The Other F Word

If you haven’t seen this PSA yet, it’s worth a watch.

It features a slew of political and Hollywood figures – including NYC Mayor Bloomberg, former GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee, and the Bush twins (Barbara and Jenna) – all but dropping the f-bomb to raise awareness about famine in the Horn Africa, where more than 30,000 children have died in just three months.

The spot was created by the ONE campaign, which was co-founded by Bono, who also makes an appearance.

Pataki Plays It Safe In NY-19

Former Gov. George Pataki, who has stepped up his fundraising game on behalf of fellow Republicans now that he’s decided to forgo another White House run, is asking his supporters to help re-elect Rep. Nan Hayworth in NY-19 next fall.

In an email being sent out last night, Pataki noted his support for Hayworth in 2010 when she ousted former Democratic Rep. John Hall, saying she has “diligently and conscientiously represented you with a fiscally responsible philosophy” ever since.

“She is a proven tax-cutter who sincerely believes that our economy needs more reliance on the individual, more competition, and more freedom for our small businesses that create jobs and opportunity for Americans,” Pataki wrote.

“…Nan is eager to keep taking on the challenges of Congress and the 19th Congressional District; and will keeping fighting for fiscal integrity and sound budgetary policy.”

“But Nan needs our help. The opposition has already launched negative attacks against Nan and will spend millions trying to scare voters by distorting her record.”

“It is especially critical that Nan has the financial resources to fight back. Now more than ever, New York needs Nan – a mother, a doctor – someone who understands that in order to improve our economy we must stick to fiscal conservative principles.”

I tweeted about this yesterday, and a reader reminded me of a post I wrote last February about Pataki co-hosting a fundraiser for GOP Sen. Greg Ball, who has been very critical of Hayworth lately and is speculated to be mulling a potential primary challenge next fall.

Ball has so far insisted he’s not interested in running for Congress, (I’ll be asking him again when he appears on CapTon this evening), but there’s some precedent here.

Ball initially announced his intention to challenge Hall back in 2010 before switching gears and announcing a run for the state Senate instead. He actually did so before the man who was currently occupying the seat he wanted – then-Sen. Vicent Leibell – had even indicated if he was going to be seeking re-election.

In the end, Leibell ran – successfully – for Putnam County executive, but pleaded guilty to two counts of federal corruption and never took office.

Ball, who was not the GOP’s preferred candidate, defeated a fellow Republican, Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, in a September primary and then went on to beat Democrat Mike Kaplowitz in November.

Greens Try To ‘Buy Time’ (Literally) On Fracking Decision

Environmental groups delivered 180 water-powered clocks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on the second floor of the state Capitol today – a move intended to highlight their push for the already-extended 90-day public comment period on hydrofracking to be further lengthened to 180 days.

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Cuomo is in New York City (with no public scheduled), and so wasn’t on hand to reject or accept this unexpected gift. According to NYS Public Radio’s Karen DeWitt (via Twitter) Cuomo press aid Steve Morello accepted the clocks “politely,” and said the administration would release a response later today.

(Note: According to Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York, the clocks didn’t actually contain any water, due to a concern that the State Police might have a problem with unidentified liquids delivered en masse to the governor’s office).

“Governor Cuomo isn’t listening to New Yorkers’ concerns about fracking,” Nadeau said.

“We’ve held dozens of press conferences, made hundreds of telephone calls, and sent thousands of emails. We’ve also posted hundreds of messages to the Governor’s Facebook page and exercised our organizing muscles on Twitter, but he isn’t getting the message.”

“New Yorkers deserve 180 days to review the state’s 1,500-plus page fracking proposal and that’s why our members are sending the Governor these clocks today. We want to buy some time the old fashioned way.”

The public comment period was supposed to be 60 days, officially speaking. At one point, Cuomo himself said he thought was was sufficient. But his DEC commissioner, Joe Martens, decided to add an additional 30 days onto that.

The 1,500+ page SGEIS was released to the public on Sept. 7. On Sept. 28, the state released draft regulations and a fracking Clean Water Act draft permit for review. The DEC recently released its public hearing schedule (there are four), and the public comment period ends Dec. 12.

A number of advocates and elected officials have used the back-to-back tropical storms of Irene and Lee as a vehicle to ask for more public comment time on fracking, arguing a number of hard-hit areas – particularly in the Southern Tier – also happen to be smack in the middle of the Marcellus Shale, and thus would be most impacted by fracking.

However, the administration has so far refused to heed that call.

Prison Gerrymandering Debate

Right now, a state supreme court is hearing the case of Little vs. LATFOR. It is the Senate Republicans case challenging the law implemented in 2010 by the then-Democratic lead Senate in which prisoners would be counted at their last known address instead of where they are being incarcerated.

While the two sides were making their case inside the courtroom, spokesman for both Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans took the airwaves to talk with Susan Arbetter on WCNY’s Capitol Pressroom. Queens Democrat Mike Gianaris, who has long been an advocate for redistricting reform, was interviewed first, followed by former Senate Republican Communications Director John McArdle (who stood in because Senate Republicans cannot talk about this because they are plaintiffs in the case).

Gianaris, as he has been arguing for months, that Republicans are trying to delay implementing the law on counting the prison population in an attempt to “run out the clock” so they can claim there isn’t enough time do so for the 2012 reapportionment. He says the law is on the books and that LATFOR, the committee charged with redrawing the lines, should adhere to the law.

But McArdle says Republicans aren’t stalling, and they have serious concerns about whether the law is constitutional. One is that prisoners will only be counted in their home districts when redrawing state legislative lines, and not when they draw Congressional lines. He also suggested that there are difficulties in figuring out where a prisoner’s address was prior to incarceration. And he argued that the state of Delaware ran into difficulties trying to implement a similar bill.
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Reports: Christie Not Running For Prez

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said he is not running for president. Now it looks like at 1pm today he is going to hold a final press conference to dispel the rumors that have been mounting for the past week that he was preparing for a run.

The National Review and ABC News were the first outlets to report Christie was not running. Now several others have also confirmed, many citing top New Jersey Republicans.

Talk of a Christie presidential run really picked up after the last debate, when Texas Republican Rick Perry was criticized for his performance. Since then, Perry’s poll numbers have dipped, and many Republicans began pushing Christie to run, including Nancy Reagan and former New York Governor George Pataki.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in NYC with no public schedule.

There’s the first in-person court hearing on the prison gerrymandering case today in Albany.

Taxi drivers who oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s livery cab bill will rally outside Cuomo’s NYC office.

Outside NY: Voters go to the polls today in a special election to fill the W. Virginia governor’s office – a race that appears to be a dead heat.

A new poll finds President Obama is indeed the underdog next year, but the GOP field remains muddled. Herman Cain has surged and is now running neck-and-neck (at 16 percent) with Rick Perry.

Close to 1,150 Capital Region residents are facing layoffs are a result of the PEF contract vote – move that would be “devastating” to the local economy, says Assemblyman Jack McEneny.

With the exception of the Capital Region (and that might change, if the layoffs go through), consumer confidence has dropped in NY, according to a new Siena poll.

The Occupy Wall Street protest is starting to gain support from the established left – namely labor unions – and (albeit intermittently) from regular folks who are distressed about the state of affairs in the U.S.

Some of the protestors are taking the “corporate zombie” thing literally.

The emotions fueling the protest are clearly strong, as they’ve sparked copycat demonstrations across the state and country.

It’s still unclear if this effort will be a lasting and cohesive one with demands and a message.

Some Occupy Wall Streeters will join forces today with frustrated education advocates/labor unions to protest layoffs at the NYC DOE.

After Bloomberg’s testimony and cross-examination yesterday, Harry Siegel thinks John Haggerty’s defense team is “trying as much to puck off a juror or two to hang them than to win an acquittal.”

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Extras

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is heading to Buffalo Friday to meet with Sen. Mark Grisanti, who is weighing whether to return to the Democratic Party or perhaps join forces with the IDC.

Mayor Bloomberg said he doesn’t “believe” in contracts and so never signed one with John Haggerty. He also never followed up to see how Haggerty had performed in his ballot security services.

Bloomberg remained “expressionless” for much of his testimony today, but became more animated toward the end of his two hour cross-examination.

Former AG Dennis Vacco stopped just short of calling Bloomberg a liar.

“On balance, we’re very happy with the results this morning,” Vacco told reporters.

The Carey family and local elected officials gathered in Albany to remember the late governor, Hugh Carey.

Ben Lawsky plans to be “strategically aggressive” as head of the new, very powerful state Financial Services Department, which officially opened its doors today.

Is Lawsky so loyal that he’s even copying his boss’ hairstyle?

Some unsolicited advice for Christie from NYS GOP Chairman Ed Cox. (Get into the race, run a “modern, front-proch campaign”).

Writes Dan Collins: “(I)f Christie marches into the fray way too late in the game, with Rudy Giuliani’s political advisers to guide him, we probably won’t have to worry about it for long.”

RWDSU’s Stu Appelbaum didn’t speak to Cuomo before releasing his strong statement in support of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

How “Obama Girl” could have become “Clinton Girl,” if Terry McAuliffe had his way.

An anonymous Website is targeting Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and her administration.

Erin Burnett challenges CNN’s troubled history with women anchors with the launch tonight of her new primetime show.

Perhaps it’s time for the GOP to change its name. Even its own members don’t know what this one stands for.

DIY redistricting.

Americans got money troubles.

Court To Hear Opening Arguments In Little V. LATFOR

Opening arguments in a case that could have broad implications for how the state’s legislative districts are apportioned and how policy is approved will be made tomorrow in Albany County Court at 10 a.m.

Lawyers for a group of Senate Republicans will square off primarily against the state attorney general’s office in Little V. LATFOR.

The lawmakers are challenging a 2010 law that counts prisoners as residents of their previous address, a measure that was inserted into the 2010-11 state budget.

The court will likely hear from several side groups, including Center for Law & Social Justice, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Brennan Center. Judge Eugene Devine, a Democrat, has 60 days to issue a ruling in the case.

In addition to determining whether the law itself is constitutional, a ruling could determine whether the governor, who already has broad budgetary powers, can insert policy into a spending plan.

Senate Republicans, who hold a narrow 32-30 majority, stand the most to lose from the law being upheld. Most state and federal prisons are in the upstate region, which is predominantly represented by Republican senators.

The Assembly released a look at what the new population count would mean for Senate districts, with 26 of 30 seats held by Democratis receiving a population gain.

Democrats pushed the measure into the law while they were in the Senate majority in 2010, partially as a means of insurance during the redistricting process.

LATFOR, the lawmaker-led commission charged with redrawing state and federal boundaries, has said it would draw lines based on the new law, though initially members hesitated citing the lawsuit.

Of course, this could be moot as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto lines drawn by LATFOR, though has suggested there’s room for negotiating with lawmakers.

Cuomo wants an independent commission to redraw legislative boundaries, but since the new lines must be in place by early 2012, it’s unlikely to be created in time.

Sketch Shows Pensive Bloomberg, Interestingly Proportioned Lawyer

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Here, via @azipaybarah‘s twitter feed, comes a courtroom sketch depicting Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s turn on the witness stand today in the trial of political consultant John Haggerty.

In classic Bloombergian fashion, the mayor’s head is cocked slightly to the side while the lawyer (it’s not clear who) is shown with a rather large rear end.

Haggerty is accused of stealing $1.1 million from Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign.

Crowley Lukewarm For Meeks, But Insists No Effort To Displace Him

Rep. Joe Crowley flat out rejected yesterday’s NY Post exclusive that he and other Queens Democratic leaders are quietly plotting the demise of his scandal-scarred colleague, Rep. Greg Meeks, insisting he has neither discussed finding someone to run in Meeks’ stead next fall nor attended a meeting to pick his replacement.

“There was no meeting; I mean, not surprisingly, it’s the New York Post,” the Queens Democratic chairman told NY1 political reporter Josh Robin following his speech at this morning’s ABNY breakfast.

“There was no meeting that I know of. I wasn’t at any meeting. In fact, I can say with authority, maybe wrongfully, I’ve never stepped foot inside the Guy Brewer Democratic Club.”

The Post had reported that party leaders tapped Sen. Malcolm Smith to run for Meeks’ seat in 2012. But a number of observers had a hard time believing that, noting Smith is very close to Meeks and also has had his own reports of legal troubles.

Crowley insisted he “hasn’t had a conversation with anyone” about replacing Meeksand isn’t pressuring his colleague to forgo a re-election campaign. However, he didn’t exactly give the congressman a rousing endorsement, either.

“Listen, Greg Meeks is a member of Congress,” the chairman told Robin. “He has the right to run, and I suspect that’s what he will do. And we’ll cross that path when the time comes…He’s entitled to answer the questions that have been raised, and he’s working his way towards that process.”

Crowley was also asked about the recent loss of his hand-picked NY-9 candidate, Assemblyman David Weprin, for which he he has taken a lot of heat.

While the chairman couldn’t help but note during his speech that the Brooklyn portion of the district went for GOP Rep. Bob Turner (interpreted by some as a barb aimed at the borough’s Democratic boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez), Crowley insisted the race is “over,” adding: “We’ll move forward…quite frankly, at this point, it’s not that big of a deal anymore.”