Top House Democrats Call On Weiner To Resign

In a sign that U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s position in Congress are all but untenable, top House Democrats, including New York’s Steve Israel and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have called on the embattled Brooklyn politician to step down this afternoon.

Wasserman Schultz said she made the call with “disappointment.”

“It is with great disappointment that I call on Representative Anthony Weiner to resign,” she said. “The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable. This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House – and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important – his and his family’s well-being.”

Israel, a Long Island representative and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in his statement that the distraction had become too much.

“Anthony’s inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people. With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign. I pray for his family and hope that Anthony will take time to get the help he needs without the distractions and added pressures of Washington, DC.”

Though the statements were released separately, they landed in reporters’ inboxes within minutes of each other. They come after several other Democratic lawmakers called on Weiner to resign this past week, but today’s effort to oust him would make it difficult to see how Weiner stays past Sunday.

Democrats have been angered by the distraction, which came almost immediately after the party scored an upset victory in an upstate House seat. Democrats had hoped to capitalize on the growing dissatisfaction with the Republican budget plan for Medicare.

The calls for his resignation came after yet another development in the saga of Weiner on Friday, in which his office admitted that he had contacted a 17-year-old woman over the Internet.

Though the contact with the teen was reportedly benign, coupled with the news that Weiner sent explicit messages and photos to women on social networking websites, was likely the final straw for the Democratic leadership.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was reportedly upset with Weiner for lying to both the public and her in the twitter flap.

The resignation calls also seem to put to rest the theory that Democrats wanted Weiner to stay in the seat, quietly, and then let it be redistricted out in 2012.

Silver Shuffles Leadership Posts

Rounding out the late Friday afternoon news dump, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he was shuffling the top leadership and committee chairmanships in his chamber.

Among the notable changes: Tourism Chairman Steve Englebright is moving over to Government Operations, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is moving from Aging to Consumer Affairs. He is being succeeded at Aging by Assemblywoman Joan Millman. Assemblywoman Annette Robinson will lead the Assembly Banks Committee, taking over for Darrel Towns, who left to become the top housing official in the Cuomo administration.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there was no mention of the stipends or “lulus” the legislators will be paid for their new jobs.

The full roster after the jump. More >

Extras

Breaking: Delaware police went to the home of a 17-year-old girl this afternoon to speak to her mother about a direct message she received from Rep. Anthony Weiner in April.

Weiner wrote (by hand) an “I’m sorry” note to his neighbors.

Mayor Bloomberg says it would be “great” for Alec Baldwin to run for mayor – as long as he becomes a NYC resident.

An anti-Weiner ad aired while Bloomberg was doing his weekly radio show.

The state GOP launched a “Weiner must resign” on-line petition.

Weinergate fallout: Less Tweeting by members of Congress.

Former Assemblyman Jerry Kremer thinks Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already surpassed his father “in gaining more notable victories” in just his first five months on the job.

Baldwin fanned the flames of speculation by re-launching his Website.

Eliot Spitzer experienced several awkward moments while covering Weinergate.

“We had a meeting literally every day about how to drive Anthony out of the race,” a 2009 Bloomberg campaign official recalled.

The NYC Central Labor Council is poised to pick as its new leader a former aide who quit in protest to the former president.

PEF says Cuomo pitched a six year contract no pay raises for four years and higher insurance co-pays.

“With respect to the World Bank, I have had no discussions with anyone…I have evidenced no interest to anyone, I do not have any interest and I am not pursuing that position,” Hillary Clinton said.

Lap dances and strip club admissions are subject to sales tax, an appeals court ruled.

Rep. Kathy Hochul will make her NYC debut as a congresswoman next Monday.

A Siena poll is due out Monday on voters’ attitudes on end of session priorities and who they will blame if issues they support are not passed. (No link).

Partial Sarah Palin email dump available here.

Outgoing state Education Commissioner David Steiner’s exit interview.

Larry Levy on the power of the suburbs.

Bill Thompson To Lead Judicial Compensation Panel

Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson will lead the panel charged with determining whether the state’s judges deserve a pay raise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

Rick Cotton, an executive with NBC Univerisal, was also named to the board, as was financier Bill Mulrow.

Thompson, who was the Democratic candidate for mayor in New York in 2009, is currently the chief administrative officer/senior managing director at Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. In addition, he is chairman of the Battery Park City Authority.

Mulrow was Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s original pick to become comptroller in 2007 following the resignation of Alan Hevesi. Though he’s considered well-respected in Democratic circles, the Legislature ultimately chose one of their own, the well-like Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli.

The Judicial Compensation Board was established in 2010 during the Paterson administration to study the best pay rate for state judges. Pay increases for the judiciary has been a major goal of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and her successor, Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Judges, whose pay increases have usually been tied to salary hikes for the Legislature (a deeply, insanely unpopular move these days) have not received a pay bump since 1999.

Stephen Baldwin Would Be ‘Very Surprised’ If Brother Alec Runs In 2013

Stephen Baldwin threw some cold water on speculation that his brother and fellow actor, Alec, might run for NYC mayor in 2013 now that scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner’s candidacy is all but dead.

“I would be very surprised if he would have any serious aspirations for this next New York City mayoral contest; I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Stephen Baldwin told reporters during an appearance earlier today in Syracuse.

“But, you know, it’s interesting conversation – like when Mr. Trump started talking about his aspirations.”

(Being compared to The Donald by your own flesh and blood. Ouch!)

Stephen Baldwin urged reporters not to “misinterpret” his words, saying it’s likely his brother would “consider” a run. Alec Baldwin’s spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that his client “wouldn’t rule it out” when asked about a possible run in two years.

“If there was enough of the perfect storm were to come together, then who knows what he might do,” Stephen Baldwin continued. “But, I just know on a personal level he’s looking to finish the TV show and do more of the things in his personal life that he enjoys, like relax.”

Alec Baldwin has insisted that he’ll be leaving show business in 2012 when his “30 Rock” contract expires. He told former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in January that he is very strongly considering a run for something, although he didn’t get into specifics.

The actor is a liberal Democrat and has been involved in politics for some time. He’s a big supporter of AG Eric Schneiderman.

In case you’re curious what Stephen Baldwin was doing in Syracuse. His mother, Carol, lives in Camillus and has a foundation, the Carol Baldwin Fund. He traveled to Central New York to announce details of the organization’s annual Ride for Research, set for Sept. 11.

Last fall, Alec Baldwin appeared with his mother in a holiday-themed TV ad campaign for Wegmans.

Cuomo Announces Appointments

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced four appointments to senior positions within the administration. They are:

- Dennis J. Hayes, chief executive deputy director of the State Insurance Fund. Hayes was previously special deputy superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau, but, as Cuomo announced earlier this week, that position has been given to Assemblyman Jonathan Bing.

- Bennett Liebman, deputy secretary for Racing and Gaming. Liebman was executive director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. Under his leadership, the center established the country’s first full-time racing and gaming law program that focuses on the study of law and policy as it relates to various aspects of gaming including horse racing, Indian gaming, lottery, casino gaming and charitable gaming.

Previously, Liebman served as counsel for the state Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee. From 1988 to 2000 he served as commissioner of the state Racing and Wagering Board that oversees horse racing, off-track betting, bingo, games of chance, and Indian casino gaming.

- Jacqueline Moody-Czub, assistant secretary of Agriculture and Markets. For the past four years, she has been serving as deputy commissioner of Ag and Markets, overseeing the plant, soil and water, and animal industry divisions.

- Katie Campos, assistant secretary for education. Campos is the co-founder and executive director of Buffalo ReformED, a not-for-profit education reform advocacy organization. She has also worked as the director of public affairs for the New York Charter Schools Association and as director of development for Democrats for Education Reform.

None of these positions require Senate confirmation. The initial press release did not include salary information. We are efforting that from a Cuomo spokesman.

Ridge: Gas In Wells Is ‘Naturally Occurring’ Not Result Of ‘Fracking’

Former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge defended hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” on The Colbert Report Thursday, saying the practice has been around since the late 40s and more than a million wells have been constructed.

gasland_clip

Colbert raised safety concerns with Ridge regarding how the gas is extracted, ironically praising the partial secrecy of the Bush Administration’s energy policy.

“One of the things I like about this is that during the Bush Administration, Vice President Cheney’s Energy Task Force made sure that the gas companies did not have to reveal what the chemicals were that were being pumped into the ground,” Colbert said.

“Now it’s been reported that some of the things are kerosene, benzene, urea, toluene… how many of those can I feed my toddler?”

Ridge insisted that it has not been proven any “fracking” chemicals or natural gas has made its way into water wells and the flaming faucets shown in such films as Gasland is the result of “naturally occurring” methane deposits.

However, a recent study by Duke University suggests evidence of “methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction.” Meanwhile, the study does state there is no evidence the “fracking” chemicals used in the drilling process have contaminated drinking water supplies.

Either way, Colbert says gas in the water is a plus because “you can wash your vegetables and grill them at the same time.”

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Liu Leaves Door Open For Re-election Bid

NYC Comptroller John Liu, who is widely speculated to be eyeing a potential mayoral run in 2013, actually hasn’t ruled out running for re-election that year.

Liu, the first Asian-American to hold a citywide post (he was elected in the fall of 2009, was asked whether he plans to seek another four-year term during a recent interview with CityWide host Ken Fisher.

“The voters have given me four years to do this job; that is my lens on everything,” Liu replied. “It’s a four-year term.”

“If I complete everything that I set up to do within these four years, and I feel that I can do more if the voters gave me another four years, then at that point I will make a case to the voters what more I would like to do in this office…It’s hard to say what will happen, but I’m 17 months into this position, and it’s a great place to be.”

Liu also opined on the tension between himself and Mayor Bloomberg, chalking much of it up to the fact that the comptroller’s job is, in part, to serve as a check on the executive branch. He also said he realizes the mayor has a very difficult job.

CityWide airs on CUNY-TV/ cable TV channel 75 in NYC. This program will premiere June 15th.

Rangel Scoffs At Calls For Weiner To Resign

“For what? To please whom?”

That was the response from Rep. Charlie Rangel when asked by NY1′s Grace Rauh yesterday whether his NY congressional delegation colleague, Rep. Anthony Weiner, should step down in the face of a House ethics investigation following his admission that he sent explicit messages and photos to women he met on the Internet.

Rangel said his advice to Weiner is as follows: “First take care of your wife, and remember that this too shall pass.”

The veteran Harlem Democrat is perhaps the person most able to empathize with Weiner. He lived through a prolonged ethics investigation that resulted in his censure on the House floor, and nevertheless managed to win re-election in a multi-candidate primary last fall.

Rangel weathered an experience similar to the one that Weiner now faces, with fellow Democrats calling for him to resign and Republicans both making him a target and using his predicament to slam his conference colleagues. Like Weiner, he refused to leave – and he survived.

Rangel’s case had nothing to do with sexting. But it nevertheless dominated the headlines intermittently for weeks on end.
The congressman predicted earlier today that Weiner would be able to return to being an effective congressman “if the press gets off his back.”

The ever-quotable Rangel also said he doesn’t understand why Weiner is being singled out for criticism.

“I know one thing: He wasn’t going out with prostitutes, he wasn’t going out with little boys, he wasn’t going into men’s rooms with broad stances.”

“All of those things I understand.” “Certainly I know immoral sex when I hear it from other (House) members and no one has screamed for their resignation, so I don’t know why they’re selecting Anthony.”

Strahan Joins Same-Sex Marriage Push (Updated)

Former NFL Star Michael Strahan and his wife Nicole Murphy are the latest to cut an ad for the Human Rights Campaign, advocating for the legalization of gay marriage.

The former NY Giants Defensive End is the first pro football player to lend his voice to the cause, but not the first athlete. NY Rangers Winger Sean Avery also cut an ad for the HRC. And Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, who spends the off-season in New York City, cut an ad as well.

“Michael Strahan is part of an ever growing list of professional athletes speaking out for marriage equality,” said HRC’s Brian Ellner. “There are a lot of tough New Yorkers, but none tougher than Michael Strahan, one of the most feared and accomplished defensive ends in history.”

“He’s our Super Bowl champion for New Yorkers for Marriage. We are honored that he and his fiancée Nicole, would join us in this historic fight for fairness. A vote could happen any day now, and we need all New Yorkers to let their voices be heard in support of marriage equality.”

UPDATE: (Liz adds…) A reader with far more spots knowledge in one finger than I’ve got in my entire brain wrote the following:

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at the HRC trotting out a divorced, retired football player and his adulterous second wife with the hopes that – what? – undecided senators will suddenly ‘see the light’?”

“Tell me how the woman who was married to Eddie Murphy when he picked up a transvestite prostitute is going to have any effect on undecideds?