Would-Be Gillibrand Opponent Makes Rounds Upstate (Updated)

YNN Syracuse received the following advisory from the Tioga County GOP today:

Nassau County, NY Comptroller and potential candidate for the US Senate in 2012 George Maragos will visit the Village of Waverly in Tioga County, NY on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011.

Maragos will meet with key leaders of the Tioga County Republican Committee starting at Noon at The Club at Shepard Hills, 17 Chemung St, Waverly, NY 14892 to discuss his plans. Maragos recently announced the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the Republican nomination for the US Senate.

Maragos has over 35 years of senior management positions and accomplishments with leading organizations in Banking, Consulting and Information Systems. As president of SDS, he guided the firm’s growth for 20 years. Prior to SDS, Mr. Maragos was a Vice President of Citicorp and the Director of Telecommunications for Treasury Systems.

As you’ll recall, Maragos briefly toyed with the idea of throwing his hat into the ring last fall – less than a year after he had ousted Democratic incumbent, Howard Weitzman, in what was a very bad year for Nassau County Democrats (they also lost the county executive’s office and control of the county Legislature).

UPDATE: A reader reminds me that Maragos wanted to challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer, not Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and couldn’t get sufficient support among fellow Republicans to run. Schumer ended up handily defeating consultant Jay Townsend, winning a third six-year term.

As for the Gillibrand race in 2010, the GOP line ultimately went to former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who won a three-way primary after landing the Conservative Party line free and clear in the minor party’s convention.

DioGuardi lost big to Gillibrand, who was elected statewide for the first time to serve out the remaining two years in Hillary Clinton’s old term. She has to run for a full six-year term in 2012.

Maragos signaled his interest in 2012 earlier this year.

At least two of Gillibrand’s 2010 opponents – DioGuardi and David Malpass – have expressed interest in a possible re-match, too, although with President Obama at the top of the ticket, it might be tough to dislodge her next fall.

The junior senator’s numbers recently took a hit, but her fundraising remains strong.

Committee To Save NY Spent $4.8M Lobbying

The Committee to Save New York, the consortium of business interests and allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, spent $4.8 million in March and April lobbying the Legislature on the state budget and the 2 percent cap on property taxes.

The group, which registered for lobbying activity with the state after good-government organizations issued concerns, was formed to back Cuomo’s fiscal agenda at the beginning of the year.

The committee filed its financial statement with the Commission on Public Integrity today, showing the bulk of its money — about $4.1 million — was spent on TV, radio and Internet advertising.

The lobbying and PR shop DKC reported $10,000 worth of work on behalf of the group.

The committee’s filing covers March and April; the budget passed two days shy of the April 1 deadline, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The committee, which includes business groups, conservative labor unions and lobbyists with ties to Cuomo, reported spending nearly $2.6 million in January and February.

Cuomo’s proposed budget aimed at cutting spending for the first time in 15 years. The governor’s first budget also had to close a $10 billion deficit, which he pledged to do without new borrowing or new taxes.

The committee, whose board at one point included the now-head of the Empire State Development Corp. Kenneth Adams, was with the governor the entire time on the budget, running ads touting his proposal as a means to restore New York’s fiscal health.

And in the end, Cuomo got the budget he wanted passed the Legislature: no broad-based tax increases and deep cuts to the state’s most expensive items, education and health care. More >

Lawsky Nominated To Lead Financial Services Department

Confirming what we already knew (thanks to a gun-jumping email from the Citizens Budget Commission) Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff Ben Lawsky is being nominated to become the first superintendent of the new Department of Financial Services.

The agency combines the departments of banking and insurance, which is part of Cuomo’s overall plan to re-size state government.

Lawsky’s appointment is not that much of a shock. It was “broken” thanks to an errant email sent by the Citizens Budget Commission and obtained by The New York Times. Before joining the Cuomo administration, Lawsky worked in the Cuomo attorney general office.

The newly formed department was originally supposed to include the state Consumer Protection Board and be called the Department of Financial Regulation, but it was scaled back after insurance and baking industry officials raised concerns.

In addition, Cuomo also announced former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer would be nominated to the MTA board. James J. Wrynn is being nominated to become deputy superintendent at the Department of Financial Services. Cuomo also made nominations for the Council on the Arts and for members of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (a full list is after the jump).

And John Milgrim, a press aide for Cuomo in both the AG’s office and the governor’s office is being moved over to become spokesman for Inspector General Ellen Biben, replacing Kate Gurnett. More >

Duffy: Comparing Cuomo To Spitzer An ‘Overreaction’

Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy said this morning that he rejects the notion that Gov. Cuomo is adapting the “steamroller” style made famous by Eliot Spitzer to push the Legislature in his direction, calling it an “overreaction” by critics.

“I think [Gov. Cuomo] has been very clear and very specific in terms of his expectations and he’s also been respectful,” Duffy said.

“I have listened to him speak. He is not calling out individual legislators; he’s not embarrassing anybody. He’s stating facts that I think everybody understands. I don’t think there has been a governor in recent memory who has done more to create relationships with the legislature.”

Lawmakers have been pushing back on the governor in recent days for his criticism of the Legislature. Last week on Capital Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said ethics reform should include the executive branch, and today, Speaker Sheldon Silver called the effectiveness of the governor’s tour across the state “irrelevant.” Silver also said over the weekend that his members would rather cut deals “than listen to speeches.”

Duffy spoke to reporters following a speech to the NYS Coalitions of Community Development Financial Institutions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany.

Silver On Cuomo’s Tour: ‘We’re Here’

Asked by reporters today to gauge the effect of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statewide tour on the Big 3 Issues, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it was “irrelevant.”

“It’s irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, I’m here, we’re governing and that’s the important thing,” Silver said.

Spokesman Michael Whyland later clarified to say Silver meant it was irrelevant as to whether the governor was in Albany, meaning the work of state government will grind on.

Silver did say over the weekend that his members would “rather cut deals than listen to speeches.”

Cuomo was in Nassau County today to push for his major agenda items with now six weeks to go before the Legislature wraps up their official business in June. Cuomo wants a 2 percent cap on property taxes, an ethics overhaul and the legalization of gay marriage.

There is increasing daylight between the Legislature and the governor — with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos telling Liz last week that he sees shades of Eliot Spitzer in Cuomo’s behavior. Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy said earlier today that comparing Cuomo to Spitzer was an “overreaction.”

Trump Picks Business Over Politics, Won’t Run In 2012

He’s not even waiting for the season finale of “The Apprentice”…here’s the statement in full.

“After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.”

“I want to personally thank the millions of Americans who have joined the various Trump grassroots movements and written me letters and e-mails encouraging me to run. My gratitude for your faith and trust in me could never be expressed properly in words.”

“So, I make you this promise: that I will continue to voice my opinions loudly and help to shape our politician’s thoughts. My ability to bring important economic and foreign policy issues to the forefront of the national dialogue is perhaps my greatest asset and one of the most valuable services I can provide to this country.”

“I will continue to push our President and the country’s policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness. Issues, including getting tough on China and other countries that are methodically and systematically taking advantage of the United States, were seldom mentioned before I brought them to the forefront of the country’s conversation.”

“They are now being debated vigorously.”

“I will also continue to push for job creation, an initiative that should be this country’s top priority and something that I know a lot about. I will not shy away from expressing the opinions that so many of you share yet don’t have a medium through which to articulate.”

“I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country’s most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs.”

“Thank you and God Bless America!”

“Donald J. Trump”

Rothenberg On NY-26: Hochul ‘Well-Positioned’ For ‘Significant Upset’

The Rothenberg Report has moved the NY-26 contest from “leans Republican” to the “toss-up/tilts Democrat” column, suggesting Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul could be headed toward a big upset in the GOP-dominated district with just over a week remaining in the special election campaign.

“Both parties agree that the race remains close – ‘within the margin of error’ is the phrase most often used – and Republican Jane Corwin certainly has a chance to energize and turnout GOP voters in this Republican-leaning district,” Rothenberg writes. “But Democrats seem more enthusiastic right now.”

“After a series of focused attacks in the paid and earned media, Republicans apparently have succeeded in bringing down self-proclaimed Tea Party candidate Jack Davis’s numbers to a place where the race should be winnable for Corwin.”

“But those one-time Davis voters are not going immediately to Corwin, raising new doubts about the Republican’s ability to grow her support in the final week. More importantly, Hochul appears to have solidified her image and even increased her share of the vote.”

ICYMI: CPI Asked IG To Investigate Leaks

On Friday’s CapTon, Barry Ginsberg spoke to Liz about the charges against John O’Connor, who is accused of allowing Joe Bruno’s daughter, Susan Bruno, to work at a no-show job.

O’Connor fired back accusing the CPI of leaking information. (You’ll remember the commission was accused of the same thing under former Executive Director Herb Teitelbaum.)

Ginsberg responded by saying the commission has already asked the Inspector General to investigate for any potential leaks: (about 4:45 into the clip below.)

“I have no reason to believe anyone on this staff did so. But I can tell you as the executive director that I perhaps more than anyone else in the world would want to know if that were the case.”

“Because I can assure you that if there were any evidence that someone from the commission did that they would not be working for the commission for an additional second,” Ginsberg said.

So, the commission has taken what I think will all agree are appropriate steps. Which is to bring this matter to the Inspector General, before Mr. Sleight (that would be Karl Sleight, former Ethics Commission executive director and O’Connor’s attorney) brought it to the attention of the Inspector General. We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the Inspector General.”

“And I hope that the Inspector General is able to determine the source or sources. At this point I have no reason to believe it is anyone from the commission.”

King Picked To Lead Education Department

The state Board of Regents today unanimously elected John King to lead the state Department of Education, replacing David Steiner.

King’s first big job will be to grant a waiver for incoming New York City schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. New York City schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott received his waiver last month, but King will be responsible for granting any future waivers.

From Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch:

“For the past two years John King has been at the forefront driving the implementation of every aspect of New York’s reform agenda across this state. In that role he has won deep respect from teachers, school leaders, superintendents and policy makers for his results-oriented leadership and a style that has consistently brought together diverse groups of stakeholders to achieve consensus around critical reforms for our public schools. John has dedicated his career to closing the achievement gap and raising the level of achievement for all. He has a deep, passionate, personal commitment to public education and will be an outstanding Commissioner for all New Yorkers,” she said.

Steiner announced he would leave the post he held since 2009 by the end of the academic school year in June. His announcement came the same week that the much-criticized Cathie Black left the job after facing a torrent of criticism and verbal gaffes.

King’s salary is $212,500 and was formally a Senior Deputy Commissioner in the department.

AP: Cuomo To Propose Tier VI (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to unveil a new, less generous pension tier for state employees that’s designed to save more than $90 billion over 30 years, the Associated Press is reporting.

The move comes as the governor is trying to seek $450 million worth of concessions this year from the state public-employee unions.

From the AP story:

If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would increase the retirement age to 65 for all public employees hired after the law was passed. It would also end early retirement, force employees to pay twice as much toward their pension, and end the “padding” of pensions through overtime pay, sick time and other means.

Current employees and retirees wouldn’t be affected. New York City has a separate pension fund and city officials are considering their own pension reforms.

The two officials spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Cuomo hadn’t yet announced the legislative proposal.

A Cuomo spokesman declined to comment.

The new tier would be even more ambitious than the approach taken by Gov. David Paterson, who created the Tier V pension plan, which saves $35 billion over 30 years.

A source in the Cuomo administration has confirmed this report. Also, CSEA spokesman Steve Madarasz tells us that this plan “complicates” current negotiations with the state’s biggest public employee unions.