Cuomo: We’ll Get To The Bottom Of PA’s Finances

At a brief question-and-answer session following the unveiling of Sept. 11 memorials in 30 cities around the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he hoped to get to the bottom of the financial problems plaguing the Port Authority.

The authority is seeking large toll increases for crossing bridges and tunnels that span the Hudson River into New York City.

Cuomo, as he did on Tuesday, reiterated that he did not have a verdict on the tenure of Port Authority Executive Director Chis Ward. And Cuomo again called for facts before making any decisions on the authority’s leadership.

“I want to maximize my appointees on the board and I want a comprehensive review of how we got here and why we need more money. We need the answers, we have the questions, but we need the facts.

I want to know why, what was the plan, how are you going to do it and then we’ll make a decision about the management.”

Cuomo Introduces 9/11 Exhibits

We are just under one month from the 10th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, and the state has announced that 30 museums around New York will be holding exhibits to remember those attacks.

Each location will open during the week of August 29th and continue until the end of September. All will be open on Sunday, September 11th.

The state museum says that many of the artifacts and items that are to be displayed have never been seen by the public before – from damaged emergency vehicles, a religious symbol that workers on site crafted out of steel, and even landing gear from one of the airplanes that hit the twin towers.

“Every community across New York felt the impact of the senseless acts of terrorism that claimed thousands of lives just one decade ago,” Governor Cuomo said. “These exhibitions will give New Yorkers in towns, villages, and cities all across the state a gathering place to once again stand as one community to make sure we never forget those who lost their lives on September 11th and to embrace the spirit of unity that brought us together on that day of devastating tragedy.”

After the jump is a list of exhibition locations:
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Savino: Staten Island ‘Gets The Shaft’ Again (Updated)

Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a Democrat and Republican, respectively, from Staten Island, made a joint, bipartisan, appearance on “Good Day NY” this morning to decry the Port Authority’s proposal to hike tolls on Hudson River crossings.

The outspoken lawmakers argue that the often forgotten borough too frequently “gets the shaft” from Albany and NYC when it comes to transportation policy.

They believe the borough is disproportionately impacted by the PA’s plan, and are calling on Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo to exercise their veto power.

It seems fairly certain at this moment the PA’s exact plan won’t be approved. But a modified version might yet have legs, as Cuomo yesterday called the current proposal a “non-starter,” but did not specifically rule out hikes, period.

UPDATE: Savino called to clarify, telling me she and Malliotakis understand the PA needs to raise revenue to fund ongoing and future capital projects, and toll increases are likely in the offing.

What they want is a fair and simple discount for Staten Island residents provided by the PA along the same lines of what EZPASS-holding residents get for the Verrazano (otherwise a $13 hit for cash-paying drivers).

Toll Hike Impact On Staten Island : MyFoxNY.com

Lawmakers: Federal Fracking Panel All Fracked Up

More than a dozen state and local lawmakers are voicing displeasure with the U.S. Department of Energy’s panel formed to study natural gas drilling, writing in a letter today that the committee fails to include any local voices.

In a letter on the state Assembly letterhead of Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, the officials write to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him to add New Yorkers to the panel.

As New York State elected officials, we are concerned about natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in our state’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. New York has had a de facto moratorium on drilling and fracturing in the Marcellus Shale since 2008, a necessary precaution to prevent contamination of water supplies and other environmental harm while we study the effects of shale gas drilling.

So far, your panel has excluded citizens from New York and other regions affected by fracking.
Those whose way of life is at stake deserve a seat at the table where decisions are made. We
insist that you add people from affected communities to the panel.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is undergoing a draft review of regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York. The controversial natural-gas extraction process involves blasting a mixture of chemicals and water into the ground in order to access the gas.

Energy companies say the method could be a boon to the economy of the upstate region, but environmentalists are increasingly concerned it could harm the water table.

NY leg ltr to Chu

Gillibrand: Recall A Victory For ‘Off the Sidelines’

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told supporters this morning in an email that the success of two women in last night’s Wisconsin recall election was a victory for her effort to get more women in elected office.

But the Tuesday recall was anything but a victory for Democrats.

The largely union-backed effort to recall six Republican state senators in order to gain control of the chamber was thwarted when only two Democrats won: Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King.

The recall was in response to Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair measure which included dilluting union collective bargaining rights in the state.

There is an effort to recall Walker early next year, but the failure to gain control of the Senate will likely put a dent in that plan, and the goal of repealing the union measures.

Still, Gillibrand is spinning the recall as a victory, especially since Shilling and King received help from her “Off the Sidelines” campaign. She’s been touting her campaign as a way to bring more into elected politics at all levels.

The campaign was hit with some criticism for being a veiled fundraising tool. Gillibrand later revised the website to reflect its nature.

Here’s the email:

Because of your help, we have two new female state senators in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Last week, I put out a call to help these women win, and together we raised more than $50,000! Your response was just tremendous, and I can’t thank you enough.

What we accomplished in Wisconsin is a good start, but we still have the problem of too few women making policies and laws in America today. Just 17 percent of all members of Congress are women, and less than 25 percent of state legislature seats are filled by women.

Last night we made real progress. And I know we can make even more progress by continuing to work together. To learn more about how you can get Off the Sidelines, click here.

This is just the beginning.

Sincerely,
Kirsten Gillibrand

Becker Says Campaign Against Hayworth Gaining Traction

In politics, an insult can sometimes be a form of flattery.

Or, that’s at least how Democratic congressional hopeful Richard Becker sees it.

Becker, in a statement today, said GOP operatives have begun digging into his time on the Cortlandt Town Council. The Becker campaign says his opponents have filed Freedom of Information requests for his receipts, financial records and other documents along the paper trail with the hope of digging up dirt.

Becker says in a statement that the FOI request shows Republicans are paying attention to him.

“The speed with which Nan Hayworth’s political operation has moved to dig up anything damaging suggests we’ve already struck a chord, said Becker. “While looking through the Town of Cortlandt’s books, I hope she and her colleagues learn a few things about how to responsibly budget, without risking the credit rating of the government you have been elected to represent.”

Becker is seeking to challenge freshman Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth (oddly, both Becker and Hayworth are doctors).

The Becker release is a little interesting for two reasons. One, it suggests Hayworth’s folks are at least a little worried by already starting their opposition research (granted, oppo research is nothing new, nor is it unusual). And, two, Becker doesn’t mind painting a target on himself. The release is practically a dare.

Rep. Grimm Endorses Bob Turner

Staten Island Congressman Mike Grimm has officially backed Republican NY-9 candidate Bob Turner, as expected.

In a press release, Grimm touts Turner as a fiscal conservative that will help Republicans create jobs, will support a balanced budget amendment, but more interestingly is that they continue to play up Turner as a supporter of Israel.

“If we are going to get Americans back to work, we need business leaders like Bob Turner in Congress. Bob Turner knows what it takes to create jobs and get this economy moving. He’ll fight for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and he’s a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. A victory by Bob Turner on September 13th will send President Obama a clear message that America needs to move in a new direction.”

The Israel issue is a big one with the heavily Jewish population. Turner’s campaign has been attacking Democrat David Weprin over, trying to link him to President Obama, who many Jews feel has not done enough to support Israel. Former NYC mayor Ed Koch was one of the first to endorse Turner, specifically citing Israel as his reason for doing so.

Just moments ago, Siena College released its first poll on this race, with Weprin leading by only 6 points despite a Democratic enrollment edge of roughly 130k.

Interestingly, the poll does show that an overwhelming majority of the voters supported the debt ceiling deal that was reached in Washington. By a large majority, they also support increasing taxes on the rich and are vehemently opposed to cuts to health care and social security – which is a position many liberal Democrats in Washington currently hold.

Siena: NY-9 Is A Race, Weprin Just 6 Pts. Up (Updated 2x)

A new Siena poll finds Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin leads GOP businessman Bob Turner 48-42 percent among likely voters in Democrat-dominated NY-9 with five weeks to go before the Sept. 13 special election to fill ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s vacant House seat.

Siena pollster Steve Greenberg called the NY-9 contest “wide open,” adding:

“With a low turnout expected and limited media exposure in the nation’s most expensive media market, the test of both campaigns will be to mount strong voter identification efforts and effective get-out-the vote operations.”

“The campaign that does a better job on those crucial campaign tasks will likely produce a victory for their candidate.”

Turner, who received about 40 percent of the vote in his failed challenge to Weiner last year, leads by a six-point margin among Brooklyn voters, who account for about one-third of the district.

Queens voters favor native son Weprin by 10 points. He also has a two-to-one advantage over Turner with Democrats, but Turner leads nearly six-to-one among Republicans and retains a slim four-point lead with independents.

Weprin is up 56-35 with Jewish voters – a hotly-contested voting bloc, thanks in part to former NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s endorsement of Turner and his desire to make this race into a referendum on President Obama’s support – or lack thereof, in Koch’s mind – for Israel.

Koch’s support could make a difference for Turner.

CD9 Aug 2011 Crosstabs

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Q Poll: Cuomo Leads Better Than Obama, Christie, Bloomberg

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stumped the Q poll.

“We’re running out of ways to measure how much New York State voters like (the governor),” said pollster Mickey Carroll.

“New Yorkers, not known for mincing words, have mostly good words for their governor, who still is in his first year. ‘Honest,’ ‘competent,’ ‘effective.’ When’s the last time you heard voters use those kinds of words to describe a politician?”

The top 10 words New Yorkers used to describe Cuomo when asked to sum up their chief executive were:

Good 76
Competent 51
Trying 51
Effective 39
Honest 38
Okay 35
Politician 32
Tough 24
Arrogant 23
Leader 23

Only seven people used the word “progressive” to describe the Democratic governor, although 20 said he’s “liberal.”

“Disappointed” clocked in at 22 mentions, but the 30 top words are positive. (Well, largely so, anyway. A reader notes that “arrogant” isn’t exactly glowing praise). Way down the list, descriptions like “bully” (6 people) and “sleazy” (5 people), start to appear.

Only one person offered a profanity, Carroll said.

Cuomo’s job approval rating is 62-22, compared to 64-19 percent in a June 29 Q poll. Voters say 64-12 that they like Cuomo as a person and 61-26 that they like most of his policies.

New Yorkers believe 46-38 that Cuomo is a better leader than President Obama, and also better than Mayor Bloomberg, 51-35.

Republicans prefer Bloomberg (who used to be one of them, before he became and independent and after he was a Democrat), 45-40; while Democrats (59-29), Bloomberg’s fellow independents (50-36) and even NYC voters (50-42) prefer Cuomo.

Overall, New Yorkers believe 40-29 that their governor is doing a better job than the guy across the river, NJ Republican Gov. Chris Christie, at cutting costs and balancing his budget.

Republicans here prefer Christie, 49-20, while Cuomo leads 58-12 among fellow Democrats. Independents split with 34 percent for Christie and 32 percent for Cuomo.

Both Christie and Cuomo have been mentioned as potential White House contenders in 2016.

081011 NY GOV + BP

Here And Now

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

Headlines….

For the first time in nearly two decades, there will be mandated sex-ed in NYC public middle and high schools.

This is part of a broader strategy the Bloomberg administration announced last week to improve the lives of black and Latino teens, who are more likely than their white counterparts to contract a sexually transmitted disease or experience unplanned pregnancies.

As with the district’s HIV/AIDS curriculum, a parental opt-out will be offered for specific lessons involving prevention and birth control – but not those dealing with risky sexual behaviors.

Parents had mixed reactions to the news.

New York is in talks to move its 2012 primary to as early as June to comply with a federal law advanced by Sen. Chuck Schumer.

The Bloomberg administration is readying layoff letters to 465 DC37-represented parks employees, marking what would be the first pink slips at the department in 20 years.

The NYTimes finds it “hard to imagine” either Cuomo or NJ Gov Chris Christie were taken by surprise by the Port Authority’s proposed toll hikes and endorses a step-increase plan.

Cuomo called the PA plan a “non-starter,” and said this isn’t a good time to start raising tolls, but he didn’t completely rule out future fare increases for commuters.

The NYTimes’ Jim Dwyer sings the praises of Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward, who is believed to be on Cuomo’s chopping block, for the rebuilding progress at Ground Zero.

Bennett Liebman, the governor’s new deputy, has been assigned to develop policy recommendations on the gaming questions facing the state, including legalizing casinos.

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