Samuels: Spitzer Was More Of A Reformer Than Cuomo

ICYMI: Bill Samuels, Democratic donor and good government gadfly, questioned Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reform chops during a CapTon interview last night, saying former Gov. Eliot “Steamroller” Spitzer was more dedicating to overhauling Albany than the current governor is.

Samuels accused Cuomo of doing “nothing” to help the Senate Democrats maintain the majority last fall (which, of course, they didn’t), noting that Spitzer went out of his way to try to flip the chamber into Democratic hands, ruining his relationship with then-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno – not to mention laying the groundwork for the Troopergate scandal – in the process.

There’s no doubt about it,” Samuels said. “(Spitzer), after he was elected, with support and comments like Greg Ball’s, went into Nassau – where (Jack) Martins is now a state senator – and supported Craig Johnson against Bruno’s wishes.”

“He got involved in all of the issues. And if he had still been governor, I can tell you that when we won in ’08 all the reforms would have been passed. Cuomo I hope in 2012 switches his priorities from the economic priorities to reform. And I think he may. But I need to see real action because a veto isn’t meaningful.”

Samuels was on the show to call on Ball, a self-professed maverick, to buck the Senate GOP and stick to his NY Uprising redistricting reform pledge. His New Roosevelt Initiative will be targeting Ball with a rally on May 16. (Martins was its first target, and was the focus of a similar rally on Long Island last month).

Samuels had hoped Cuomo, who, according to Ed Koch, recently reiterated his pledge to veto any partisan redistricting plans, would veto the money included in thie 2011-2012 budget deal for LATFOR, which essentially enables the continuation of the current (read: partisan) method of redrawing district lines.

You have to consider the source here: Samuels is a deep-pocketed donor, but he marches to the beat of his own drum. He ran for LG last fall and threatened to primary Cuomo’s pick, then-Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, before switching gears to focus on helping the Senate Democrats.

After the Democrats lost control of the chamber, he founded the New Roosevelt Initiative and helped topple former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., whom Samuels says the Democrats should never have accepted back into the fold after the 2009 coup.

Klein To Anton Glamb: Album Cover Not Cool

Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, is not cheering Brooklyn DJ Anton Glamb’s album cover that depicts two cans of the now-banned alcohol-caffeine brew Four Loko as the collapsing twin towers.

Though he’s probably giving the hipster-ish Glamb free publicity by complaining about the album, Klein said the album art is both “dumb and offensive.”

“Comparing the tragic events of 9-11 to our efforts to keep Four Loko and other high-alcohol, super-sweetened, alcopops out of the hands of minors is equal parts dumb and offensive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, it is in extremely poor taste to use an attack on our country that killed more than 3,000 New Yorkers as a parody. Frankly, I think this artist owes an apology to the families of those who lost their lives on that day.”

Klein, the chairman of the Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, held hearings in Albany this week on cracking down on so-called Alco-pops that he says are responsible for dozens of underage drinking deaths.

Few Surprises In DiNapoli Tax Return

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli unveiled his tax returns today and — shockingly! — there are few surprises from the pol whose primary source of income is his state job.

In all, DiNapoli paid $580 in state taxes and received a federal refund of $2,850.

The comptroller declared a total income of $166,976 for 2010, with $12,629 in extra income coming from a successful tax reassessment lawsuit by the board of his Great Neck condominium. DiNapoli was not party to the suit, but reaped the benefits after it paid out five year’s worth reimbursements last year.

DiNapoli also declared $4,837 in charitable donations, with the largest single donation — $1,308 — going to the St. Aloysius Church of Great Neck. He also donated $100 to his alma mater Hofstra and $25 to the NYCLU.

The more interesting news could come Monday, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo releases his returns. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said he would release his tax returns sometime next week.

Broken Horses

An interesting, and rather nonpolitical, Friday sort of story: NYC Comptroller John Liu released a rather disturbing audit today that found a company that ran three city carousels overcharged customers, maintained little or no records of its cash transactions, and violated health codes.

It’s that last part – the health code violations – that’s particularly disturbing. The findings include:

- Employees built a makeshift toilet in the Central Park carousel’s mechanical room using buckets and a funnel.

- The operator did not maintain the three carousels’ pushcarts, snack bars, and surrounding areas in a safe and sanitary manner.

- A dirty popcorn machine and hot dog roller at the Central Park carousel continued to be used in spite of a Parks Department order to halt sales.

- Food carts at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park carousel were not properly licensed by the Department of Health.

Those carousels, particularly the one in Central Park, are very big tourist attractions. All I can say is…Ewwww.

Hevesi’s Prosecutors: Sentence Fits Crime (Update)

The two men who oversaw prosecution of the pay-to-play pension fund scandal that resulted in former comptroller Alan Hevesi’s jail sentence today both said the penalty should serve as a warning against other public officials seeking favors and gifts while in office.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who as attorney general investigated and successfully had Hevesi plead guilty just before taking office as governor said the punishment shows public corruption will not to be tolerated.

“Public integrity was my top priority as New York Attorney General and it is as Governor. For government to work, it must have the trust of the people. Those who hold public office must safeguard that trust, and those who violate their oath must incur just punishment. It is a new day in Albany and the old way of doing business will not be tolerated.

Cuomo successfully prosecuted eight people in the pension-fund scandal, including political consultant Hank Morris and Hevesi’s chief investment officer, David Loglisci. In addition to recovering $170 million, Cuomo fined the high-powered lobbying firm run by Patricia Lynch for $500,000 and banned her from appearing before the comptroller’s office for five years.

Update: A reader points out that it’s also fair to mention political consulting firm Global Strategy was hit with an even larger, $2 million fine for its role in the scandal, as was Quadrangle LLC, which was fined $7 million; GKM Newport Generation Capital Services, LLC was fined the equivalent of $1.6 million; California lobbying firm Platinum Advisors was fined $500,000; and unlicensed placement agent Kevin McCabe, $715,000.

Schneiderman, who inherited the case from Cuomo, successfully recommended the maximum penalty for Hevesi. In his statement, Schneiderman said the punishment fit the crime.

“Today, Alan Hevesi was appropriately punished for abusing his position as New York’s Comptroller,” Schneiderman said. “Hevesi brazenly sold access to New York Pension Fund investments—a betrayal of the public trust that went to the heart of his duties as Comptroller. Today’s sentencing decision will help achieve my office’s principal objective of restoring New Yorkers’ faith in their state government. I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo and his team in the Attorney General’s Office for their work on this matter.”

Hevesi Sentenced 1 To 4 Years In Prison (Updated)

Disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi was sentenced this morning received the maximum penalty — one to four years in prison — for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension scandal.

The sentencing had been postponed multiple times after Hevesi was hospitalized for poor health.

From NY1:

Disgraced former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi was lead out of court in handcuffs today, after being sentenced from one to four years in prison for felony corruption charges.

Hevesi, who admitted to a role in influence peddling at the state pension fund, was supposed to be in court the week before, but was hospitalized for a medical procedure.

His attorneys asked for leniency, saying their 71-year-old client is in poor health.

Hevesi pleaded guilty last October to his role in a pension-fund scandal that engulfed nearly every aspect of Albany’s political culture — ensnaring lobbyist, political consultants and politicians. He had previously resigned in 2006 after an investigation found a state employee doubled as a chauffer for his wife.

Hevesi admitted to receiving free travel in exchange for a sweetheart $250 million pension fund investment.

His successor at the comptroller’s office, Tom DiNapoli, who has gone to pains to distance himself from the scandal by banning the use of “placement agents” in the office, said the pay-to-play culture “won’t be tolerated.”

Today’s sentencing of Alan Hevesi is a welcome and just conclusion to a years-long saga. Mr. Hevesi betrayed the trust of all New Yorkers.  His sentence is clear evidence that this type of criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

Since taking office, I have changed the way the pension fund does business so history cannot repeat itself. I have banned placement agents and pay-to-play practices, and I have increased transparency in pension fund transactions. But there is more that can be done.

The punishment for breaking the law while performing a public duty must include pension forfeiture and increased fines and sentencing. The pension forfeiture bill I proposed earlier this year would do just that. No public official who violates the public trust should be allowed to receive a taxpayer-funded pension.  Passage of my bill would be a
much-needed step in rebuilding the public’s confidence in its government.

Diaz Sr. FOILs For Black’s Compensation

Thanks to state Education Commissioner David Steiner’s quick turnaround on Dennis Walcott’s waiver request, former NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black is now officially out of the picture, but Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is quite done with her yet.

The Bronx Democrat’s office this morning released the following Freedom of Information Law request sent to the NYC Department of Education:

Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, New York 10007

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is a FOIL request for any and all information regarding the entire salary, benefits, and other compensation that New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black has received or will receive, including any severance or retirement benefits.

Should there be any portion of this request that is denied, please state the reasons for denying my request. A prompt response to my request is mandated by statute.

Respectfully,

Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz
900 Rogers Place
Bronx, New York 10459
(718) 991-3161

Black’s salary as chancellor was $250,000 a year, but she’s hardly hurting for cash now that she has lost that post. Mayor Bloomberg said Walcott will continue to receive his $213,000 deputy mayor salary despite the fact that he now has a new title.

Maloney To Host Hochul

A reader forwarded this invite to an April 26 fundraiser Rep. Carolyn Maloney will be hosting at her Upper East Side home for her would-be Democratic colleague, Erie County Clerk Cathy Hochul.

There was a lot of speculation before the NY-26 Democratic leaders settled on Hochul as their candidate in the May 24 special election about her ability to raise campaign cash, particularly in light of the fact that her GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, pledged to spend her own money to win the seat Chris Lee gave up after his Craigslist scandal.

In addition, businessman Jack Davis has said he’ll drop some $3 million of his own cash on his independent bid.

Hotline On Call reported this week that Hochul has raised more than $350,000 so far. The DCCC has yet to commit to assisting Hochul in her quest for a seat that 1) is in a GOP-dominated district, and 2) might not exist after the next round of redistricting.

The willingness of Maloney to help Hochul is a good sign for the candidate, perhaps signaling that Democrats outside the district are starting to take an interest in the race. Although, it would be better for her, of course, if DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, a Long Island congressman, was hosting this event.

Also on the host committee is former Congresswoman/NYC Comptroller Liz Holtzman and feminist/activist/author Gloria Steinem.

Hochul Invitation(2)

Here And Now

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi is scheduled to be sentenced this morning.

The 71-year-old Hevesi faces the possibility of up to four years behind bars.

Hevesi has asked for leniency. The AG’s office has asked that he receive the maximum possible sentence.

Former NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso spoke publicly for the first time his possible 2013 NYC mayoral bid, which he’ll undertake only if 1) His nemesis Eliot Spitzer runs, and 2) NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly doesn’t.

Grasso made his remarks at Wagner College on Staten Island.

Right-leaning members of the House GOP fired a warning shot at Speaker John Boehner by voting “no” on the budget deal that prevents a government shutdown.

Contract negotiations between the Cuomo administration and the state’s two largest public employee unions include talk of raising the retirement age.

CSEA and PEF will reportedly work behind the scenes to get Council 82′s 1,160 members to reject what Cuomo has called a “model” contract deal.

Cuomo is “open to talking” about his 2 percent property tax cap, but the Senate GOP doesn’t want to water it down.

Minority lawmakers are expecting Cuomo to “stand up” on rent control.

While being deposed in the discrimination case against Bloomberg LP, Mayor Bloomberg said he still believes that people who quit to work for the competition should “fail.”

More >

Extras

“When I see what Governor Cuomo is doing across the river, I think it’s true, I think we were separated at birth,” NJ Gov. Chris Christie said this morning at a Big Pharma conference.

Mayor Bloomberg, testy? Never.

Former Sen. Vincent Leibell knew the day he won the Putnam County executive race that he would be slapped with federal corruption charges.

Some elected officials have sweet taxpayer-funded rides.

A handful of upstate Democrats who voted “yes” on the stopgap budget last week voted “no” on the actual budget today.

Birther congressman joins wannabe birther presidential candidate at Boca Raton Tea Party tax rally.

Donald Trump complained about not being quoted in a column that quoted him.

Mort Zuckerman refutes Trump’s claim that he “saved” the Daily News.

What about Mitt Romney’s birth certificate?

Blair Horner’s imminent departure from NYPIRG is causing ripples at the Capitol.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to protect the privacy of military funerals.

Jonathan Tasini calls Arianna Huffington’s response to his class-action lawsuit “unhinged and disingenuous.”

School districts are scrutinizng every last state mandate in hopes of getting some relief.

Bloomberg celebrated “Poem in Your Pocket” day with his own “original poem.”

Chelsea Clinton is headlining the first fundraiser of a new gay rights group.

The Blind Wine Chick thinks Florida is a more important wine market than New York because you can guy vino in supermarkets there.

April 16 is Foursquare Day in NYC.