Cuomo Calls For Non-Profits Probe

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today called for an investigation into executive compensation at non-profits receiving taxpayer dollars and formed a cabinet-level task force to probe the organizations.

“Not-for-profits that provide services to the poor and the needy have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them. Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets. This task force will do a top-to-bottom review, not only to audit current compensation levels, but also to make recommendations for future rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to serve and support the people of this state, not pay for excessive salaries and compensation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The investigatory body will be headed up by New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the Medicaid Inspector General Jim Cox, and the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky, Cuomo’s office said.

The announcement follows a New York Times story that found executive pay at a Medicaid-financed home for the disabled ran more than $1 million.

Cuomo, in the news release, called the pay “startlingly excessive.”

Currently there are no laws on the books governing executive pay at non-profits that receive state aid.

Diaz To Gillibrand: Where Were You? (Updated)

As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took her lumps from both the left and the right on her vote against the debt deal, state Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is coming to her defense upbraiding her for what he says is a “janus-nature” when it comes to taxing the rich.

Update: Whoops, it looks like I misread the release. Diaz is actually blasting Gillibrand for failing to speak up earlier on New York’s budget cuts.

Diaz, who voted against the 2011-12 state budget that included deep cuts in social services and education spending, said it was akin for not voting for keeping a surcharge on those making $1 million or more.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo steadfastly opposed keeping the tax on the wealthy, as did Senate Republicans, over the objections of Democratic state lawmakers.

Diaz says Cuomo “started the trend” of making deep cuts without raising taxes on the rich, and knocked Gillibrand for failing to speak up at the time.

Gillibrand said her vote against the debt deal was no because of the lack of revenue raisers (or tax increases) in the plan.  Gillibrand’s no vote was quickly criticized by her possible Republican opponent, George Maragos, and the state GOP committee.

Gillibrand, who is running for re-election in 2012, has emerged as a major advocate of LGBT causes, while Diaz is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

Here’s the Diaz statement after the jump. More >

Budget Division: Expect Weaker Tax Receipts

Despite higher-than-expected revenue earlier this year, the state Division of Budget doesn’t expect the good news to last.

The Cuomo administration’s numbers crunchers released a quarterly budget update today, showing weaker tax receipts will be in store later this year.

The report was likely written as the federal government was considering deep cuts to spending while wrangling over raising the debt ceiling, but there’s no indication the activity in Washington is reflected in the report.

“The budget is where we expected it would be at this point in the year,” said Morris Peters, a spokesman for the DOB.

The projection largely lines up with what Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced earlier this month, namely that the state received nearly $800 million more in revenue.

DiNapoli pegged the figure at $799 million, the DOB projects it to be $809 million/

But the update quickly rains on that parade.

“DOB attributes the favorable variance to the timing of tax payments, which are expected to be offset by marginally weaker receipts collections over the remainder of the year,” according to the report.

Still, the state’s coffers were $1.6 billion higher in June than they were at that time last year. The DOB says that is due to positive wage growth, lower PIT refunds, sustained corporate profits and increased spending from consumers.

And budget deficits are still being forecast for the next three fiscal years, which begin April 1: $2.4 billion in 2012-13, $2.8 billion in 2013-14 and $4.6 billion in 2014-15.

Those gaps were estimated to be significantly higher before this current enacted budget, which closed a $10 billion budget gap through cuts.

The division continues to rely on $450 million in workforce concessions, but those savings are yet to be completely realized. And the division says $1.6 billion in savings has been achieved through across-the-board cuts from state agencies. But as Tom Precious pointed out, what those cuts exactly are remain a mystery.


Schneiderman Continues Fracking Push

As the federal government seeks a dismissal of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s hydraulic fracturing lawsuit, the state’s top lawyer said he’s dealing with the issue “at several levels.”

Bloomberg News reported earlier today that the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year. The AG filed his suit back on May 31, claiming the government is allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to move forward in the Delaware River Basin without a proper environmental review.

In a radio interview with The Capitol Pressroom, Schneiderman said his office was looking into the issue commonly known as hydrofracking on multiple fronts.

“There’s not been a ruling yet,” Schneiderman said of the suit. “We’re dealing with the hydrfracking issue at several levels.”

Among those levels is the rights of property owners. Schneiderman said his office has received several complaints from landowners who say gas companies are trying to extend leases during the ongoing environmental review process from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC issue a preliminary draft environmental review of possible regulations for allowing high-volume hydrofracking in the state. Natural gas companies are eyeing the state’s Marcellus Shale formation in the Southern Tier as a prime spot for exrtraction.

“Our office has received a lot of complaints that gas exploration companies have sent out letters trying rto extend their leases and claiming they have the right to do so because of DEC’s review process, which has been delayed. We’re looking at some of that very closely,” Schneiderman said. “We want to make sure landowners are treated fairly.”

He added, “This is not a frack or don’t frack issue. It’s about the fair treatment of landowners.”

Whatever regulations the DEC does develop, Schneiderman would have to defend them in court. The DEC actually pushed back its public comment period by a month as it continues

“I’m hopeful that we come out with the best regs we possibly can. As attorney general I’ll have to defend it.”

Cuomo Loses Speechwriter

Traci E. Carpenter is leaving her post as a senior speechwriter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo after spending less than six months on the job.

The PR firm MMW Group announced this morning that Carpenter has joined the agency as director of Speechwriting and Content.

In this position, according to the press release, she will oversee the development of speeches, op-eds, blogs, and other content for MWW Group’s corporate and consumer clients, both online and through traditional media channels.

“Every successful marketing campaign or communications strategy hinges on the power of language to effectively connect big ideas with diverse audiences,” said MMW Group President and CEO Michael Kempner.

“Traci’s unique combination of political speechwriting and nonprofit marketing experience has enabled her to adapt to different voices and styles, meet impossible deadlines, and drive the conversation from tweet to speech. We are pleased to welcome Traci to our team, and look forward to sharing her talents with our clients.”

Page Six reported in March that Carpenter, who had worked for four years for former President Clinton after he left the White House, would be joining Cuomo’s team. Cuomo, as you’ll recall, served as a member of the Clinton cabinet as HUD secretary.

Carpenter directed Clinton’s speechwriting process and also provided strategic messaging and content development to advance the mission of his foundation’s initiatives – including the Clinton Global Initiative.

Carpenter began her political career with former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and later served as a chief writer on Granholm’s 2006 re-election campaign.

D.C. Debt Fight Dents NY Consumer Confidence

The debt ceiling debacle down in Washington has taken a toll on consumer confidence here in New York, causing it to drop 1.9 points in July, while the nation’s confidence decreased 7.8 points, according to a new Siena poll.

At 63.0, New York’s overall consumer confidence is 0.7 points below the nation’s 63.7 confidence level.

“This month’s debt ceiling crisis has driven the consumer mood nationally into the tank and in New York while the fall wasn’t as steep, the tears are just as real,” said Siena statistics and finance Prof. Doug Lonnstrom, who is also the founding director of the college’s Research Institute.

“Gone right now is the optimism consumers had as 2011 started. In fact, future confidence, that is, the hope and faith that tomorrow will be better than today for me and for the economy is the lowest we’ve seen this year. Did all that talk of insolvency scare consumers? Short answer, YES!”

Many, many depressing numbers and charts appear in the release below.

Ccireleasejuly11 Final

Maragos Attacks Gillibrand’s Vote

Republican US Senate hopeful George Maragos blasted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s vote against the debt deal that passed in the US Senate yesterday 74-26.

Maragos said in a statement, “Apparently she is in favor of shutting down government, not paying our troops and not sending out social security checks to our seniors. Her NO vote is extreme, irresponsible and a disservice to our Nation and to hard working New Yorkers.”

Maragos praised the deal as a step in the right direction, but did say it does little to stop Washington’s “addiction to overspending.”

Maragos has been traveling the state for the past few months, trying to gain grassroots support for a challenge against Gillibrand in 2012.

Complete release is after the jump.
More >

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester County and NYC with no public schedule.

Cuomo and DNC Executive Director Patrick Gaspard (formerly of SEIU 1199) are hosting a 50th Birthday fundraiser for President Obama in Manhattan tonight. The president is not attending.

After signing the hard-fought – and much-maligned – debt deal into law yesterday, Obama is headed home to Chicago to attend a high-dollar fundraising event to celebrate turning the big 5-0.

(Obama’s actual birthday is Thursday).

The president is heading out to try to rally supporters whose faith in him was severely shaken by his handling of the debt mess.

Michael Goodwin lambastes the “scapegoater-in-chief” for chastising the GOP after the debt agreement was reached.

Black America is suffering under Obama, but continues to celebrate him and his milestone-breaking election.

More headlines…

The president is now trying to turn the conversation to jobs, jobs, jobs. He embark on a bus tour of the Midwest on Aug. 15 after spending a month stuck in D.C.

The latest stalemate in D.C. is over temporary funding for the FAA. The Senate failed to get a deal, leaving some 4,000 agency employees out of work.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s “no” vote on the debt deal was seen as an attempt to shore up support on the left as she heads into another election in 2012.

For a rare moment, Gillibrand found herself on the same page as Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, who also voted “no,” but for an entirely different reason.

More >

NY1/YNN/Marist: Bloomberg Approval At 39%

The latest numbers from our exclusive NY1/YNN/Marist poll shows New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg still hovering at 39% approval rating. That’s just a tick down from his March approval rating, which was 40% according to our poll.

“Roughly one and a half years into his third term as mayor, it is not surprising that New
Yorkers’ views of Bloomberg’s job performance are pretty much set,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The poll also found that a majority of voters don’t like the way the Mayor is handling city schools – 54%. When it comes to the budget, 46% don’t like what he is doing, while only 43% back him. Also, 51% say the city is heading in the wrong direction.

And we asked voters to weigh in on Bloomberg’s legacy, and it is mixed. 38% of people think he will be remembered as one of the city’s best mayors, or above average. 39% think he was an average mayor. And 23% think he is below average, or one of the worst mayors we have ever seen.

EMBARGOED_Complete August 2nd, 2011 NYC NY1-Marist Poll Release and Tables


President Obama signed the debt deal into law, averting a crisis he says could have been avoided.

Nate Silver explains how the president could have gotten a debt deal that was more palatable for Democrats – and more of a win for himself.

Could a gas tax fight be next on Washington’s agenda?

Political analyst Mark Halperin is returning from exile.

Jonny Marbles (AKA Jonathan May-Bowles), the comedian who threw a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch, has been sentenced to six weeks in prison.

The state pension fund is investing more than $1 billion in real estate.

Matt Damon defends teachers who take “s****y” salaries to do what they love and questions a cameraman’s capabilities.

Dolly Parton apologized for the gay marriage T-shirt controversy that took place at Dollywood, insisting “all families” are welcome at the park that bears her name.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said the Arizona Democrat is “focused on her recovery” and hasn’t yet made a decision about 2012.

Sen. Diane Savino accused Assemblyman David Weprin of pandering and tore up a contribution check to him following his comments supporting an investigation into whether the Senate violated any rules by approving gay marriage.

A majority of voters favor pay cuts for Congress and the president until the federal budget is balanced, according to Rasmussen.

Mayor Bloomberg will conduct an orchestra in honor of the newly-renovated City Center’s re-opening in October.

…Not bad for a guy who quit piano lessons after a year because he hated to practice, says Sam Roberts.

US Attorney Preet Bharara once pretended to be Ben Lawsky.

A Gallup poll’s findings back up Rep. Pete King’s rationale for his US Muslim radicalization hearings.

DOH is running anti-smoking TV ads through Sept. 25.

Thanks to The Fix readers for including SOP in the annual list of best state-based political blogs, and congrats to DP, CapCon, and The Albany Project.

There’s an “unlikely” path for the Senate GOP to retain the majority even with court-ordered redistricting plan, but it’s a very steep uphill climb.

NYC Councilwoman Tish James is exploring a potential citywide run in 2013 – possibly for public advocate.

How long before this happens in NY?

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano hasn’t yet given up his coliseum dreams.

Nik Wallenda will pitch Niagara Falls leaders on his tightrope walk, joined by Sen. George Maziarz.

Sen. Greg Ball will join “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox in PA Aug. 12, 13 for the taping of the sequel, “Gasland II.” The senator will hold a hearing on hydrofracking in Katonah on Aug. 23. (No link).