The Fantastic Four

Here’s the video from the Independent Democratic Conference’s response at last night’s LCA show in which the four renegade minority members (AKA Klavinoluccilesky) demonstrated they are ably capable of poking fun at both the press corps and themselves.

Obama Didn’t Lose Sleep Over Decision To Kill bin Laden

“As nervous as I was about this whole process, the one thing I didn’t lose sleep over was taking bin Laden out. Justice was done.”

During 60 minutes hour long special on the death of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama said he was nervous, and tense during the 40 minute operation last Sunday.

Obama detailed the amount of planning, and intelligence that went into the operation. He says he was first notified of the compound in August of 2010, and planning began then for a tactical mission. Obama praised the intelligence community, but in the end he said it was still only 55% to 45% that bin Laden was in the compound.

“If this is a wealthy prince from Dubai and we are sending an elite strike force team into a sovereign country, we have a problem,” Obama said.

Obama also deflected the question of why he didn’t inform Pakistani officials of the bin Laden mission. Obama said he didn’t tell his family, and most of his senior advisers, so he wasn’t going to tell people he didn’t know.

The US relationship with Pakistan has been criticized heavily in the past week, but Obama was quick to defend them as an ally.

“What I can say is, Pakistan since 9.11 has been a strong counterterrorism partner with us. There have been times when there were disagreements… they will continue. We have been able to kill more terrorists on Pakistani soil then anywhere else, and we could not have done that without Pakistani help,” Obama said.”

The President went on to say more work needs to be done to improve the relationship with Pakistan. He also echoed what we have been hearing from the administration all week that Pakistan has to come up with answers about why Osama bin Laden was able to live in Abbottabad for at least 5 years without their military knowing.

Duffy Headlines Pride Agenda Rally

When more than 1,000 gay-rights advocates descend on Albany Monday, the emissary greeting them won’t be Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

The Empire State Pride Agenda will hold a rally in Albany as a coalition of groups try to push for gay marriage legalization by June.

Duffy has usually been deployed for economic development matters, not social issues like gay marriage.

The Empire State Pride Agenda notes in its release that Cuomo’s backing of the issue is key in order for it to pass the Republican-led Senate, where potential swing votes are being counted and re-counted.

With the leadership of a historically popular governor, an Assembly that has repeatedly voted in support of this agenda and rapidly increasing statewide momentum, this year marks the most dynamic opportunity yet for LGBT New Yorkers and their allies to tell their stories directly to legislators.

As Joe Spector noted earlier, Cuomo and the gay community have had a historically strained relationship. But the governor has said he wants the measure approved by the time the Legislature wraps up its work in the next six weeks. It’s also seen as a needed victory in order for him to shore up support within the progressive wing of the state’s Democratic Party.

The governor, who has met with leaders in the gay community earlier this year, is yet to release his official schedule for Monday.

Duffy is due to speak at 10 a.m. at the Empire State Convention Center. A rally at the West Capitol Park is set for 1 p.m. Advocates are then expected to meet with lawmakers to push the issue.

Also due to speak at Monday’s rally is Sen. Tom Duane, an openly gay Manhattan Democrat the sponsor of the failed 2009 bill for gay marriage legalization. The measure failed in the then-Democratic-controlled Senate, 38-24. Republicans now hold a 32-30 advantage.

Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, a North Country Republican whose son is gay, is also on the schedule.

Pride_Agenda’s_Equality_&_Justice_Day_Will_Bring_over_1,200_to_Albany

Hank Morris, Dan Hevesi Named In NM Lawsuit

Disgraced former political consultant Hank Morris and Dan Hevesi, an ex-state senator and son of jailed former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, are named in pay-to-play pension fund lawsuits brought by a New Mexico government agency, the AP reports.

The suits, filed in state and federal courts by State Investment Council, claims the agency’s onetime top manager, Gary Bland, and the Dallas-based financial advisory firm Aldus Equity Partners improperly steered investments to political supporters of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Dan Hevesi was one of several placement agents on a New Mexico investment deal.

Aldus Equity’s founding partner, Saul Meyer pleaded guilty in October 2009 to fraud for his role in the New York pension fund scandal.

At the time, then-AG Andrew Cuomo branded Meyer “a corrupted gatekeeper.” Meyer pleaded guilty to charges that he paid over $300,000 in bogus finders fees to Morris in exchange for $375 million worth of investments in Aldus private equity funds between 2004 and 2006.

In 2007, investigators subpoenaed records from a financial business owned by Dan Hevesi, who is Alan Hevesi’s eldest son, but no charges were ever brought against him.

Last fall, the Times reported Alan Hevesi had agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge for his role in the pension fund mess in order to protect Dan Hevesi and also his younger son, Assemblyman Andy Hevesi.

Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty last October and was sentenced in April to one to four years in prison – the maximum penalty possible.

Morris was sentenced in February to up to four years behind bars.

Committee To Save NY’s Latest Pro-Cap Ad: ‘Digging’

The business-backed Committee to Save New York is out with its latest TV ad – a companion spot to the imminent “People First Tour” that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of his cabinet are launching to promote the governor’s top post-budget priorities: The property tax cap, ethics reform and legalization of same-sex marriage.

The ad, entitled “Digging”, focuses just on the tax cap, which is mired in the Legislature at the moment.

The Senate GOP passed Cuomo’s 2 percent bill early in the session, and Majority Leader Dean Skelos says he won’t accept any watering down or negotiating. (At least one of his members disagrees with that position).

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is about to introduce his own short-term cap bill that will likely feature exceptions not included in the governor’s plan. Cuomo said – through a spokesman – that the Assembly bill is a “non-starter.”

The CSNY spent about half of the $10 million is raised to help Cuomo in the budget battle, which turned out to be fairly one-sided – thanks to the sidelining of SEIU 1199 and the GNYHA. The committee plans to spend the remainder of its cash to help promote agenda items on which its members agree with the governor, and that will not include the rent laws, thanks to the participation of REBNY and big real estate developers.

The script for “Digging”, which notably doesn’t point any blaming fingers, is as follows:

“Each year, New Yorkers are forced to dig deeper, digging deeper into their pockets to pay their property taxes. Taxes shooting up higher and higher, driving families and businesses out of New York. In just 10 years, the typical property tax bill has soared by 80 percent, crushing taxpayers, sending jobs to other states. Governor Cuomo’s plan will cap property taxes to help families and businesses and create jobs here at home. Tell the Legislature to support the governor’s plan.”

A Ranger For Gay Marriage

As per today’s NY Times sports section (interesting placement), here’s the video Rangers forward Sean Avery recorded for the HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign in which he becomes the first professional sports figure in the state to declare his support for letting same-sex couples legally wed.

So far, the individuals participating in this campaign have been largely limited to celebrity actors, musicians and dancers (Sam Waterson, Lucy Liu, Russell Simmons, Bill T. Jones etc.) and political figures (Barbara Bush, David Dinkins, Ed Koch, Mayor Bloomberg).

Avery’s participation is being touted by gay marriage advocates as being particularly significant given the homophobia that abounds in the world of sports. (Exhibit A: The recent case of Kobe Bryant). As the Times’ John Branch reports:

No active male player in a major American team sport has declared his homosexuality, and homosexual slurs remain in use to insult opponents and officials.”

Avery, a 31-year-old from Pickering, Ontario, has played nine seasons in the N.H.L. Known as a fashion-conscious, on-ice agitator, he has never been afraid of what others think of him.

“The places I’ve played and lived the longest have been in West Hollywood, Calif., when I played for the L.A. Kings, and when I moved to New York, I lived in Chelsea for the first four years,” Avery said in a phone interview.

“I certainly have been surrounded by the gay community. And living in New York and when you live in L.A., you certainly have a lot of gay friends.”

Avery, who reportedly has a fondness for fashion and “nice suits,” is SoHo resident, and also has a home in LA. The HRC’s Brian Ellner praised the hockey star, calling him “a leader – on and off the ice.”

And there’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek moment in the video when Avery says he treats everyone “the way I expect to be treated.” Avery has been voted the NHL’s most hated played, led the league in penalty minutes and is known as one of its most unpopular antagonists.

Weekend Open Thread

Some possibilities for discussion….

- Rudy Giuliani says he could be “probably be talked into” running in 2012.

- President Obama met Cairo, a dog that took part in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden and the only member of the SEAL team to be identified by name as of yet.

- Al Qaeda confirmed the death of Osama Bin Laden Friday, but pledged to continue its holy war aimed at destroying America.

- By pushing forward with his threat to lay off 4,100 teachers, Mayor Bloomberg is possibly imperiling a significant legacy issue: Improvement of the NYC public school system.

- Bloomberg renewed his call for the repeal of LIFO, saying that without it, the “greatest carnage” will be in the neediest districts.

- The Post calls Bloomberg a “fibber.”

- Senior House Republicans recommitted to their Medicare overhaul plan.

- Paul McCartney is reportedly engaged to MTA Board member Nancy Shevell (the ex-wife of failed 2010 US Senate candidate Bruce Blakeman).

- It looks like playwright Tony Kushner will get his honorary CUNY degree after all.

- Julia Roberts penned an OpEd with Hillary Clinton about the benefits of cleaner burning stoves in developing countries.

Boehner To Stump For Corwin Monday

Another sign that Republicans are concerned about the 3-way race in NY’s 26 Congressional District. We just received a press advisory telling us that House Speaker John Boehner will appear with Republican Jane Corwin at a campaign stop in Depew.

According to recent reports, internal polling has this race too close to call. With Corwin, Democrat Kathy Hochul in a statistical deadheat, and 3rd party candidate Jack Davis only a few points behind. The numbers have given Hochul a boost in fundraising.

Last Friday, Siena College released a poll showing Corwin up only 5 points.

Extras

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott broke up a fight between two reporters (TV and blog) at City Hall this morning.

Eighty-four percent of Americans think it’s likely Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was hiding.

Chris Smith tries to explain why Mayor Bloomberg seems to be “playing nice” with the governor.

Cuomo spokesman response to the Bloomberg budget: The governor “looks forward” to working with the mayor to rebuild the NYC economy.

Bloomberg’s budget includes a plan to increase parking meter rates throughout the city – a proposal the NYC Council has already scuttled once.

The NEA became the first labor union to formally endorse President Obama’s re-election bid.

The president met with members of the “full assault force” that killed bin Laden.

The NFIB urged Cuomo not to water down the tax cap.

ESPA released a video of pro-gay marriage faith leaders.

Rudy Giuliani on his relationship with ex-NYC Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.: “We could kid each other, we could have drinks together, cigars together. And we still had plenty of battles, but it usually meant that we could figure out a common ground.”

Newt Gingrich hired a campaign manager.

The CUNY Board is holding an emergency meeting Monday to reconsider its decision to block playwright Tony Kushner from getting an honorary degree from John Jay.

VOCAL-NY fliered outside the Women for Cuomo fundraiser today. (The woman in this shot looks a lot like semi-First Last Sandra Lee).

Sen. Greg Ball has a new campaign account.

Bieber cuts deal with Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice.

Paladino’s Ex-Campaign Manager Mails On Tax Cap

Carl Paladino’s former campaign manager Michael Caputo, a protege of political trickster Roger Stone, is mailing Tea-Party advocates urging them to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent cap on local property taxes.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget has come a long way since I first wrote you on January 31st. We won some battles for fiscal sanity and we lost some. But the Governor succeeded in passing an on-time balanced budget without tax hikes – quite an accomplishment in our dysfunctional state capital.

Caputo earlier today distributed a quote from Paladino supportive of the governor’s cap. The measure was approved in the Republican-led Senate, but faces a tougher time passing the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

In his letter, Caputo also touts the efforts to cut into the state’s Medicaid program, one of the costliest programs in the country. Paladino was able to ride a wave of Tea Party support in the Republican primary to surprisingly defeat former Rep. Rick Lazio last September.

Cuomo plans to travel the state in order to fire up voters on the cap, which already enjoys broad supporter, according to polls.

Caputo Tax Cap