An Unfortunate Connection

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s office sent out this video of a press conference in Washington this week where the fiancee of one of the Tucson shooting victims endorsed the congresswoman’s proposed ban on high-capacity magazines.

Kelly O’Brien was engaged to marry Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to Rep. Gabby Giffords who was one of six people killed at the Jan. 8 “Congress on Your Corner” event where Jared Loughner opened fire.

McCarthy has noted on numerous occasions that the magazine Loughner used was similar to the one employed by Colin Ferguson in the 1993 LIRR massacre in which the congresswoman’s husband was killed and her son seriously injured.

This tragedy is not the only similiarity McCarthy and O’Brien share. As the congresswoman’s spokesman, Shams Tarek, wrote:

“Kelly and Rep. McCarthy have a lot in common – both women, both nurses, both lost their partners in mass shootings involving high-capacity magazines, and both went to Washington as activists trying to reduce gun violence. Rep. McCarthy sees a lot of herself in Kelly, and a lot of Kelly in herself.”

Schenectady Loses Another Dem To Cuomo Admin (Update)

Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Susan Savage announced today she’ll be stepping down from her post to accept a yet-unnamed position in the Cuomo administration.

SSavage Headshot

She’s the second Schenectady Democrat to leave the political arena in favor of a job with the new governor. Former Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton, who was facing a potentially difficult re-election bid this fall, left to head the Canal Corp.

Savage has been a member of the Legislature since 1998 and has served as chairwoman since January of 2004. She ran an unsuccessful challenge to veteran GOP Sen. Hugh Farley last fall.

“I am truly grateful to the people of Niskayuna, Scotia and Glenville and Schenectady County for giving me the opportunity to serve my community for the past fourteen years,” Savage said in a press release.

“Like all of those in public service, my goal has always been to leave this community a better and stronger community than it was when I took office fourteen years ago.”

“I’m proud to have lead county government at a critical period and I thank my constituents and my colleagues on the County Legislature for the confidence they placed in me”

Savage is married to well-known Albany lobbyist Steve Weingarten, of the Weingarten, Reid and McNally lobbying firm.

UPDATE: City Hall News tweets that she will be the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Real Property Services. If that’s the case, then this is a homecoming for Savage. She previously served as director of intergovernmental relations at ORPS.

Savage also has worked as a lobbyist for the Medical Society and for both the Assembly and the Senate.

Trump: Civics Is For Stiffs

I know we’re risking Donald Trump overload today, but I couldn’t resist.

Buried at the end of TIME’s profile of The Donald is the following gem:

(C)ould Trump actually corral Washington? Does he even know how many members there are in the House of Representatives?

“Well, I don’t want to answer your questions because this isn’t a history class,” he shoots back, adding that of course he knows the answer. “You could get some stiff that knows every one of those answers but is incapable of governing.”

Well, then can he give us any assurance that he is really serious about this campaign? That he is not just pulling the country along for another prime-time joyride? “You have no assurance,” he says. “I am just telling you I hate what is happening to the country.”

Trump also told TIME that NBC wants to renew him for three seasons on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but he’s unable to commit because he’s got “a big decision to make.” He has said that will likely come some time in June.

Apparently, he’s also made a convert out of GOP consultant (and sometime NY1 Consultants Corner contributor) Kellyanne Conway, who lives in a Trump building in Manhattan. She says the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star can win because 2012 is an “aspiration election,” adding: “When you think of aspiration and upward mobility, you think Donald Trump.”

The TIME piece features a number of fab sidebars, including my favorite, entitled: “The Secret to Donald Trump’s Hair.”

Walcott Gets His Waiver

Well, that was fast.

The state Department of Education has granted a waiver for Dennis Walcott to become the new chancellor of New York City schools, a week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg selected him to succeed the hapless Cathie Black.

It was a relatively speedy process for Walcott. Black was named chancellor by Bloomberg last Nov. 9, but did not receive a waiver from Education Commissioner David Steiner until Nov. 29. Steiner announced he was leaving his post the same day as Black.


DiNapoli: LDCs Out Of Control

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is introducing a package of measures designed to limit local governments’ use of local development corporations, which his office charged are “out of control” and have committed to an “ongoing pattern of abuse.”

DiNapoli’s measures include giving his office tighter control over LDCs, prevent LDCs or other non-profit organizations fund local governments, restricting compensation of some LDC employees in certain instances and requiring an LDC’s contract with a local government to be of fair value.

“Local governments are supposed to use LDCs for economic development purposes,” DiNapoli said. “But we found that isn’t always the case. Time after time, our auditors uncovered LDCs being used to skirt the laws governing local government operations. And that’s costing taxpayers money.”

Local development corporations are used to facilitate economic development and job creation, usually at the county level. The quasi-public agencies have come under heavy criticism, most notably from former Assemblyman and two-time attorney general candidate Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat, for their lack of oversight and questionable compensation methods for management.

Brodsky has tried to shine some light on the LDCs, as well as public authorities.

In his report, the comptroller’s office noted DiNapoli doesn’t have direct authority over the LDCs, but can investigate the relationship between the agencies and local governments.

The full report is after the jump. More >

Trump: ‘I’ve Got A Great Relationship With The Blacks’

Reality-show host and real-estate mogul Donald Trump held court on Talk 1300 AM this morning, claiming he has an in with the black community, but doubted it would help him in a presidential campaign.

“I’ve got a great relationship with the blacks, I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks,” Trump said when responding to criticism that the so-called birther conspiracy theories are tinged with racism.

He also assessed Hillary Clinton’s run for the Democratic primary in 2010 2008, saying that she had an excellent relationship with the black community “and got so few votes.”

The Donald also claimed to Fred Dicker this morning he is still considering a run for president in the 2012 Republican primary, but said he would probably have to make a formal announcement following the season finale of his reality show, “The Apprentice,” which wraps in June.

Trump said the Obama campaign is scared of his possible candidacy.

“The one person they don’t want to run against is me,” he said, adding that he’s also got a great relationship with the tea party activists.

He also repeated the discredited claim that the president hasn’t submitted proof he was born in this country (Trump turned in what he claimed was an actual birth certificate, but it was not a document released by the Department of Health, making some wonder if he’s eligible to be president).

Trump said his claims about Obama’s birth “are factual” and that the press has given the president “a free ride” on a variety of issues, including the certificate conspiracy theory.

He also gave a thumbs-up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first three months in office.

“I think he’s doing a great job,” said Trump, who was at one time recruited by the state Republican Party to run for governor. “I’m very proud of him.”

Trump, who has been accused of running for president just to raise the ratings of his television show, said he “would rather not run” but that that someone “has to take the bull by the horns.”

“Somebody has to take the bull by the horns,” Trump said. “This country is in bad shape, we’re laughed at, we’re scoffed at.”

Q Poll: NYers Crazy For The Cap

Today’s Q poll reinforces New Yorkers’ widespread desire for property tax relief, finding overwhelming support – 79-17 percent – for the cap proposal that has caused a post-budget policy standoff at the Capitol.

Forty-six percent of voters say the cap should be a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders prior to the session’s end on June 15. Compared that to:

- 29 percent want ethics reform;

- 7 percent want redistricting reform;

- 6 percent want same-sex marriage.

Of course, nothing’s going to get accomplished before May 2 because the Legislature has decided to extend its annual spring break by an extra week.

041411 NY ISSUES + BP

Hochul vs. Tolls, Redux

Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul’s latest NY-26 TV ad focuses on her long battle against Thruway tolls – a sort of cause celebre for WNY.

NOTE: This is Hochul’s third spot of the campaign for the vacated seat of former Rep. Chris Lee. I said yesterday that she only had two. I stand corrected. You can see all of her ads here.

This ad, entitled “The Fighter”, features two truckers praising Hochul and the Democratic candidate herself speaking straight to camera about her eight-year crusade of fighting Albany to get the tolls removed. (They were set to expire in 1996 when the bonds sold to refinance the road’s construction were repaid).

She makes a particular point of saying she took on leaders “in both parties” – a clear play for those independent voters and conservative Democrats who might be more inclined to vote Republican in this GOP-dominated district.

Also, I’m not up to speed on all the nuances of this hyper-local WNY issue, but I’m pretty certain a number of people were instrumental in the demise of the tolls at the Odgen Street and Breckenridge barriers where the Thruway stopped collecting in October 2006.

For example: Developer and failed gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra teamed up to sue in February 2006 to get the toll barriers removed. They were finally demolished in August 2007.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in WNY this morning. Specifically, he’ll be in N. Tonawanda to tout the new Recharge NY program that replaces the old Power for Jobs.

LG Bob Duffy is expected to make economic development news in Canandaigua.

Congress is scheduled to vote today on the 11th-hour budget deal struck to avert a government shutdown. Members on both sides of the aisle plan to vote “no.”

A lot of liberal commentators liked the president’s debt speech, but it will probably appeal most to that all-important swing bloc: Independents.

Cuomo met privately in 2008 with then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who expressed concern about the then-AG’s aggressiveness in investigating the financial industry, particularly AIG.

Cuomo will meet on May 3 in Albany with WNY legislators to discuss the appointment of a Niagara County resident to the NYPA board.

The governor will propose a bill that allows NYC to provide permanent property-tax abatements to local electric-generating companies, removing the basis for a little-noticed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decision that could hike electric rates by $500 million a year

The governor’s office did not return calls for comment about a veto of funding for foreclosure prevention services.

Cuomo’s poll numbers are 17 points higher than Eliot Spitzer’s were at this point in his first term back in 2007.

The governor negotiated a wage freeze and other concessions in his first labor contract.

The administration says the Council 82 contract should be a model for the two biggest unions – CSEA and PEF – currently in contract negotiations. Union leaders have other ideas.

More >


President Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg have joined forces to combat climate change.

That union was not easily forged.

“It’s not every day you hear an ex-president discuss his memories of a hooker.”

New Yorkers need a refresher course in civics.

Semi-First Lady Sandra Lee has hired ex-Gov. David Paterson’s former communications director, Risa Heller, as a consultant and spokeswoman.

A NYC Health Department study claims the Times Square pedestrian plaza led to an “immediate and substantial” improvement in air quality.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fashion maven.

EJ McMahon considers Cuomo’s contract deal with Council 82 “promising,” but would like to see more details.

Rep. Nan Hayworth took in more than $330,000 in the first quarter of 2011, putting her in the top tier of freshmen fundraisers.

Note to state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah: Beware reporters with tape recorders.

Rep. Anthony Weiner live Tweeted Obama’s debt speech and generally liked what he heard.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan found the speech “excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis.”

The GOP field for Suffolk County executive has narrowed.

Bloomberg’s dumping of ex-Schools Chancellor Cathie Black won’t change NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s push to have non-educators at the helm of school systems in his state.

The mayor will be in Chicago to participate in a tribue to Mayor Daley.