Cuomo Says Layoffs Will Be PEF’s Fault

Asked about the TU’s report than some 451 pink slips are being sent out today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the onus belongs on PEF, which has yet to strike a contract deal with his administration.

“We have been working very hard for months to negotiate a deal with the labor unions so no one has to be laid off,” the governor said following a tax cap event on Long Island, attended by NY1′s Grace Rauh, who was kind enough to send CapTon these quotes.

“Those conversations are ongoing. As we’ve said all along, if we can’t reach an accord then there would have to be layoffs. It was part of balancing the state budget back in April.”

It shouldn’t come as any big surprise that the Cuomo administation is moving forward with its layoff plans – minus CSEA members, thanks to a contract deal struck last week by union leaders, which has yet to be approved by rank-and-file members.

The governor made it quite clear that the CSEA agreement would help achieve the $450 million workforce savings included in the 2011-2012 budget, insisting the need for up to 9,800 layoffs would be averted if other unions followed suit. So far, however,

PEF has refused, although it is surveying its members on the CSEA deal.

Asked about the timeline for layoffs, Cuomo said today:

“We are getting closer and closer to the deadline and notices are starting to go out. But it is going to be up to PEF. We reached an agreement with CSEA, which is a very large and powerful union. We reached an agreement and we are hoping the other unions are reasonable like CSEA.”

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto stressed that what went out today were not, technically speaking, pink slips, but rather the precursor to pink slips in the form of 20-day notices that are required before actual firing is allowed.

Report: State To Lift Fracking Ban (Updated)

The NY Times is reporting, via a breaking news alert, that New York is poised to lift a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, AKA hydrofracking – a controversial method of extracting natural gas from the earth – that was put in place by former Gov. David Paterson last December.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sustained Paterson’s veto until a report issued by the DEC and then expanded the fracking review in late Mayafter natural gas well blowout in Pennsylvania.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto called today’s Times report “baseless speculation” and “premature.”

UPDATE: Just over an hour after the Times posted its news alert, a full story is now available on the Web.

Cuomo administration officials are reportedly discussing maintaining the fracking ban inside the NYC and Syracuse watersheds. It’s unclear when there will be a public announcement and what – if any – mitigations will be recommended.

The DEC’s draft recommendations were expected to come out tomorrow. However, DEC Commissioner Martens hedged on that this week, telling reporters: “We’re still working on it, so stay tuned for later in the week whether we’re going to meet the deadline or not.”

A version of the report, which Martens said is “in the production process,” is expected to be delivered to Cuomo, but potentially not released to the public.

The deadline for this report has been pushed back on several occasions.

AG Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the federal government in May after officials turned down his request for further study of fracking in the Delaware River Basin Commission.

This week, one of the nation’s largest natural gas companies, Chesapeake Energy, confirmed it had received a subpoena from Schneiderman’s office. The AG is seeking information about what the company – and a handful of others – has disclosed to investors about the dangers of fracking.

Democrats Target Grimm On Medicare

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching an automatic calling campaign against GOP lawmakers who are backing the Republican plans for Social Security and Medicaid.

The only New York Republican on the list is Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm, who Democrats are targeting for his support of the controversial Medicare plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Debt talks in Washington remain stalled after President Obama called on Republicans to consider some tax increases or reductions in tax credits in order to pay down the national debt. Looming in the background is the possibility that Congress will not vote to raise the debt ceiling, forcing the U.S. to default for the first time in history.

Here’s the script of the robocall:

Hi, this is Clare calling on behalf of the DCCC. What does Congressman Michael Grimm have against seniors?

First Grimm voted with his Republican leadership to end Medicare while protecting subsidies for Big Oil and tax breaks for billionaires. Now, they are trying to privatize Social Security.

Republican leaders’ scheme to gamble the Social Security that seniors worked a lifetime to earn on Wall Street is way too dangerous. One bad market could wipe out years of savings, putting generations of retirees at risk.

Call Congressman Michael Grimm at (718) 351-1062 and tell him not to gamble Social Security on Wall Street.

UFT Radio Ad Touts Layoff Aversion

The United Federation of Teachers is celebrating a New York City budget that averts education layoffs in a new 30-second radio spot set to air through the weekend and into early next week.

In the spot, President Michael Mulgrew credits community leaders and parents for successfully opposing the threatened 4,200 layoffs in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget.

The script:

This is Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers.

For months, parents, teachers, elected officials and community leaders fought back against threats of teacher layoffs. And you made a difference.

There is still work to be done, but thanks to you, the teachers will be there when school opens. Community leaders, parents and the UFT will be there too. Standing together for our schools and a strong future, for ALL New Yorkers.

The ad can be heard here.

The city approved its budget late last week, which includes plans for not replacing 2,600 teachers who plan to quit or retire by the end of the year.

Cuomo Touts Tax Cap (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the tax cap into law, calling it “a critical step toward New York’s economic recovery, and will set our state on a path to prosperity.”

The CEREMONIAL bill signing ceremony took place at a private residence – the home of James and Janet Gannon in Lynbrook, Nassau County, where residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. (Cuomo is later scheduled to hold another ceremonial bill signing in Westchester, which is No. 1 on the national high-tax list).

UPDATE: I’ve altered this post’s headline to reflect the fact that today’s proceedings were merely ceremonial. According to Gannett’s Joe Spector, Cuomo actually already signed the entire big ugly into law – albeit very quietly. He had to do so ASAP because the rent laws, which are also addressed in that same piece of legislation, had already expired – twice, in fact.

The Gannons pay close to $11,000 annually in property taxes, which is almost three times the median property tax bill in New York. He’s a small business owner. She’s a public school nurse.

The median property tax bill in Nassau County is $8,478 per household. The median U.S. property tax bill is $1,917, while in New York the median property tax bill is $3,755.

“For decades, taxpayers across New York state have been burdened by back-breaking property taxes that have crippled businesses and families,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“It is appropriate to sign this property tax cap at the Gannon household, as millions of homeowners like them have had the deck stacked against them for too long. This tax cap is a critical step toward New York’s economic recovery, and will set our state on a path to prosperity.”

Cuomo’s release also includes quotes from two Republicans – Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who also hails from Nassau County (he attended the event at the Gannons’ home); and the local county executive, Ed Mangano. (Incidentally, while the county may be rolling in property tax revenue, it’s also wallowing in red ink and is currently under the management of a state-controlled board).

Democratic Assemblyman Chuck Lavine also got some space on Cuomo’s release. He called the cap “historic.”

As you’ll recall, the cap was part of the so-called “big ugly” that took weeks to hammer out at the end of the session. The bill also included extension and modest strengthening of the NYC rent laws and some minimal mandate relief designed to offset the impacts of the cap on municipal governments and school districts.

Bishop Casts Himself As The Un-Weiner

A reader forwarded a last-minute fundraising appeal (a lot of those are going out today as the midnight second quarter deadline looms) from NY-1 Rep. Tim Bishop, in which the Long Island Democrat makes a not-so-subtle reference to his disgraced former colleage, former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Bishop, who held onto his seat last year only by a few hundred votes, told supporters he’s trying to raise $10,000 before the deadline, money he’ll need to run a “smart, aggressive” re-election campaign in 2012 – most likely a re-match against his 2010 foe, Randy Altschuler.

The congressman said donors will be stepping up to “to support a different kind of leadership,” adding:

“I’m not the flashiest guy in the world. I’m not the guy screaming on cable TV or the guy who gives incendiary floor speeches that you forward the Youtube link to your friends. But when it comes to hard work and delivering for the community, I’m willing to match up with anybody.”

“I’m the guy who wakes up early to meet with constituents in the western part of our district. I’m the guy who gets home late because I was doing a Town Hall meeting in the evening to accommodate working people.”

“I’m the guy who will take a meeting with anyone I represent, whether they agree with me or not, and have a respectful discussion of the issues, and hope that each of us came away learning something.”

“In a society often defined by 140 character tweets and 15-second sound bites, I understand that there are flashier politicians to support. That is why it means so much to me to have your support.”

OK, so it’s possible Bishop is alluding to someone else, since he doesn’t come right out and say: “Oh, and I don’t sext with women I’ve met on Twitter.” But it’s a pretty safe bet it’s Weiner who inspired this email.

As was widely reported during Weinergate, the embattled congressman found few defenders among his colleagues, in large part because he had few friends in the delegation. The Democrats desperately wanted Weiner to just go away, which he at first refused to do, letting his scandal drag on for days and reportedly causing the minority’s money stream to all but dry up.

Altschuler is also raising campaign cash for his 2012 bid. Unlike last year, it appears the GOP and Conservative leaders are lining up behind him. One of his two 2010 primary opponents, George Demos, has also signaled an interest in running again, however, so it’s still possible there will be another GOP primary, which would be good news for Bishop.

Gillibrand’s Last-Minute Email

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand just shot supporters a last-minute fundraising appeal from her BlackBerry, informing them she’s just over $6,700 away from meeting her goal of $100,000 before the midnight second quarter FEC deadline.

Here’s the text of the junior senator’s message, forwarded by a reader who received it:

Dear XXXX,

This isn’t just another deadline. We’re less than 15 hours away from our filing period.

You know what is at stake. This campaign is only successful if we hit our goals each quarter, and your contribution today will ensure that we hit our number again.

I just talked to Ross and we have just over $6,700 left to raise. You can give online at or call the office at 212-481-2010.

Any amount helps even as little as $5.

Thank you for all that you do.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

So far, just one Republican has confirmed his intention to challenge Gillibrand in 2012 – Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who says he’ll spend up to $5 million of his own cash on the campaign.

Also eyeing the race are two of Gillibrand’s failed 2010 challengers, former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, whom she defeated in the November general election, and David Malpass, who lost the GOP primary to DioGuardi. Harry Wilson, who lost the state comptroller’s race to Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli, is being courted by some party leaders to run. He has yet to rule anything out.

How Not To Win Friends And Influence People (Updated)

Lesson 1: Insult the leader of the free world on live TV by describing him using a slang word for the male sex organ.

The media world is in a tizzy this morning after Time’s Mark Halperin did just that on “Morning Joe” after wondering aloud if the seven-second time delay was indeed in effect. Apparently, someone in the control room pushed the wrong button. (If you believe that…)

Halperin immediately apologized to both President Obama and the viewers. As Azi Paybarah notes, this isn’t the first time on-air cursing has taken place on the show.

A bit of a tempest in a teapot, but one that will likely be forgotten quickly enough by the 24-hour news media once the next gaffe occurs. As the host of a live show who suffers from serious truck-driver mouth, I feel for him. There but for the grace of G-d go us all.

UPDATE: A bigger teapot than originally thought. Halperin has been suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst by MSNBC, which released the following statement:

“Mark Halperin’s comments this morning were completely inappropriate and unacceptable. We apologize to the President, The White House and all of our viewers. We strive for a high level of discourse and comments like these have no place on our air. Therefore, Mark will be suspended indefinitely from his role as an analyst.”

Halperin called this move “totally appropriate,” and offered another “heartfelt and profound” apology to the president, his MSNBC colleagues, and the viewers. He said he “deeply regrets” his comment.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is holding two property tax cap “events” at private suburban residences today – one in Lynbrook (11:00 a.m.), the other in Pleasantville (1:30 p.m.)

Cuomo is expected to sign the so-called “big ugly,” which includes the cap, mandate relief and extension of the NYC rent laws, at the second event.

Pleasantville is in Westchester County, which has the highest property taxes in the nation. It’s also the governor’s home county.

Last night, the governor sent supporters an email (from his government account) with the subject line: “A property tax cap at last.” Sample text:

“For more than 15 years, both houses of the Legislature along with three governors have talked about a property tax cap for New York, but with no results. But now, for the first time in New York’s history, homeowners and businesses have the help they need.”

You get the idea. There’s also a link to the press release that announced the big ugly agreement.

Here are today’s headlines:

Four hundred and fifty-one state workers – most of them PEF members – are slated to receive layoff notices today. Those could be rescinded if the union strikes a contract deal with the Cuomo administration.

Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is reportedly taking a break from her job at the State Department – and her sexting husband – while he’s in rehab.

The National Organization for Marriage has vowed to spend $2 million in 2012 to oust the seven senators who flipped from “no” to “yes” on same-sex marriage between 2009 and last week.

While NY’s DEC is deliberating on hydrofracking, NJ Gov. Chris Christie has a bill to create the first statewide ban of the practice on his desk. It’s unclear if he will sign it.

The DEC will not release final gas drilling regulations Friday.

In his first press conference since March, President Obama called New York’s passage of a gay marriage bill “a good thing,” but did not endorse it outright.

More >


President Obama called New York’s same-sex marriage vote “a good thing,” but stopped short of endorsing the measure himself.

Top aides to former governors, legislative leaders try to make sense of the 2011 legisaltive session next Wednesday, July 13 at Baruch College with yours truly.

Ex-Rep. Dan Maffei joined the lobbying/law firm Manatt Phelps (also home to 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Faso).

There’s some irony in calling Cuomo a liberal champion just because of same-sex marriage.

A Catholic blog takes a dim view of Maureen Dowd’s interview with Cuomo.

Lloyd Blankfein and former Gov. David Paterson debated which one of them is more unpopular.

Mayor Bloomberg is at odds with Cuomo over the potential closure of Indian Point.

The NYLCV gave the Legislature a “B” for environmental progress this year, up from last year’s C.

Bloomberg wants $600 million back from the CityTime contractor.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch praised Cuomo, criticized Obama and side-stepped questions about his sexuality in a wide-ranging interview.

AG Eric Schneiderman designated 14 employees to serve as public integrity officers around the state.

A second defendant was acquitted of all charges related to the Deutsche Bank tower fire.

NYRA’s COO/executive vice president will depart at the end of this year’s meet.

The NYC Council approved the $66 billion budget, 49-1, with the lone “no” vote coming from Charles Barron.

An appeals court judge appointed by George W. Bush sided with the Democrats on health care reform.

The state approved more charter schools, even as the co-location argument rages in NYC.

The US Senate Democrats might nix the July 4th recess.


Turtle power!