Klein Calls For Crackdown On Code Violators

Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, today charged that banks are ignoring a 2009 law governing foreclosed properties that have fallen into disrepair.

Klein, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, said his office discovered 2,000 foreclosed properties across New York City that have 3,751 open violations.

The lawmaker looked into the issue after a 12-year-old boy and his parents died in a fire at 2321 Prospect Ave. The property had multiple standing code violations, including faulty wiring and a broken boiler.

Klein said it was up to the banks to make sure the foreclosed properties remain safe.

“Even while holding ticking time bombs, these banks continue to disregard the law and act irresponsibly,” Klein said in a statement. “The fact that this sorry state of affairs exists after the tragedy on Prospect Avenue is even more outrageous and unacceptable. These lenders need to step up and stop abusing our communities with their neglect.”

The lawmaker also released a report showing which lenders had the most code violations. Deutsche Bank, whose former headquarters near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan was subject to intense inquiry following a deadly fire in 2007, had the most, 211 violations.

Survey of REO Properties NYC[1]

Cuomo Signs Gun Violence Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed off on a measure that his office says closes a loophole when it comes to allowing those found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence to purchase firearms.

“We have seen too often the tragic consequences of domestic violence. This new law provides further safeguards to keep firearms away from those with violent records,” Cuomo said in a statement. “New York state must stand strong against domestic violence by protecting victims and making sure those convicted of such crimes cannot inflict further damage.”

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, addresses what’s seen as a gap in New York and federal requirements where the information from those found guilty of domestic violence crimes in state courts is not sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, Cuomo’s office said.

If memory serves correctly, this is the first major piece of anti-gun legislation Cuomo has signed since taking office in January.

Turner Supports Debt Deal

Congressional hopeful Bob Turner said today he would vote for the “far from perfect” debt deal that he says will keep Medicare and Social Security alive.

Turner, a Republican running for the seat vacated by Democrat Anthony Weiner, also said in the statement that a major selling point of the deal is that it prevents the country from defaulting. The debt ceiling for the U.S. was due to be breached Tuesday unless a vote is held today.

Republicans have signaled disappointment with the deal announced on Sunday, which would cut $2.4 trillion from the debt and make cuts to Pentagon spending. However, the deal doesn’t include any tax increases or rate changes, a key sticking point for the budget hawks.

From his statement:

“This agreement is far from perfect, but it will protect Social Security and Medicare and prevent default on our debt, which would have damaged this weak economy even more. But more importantly, it sends the signal that bipartisanship, however hard-fought, is still possible in the Congress. Far more of that will be needed in the months and years ahead to get this economy moving again and to restore confidence in American government.”

Cuomo Sets Economic Council Meetings (Update)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced the first meetings for the 10 regional economic development councils, with the inaugural events being held this week.

Update: These won’t be public meetings. Rather, the councils will hold an organizational meeting and then follow that with a media availability. At the news conference, they’ll announce future public and private meetings. It’s all a bit questionable, since they’re talking about dividing up $1 billion public funds for economic-development aid.

The first meetings will be held Wednesday in Buffalo and Monroe County (a full schedule is after the jump).

Cuomo created the councils as a “bottom up approach” to job creation. The councils will compete for a $1 billion pool of money for tax credits and grants.

The competitive process will create both winners and losers, Cuomo said, with some regions losing out on the funds.

Cuomo, along with Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, crisscrossed the state last week promoting the councils and announcing who would serve on them.

Duffy will be the councils’ chairman.

Cuomo also announced last week a sort of super committee that will oversee all 10 of the regional committees, which was set up to manage and streamline the process.

“The members of the state’s Regional Councils are true leaders in their respective industries,” Duffy said in a statement. “Involving community stakeholders and focusing on local economies will finally allow New York to identify and take advantage of the assets offered by different regions in the state. As Chair of the Regional Councils, I look forward to beginning our work together to open New York up for business and make our plans for economic development and job creation a reality.”

More >

Grimm Says He’ll Vote Yes On Debt Deal

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-Staten Island, told CNN this morning he’ll vote yes on the debt-ceiling deal that could be voted on as early as this afternoon.

But Grimm, a freshman Republican, said the deal inked over the weekend wasn’t perfect. He also said he sympathized with tea party frustration over the agreement, which cuts $2.4 trillion over several years.

Grimm, who national Democrats consider vulnerable in 2012, urged the tea party to be patient when it comes to changing how the federal government spends money.

“I think part of it is the frustration that the tea party wants bold changes to Washington immediately,” Grimm said. “The reality is Washington is systematically broken, much worse than even I imagined until you get here. To have bold changes to something so systematically broken is going to take time. So I understand their frustration, this certainly is not perfect, I would have liked more cuts, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

H/T to The Observer’s David Freedlander.

Hayworth: ‘Strong Inclination’ To Vote For Debt Deal

U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth, a Hudson Valley Republican, said she is considering voting for the debt deal later today, but said she was yet to briefed on the plan by the party’s House leadership.

“It is certainly my very strong inclination to vote for it,” Hayworth said earlier this morning on The Capitol Pressroom.

Though she is not a self-identified member of the tea party caucus, the freshman GOP lawmaker is considered one fo the more fiscally conservative members of the House.

Earlier this year, Hayworth said she would oppose raising the debt ceiling unless corresponding spent cuts would be made.

The debt ceiling is due to expire on Tuesday.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko blasted Republicans for insisting on a debt deal that he says would cut public investment that could stimulate job growth.

But Hayworth told host Susan Arbetter that the federal government has been sucking too much money out of the economy and spending it in the wrong places.

“The federal government is taking working capital out of the economy,” she said. “It takes tax dollars from working Americans, the middle class, takes those dolalrs and recycles them through an enormous economy … with a whole list of stipulations of how they should be spent. It doesn’t work.”

Tonko Not Pleased With Debt Deal

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, would not say how he’ll vote on the debt-ceiling deal being worked over in Washington today, but he made it clear in a radio interview today he doesn’t like it.

Tonko told Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom that the deal forged over the weekend could create a deeper problem by cutting spending and investments that would lead to job growth.

“The process was held hostage by the recalcitrance of the Tea Party caucus of the Republican Party,” Tonko said. “The fact that we solved one dilemma may have opened up another.”

But Tonko didn’t criticize fellow Democrats, including President Obama, for not negotiating a better deal for liberals. The left-wing of the party was pushing for higher taxes on the wealthy and the closing of tax loopholes in order to meet revenue demands.

But Republicans held fast throughout the negotiatons, saying they would refuse to allow a vote on raising the debt ceiling unless tax increases are taken out of the conversation.

“Unfortunately the Republican-controlled House, whcih I believe is now controleld by the extreme members, attached these bells and whistles,” Tonko said. “I think the Democrats are spot-on.”

Same-sex Marriage Vote Was Democratic, Says Ball

Republican Sen. Greg Ball over the weekend released a statement dismissing the lawsuit filed by a conservative group against same-sex marriage, saying the measure was approved in a small-d democratic fashion.

“Rarely has democracy been as active or alive as it was the day of that vote. While some, like this group, would have liked to of seen dysfunctional Albany bottle up any vote or debate, democracy won the day over Albany’s old dysfunctional politics. The votes were there, the vote was held, and the bill passed. This group apparently would have liked to see old Albany rear it’s ugly head, where a small minority controlled by the extreme and petty interest, could have killed democratic action. Democracy won.”

This is an interesting statement from Ball, a Hudson Valley lawmaker known for taking maverick stances.

Ball was one of the Republican senators who remained publicly undecided as to whether he would vote for the measure. Hours before the bill passed the Senate 33-29, Ball released a statement announcing he would vote no.

But the statement backs up the Senate Republicans, who hold a 32-30 majority, who allowed a vote on the bill.

Ball had held on for greater religious exemptions in the measure. Though several lawmakers met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hammer out broader religious language that was eventually included in an amendment, Ball said they did not go far enough.

The lawsuit, filed last week by New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms, claims the measure passed the Republican-led Senate in a legally dubious way, but many of those assertions rely on incorrect interpretations of the Open Meetings Law, accusations of illegal pay-for-play donations and the rules of the Senate.

Kriss To The Post

Today is Erik Kriss’s first day at The New York Post’s Capitol bureau.

Kriss was the bureau chief for the Syracuse Post-Standard (back when the P-S had a bureau in Albany) and then moved to the dark side, becoming a spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services and later the Division of Budget.

State Editor Fred Dicker said Kriss will be running The Post’s day-to-day coverage at The Capitol. He replaces the ever-deligent (and Jimmy Vielkind doppleganger) Brendan Scott, who took a job in Hong Kong.

Though he became a PR guy, Kriss never forgot what it was like to be a reporter and remained a helpful, informative source of information.

Welcome back to the LCA, Erik!

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester County and NYC with no public schedule.

Mayor Bloomberg, joined by Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, will announce “key findings” about NYC’s restaurant grading system at 10:30 a.m. at Sparks Deli in Queens. (28-31 Borden Avenue between 27th and 29th Streets).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver joins MTA, community and NYC elected officials to open the new William Street entrance to Fulton Street subway complex at 1 p.m.

All eyes will again be on Washington today as House leaders whip votes for the debt ceiling deal announced last night.

Conservatives are unlikely to go for the agreement, which means Democrats are crucial to its passage.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was noncommittal last night. Chris Cillizza explains why.

More headlines…

The Nassau Coliseum referendum is today.

The DN urges voters to reject the “cockamamie” scheme to replace it by borrowing $400 million that is being pushed by County Executive Ed Mangano.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle is “seeing the writing on the wall” about her district being eliminated in 2012, and is reaching out, ramping up her fundraising in hopes of saving herself. Democrats think they can defeat her the old-fashioned way – at the ballot box.

Rep. Gary Ackerman, whose Queens district is potentially vulnerable to elimination, thinks the “Weiner option” – killing NY-9 and an upstate GOP seat – is the best solution to NY’s two-seat loss problem.

Cuomo hired Joe Rabito, a former top aide to his close ally, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, to be No. 2 at OGS after the IG quietly cleared him of charges he put politics before public service. A federal lawsuit continues to push that allegation.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs signed a likely lucrative contract with Hess Corp. to drill at one of the summer camps he owns on the NY/Pennsylvania border.

More >