Senate Considers Lt. Gov. Appointment Bill (Update)

The Senate will consider a bill today that would create a succession plan for the lieutenant governor, fixing an issue that could have ended the 2009 leadership coup early.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, would allow the governor to fill the lieutenant governor’s office if there’s a vacancy. The pick would be subject to Senate approval. There is no Assembly same-as measure.

The lack of a succession plan went into relief in 2009, when two Democratic lawmakers — Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate — joined with Republicans to overthrow the Democratic majority.

When Monserrate switch back to the Democratic fold, the Senate was tied 30-30. Because Eliot Spitzer had resigned in disgrace leaving Gov. David Paterson in charge, the temporary president of the Senate became the acting lieutenant governor.

It was unclear during the coup if Dean Skelos was filling that job or if it was Pedro Espada — that latter of which was an especially horrifying prospect for good-government groups and Democratic lawmakers. Paterson tried to appoint Richard Ravitch to fill the job, but then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the appointment was illegal.

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled in favor of Paterson.

From the bill memo:

The recent vacancy in the office of Lieutenant-Governor has called attention to the fact that under current law, there is no method available to appoint a new Lieutenant-Governor. This bill would enact a system identical to the one used under the Federal Constitution to fill a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President. Requiring separate votes from each House of the Legislature, rather than a single vote in joint
session, ensures that no single House has enough votes to confirm the nomination by itself.

Senator Griffo tells CapTon that he is going to lay the bill aside today, because it doesn’t have an Assembly sponsor. He has introduced this bill for the past 4 years, even before the Senate coup. He tells us that the inspiration for the bill actually came from Alfred DelBello’s resignation back in 1985.

1199 SEIU Joins Gay Marriage Push

The latest union to join the push for legalization of same-sex marriage is the powerful 1199 SEIU. They are holding a news conference later today at the capitol, and union President George Gresham is expected to attend and also lobby lawmakers.

Gresham is a power broker in the Working Families Party, so it’s possible he could convince some Republicans who are on the fence but worried about losing the Conservative party’s endorsement to vote yes, in exchange for some level of support from the WFP – or possibly even an endorsement.

More likely, he could convince the 3 Democrats who are undecided or risk losing the backing of labor. Though, as of yet labor leaders are mixed on whether or not this issue should be a litmus test for state lawmakers when it comes to 2012.

Lawsuit Accuses Buffalo Mayor Of Pay-To-Play

Here’s a copy of a lawsuit filed against Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown by a Cleveland developer who accuses the WNY Democrat of scuttling a housing project over the company’s refusal to give one of the mayor’s supporters a job.

Brown rejected the firm’s allegations, saying through a spokesman: “Our city deserved better than the proposal we received from the out-of-town developer. We are prepared to defend the lawsuit. The allegations are without merit.”

As you’ll recall, Brown is a former state senator and also was widely believed to be on the short list to run as then-AG Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Ultimately, Cuomo selected former Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy to be his No. 2. Duffy, a former police chief, was hailed as a straight shooter, but Cuomo took some heat from black and Latino leaders for rounding out the all-white statewide Democratic ticket.


Here And Now

Welcome to Day 11 of the Weinergate scandal. After yesterday’s performance, how long can the beleaguered congressman survive?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by Rep. Anthony Weiner’s admissions and called for a House ethics probe. The congressman said he will cooperate fully.

A 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas said she sexted with the congressman for nine months and once engaged in phone sex with him. She claims he used House resources to cover up his bad behavior.

Weiner reportedly coached former porn star Ginger Lee on how to lie about her on-line relationship with him.

“By the Chris Lee standard, these are offenses that merit resignation,” David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs in New York City, said of the latest chapter in Weinergate.

The Post says Weiner has “disgraced” the office he holds and “needs to quit.”

If the House ethics probe shows he broke the rules, Weiner will have to resign, opines the Times.

“One of the most unbearable news conferences ever seen,” says the WSJ, which urges any other pols with problems similar to Weiner’s to “get out now; spare the rest of us.”

New York Republicans plan to mount a vigorous challenge to Weiner in 2012 (assuming he makes it that far) and are hoping for national assistance.

Timeline of the Weiner scandal.

Hank Sheinkopf: “Don’t bet on Mayor Weiner for 2013. The guy with the second-toughest job in America doesn’t usually sit around sexting all day long. It’s just not what mayors do.”

Some of Weiner’s on-line endeavors took place while his wife, Huma Abedin, was away on business with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abedin was notably absent from Weiner’s tearful tell-all press conference.

Andrea Peyser doesn’t give the Weiner-Abedin marriage long.

More >

Could Weiner’s District Get Carved Up?

With Rep. Anthony Weiner saying he is going to run for re-election in spite of his bombshell admission today, and more Democrats subtly hinting that that is a bad idea, the talk could soon turn to re-drawing the Congressional lines to make it harder for the scandal-scarred Brooklyn/Queens pol to get re-elected.

New York is slated to lose 2 seats in 2012, so the politically vulnerable – whether due to poor performance in 2010, poor judgement (a la Weiner) or poor health (like Rep. Maurice Hinchey, for example) are the most likely to become casualties of redistricting.

And they are also the least likely to get support from members of the Legislature who are (so far) still in charge of redrawing district lines – both for Congress and themselves.

Weiner represents a sprawling district for the New York City area, that actually borders 6 other CD’s.

Here they are.

  • NY-5, Rep. Gary Ackerman
  • NY-6, Rep. Gregory Meeks
  • NY-7, Rep. Joe Crowley
  • NY-8, Rep. Jerry Nadler
  • NY-10, Rep. Ed Towns
  • NY-12, Rep. Nydia Velazquez


Another thing to think about: One of the two districts that New York is going to lose is likely going to come from New York City, despite cries that the census numbers from the five boroughs are wrong.

Another interesting fact is that Queens, a piece of which is in Weiner’s district, only grew by a little over 1,000 people since 2000, according to the Census numbers.

The two districts in Queens that are closest to where Weiner lives, and therefore are the easiest to re-draw into his district, are NY-5 and NY-6.

Of the two, Rep. Gregory Meeks is the more politically vulnerable because of reports that he is being investigated by the FBI.

If they carved that section of Forest Hills into NY-5, then he’d be up against Rep. Gary Ackerman in a district that represents parts of Nassau County. Many of those voters would only know Weiner from this bad week of press.

Here’s a great website if you want to see where the lines are drawn. (Best to just manually zoom into NYC)

Assembly Passes Fracking Moratorium Extension

The state Assembly has passed a bill to extend a moratorium on hydroracking for another year.

CT Frack

Speaker Sheldon Silver said at a news conference this afternoon that further study of the environmental impact of deep drilling, especially on drinking water, is needed before any permits can be issued. He also said public health must take precedence over industry profits.

“The natural gas locked within the marcellus shale isn’t going anywhere. We’re not going to lose it,” he said.

“There is time to do the science. There is time to act with caution and with thoughtfulness.”

The Independent Oil and Gas Association disagreed with Silver’s assessment, calling the measure “job-killing” legislation.

“Further delays simply are unwise and unnecessary,” said Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director.

“[The bill] is premised on bad science and misinformation. This bill would hurt people and places that have endured significant economic hardship and job loss.”

A similar bill is pending in the Senate, which is sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland). Both houses of the legislature (under Democratic control) passed a moratorium last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Paterson. He ordered an executive order suspending the practice of hydrofracking, but allowed other types of drilling.

A spokesman says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is awaiting the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft environmental impact statement and will evaluate it. The DEC’s findings are expected this summer.

Israel: Constituents Will Decide Weiner’s Future

The statements reacting to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s announcement are starting to come in. Among them, this comment from DCCC Chair, and Long Island Congressman Steve Israel.

“Congressman Anthony Weiner engaged in a deep personal failure and inappropriate behavior that embarrassed himself, his family, and the House. Ultimately, Anthony and his constituents will make a judgment about his future .

Israel goes on to back up Rep. Pelosi’s call for the House Ethics Committee to investigate Weiner.

Last week when this story began to break, there was a lot of talk about how the district that Rep. Weiner represents might be winnable for Republicans. The Cook Partisan Voting Index only has it as a +5 for Democrats, which is based heavily on who voters pick for president.

Here are a couple of other numbers though. Current enrollment numbers show Democrats with a 196k to 62k edge, with roughly 85k others. In 2010, he was re-elected 67k to 43k. But in 2012, it is going to be a presidential year, so he if he isn’t defeated in a Democratic primary he could get a bump from higher Democratic turnout. Though, there are a lot of ifs.

Lopez: Conditional Support For Weiner

Brooklyn Democratic Chairman and Assemblyman Vito Lopez issued conditional support for embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, saying that his years in public service shouldn’t be tarnished by the lewd photos sent to women over social networks.

“Unless I’m aware of things that I’m not aware of currently, I will continue to support him. I believe his ability to lead and accomplish a great deal will continue. He’s been a spokesman for reform and I value his accomplishments.

But he said Weiner’s dream of becoming mayor could be imperiled if the scandal isn’t resolved in a “satisfactory manner.”

I believe the key to his running for mayor is key to the way this is resolved. If it’s not resolved in a satisfactory manner, it could be problematical.

State GOP Chairman: Weiner Should Do ‘Honorable Thing’ And Resign

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox is the first to call on Rep. Anthony Weiner to “do the honorable thing and resign” following the Democratic congressman’s bombshell tell-all press conference this afternoon.

“Anthony Weiner’s actions have demonstrated a lack of judgment and his repeated dishonesty has broken the bonds of trust with his family, his constituents and the American people,” Cox said in a statement.

“It is now clear that to further a cover-up he stood by while encouraging others, including Congressional employees, to lie, slander and discredit the professional reputations of those who were telling the truth. His inappropriate behavior has irreparably damaged his ability to serve.”

“His actions are at best despicable and at worst illegal. At a time when our nation has huge challenges, this scandal is a distraction from those important issues that impairs Congressman Weiner’s ability to hold a public trust. He should do the honorable thing and resign for the benefit the people of New York, the United States Congress and the nation.”

‘Terrible Mistakes’

Here’s the video of Rep. Anthony Weiner coming clean this afternoon about his sharing of inappropriate photos and messages with women other than his wife.

He admitted to exchanging communications of an “explicit nature” on Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone over the past six years with “about six women” he met on-line. “Most” of that took place prior to his marriage to Huma Abedin in July 2010, but not all of it.

Weiner insisted he has never met any of these women in person, nor engaged in sex outside his marriage.

(This is the official statement Weiner read. He then took questions from the press, and we’re endeavoring to upload that footage, too).