Sampson On Cuomo’s Redistricting Bandwagon

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson is the first out of the box with a statement in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s independent redistricting commission bill, pledging his support and calling for immediate passage of the measure when the Legislature returns to Albany on Feb. 28.

(Yes, that’s right, the Legislature is off next week for its mid-winter break).

“The moment for change has arrived; and the time has come for pledges made to become promises kept,” Sampson said.

“Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation that keeps his commitment to reform, and I am calling on the Senate to do the same by immediately passing his legislation when we return to Albany.”

“Too often in Albany, promises of reform go from now to never, and nothing gets done. Fifty four of sixty two senators signed former New York City Mayor Koch’s reform pledge for independent redistricting.”

“New York needs independent redistricting to have fair elections and a more responsive legislature where the public interest comes before political incumbency.”

“I commend Governor Cuomo for his strong leadership and Mayor Koch for his tireless advocacy, and look forward to working with them and all of our colleagues in the Legislature to get independent redistricting passed.”

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Cuomo Releases Redistricting Reform Act of 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has decided to make nonpartisan redistricting reform the first focus of his push to change politics at the Capitol, announcing a bill that would establish a nonpartisan commission to redraw state legislative and congressional district lines.

Under Cuomo’s proposal, the commission will hold public hearings across the state and post its redistricting plans and corresponding data on the Internet. Provisions in the bill require that the commission is bi-partisan, reflects the state’s diversity, and is free from any conflicts of interest.

“Redistricting in New York is a system that has prioritized incumbency and partisan interests over democratic representation,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“This process needs to be about the people and not the politics. To help restore faith in our State government, we need to reform the system. This bill ensures greater independence, transparency, and a commitment to fair representation and equality.”

The release also includes a quote from former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, who made indpendent redistricting a focus of his NY Uprising reform pledges last year. (Three of the four legislative leaders signed – Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was the lone holdout – and Cuomo indicated his support through a letter).

Cuomo has pledged that if an agreement on permanent redistricting reform is not reached, he will veto any plans developed under the current process and passed by the Legislature.

Under Cuomo’s proposal, commission members would be chosen by the legislative leaders from a bi-partisan pool of qualified candidates that reflects the state’s geographic, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. That pool would be chosen by a bi-partisan nominations committee selected by the executive and legislative branches.

The committee would have eight members, according to the bill. Four of them would be appointed by the governor. Each of the four legislative leaders get one appointee.

That means the governor would control this committee, which I can’t imagine the Legislature is going to like.

RedistrictingBill

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Bloomberg Says ‘Different’ Emanuel Will Be ‘Good Mayor’

Mayor Bloomberg told TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel that he believes Rahm Emanuel would make a “good” mayor of Chicago, and he’s willing to assist the former White House chief of staff in his quest.

Bloomberg said he has been in touch with Emanuel as recently as this week. The tough-talking ex-congressman sent the mayor an e-mail to wish him a happy birthday (Bloomberg turned 69 on Valentine’s Day). The mayor’s response: “I assume you don’t need any help, but if you do, call.”

“This is going to be a different Rahm Emanuel,” Bloomberg said. “He’s going to be a good mayor, and we’ll work well together. Much better than when he was in the White House and I was a wise-ass who might run against his boss.”

(This from a guy who routinely insisted he had absolutely zero interest in running for president).

On the continuing speculation (routintely fanned by members of Bloomberg’s political circle) that he will throw his hat into the ring in 2012, the mayor had this to say:

“There’s room for people like me to influence the dialogue, but I do not believe there is room for an independent candidate. In any case, I have 1,050 days from today left to go, and I’ve told the public I would fill out my term. I’m going to serve the four years.”

Malpass Maintains Ties For 2012 (Updated)

David Malpass lost out on the Conservative line to his fellow Republican, former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, during the 2010 campaign in which the GOP fell short of its bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

The economist/commentator, who is now eyeing a potential re-match against Gillibrand in 2012, appears to the be laying the groundwork to avoid seeing that happen again. Consider the invite that appears below, which was forwarded by a reader.

Malpass’ Grow PAC is hosting a luncheon/discussion today on the state’s pension crisis with state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long and Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick. The event is not a fundraiser, as far as I can tell, but it’s clearly an effort by Malpass to keep his hand in the political mix.

Both Malpass and DioGuardi have expressed interest in taking another crack at Gillibrand. She’ll be a tough target in 2012 – perhaps even more so than last fall, particularly since it’s a presidential year in a Democrat-dominated state.

The junior senator has seen her approval rating steadily increase since her success at the ballot box last fall, but she also all-but depleted her campaign coffers in her bid to retain former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s seat.

UPDATE: In the room today: State GOP Chairman Ed Cox, former Reps. Rick Lazio and Sue Kelly, former Pataki aide John Cahill, 2010 House contender George Demos (NY-1) and former MTA Board Dale Hemmerdinger.

GrowPac Lunch Invite Feb 17

Mangano Takes To Airwaves Against ‘Opponents’

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is continuing his pushback against the state board that took control of county finances with a campaign-style ad that rails against unnamed “opponents” who want to “force us to raise property taxes all over again.”

The spot is slated to go up on the airwaves by next week, I’m told.

This comes in the wake of Mangano’s lawsuit against NIFA, the six-member board that voted unanimously and across party lines in late January to take over and then sent the county executive back to the budget drawing board.

Here’s the script:

“(Mangano): About a year ago, you and I pledged to stop the record spending, crushing debt and punishing taxes. So we turned a $133 million dollar deficit into a surplus, eliminated the home energy tax, reduced labor costs and stopped the 16 and a half percent property tax hike. We were paying enough. Now opponents want to force us to raise property taxes all over again. Forget it. You elected me to clean up this mess. (Female announcer: Ed Mangano, making Nassau County more affordable.”

Here And Now

NYC’s revenue is up $2 billion, but the Bloomberg administration says it has to lay off 4,666 teachers anyway.

Mayor Bloomberg will officially break the news about the layoffs in his budget address today, upping the ante in his fight over funding with Albany.

City-run day care is also on the chopping block.

The Times says Bloomberg should share his travel plans with the public and the press, adding: “This is too big a city to be left on cruise control.”

NJ Gov. Chris Christie sees common ground between himself and “the son of a liberal icon” who’s in charge across the Hudson.

Christie proposed performance-based tenure for public school teachers.

Sarah Palin is making an appearance on Long Island today.

The UFT big tossed from an Albany restaurant had a role in a 2000 student cheating scandal.

The DN says John Egan’s behavior illustrates all that’s wrong with the UFT and the power it holds in Albany.

Ditto, says the Post.

AG Eric Schneiderman will push for prison time for Hank Morris today.

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Extras

UFT official Paul Egan, who was thrown out of an Albany restaurant after making a scene, said he was upset by bad food and terrible service.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, a former school principal, called Egan’s behavior “unacceptable.”

Staten Island DA Dan Donovan is still waiting for his request for a special prosecutor to investigate the Working Families Party to be granted.

Mayor Bloomberg says Bernie Madoff was a nice guy back in the day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo posted a letter on his Website about his proposed education aid cuts, saying: “We need to spend smarter.”

The chairman of the Brunswick Republican Party issued a public welcome to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who recently moved to his neck of the woods.

Richard Lipsky explains why he decided to sign on with the Committee to Save NY.

Ed Koch says he’s not lobbying anyone to have the Queensboro Bridge renamed in his honor.

Rochester-area school superintendents met with reporters to discuss their concerns about Cuomo’s education funding cuts.

NYSCOBA wants to put legislators in jail. Literally.

The politics of driving in NYC are complicated.

Bloomberg on the possibility that Donald Trump will run for president: “He is a great guy. He doesn’t go everything he says, but he sure tries.”

Trump 1999 vs. Trump 2011. The new version is a lot more conservative.

NYC Councilman Erik Dilan is moving closer to a run for soon-to-be-former Assemblyman Darryl Towns’ seat.

Sen. Scott Brown revealed he was sexually abused several times as a child.

A Public Religion Research Institute poll found 56 percent of Americans back Rep. Peter King’s hearings into the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

Sen. Patty Ritchie is looking for guidance.

Rahm Emanuel really wants to find out who’s impersonating him on Twitter.

Woah. This makes New York look, well, tame.

NY Vies For Florida’s High-Speed Rail Cash

New York elected officials are scrambling to make a play for the $2.4 billion worth of federal high-speed rail cash rejected earlier today by Florida – a move that will again force the Obama administration to reallocate the funds.

Reps. Louise Slaughter and Paul Tonko wrote a letter to US Transportation Sceretary Ray LaHood (which appears in full after the jump) making a pitch for the Sunshine State’s spurned rail money, insisting that New York is committed to committed to its high-speed rail push “because we understand that an improved transportation system is vital to our national security.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer also released the following statement:

“Florida’s loss should be New York’s gain. Other states may not be ready to unlock the potential of high-speed rail, but it is a top priority for upstate New York. We can put these funds to use in a way that gets the best bang for the buck. The administration should redirect these funds to New York as quickly as possible.”

Obama has made high-speed rail a top priority and mentioned it in his State of the Union address. But three Republican governors, including Florida’s Rick Scott, are now opting to return the money, saying their states are too cash-strapped to hold up their end of the funding bargain.

Even before he took office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for the combined $1.26 billion worth of rail funds rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin.

New York ended up with $7.3 million of that money. The lion’s share – up to $624 million went to California. Washington State got $161.5 million and Illinois received $42.3 million. Also benefitting from the last reallocation of rail cash: Florida with $342.3 million,

New York is, of course, not the only state vying for Florida’s funds. California and Washington State are also making their desire for the money know.

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Schneiderman Recuses Himself From Conlin Probe

I just received the following statement from AG Eric Schneiderman’s spokesman Danny Kanner:

“Because of the nature of his father’s association with the organization, Attorney General Schneiderman will recuse himself from any investigation into the matter involving Kelli Conlin and NARAL Pro-Choice NY.”

“Out of an abundance of caution and to avoid even an appearance of conflict, an independent counsel will be designated to oversee any potential investigation or agency action in this matter.”

As I reported last night, the AG’s office is reviewing the Conlin case after a forensic audit turned up thousands of dollars worth of questionable expenses by the former NARAL president.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. has already launched a criminal investigation into Conlin’s alleged misappropriation of nonprofit funds for personal use.

Tedisco: Save A Tree! (Updated)

To drive home the need for his bill to require the Legislature to go paperless, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco sent reporters a photo of all the bills piled up on his desk in the Assembly chamber – many of which will eventually end up in the recycling bin, or worse, the garbage can.

The photo was accompanied by the following note:

“The papers on the desk are of bills before the Assembly. It’s only February 16th – there’s still 4 months left of the scheduled 2011 legislative session. There’s 212 legislative desks. Imagine what the desks will look like then! What a waste of tax dollars when all of this can easily be digitized and posted for viewing.”

Tedisco noted that 11,700 bills were introduced during the 2009-2010 session. The Ways and Means staff has estimated printing, for which there is no specific line item in the state budget, may cost taxpayers up to $26 million.

UPDATE: The Assembly Democrats are disputing Tedisco’s numbers, saying they are far too high and did not come from the majority side of Ways and Means. Majority spokeswoman Sisa Moyo said the per-page printing cost in 2010 was .02 cents. At 20,120,870 pages printed, the total cost was about $400,000, she said.

The House of Representatives recently passed (by a 399-0 vote) legislation to stop the mandatory printing of congressional bills.

Several state legislatures have gone paperless or are experimenting with going digital. They includ: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

It’s estimated Ohio has saved $1.5 million since going digital.

Paper at the Desk