Jacobs: No Rush For Weiner Resignation

Pressure from fellow Democrats for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign is mounting – so far at least of his House colleagues and two former DNC chairs have said they believe it’s time for him to pack it in.

So far, however, none of those calls are coming from Weiner’s fellow New Yorkers, even with the example of the last congressman to post a compromising picture of himself on the Internet – former Rep. Chris Lee – a very recent memory.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs declined during a CapTon interview last night to draw parallels between Lee and Weiner, explaining:

“I felt badly for him, and I said so, too, and for his family and what they had to go through. It’s awful enough when you make a mistake like this, on its own merits. But then to have it in the public and the embarrassment that goes with it. It’s tremendously difficult.”

Jacobs reminded me of the “human piece” of scandals of this nature, saying people should “step back and give them (Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin) just a few moments,” adding: “There is no imperative in the representation of his district for him to step down at this exact minute.”

The chairman refused to close the door on a possible Weiner resignation – just not right now. If the House ethics inquiry finds the congressman broke the rules and/or the law in some way, well…that’s a different story altogether.

I asked Jacobs about the “Weiner as redistricting sacrificial lamb” speculation that’s making it’s way through political circles, and he laughed it off – although it didn’t deny that it’s entirely plausible – calling it a “Machiavellian” scheme.

Broadway For Same-Sex Marriage

The Human Rights Campaign has a new Youtube video of New Yorkers supporting same-sex marriage today, with the latest future Broadway actors urging voters to contact their lawmakers in support of the measure.

“Broadway is about as synonymous with New York as the Empire State Building and Joe Namath,” said HRC Senior New York Strategist, Brian Ellner. “Each year, Broadway shows bring in over $1 billion in ticket sales alone. We are approaching the end of the current legislative session and now is the time for all New Yorkers to raise their voices in support for marriage equality.”

The focus next week will be on the Republican-led Senate, where seven legislators remain undecided. The measure failed 38-24 in 2009 when Democrats controlled the chamber. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has worked behind the scenes to push the issue, meeting with undeclared lawmakers Sens. Jim Alesi and Roy McDonald.

Senate GOP Introduce Health Insurance Exchange Legislation

Taking a first step to comply with the federal health-insurance overhaul passed last year, Senate lawmakers have introduced today a bill that would create an insurance exchange.

The exchanges, which are meant to act as marketplaces in individual states for businesses to compare insurance coverage and force insurance companies to compete, is a key cornerstone of the controversial federal bill.

Essentially, the hope is that with the competition in the state-by-state exchanges, the cost of insurance goes down.

Critics of the bill have charged the exchanges are a federal mandate that shift costs down to the state.

The New York exchange’s architects, Sens. James Seward and Kemp Hannon, say they’ve crafted their measure to prohibit using general fund expenditures.

“It’s crucial that we establish the most cost-effective governance and implementation process for the Health Insurance Exchange while also meeting the diverse needs of eligible New Yorkers,” Hannon, a Long Island Republican, said in a statement. “This legislation sets up the governing structure and basic functions that are required in order for the Exchange to begin to function, while providing for a transparent process and careful consideration of policy choices.”

Seward, the chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, said the bill sets up the “foundation” for the federal requirements and positions the state to receive federal funding. More >

State Dems Get ‘Lenihan Magic’

Here’s the official announcement of Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan’s impending retirement next month to accept a position with the state Democratic Party. He’ll be overseeing the effort to win seven county executive races around the state this fall: Suffolk, Erie, Monroe, Broome, Dutchess, Ulster and Albany.

State Chairman Jay Jacobs referenced Rep. Kathy Hochul’s recent surprise win in the NY-26 special election. (Lenihan played a role in that, although he had hoped – along with some in the Cuomo administration – that she would challenge Erie County Executive Chris Collins this fall; County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz has been tapped to run instead).

Party Executive Director Charlie King said he looks forward to seeing some of that “Lenihan magic” replicated in local races this fall.

This is a an “off” political year, with no regularly scheduled federal, statewide or legislative races. But local races can be indications of how a party will perform in the next big cycle, and also can provide farm teams of candidates for higher office.

Consider, for example, the good year Republicans had in 2009, with surprise wins in Westchester County (Rob Astorino defeated incumbent Andy Spano) and Nassau (Ed Mangano defeated incumbent Tom Suozzi). The GOP went on to perform well in legislative contests, winning back the Senate majority and robbing the Assembly Democrats of their veto-proof majority.

Republicans also picked up six congressional seats – more than in any other state – although they failed to win even a single statewide contest (many blame gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino for dragging down the party’s best hope, state comptroller contender Harry Wilson).

Lenihan Announcement

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing ahead with plans to lay off up to 9,800 workers by setting a date for the first wave of terminations: July 15.

Cuomo is calling for the retirement age for state workers to be raised to 65 and creation of a sixth pension tier.

“The numbers speak for themselves — the pension system as we know it is unsustainable,” the governor said in a statement. “This bill institutes common-sense reforms to bring government benefits more in line with the private sector while still serving our employees and protecting our retirees.”

Opposition to the governor’s pension bill has caused a strange coalition of labor unions and fiscal conservatives.

The legislation will likely face a lot of opposition in the Democratic Assembly, but Cuomo has a way of getting what he wants, noted Majority Leader Ron Canestrari.

Six House Democrats – Reps. Allyson Schwartz (Pennsylvania), Mark Pryor (Arkansas), Mike Michaud (Maine) Niki Tsongas (Massachusetts), Larry Kissell (North Carolina) and Joe Donnelly (Indiana) – called for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign as an X-rated photo of his genitals was leaked.

Two former Democratic National Committee chairmen, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former Virginia governor and current Senate candidate Tim Kaine, also say it’s time for Weiner to go. So far, he is resisting the calls for him to step down.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel talked with Weiner on the phone and “bluntly” expressed his frustration with the scandal-scarred lawmaker’s deteriorating political status.

The White House is not commenting on the Weiner scandal.

The Seattle woman to whom the congressman sent the first picture that sparked Weinergate initially thought the image was a fake.

Would-be challengers and/or replacements are quietly lining up to vie for Weiner’s district – assuming it continues to exist past 2012.

Letterman’s opening monologue last night featured a Weiner reference:

More >

Report: Weiner’s Wife Pregnant (Updated)

Well, this explains a lot about Huma Abedin’s stand-by-her-man approach.

…The NY Times is reporting that scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife is in the “early stages of pregnancy,” according to three people “with knowledge of the situation.”

The couple has disclosed the pregnancy to “close friends and family,” writes Michael Barbaro, who notes this “adds a new dimension to questions about the future of their marriage.”

Um, ya think?

Abedin was scheduled to leave the country to accompany US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a week-long trip to Africa and the Middle East. (According to the Times, she has indeed departed).

UPDATE: We have a statement from Weiner, courtesy of his fellow alum of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, Risa Heller, (now a consultant, but last working full-time for former Gov. David Paterson). It seems more in response to the leaked x-rated photo than the pregnancy news, but either way, here it is:

“As Representative Weiner said on Monday when he took responsibility for his actions, he has sent explicit photos. To reiterate, he has never met any of these women or had physical contact with them. As he said, he deeply regrets the pain he has caused. With the full support of his wife, he is working on righting these wrongs with his family and his colleagues.”

Unions Knock Juvenile Justice Centers Closures

The state quietly began to close or downsize several juvenile justice centers around the state, including facilities in Fulton, Delaware and Monroe Counties.

This is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plan to downsize parts of state government he considers to be archaic. Cuomo toured one of the near-empty facilities after wining the November election. The move is designed to save nearly $380 million.

Unclear is how many people will ultimately lose their jobs at the facilities.

The news of the closures didn’t sit well with CSEA:

“The Cuomo administration’s plans to close and downsize juvenile justice facilities operated by the
state Office of Children and Family Services is another bad policy choice that will hurt real people in
real places. There is an overwhelming need for reform in juvenile justice system, starting with the replacement of Commissioner Gladys Carrion, whose misguided policies and divisive management has put clients and
staff at greater risk. There are serious public policy issues regarding juvenile justice that need
meaningful public debate and labor-management discussion, which have been dismissed or ignored
under the current administration.

And the Public Employees Federation also issued a statement, calling the closures wrong.

“The public should be aware more than half of the youths in state juvenile facilities have special education needs and 67 percent have serious mental health needs,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.

Extras

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for Rep. Anthony Weiner…they do.

Andrew Breitbart insists he regrets that the x-rated photo of Weiner leaked.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, DCCC recruting chair, says Weiner should resign in light of his “offensive behavior.”

Former DNC Chairman-turned-Senate candidate Tim Kaine thinks Weiner needs to go because “lying publicly about something like this is unforgivable.”

A tongue-in-cheek take on crotch shots.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is not only staying with him, but reportedly helping plot his political comeback.

Abedin is redefining the image of the wronged political wife.

Did Weiner purchase a make-up gift for his wife?

NYC Mayor Alec Baldwin? Don’t rule out a run by the “20 Rock” actor now that Weiner’s down for the count.

Will Weiner be the redistricting “sacrificial lamb” for Democrats in 2012?

…perhaps not if redistricting reform actually occurs. (Or if the governor sticks to his guns and vetoes politically-redrawn lines).

Weiner’s district borders some federally protected minority-majority districts, so drawing it out of existence might be easier said than done.

Various experts debate Weinergate and whether the Democrats can – and should – keep his seat.

A New Jersey GOP official and newspaper publisher set up a Website calling on Weiner to resign.

Mr. Big offered Weiner some advice.

Solution to the Weiner/wiener problem: Elect more women.

Take the Weiner-or-Woods challenge. (Warning, nature of content is graphic).

“Reliable sources” tell William Kristol that Rudy Giuliani intends to run in 2012. “He may throw his hat in the ring soon.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking government reorganization tips from a report penned by Robert Moses in his pre-Power Broker days.

“The time for the governor’s program bill is now; We should get one and then we should figure out how and when we are moving on it,” said Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell.

Cuomo announced an independent review of the I-287 project in Westchester County.

The administration quietly put out notices that eight juvenile justice facilities will close or downsize.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker might run for the US Senate.

Senate Democratic spokesman Travis Proulx has a new, very challenging, gig. (First item).

A judge lifted the injunction blocking the state from collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian land.

Unions Blast Tier VI Proposal (Updated)

Not surprisingly, the state’s two largest public-worker unions are blasting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Tier VI pension bill introduced this afternoon.

Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue in a statement accused Cuomo of “grandstanding” on the issue:

“Congratulations to Governor Cuomo for another grandstand play for the attention of his millionaire
friends at the expense of the real working people of New York.”

“The governor’s proposal for a Tier VI pension reform for public employees is more evidence of how out of touch he is with working people and the economic pressures they face everyday. The governor’s onerous proposal will pick the pockets of front-line public workers and undermine their retirement security without providing any short term savings,” Donohue said.

And Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien called the plan “draconian.”

“The ink is barely dry on Tier 5, but now the governor is proposing draconian pension cuts that would inflict permanent damage on middle class workers such as nurses, parole officers, bridge inspectors and cancer researchers for what is a transient problem,” Brynien said.

There was little mention of the ongoing negotiations between Cuomo and the unions, which so far have produced little news. State worker contracts expired April 1, giving automatic step increases to workers under the provisions of the Triborough Amendment.

UPDATE: There’s now a statement from AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, who said the bill “does nothing to address New York’s greatest problem, job creation.” He also urged Cuomo to “rethink think strategy” and said the Legislature should reject the measure “outright.” Hughes’ full statement appears after the jump.

More >

Bloomberg Praises ‘Sensible’ Pension Plan

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement this afternoon that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new, less generous pension reform plan was “sensible.”

Bloomberg, whose adminsitration has been trying to seek less generous pension tiers for city employees, said the Cuomo proposal would save the state $30 billion over 30 years.

“We have, for the last six months, been engaging with stakeholders in City and State government and our partners in municipal labor on a vital question we’ve been raising for years: how to protect both City services and the strength of our retirement funds over the long term. The Governor’s bill will do just that. By making sensible pension reforms that won’t impact a single current employee or existing retiree, this legislation will create $30 billion in savings over the next 30 years for the City, which will ensure we can afford the services and workforce that City residents depend on, and provide a secure retirement for municipal employees long into the future