Hochul: Davis Should (Maybe) Apologize

Eric County Clerk Kathy Hochul said earlier today that she hasn’t seen the YouTube clip being circulated by the GOP of her opponent, Jack Davis, tangling (at the very least, verbally) with a tracker yesterday, but nevertheless suggeste his conduct may require an apology.

Hochul told reporters who caught up with her after this morning’s debate that she was too busy cramming for her one-on-one with Assemblywoman Jane Corwin to watch the Davis clip, adding:

“If he did something that he should apologize for, then he certainly should. But, I personally did not witness it.”

Langworthy On The ‘Temperament’ Question

Erie County Chairman Nick Langworthy today made a Carl Paladino reference while insisting NY-26 hopeful Jack Davis’ treatment of a GOP tracker demonstrates he lacks the “temperament” to be a congressman.

“I really question a candidate’s temperament and his ability to serve in the Congress if he can’t answer the question: Why didn’t you participate in the debate,” the chairman said.

“…I don’t believe Kathy Hochul would have acted in the same way, and Jane Corwin certainly would not have behaved that way.”

“The media made much of Carl Paladino making a comment to a reporter saying he was going to take someone out. It dominated the airwaves for days. This is a candidate actually getting physcial with an operative asking a question. I think the temperament question is what really needs to be on the table.”

This is pretty interesting, coming from Langworthy. He was, as you’ll recall, one of Paladino’s strongest supporters during the 2010 governor’s race.

Paladino threatened to “take out” Post State Editor Fred Dicker during an altercation at a state Business Council meeting in Bolton Landing. (He was upset over the Post’s coverage of the daughter he had fathered out of wedlock). The Buffalo businessman got up in Dicker’s face, but didn’t touch him – thanks in no small part to the intervention of his campaign manager, Michael Caputo.

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Glick Backs O’Donnell On Gay Marriage

There is growing impatience among a faction of same-sex marriage advocates with the lack of a program bill from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, despite the fact that the governor has repeatedly said passing legislation that would enable gay couples to legally wed in New York is one of his top three priorities for the remainder of the session.

Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell took matters into his own hands earlier this week and reintroduced the bill his chamber has passed three times to date. The Manhattan Democrat then promptly went underground, declining to respond to media inquiries. (I’ve called him at least twice, and I know CapTon’s Jimmy Vielkind is trying to get ahold of him, too).

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, one of the few openly gay members of her chamber, hailed O’Donnell’s move, telling me during a CapTon interview yesterday he had taken “a responsible position that says: We need to actually have a bill in order to focus people’s attention and say the issue is not just an issue for discussion but a bill that needs to be addressed.”

“I think that what has always been our goal would be to have a program bill,” Glick said. “We got one from Eliot Spitzer. We got one from David Paterson.”

“We’re well into this session there have been numerous meetings with the governor and other people from various organizations, from, you know, people who are perhaps not even that familiar with Albany politics and yet no bill. And here we are with five weeks to go in the session.”

In response to O’Donnell’s move, Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said that “the question has never been the Assembly,” although some Republicans.

(Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, for example, have questioned whether losses in the Democratic conference could make it difficult to pass the bill a fourth time – a hypothesis the Assembly majority has rejected).

Yesterday, Cuomo further complicated matters by saying there shouldn’t be another Senate vote until it’s certain there are sufficient yeses to see it pass. That would seem to give an out to Skelos, who has pledged to encourage his conference to let the bill return to the floor, but hasn’t said when he might do that.

Cuomo: No Need For Executive Ethics Overhaul

Speaking to reporters in Buffalo today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an ethics overhaul for the executive branch, which Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos suggested to Liz yesterday, isn’t necessary.

“We have all sorts of ethics for the executive branch,” Cuomo said. “You haven’t had the issues on the executive that you’ve had on the legislative, and this is about getting the state of New York a Legislature they can believe in.”

“Now the Legislature’s point is they can police themselves. I don’t agree with that. I was attorney general and I sat there and we did case after case after case.”

Granted, there’s been a deluge of corruption cases involving state lawmakers in both parties with more legislators leaving office under an ethical cloud than losing re-election.

However, the governor himself as attorney general looked into ethical indiscretions involving governors, most notably Eliot Spitzer and the “Troopergate” affair.

And then there was David Paterson, whose snake-bit administration became engulfed in scandals that included receiving freebie World Series tickets and Paterson becoming personally involved in a domestic-abuse incident between an aide and his girlfriend.

Skelos told Capital Tonight that he is considering the introduction of ethics guidelines for the governor’s office and executive branch.

Cuomo is touring the state drumming up support for a tax cap, same-sex marriage legalization and new ethics rules. The governor has said legislators should provide greater detailed accounts of their outside income and list clients who do business with the state.

The governor told reporters today that legislators have said they can “police themselves” which is inadequate, adding: “People want to know who the legislators represent.”

Breakaway Union Reps Haven’t Spoken To Cuomo

Dan DeFedericis, the former PBA president who is leading the effort to have a portion of Council 82 breakaway from the union after its leadership agreed to concessions with the Cuomo administration, said no state officials have reached out to them since Tuesday’s vote rejecting the contracting.

Speaking on the Capitol Pressroom this morning, DeFedericis said a formal vote to breakaway from the union could come within three months.

Until then, contract negotiations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office and the small law-enforcement union must cease.

“We haven’t received any official word from the Cuomo administration, but we’re hoping they respect that,” he said.

The process of breaking away from Council 82, which includes DEC officers, SUNY officers and other law enforcement officials, began after the union’s representatives agreed to a pay freeze and a greater share of health-care costs. Cuomo had hoped the agreement would be a model for other unions like CSEA and PEF, who are currently undergoing negotiations with the governor’s office.

Cuomo wants $450 million in workforce concessions or he up to 9,800 state workers could lose their jobs.

The governor told reporters on Wednesday that he would “have to go back to the drawing board” on the Council 82 talks.

I think they just wronged the ALES unit members.

We hope Council 82 is not going to drag this out by challenging everything. Hoping it will set up within three months.

We haven’t received any official word from the Cuomo administration, but we’re hoping they respect that.

Marist: Gillibrand’s Numbers Dip

Something that was overlooked in the exclusive YNN/NY1/Marist poll released Monday: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s support from her fellow New York Democrats is slipping.

The junior senator’s job approval rating has dropped eight percentage points since January, when she hit a personal high of 49 percent.

Currently, 41 percent of registered voters statewide believe Gillibrand is doing an excellent or good job in the U.S. Senate. This includes 9 percent who report she is doing an excellent job and 32 percent who think she is doing a good one. Thirty-one percent give Gillibrand fair marks while 11 percent rate her job performance as poor; 17 percent are unsure.

In January, Gillibrand’s approval rating stood at 49 percent – her highest marks since since she inherited former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s seat, compliments of then-Gov. David Paterson, back in January 2009.

(Last fall, Gillibrand won her first statewide election to fill out the remaining two years of Clinton’s term and must run again for her own six-year term in 2012).

Half of Democratic voters now give Gillibrand high grades, compared to 61 percent less than five months ago. Her standing remains largely unchanged among Republicans (37 percent now, compared to 39 percent earlier in the year). She dropped slightly among independents, moving to 35 percent from 40 percent.

Marist pollster Lee Miringoff hypothesized that Gillibrand got the January bump thanks to a surge in national attention following her spread in Vogue, her roll in getting DADT repealed and the Zadroga bill passed and her attention in the wake of the shooting of her good friend, Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Weld: Bruno Case Will Be Dismissed

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, whose law firm is defending former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno in federal court, said in a Talk 1300-AM radio interview this morning that the case should be tossed out, saying that retrying him smacked of double jeopardy.

“They lost in the Supreme Court in the United States, why can’t they just leave it alone?”

He added: “I consider him a tremendously ethical person.”

The 81-year-old Republican was found guilty in federal court in 2009 for “theft of honest services” but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that provision of the law that Bruno was found guilty under.

Now federal prosecutors are considering bringing new charges against Bruno for bribery and kickbacks. Weld, who in 2006 ran for governor of New York — he lost the nomination to John Faso — said prosecutors would be “rolling the dice” if they followed through.

“The courts are pretty quick to say, not so fast, that’s dirty pool,” he told Fred Dicker. “That’s what the spirit of the double jeopardy law is in the constitution.”

Weld, who left office in 1997 after his appointment to become ambassador to Mexico (it was shot down in the Senate), said he was done with running for office and was not interested in challenging U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

Weld, a moderate Republican, also praised Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for achieving an on-time budget.

It’s kind of like the tax deal Obama did with Washington after the Dems took a drubbing in Washington. Certainly on the budget what Gov. Cuomo did with Dean Skelos, the majority leader, was A-OK. A budget on time it was great.

US Senators Boost State DSCC

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both known as prolific – if not relentless – pursuers of political dollars, will headline fundraisers for the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee in coming weeks.

Save the Date notices for a June 2 event with Schumer are going out today, according to a DSCC official. The location of the event has yet to be determined, although it will be held somewhere in NYC. Tickets will start at $1,000 per person and go as high as $25,000 (per table, assumedly).

The Gillibrand event will be held soon after that, although the venue and date have yet to be determined.

“With two of the most prolific fundraisers and nationally prominent Democratic leaders rallying to support the state Senate Democrats, we’re off to a good start to a successful election cycle,” the DSCC official told me.

The DSCC was in the hole to the tune of about $3 million as of mid-January. The next round of financial reports isn’t due until mid-July, but Sen. Mike Gianaris, who is no slouch in the fundraising department himself, has said he has managed to put a dent in that debt since he took control of the committee at the beginning of the year.

Much-Married Larry King Endorses Gay Marriage

Larry King, a man infamous for his penchant for marriage and divorce (he split in 2010 from his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick), has come out in favor of letting same-sex couples legally wed in New York.

The former CNN host pokes fun at his personal life in a video recorded for the HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, saying:

“I know a thing or two about marriage – maybe three, maybe four. Some of us can get married again and again, and others can’t get married at all. Can’t figure that out. Let’s make marriage equality the law in New York, and let’s do it now. Join us.”

This campaign has gained a number of very prominent backers in recent weeks – including NY Ranger Sean Avery – as Gov. Andrew Cuomo ramps up his effort to get same-sex marriage passed by both houses of the Legislature (particularly the Senate) before the session ends next month.

“As New York prepares for a vote on marriage equality, we are thrilled to have such an iconic native New Yorker and one of the nation’s most recognizable and respected TV personalities lend his voice to the cause,” said HRC senior New York Strategist Brian Ellner.”

The press release announcing King’s support cites a recent Siena poll, which found 58 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing same-sex marriage. But a YNN/NY1/Marist poll released last night found voters are split on this controversial issue.

Empire Center: Not All Is Well In Wellsville

The fiscally conservative Empire Center is out with a new report showing that, yes, property taxes in New York aren’t just too damn high, they’re the highest in the country.

But the report issued today, which takes a look at tax rates across the state, found that rate vary widely between upstate and downstate, with the northern and western regions of the state paying far higher tax rates per assessed value.

The report highlights the village of Wellsville (pop. 5,171) in Allegany County, which pays the highest tax burden in the state. The village has a rate of $62.20 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The lowest tax rate was found in Sagaponack, a Long Island village in the tony Hamptons, which has a rate of $1.32.

Overall, the report found that the highest rates are paid by residents in rural areas and cities, where the lowest property values are found.