Here’s The Layoff List

Here is an agency-by-agency breakdown of where the pink slips are headed following the rejection of a labor agreement with the Public Employees Federation.

The biggest hit is being taken by Mental Health, which will lose 643 people. Corrections, too, will also be heavily impacted, losing 446 people. All together, the layoffs target about 3,496 positions in state government.

Layoff Summary 3496

Blast From The Past

Compliments of The Brooklyn Politics blog, we bring you an unusually candid peak inside the Senate Democratic conference.

It’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Shortly after the 14-minute mark of an extended interview you can access by clicking the above link, Sen. Diane Savino provides details of the heated exchange that took place between herself and Sen. Kevin Parker back in February 2010 (not 2009, as the blog reports) while the Democrats were discussing whether to expel then-Sen. Hiram Monserrate after he was found guilty of a misdemeanor assault charge.

The verbal altercation almost became physical (Parker has a bit of a history), but Sen. Jeff Klein and then Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. interceded. Savino said she thought at the time that Parker had “lost his mind.”

She also couldn’t help but note “the irony that he’s coming at me defending a guy who was about to be expelled from the Senate for slashing a woman’s face with broken glass,” adding: “It just didn’t seem to make any sense.”

Much as happened since then.

The Democrats lost control of the chamber. Both Monserrate and Espada are long gone. (Monserrate was expelled, and Espada was defeated in a primary by Sen. Gustavo Rivera). Savino, Klein and two of their colleagues – Sen. David Carlucci and David Valesky – left the minority and formed their own conference, the IDC.

Savino’s recollection of the exchange, which appears in full after the jump, just goes to show you how far the Democrats have come since their extremely dysfunctional days in the majority.

Although that’s not to say they don’t still have their work cut out for them as they prepare for a re-match in hopes of wresting control of the chamber back from the GOP in 2012.

More >

YNN Hosts Disaster Recovery Call-In Show

Tonight at 7pm, YNN anchor Steve Ference will be taking phone calls from viewers in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley and Southern Tier. He will be joined him will be representatives from FEMA, the Red Cross, and the Small Business Administration, who will be answering any questions residents impacted by the floods might have.

The show will run from 7pm to 7:30pm. The phone banks won’t open until 7pm, but when they do, the toll free number to call will be 1-866-697-2648.

You can also email in questions by going here.

Water Rangers: DEC ‘Undercutting’ Environmental Laws

Environmentalists are accusing the state of moving too quickly to develop regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing and accused the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of “undercutting” conservation laws.

The criticism today is coming from Robert Moore, the executive director of the Environmental Advocates of New York, who is also on the Cuomo-created panel developed to provide input on hydrofracking.

“Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation are fast-tracking industrial drilling,” said Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “The Governor is determined to begin drilling without the benefit of the science and without thoroughly understanding the costs of drilling.”

Moore added that the Department of Environmental Conservation allow members of that advisory panel to question a firm hired by the state to investigate the fracking’s impact on public health, the environment and communities.

“While thousands of New Yorkers are trying to make up their minds about fracking, why are Governor Cuomo and the DEC playing hide-the-consultant with the firm hired to study the costs of drilling?”

The criticism comes as the DEC releases its latest suggested guidelines for hydrofracking, a controversial natural-gas extraction that requires using a mixture of chemicals and water to access natural gas below ground.

While environmentalists are skeptical, business groups — and even the DEC at this point — have both pointed to the potential economic benefits of hydrofracking, especially for the upstate region.

The Independent Oil and Gas Association released a statement yesterday in response to a Siena College poll touting that New Yorkers (by a narrow margin) support drilling.

“Once again, a sampling of the public demonstrates that most New Yorkers favor increased natural gas development in the Southern Tier.

This is remarkable, given the tremendous amount of misinformation that has been issued about our industry in New York. We remain hopeful that New Yorkers are seeing through the distorted statements, myths and fictions, and instead will rely on science and record of performance to form their own opinions.

Health Department Overpaid Nursing Homes $42M

An audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found the state Department of Health overpaid nursing homes by an estimated $42 million in Medicaid payments over a nearly 3-1/2 year period.

“Medicaid is a costly program, but DOH continues to throw money out the window,” DiNapoli said. “We first reported on this problem ten years ago. It is crucial for DOH to fix the areas of concern identified in our report now. We risk losing millions of dollars in future Medicaid overpayments if these longstanding problems go unchecked.”

DiNapoli blamed poor oversight and accounting at the DOH for the overpayments. The state’s $53 billion Medicaid is one of the costliest in the country.

It’s possible that even more money was incorrectly paid out, but the audit couldn’t determine that given a legacy computer system that was in operation prior to 2005.

The comptroller’s office recommended that the DOH develop controls to increase oversight of localities and attempt to recover the overpayments.


Brynien: ‘Our Members Have Spoken’

Here’s Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien breaking the news on the PEF contract rejection via Youtube.

Brynien urges Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return to the bargaining table and re-negotiate a new contract. Cuomo has asked PEF members to reconsider their no votes.

“We are trying to do our part governor. We are asking you to do yours,” Brynien said.

He also says the contract was too much for PEF’s membership to bear, adding that state workers didn’t cause New York’s fiscal mess.

“Our members did not cause the fiscal situation in this state and should not bare an undue burden in fixing it,” he said.

Gianaris Calls For Veto Of Livery Cab Bill (Update)

Add Sen. Michael Gianaris to the growing list of state lawmakers calling for a veto of the livery cab bill, which is growing practically by the day.

The Queens Democrat sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, writing that the bill would “have an adverse effect on thousands of working New Yorkers.”

The measure would allow livery cabs to pick up street hails, while also provide for 1,500 yellow cab medallions. It’s aimed at increasing cab access in the outer boroughs.

Though the bill passed both chambers of the Legislature, concerns have been raised in recent weeks — especially from U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa — over insufficient language in the bill for the physically disabled.

Cuomo himself has said support for the bill appears to be weakening, but has not given an indication on whether he would veto or approve the measure. Later, he indicated he would be willing to bring parties back to the table and negotiate a compromise on the bill.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said last week in a Talk-1300 radio interview that he hoped the governor backed the bill, because it means up to $1 billion in revenue for New York City.

But Gianaris writes that the bill could have a devastating impact on the future values of yellow cab medallion sales.

Update: The tireless bloggers over at The Brooklyn Politics reminded me of this blog post from Ken L. at The DN, who points out that Senate Democrats have received $22,000 in campaign donations from the Yellow Cab industry.

Here’s his letter:


Schumer Pushes Petition For ‘Buffett Rule’

Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging supporters to sign a petition supporting the so-called “Buffett Rule” proposed by President Obama, which is aimed at increasing taxes on the mega-rich.

Schumer, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, writes that “we could have a game-changer” in the tax debate.

There’s not a doubt in my mind: We could have a game-changer in the tax debate. Last week, President Obama stepped up to propose the so-called Buffett rule, which would close some of our deficit with new revenue from those making over $1 million a year, rather than relying simply on cuts to middle-class programs. Contrast that with the Republicans trying to leverage the deficit debate to cut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it. That contrast will make the Republican position almost indefensible with voters. And all the signs point to the president getting ready to go all in on this. But to make the gambit work, we need every Democrat behind him.

Still, given the lack of support for the tax plan in Republican-led House and even among Schumer’s Democratic majority in the Senate, the passage of the tax is doubtful.

Gillibrand Makes Last-Minute Fundraising Plea

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is making a last-minute fundraising plea this morning in an effort to raise at least $150,000 by Friday.

So far, her campaign staff says she’s $13,675 short. In a fundraising appeal sent out today, Gillibrand’s staff reports that she has raised $136,325 from 3,327 donors.

And she’s asking supporters to donate at least $3 by midnight Friday.

Gillibrand’s approval rating in the latest Siena College poll showed her below 50 percent — dangerous territory for an incumbent a year out.

Still, the only candidate to emerge so far against Gillibrand is Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos. State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox told me yesterday he expects more people to jump into the race to take on Gillibrand.

DEC Announces Fracking Public Hearing Schedule

The Department of Environmental conservation has released draft regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking. Basically, this is the working document for the regulations that will be put in place for the controversial natural gas drilling policy.

With the draft, they also announced the public hearing schedule. Following the public hearings, the DEC will revise the draft to create a final document.

“Public review of the proposed requirements and regulations governing high-volume hydraulic fracturing is an important part of the environmental impact statement process,” Martens said. “The comments from the 2009 public comment period proved insightful and helped inform the revised SGEIS. We look forward to continuing to hear from commentors in person and in writing over the next few months.”

Here is the public hearing schedule:

  • Nov. 16: Dansville Middle School Auditorium, 31 Clara Barton St., Dansville, NY 14437
  • Nov. 17: The Forum Theatre, 236 Washington Street, Binghamton, NY, 13901
  • Nov. 29: Sullivan County Community College, Seelig Theatre, 112 College Rd, Loch Sheldrake, NY 12759
  • Nov. 30: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY, 10007

And if you want to submit a comment to the DEC, you can do so here. Or mail it into this address:

Attn: dSGEIS Comments
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-6510