Jul 13th - 7:12 pm
The phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed British media and politics could be imported over the Atlantic as both U.S. Reps. Peter King and Louise Slaughter call for investigations in whether Rupert Murdoch’s journalists tried to access voice mails of Sept. 11 victims.
“These latest allegations demand a swift and immediate inquiry by the appropriate agencies into whether any US laws were broken. All available options should be pursued- including investigations by the Department of Justice and Congressional hearings,” Slaughter, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Thousands of New York families suffered profound personal loss on September 11th 2001. On behalf of the victims and their families, the latest allegations must be investigated with the full force of the law.”
The scandal has already resulted in the shuttering of the Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World and prevented the company’s British subsidiary News International from purchasing a larger share of BSkyB. Journalists working for that paper, along with The Times of London and Sun have been accused of hacking into voice mails of murder victims, soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and into the phones of celebrities, politicians and members of the royal family.
Earlier in the day, Politico reported King, a Long Island Republican who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called for an investigation as well.
Jul 13th - 5:19 pm
Sometimes it’s good to be on the same side of an issue as one of the world’s richest men.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut a $10,300 check for Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, re-election effort, according to his campaign-finance report released today.
The check posted July 8, more than 10 days after Grisanti cast the 33rd vote in favor of same-sex marriage.
But Bloomberg, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, wasn’t the only supporter of the measure to give to Grisanti in the last few weeks.
The contributions didn’t stop with Bloomberg. Grisanti’s donors list is a who’s who of gay rights and LGBT advocates.
Among the pro-gay-marriage contributors was Frank Selvaggi, the chairman of the Empire State Pride Agenda and billionaire publishing heir Robert Ziff who both gave the legal maximum, $10,300.
Developer Donald Capocci, a supporter of President Obama and Real Estate Board of New York member donated $5,000.
Carol Master, a Massachusetts resident who has supported gay rights campaigns around the country, gave him $1,941.70
Jon Kislak, a Florida-based LGBT rights leader, gave $5,000.
And Esmond Harmsworth, a Boston-based literary agent who has supported gay rights initiatives and gay-friendly politicians for years, also involved in the Rhode Island gay marriage fight, gave $4,775.
All told, Grisanti raised $153,969 in the last six months and has $103,954 in the bank. The lawmaker narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Antoine Thompson last year, giving the Republicans the majority after a single two-year term in the minority.
He still owes himself $14,270 after loaning the 2010 campaign $17,600, the filing shows.
It’s worth noting the checks from these folks, Kislak being the first, starting pouring in after June 27. The same-sex marriage vote was June 24.
And it’s important to note that the legal maximums donated by Bloomberg and the rest can’t be used in a potential primary challenge. Anti-gay marriage groups have pledged to primary the four Republicans who voted for the same-sex marriage bill.
At the same time, given his narrow margin of victory in a Democratic district, Grisanti is sure to be a top target of Democrats in 2012 as well.
It will also be interesting to see the filings of the other three GOP yes votes — Sens. Steve Saland, Jim Alesi and Roy McDonald and whether they’ll be raking in the cash early based on their votes.
Jul 13th - 5:00 pm
Rep. Pete King wants FBI to investigate whether Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation hacked into the voicemail accounts of Sept. 11 victims, calling the allegations of the scandal “disgraceful.”
“If these allegations are proven true, the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various Federal statutes,” the Long Island congressman said.
Disgraced former Posties dish the dirt on Murdoch’s NY tabloid.
As the hacking scandal grows, Murdoch abandoned his $12 billion bid to take over the shares he doesn’t already own in BSkyB.
Cuomo sent thank-you notes to legislators for their “magnificent” work this session, including Long Island GOP Sen. Carl Marcellino.
Former Rep. John Hall won’t try to re-take his old seat from Rep. Nan Hayworth in NY-19.
…That doesn’t mean he’s pleased with Hayworth’s performance in Congress, however.
NYC Campaign Finance Board Tweet: “Anthony D. Weiner (Mayor) reports $0 in contributions, $14,050 in contribution refunds for 6 month period ending 7/11/11.”
Former Sen. Vincent Leibell has started his 21-month prison sentence.
The Website for Sen. Liz Krueger’s “No Bad Apples” PAC is live.
House Speaker John Boehner on negotiating with the Obama White House: “Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o. Some days it’s firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out over night.”
Assemblyman/NY-9 candidate David Weprin insists he’s one of the few Democrats who has been “very strongly criticizing” the president’s position on Israel.
“Senator Pothole’s pothole has been fixed.” Now that’s influence.
Goodbye, government sedan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who rejected any new taxes in the 2011-2012 budget, signed a host of bills extending or allow the increase of county sales taxes.
A small group of Republican US senators plans to oppose all spending bills until a budget deal is reached.
Here’s Sen. Krueger talking about how a “bad apple” – former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. – inspired her to launch her new PAC to support reform-minded candidates.
Jul 13th - 4:42 pm
After breaking out his veto pen for the first time for the school-pension borrowing measure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed 14 bills into law, mostly local sales tax continuance measures.
The measures do not contain tax hikes, but are run-of-the-mill extensions of existing taxes. Cuomo did successfully oppose extending the surcharge for those making $250,000 or more and opposed keeping it in place for those making $1 million or more.
To be fair, these sales-tax extension measures are different, namely because they provide home-rule messages for local governments to keep the taxes in place.
None of the taxes will help raise additional revenue in order to offset the tax cap that will take effect next year, said Association of Counties spokesman Mark LaVigne.
Writing about the bills, the folks at Daily Politics say it’s unusual for Cuomo to announce the signings of minor measures, a departure from past practices.
The bills he signed are after the jump. More >
Jul 13th - 3:30 pm
Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, an instrumental lawmaker in crafting the religious exemption amendment to the same-sex marriage bill, pulled back the curtains on the closed-door talks with Gov. Andrew in interview with Time, casting them as “profession, productive.”
Saland, who said he knew how he would vote by June 24, also reiterated in the interview that Cuomo was heavily involved in the negotiations.
From the story:
Saland was under intense lobbying pressure from both sides. That included patient prodding from Cuomo, with whom — in addition to group sessions — he met with privately in the governor’s second-floor office in the state capitol. “The meetings were professional, productive. There were no histrionics,” Saland says. “[Cuomo] was deeply immersed in working out the details. At the same time, he was deeply sensitive to our concerns and about religious freedoms.”
Saland was one of four Republicans who voted yes on the measure that passed the GOP-controlled Senate 33-29.
The notoriously quiet and bookish Saland has been choosy with his interviews, speaking with his hometown paper and The New York Times since casting the decisive 32nd vote.
Jul 13th - 2:56 pm
A coalition of business groups today applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of the controversial pension borrowing plan for schools.
The measure, supported by the state United Teachers Union, would have allowed school districts to borrow more than $1 billion over 15 years in order to cover pension costs. Supporters said it was needed given the tight property-tax cap being imposed next year. But the 2 percent limit on levy increases does include some room for pension growth.
From the coalition, which includes Unshackle Upstate and the National Federation of Independent Businesses:
“On behalf of New York’s business community, we thank the Governor for vetoing S.4067A-A.6309A – a pension borrowing bill that would have significantly weakened the 2-percent property tax cap. The business community is united is our effort to monitor and oppose any legislation that seeks to undermine the integrity and savings created by the strictest property tax cap in the country. Governor Cuomo’s steadfast commitment to protecting the tax cap is greatly appreciated by millions of taxpayers and employers across the state.”
Jul 13th - 2:47 pm
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is back to touting consolidation efforts, this time pointing to the money municipalities can save by combining public works duties
DiNapoli was in Ulster County today County Executive Mike Hein to use their efforts as an example to follow.
“There are more than 1,000 local government highway departments across New York State,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Those departments spent $2.6 billion in 2009. There’s a great opportunity to save money, and with the enactment of the property tax cap, local governments need to look even harder at shared services. Ulster County increased its shared service agreements with local municipalities by 500 percent in just one year. With a combination of shared services and other efficiencies, the county reduced its 2011 budget by $2.3 million. County Executive Hein knows it can be done, and he’s doing it.”
DiNapoli also released the report below showing how counties, towns and villages can save by utilizing shared services.
With government budgets still tight as the economic recovery remains sluggish, shared services became a hot issue for local officials looking to keep tax burdens down but keeping the same level of services.
Jul 13th - 2:29 pm
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just tapped two Capital Region leaders to head up a new 29 person committee that is charged with reform state non profit laws.
They are NYS United Way President Susan Hager and New York Council of Nonprofits CEO Doug Sauer.
“I am pleased Susan and Doug will serve with their colleagues across the state to reform the rules of the road so the nonprofit sector can thrive,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Nonprofits provide critical services to their communities and as the second largest employment sector in the state, their success is crucial to our economy. We can be tough on policing fraud without imposing needless burdens and costs on this vital sector, and the Leadership Committee is a central part of achieving those goals.”
According to Schneiderman’s press release, the committee is going to focus on 3 main points.
- Making recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens and more effectively address regulatory concerns
- Developing legislative proposals to modernize New York’s nonprofit laws that would eliminate outdated requirements and unnecessary burdens
- Proposing measures to enhance board governance and effectiveness, including through new programs to recruit and train nonprofit board members.
Earlier this year, Schneiderman promised he would form this committee to take a closer look at non-profits, which makes up between 17% and 18% of the state’s workforce.
Jul 13th - 2:26 pm
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos re-election committee has $1.6 million in the bank and is leading the pack among campaigns that have already filed their reports ahead of the Friday deadline.
He reported nearly $480,000 raised in the last six months and spent $142,230.
It’s not surprising that Skelos, essentially the highest ranking elected Republican in the state, is doing so well. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is also cruising along, with $2.75 million raised between January and June.
Numbers whiz Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG put together the accompanying handy chart of early filers, with many of the reports being issued by officials no longer in public office, including former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.
His successor, Republican Ed Mangano, reported an impressive haul of nearly $834,000 and has nearly $1.2 million in the bank.
Jul 13th - 1:03 pm
Talk about pulling the lion’s tail.
An environmental group is “expressing alarm and dismay” at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, who recently spoke at a conference for petroleum companies.
The group Food and Water Watch, which is calling for a complete ban on hydraulic fracturing in New York, sent an open letter to Cuomo saying he hasn’t been transparent enough in dealing with the issue.
From their letter:
“We believe it’s time that the Cuomo administration take steps to ensure transparency in regard to its dealings with this industry, especially since the entire nation is watching to see what New York state will do regarding natural gas fracking.”
The group cites a Wall Street Journal report from July 6 which discussed Lee’s independent business dealings. Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a process that involves mixing water and chemicals to extract natural gas from below ground. Environmental groups are concerned that the Department of Environmental Conservation’s recent draft report on possible guidelines for hydrofracking could lead to a permitting of high-volume fracking.
Cuomo has tried to keep Lee out of the headlines as much as possible saying she is part of his private life and it’s clearly a sensitive issue for him. Going after his girlfriend can gain some attention, but not many friends inside the Cuomo administration.