Apr 22nd - 11:15 am
State Director of Operations Howard Glaser this morning said negotiations with the state worker unions will kick into high-gear come Monday.
“We’re prepared to go seven days a week, 24 hours a day to address these reductions,” Glaser said in an interview on Talk 1300-AM this morning.
The 2011-12 state budget includes $450 million in baked-in savings for workforce concessions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed for the savings in his Feb. 1 budget address, has said he would seek the concessions from unions or would push for up to 9,800 state worker layoffs.
“We do have to reach certain target figures” or layoffs will be necessary, said Glaser, adding, “That’s just math.”
“We have limited resources and we have to find ways to streamline spending,” he said.
Union leaders for the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation have been tight lipped over the status of the negotiations out of respect for a Cuomo-imposed media blackout. Contracts for most state workers expired March 31, which triggered automatic step increases under the provisions of the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law.
Cuomo in recent days has touted the concessions his administration successfully sought from Council 82, a small union of specialized law enforcement employees. The governor announced earlier this month that Council 82 agreed to cuts in health care benefits, wage freezes and additional concessions that avoided layoffs.
PEF and CSEA leaders dismissed the Council 82 agreement, noting that their organizations are both larger and have more complex issues at stake.
PEF’s Ken Brynien went even further, saying that Cuomo’s office had made similar offers that Council 82 accepted.
“We’ve put very reasonable ideas on the table,” Glaser said.
Glaser says health-care benefits are “out of alignment” with private sector, as well as other states and federal benefits, and noted that there had been 14 percent increase in pay for public employees over the years.
Apr 22nd - 11:11 am
AG Eric Schneiderman sent an Earth Day email blast to supporters this morning that touted his environmental accomplishments and vowing to “reaffirm our shared commitment to protecting New York’s environmental resources.”
The AG’s list includes:
- Pledging to sue the federal government if it fails to commit, within in 30 days, to conducting a full, transparent environmental review of proposed regulations that would allow natural gas drilling – including the hydrofracking in the Delaware River Basin.
- Arguing before the US Supreme Court to uphold states’ right of to sue five polluting power companies to force them to reduce climate change-causing carbon dioxide emissions.
- Challenging the federal government over storage of nuclear waste and the relicensing requirements for Indian Point.
- Suing out-of-state power plants and leading a coalition of attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Massachusetts in hopes of blocking efforts in the House to remove environmental regulations.
Following in the footsteps of two outsized AGs – Eliot “White Knight of Wall Street” Spitzer and Andrew “Anti-Capitol Corruption” Cuomo – most observers agree Schneiderman needs to strike out into new territory and find his niche.
Schneiderman has kept a relatively low profile during the first three months of his tenture as the state’s top attorney. But two issues have emerged as potential signatures for the new AG: Mortgage fraud and the environment.
Apr 22nd - 10:44 am
Democrat Kathy Hochul has received the backing of the abortion-rights political action committee Emily’s List, the group announced this morning.
“Kathy Hochul is an uncompromising leader and a fiscal watchdog who’s spent her career fighting for the families of Erie County – putting aside politics as usual to fight for the jobs that families need.” said Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List. “Kathy’s brand of smart innovation has repeatedly cut costs, eliminated red tape, and streamlined services for taxpayers and small businesses.
The PAC, which is focused on electing pro-choice female Democratic candidates, likes to flex its fundraising muscles early and often. Hochul is running against Republican Jane Corwin, independent Jack Davis and Green Party candidate Ian Murphy. The seat was vacated by Republican Chris Lee, who resigned following his shirtless Craigslist scandal.
Apr 22nd - 10:31 am
Country music star Jerry Naylor and early booster of Ronald Reagan is joining the effort to draft Donald Trump in running for president.
Naylor will serve as the Oregon coordinator for the draft Trump campaign.
“Jerry Naylor is an experienced professional with a track record of supporting and electing the best candidates,” said Nick McLaughlin, Draft Trump 2012 National Chairman. “He is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding Draft Trump 2012 movement.”
Naylor, who backed Reagan’s early, but failed, campaign for president in 1976, was appointed to two three-year terms as Federal Commission of the National Commission for Employment Policy, which is part of the Department of Labor.
He adds to the list of celebrity endorsements for Trump, the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC. Contestant Gary Busey recently said he would back a Trump candidacy.
The businessman is rumored to make an announcement as to whether he will run for president on the season finale of the show in June.
Apr 22nd - 7:29 am
Happy Earth Day.
Jeremy Peters tries to deconstruct the complex relationship between The Post’s Fred Dicker and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign abruptly resigned amid an ongoing ethics probe involving an affair between himself and the wife of his best friend and former top aide.
After being met with roadblocks in Albany, UB officials are considering scaling back their ambitious 2020 plan.
Cuomo’s SAGE commission members are being tasked with succeeding where others failed – it’s a tall order.
A top NYPD officer caught in the ticket-fixing scandal downplayed the significance of the probe, saying it was just “one ticket.”
Several high-ranking members of NYC government and a Yankees official are among those who got their tickets fixed, a source tells the AP.
The cop who helped the baseball official could face perjury charges.
“I have been on the job for nearly three decades, and it was never deemed unusual to get calls from high-ranking department members when a summons was given to their family member or friends,” said Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
Two NY GOP House members – Reps. Ann Marie Buerkle and Chris Gibson – are either under fire or being thanked for their “yes” votes on the Medicare portion of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan in competing radio ads.
Protestors showed up to voice their displeasure with Rep. Tom Reed’s “yes” vote.
Apr 21st - 6:12 pm
Republicans are still searching for Mr. – or Ms. – right.
Stakeholders and members of the Cuomo administration met for the first time today about creating a health care exchange. The timeline is tight and many questions remain unanswered.
AG Eric Schneiderman is renewing his call for more hydrofracking study after the explosion in Pennsylvania.
Mayor Bloomberg and NJ Gov. Chris Christie share an appreciation for hockey.
New Jersey’s millionaire’s tax does not appear to have caused an exodous of rich people from the Garden State.
Donald Trump promises Meghan McCain he won’t disappoint her if he runs in 2012.
Tump bungled the privacy/pro-life question.
Work has halted on the $23 million renovation project of luxury apartments for judges in Albany.
Sen. Joe Robach hopes naming an official state dog will increase adoptions of homeless pooches.
“New Yorkers are scrappy, just like rescue dogs. We often both have a bone to pick. And a lot of us are mutts,” said Assemblyman Micah Kellner.
Bloomberg’s revised PlaNYC calls for phasing out heavy heating oils.
New Yorkers feel bullish about the real estate market, although the sentiment is stronger downstate.
SEIU has a new plan based on the Wisconsin protests that includes an aggressive outreach to nonunion members.
Singing protestors interrupted the president at a San Francisco fundraiser.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano got shot down again by the NIFA.
Maybe Obama should put his money where his mouth is on taxes?
There’s still speculation over who pushed David Bellavia out of the NY-26 race.
Apr 21st - 5:23 pm
John McArdle, a former top Senate GOP staffer who retired last fall after 29 years on the public payroll to become a consultant, has signed on to help the new coordinated campaign for the legalization of gay marriage in New York, sources familiar with his plans confirm.
Technically speaking, McArdle will be working with another former Senate majority staffer, Mike Avella, who is now a lobbyist representing the Gill Foundation’s political arm, Gill Action. He starts Monday.
McArdle will assist with PR and strategy, with a focus on the very GOP members on whose behalf he used to spin LCA members like myself silly.
This seems terribly ironic, and it is – to an extent. But it’s not really so surprising when you consider the fact that McArdle’s old boss, former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who once referred to homosexuality as an “abnormal lifestyle,” experienced a conservsion on this subject back in 2009.
This is all part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ramped-up effort to get gay marriage passed in the Senate, where it failed back in December 2009 in a 38-24 vote. At the time, not a single Republican voted “yes”, even though advocates insisted on multiple occasions that were up to five GOP senators willing to do so.
Three Democratic senators who voted “no” last time around – Buffalo’s Bill Stachowskil; and George Onorato and Hiram Monserrate, both of Queens – are now gone, all replaced by “yes” voters (Sens. Tim Kennedy, Jose Peralta, and Mike Gianaris, respectively).
A staunch Republican “no” vote – former Queens Sen. Frank Padavan – has been replaced by Democratic Sen. Tony Avella, a certain “yes”.
UPDATE: I’m reminded another Democratic “yes”, Sen. David Carlucci, replaced a Republican “no” last fall, the late Republican Sen. Tom Morahan.
At least four others who voted “no” in 2009 – Democratic Sens. Shirley Huntley and Joe Addabbo, both of Queens; Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Carl Kruger and Republican Sen. Jim Alesi, who hails from the Rochester area – are now on the fence.
Other Republican senators advocates plan to target include: Gregory Ball of Putnam County, Andy Lanza of Staten Island, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo and the Capital Region’s Roy McDonald,
Apr 21st - 3:42 pm
A reader noted the quiet introduction of a bill yesterday by five Senate Republicans that would exclude seven suburban counties from paying the controversial MTA payroll tax enacted as part of the 2009 bailout plan to rescue the perennially cash-strapped downstate authority.
No big surprise there. The Senate GOP – particularly Sens. Greg Ball and Lee Zeldin, who are sponsoring this measure along with Sens. John Bonacic, Bill Larkin and Steve Saland – have been talking about repeal of this onerous tax for some time now.
But, as CanTon viewers who recall my recent interview with Zeldin might recall, there has been an open question about how the Republicans would propose to replace the $1.3 billion in annual revenue generated by the tax.
(Actually, I guess the hole would be slightly smaller, since the five NYC boroughs would still have to pay. The counties included are: Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Suffolk, Dutchess and Nassau).
Some advocates have suggested the return of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal to make up the difference, although that would only generate an estimated $400-$500 million. (It’s also worth noting that the mayor’s revised PlaNYC, which he unveiled today, doesn’t include the pay-to-drive idea).
But these five senators decided to go in a different – albeit equally controversial – direction, reviving the call to toll the East River bridges in NYC. That includes the following spans: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensboro (or, officially speaking, the Ed Koch Queensboro).
As you’ll recall, Richard Ravitch, who was the architect of the MTA bailout plan long before he was tapped by former Gov. David Paterson to serve as LG, initially proposed tolls on the East River and Harlem River bridges as a means of preventing fare hikes, and he was practically run out of town on a rail.
The outer borough lawmakers put their collective foot down, and the tolls were left out of the bailout plan by the Senate Democrats, who were in charge of the chamber at the time.
Apr 21st - 2:47 pm
Former New York Gov. George Pataki told Sean Hannity on Fox News last night that he was more or less ruling out a run for president in 2012.
The Republican is launching a new group, No American Debt, and has more than $1 million in financial support for the organization.
“I’m not running for president, I think this is an extraordinarily important issue. Sean, I’ve been around politics long enough to say, ‘Never say never.’”
Pataki, a three-term governor, has flirted off and on about running for GOP nomination, but has never taken the plunge for a full-on campaign.
Here’s some video of the interview:
Apr 21st - 2:29 pm
Mayor Michael Bloomberg today launched a new federal lawsuit against tobacco sellers he says has been operating a bootleg cigarette ring on the Internet.
“Illegal cigarettes cost our City and State billions of dollars, through increased health care costs and by cheating law abiding small businesses out of customers and cheating taxpayers out of much needed tax revenue,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “We will continue working with our partners in the federal government to protect the public health and fiscal health of our City and State.”
The suit targets retailers in Kentucky, California, and Michigan operating under the name Cigarettes Direct 2U.com who the mayor charges have shipped more than four million packs of cigarettes to city residents without paying for the necessary city tax stamp. The company operated seven separate websites, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court today.
The lawsuit seeks to recover $19.5 million in lost revenue, Bloomberg’s office said.
This isn’t the first suit Bloomberg has filed against online tobacco retailers. The mayor filed suit last year against King Mountain Tobacco Company after the retailers failed to pay city taxes.