All Aboard The Paladino Bus

I’m not sure how we overlooked this one, but it’s a doozy: Carl Paladino is about to add “tour guide” to his already ecclectic resume.

The Niagara Gazette reports the Giacomo Hotel, a Niagara Falls property owner by the Buffalo businessman and failed 2010 gubernatorial candidate, will be one of the stops along a so-called Business Familiarization Tour local economic development officials are planning for Sept. 22.

The event’s organizers hope would-be developers will be motivated by Paladino’s tale of success in converting the Old United Office Building into a high-end, boutique hotel to do a little investing of their own in this down-at-the-heels WNY city.

“We found a good niche and it’s working,” Paladino told the paper. “Our apartments are full. We’re pleased with the result and we’re looking for other opportunities in Niagara.”

No one has ever questioned Paladino’s long-standing commitment to helping redevelopment Buffalo and its environs, although some – particularly his old nemesis, The Buffalo News and its reporter, Jim Heaney – have questioned his stewardship as a property owner.

Having been on the receiving end of some of Paladino’s less-pleasant tirades, and given his history as an outspoken critic of a whole host of things and people that piss him off royaly, I don’t think it’s going too far out on a limb to say that this tour will be well worth the price of admission.

Cuomo: Butts Out On MTA Platforms

In what will surely bring a howls of “you can’t smoke anywhere in New York” (at least they’ll be howls from clean lungs!) Gov. Andrew Cuomo today approved a measure that would ban smoking on outdoor MTA platforms.

The ban approved by the governor would cover all ticket booths, boarding and platform areas, including the Long Island Railroad. Smoking is already banned on subway platforms in and around New York City.

The new measure is aimed at further curbing second smoke in public areas, Cuomo said in a statement

“It is important that commuters are not unwillingly subject to the dangers of second-hand smoke while waiting on train platforms,” Governor Cuomo said. “Exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to serious health problems for non-smokers and this law will make outdoor MTA train platforms, ticketing and boarding areas a cleaner, healthier place for all commuters. We must continue to work to protect New Yorkers and improve public health, and I thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblywoman Jaffee for sponsoring this important legislation.”

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Charles Fuschillo and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.

DiNapoli: Consolidations Can Work, But Results Are Murky

Consolidations has the potential to make government more efficient, but the actual results are unclear.

That’s the jist of an audit released today by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, who found that consolidation efforts at the Division of Criminal Justice are moving in the right direction, but there’s no good way of determining whether the plan is actually working well.

The audit alos found that there was no set formula that would determine how much money was saved by consolidation at DCJS, nor was there any way to track costs for services provided to other agencies.

“The good news is that years ago DCJS considered and applied an innovative consolidation approach to provide administrative services for four other law enforcement agencies. The bad news is that by not establishing clear measures to determine efficiency and effectiveness of the initiative, there is no way for DCJS and the other agencies to know whether the consolidation benefited taxpayers and consumers. As new opportunities for consolidations unfold, state leaders and policy makers must ensure that they are set up properly from the start.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made consolidating all levels of government — essentially a reinvisioning of state and local governments in New York — a major and overarching priority. The Cuomo administration moved this year to combine the Banking and Insurance departments into the Department of Financial Services. In addition, the Division of Parole merged with the Department of Correctional Services.

And, as AG, Cuomo moved to incentivize local governments to consolidate or merge services.

It should be noted that the DCJS efforts to consolidate services by merging administrative functions at the
Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, State Commission of Correction, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, and the Office of Victim Services predated Cuomo.

10s16

Weprin ‘Deluded’ On Park51, Says Turner

Congressional hopeful Bob Turner is keeping the Park51 issue in the news today, again slamming his Democratic opponent David Weprin for having a “PC” stance on the project.

“If David Weprin can’t recognize the placement of this mosque as an insult, then he needs to snap out of it,” campaign spokesman William O’Reilly said. “A majority of New Yorkers made it perfectly clear that building a mosque that close to Ground Zero so soon after 9/11 was disrespectful and hurtful, yet the developer and his questionable backers refused to budge. It begs the question ‘Why?’ In a city as large as New York, why does this Mosque have to be built there? Why is the developer intentionally wounding the feelings of so many New Yorkers?”

Turner himself added that Weprin has been “drinking from the fountain of political correctness for so long that he can’t tell when his city is being insulted.”

Turner, a Republican businessman, aired his first TV ad of the special election last week, which brought back the issue of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” — a Muslim community center several blocks north of the former World Trade Center site.

The project, which is quietly trying to regain its footing after last summer’s controversy, became a flashpoint in the 2010 elections.

Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, D-Queens, took on the surrogate role for Weprin in response to the ad, saying that he was “distressed” by the Turner campaign’s use of the Sept. 11 attacks on the eve of the 10th anniversary.

Still, Turner’s campaign appears to be gaining some momentum as he received endorsements from two former mayors in recent days: Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani. And the Turner campaign continues to tout a recent poll showing the Republican only six percentage points down.

Of course, the caveat in this mosque stuff remains that it didn’t work for Carl Paladino, Rick Lazio or for Weprin’s 2010 opponent, Bob Friedrich.

Lawmakers: Extend Fracking Comment Period (Updated)

A trio of state lawmakers are joining an environmental group in calling for an extesnion of the Deaprtment of Environmental Conservation’s public comment period for hydraulic fracturing.

Democratic Assemblymen Jack McEneny and Robert Sweeny, along with Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, are calling for a 180-day public comment period. Currently, the draft regulations that would allow for the controversial natural-gas exctraction process would go 60 days.

In a joint statement, the lawmakers, along with the Environmental Advocates of New York, say the two-month review period isn’t enough time for such a complex and lengthy document.

“The 60-day period proposed by state leaders shortchanges New Yorkers,” said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director for Environmental Advocates of New York. “New York State’s fracking review is a technical document that will weigh in at more than 1,000 pages. Every New Yorker, and technical expert, too, deserves more time to read and analyze the state’s proposal given the tremendous impact fracking will have on our water and our communities.”

Update: Add Susan Lerner of Common Cause to the folks who want to extend the public comment period. In a separate statement Lerner said,

“New Yorkers have the right to hold the gas industry accountable and help ensure our water and communities are protected. We deserve time to make sure we understand how our state could be impacted by fracking and what regulations are needed. As good government advocates, we know how important it is to give the public adequate time to participate in the comment process- and 60 days is not long enough. New Yorkers deserve a thorough and deliberative process that includes holding hearings in as many places as possible to garner feedback,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY

The process commonly known as hydrofracking involves using a mixture of chemicals and water to blast through rock and extract natural gas from underground. Energy companies say the process can be done safely and actually be an economic boon for the jobs-starved upstate region. But environmentalists say the process could damage the area water table.

The DEC is currently considering whether to allow high-volume fracking in New York.

Grisanti’s involvement, a Republican in a heavily Democratic district, shouldn’t raise eyebrows. But it does underscore how Senate GOP lawmakers are split on whether high-volume hydrofracking should move forward in the state.

A Quinnipiac survey of voters last week found New Yorkers were split on whether an expansion of hydrofracking should be allowed. Supporter is strong for its use among upstate residents, but downstate voters by a larger margin oppose hydrofracking.

Speaking on Talk-1300 AM on Friday, former Assemblyman William Parment, a hydrofracking proponent, said he didn’t expect any permits for high-volume fracking to be issued for at least a year, given the slew of expected legal challenges.

Giuliani For Turner

Former NYC Rudy Giuliani has endorsed NY-9 hopeful Bob Turner, praising the Queens Republican’s “national and international business know-how.”

(H/T City Hall News).

“Congress is in dire need of business leaders like Bob Turner, not another career politician,” Giuliani said in a statement released by Turner’s campaign.

“This country needs to start creating jobs again and Bob Turner has the national and international business know-how to help move us in that direction. I’m proud to join Mayor Ed Koch and others in endorsing Bob Turner for Congress, and I strongly urge Brooklyn and Queens residents to vote for him on September 13th.”

Giuliani, who is still mulling his own political future, will do an in-person event for Turner later in the campaign. The special election is on Sept. 13 – concurrent with the regularly scheduled primary election.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester and Albany with no public schedule.

NY1 reports Mayor Bloomberg will announce Al Laboz as the developer for Brooklyn’s iconic Municipal Building today at noon.

The CSEA contract vote result is expected today.

Former Pennsylvania Gov./DNC Chairman Ed Rendell, a friend of Bill Clinton’s, says Cuomo should “look elsewhere” – not the White House – in 2016, because Hillary Clinton is going to run. However, he didn’t say why he believes that.

Cuomo pledged his administration would be the most transparent in recent memory, but not, apparently, when it comes to his use of taxpayer-funded aircraft.

At suggestion Cuomo is trying to upstage AG Eric Schneiderman, Josh Vlasto attacks: “Anyone who thinks the governor hasn’t been doing the job of governor is living in a different state – namely the state of delusion.”

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said he would decide at the end of the summer about 2012, still is “not ready,” adding another two months to his timeline.

If Giuliani – or Mayor Bloomberg, or ex-Gov. George Pataki, for that matter – want to get into the 2012 ring, they better move quickly.

A “campaign source” tells City Hall news Giuliani will endorse GOP NY-9 candidate Bob Turner today, with a formal event to follow on Sept. 13.

Assemblyman David Weprin’s campaign sent out a video of seniors questioning Turner’s commitment to protecting Social Security to mark the 76th “birthday” of the entitlement program.

Fear of a credit downgrade helped spur the Port Authority to propose raising tolls on NYC tunnels and bridges. Cuomo’s people had talked about a $2 hike, but the $4 plan was a surprise.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Iowa-born Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in second, while Bachmann’s Minnesota rival, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, finished a distant and disappointing (for him) third.

Less than 24 hours later, Pawlenty ended his campaign, becoming the fist casualty of the 2012 race.

Just a reminder: Only two of five previous straw poll winners – Bob Dole and George W. Bush – have gone on to win the Republican presidential nomination.

As expected, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his 2012 candidacy.

Steve Kornacki explains why the time is ripe for an independent presidential candidate, but also predicts Bloomberg ultimately won’t go for it.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has used taxpayer-funded aircraft to fly home to Westchester from various points around the state. Using state planes/helicopters to commute is considered a no-no by ethics officials.

Vintage Vlastoism: “It’s outrageous that due to an apparent lack of news, The Associated Press has now decided to fabricate stories.” (See above link).

Cuomo, a self-professed “car guy” who could not recall the last time he took the subway, is charged with selecting a new MTA chairman in whose hand the future of the NYC transit system will rest.

The result of the CSEA members’ vote on the five-year contract deal struck by their leaders with the Cuomo administration will be known tomorrow.

Manhattan BP Scott Stringer was sufficiently relieved to learn Alec Baldwin won’t run in 2013 to issue this zinger: “I’m not sure they teach ‘Mayor 101,’ but if they do, I think a whole lot of people should take the course.”

More >

Extras

Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is in talks to consult for the British police as they continue to battle rioting. (Update: He has accepted the gig).

The “individual mandate” portion of the health care reform law was ruled unconstitutional by a US appeals court.

Long-shot 2013 NYC mayoral candidate Tom Allon hired Democratic uber-fundraiser Cindy Darrison.

Mayor Bloomberg is an equal opportunity taxer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son is topless on a billboard.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie promotes the “real” Jersey shore.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio tweaked Mitt Romney by promoting the hashtag “corporations are people.”

Albany Law School’s Government Law Center has a new blog devoted to the often shady yet oddly fascinating world of NY public authorities.

Officers at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island are suing in hopes of preventing the state-ordered shutdown of the prison.

The WFP is holding a gala to celebate its 13th year of existence in NY.

Mayflower Hotel, Rm. 871, where Eliot Spitzer met the hooker who led to his political demise included on list of “notorious hotel rooms.”

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings would welcome a non-Indian casino in the Capital City – if such a thing were legal.

Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell Jr. supports fellow Manhattan Dem, NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, for speaker.

Assemblyman David Weprin called Bon Turner’s use of 9/11 imagery in his first TV ad “offensive.”

A little Alec-Baldwin-for-mayor humor to brighten your Friday.

Taxi fleet owner moonlights as African chief, or maybe it’s the other way around….

Goodbye to “The Ones.”

Koch: Time Never ‘Righter’ For 3rd Party Prez Candidate

In an exclusive interview with the conservative Website Newsmax, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch suggested he might not vote for his fellow Democrat, President Obama, insisting it’s time for an independent candidate to enter the fray.

Koch floated conservative commentator George Will for the job, but said he would be “supportive” if his longtime friend and ally, Mayor Bloomberg, changes his mind about 2012 and decides to run.

” The time has never been righter for a third party candidate,” Koch said. “…Let me be clear, I am a proud Democrat, I believe in Democratic principles, and I would love to vote for the Democratic president, but I can’t unless he establishes some leadership.”

Koch endorsed Obama in 2008, but has since fallen out of love with the president – largely due to his dealings with Israel.

The former mayor is trying to make the NY-9 special election to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s vacant House seat a referendum on Obama and his Israel policy by endorsing Republican Bob Turner over Democratic Assemblyman (and observant Jew) David Weprin.

If the 2012 race comes down to a choice between any of the eight Republicans currently in the field and Obama, Koch said he will likely opt not to vote. He also recently left the door open to potentially endorsing “modern Republican” Rudy Giuliani, apparently having gotten over his belief that his fellow former mayor has a “personality problem.”

As for last night’s GOP debate, Koch said he felt former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was the winner – basically because he made no missteps and “was not damaged” – while Jon Huntsman lost because he failed to impress anybody.

The former mayor graded Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s performance as “subperb,” adding: “Her presentation, her demeanor, the way she handled herself, were all good.”