Jan 6th - 5:44 pm
Mayor Bloomberg is trying to get ahead of the next snowstorm bearing down on NYC.
Bloomberg’s approval rating has hit a new low, according to the Marist poll.
Two NYC Sanitation Department bosses were demoted.
Azi Paybarah beats me at my own game.
WHAM13 reporter Sean Carroll is getting press for being snubbed by Sandra Lee.
Ed Koch liked “Client 9.”
Some Assembly Democrats are proposing an alternative to Cuomo’s property tax cap.
President Obama has a new chief of staff.
The WFP launched an on-line push for a public campaign finance system.
Archbishop Dolan and other religious leaders who oppose abortion held a press conference to lament abortion rates in NYC.
NARAL Pro-Choice NY’s Mary Alice Carr said: “If the Archbishop and his allies are truly committed to lowering the New York City abortion rate, they might consider supporting the tools proven to reduce unintended pregnancies: comprehensive sex education and birth control for sexually active individuals.” (No link).
Assemblyman Rory Lancman defended his call to extend the millionaires tax on Fox.
Cuomo’s SoS comments about his Clinton cabinet years got noticed in D.C.
Bloomberg recorded a video for the “It Gets Better Project.”
Greg David has some unanswered questions following the SoS.
Ex-Gov. David Paterson’s new spokesman is from….NEW JERSEY! (Hello, SNL?)
Bloomberg is still being cagey about his whereabouts during the Christmas weekend blizzard.
Shams Tarek has a new job.
The NYC parking meter increase is off the table.
Jan 6th - 4:39 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just formally announced his new counsel, state Supreme Court Justice James Yates, who was first appointed to the bench as a Court of Claims Judge by then Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1992.
Yates was elected to the Supreme Court in 1997.
He’s coming full circle by accepting this job. Yates served as counsel to the majority and legislative counsel to former Assembly Speaker Mel Miller from 1986 to 1992. He began his legal career as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of NYC in 1973.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to work with and for Speaker Silver and the members of the Assembly as they endeavor to take the necessary steps toward economic recovery, restoring the people’s faith in government and doing what’s best for this great state,” Yates said in a press release.
Yates was supposed to serve as former Gov. David Paterson’s counsel. He was even appointed to the post, but then ended up backing out of the job to remain on the bench.
The counsel job in Silver’s office has been open since the departure of Michael Boxley, who was indicted on rape charges in 2003. (This wasn’t the first time Boxley had been accused of sexual assault, as you’ll recall). He eventually admitted to sexual misconduct and lost his law license temporarily.
Jan 6th - 4:24 pm
In the wake of losing eight (or possibly nine) seats – an unusually high number for a majority conference – the Assembly Democrats may have to defend yet another, this time in Queens.
D’Amico, who died in late December after a long battle with cancer, had held her job since 1991. During her tenure, the county became the first in the city to implement a jury duty call-in system.
Pheffer is not necessarily a sure thing. The appointment here is done by the presiding judge of the Second Department, who was appointed by former Republican Gov. George Pataki.
But a GOP source told me he would be surprised if the Democrats aren’t lobbying very hard on Pheffer’s behalf. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall should be in Pheffer’s corner.
The assemblywoman had her eye on the BP job, but instead endorsed Marshall’s bid for a third term in 2009 after Mayor Bloomberg’s successful push to extend term limits.
As for who might run for Pheffer’s seat, several sources have mentioned her chief of staff, JoAnn Shapiro. Others suggested the candidates who challenged GOP NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich in 2009 – Geraldine M. Chapey; Frank Gulluscio (who ended up getting knocked off the ballot); Mike Ricatto; and Lew M. Simon.
Another name that surfaced: Y. Phillip Goldfeder, a former aide to Mayor Bloomberg and Queens native who works as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The GOP, which has had some success in Queens in recent elections, will likely make a push for the seat. The district overlaps with Ulrich’s and also has a sizable Orthodox Jewish population, which could help a more conservative candidate.
(I should also note that Goldfeder is an observant Jew who has experience running campaigns, including former NYC Councilman Simcha Felder’s never-realized comptroller race and failed state Senate bid against Sen. Kevin Parker).
Jan 6th - 4:04 pm
The latest additions to Team Cuomo:
- Former Sen. Darrel Aubertine, nominated to serve as commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets. (Requires Senate confirmation).
“Darrel’s experience and expertise in agriculture is unparalleled,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“He fought for years on behalf of farmers in the state legislature and delivered real results. New York’s agricultural community will thrive with Darrel at the helm of this critical department, and I thank him for his service.”
- John S. Dyson, NYPA trustee. (Also requires Senate confirmation).
“”John Dyson brings lifelong experience and a deep knowledge of energy issues and economic development to the New York Power Authority,” Cuomo said.
“New Yorkers can have confidence that with John on the team, energy delivery and allocation will be in good hands. I thank him for his continued service.”
The background information on Aubertine and Dyson appears after the jump.
Jan 6th - 3:46 pm
AG Eric Schneiderman is wasting no time getting down to business in his new job, announcing this afternoon that he is taking action to sue a major Pennsylvania electric power plant over multiple violations of the federal Clean Air Act.
The plant, Homer City Station, is the largest out-of-state contributor of sulfur dioxide pollution to New York, according to the AG’s office. It emits approximately 100,000 tons of SO2 annually – more than twice as much of this harmful pollutant as all of the power plants operating inside the state combined.
The AG is teaming up with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Protection Agency, which has filed a lawsuit today against the plant for CAA violations.
The states have filed a motion to intervene in EPA’s case, which would ensure that the cases are litigated together before the same judge.
“The owners of this power plant have repeatedly thumbed their noses at clean air laws, while dumping more than double the sulfur dioxide pollution into our air and lungs as all of the power plants operating in New York combined,” Schneiderman said.
“Their disregard for New Yorkers is simply unconscionable, and as Attorney General, I am committed to taking the fight to those who endanger the health and environment of New York. This lawsuit reflects my commitment, holding the owners of the Homer City power plant accountable for breaking the law, and polluting the air that New Yorkers breathe.”
Schneiderman’s predecessor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, did some environmental cases during his four-year tenure in the AG’s office, but they weren’t a primary focus for him like, say, the student loans cases or the pay-to-play state pension fund probe.
Schneiderman has some pretty big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of both Cuomo and former AG/Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Look for him to try to take the office in a different direction and seek to put his own stamp on things.
Jan 6th - 2:34 pm
Former Sen. Darrel Aubertine, who lost his seat to Republican Sen. Patricia Ritchie in November, has found a soft landed with the Cuomo administration, according to sources familiar with the deal.
Aubertine will soon be named commissioner of Agriculture, a source close to the senator confirmed. (I’ve asked the Cuomo press office for comment. No word back yet).
Aubertine, as you’ll recall, won a long-held GOP seat in a special election back in February 2008. It was a big win for the Democrats and for then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
In fact, it was seen as a turnaround for the governor – and one that was very short-lived, because less than a month later he fell from grace due to a prostitution scandal.
This isn’t the first time Aubertine has been up for an administration post. Remember that whole dust-up back in June 2008 about the NYPA chief job that was – or maybe wasn’t – offered to him by the Paterson administration?
Jan 6th - 2:16 pm
Former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer just released a statement announcing his support of the four-member Senate Independent Conference.
“Senators Klein, Savino, Valesky, and Carlucci are Democrats who have shown leadership in advocating much-needed reforms in New York, and their 2011 agenda is a broad strategy to help the state’s economy recover and restore New York as a leader in important social change,” Ferrer said.
“As Governor Cuomo embraced in his State of the State Address yesterday, it is vital that we explore new ways to work together for the betterment of all New Yorkers. The Independent Democratic Conference sets out to do just that, and I hope they find success working with all legislators.”
Ferrer noted that he, “like so many other Democrats in New York,” had worked in 2008 to help the Democrats wrest the majority from the GOP for the first time in more than four decades, only to see the chamber return to Republican control two years later.
I see this as one of those political Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance moments. Stay with me now:
Ferrer works for the lobbying/consulting firm Mercury Public Affairs. That’s also home to Mike McKeon, former communications director to ex-Gov. George Pataki, who just so happened to head up the Republicans for Cuomo effort during the 2010 campaign.
Sen. Jeff Klein was asked yesterday if he had received encouragement from the governor to bolt from the Democratic conference, and insisted that he had not.
However, he did say that he called Cuomo to give him a heads up about the new conference and received assurances from the governor that he supports all four breakaway senators.
There’s a school of thought that the group calling itself the IDC actually will benefit Cuomo. Its members are definitely more in line with his agenda – particularly when it comes to the property tax cap – than the more liberal wing of the Democratic conference, which is likely going to start voting in a bloc against the GOP in preparation for the 2012 election.
Or, maybe I’m being too conspiracy theorist here. Because there’s also this connection: Ferrer, Roberto Ramirez (the former assemblyman-turned-uber-lobbyist/consultant) and Klein.
Jan 6th - 1:58 pm
The president is headed back to the Capital Region next week – his second trip here since he took office.
This time, he’ll be in Schenectady. (H/T Jimmy Vielkind).
Obama’s last trip to the area came in September 2009. He was at Hudson Valley Community College and gave a big shout-out to then-AG Andrew Cuomo.
As you’ll recall, that visit came just as the news broke that the Obama administration had tried to push then-Gov. David Paterson out of the 2010 gubernatorial race to clear the field for Cuomo.
The White House was reportedly concerned Paterson was too weak to stave off a GOP challenge. At the time, it looked like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani might run for governor, and had he won, he would have had a nice platform from which to make a second presidential run.
Of course, all that is ancient history now.
UPDATE: And here’s the official announcement of the trip…not much in the way of details, although I have been able to confirm from a source familiar with the plan that Obama will indeed be visiting the GE plant.
On Tuesday, January 11, President Obama will travel to Schenectady, New York. More details will be announced as they become available.”
Jan 6th - 1:53 pm
The rather low-key public response of the Senate Democrats’ leadership team to yesterday’s creation of an independent conference by four renegade members belies a frantic behind-the-scenes scramble to respond to this latest act of treason (which is becoming something of the regular occurrence for the the Dems).
Senate Minority Leader John Sampson released a statement chastising anyone for putting politics over progress on State of the State day.
Meanwhile, according to several Senate and labor sources, Sampson allies were reaching out to three members of the foursome in hopes that at least one – and possibly all – of them could be lured home.
The Sampsonites basically view Sen. Jeff Klein, the former deputy majority leader, as a “lost cause,” one insider told me. After he was bumped from the DSCC post by Sampson in favor of freshman Sen. Mike Gianaris, it was pretty clear he had reached pariah status.
But the defection of freshman Sen. David Carlucci really stings for Sampson, particularly after the DSCC invested so much in getting him elected ($256,763) to a seat that had been held by the GOP (the late Sen. Tom Morahan).
UPDATE1: A source familiar with the DSCC’s expenditures said the amount spent – directly and through transfers – on Carlucci was more like $700,000, which he “gladly accepted.”
Also, Brooklyn Sen. Dan Squadron, one of the younger and more reform-minded members of the Democratic conference, made it something of a personal project to help Carlucci.
The Senate Democrats’ union allies were, according to several sources, chomping at the bit to go nuclear on the Klein club (I have to give my producer, MJ, props for coining that phrase). Calls were made, I’m told, but the leadership is treading carefully at this point in hopes of brokering some kind of deal.
However, the more time that passes, the more difficult it will be for the renegades to return to the fold, particularly if they start voting in line with the GOP and receive additional resources – or perhaps even committee chairs – from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Jan 6th - 1:28 pm
Governor Cuomo has just announced he will be doing a new weekly webcast for schools across the state, which he says will increase transparency and openness in government.
The administration is calling the segment “Albany at Work.” It says the webcasts will focus on what government has been doing, including recent actions or legislation. He is also going to be holding an “Ask Albany” segment where he will answer questions submitted by students.
“My administration is committed to including citizens in the workings of their government,” Governor Cuomo said. “Empowering students with knowledge about the state government and engaging them in an active dialogue is an important part of this process. By partnering with schools and educators from throughout New York, we can teach students about the challenges we face and help them learn how to work together to solve them.”
The idea is an interesting one, considering that Cuomo is expected to significantly cut funding for schools in order to bridge the current $10b budget gap. By engaging students, he might not be seen by the public as an anti-education Governor, which unions will likely try and label him as when he proposes cuts.
That said, the president of the state’s biggest teacher’s union Dick Iannuzzi praised the move in the press release.
“Citizen participation in government is the foundation of a robust democracy, and a way for all New Yorkers to be heard on the important issues of the day,” Iannuzzi said. “Inviting students of all ages to use the Internet to learn more about how state government works will lead to greater public engagement, and that can only be a positive as New York moves forward in the days to come.”
So far 12 schools have signed onto this plan. The list is after the jump.