DiNapoli Revokes SUNY ‘Quick Pay’ Privileges

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli is calling for more scrutiny of how SUNY spends its money following the Administrations decision to award a $270k consultant contract to the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP. The contract was to study the relationship between the SUNY Research Foundation and the college campuses.

DiNapoli says SUNY didn’t open up the contract to a competitive bidding process, and therefore didn’t comply to current state laws.

“New York’s procurement laws exist to make sure taxpayers get the most for their money,” DiNapoli said. “SUNY circumvented those laws at the same time it was lobbying for greater procurement flexibility. My office will put SUNY’s future payment requests under an even sharper microscope to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“This procurement produced a good report that will help SUNY repair some serious problems. But the end product doesn’t justify the means. SUNY went down the wrong road on this procurement.”

The comptroller’s office has now revoked the SUNY Administration’s “Quick Pay Voucher” privileges until they put into place better internal controls.

A spokesman for SUNY says they are now reviewing the Comptroller’s actions, and don’t have an immediate comment.

Goo-Goos To Lawmakers: Get Redistricting Done

As the joint Senate-Assembly commission on redistricting gets underway this morning, the good-government group Citizens Union is urging lawmakers to adopt an independent body to redraw boundaries state and federal offices.

Dick Dadey, the group’s executive director, said in a statement that the Legislature received an “I” for incomplete in not getting the independent commission up and running this otherwise productive legislative session.

From Dadey:

We request legislators honor the commitments they made to their voters and return to Albany pronto to remove the self-interested conflict that exists when they draw the lines for themselves and essentially choose their voters before the voters choose them.

Though it was one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent memory, the legislature so far deserves only a grade of “I” for “Incomplete” which can be improved if they return and enact redistricting reform as they had promised New Yorkers they would.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto any lines drawn by the Legislature — which historically are done so that incumbent political parties are protected — and says he would allow the courts to reshape the boundaries.

Redistricting must be done every 10 years based on fresh Census data.

The hearing in Albany today is not being livestreamed, but follow us on twitter, @capitaltonight, for the latest updates.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes his tax cap victory tour to Central NY today. He’s in Irondequoit at 11 a.m. and Syracuse at 1:30 p.m. In both cases, the governor will again use private residences as a backdrop.

The LATFOR (legislative reapportionment task force) gets its work underway – even as a push continues to reform it out of existence – with a 10 a.m. hearing at the LOB in Albany.

Headlines…

Semi-First Lady Sandra Lee is the first “romantic companion” of a governor not subject to the state’s financial disclosure law since its passage in 1987. Some firms she contracts with, like beverage giant Diageo PLC, have business before the state.

Several of the “yes” votes Cuomo obtained for same-sex marriage come with considerable political – and legal (in the case of Sen. Carl Kruger) baggage.

One of those voters, Sen. Jim Alesi, who’s divorced, on whether he’s gay or might marry again: “I was going to make a joke and say, ‘When the right guy comes along,’ but I didn’t want you to print that…You can print it, but put it in as a joke.” (See above link).

As of yesterday, NYC marriage licenses still required one member of a couple to be the “groom.”

Last night, the city clerk posted updated marriage license applications with spaces for “Bride/Groom/Spouse A” and “Bride/Groom/Spouse B.”

The GOP lost its presumed frontrunner for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat when NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich announced on “Inside City Hall” that he’s not running.

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys are set to argue today that the charges against him should be dismissed altogether.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. may attend today’s meeting between the prosecutors and DSK’s lawyers.

More >

Extras (Updated)

Casey Anthony was acquitted on charges that she murdered her daughter, Caylee Marie.

Dominique Stauss-Kahn’s accuser filed a libel suit against the NY Post, which called her the “hooker maid.”

Mayor Bloomberg changed his mind about perp walks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the DEC report on hydrofracking shows “balance.”

David Sirota thinks Cuomo is a “standard-issue Northeastern Republican.”

Dave Weigel talks to a Democrat who likes Cuomo’s anti-union approach and finds the discussion “jarring.”

Former Rep. Liz Holtzman says she could “hit the ground running” if tapped by Democratic leaders to run for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat.

Candidates interviewed by the Brooklyn/Queens GOP include: Would-be GOP candidates in NY-9: Asher Taub, Andy Sullivan, Juan Reyes Tim Cochrane, Col. Fred Britton, Steve Schiffman, Robert Turner. NOT interviewed: NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Doc Hikind, Civil Court Judge Noach Dear. (No link).

The controversial founded of the NYC Independence Party, Fred Newman, died over the weekend.

Next on tap in the upstate energy debate: New power lines?

Michael Caputo accuses Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy of being anti-veteran.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn still leads the 2013 pack in developer dollars.

A fundraiser will be held in Saratoga Springs for Rep. Gabby Giffords’ potential 2012 re-election effort. Her ex-astronaut husband and brother-in-law are expected to attend.

The governor wants local governments and school districts to buckle down and cut.

Who might primary Sen. Roy McDonald in the wake of his “yes” vote on same-sex marriage?

Hillary Clinton, trend-setter?

New Gingrich’s 2012 campaign is already in debt.

UPDATE: Carl Paladino LOVES the idea of losing his erstwhile opponent to the White House.

An Albany Leader ‘With A Great Sense Of Humor’

That is how comedian-drug law reform advocate Randy Credico described Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the subject line that accompanied this photo of the two Democrats hamming it up at a recent event.

shellyrandy

“Funny” is not the word usually used to describe the slow-talking speaker, who is more often deemed “reticent” and sometimes even “obstinate” for his close-to-the-vest, wait-you-out style that has proved equally maddening to both members of the press and his fellow leaders down at the Capitol.

But the speaker actually has a humorous side – if you like your humor bone dry. And apparently, Credico does. I asked him for more information about the event where this photo was taken, and he wrote:

“Last Tuesday at the event for Judge Marks…Marks was Shelly’s predecessor. I had just finished a great story involving the speaker, (former Manhattan DA Robert) Morgenthau , (former NYC Public Advocate) Betsy Gotbuam and me.”

“…I was with them in 2005 on primary day. We all went into a kosher pizza place on the Lower East Side. A Hassidic man was yelling at the speaker as we were leaving. I think they were talking in Yiddish. Morgy, Gotbaum and I were waiting in a SUV .”

“Shelly then walks in and tells us that “the guy was upset that Betsy was wearing a skirt above her ankles.’ So, I asked him what did he say, and Shelly says: ‘I told him she was running for public advocate not Grand Rebbe.’”

“We in the car hit the floor laughing, as did the crowd the night of the Marks’ event.”

“…Shelly was great that night – passionate and very funny. We all laughed and cried during his speech. He stole the show. I went straight to the band after he finished…impossible to follow. The crowd was half ex-prisoners and their families.”

(I have taken some liberties with the grammar and the spelling in Credico’s tale, but otherwise its verbatim).

Failed NY-26 Run Cost Corwin $2.76M

A postscript from NY-26.

Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin has terminated the campaign committee she opened to bankroll her failed run for the seat vacated by scandal-scarred ex-Rep. Chris Lee, eating $2.76 million worth of personal loans in the process.

You can read Corwin’s final FEC report here.

Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul, who defeated Corwin and independent candidate Jack Davis in the May 24 special election, loaned her campaign $250,000, according to her June 23 post-special FEC filing. Her latest filing isn’t yet on-line.

As of June 23, Davis, who pledged to spend some $3 million of his own money on his fourth (failed) House bid, had spent $2,766.820.

Albany Fireworks Of A Different Kind

Next year’s Fourth of July could be a do-it-yourself celebration.

That’s because the state Legislature quietly approved the legalization of some fireworks — low-grade items like sparklers — in an effort to boost revenue. If approved, it’s estimated that the sales could generate “considerable” revenue for the state.

Both the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly approved the measures last week and they would take effect upon the governor’s signature. The Assembly approved it 131-10 and the Senate backed the bill 53-9.

But Cuomo, who was probably preoccupied with more pressing concerns like same-sex marriage, rent control and a 2 percent tax cap, is yet to be sent the bill.

The bill was introduced by Cuomo ally Assemblyman Joe Morelle.

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowksi, D-New City, one of the bill’s sponsors, stressed that the bill did not legalize explosives like M-80s and that their purchase is restricted to people over 18.

“This is low-level fireworks,” Zebrowski said. “This is not the type of thing people saw at the shows over the weekend. These are things I think parents should certainly make the decisions for themselves and monitor.”

The Legislature’s rep over the years has been to ban items rather than expand what consumers can purchase, something that Zebrowski said should change.

“These are things that a lot of New Yorkers have been using assuming they were legal,” he said. “I think we need to get from banning things.”

H/T to The Journal News on this one.

The Jimmy McMillan Story

…We all know how this one ends – at least from the 2010 gubernatorial race standpoint, although the Rent is Too Damn High! founder/spokesman says he’s running for president as a Republican in 2012.

Casey Seiler has more here about the feature-length documentary titled “DAMN!” The film’s director told the NYO’s David Freedlander:

“It’s about what happens to someone who sees success overnight in the viral age, especially when the media latches on so quickly.”

Shafran Joins Cuomo Administration

Austin Shafran, who has served as the tough-talking voice of the Senate Democrats for the past three years, has landed a job with the Cuomo administration.

Shafran’s new title is vice president of public affairs at Empire State Development, which has been hiring like gangbusters of late (ex-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is going there, too). He officially starts on Thursday (quick turnaround!), but is already working out of his new office.

“I am honored to join the ESD team to get the message out that New York is open for business. It’s a privilege to work with one of New York’s premier business experts, ESD President & CEO Kenneth Adams, to help promote and implement Governor Cuomo’s dynamic job creation strategy to recharge our economy,” Shafran said in a press release (an early copy of which was provided to CapTon).

In the same release, Adams hailed Shafran’s “extensive strategic communications experience in the public and private sectors,” and said he’ll be “an outstanding addition to our team.”

Shafran has been the pugnacious defended of the Democrats during their salad days in the majority, through the 2009 coup, which generated the memoral “a thief and a thug” line that will likely haunt him forever, and into the minority.

The 30-year-old Queens native was always ready to engage in a few rounds of verbal sparring on behalf of his bosses – first Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, then Senate Democratic Conference Leader-turned-Minority Leader John Sampson – but he never made the fight personal.

In my mind, that’s the hallmark of a truly good flack.

Prior to joining up with the Senate Dems, Shafran worked for a year for Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He also worked for Councilman-turned-Assemblyman David Weprin (when he was Finance Chairman), and Assemblyman-turned-Councilman Mark Weprin, as well as his local congressman, Gary Ackerman.

The Senate Dems have now lost two spokesmen to the Cuomo administration. Travis Proulx departed last month to take a job as spokesman for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Cuomo: VP Talk ‘Political Chatter And Silliness’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected the float (by ex-state GOP Chairman Bill Powers via The Post’s Fred Dicker) that President Obama might dump VP Joe Biden and ask him to run on the 2012 ticket.

(H/t WGRZ-TV).

“That’s just political chatter and silliness; we want to stay focused on doing the good work with the people of the state,” Cuomo told reporters at his Lancaster, Erie County property tax cap event.

“We had a productive session in Albany this past legislative session, but we have a lot more to do and that’s what I’m focused on.”

For the record: He didn’t say definitively: “I’m not interested.” Also worth noting: Powers remains close to former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who raised a lot of campaign cash for Cuomo in 2010 and spoke in glowing terms about him, although he never formally joined the GOPers for Cuomo group headed up by a former aide to ex-Gov. George Pataki, Mike McKeon.

D’Amato and Powers, as you’ll recall, played the kingmakers in plucking Pataki, then an obscure state senator, in 1994 to successfully challenge Gov. Mario Cuomo, a national liberal icon.