Here And Now

Happy Presidents Day. Winter appears to be back. The Legislature is off this week for its annual mid-winter break.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said NYC Charles Barron’s outbreak at the caucus weekend gala last night was “disrespectful,” adding: “I’ve had my differences with some of the methods the governor proposed to address the deficit, but there’s a time and a place for everything.”

Barron called Cuomo’s budget plan Draconian because it doesn’t include an extension of the millionaire’s tax.

A source close to the Cuomo administration accuses the legislative leaders of plotting to delay the budget past the April 1 deadline, even while publicly claiming it will be on time.

Sen. Malcolm Smith would like to see some more communication from Cuomo, and is “hopeful” he’ll see that soon.

The Senate Democrats spent $376,464 in taxpayer dollars on a private law firm to advise them during the deliberations over whether to expel (eventually expelled) ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate.

The IRS has slapped lobbyist Pat Lynch’s firm with another federal tax lien.

The Post moves its crusade against “last in, first out” from the editorial to the news pages.

More on LIFO and the teachers it would impact from the WSJ.

The battle over public employees in Wisconsin has put President Obama in a difficult position.

A top political advisor to NJ Gov. Chris Christie revealed he’s mulling creation of a federal PAC, even while insisting the governor isn’t interested in running for president in 2012.

Christie, who has long struggled with his weight, has managed to lose a few pounds.

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Cuomo Disrupted, Pressured At Caucus Gala (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s brief remarks tonight at the gala that caps the annual caucus weekend were interrupted by one of his 2010 opponents, NYC Councilman Charles Barron, who led supporters in loud chants of “tax the rich!” from the back of the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

Cuomo soldiered on as Barron, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor on his self-created “Freedom Party” line last fall, yelled loudly and urged his backers on by waving his arms. At least three dozen people responded by joining his chant and pounding on their tables.

“OK. How are you tonight, Charles? I can’t see who it is, but I know who it is,” the governor quipped from the stage.

The governor tried to portray Barron as one of the forces that is seeking to divide New Yorkers, and he urged the room to join him in his efforts to unite the state and return it to greatness via the path of fiscal conservatism.

“The more you yell, the tighter we get,” Cuomo shouted over the din.”…Yes, we have challenges, but we’re going to meet those challenges together.”

Cuomo noted he has invited a host of interested parties in the state to “come to the table” to address the state’s budget crisis, specifically speaking of “our brothers and sisters in labor,” 1199 SEIU (the health care workers), the Senate and the Assembly.

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The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a private reception at the executive mansion Sunday night for caucus weekend. On the guest list: His 2002 gubernatorial primary opponent-turned-2010 ally, Carl McCall.

AQE demonstrators left a “Tax the Rich” bumper sticker at the mansion Saturday.

There’s a push for Cuomo to include $4 million for an anti-gun violence program in the state budget.

The $500 million Cuomo proposed to reward schools for innovations and efficiencies is not actually in the budget.

Even as he urges districts to consolidate and share services, Cuomo is proposing to eliminate incentives to districts that join together to use Boces services.

Unions have unleashed a barrage of newspaper and TV ads attacking Bloomberg’s budget.

NYC Firefighters union President Steve Cassidy said a deadly Brooklyn fire was “directly attributable” to Bloomberg’s staffing cuts.

Buffalo and other large city school districts are trying to piggyback on Bloomberg’s push to repeal “last in, first out.”

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson used DSCC cash to pay off a staffer and longtime associate.

With one snap of his cell phone camera, former Rep. Chris Lee upended WNY politics.

Skepticism abounds about Trump 2012.

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Sharpton Preaches Against Budget Cuts

NY1′s Erin Billups reports that the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a fiery sermon this morning, accusing lawmakers of forgetting why they were elected, and calling on them not to impose drastic budget cuts without asking the rich to pay more in the form of taxes.

“You get elected and act like your only job is to get re-elected. (applause) As soon as you get in you’re worrying about how to get back in rather than how to do the job that people sent you up here for.”

“You cannot cut working class people and the poor and talk about you love them. You cannot spare the super rich and penalize those that are helpless and vulnerable, and act like you did what you had to do. You did what you wanted to do!”

The speech comes on the day that Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to attend the annual Black and Puerto Rican Legislature’s Conference. Cuomo’s budget calls for cuts across the board, including $2.85 billion to Education and Medicaid. Cuomo has said he is opposed to extending an income tax on those making more than $200,000.

GOP And Tea Party Clash In NY-26 (Updated)

Could this be NY-23 all over again?

Republican county chairs are meeting in Batavia today to interview the candidates seeking the party’s nomination for the special election to replace Rep. Chris Lee. They are expected to vote on a candidate on Monday.

But that timetable is too quick for Tea Party activists in Western New York. They sent out a press release today asking for GOP county chairs to slow down, and give them a chance to hold a candidate forum the first week in March.

Word is, that the TEA Party are going to try back their own candidate if Republicans move ahead with an endorsement on Monday – which is expected to be Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

In order to do that, they’d have to cut a deal to secure one of the other lines on the ballot, which are the Conservative Party, Independence Party, Working Families Party, or Green Party. Most likely they would look to the Conservatives. In that case we could have a 3 way race in the heavily GOP district, that could make a Democrat a more viable candidate.

And that means we’d start hearing the term “Scozzafavaed” again – in reference to GOP Special election candidate in NY-23, Dede Scozzafava, who was forced out of the race by conservative Doug Hoffman, but still got enough votes to sway the outcome in favor of Democrat Bill Owens.

Update: Liz B just spoke to Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, who says it is “not a foregone conclusion” that they will back the Republican nominee.

Though, Long did say that front-runner Assemblywoman Jane Corwin would “be an acceptable choice.” The conservative party has backed Corwin in previous Assembly races.

Long also says the only two candidates who have reached out to him are Corwin, and Senator George Maziarz, who is no longer in the running.

Long has not heard from Iraq War veteran David Bellavia, who is believed to be the TEA party’s preferred candidate.

Here’s the complete press release, that was sent out by Rus Thompson, a former advisor to Carl Paladino. One note, he is wrong about the timing of the special election. It has to take place between 30-40 days from when Governor Cuomo issues a proclamation. That said, Cuomo is under no legal obligation to issue a proclamation, so it could be a few months before voters head to the polls.
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Weekend Open Thread

Lots to discuss…a few headlines of note:

- Working into the wee hours of the morning, the House passed a big package of spending cuts worth more than $60 billion, setting the stage for a showdown with the Democrat-controlled Senate and the White House.

- A judge handed a temporary victory to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, blocking NIFA from exercising any control over the budget while he determines the legality of its takeover of county finances.

- The Times opines on Medicaid reform, editorial page opines on Medicaid reform, coming down in favor of putting more recipients into managed care.

- Maybe Bloomberg says teacher layoffs may be inevitable even if Albany comes through with extra aid.

- Former White Plains Council President Thomas Roach is now acting mayor following the abrupt resignation of former Mayor Adam Bradley.

- The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe’s land claim fight is back on after the Interior Department rejected the Catskills casino deal forged by former Gov. David Paterson.

- A lawyer involved in the corruption probe of Sen. Carl Kruger will reportedly plead guilty to lying to the FBI about a pay-to-play bribe.

- Wisconsin is gound zero for a nationwide battle over spending cuts and state workers.

Extras

The feds have officially rejected the Catskills casino, negotiated by former Gov. David Paterson and the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe.

State GOP officials are again considering changing the winner-take-all primary system to one that would require the 2012 presidential candidates to compete for delegates.

NYSUT will soon be hitting the airwaves with an ad that calls for the extension of the millionaire’s tax.

One of the proposals being considered by the Medicaid redesign team would impose a $750 million charge on hospitals and nursing homes over two years.

Former Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld takes the president to task for weighing on the Wisconsin feud over collective bargaining rights.

More than 1,000 teachers rallied against education aid cuts on Long Island.

The NRA is sounding the alarm about microstamping legislation that has been reintroduced in Albany.

Sen. Diane Savino deemed Sen. Liz Krueger’s “spiel” about the IDC and their lulus “intellectually dishonest.”

Eliot Spitzer indulges his love of NASCAR.

Learn about the logistics behind a presidential visit.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s ban on high-capacity magazines is gaining momentum.

NYC Councilman Robert Jackson is seeking clarification from LG Bob Duffy.

Rudy Giuliani is headed to New Hampshire next month.

Facebook hired a GOP operative.

Sen. Dan Squadron is hosting a community convention.

Even as the governor confronts next year’s budget gap, the current fiscal year remains a concern, says state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

AG Eric Schneiderman settled with Pharmacia.

State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs attacked Sarah Palin for attacking First Lady Michelle Obama on breastfeeding.

New York will receive an increase in anti-terrorism funds.

More Cuomo-as-Christie comparison.

Report: Mayor Bradley To Resign

LoHud reports that embattled White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley is expected to announce his resignation within moments.

From the report:

Bradley has been at the center of controversy throughout his first year in office, after he was arrested twice for domestic violence charges and was convicted of five misdemeanors and violations in December.

He has also been the subject of a city ethics probe, with the Ethiucs Board reviewing any potential conflict of interest he had with a former landlord.

The city Ethics Board met yesterday regarding Bradley.

There’s a 5 p.m. press conference.

There have been multiple calls for Bradley’s resignation – some of which are coming from his erstwhile allies – since his conviction. Until now, (apparently), has has been steadfast in his resolution to remain in office.

Numbers Game

The Senate Democrats put together this handy and rather telling spreadsheet that illustrates the allocation of voters among the 62 districts the last time the Legislature redrew is own lines using the current – determinedly partisan – process.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting reform bill somehow became law tomorrow, all but nine of the Senate districts would fail to comply with the one percent standard of devision his legislation establishes.

That’s not terribly surprisingly, since the current standard is +/- 5 percent of the target 306,000 people per district.

But if you look at the numbers below, you’ll notice that all nine of the Long Island districts are darn close to Cuomo’s 1 percent, while those in the more Democrat-heavy borough of Queens are all over 4 percent.

Basically, the Senate Republicans (who controlled the redistricting process the last time around) appear to have overpopulated Democrat-heavy districts while underpopulating GOP-held districts in order to maximize their sphere of influence.

Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran noted that the Democrats received some 240,000 more votes than the Republicans in the November 2010 election – a point they’ve been hitting often as they push for redistricting reform – despite the fact that the GOP accounts for just under 25 percent of registered New York voters.

“Only way a 25 percent party received nearly a quarter of a million fewer votes than their opposition and stay in power is through the selective and hyper-partisan drawing of lines,” Shafran said.

“This fundamentally turns the notion of one person one vote on its head and that’s a democratic principle protected by the 14th Amendment.”

Population by Senate District(1)

Another School Freezes Salaries, Cuomo Applauds

A second upstate school districts has taken steps to voluntarily freeze salaries for administrators. The first school was Bethlehem School District outside Albany. Now, the West Genesee School District outside Syracuse has also taken steps to freeze salaries. In a statement, Governor Cuomo praised the decision.

“I commend the administrators and faculty of the West Genesee School District who have taken a voluntary salary freeze. These are the type of tough but smart decisions school districts across New York should be making. West Genesee clearly understands the economic pressures we are facing and other school districts should follow this example.”

In the past week Cuomo has been trying to re-frame the education budget debate, arguing that his $2.8 billion in proposed cuts over the next fiscal year can be achieved through reducing bureaucracy and without hurting students.