Another Vote For Corwin

Assemblyman Dan Burling is the latest GOP elected official to officially bow out of the NY-26 race and throw his support behind Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

“While I gave this potential opportunity serious consideration, I have decided after consulting with family and friends, that I will not pursue a congressional run,” Burling said in a statement.

“As a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, pharmacist, and small business owner I would bring an important perspective to the position. However, now is not the right time and there is much work ahead, as I continue my work for the people of the 147th District in the State Assembly.”

“I have many years of experience understanding the serious issues facing our state and local governments, and the important concerns of the people I represent in the 147th Assembly District.”

“I am well positioned in seniority as a member of the Assembly Rules, and Ways & Means Committees and as a leader in the Assembly Republican Conference, and I will continue the fight in Albany for the people of my district.”

Corwin is still mulling a run, but is clearly building support while she thinks.

The NY-26 GOP leaders set up a formal process to select a candidate during their meeting in Batavia yesterday morning. But at the rate would-be contenders for former Rep. Chris Lee’s seat are bowing out of the race, they’re not going to have much of a choice to make in the end.

Grimm, King Decry GOP Cuts

Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm are bucking their own conference by expressing “grave concern” to House Speaker John Boehner about budget cuts contained in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution that they believe disproportionately impact the five boroughs of NYC and Long Island.

In a letter to Boehner, the downstate duo proclaimed “most troubling” $200 million worth of cuts to transit security grants, which they deemed “vital” to protecting millions of New Yorkers, adding: “(T)hese deep cuts put the lives of our constituents at risk – especially since we know al-Qaeda’s history of attacking trains in London and Madrid.”

Also at issue are cuts to law enforcement programs like the COPS grants, which Grimm and King said they consider these reductions “misguided,” a $400 million reduction in LIHEAP funding and more than $150 million worth of cuts to Amtrak.

The congressmen said they “absolutely believe” deep spending cuts are required, but feel the reductions their fellow House members have proposed are lopsided as far as NYC and LI are concerned. And in that, oddly, King finds himself on the same page as his Zadroga bill nemesis: Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner.

021411 King Grimm CR letter to Boehner

Adams’ Change Of Heart

Sen. Eric Adams, who drew widespread criticism for his “show me the money” speech on the Senate floor in 2007 while debating a legislative pay raise, has shelved his call for a salary boost – at least for the time being.

“I don’t think that any of us in government, we gotta share the pain of the average New Yorkers, so I don’t think anyone should be looking for a pay increase,” the Brooklyn Democrat told CBC6.

“We gotta dig ourselves out of this hole. And we’re the primary investors in this state, and once we dig out of this hole, then we can take a converation about all New Yorkers receiving some type of increase in their salary.”

Adams said he has no regrets about his speech, adding:

“I think every day, New Yokers and Americans walk into their boss’ office based on their job. I do a great job in my district. That’s why I was re-elected with 87 percent of the vote because people know I’m committed to the people of the state.”

Of course, legislators are blocked from voting themselves a pay raise, which means the earliest an increase could go into effect is January 2013.

There has been some speculation that the Legislature might seek to establish an independent pay commission like the one lawmakers set up for the judiciary last year, but so far there has been no move to do so.

Cuomo Hires Mayor Brown’s Spokesman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a pass on making Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown his running mate last fall in favor of another upstater, former Rochster Mayor-turned-LG Bob Duffy.

Now, the governor has tapped Brown’s longtime spokesman Peter Cutler, to serve in his administration, The Buffalo News reports.

Cutler confirmed to YNN that he is indeed leaving the mayor’s office and relocating to Albany, but was coy about his next step. From the News:

“Many political insiders had been speculating that Cutler would leave for a job with the new governor, citing his close ties to the Cuomo family. ”

“Cutler began his career in public service in the 1980s when he worked for then-Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, Andrew Cuomo’s father. He spent five years working for the elder Cuomo, including two years as the governor’s deputy scheduler. Cutler also worked for the state Dormitory Authority during Mario Cuomo’s term.”

Cutler also worked for a time as the spokesman for the Albany International Airport. He has served as Brown’s spokesman for five years and had a similar role in former Mayor Tony Masiello’s administration.

Cutler took a break from public service in 2001 when he left the mayor’s office to become public relations director at the Buffalo office of Eric Mower & Associates. He later worked for Travers Collins & Company, a marketing communications agency.

Citizens Union Decries Legislative ‘Crime Wave’

Citizens Union has identified what it calls an “alarming trend” of legislators leaving office due to ethical transgressions – a phenomenon the good government group says needs strong “corrective action.”

During the past six years from 2005-2010, 13 legislators left office because of criminal charges or ethical misconduct – more than triple the four legislators who left during the previous six-year period from 1999-2004, the report found.

The report, which is CU’s second on this topic in two years, also showed that just over the past four years from 2007 – 2010, the pace of state legislators leaving office for such reasons doubled.

Nine legislators left during this four-year period, which is one more than the eight legislators who left during the entire eight-year period before 2007.

“This acceleration of criminal and ethical misconduct among our state’s elected officials over the past four years is alarming and needs strong corrective action,” said CU Executive Director Dick Dadey.

“There are many good and decent state legislators with high ethical standards, but the rapidly growing number of elected officials who have left office because they violated the public trust is a big unaddressed problem. If there ever was a need to address this crime wave of misconduct, the time is now to enact meaningful ethics reform.”

Electoral defeat continues to be the minority reason that state lawmakers depart office.

However, the report discovered the Legislature which took office in January 2011 contained 47 new faces. That’s the largest turnover seen in New York State during the 1999 – 2010 period, at 22 percent of all legislative seats, and possibly the largest since the 1974 Watergate-influenced election.

Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been negotiating over ethics reform behind closed doors for several weeks now, but so far we haven’t seen anything in the form of bill language.


From Lobbyists, With Love

Various special interests – and I use that term in the loosest of fashions, not necessarily in the axis of evil definition a certain governor has adopted to refer to a select few groups – are using this Hallmark holiday in hopes of breaking through the cacophony at the Capitol at the height of budget season.


NYCLU sent an e-mail blast to its supporters this morning, asking them to send a Valentine’s Day plea to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and rank-and-file members on both sides of the aisle to pass same-sex marriage legislation. The message included the following poem:

Republicans are red,
Democrats are blue,
But love transcends political parties,
We know this is true.

So on this Valentine’s Day,
Tell the state we don’t care who’s straight or gay.
It’s time for the Senate to finally act,
To allow all of New York’s couples to enter the marriage pact.

Marriage fairness is about love,
Family, and children, too.
It’s about dignity and equality,
And discrimination we must undo.

So send a quick note to the reps of our state,
And tell them everyone should be able to marry their soul mate.
The Senate must correct its archaic world view,
For fair marriage laws are long over-due.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Wishing you a wonderful Valentine’s Day,
From the NYCLU!

Meanwhile, students, parents and community members organized by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York and the New York City Coalition for Educational Justice delivered valentines to state lawmakers’ local offices in the Capital District Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Long Island asking them to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed education aid cuts.


Counties Submit Mandate Relief Suggestions

The New York Association of Counties has released their recommendations to Governor Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Taskforce, a good 2 weeks before the March 1st deadline for the committee needs to turn in their final report.

The 32 page report focuses heavily on medicaid relief, their top priority. They blast the state legislature for continually expanding benefits, services and coverage of Medicaid while only funding a portion of the mandate.

“Counties believe that now is the time to recognize that Medicaid is a State program, and that the non-Federal share of its cost is most-appropriately financed solely at the State level, where virtually all the capacity for control and direction resides. It cannot be ignored that the current financing structure which splits shares between the federal government, state and counties of New York contributes directly to the unsustainable size, cost and scope of the program today,” the report says.

The Counties go on to suggest a hard cap for the percentage that counties pay for medicaid, to be implemented at the start of 2012. It also calls on the Medicaid Redesign Team to eliminate certain benefits like podiatry, optometry, and adult dental.


Siena II: Good News For Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s approval rating continues to climb in the wake of her first-ever statewide election success last November, even as GOP leaders continue to search for a candidate to challenge her in 2012.

Today’s Siena poll found New York’s junior senator is enjoying her highest favorable rating ever: 57-18 percent, up from 50-24 percent just four months ago.

A year and a half away from facing voters again – this time for a full six-year term, and not merely the remainder of former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s term – 52 percent of voters, including a plurality of Republicans, say they are prepared to re-elect Gillibrand.

Twenty-nine percent would prefer “someone else,” and 19 percent are undecided.

At least two of Gillibrand’s 2010 GOP opponents, former Rep. Joe DioGuardi and David Malpass, are considering potential re-match attempts against her in 2012.

Former LG Betsy McCaughey is being touted as a possible Gillibrand opponent, and she hasn’t yet ruled out a run. McCaughey spoke at New York’s CPAC and also the the national CPAC this past weekend in Washington, D.C. I’m told some of her “Obamacare” red meat won her a standing ovation.

Gillibrand has been enjoying a spate of national attention following the repeal last year of “DADT” and passage of the Zadroga bill, both of which she made top priorities after inheriting Clinton’s seat in January 2009.

She also unexpectedly became a de facto spokeswoman for injured Rep. Gabby Giffords after her good friend opened her eyes in the hospital while Gillibrand held her hand.

Republicans are worried 2012 will be even more of an uphill battle to anyone seeking to dislodge Gillibrand than 2010 was due to the presence of President Obama atop the Democratic ticket in a Democrat-dominated state like New York. This might be the party’s last chance to defeat Gillibrand, as most agree the longer she holds onto the seat, the less likely she is to lose it.

Siena: Cuomo Hits All-Time High, Even As NYers Digest ‘Painful’ Budget

Today’s Siena poll finds a whopping 77 percent of New Yorkers view new Gov. Andrew Cuomo favorably, up from 70 percent last month, and 72 percent say they at least somewhat support his 2011-2012 spending plan, although they oppose his call to reduce education aid.

A majority of voters – 57 percent – said Cuomo’s doing an excellent or good job as governor, compared to 33 percent who say he’s doing a fair or poor job. That’s up from last month’s 44-28 percent job performance rating.

“After six weeks in office, New Yorkers like the man, and the job that he’s doing as governor,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.

“Most voters continue to view Cuomo as an ideological moderate, and by a four-to-one margin, they continue to trust the governor more than the Legislature to do the right thing for New York.”

Seventy-nine percent favor Cuomo’s desire to close the $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes; 76 percent back his rejection of any new borrowing and 75 support his call to slash overall state spending by $3.7 billion.

But 64 percent oppose Cuomo’s proposed $1.5 billion reduction in state aid to school districts, and 56 percent oppose his 10 percent cut to SUNY and CUNY. New Yorkers are more closely divided, 51-45, over Cuomo’s plan to cut Medicaid spending by about $1 billion.

New Yorkers continue to part ways with Cuomo over the millionaire’s tax, with voters saying 65-33 that the temporary PIT increase on the state’s wealthiest residents should continue past its 2011 sunset date.

And this isn’t just the case of low earners liking the idea of soaking the rich. Sixty-four percent of voters with household incomes of less than $50,000 want the tax continued, a similar 61 percent of voters with household incomes of more than $100,000 want the tax extended, too.

SNY0211 Crosstabs FINAL

Here And Now

This morning’s legislative budget hearing in Albany will focus on economic development. Outgoing ESDC Chairman Dennis Mullen will do the honors because his replacement, Ken Adams, hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Senate.

The afternoon hearing is on taxes.

The federal deficit is predicted to spike to $1.65 trillion in the current fiscal year – the largest dollar amount ever – adding pressure on Democrats and Republicans to tackle growing levels of debt.

The WSJ’s Jacob Gershman reduces Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s projected budget spending with a single phone call.

One of Mayor Bloomberg’s fleet of private planes was in Bermuda overnight during the Christmas blizzard, but it’s not easy to tell whether the mayor himself was there.

A Bloomberg plane was the last small aircraft to land at LaGuardia as the storm intensified.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has traveled outside New York on taxpayer-funded junkets no fewer than eight times since his appointment two years ago, spending nearly $8,500.

Lippman will announce tomorrow a new policy – the nation’s most restrictive – that bars New York judges from hearing cases involving lawyers who contributed significantly to their campaigns.

The TU’s Fred LeBrun finds it “a little bit scary” that New York has a “supposedly populist governor taking the side of the wealthy, and getting away with it.”

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle applauds Cuomo for calling out the so-called budget “sham” of spending increases built into the law.

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