seeking.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown accepted campaign contributions from some of the same lobbying firms that were improperly paid with federal funds.
Brown is looking at taking control of the city schools, marking a new level of involvement in the Buffalo Public School District by the city’s top elected official. This would require approval from Albany.
The NY Observer initially hired a New Jersey ice cream shop manager to pen a story about AG Eric Schneiderman. The man, Bill Gifford, became convinced the article “was supposed to be basically a smear piece” and quit.
Cuomo has a plan for thwarting the will of Congress and recovering $457 million per year in food stamp cuts his state faces due to changes in the new farm bill. He just needs New York to contribute another $6 million in heating assistance to make it happen.
The Journal News has a new website.
Cuomo disagreed with former LG Dick Ravitch’s assessment that the Verrazano Bridge toll reduction approved by the MTA Board defied fiscal “common sense” and could possibly be illegal.
New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm said in letters to Senate Coalition Co-leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, and Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, that Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.’s email newsletters are “harassing” him, and he is unable to make them stop.
Feb 26th - 5:36 pm
The NYC Council advanced two of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature initiatives, on sick pay and taxing the rich, giving the Democrat a boost in his second month in office.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat characterized the city’s political battle for pre-K funding as a “street fight” at a town hall meeting in Harlem.
Sen. Diane Savino gave flowers to Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. Could another IDC love match be in the offing?
Sen. Mike Gianaris called Sen. Tony Avella’s defection to the IDC a “mistake.”
Avella’s first official picture with his IDC colleagues is missing Sen. David Carlucci.
Rep. Michael Grimm skipped a Sandy meeting on Staten Island Monday to attend a Justin Timberlake concert in Washington, D.C.
Grimm also said de Blasio “isn’t ready for prime time.”
Colonie Republican Nathan Lebron is hoping to pick up where Warren Redlich left off by running for governor on the Libertarian Party line.
The state Financial Restructuring Board unanimously accepted Albany’s request for a comprehensive review of the city’s books.
Former NYC Taxi Commissioner David Yassky has a new job as president of Pace University’s law school.
Why former Rep. Nan Hayworth might have cause to be optimistic about her chances of retaking her old seat from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
NYC Councilwoman Inez Barron demonstrated her spoken word skills on the chamber floor. Sadly, she never did this while in Albany.
The state will soon announce START UP partnerships – including a deal at Stony Brook University.
The Vulcan Society plans to put the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Charles Rangel and former Gov. David Paterson on the witness stand at next month’s civil retrial to prove NYC intentionally discriminated against minority applicants.
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s first major audit of city schools has revealed evidence of collusion among the dairy companies that provide milk to school children.
Manlius Town Board Member Vincent Giordano is seeking the GOP’s endorsement to challenge Democratic Assemblyman Al Stirpe this fall.
Feb 26th - 5:14 pm
Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the Queens Democratic Committee, knocked the decision on Wednesday of Sen. Tony Avella to move to the Independent Democratic Conference.
“I am disappointed Senator Avella is deciding to join the Independent Democratic Conference in conjunction with the Republican minority,” said Rep. Joe Crowley, Chair of the Queens County Democrats. “It is my hope he won’t abandon the Democratic principles that are so important to our county.”
As Liz noted earlier, there is little love lost between Avella and Democrats in his home borough. Indeed, party officials there are already considering a potential primary challenge to Avella, a Democrat who flipped a seat for the party in 2010 when he unseated Republican Frank Padavan.
Asked about a potential primary earlier in the day, Avella said, “I honestly don’t believe it.”
Feb 26th - 5:03 pm
It’s little surprise the Legislature would find extra cash in the state coffers, but revenue reports from the Senate and Assembly released on Wednesday did just that.
The state Senate, under the control of Republicans and independent Democrats, found an additional $265 million in revenue than Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $142 billion spending proposal.
The Senate’s analysis projects a surplus to end of the 2013-14 fiscal year of about $353 million.
“The additional state revenues should be used to further reduce taxes to create more job opportunities for all New Yorkers,” Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos said. “The state’s fiscal condition is stronger as a result of three consecutive early budgets that kept state spending under control and lowered taxes. The new budget should build on that record.”
The Democratic-led Assembly, meanwhile, announced their budget analysis shows there is even more money: $410 million higher than Cuomo’s estimate.
“The in-depth economic analysis found in these reports helps the Assembly prepare for a range of fiscal decisions that will impact the funding of such budget priorities as education, health care, job creation and boosting the economies of communities across the state,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement.
Typically lawmakers add in more funds for their budget analysis, which then becoming negotiable items when the budget is hashed out next month.
Observers will likely be watching to see if the Assembly and especially the Senate, with its majority coalition, will seek more funds for Cuomo’s statewide pre-Kindergarten plan.