Alesi Wants To Move Past His ‘Boneheaded’ Lawsuit

Sen. Jim Alesi admitted earlier today that the lawsuit he filed against his own constituents, and subsequently withdrew, was a “boneheaded” move, but also said he’s prepared to deal with the longterm fallout from the decision.

The Rochester-area Republican, who has apologized for the suit, lamented the “aggressive” media coverage of the suit, which stemmed from an incident three years ago when he fell and broke his leg while trespassing at a house that was under construction.

The senator said the timing of his suit was “atrocious,” and asked for some “consideration” in being able to move forward and focus on his job.

I believe these are the first extended public comments Alesi has made on this mess. They came at today’s mini-budget address in Rochester that was delivered by LG (and former Rochester mayor) Bob Duffy.

New Venue, Old Crusade

Sen. Tony Avella is making good on a campaign promise by introducing two bills that would institute a 16-year term limit for state lawmakers and also change their terms from two years to four.

“Politicians who serve for countless years tend to become stagnant, arrogant and reluctant to adopt new ideas,” the Queens Democrat said in a press release.

“Sixteen years is a balance between the need to retain an institutional memory while still ensuring change, new ideas and fresh voices.”

“…I believe that changing the term of office for state legislators is essential to creating a more effective government,” stated Avella. “Not only would this action save the taxpayers money by reducing the number of State elections by half; it would also eliminate, in my opinion, some of the political nonsense that occurs in Albany.”

“Legislators have basically one year in office before they have to run for re-election. Once the campaign year begins they are anxious to get back to their districts and are often reluctant to deal with controversial issues fearing voter reactions.”

Avella is no stranger to the term limits debate.

In 2008, he was an outspoken opponent of Mayor Bloomberg’s eventually successful effort to push a term limits extension through the NYC Council, enabling him – and all other city officials facing forced retirement – to seek re-election in 2009.

Avella could have run, too. Instead, he launched a longshot bid for mayor, losing the Democratic primary to then-NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson, who went on to lose the general election to Bloomberg.

Avella then turned around and challenged veteran Queens GOP Sen. Frank Padavan, successfully ousting him last November.

These bills require constitutional amendments, which means they have to be passed by two separately elected Legislatures and then approved in a public referendum. In other words: It’s highly unlikley that they’ll pass.

Suit Filed Over Catskills Casino

Steve Boggess, a former top aide to ex-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the land compact agreed to by former Gov. David Paterson and the Stockbridge-Munsee Indians as part of the Catskills casino deal.

The suit specifically names Gov. Andrew Cuomo and may be the first significant lawsuit of the governor’s tenure.

Boggess works for lawyer-lobbyist Jim Featherstonhaugh, a principal of Saratoga Racing & Gaming, who has been fighting the Catskill casino for some time now.

The irony is that Featherstonhaugh is a longtime Mario Cuomo supporter – he ran the elder Cuomo’s upstate campaign in 1982 when Mario Cuomo defeated Ed Koch in the Democratic primary. He also filed a lawsuit against then-Gov. Cuomo (the first) early in his tenure while serving as the attorney for CSEA, the state’s largest public employees union.

I reached Feathers, as he’s known, on the phone this afternoon and he explained Boggess’ suit thusly:

“The federal government is currently reviewing a compact that has not been properly adopted by the state of New York.”

“It’s perfectly clear that compacts need to be ratified by the Legislature. In 2001 this Legislature delegated its power to the governor, but only under certain cricumstances, and Governor Paterson did not fulfill those cirucmstances.”

“The only way we think it could be properly approved if for the current administration to take a completely new look at it…then the new governor could certify it.”

Summons & Complaint

Paterson Ponies Up For Yankees Tickets Fine

Former Gov. David Paterson has has paid $62,124 to settle his fine from the Public Integrity Commission over five free Yankees tickets to the 2009 World Series that he obtained for himself, his aides, his son and his son’s friend, the AP reports.

The board’s spokesman, Walter Ayres confirmed to the AP that Paterson’s check was received today.

As you’ll recall, the commission determined back in December the governor violated the Public Officer’s Law and the testimony that he intended all along to pay for the tickets was “false” and was refuted by “his staff, the Yankees, an independent handwriting expert and common sense.”

Former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who investigated the Yankees tickets and David Johnson domestic violence cases at the request of then-AG Andrew Cuomo, referred the former to Albany County DA David Soares and suggested he consider criminal charges against Paterson.

That was over six months ago now, and we haven’t heard anything since from Soares’ office.

Chief Judge: ‘We’re With The Program’

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman this morning insisted there’s no ill will between himself and Gov. Andrew Cuomo even though the governor singled out the judiciary for criticism during his budget address Tuesday.

During an interview this morning with Susan Arbetter on The Capitol Pressroom, Lippman was unapologetic about the judiciary’s budget, which Cuomo had hoped would reflect a decrease in spending along the lines of the 10 percent cut he’s proposed for executive agencies.

Instead, according to the governor, the 2011-2012 budget submitted by the juducial branch boosted spending by about $50 million, or 2 percent.

Lippman insisted his budget, on a purely operational level, actually reflects a .02 or .03 percent decrease from last year, adding:

“I think the monies that they’re referring to are the fringe and pension costs that are totally out of our control, and that the other two branches of government don’t include in their budgetary estimates.”

Lippman said the budget he submitted was “fiscally prudent” and insisted the judges are “certainly respectful and, in fact, supportive of the governor’s efforts to control state spending and believe we’re doing our part.”

More >

Senate Dems Aim To Close ‘Baby Prisons’ (Updatedx2)

“Baby prisons” is a phrase coined by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who voiced support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to “right-size” the juvenile justice system, but also said the Senate Democrats will be offering amendments to ensure the reforms he’s seeking are “much more possible” to achieve.

“For instance, we think the right-sizing should refer not only to local detention, but it should refer…additionally to placement of young people in facilities,” said Montgomery, a Brooklyn Democrat.

“We think that we must accomplish a change in the family court placement standards so that the placement of young peolpe will no longer be done just happenstance. We would like to see there become a statewide standard so that young people don’t end up going into facilities unnecessarily.”

In addition, Montgomery said, the Senate Dems juvenile justice plan calls for creating an independent body to oversee the system, which would be supervised by the Office of Children and Family Services, and a statute that puts in place a recurring funding stream for alternative placement and detention programs.

Montgomery estimated more than $124 million could be saved through closing juvenile jails, which would enable some 500 youthful offenders to return home to their communities to receive services there.

UPDATE1: Here’s the Senate Democrats’ juvenile justice report:

UPDATE2: Sen. George Maziarz did not take kindly to Montgomery’s “baby prisons” comment, saying:

“I am often appalled at the stunning naivety of some of my downstate colleagues when it comes to juvenile justice and criminal justice matters. But reports of today’s rally in New York City take the cake.”

More of Maziarz’s commens appear after the jump.

Senate Dems Juvenile Justice Report

More >

YNN/Marist Poll: Bloomberg’s Approval Rating On The Mend

ICYMI: The final YNN/Marist poll found that Mayor Bloomberg’s approval rating, which took a hit in the wake of the city’s bungled response to the Christmas weekend blizzard, is on the slow road to recovery.

Forty-four percent of NYC voters approve of the job Bloomberg is doing, compared to 37 percent in early January. The mayor continues to do better with Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island residents than those who live in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

“Mayor Bloomberg still lacks majority support, but seems to be weathering the storm,” said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff.

For the first time since October 2009, most New Yorkers think the city is back on track. They’re not nearly as optimistic about Bloomberg’s pick for NYC schools chancellor, Cathie Black. Just 21 percent think she’s doing an excellent or good job, 35 percent gave her “fair” marks and 19 percent said she’s doing poorly. Twnety-six percent hadn’t heard of her or were unsure how to rate her.

When it comes to unionized city workers, most NYC voters oppose the idea of pay increases unless they’re based on merit and performance (38 percent).

EMBARGOED_Complete NYC February 3rd, 2010 Poll Release and Tables

Here And Now

Good morning!  Here are the headlines:

Revenue is hard to come by these days.

Gov. Cuomo hopes he’ll be more successful than other governors at collecting sales tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.

Cuomo tried to sell his budget message in Purchase yesterday.

Cuomo and LG Duffy aren’t the only ones hitting the road to talk about the executive budget proposal.

Senator O’Mara wants to know what his constituents think of Governor Cuomo’s budget plan.

Upstate GOP lawmakers are taking their time to review the governor’s budget before weighing in.

Local leaders have some serious concerns about the governor’s spending plan.

The DN takes aim at Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos over his opposition to education cuts.

Community colleges are bracing for deep cuts.

There’s good news and bad news in the budget for the City of Ithaca.

One Western NY school district may be getting an especially raw deal if Cuomo’s budget plan passes.

Budget cuts could hamper the Warren Co. Sheriff’s boat patrols on Lake George.

State parks are seeing an up tick in visitors as their funding is once again on the chopping block.

Pension reform is next on the governor’s agenda after the budget.

The Post wants Cuomo to hurry up.

More >

Extras

Journalists are under attack in Egypt.

Hillary Clinton to the rescue.

White House reporters criticized President Obama for providing too little information on the situation in Egypt.

Clinton lost one of her closes advisors.

Rep. Chris Gibson has softened his position on Medicare.

Irony alert: Assemblyman Adam Bradley, who declined a jury trial and was found guilty on domestic violence charges by a judge, was called for jury duty.

Assemblyman Jonathan Bing (endorsed by Bloomberg in 2010) comes out in favor of ending last in, first out “before any layoffs are necessary.”

Bloomberg hearts Bloomberg.

Councilpedia!

The state Democratic and Independence parties, both of which endorsed Cuomo for governor, are now actively backing his budget.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli appointed Andrew SanFilippo, Buffalo’s comptroller, as executive deputy state comptroller for state and local government accountability.

BCC President Kevin Drumm decried Cuomo’s SUNY cuts.

Not all lobbyists are equally bad in Cuomo’s eyes.

Michael Caputo on his newfound support for Cuomo: “One of the first questions I’m getting from some of the more far-right members of the Tea Party is ‘How much is Andrew paying you?’”

Barbara Bush’s decision to come out in support of gay marriage didn’t surprise her friends.

Rep. Gabby Giffords, iPad fan.

There will be no coup in the NYC Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.

Cuomo Open To LIFO Talks

Looks like Mayor Bloomberg will indeed find a sympathetic ear in Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the issue of the “last in, first out” requirement for firing public school teachers, although the governor so far isn’t willing to publicly commit to the full repeal the mayor is seeking.

“In terms of last in, first out, the mayor’s point is there should be a different decision-making process than just seniority,” Cuomo said earlier today in Westchester.

“I think there is a receptivity to the point that there should be objective fair criteria, that don’t penalize seniority. But also understand that there are other criteria to take into consideration. And that’s a conversation worthy having in my opinion.”