The Jimmy McMillan Story

…We all know how this one ends – at least from the 2010 gubernatorial race standpoint, although the Rent is Too Damn High! founder/spokesman says he’s running for president as a Republican in 2012.

Casey Seiler has more here about the feature-length documentary titled “DAMN!” The film’s director told the NYO’s David Freedlander:

“It’s about what happens to someone who sees success overnight in the viral age, especially when the media latches on so quickly.”

Shafran Joins Cuomo Administration

Austin Shafran, who has served as the tough-talking voice of the Senate Democrats for the past three years, has landed a job with the Cuomo administration.

Shafran’s new title is vice president of public affairs at Empire State Development, which has been hiring like gangbusters of late (ex-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is going there, too). He officially starts on Thursday (quick turnaround!), but is already working out of his new office.

“I am honored to join the ESD team to get the message out that New York is open for business. It’s a privilege to work with one of New York’s premier business experts, ESD President & CEO Kenneth Adams, to help promote and implement Governor Cuomo’s dynamic job creation strategy to recharge our economy,” Shafran said in a press release (an early copy of which was provided to CapTon).

In the same release, Adams hailed Shafran’s “extensive strategic communications experience in the public and private sectors,” and said he’ll be “an outstanding addition to our team.”

Shafran has been the pugnacious defended of the Democrats during their salad days in the majority, through the 2009 coup, which generated the memoral “a thief and a thug” line that will likely haunt him forever, and into the minority.

The 30-year-old Queens native was always ready to engage in a few rounds of verbal sparring on behalf of his bosses – first Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, then Senate Democratic Conference Leader-turned-Minority Leader John Sampson – but he never made the fight personal.

In my mind, that’s the hallmark of a truly good flack.

Prior to joining up with the Senate Dems, Shafran worked for a year for Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He also worked for Councilman-turned-Assemblyman David Weprin (when he was Finance Chairman), and Assemblyman-turned-Councilman Mark Weprin, as well as his local congressman, Gary Ackerman.

The Senate Dems have now lost two spokesmen to the Cuomo administration. Travis Proulx departed last month to take a job as spokesman for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

Cuomo: VP Talk ‘Political Chatter And Silliness’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo rejected the float (by ex-state GOP Chairman Bill Powers via The Post’s Fred Dicker) that President Obama might dump VP Joe Biden and ask him to run on the 2012 ticket.

(H/t WGRZ-TV).

“That’s just political chatter and silliness; we want to stay focused on doing the good work with the people of the state,” Cuomo told reporters at his Lancaster, Erie County property tax cap event.

“We had a productive session in Albany this past legislative session, but we have a lot more to do and that’s what I’m focused on.”

For the record: He didn’t say definitively: “I’m not interested.” Also worth noting: Powers remains close to former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who raised a lot of campaign cash for Cuomo in 2010 and spoke in glowing terms about him, although he never formally joined the GOPers for Cuomo group headed up by a former aide to ex-Gov. George Pataki, Mike McKeon.

D’Amato and Powers, as you’ll recall, played the kingmakers in plucking Pataki, then an obscure state senator, in 1994 to successfully challenge Gov. Mario Cuomo, a national liberal icon.

The Special Election Timetable

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo called special elections (much to the chagrin of the good government advocates and the New York Times) to run concurrent with the Sept. 13 primary to fill six vacant Assembly seats and the House seat formerly held by ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, he set in motion a process with specific deadlines that are now fast approaching.

The last day for parties to file certificates of nomination for their candidates of choice is Monday, July 11 at midnight.

The final day for general objections to be filed is Thursday, July 1, and for specific objections, Wednesday, July 20.

The last day to file a certificate of acceptance or declination of a nomination is July 13, which also happens to be the day independent candidates must file their signatures – at least 3,500 legal names, which means three times that should be collected, just to be safe.

The last day to authorize a nomination is July 15, which is also the last day to fill a vacancy caused by a declination of a nomination. The last day to authorize a substitution is July 19.

The decision about which Democrat will run for Weiner’s seat rests mainly with Queens Democratic Chairman/Rep. Joe Crowley, who controls about 70 percent of NY-9. The other 30 percent falls into Brooklyn, which is the territory of Democratic Chairman/Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

The general consensus is that NY-9 will likely cease to exist in 2012 if party leaders have their way, although it’s still up in the air who will be in charge of redistricting. It will be harder to accomplish that goal if the governor makes good on his pledge to veto any line-drawing plan that is created under the current, politically-controlled process.

Queens Democratic sources say the current frontrunners are Assemblymen Rory Lancman and David Weprin. NYC Councilman Mark Weprin is largely out of the running.

Former Rep. Liz Holtzman, who represented NY-9 (albeit with different lines) from 1973 to 1981, has her champions, too, but insiders say it would be doubly difficult for party leaders to eliminate the district if it were held not only by a Jew – something community leaders should be sure to fight – but a Jewish woman.

On the GOP side, we’re expecting to hear something soon from NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, who is the frontrunner for his party’s nod and is being pushed by ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Businessman Bob Turner, who got 40 percent of the vote in his failed challenge to Weiner, is also in the running.

Republican Praise For Cuomo’s Tax Cap

At least two GOP Senate lawmakers (and I say at least two because I may have missed an email here or there) released statements today praising Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the passage of a 2 percent property-tax cap.

The first came from Suffolk County Sen. Lee Zeldin, who sent along a group shot of the Long Island delegation at the ceremonial tax-cap signing in Nassau County last week.

Then came Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a western New York Republican, who appeared alongside Cuomo at another property tax cap signing event in Buffalo today.

Gallivan said in a statement that,

“Standing up for the taxpayers of Western New York has been my top priority in Albany. Now, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership and cooperation on this issue, New York has a property tax cap that will keep families in their homes, grow our communities, and foster economic development.”

Senate Republicans had long sought a cap on local property taxes for New York, which has among the highest levies in the country.

And, while this is a long way off, shows that a GOP challenger in 2014 against Cuomo will have a difficult time trying to devise a line of attack on fiscal and taxation issues, unless the Democratic governor forces through a tax increase in the next three years.

The effects of the 2 percent tax cap, so far, are unknown. School districts, teachers unions and local government officials are concerned that the cap was passed without a real effort at chipping away at unfunded state mandates, while the Cuomo team argues that once the cap is in place, governments and school boards will be forced to make the difficult (and presumably correct) spending choices while retaining essential services.

But the Republican bon homies are interesting for another reason. As redistricting loooms for 2012, does Cumo continue to push for an independent commission to redraw legislative boundaries, which in all likelihood make it more difficult for the GOP to retain its narrow 2-seat majority?

Or does he take a more laissez-faire approach and let the courts redraw the lines? Senate Republicans and Cuomo have, for the most part, worked well so far with some grousing on the Senate Democrat side. Watching how that relationship developments will be the more interesting political stories through 2011 and into next year.

Report: Obama Campaign Rejects Obama/Cuomo Ticket Idea

Fox News just reported that the Obama administration aides have told them the President is going to be sticking with Joe Biden as Vice President for the 2012 campaign.

The aides denied reports today in the NY Post that Obama was going to offer the position to Andrew Cuomo. That story cited former state Republican Party chair, and Cuomo supporter Bill Powers.

This isn’t the first time that there has been speculation that Biden may be replaced on the 2012 ticket. But usually talk of a new running mate is just that, speculation. Earlier today, Toby Harnden from the British paper the Daily Telegraph came up with 10 reasons why Cuomo won’t replace Biden.

Here And Now

After taking the July 4th weekend off, (no parades), Gov. Andrew Cuomo heads to Erie County this morning for an 11 a.m. tax cap event at the Lancaster home of Ian and Jennifer Martin.

Cuomo will be greeted by the following Buffalo News headline: “2% solution no panacea as mandates lurk.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer will be at Syracuse Hancock International Airport for a 10:45 a.m. event where he’ll urge the feds to approve a US Airways/Delta deal that would improve service between CNY and NYC.

As Cuomo touts the cap, local elected officials are still trying to figure out what its impact will be on their budgets.

Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of those cuts depends on whether Republicans will accept new taxes.

The New York Times joins good government groups in chastising Cuomo for calling “undemocratic” special elections to fill ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat and 6 vacant Assembly seats, calls for the law to be changed.

The DN highly doubts party bosses would go along with that.

The Post deems Cuomo’s decision to pull out of the federal Secure Communities program an “impotent pander.”

The paper also hopes the governor will “pick up the ball” and try to fix NYC’s public school system.

UK Telegraph’s Toby Harnden on why President Obama won’t dump VP Biden for Cuomo in 2012. Reason No. 10: It would be a “slap in the face” to Hillary Clinton.

A decision on whether to hold more hydrofracking hearings won’t be made by the DEC until closer to August.

More >

The (Holiday) Weekend That Was/Is

Happy 4th!

Contrary to the claims of a (hacked) FOX News Twitter account, President Obama is alive and kicking.

Says ex-DNC Chairman/presidential contender/Vt. Gov. Howard Dean: “Andrew is very smart to keep doing his job, stay off those shows, and not run around the country making speeches. The Republican governors in Florida and New Jersey and Wisconsin have done that, and their poll numbers are now in the thirties or forties.”

Former state GOP Chairman Bill Powers predicts President Obama will tap Cuomo to be his VP running mate in 2012.

Obama will pay his staff $37,121,463 this year – nearly $4 million more than President Bush paid his White House employees in 2008.

One out of every three White House employees makes at least $100K a year.

Ex-Gov. David Paterson compared Cuomo to Houdini and fanned the 2016 flames.

2016 is not as easy as it looks from here, says Jimmy Vielkind.

Cuomo is expected to visit Western NY this week, where he will likely receive a hero’s welcome.

After heading up the successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage Cuomo’s top aide, Steve Cohen, is expected to depart for the private sector. A Paterson administration holdover, Larry Schwartz, is a leading candidate to take Cohen’s place.

The four GOP senators who voted “yes” on gay marriage now must face a mixed electorate in 2012.

If Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Democrat-turned-Republican “yes” voter, returns to the Democratic fold, the Senate could again be deadlocked.

More >

Holiday Weekend Open Thread

In case you catch a moment at the computer over the next three days – or if it rains, although the forecast looks really sublime, if not a bit warm – here’s some space in which to have a conversation with your fellow political junkies.

For your consideration, I offer this link to a NYT editorial today that lays out a “what’s left” list for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature, calling on them all to return to the Capitol in September instead of waiting for 2012 to address these remaining issues.

The Times praises Cuomo for prodding the “chronically inert” Legislature into action this year, but again criticizes the 2011-2012 budget and the property tax cap he championed, which it insists will hurt low-income families.

Also left to do, the paper highlights: Redistricting, campaign finance and pension reform, and a health care exchange bill passed by the Assembly, but not the Senate.

Here’s The Draft SGEIS

If you’re in the mood for some light beach reading this Independence Day weekend, here’s the draft recommendations for regulating hydraulic fracturing from the Department of Environmental Conservation

The full draft SGEIS on hydraulic fracturing won’t be available on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website until July 8. The report was made available to the press via CD, which we uploaded to Scribd.

The full report is actually 736 pages, so thankfully you won’t be bogged down by the promised 900-page report promised earlier in the day.

Preliminary Revised Draft SGEIS_7!1!11