9/11 Memorial Flag Unveiled

Gov. Cuomo and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum have unveiled the official Memorial Flag that will be flown at the state capitol, the World Trade Center memorial, and various other state office buildings across the state.

flag

“The Memorial Flag is meant to serve as a long-lasting symbol of our respect for those who were lost on September 11th and our resilience in the face of tragedy,” Governor Cuomo said.

The flag itself depicts the three sites where thousands lost their lives ten years ago. The 40 yellow stars represent the fatalities from United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa. The five-sided figures represent the Pentagon, where 125 people died. At the center of the flag are the Twin Towers, where the greatest loss of life occurred that day.

The governor says the Museum will also sell replicas of the flag in order to raise funds for the museum as well as to bolster educational programs. The flag will be available on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum website www.911memorial.org/911flag.

IDC Forms A PAC

The Independent Democratic Conference has formally registered a political action committee with the state Board of Elections, a sign the experiment is maturing beyond a legislative voting bloc.

Though the PAC, dubbed the IDC Initiative, shows no donations yet, the formation of the committee shows how the eight-month-old conference is trying to expand its power and influence beyond four members.

The committee was formed in August.

The IDC is composed of Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx, Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Carlucci of Rockland County and David Valesky of Oneida. The lawmakers defected from the larger Democratic conference after the party lost its majority last year.

Political action committees allow for more flexible fund raising and spending practices compared to candidate committees, and are often used to form legislative alliances down the road.

Klein, in particular, is a prodigious fundraiser. In the last reporting period, he raised $422,000 and is sitting on $655,000 over the last six months. The four IDC members have a combined $1 million in the bank.

Klein led the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee for two terms, and has had the luxury of never facing a stiff opponent since he was first elected.

The Independent Democrats’ PAC comes as Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, forms her own political action committee, No Bad Apples. The PAC’s mission is to recruit reform-minded candidates, but will also serve the purpose of further consolidating Krueger’s power over the factious conference.

For the four-member IDC, helping (and possibly recruiting) candidates down the road could give them even more leverage in the closely divided Senate. Republicans hold a 32-30 majority.

And seen another way, the IDC may be gearing up its fundraising prowess in an effort to protect itself from challenges in either a general or primary election. Both Valesky and Carlucci live in moderate, Republican-heavy districts.

“Stayed tuned,” IDC spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.

The remaining Senate Democrats grumbled last year that Klein, the conference’s defacto leader, took his proverbial ball and went home after he failed to take out John Sampson.

The IDC has formed a noticeably tight alliance with Senate Republicans on several key votes, including a measure that would prevent independent redistricting for another decade, further frustrating Democratic lawmakers.

But IDC points to not wanting to have anything to do with the conference’s perceived incompetence and ineffectiveness, along with its whiffs of scandal and corruption.

Prison Count Law Could Change Senate Complexion

As lawmakers move to redraw district lines by the beginning of next year, the Assembly’s prison count report released yesterday foreshadows just how much the make up of the Senate could change if Republican efforts to repeal a 2010 law fail.

Upstate districts, in particular, will be hammered by the law, which requires prisoners be counted as residents of their last known address, not the facility they reside in.

The 2010 law, inserted into the record-late spending plan passed in August, is being challenged by some Senate Republicans, and led by Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, who has multiple prisons in her sprawling upstate district.

And as the report quantitatively shows, Little has a lot to lose — 11,610 residents.

Sixteen districts north of the Tappan Zee will be impacted by the new count, and all but one of them is represented by a Republican.

This has buoyed Democratic hopes of retaking the Senate, which is narrowly divided at 32-30 in favor of the GOP.

“The people of this state deserve independent and fair redistricting,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy. “There has been a cloud over this process for too long and this announcement will help clear the air. The Assembly will follow the state law which is good news for all New Yorkers. But it is time for the Senate Republicans to do so as well. Any further delay is a continued assault on democracy and fair play.”

But if anything, the report also illustrates just how beneficial the prison counting law is to downstate lawmakers.

Meanwhile downstate districts, which are predominantly led by Democrats, also face some adjustments. But the net change shows that it will be a wash for New York City-area lawmakers. Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D-Mamaroneck, who narrowly won re-election last year, is actually losing more than 1,500 constituents.

The law is beneficial to one Senate Republican: Joe Robach of Greece, is gaining residents, about 1,869.

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Senecas Call On State To Recognize 2002 Agreement

Seneca Nation of Indians President Robert Porter today called on the state to recognize a nine-year-old gaming accord that they say gave the nation the exclusive right to operate casinos in western New York.

“We strongly believe that allowing commercial gaming interests to operate in the areas of Western New York where the Seneca Nation has gaming exclusivity will undermine the economic stability of the region, and actually result in a net negative impact on the people and communities of Western New York,” Porter said.

Porter testified in Canandaigua, Ontario County, before the Senate Committee on Racing, Wagering and Gaming. The Senecas say they’re holding $310 million in escrow in payments due to the state after paying nearly a half billion to Albany.

The Senecas operate two casinos, including one under construction in Buffalo. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month said he would be open to a constitutional amendment that would allow for non-Indian gaming in New York.

Notably the Senecas did not issue a statement decrying the governor’s statement.

Pataki Formally Endorses Turner

As expected, former Gov. George Pataki today endorsed fellow Republican Bob Turner for the 9th congressional district.

“Our federal debt threatens the very future of America as we know it, and Bob Turner has the courage to do something about it,” Pataki said. “He isn’t just fighting to preserve Social Security and Medicare for our senior citizens, he’s fighting to make sure those programs are there for our children and grandchildren. Bob Turner has the real-world business experience we need in Congress, and I strongly endorse him.”

Whether this matters in a heavily Democratic district remains unclear. Still, Weprin’s flailing campaign has given national Democrats cause for concern, especially as President Obama’s approval ratings continue to tumble.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, certainly a more popular figure in the NY-9 than Pataki, will be cutting radio and TV ads for Democrat David Weprin, the Post reported this morning. Cuomo is also appearing in campaign literature for Weprin. Notably absent from any Weprin flyers so far: Obama.

DFS To Aid NYers In Need Of Insurance Assistance

Gov. Cuomo annouced this morning that Superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services (DFS) Benjamin Lawsky will make appearances in Middleburgh, Cobleskill and Schoharie today to guide storm victims on how to get insurance assistance. Onsite counseling centers will also be set up.

“We really want to have a lasting presence there,” Lawsky said in an interview this morning on Talk 1300.

“This recovery is going to take some time and we’re not going to show up for a day and then go away. The governor has oredered us to be there and stay and become fixtures of this recovery.”

Lawksy also reiterated that his office will push insurance companies to honor policies that cover flood damage in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.

“We’ll tell [storm victims] if they have insurance coverage and if they don’t, we’ll help link them up FEMA or other federal monies to try and help them get back on their feet,” he said.

In addition to the on-site assistance, he’s also urging anyone affected by the storm to Call the Department of Financial Services Disaster Hotline: 800-339-1759 or to Visit the DFS Website: www.ins.state.ny.us

Here And Now

Governor Andrew Cuomo will make an announcement about the New York State Commemoration of September 11 this afternoon at the State Museum in Albany.

Cuomo was one of many politicians who attended the West Indian Day Parade.

He issued a strong defense of the President during his speech.

Mayor Bloomberg railed against easy access to guns after violence broke out following the parade leaving 10 people dead.

In a separate incident, a Brooklyn councilman was detained by police.

During a Q and A with reporters, Cuomo was asked about how Bloomberg handled the situation with Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, and he mostly avoided the topic.

In storm related news, Cuomo says Route 73 in the North Country will reopen within 10 days.

An Orange County onion farm was one of the many stops for Senator Chuck Schumer over the weekend as he toured storm damage.

For the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, Schumer thinks people should wear an American flag pin.

Is the DCCC panicking over potential loss by David Weprin in NY-9?

Former Gov. George Pataki will campaign for Republican Bob Turner today in NY-9. Chuck Schumer for David Weprin. (No Link)

Gov. Cuomo is going to appear in TV and radio ads to help out his fellow Democrat Weprin.

The NY Post endorses Bob Turner.
More >

Labor Day Reading

There will be very light posting today as the CapTon crew is off – along with much of the rest of America. Please forgive the delay in this post. I’m in a different time zone.

It’s now 11:30 a.m. back home, and so far AG Eric Schneiderman is the first – and only – statewide elected official to release a Labor Day statement in honor of “working men and women.”

That makes sense, since he’s the go-to guy for the progressive union set. (His statement appears in full after the jump at the end of this post).

I hope you all enjoy the day off. We’ll be back in full force tomorrow. Until then, a few headlines for your holiday reading pleasure…

Touring the storm damage in New Jersey, President Obama promised “we are going to meet out federal obligations,” and insisted politics would not get in the way of that.

Thousands of Irene-ravaged New Yorkers have already applied for federal aid.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 2,448 New Yorkers are still without power more than a week after Irene hit the state. Most of those – 1,400 – are Central Hudson customers (the utility serves the Catskills, which was very hard hit). The rest: 616 LIPA, 432 NYSEG. (No link).

Members of the Cuomo administration are volunteering with storm clean-up for a second day as part of the “Labor for Your Neighbor Campaign.”

The governor himself is returning to Keene this afternoon on the heels of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s visit yesterday. (The senior senator is home from his European vacation).

This morning, Cuomo is scheduled to deliver remarks at the West Indian American Labor Day Breakfast in Brooklyn. (No link).

Yesterday, Cuomo joined the Irene clean-up crew in Margaretville. His girlfriend, Sandra Lee, was there, too.

Some Catskills communities hard hit by Irene are wondering about the wisdom of rebuilding at all.

More >

The Weekend That Has Been So Far

Happy Labor Day weekend, I hope you’re enjoying it. Take a moment in between your end-of-summer festivities to remember Americas workers. The holiday is coming at a difficult time for organized labor.

President Obama toured storm damage in New Jersey, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo was back in Margaretville for the third time since Irene – this time to volunteer as part of his “Labor for your Neighbor” campaign.

Cuomo’s volunteer campaign got an “overwhelming response” – so much so that some people were asked to take a rain check.

Sen. Chuck Schumer toured the damage for the first time today, and called on FEMA to provide temporary housing trailers to NY residents who lost their homes to the floods.

Mayor Bloomberg broke his silence on the termination of his ex-top deputy, Stephen Goldsmith, and refused to apologize for the way it was handled.

“I always assumed it would come out, but it’s not my responsibility,” the mayor said of Goldsmith’s arrest on a domestic violence charge. “The obligation I have as an employer is to treat all my employees with respect.”

Had it not been for Goldsmith’s arrest, Bloomberg said, the former Indianapolis mayor would not have been fired – despite his less-than-stellar performance, particularly in handling last December’s blizzard.

Former VP Dick Cheney speculated it might have been easier for some of the Republicans now criticizing President Obama to work with a President Hillary Clinton.

Former Gov. David Paterson’s first guest on his new WOR radio show – debuting Tuesday – will be his ex-boss, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Paterson will also moderate a half-hour debate between NY-9 opponents: Assemblyman David Weprin (who helped the ex-governor while they were both at Hofstra Law School) and Bob Turner.

A Buffalo auditing company tasked by Paterson to review every state agency’s gas and electric bills has caught thousands of dollars worth of overcharges.

Cuomo announced a $15 million fund to help farmers recover from Irene.

Everyone – including local governments – is going to have to pay a portion of the post-Irene recovery cost, Cuomo said.

The governor expects most of the clean-up costs to be covered by private insurance companies.

Irene victims in the hardest-hit communities are growing increasingly frustrated.

LIPA chief Michael Hervey defended his company’s post-storm response.

Engineers from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection examined the Gilboa Dam and declared it sound.

Even before Irene, 14 percent of the state’s rural bridges were deemed deficient.

The storm’s damage to state parks alone is estimated at $20 million.

The MTA gets kudos for its handling of Irene.
More >

Extras

U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth reverses herself on disaster aid, and claims she never meant to tie it to spending cuts.

Regardless, Eric Cantor’s federal aid comment isn’t helping New York Republicans.

The private sector will have to cover most of the damage from Irene, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo will tour storm damage with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack tomorrow.

It will take several weeks to repair the Poesten Kill Dam.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been splitting her time between touring storm damage, and talking about the importance of a new Farm Bill.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack’s trip to New York will be somewhere in the gigantic NY-20.

Cuomo invites second floor staff to help with Irene cleanup.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will sue Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co. over subprime mortgage loans, complicating the larger settlement the banks had hoped to negotiate.

The DEC commissioned a company with ties to oil and gas industry to study the economic impact and benefits of hydrofracking.

In what should have been a layup, panic setting in for Democrats in the NY-9.

GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle faced a tough crowd over Medicare, federal debt and taxes the other day.

President Obama nixed a proposed smog rule that Republicans and business groups opposed.

The Democrat and Chronicle has a cool topics page on the anniversary of the Attica prison riot.

City Hall News lists their winners and losers from the week.