Silver To Introduce His Own Tax Cap

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said today he plans to introduce his own property tax cap measure that includes a 2 percent ceiling on local levies, but will have some unspecified exemptions.

“You’ll see when we introduce it,” Silver said of the changes.

Silver, D-Manhattan, said he had spoken about his new separate measure with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“He didn’t say he was in favor of it, but obviously like you he’d like to see it,” Silver said.

The Republican-led Senate already approved Cuomo’s 2 percent cap on local and school property taxes. But the measure faces a significantly tougher climb in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has said he doesn’t want the bill watered down to the point of being irrelevant.

The governor has said in recent weeks, including today, that he expects to negotiate a compromise bill on the tax cap.

IDC Proposes Hospital Ban On ‘Deadly Ties’

The four breakaway Senate Democrats who comprise the Independent Democratic Conference are proposing a ban on neck ties, long-sleeve lab coats, jewelry, and other loose clothing often worn by doctors and other medical professionals.

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Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) informally dubbed the proposal, “bare below the elbows,” saying those garments often acts as a “cesspool of diseases” because infection-causing bacteria can linger on fabric and easily be transferred from person to person. Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) added men in particular are to blame for the spread of infectious diseases such as MRSA.

“Men change a lot of things in their life and they clean a lot of things in their lives,” said Savino.

“One thing we found is most men don’t clean their ties on a regular basis and if you are a doctor and you are treating people in a setting where people are exposed to infectious diseases, that tie is the deadliest organism in that room.”

There are concerns over cost. One idea floated by the IDC would require facilities to have uniforms or on-site laundry facilities, but they say those mandates don’t necessarily have to be included in the final proposal.

Other concerns include patients that may not want their doctor to look like he or she is fresh off the golf course. However, Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) explains that changing the collective attire of the medical community is more of a generational obstacle, and would be accepted over time.

“One medical journal points out that JFK, when he was inaugurated, he broke tradition” said Carlucci. “He didn’t wear a top hat and that has changed society now today because people wanted to emulate that.

So if we have sophisticated doctors that people respect following this practice, we believe it will be something easy to fall in line.”

It’s unclear if other types of clothing or accessories would be banned under such a proposal. Some that come to mind include bow ties, bolos, ascots, cravats, foulards, neckcloths, or string ties–or top hats for that matter. Klein says those questions will be answered when a bill is drafted at a later date.

Cuomo To LCA Show: Drop Dead

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a pass on delivering a rebuttal at the 111th annual Legislative Correspondents Association show this Saturday, LCA Show Chairman Casey Seiler confirmed.

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Adding insult to injury, the governor won’t even be attending the black-tie extravaganza (proceeds of which, after show costs are covered, go to charity), the DN’s Glenn Blain is reporting (as per Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto).

LCA old-timers say this might the the very first time a first-year governor is skipping the venerable show, which is the oldest political satire spoof in the nation.

“We’re sorry the governor isn’t going to attend, because he’s going to be missing a great night,” Seiler said.

The governor is a great ticket-selling draw. However, it’s also not such a bad thing if he’s not on hand for the show because people tend to feel a lot less inhibited at cutting loose when he’s the butt of the jokes.

(Don’t believe me? Check out the nervous laughter at the Washington Post table – at which Donald Trump was seated for the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend – when the president was zinging The Donald).

The show is going to be great this year. And we will have rebuttals from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the four-member IDC. Asked by Susan Arbetter this morning for a preview of his response, Skelos replied:

“It’s not going to be exactly what you think. But in junior high school I was Conrad Birdie. I’m Conrad Birdie, and I’m also of Greek origin.”

By my recollection, Cuomo last did the LCA show in 2002 – the year of his last (and never fully realized) gubernatorial run. He was a last-minute add to the night’s responses, one of which was delivered by his primary opponent, then state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

If I remember correctly, while McCall’s response included a song entilted “I’m the Real McCall” and spoof video. Cuomo did a stand-up routine that included jokes about a future marriage between his children with then-wife Kerry Kennedy and the children of Martin Luther King Jr. Consider the possible last-name combinations! Talk about a political dynasty!

There was also a line about revenge being a dish best served cold.

DN Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett notes Mayor Bloomberg has never missed an Inner Circle Show. He did forgo an appearance, however, after the Pope John Paul II’s death on the same day of the show in 2005. (Also, a reader just reminded me: Cuomo didn’t attend this year’s Inner Circle Show, either – all in keeping with his below-the-radar approach).

Gay Marriage Advocates Optimistic For Vote

Advocates for gay marriage say the climate for legalization is becoming friendlier, making a vote in the Legislature more likely by the end of this year.

The Empire State Pride Agenda held a news conference today with a group of religious leaders and clergy urging the Legislature to approve gay marriage this session — a measure that has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Pride Agenda is part of a pro-gay marriage coalition of advocacy groups known as New Yorkers United Marriage, formed at the urging of Cuomo.

But with the Republican-controlled Senate, however, it remains unclear if a vote would be successful, or if the measure would go down in another defeat, as it did in 2009 when Democrats were in control of the chamber.

Executive Director Ross Levi said he was encouraged by the increasing support in the polls for same-sex marriage legalization.

“We believe the environment for marriage now is very strong,” he said.

As for cajoling various members of both parties, Levi said all lawmakers were being lobbied.

“Right now the count we are focused on is the count of New Yorkers who are in support of marriage. We are thrilled that the people are with us. We have legislators are our side, we have business leaders on our side, we have religious leaders on our side,” Levi said.

Cuomo said at a news conference earlier today that he was more concerned with the strategy of passing gay marriage than he was of the timing of the vote.

“At this point it’s sort of binary,” he said. “We’re talking, we are discussing these issues, but the question is will they pass or not or will they pass in the next six weeks.”

Levi also said that another defeat would not necessarily mean the end of the issue.

“The only time table we’re working on is working every day,” he said. “We know the end of session is June, the clock is ticking. We are working as hard as we can everyday.”

Pataki’s Happy ‘Butcher, Mass Murderer’ bin Laden Dead

ICYMI: Here’s former Gov. George Pataki reacting to the the death of Osama bin Laden on “Morning Joe” earlier today.

While he didn’t go nearly as far as his fellow GOP leader in office for the 9/11 attacks, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said he once told President Bush he wanted to execute bin Laden himself, Pataki did say he was “happy” to hear that “this butcher, this mass murder” is finally no longer in the land of the living.

His next thought – “literally, within the first five seconds” – the families inof the victims.

“As ectastic that they are that this mass murder is dead, it doesn’t bring back the loved ones,” Pataki said. “There’s no closure…It’s the turning of a page, but it’s not closure.”

“Because there are almost 3,000 American families who, for the rest of their lives are going to have this void at the dinner table. And I can’t help but think of them. You know, I saw the young people celebrating and cheering, and that’s wonderful. But there’s a long way to go. And there are still those who want to attack us again, and we can’t forget that.”

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Schneiderman’s GOP Friends In High Places

ICYMI: Here’s the invite to an upcoming fundraiser – I believe it might be the first of the season – for AG Eric Schneiderman that’s being hosted by supermarket mogul and (briefly) 2009 NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo.

Schneiderman is, generally speaking, a left-of-center Democrat. So, it’s worth noting that Catsimatidis is a Republican, although he used to be a Democrat of the big-donor type, raising cash for marquee candidates like Hillary Clinton.

He switched his registration in preparation for a mayoral run (something he flirted with on and off for several years), only to be stymied by Mayor Bloomberg’s successful push to extend term limits and subsequent election to a third term.

In the personal note that accompanied this (emailed) invite, Catsimatidis referred to the AG as “a bright young man with a very bright future”, adding:

“Eric is a part of the new administration which is reshaping the culture in Albany and the State.”

“In the few short months Eric has held office he has launched major initiatives such as the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit dedicated to recovering taxpayer dollars and the Taxpayer Protection Unit, which is designed to go after corruption in state contracts and pension fund ripoffs.”

Catsimatidis was a supporter of another Democrat-turned-Republican, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, during the 2010 election. But he also contributed to, and raised campaign cash for, his longtime friend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As of mid-January, Schneiderman had $131,862 in his campaign account, but he also still owed himself $550,000 worth of cash he loaned his campaign. It appears from his 2010 tax returns that he came up with the money by liquidating $789,862 worth of bonds and mutual funds.

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Cuomo: Capitol Restoration A ‘Metaphor’ For Government

The restoration of the State Capitol Building is a “metaphor” for changing the way Albany operates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The governor today unveiled a new plan to end the Capitol roof construction and restoration two years and $2.3 million cheaper.

The project began in 2000 at an estimated cost of $48.7 million and was initially due to be completed in 2014.

Cuomo, who has dived into various aspects of state government’s operations, sought to draw a comparison between the project and the overall need to streamline government.

“Why can’t government perform like companies in the private sector? Now, a 15 year renovation project costs the people of the state — literally and figuratively. The construction that’s been going on in this building is operational disturbance and it’s operational disturbance of the city.”

A giant crane continues to hover over the Capitol Building, giving the impression that New York’s government is under a continuous work in progress as it has for years. Cuomo said he launched a review of the project when he took office in January and took multiple trips to the roof to view its progress.

Gillibrand: We Need To Control Money To Pakistan

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand expressed her concerns with the US relationship with Pakistan this morning during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

She agreed with others, who have been saying there is a serious trust issue between the two countries. And also said Pakistan has to explain how the most wanted terrorist in the world could be leaving in the middle of a major city for as long as 6 years.

“I am very concerned. And I share Chairman Levin’s concerns that we need accountability with Pakistan. We need to know what the Pakistani government knew about Osama bin Laden’s location. I was in Pakistan last November, and we met with the head of the military, and many of us left fairly dissatisfied that we didn’t feel that he was working together hand and glove with the operations and missions that we believed would be the most effective in cracking down on terrorism,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand went further with her comments though. Specifically saying the US should rethink the foreign aid they send to Pakistan.

“We need far more accountability on the money we give to Pakistan. In fact, we need to have the ability to direct that money. And I think we should focus our efforts far more on humanitarian issues. In one of the past spending bills, when I was on the Foreign Relations Committee I specifically focused our commitments to border regions for education. To give opportunities for girls and women to be educated. For women to be in government. Because some studies show that when women are part of the governing process, far more attention is payed to clean water, education, health care and development. So if we can have a long term relationship with Pakistan that steers far more toward that direction than the military that it currently is focused, I think that would be preferable.”

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Cuomo: Gay Marriage Is ‘Binary’ Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he’s “optimistic” that a gay marriage legalization bill would pass this year, but suggested he was less worried about when the measure was approved, but how it gets passed the Republican-controlled Senate.

“At this point it’s sort of binary. We’re talking, we are discussing these issues, but the question is will they pass or not or will they pass in the next six weeks. Quite frankly I’m less concerned about when in the next six weeks, but whether.”

Cuomo, who wants a legalization bill approved by June, was instrumental in putting together a coalition of advocacy groups, New Yorkers United for Marriage to lobby the Legislature on the issue.

Though the measure failed in the then-Democratic-led Senate in 2009, 38-24, Cuomo and the groups believe they can flip several “no” votes in both the Democratic and Republican camps. The GOP holds a 32-vote majority, but at least one Democrat, Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, is vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

But it is likely the Senate would need more than a 32-vote majority to approve the measure. With multiple legislators in swing districts, some many note want to be the final yes vote on the contentious issue.

Cuomo Reports Good Feedback On SUNY 2020

Legislators are liking what they hear on the SUNY 2020 proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference this morning.

The governor proposed expanding the economic development program known as UB2020 — originally only for the University of Buffalo — has morphed into a grant program for the university centers at Buffalo, Albany, Stony Brook and Binghamton.

“Many good comments — universally good,” Cuomo said. “It’s rare, but that’s what has happened so far. All good.”

The governor did not say which legislator complimented the proposal.