But What About Our Pets?

Chalk it up to either 1)Post-Katrina hyper-preparedness 2)New York’s unfamiliarity with hurricanes or 3)Our obsession with our pets (looking at you, Penny Reisman!).

The state has released some commonsense guidelines this afternoon to deal with pets big and small during a hurricane, which mostly boils down to stuff most of us will follow for ourselves: have plenty of food on hand and don’t let them go outside.

Department of Agriculture and Markets State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith recommended that pets and their owners stay together in the event of a crisis.

“Plan accordingly,” Smith said. “If you are ordered to evacuate, and you think you may only be required to leave for a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for at least a week. Start preparing your family and pets for evacuation as soon as you have been warned of possible disaster. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials.”

The full list of tips from the State Emergency Management Office after the jump. More >

Happy Disco Birthday Clarence Norman

Compliments of a reader: The invitation to the upcoming disco-themed birthday for disgraced former Brooklyn Democratic Chairman Clarence Norman’s 60th birthday party.

Instructions regarding attire: “Pick your afro, dust off your bellbottoms, hip huggers, platform shoes & get down and boogie.”

The event, which features a complimentary buffet and cash bar, is being held at the Two Steps Down Restaurant in (where else?) Brooklyn on Sept. 9.

Norman, as you may recall, went to prison in June 2007 on a sentence of three to nine years for campaign corruption and extortion convictions. He left an upstate prison in December 2008 and was sent to a work release program in Manhattan. He was denied parole in March 2010., but was apparently granted his freedom a year later – in other words, this past March.

Clarence 60 Birthday Email

Cuomo Confident In Hurricane Preparation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was confident that the state was well prepared for Hurricane Irene, due to hit this week, but added that the situation remained a serious one.

The state is taking unprecedented steps to pre-emptively deal with the hurricane, including a phased shutdown of the Metropolitican Transportation Authority, Long Island Railroad and Metro North rail service starting at noon on Saturday.

Bridges, including the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridge, would close to traffic if winds exceed 60 mph. In addition, airport closures will be dealt with as needed.

Indian Point operators Entergy have been in touch with the state as well, and the governor said they were assured of the nuke plant’s preparations.

Evacuations are being encouraged on parts of Long Island and mandatary evacuations may be necessary later this weekend, Cuomo said.

At a news conference following a closed-door cabinet meeting this afternoon, Cuomo reiterated several times that the state was well prepared for one of the strongest hurricanes to hit New York in decades.

“Government is working,” Cuomo said. “It is working well.”

Cuomo, a former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said he’s deal with disaster preparations before and that the state has drilled for these events.

“Obviously we’ve never experienced something like this for many years,” Cuomo said. “But I’m confident about our level of preparation.”

Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy and Secretary Larry Schwartz are going to Long Island this week to manage the storm response in the field. Transporation Commissioner Joan McDonald will go to Westchester County.

The governor cut his vacation short to manage the storm response. Earlier today, he directed the State Emergency Management Office to move to its highest level of response in order to deal with Hurricane Irene. Cuomo has already declared a state of emergency, along with several other East Coast governors.

The full and very lengthy statement detail the state’s preparation after the jump. More >

Pataki To ‘Remain Active’ In 2012, But Not As Candidate

Former Gov. George Pataki just released a statement formally confirming reports that he has decided not run for president in 2012.

A source said this morning that Pataki’s decision was based mainly on family concerns. And now we have this:

“Earlier this year I launched No American Debt to put a focus on our debt crisis. President Obama and his misguided policies are bankrupting America, stealing from our children’s future and he must be defeated next November. ”

“It is incumbent on our party to come forward with serious solutions to preserve our future and ensure America’s continued greatness. I remain committed to the advancement of real, politically viable reforms to entitlements and rolling back the size and cost of the federal government.”

“At this time, I will continue to do this as the leader of No American Debt and not as a candidate for president. Throughout the coming months I will remain active in this important discussion and support the candidate who offers the vision, the ideas and the leadership to bring an end to America’s debt crisis.”

In Mailer, Turner Ties Weprin To Obama

A somewhat trippy mailer sent out this week from the campaign of Republican Bob Turner ties the increasingly unpopular President Obama to Democratic candidate David Weprin.

“David Weprin thinks like Obama,” the mailer declares. “He believes the nation’s burden should be placed on the backs of the middle class.”

Though the ninth congressional district, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, is overwhelmingly Democratic, there have been strong suggestions in recent weeks of discontent with Obama — a mood that the Turner campaign is clearly trying to capitalize on.

Weprin, in turn, has said Turner would help majority Republicans in the House roll back popular programs like Social Security and Medicare, a claim the GOP candidate denies.


Commission Puts Forward New Judge Pay Proposal

The Judicial Pay Compensation Commission approved a new proposal today that would gradually increase minimum for jurists through 2014 to $174,000 in a 4-3 vote.

The new pay scheme, outlined by Commission Chairman Bill Thompson, would increase pay 27 percent over the next three years. A State Supreme Court judge’s pay would rise to $160,000 by April 2012; $167,000 by April 2013 and then to $174,000 by April 2014.

The increases would have to be approved in the state budget, subject to authorship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and approval of the Legislature.

And that approval isn’t a done deal. Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Megna, testified in Albany earlier this summer that the state could not afford pay increases for judges, no matter how modest.

A budget deficit of about $3 billion is expected for the 2012-13 budget.

Judges have not received a pay raise since 1999. Pay for judges in New York has been stagnate since 1999 and has been traditionally tied to salary increases for members of the Legislature. Since increasing pay for state lawmakers is a politically unviable option, the compensation commission was set up to develop a salary plan.

Thompson said the pay increase is fair, despite calls for an even higher pay raise of $192,000, which was called for by the State Bar Assocaition, among others.

“I think all of us would like to see an agreement of 192, 195,” Thompson said. “Federal judges have had their raises and salaries frozen for the last three years. But I think we all remember that we’re still in, maybe not a recession, but we just came out of one of the worst recessions in years. We’re not out of the woods yet and there’s a reason why those salaries haven’t moved in a last few years — because nothing operates in a vacuum.”

The current minimum salary for judges is about $144,000. Concerns have been raised in recent years, most notably by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, that talented lawyers were choosing to not enter the judiciary because of the relatively low pay.

Robert Fiske Mark Mulholland, an appointee of the Senate Republicans, said it was disappointed that Assembly appointee Jim Tallon didn’t side with him on a further pay increase.

“I’m disappointed that the Assembly’s legislative appointee does not sufficiently recognize the fundamental importance of this decision,” he said. “This decision goes to the heart of the state’s checks and balances.”

Mulholland added that the commission was “Tying ourselves to outdated model.”

“I believe the proposed figure is far too low, I believe it does not serve our judges and I believe it does not serve New York state,” he added.

Tallon responded that the commission wasn’t meant to score “political points.”

“This is a politically volatile issue. The reason the commission was created because of the remarks you made. …scoring the political points was more important than making the right decision,” he said.

Hurricane Prep, Day Two

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hunkered down today in Albany preparing for Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit New York City and Long Island by Sunday morning.

Cuomo cut his vacation short and cancelled a fundraiser to return to Albany to deal with the storm management and coordination prep. A closed-door cabinet meeting at noon in the Red Room was added to his public schedule this morning.

And the State Emergency Management Office increased its activation level to 5, the highest, according to a tweet from the governor’s office (Cuomo’s twitter page, which usually automatically retweets press releases, is being hand-operated during the storm response).

Cuomo plans to brief the public on the state’s emergency preparation at around 1 p.m.

Cuomo joined nearly every East Coast governor on Thursday in declaring a pre-emptive state of emergency in order to coordinate the storm response. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also declared an emergency as well.

The response is being coordinated several days after a minor earthquake centered in rural Virginia was felt strongly in New York and other states that aren’t accustomed to responding to tremors.

At the same time, concerns remain in New York over the potential cost of the storm. Nate Silver over at the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog pointed to the potentially “catastrophic” cost a major storm could have on New York’s finances.

And this USA Today story points to the concern that few homeowners, especially in high-value Long Island, have flood or hurricane insurance.

Schneiderman Backs Weprin

And the parade of endorsements continues in NY-9.

The David Weprin campaign just sent out a press release announcing that fellow Democrat and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is backing his candidacy. The Weprin folks have been spreading out these endorsements as the September 13th election day nears – with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Comptroller DiNapoli, and roughly a dozen other elected officials all announcing their support in the past few weeks.

The AG’s quote in the press release echoes the comments of fellow Democrats – painting Weprin as the candidate who will defend Medicare and preserve Social Security.

“Democrat David Weprin is the right choice for families and seniors in Brooklyn and Queens,” Schneiderman said. “David will be a fierce advocate for taxpayers and working families, and he will fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare.”

Slideshow: Cuomo At State Fair Opening Day

The sausage sandwich shot? Yes, it’s in there.

Source: Family Concerns Keeping Pataki From 2012 Field

A source close to former George Pataki confirms CNN’s report this morning that the former governor will not be throwing his hat into the 2012 ring.

A formal statement is expected sometime this morning.

The source insisted Pataki’s decision was based mainly on family concerns and had not been influenced by the fact that he would be coming late to the game, with other candidates already announced and actively fundraising and campaigning for months now.

Pataki would have been playing catch-up in a big way, although he has been doing some national fundraising and travel to early presidential contest states like South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa with his No American Debt PAC.

“It wasn’t about money at all,” the source said. “(He) had a lot of folks lined up. It’s just that his life has been great since leaving the gov’s office.”

“And it’s tough to subject your family to everything. Plus, his daughters are getting married, and his son is running in TX.”

Pataki has two daughters – Allison and Emily. His son, Theodore (he used to go by Ted or Teddy) recently told The Statesman in Austin, Tx. that he is he is eyeing a run as a Republican for a newly-created seat in the Texas House.

Speculation that Pataki’s latest – and very short-lived – flirtation with a White House run was over started last night when NY1 political reporter Josh Robin Tweeted that the ex-governor had called off his trip to Iowa tomorrow.

A number of former Pataki aides have been insisting in the last week or so that their old boss was more serious this time about a possible presidential bid than back in 2007-08 when he had campaign offices and staffers on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire.

UPDATE: Another Pataki source told me this morning that it did seem at one point “better than 50-50″ that the former governor would get into the race, although it was “never certain.” But, he aded: “As (Pataki) went through (his) personal checklist, it went to 98 percent no.”

The former governor believed he had a shot this time around due to the extreme conservative bent of the GOP field and general lack of a moderate voice.

Even as they discounted his chances of victory, a number of newspaper editorial pages here in NY had expressed hope Pataki would get into the race – if only to try to pull the GOP back to the center.