May 17th - 5:16 pm
The state Senate unanimously confirmed Barbara Fiala as the new Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles this afternoon. She was appointed to the post by Gov. Cuomo back in February.
Fiala has worked in county government for 30 years in a number of different roles including county clerk and most recently, as Broome County’s first female executive. This latest gig as head of the DMV brings her back to her roots (albeit on a much higher level); she served as motor vehicles supervisor for Broome in 1981.
Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, who also represents parts of Broome County, praised Fiala’s fair and bi-partisan approach to governing as he seconded her nomination in the Senate:
May 17th - 4:43 pm
A NYC man pleaded guilty to a felony charge of making a harassing telephone call to Carl Paladino during the 2010 governor’s race.
Jane Corwin avoided reporters in Batavia and was dogged by questions about the Jack Davis ambush by her chief of staff.
Elaine’s without Elaine isn’t Elaine’s. And so, it’s closing.
Some LGBT advocates are upset Sen. Marty Golden won’t meet with them on gay marriage.
Mayor Bloomberg differs with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on whether there should be an up-or-down gay marriage vote – regardless of whether there are sufficient votes to pass the bill.
Bloomberg’s lobbying visits at the Capitol on marriage equality today included Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Sens. Greg Ball, Roy McDonald, Jack Martins, Chuck Fuschillo, Andrew Lanza and Mark Grisanti.
“Cuomo’s support for marriage equality is appearing more to be a political stunt than an act of commitment to do the right thing,” said Queer Rising’s Natasha Dillon.
Tom Golisano made a brief foray to the Capitol to lobby for the National Popular Vote, but isn’t planning a return to NY politics.
Cuomo’s rent laws video was devoid of details, Tom Kaplan notes.
Rudy Giuliani is advising a Peruvian presidential candidate.
Cuomo praised state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs at a Democratic county leader get-together last night.
Former Gov. George Pataki is heading to New Hampshire. But he’s not running for president.
New Jersey has a tax windfall.
Newt Gingrich’s wife has a taste for Tiffany’s.
Chris Christie 2012 speculation just won’t quit. Not that he wants it to.
New York’s Board of Regents made further cuts to Regents exams.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is “possibly” open to changes in Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap bill.
Rep. Pete King’s next Homeland Security Committee hearing will be next week. Topic: The implications of Osama bin Laden’s death.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants tax credits for fertility treatments.
Model Cindy Crawford appeared at a Mitt Romney event, but hasn’t yet formally aligned with any 2012 pesidential candidate.
May 17th - 3:55 pm
A floor vote in the Senate is the only reliable way to show were lawmakers stand on same-sex marriage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
“I think the public has a right to know where their legislator stands and the only place where you can really find that out is when they have to register that vote publicly,” Bloomberg said. Pronouncement before, off the record, couched in terms where it’s hard to know what they really mean is just not appropriate, these are up or down votes.”
Bloomberg met with Senate Republicans today to lobby for same-sex marriage legalization. Before the news conference, he met with Sens. Greg Ball, Andrew Lanza, Jack Martins and John Flanagan. He was scheduled to meet with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, as well as Sens. Charles Fuschiilo, Roy McDonald and Mark Grisanti.
McDonald, Ball and Grisanti have all been marked as possible “yes” votes for a gay marriage legalization bill by June. However, Grisanti told Liz last night that he would be a “no” vote now if the measure were to use the term “marriage.”
Bloomberg declined to discuss his thoughts on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to not introduce a gay-marriage bill until there are sufficient votes in the Republican-led Senate. Though 32 votes are needed, it’s likely that at least 34 votes would be needed in order to give moderate legislators cover and not become the “final” vote to legalize gay marriage.
The last attempt at legalizing gay marriage failed in 2009, 38-24. Cuomo said he would not want a “replay” of 2009.
May 17th - 3:51 pm
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said today that she’s hoping for a “speedy conclusion” to the Commission on Public Integrity’s deliberations regarding SUNY Research Foundation President John O’Connor’s alleged violation of the Public Officers Law.
As you’ll recall, O’Connor took a voluntary leave of absence yesterday in the wake of the PIC’s charge last week that he gave a no-show job to former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s daughter, Susan.
Zimpher said she has asked the PIC to “expedite” its process, to which SUNY is “not a party.” She expressed confidence that the Research Foundation “sought and expedited external reviews,” after reporters noted questions about Susan Bruno’s job had been raised by the media and asked whether an in-house probe had ever been launched.
SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman Carl Hayden said yesterday was “a painful day for me personally,” adding:
“We have an extraordinary sensitivity to ethical issues. And John has taken an action which I think is appropriate to the circumstances. We’ve accepted his decision to step down during the interim that is required to complete these investigations. It’s now in the hands of the lawyers. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”
Hayden echoed Zimpher’s call for the PIC and the IG to expedite the process. He stressed that all there is at this point is an allegation and O’Connor is “entitled to his due process rights.”
May 17th - 3:37 pm
Much was made of the fact that state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay expressed personal support yesterday for the legalization of same-sex marriage, with some suggesting this could somehow neutralize the state Conservative Party’s threat to deny its endorsement – and ballot line – to any Republican who votes “yes” on the bill.
There’s a significant difference here.
The Conservative Party has passed a resolution effectively making gay marriage a litmus test. Vote “yes” and you’re automatically denied Row C – a big problem for several GOP senators for whom the line made a difference in 2010.
I asked MacKay during a brief interview earlier today if he would do the same – in other words, refuse to let candidates who vote “no” on gay marriage run on Row E (and yes, the party fared poorly in the ballot status sweepstakes last fall). His response:
“Absolutely not. These are my personal beliefs…Our main concern is political reform, and we hope the people we’re supporting are those who would be fiscally responsible, but also either vote or use their influence to reform government.”
MacKay said local Indy committees (and remember, there has been a power struggle – particularly in NYC – over who controls the line) are responsible for making endorsements, with the executive committee stepping in to make decisions in districts that cross county lines.
“The local committees know better than me,” the chairman explained. “For example, here in Suffolk County, there’s very little I know about Monroe County. The committee in Monroe County makes its decisions based on how they think performance at the local level is…We have people from the left, the right and the center in leadership. It makes us unique among the parties.”
Of course, to suggest that MacKay doesn’t wield considerable clout when it comes to endorsements is simply naive. Still, for what it’s worth, he insisted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom the party endorsed in 2010, did not ask MacKay to come out in favor of gay marriage.
May 17th - 3:23 pm
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today the traditional “perp walk” — when cops parade those arrested before the media — is unfortunate, but also said the best way to avoid one is not to commit crime.
Bloomberg, in Albany today to lobby for same-sex marriage legalization, responded to a question about the criticism from French officials over the perp walk for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the International Monetary Fund chief who was arrested this week in New York on sexual assault charges.
“I think it is humiliating, but you know if you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime,” Bloomberg said.
He added, “The real sad thing is if someone is accused and does the perp walk and turns out not to be guilty, then society really ought to look in the mirror.”
Some in the French public were offended at the sight of Strauss-Kahn, a leading French politician, being offered up before the cameras.
May 17th - 3:09 pm
Democratic NY-26 candidate Kathy Hochul is responding to the GOP’s attempt to construe her as supportive of cuts to Social Security and Medicare with a new ad that highlights her endorsement this weekend by the Buffalo News.
“In a desperate attempt to distract voters, Jane Corwin has created a false attack on Kathy Hochul that the Buffalo News has called an ‘attempt to deflect attention from her support’ of the Republican budget that would decimate Medicare, while giving massive tax breaks to multi-millionaires and billionaires,” said Hochul spokesman Fabien Levy.
Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and her Republican allies have been trying to muddy the Medicare waters by highlighting her comment in last week’s debate that “everything should be on the table” in budget talks – “entitlements, defense spending, but also revenues.”
Hochul is getting backup on this one from Factcheck.org, which called Corwin’s allegations against Hochul in a recent ad “bogus.”
May 17th - 2:26 pm
ICYMI: Assemblyman Joe Morelle told me on CapTon last night that passing the same-sex marriage bill in his house will be “more challenging” this year due to vacancies and gains by the Republican minority in the 2010 elections, although he does believe the measure will ultimately pass a fourth time in the Democrat-dominated chamber.
I think it’s more challenging because of that,” the Monroe County Democrat said. “There are some vacant seats, and we’ve had some shift. But I believe it will pass our house, and it won’t pass – probably – by the margin it has in previous years. But I think it will pass. And then the question is whether the state Senate has enough votes for it. I think they’re getting closer.”
Morelle, a longtime ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the gay marriage push is “gaining currency” with voters and should be brought up for a vote because it is a “conscience issue.” He also rejected suggestions that the governor will see success on only two of his top three post-budget policy agenda items – at most – but won’t get hit a trifecta.
Jimmy Vielkind is reporting on CapCon that Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell is moving forward with his gay marriage bill, which he introduced in the absence of a program bill from Cuomo. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has indicated he’ll move forward on the bill, not heeding Cuomo’s timetable.
That’s an about-face for the speaker, who told me in March that he would prefer to “wait and see” what happens in the Senate before putting the bill back up for a vote in his house.
May 17th - 1:24 pm
Brian Sampson, the executive director of the pro-business Unshackle Upstate, said he would prefer no cap than one with watered-down exemptions.
“A cap with exemptions guarantees that we don’t deal with the cost-drivers,” he said.
Sampson, along with a coalition of business groups and chambers of commerce, is in Albany today to lobby for the 2 percent cap on local property taxes as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Though the Senate has already approved the measure on Jan. 31, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may introduce his own bill with exemptions for pensions and debt.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has said he doesn’t want to negotiate a new measure if it led to a watering down of the cap.
Advocates who support a hard cap fear that if too many exemptions are included the measure would turn into the cap in place in New Jersey, which they consider largely useless.
Sampson also holds the same view as the Cuomo administration on mandate relief — namely that cost drivers such as pensions and Medicaid will be dealt with when the cap is in place. However, county executives like Rob Astorino and Chris Collins disagree.
“Let’s finally take the bull by horns, pass the 2 percent cap and then we’ll deal with the mandates,” Sampson said.
May 17th - 1:01 pm
Democrats have succeeded in using Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed Medicare overhaul as a wedge issue in NY-26, which is now being cast as a referendum on the controversial GOP plan (although there’s some debate over how much of a harbinger the outcome of the May 24 special election will really be, in terms of the 2012 election cycle).
Assemblywoman Jane Corwin seized on a statement Kathy Hochul made in last week’s debate that “everything should be on the table” in budget talks – “entitlements, defense spending but also revenues”, releasing an ad that accuses the Democratic Erie County clerk of wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare.
Factcheck.org deemed the spot “bogus”, but Corwin’s campaign defended it.
Now the NRCC has unleashed a round of robocalls with a similar theme, accusing targeted Democrats – including Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1 – of supporting the “Democrat plan that lets Medicare go bankrupt”, forcing the reduction of services or higher taxes.
The script for the robocall appears below. Similar calls went out in the districts of the following House members: John Barrow (GA-12), Dan Boren (OK-02), Ben Chandler (KY-06), Raul Grijalva (AZ-07), Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), Jim Himes (CT-04), David Loebsack (IA-02), and Mike Ross (AR-04).
“Hello. I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee about your congressman, Tim Bishop’s plan for Medicare. Bishop and President Obama’s plan threatens to deny treatment for seniors in Medicare by allowing bureaucrats interfere with their doctors. Worse, Bishop’s budget plan lets Medicare go bankrupt. That would mean big cuts to benefits. Call Congressman Bishop at 202-225-3826 and tell him to stop endangering Medicare.”