Grandeau: We’re Commenting On A Press Release Right Now

David Grandeau, the former executive director of the defunct Temporary Commission on Lobbying, said it’s difficult to comment on the ethics overhaul announcement without any details.

But Grandeau, a fierce critic of the successor organization Commission on Public Integrity, said he liked what he saw so far of the proposed Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which would replace the CPI.

“The basic question is, how do you comment on something when you don’t have a bill, so we’re commenting on the press release right now,” he said.

As of right now, there’s no formal bill language that’s been introduced. Officials said the bill language will be available by the planned 2:15 news conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

“But at the end of the day, to the extent that what results from this press release gets rid of the Public Integrity Commission, we have an opportunity for new people, I think we’re making a huge step ahead,” he said.

Grandeau also said governor receiving fewer appointees to JCOPE than the Legislature is not a problem.

“It’s going to be the picks. If you have six good picks, it’s better than Spitzer’s seven bad picks, isn’t it? So let’s judge this governor on who those picks are and what those picks are.”

‘Alcopops’ Ban On Senate Agenda

The Senate today will consider a measure that would ban caffeinated-alcoholic beverages in New York, a move aimed at stemming the so-called “alcopops” market critics say is aimed at minors.

The measure, sponsored by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference, would make it a felony to sell alcoholic beverages like Four Loko that contain stimulants.

The Assembly version is sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who famously attempted to drink Four Loko, with rather gross results.

From the bill memo:

The popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol at bars has led to the introduction of energy drinks premixed with alcohol. Many of these beverages are primarily malt based beverages, and therefore,
can be sold in the same places as beer and malt liquor, i.e., supermarkets, convenience stores, and bodegas. These sales points are also the same place that teenagers can hang around at and purchase soda and snacks. High alcohol CABs such as Joose and Four Loko are examples of this trend.

Last week, Klein announced would subpeona the makers of Four Loko to determine how they market their product. Klein believes the Chicago-based company tailors its marketing to entice those underage to drink the brew.

Koch: One Down

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, the driving force behind the reformist New York Uprising, is cheering the ethics overhaul deal, giving credit to voters for holding lawmakers’ feet to the fire on the issue.

In a letter sent to supporters, Koch congratulated them for backing ethics reform. Koch singled out the new Joint Comission on Public Ethics for having “teeth” and praised the bill for its requirements to disclose client lists.

But Koch also says more work needs to be done: He still wants an independent commission to redraw legislative boundaries.

From his letter:

Congratulations to the Governor and his colleagues on reaching this essential milestone.

And just as important: Congratulations to you. The crescendo toward this moment has been building over the last year or so. After relentlessly helping to make ethics reform a major issue in virtually every campaign in the state, we successfully raised its profile and placed tremendous pressure on the system and the players to enact a strong bill before the end of session.

New York Uprising set out by identifying the three most important reforms necessary for fixing our state’s dysfunctional government — including Ethics Reform. With your support behind me, I traveled the state, calling for outside income disclosure in Buffalo, disclosure of client lists in Long Island, and in Albany, a state ethics commission with teeth.

Diaz: I’m Keeping Weiner In My Prayers

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, said he was keeping embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner in his prayers, knocking how their fellow Democrats are deserting him.

Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, said it was “shameful” to see other officials abandon him after Weiner’s twitter account sent a lewd photo to a woman in Seattle.

Here’s the full statement from Diaz:

“The Bible teaches us to take care of others and to help others when they are down.

It is appalling to witness the way that Congressman Anthony Weiner’s colleagues have been running away from him during these past few days. It is just shameful to see how many of Congressman Weiner’s supposed friends – especially those who are elected officials – have abandoned him as the media makes a total mockery of him.

Although Congressman Weiner has never defended my positions on some of the issues that matter most to me, I know that he has fought hard for New York State. He has fought hard for the Democratic Party, for his colleagues in the Democratic Party, and for the President of the United States.

I am not defending any mistakes he may have made – who knows – but it is shameful to watch this ongoing ridicule of Congressman Weiner.

I am praying for Congressman Weiner and I ask everyone to join me and pray for him during these difficult times.”

Skelos On Ethics Bill: ‘Significant Reform’

Individual members of the of GOP conference were involved in the ethics overhaul negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said in a radio interview this morning.

“This has really been a legislatively involved process,” Skelos told John Gambling this morining.

The deal, announced late Friday, would require legislators to reveal more information about their outside income and reveal clients at law firms who have both direct and outside clients and customers doing business with, receiving grants or contracts from, seeking legislation or resolutions from, or involved in cases or proceedings before the state.

Sens. Kemp Hannon and Andrew Lanza were involved in the negotiations, Skelos said.

Multiple legislators in both houses and parties also moonlight as lawyers, including Skelos, Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Attorney-legislators have resisted revealing their outside clients, citing attorney-client privledge.

He added the agreement forged between himself, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is “significant reform.”

“You have a personal life and a professional, political life and certainly the governmental political life should be open,” he said.

In interview, Skelos also dug in on a so-called sunset date for the property-tax cap, saying enacting such a bill would not provide certainty to taxpayers. The Assembly proposal, being embraced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would tie the expiration of a 2 percent limit on property tax increases to rent control for New York City.

“I don’t believe there should be a sunset date. I believe that’s the wrong way to go. Down the road you could have a Leiglsature of all one party and they could just say let it go,” he said.

NYers United For Marriage Launch 2nd TV Ad

With just 8 days left in the legislative session, the coalition of gay marriage advocates are continuing their push for passage of a same-sex marriage bill in the state Senate.

Today, they have launched their second statewide TV Ad, featuring a Nassau County couple, the Blumenthals, who have two children. One who is straight and married, and one who is gay and has been in a committed relationship for 11 years.

By our tally, there are 29 senators who say they are prepared to vote no on the bill – though privately we are hearing that some of them could be turned.

It takes 32 votes to pass the bill, but we are hearing it is more likely that they will have to get 34 or 35 votes so no one can be held accountable for casting the deciding vote to pass the controversial bill.

Here And Now

Part II of the NY Times’ scathing expose on how the state is failing the developmentally disabled residents in its care.

Another day, another tabloid headline entendre for Rep. Anthony Weiner.

And this might merely be the tip of the iceberg.

The Seattle college student who received the Tweet that sparked this scandal says (on Twitter, of course) that she was “Trojan horsed” by the NY Post.

Weiner’s potential 2013 NYC mayoral opponent, ex-NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, remarked on his absence at the Israel Day parade: “He created a circus for the last week. I’m not going to tell him how to handle this. It’s clearly up to him.”

“That will be the T-shirt for anybody running against him for mayor: ‘Certitude.’ Like Anthony’s gift to his opponents. It will be another way for them to say he’s full of —-.”

Legislators have proposed a bill that would mandate “educational reform” for teens who get in trouble for sexting. (How long before the nickname “Weiner’s Law” takes hold?)

More techies weigh in on Weiner’s hacking defense.

Andrea Peyser suggests Tweeting lewd photos is a form of sexual harassment.

The Public Integrity Commission, acting on borrowed time, absolved Cuomo adviser Jeffrey Sachs of violating lobbying regulations. A Cuomo aide refused to say if he testified during the inquiry.

The ethics deal will allow the return of legislative receptions.

The Legislature is only scheduled to work two days this week, making passage of the ethics deal difficult.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo marched in today’s Israel Day parade. Rep. Anthony Weiner did not – to the chagrin of NJ Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

“The impact on the congressman and what it means to people, we’ll wait and see,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to be up to the congressman how he handles it and then people will have an opinion when they actually have the facts.”

Weiner’s exes, including Kirsten Powers (of Fox News), dish about what he was like as a boyfriend. (Smooth, doting, not a sexter).

A Conservative blogger denied to the DN that he hacked Weiner’s Twitter and/or yfrog accounts.

Tom DeFrank compares Weinergate to Watergate, saying both were “abysmal” PR failures.

The Post documents the metamorphosis of the congressman’s Weinergate responses.

Weiner was the only NY delegation member who gave cash to scandal-scarred Rep. Charlie Rangel’s legal defense fund. ($2,000).

Weiner also has some car trouble.

NYC Council Minority Leader Jimmy Oddo hopes Weiner remains a “viable candidate” for NYC mayor in 2013.

Weiner might have some trouble before that, as his 2010 GOP challenger, Bob Turner, is considering a re-match.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is going rather grimly about her business.

The TU editorial board finds the ethics deal lacking.

Ethics enforcement is a growth industry in Albany.

The fate of the tax cap and gay marriage – two of Cuomo’s three top post budget policy priorities – lie in the hands of the Senate GOP.

More >

Mr. And Mrs. Nixon Cox

Supermarket mogul, fundraiser and (briefly) Democrat-turned-Republican 2009 mayoral contender John Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo, sent out a press release shortly before 8 p.m. this evening to announce the wedding of their daughter, Andrea, to Christopher Nixon Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox and his wife, Tricia.

According to the press release, today’s nuptials took place almost 40 years to the day after the groom’s parents were married at a nationally-celebrated White House Rose Garden ceremony. Tricia Cox is the daughter of the late former President Nixon, and Ed Cox worked for his father-in-law back in the day.

More from the release:

The daughter and son of two celebrated American political and philanthropic families, Andrew John Catsimatidis Cox and Christopher Nixon Cox,were married today at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Mrs. Cox, 21, is the daughter of John Catsimatidis,Chairman and CEO of the Red Apple Group, Gristides Foods, and the Red Apple Group subsidiary, United Refining Company. Mr. Catsimatidis and his wife, Margo, are well-known philanthropists and political donors, who have contributed to both Republican and Democratic candidates and office holders across the country.

Mr. Cox, 32, is the son of Patricia Nixon Cox and New York State Republican Chairman Ed Cox. He is the grandson of the late President Richard Milhous Nixon. “

Following today’s ceremony, a reception for more than 700 guests was held in the Grand Ballroom of New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, featuring “luminaries from across the nation”, including:

Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, former New York State Governor George Pataki, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, former Rep. Mike Bilirakis, former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Chris Cox is described in the release as an attorney who was a GOP candidate for Congress in NY-1 last fall. (He finished last in a three-way primary, and his candidacy was very controversial, considering his father’s position as party chairman.

Andrea Cox, 21, is, according to the release, president of the NYU Republican Club. Both are active in “civic and philanthropic endeavors.”

The bride’s dress was designed by Reem Acra. The groom was outfitted by Tom Ford. The couple will spend their honeymoon in Hawaii and California before returning to settle in New York.


Distraction? What Distraction?

…That sums up Rep. Paul Tonko’s answer when I asked him if he’s concerned that Weinergate has overshadowed what was otherwise a strong week, news-wise, for the House Democrats.

Thanks to the Brooklyn congressman’s Twitter scandal, the storyline of Rep. Kathy Hochul’s upset win in NY-26 and the political danger of backing Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal was completely derailed, replaced by breathless and pun-filled reports about the lewd photo Tweeted from Weiner’s account to a Seattle college student.

Tonko notably did not defend Weiner (none of his fellow Democrats are exactly running to back him up on this one), insisting he lacked sufficient details to comment.

“This still the overall priority: Grow jobs, grow the economy, stop shrinking the middle class – these are the guiding principles,” Tonko insisted. “This is where all the focus is. I can tell you down here it is not that distraction. People are still working.”