PEF Has Buyer’s Remorse

Last year, the Public Employees Federation broke ranks with two of its public sector colleagues – NYSUT and CSEA – to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo even as many union members were concerned by his pledge (laid out in the “New New York Agenda,” remember that?) to freeze state worker salaries and push other policies that considered unpalatable by the labor community.

Now that PEF is deadlocked in contract negotiations with the Cuomo administration, its president, Ken Brynien, is experiencing a bit of buyer’s remorse.

Speaking to Susan Arbetter on “The Capitol Pressroom” this morning, Brynien said PEF had endorsed Cuomo because “there were things that he was saying that we agreed with and made sense.” That included cutting back on the use of outside consultants and reducing the number of public authorities through the SAGE Commission.

But now the SAGE Commission has met only a handful of times and is not likely to make any recommendations in this session. Plus, the whole outside consultant discussion has been relegated to the back burner, Brynien said.

“Right now, the concentration is on us,” the PEF president lamented. “…if I knew he was going to do a full all-out assault on the public workers, I would not have supported him.”

Brynien stopped short of saying Cuomo had lied to labor leaders during the 2010 campaign, but he did say he felt the governor might have mischaracterized – or at least obfuscated – his true plans.

He’s particularly chagrined that layoffs that result from the closure of prisons, psychiatric centers and juvenile justice facilities won’t apply to the $450 million in workforce savings the governor included in the 2011-2012 budget agreement, which he is insisting must be achieved through either concessions or the layoff of 9,800 workers.

Brynien said the Cuomo administration has refused to sit down at the negotiating table for four weeks now, adding: “There could be talks today; we’ve told the governor we’re willing to meet with him 24-7 to get things done…they made demands of us that we didn’t like, and we made counter offers. They haven’t come back to us yet.”

Noisy Protests Engulf Capitol

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Here’s the view from outside the Senate Republican offices, where pro and anti-same-sex marriage advocates are gathering.

There’s been singing, hymns, clapping and lots of yelling.

The Rev. Jason McGuire, of the traditional marriage group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said he couldn’t estimate how many advocates were gathering at the Capitol today from his side, but the groups include Baptists, Jewish groups and members of the black clergy.

Also among them is former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree, who is adding some star power. Pro-gay marriage advocates have utilized a very active campaign of using celebrities who support same-sex marriage in advertisements and TV commercials.

Tyree’s former teammate, Michael Strahan, released a video earlier this month in support of same-sex marriage.

The measur remains deadlock in the Senate 31-31 and Senate Republicans continue to huddle in close-door conference.

Catholic Lawyer Says SSM Bill Could Lead To Years Of Lawsuits

An attorney for the New York Archdiocese who has been advising the Cuomo administration on bill language for the same-sex marriage bill, despite his personal opposition and the Church’s opposition to the legalization of gay marriage, says he thinks passing the measure will lead to years of legal challenges.

Attorney Edward Mechmann admits it is unlikely that a lawsuit could be brought to overturn the law, if passed, but he says he expects many legal challenges defining personal religious freedom.

Mechmann outlined several concerns he has with the current bill during an appearance on Talk1300 AM’s “Live from the State Capitol With Fred Dicker.”

He says the bill, as currently written, provides state protection for religions and religious institutions, but doesn’t make it clear that those laws will supercede local regulations that towns, cities and counties have. Mechmann used the example of Yonkers and Westchester county that currently have human rights laws.

He also thinks the bill leaves open the possibility that doctors who refuse to provide same-sex couples fertility drugs could lose their licenses. Or that Knights of Columbus halls or other venues that refused to host receptions for same-sex couples could see their liquor licenses stripped.

Senate To Pass Amended ‘Lauren’s Law’

The Senate today will act once again on a bill that is expected to increase the number of eligible organ donors, but with a small change.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown), would require driver’s license applicants to actively choose whether or not they’re willing to donate by marking, “yes” or “not at this time.”

The lack of the ability to flat out refuse on the application raised concerns and was changed to ensure its passage in the Assembly.

The amended legislation would include a “no” selection for those that do not wish to donate and states the Department of Health shall not maintain any records of any person who checks “no” or “not at this time.”

The bill is expected to pass the Assembly before the legislature breaks for summer, according to a spokesperson.

McDonald Raises From Yes Vote

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In the wake of his announced “yes” vote for same-sex marriage, Sen. Roy McDonald has unveiled a facebook page called “Stand With Roy” and urges supporters to donate and sign a petition.

The page itself has more than 10,000 “likes” Monday morning.

A website, www.standwithroy.com, includes a spot for fundraising.

McDonald, a Saratoga County Republican, is one of two GOP lawmakers who say they plan to vote in favor of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (the other yes vote comes from Sen. Jim Alesi), making same-sex marriage one vote shy of passing the Republican-led chamber. When McDonald announced he was said he was unconcerned about the impact it would have on his re-election chances.

The lawmakers’ announcement, along with his blunt responses to questions about same-sex marriage, made him something of a star. He was featured on the gossip website TMZ over the weekend.

The Rev. Duane Motely, a foe of same-sex marriage legalization, said last week candidates have come forward to challenge McDonald in a primary, but he refused to identify them.

Is Rational Tuition Dead?

As far as Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari is concerned, yes.

The Albany-area Democrat told me during a CapTon interview last Friday the Assembly will “do our own version” of the so-called rational tuition bill proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and pushed by the SUNY chancellor, but will not pass Cuomo’s program bill that calls for allowing a 5 percent annual increase over the next five years, plus an additional 3 percent for the four research institutions.

“Our proposal is the most reasonable one,” Canestrari said. “…we raise tuition but not at the rate the governor raises tuition. We’re less than half of what the governor and others want.”

“And I believe ours is much more affordable. I think there’s is like 25 percent over five years…I think that’s unconscionable, and I think it puts SUNY and CUNY almost out of the reach of the average New Yorker…I am opposed to it, and I think it’s a bad idea.”

Canestrari warned that talks over the weekend could change things, but added: “It’s getting late, and I don’t think it happens; I really don’t.”

Here And Now

Welcome to the last officially scheduled day of the 2011 legislative session, although lawmakers are privately allowing they could be here through Wednesday – at least.

The temporary extension of the expired rent laws passed (after some Twitter-related confusion) last Friday expires today, so that’s on the agenda, as are (still) same-sex marriage and the tax cap. The Senate is scheduled to be in session at noon, the Assembly at 1 p.m.

State workers deadlocked with the Cuomo administration in contract talks are rallying across New York at noon. Gay marriage opponents – including Giant David Tyree – will hold a press conference/deliver 63,000 petitions outside the Senate GOP conference room at 1 p.m.

Headlines…

“We’re at the stage of the session where nothing will happen until everything happens,” said tenant advocate Michael McKee.

There’s new movement in the stalled rent talks, thanks to RSA’s reported decision to move off its long-held position that the laws must only be extended in their current form and not strengthened at all.

A reportedly tentative deal will raise the rental threshold under which apartments can be decontrolled to about $2,500 a month – up from $2,000 – and boost the maximum annual income for tenants in regulated apartments from $175,000 to about $200,000, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

Some LGBT WNYers see passage of the gay marriage bill as inevitable. Sen. Mark Grisanti was still undecided as of yesterday.

Negotiations continued over the weekend, and the Senate GOP could break on marriage as early as today.

Religious exemptions in the bill allowed some Assembly members who had previously voted “no” to changed their votes this time around.

Gay New Yorkers rallied around the state over the weekend.

Sen. Greg Ball, thought to be a solid “no” at this point, sought input on Twitter as to how he should vote.

As New York appears on the cusp of letting same-sex couples wed legally, those who “married” in New Paltz in 2004 recall their unions.

The gay marriage battle is personal for Andrea Peyser, who recently attended the nuptials of her lesbian niece.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have clashed on a number of issues – the latest is the planning of the 10th 9/11 memorial ceremony.

Bloomberg’s mother, Charlotte, died at the age of 102.

Charlotte Bloomberg was an observant Jew. Will her son sit shiva? If he does, it would take him out of work for several days – at least.

More >

The Weekend That Was

President Obama is due in NYC this week for his first-ever “Gala with the Gay Community” fundraiser. Meanwhile, his aides are mulling the tactics of how he might come out in support of same-sex marriage.

Maureen Dowd thinks Archsbishop Timothy Dolan has a lot of “gall” in opposing same-sex marriage so vehemently when pedophile priests remain a problem.

The legalization of gay marriage would be good for the economy, supporters argue.

Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s championing of gay marriage help him or hurt him if he runs for president in 2016?

After meeting with Senate Republicans last week, the governor said he’s open to more religious exemption and also believes the marriage bill will pass.

Ken Tingley praises Sen. Roy McDonald for breaking ranks with his fellow Republicans to announce support of same-sex marriage.

The Journal News calls on the Senate to vote “yes” on Cuomo’s marriage bill.

Michael Goodwin is not impressed with the ethics reform deal cut by Cuomo.

Alan Chartock takes a closer look at the ethics bill and finds it lacking.

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin accuses same-sex marriage advocates of buying off opponents.

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the career slide show.

Huma Abedin has re-written the “disgraced wife” playbook.

The former congressman took an unusual large unitemized deduction on his 2010 tax return.

Members of the NY congressional delegation are among the richest and poorest in the nation.

More >

Cuomo: One Thing At A Time

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged patience on the remaining agenda items, saying that rent control for New York City must be resolved as soon as possible.

Outstanding issues include same-sex marriage, a tax cap, a SUNY tuition increase and his pension reform bill.

Cuomo also said there were enough religious exemptions in his same-sex marriage bill, adding that what he’s seeking a civil matter, not a spiritual one.

“I happen to be a Catholic and that’s my business and that’s my religion. This has nothing to do with my beliefs as a Catholic. This is marriage in a civil context. Marriage defined by government, not be a religion,” Cuomo said.

Here’s video from his press gaggle (which, after a temporary rent control measure was approve, is now a little dated):

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly upped the rent regs ante threatened to essentially return the power to control rents to the NYC City Council.

Sen. Kevin Parker jokingly proclaimed himself “the most powerful person in the Twitterverse.”

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous: “We’re going to conference. Diane. Don’t go home.”

Sen. Roy McDonald made TMZ.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced Mr. and Mrs. Catsimatidis Nixon Cox.

What’s the incentive for a Republican to be the 32nd vote?

Happy 46th Birthday to Senate Minority Leader John Sampson!

Mayor Bloomberg created a new development agency to focus on helping NYC nonprofits grow.

Weinergate: Not the worst political sex scandal in recent years.

Debating the former congressman’s resignation.

What others can learn from Weiner’s mistakes.

Why some pols survive sex scandals and others don’t – an inexact science.

Is Rep. Kathy Hochul the ultimate winner in Weiner’s departure?

NJ Gov. Chris Christie on where his kids go to school: “None of your business.”

A bill restricting protests at military funerals in New York is awaiting Cuomo’s signature.

Tracy Morgan made amends.

An AEG moment on the Senate floor.

Here’s former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno after his court appearance earlier today. “I’m confident that justice will be served…I just can’t wait to get it behind me,” Bruno said.