Dec 21st - 4:37 pm
Make that two former Posties at POLITICO.
Ben Smith reports that former Post political editor, who walked off the job earlier this month after a “curse-filled blowup” with Col Allan over coverage of President Obama’s tax plan, has landed at POLITICO. His new title is “senior editor,” and he’ll be concentrating on breaking news coverage at first.
Birnbaum joins his old Post colleague, Maggie Haberman, who is currently on maternity leave, but will undoubtedly return raring to go and as well-sourced as ever.
POLITICO editor John Harris announced Birnbaum’s hire by saying: “My Christmas present arrived early this year.”
Harris’ memo appears in full after the jump.
Dec 21st - 3:53 pm
State GOP Chairman Ed Cox told me today that his decision to back RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s challenger, New York native Maria Cino, is most definitely the result of the bad blood between himself and his national counterpart.
“Michael Steele was not helpful to us here in New York State,” Cox told me.
“He divided the party here, and he, in fact, did not contribute much to the get-out-the-vote campaign, which traditionally the National Committee does. And the money that was spent here was not very well utilized.”
“…We had to do that on our own. He was not helpful, and that’s why I’m backing someone other than him to be chair of the party.”
Cox later accused Steele of being “counterproductive” and breaking the national party’s rules by involving himself in New York’s gubernatorial primary (Cox didn’t elaborate, but Steele reportedly wasn’t happy that Cox had recruited a (now former) Democrat, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, to challenge former Rep. Rick Lazio).
“He should not have done the things that he did,” Cox said. “It was not helpful to us here in New York State. It was counterproductive.”
Dec 21st - 3:06 pm
The reverberations of the CityTime scandal continue.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli just announced he has rejected a $118 million contract between the NYC Transit Authority and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the firm that designed the scandal-plagued CityTime payroll system, saying the firm’s role in the mess “remains unclear.”
The contract was for an upgrade to the Transit Authority’s VHF radio system in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx was the first contract submitted to DiNapoli’s office under the Public Authority Reform Act passed earlier this year.
“There are indictments and very serious concerns about vendors involved on that project,” DiNapoli said in a press release.
“In short, there are too many unanswered questions and too many public dollars at risk for this contract to go forward. New York can’t afford another scandal like CityTime. I won’t let the Transit Authority put $118 million on the table without the right kind of protections.”
DiNapoli sent a rejection letter to the Transit Authority citing “recent and potentially significant vendor responsibility issue, namely whether there is any SAIC involvement in the CityTime consultant scandal where consultant fraud and money laundering charges were recently announced by the United States Attorney’s Office.”
Dec 21st - 2:38 pm
YNN’s Tamara Lindstrom caught Mayor Bloomberg and the Rev. Al Sharpton this morning after their brief visit to the
Louis Gossett Jr. Finger Lakes Residential Center in Tompkins County, after which they returned to NYC to propose an overhaul of the state’s juvenile justice system.
Bloomberg and Sharpton were full of praise for the staff at the center – the mayor went so far as to say the people working there are doing “God’s work.” But also said they’d like to see the kids incarcerated closer to home, noting most of them come from the five boroughs.
In a press release outlining his plan, the mayor called the state-run juvenile facilities “relics of a bygone era, when troubled city kids were stripped from their families and shipped to detention centers in remote rural areas.”
It would be more humane – and possibilty cut down on the recidivism rate – Bloomberg reasoned, to let NYC further develop its own juvenile justice system where kids won’t just be “retained,” but also “reformed.”
Dec 21st - 2:21 pm
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch told me during a CapTon interview yesterday that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is “gung-ho” about redistricting reform and has made it one of his “highest priorities” for the coming year.
The mayor said he met recently with Cuomo and received these assurances from him. Recall that Cuomo didn’t sign the trio of reform pledges (redistricting, budget and ethics) put out by Koch’s NY Uprising PAC, but did write a letter indicating his support.
Koch appeared yesterday at a press conference with the Senate Democrats to call for his reform agenda to be adopted early in 2011. The Republicans, even though they signed Koch’s pledges, are now more interested in the budget and slamming the Democrats for being late to the reform party.
I also asked Koch if he had more to report on his talks with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was the only legislative leader NOT to sign the NY Uprising pledges. The mayor replied:
“The last time I spoke with him, which was several weeks ago, he said to me: I will be introducing – meaning he – will be introducing legislation on redistricting.”
“It will take into consideration the laws that were adotped by the 13 states, which I brought to his attention, have adopted impartial redistricting. Now, what the form of that legislation will be, I don’t know.”
Dec 21st - 1:53 pm
The incoming DSCC chairman, Senator-elect Mike Gianaris, told me during a CapTon interview yesterday that he plans to strip the Democrats’ political arm all the way down to the “barest necessities,” but will be ready to fight tooth and nail if a special election presents itself in the coming months.
Gianaris predicted the Democrats won’t stay long in the minority this time – perhaps even less than a year. He said he expects some GOP retirements, or perhaps even appointments by Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, saying it’s anyone’s guess whether there’s “another Mike Balboni out there.”
(For those in need of a refresher on that, click here. The GOP just won back that seat, thanks to the state Court of Appeals, which ruled yesterday in favor of Senator-elect Jack Martins over Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson.
I do think it’s unlikely, however, that Cuomo would adopt the same antagonistic approach that his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, did, which so poisoned his relationship with then-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno).
When I noted that the Democrats are already $2.4 million in debt, which would make fundraising for a special election difficult, Gianaris said:
“We are prepared. We’ll be prepared. But as to what the specific plans are, I think one thing you can be sure of: We will leave no stone unturned. If it comes to that, we’ll be prepared. We will raise whatever is necessary and we will win.”
Gianaris did not rule out the possibility that the Democrats would go even deeper into debt if there was a chance of winning back the majority. (Remember, this is a guy who has never once, in his nearly 10-year career, served in the minority, and that’s not an experience he’s anxious to have).
Dec 21st - 1:02 pm
Just days after the NY Daily News reported Tom DiNapoli asked several members of his staff for resignation letters, the Comptroller announced that he has hired a new General Counsel.
According to the press release, Nancy Groenwegen will lead a staff of 40 lawyers and play a key role in the investigations and ethics compliance units.
“Nancy Groenwegen has built a reputation for integrity, leadership and a strong legal mind,” DiNapoli said. “New York is facing a very challenging time, and Nancy’s skills, advice and counsel will help us meet those challenges. She’ll be a tremendous asset to OSC. We’re fortunate that Nancy Groenwegen chose to continue her public service career with the Office of the State Comptroller.”
Since 2007, Groenwegen served as the president of the Civil Service Commission and as the commissioner of the Department of Civil Service.
Dec 21st - 12:08 pm
Now that we know for certain that New York will definitely be losing two House seats in the next round of redistricting, the issue of redrawing congressional lines takes on a whole new urgency.
Things are looking better today for the eight GOP members than they were just two days ago when control of the state Senate was still in question. Now, thanks to the state’s highest court, we know the Republicans will again be in control of the chamber, which theoretically means people like Chris Lee are safer now than before.
However, if the push for redistricting reform by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s NY Uprising PAC and others actually works, and incoming Gov. Andrew Cuomo sticks to his promise to veto any redistricting plan that isn’t draw up by a nonpartisan/independent commission, it won’t really matter who’s in charge.
Already, a few seats are being mentioned as in the crosshairs. A recent Times report suggested NY-27 (Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins’ district) and NY-28 (Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s district) could be in trouble.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the Long Island Democrat who had a tough re-election battle this past fall, has been mentioned as another potential target.
But just this week, McCarthy signaled that she has no intention of retiring – she’s already raising campaign cash for 2012, the earliest she has ever started collecting checks – and noted that her district (the 4th CD) is not, unlike those upstate, losing population.
New York lost two seats back in 2000, too. UPDATE: A reader corrects me (sorry, I wasn’t covering redistricting that year, so my memory is faulty), noting that the 2000 redistricting plan was actually drawn up by a court-appointed expert, and not the state lawmakers themselves. More here.
That time, the GOP targeted one of its oldest members, Ben Gilman, redrawing his district to pit him against then-Rep. Sue Kelly, a fellow Republican. Gilman had pledged to seek re-election, regardless of the redistricting outcome, but ultimately opted to retire at the age of 79 instead.
A similar scenario played out in Western NY where Rep. John LaFalce retired at the age of 62 rather than face a primary battle against his fellow Democrat, Louise Slaughter, when their districts were combined.
Dec 21st - 11:47 am
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. George Pataki, both of whom were in office when the Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, are taking members of their party to task, calling on them to pass the 9/11 health care bill.
Giuliani has been more critical in his remarks, saying on Fox this morning that Congress has an “obligation” to help first responders to rushed to Ground Zero and are now ill because of the time they spent on the pile. He said he has been reaching out at Mayor Bloomberg’s request to GOP senators and isn’t getting much of a response.
There are a couple of my friends, who I supported very strongly, who somehow can’t find time to return my call,” the former mayor said.
Pataki said the GOP was “right” in holding out on Zadroga in order to get the tax cut deal they struck with the president passed, but “now it’s over; now that is done.”
“This bill has been around for some time,” said Pataki, who appeared on Fox with Shepard Smith.
“I think in the House they had more than 20 hearings on the bill. The Senate sponsors like Senator Gillibrand have amended it to change the offsets to deal with some of the Republican criticism. I just think this is the right thing to for the people who inspired America. This is the right time to do it.”
Dec 21st - 11:33 am
Here’s the Martin Act lawsuit filed by outgoing AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo against Ernst & Young, which alleges the firm gave clean audit opinions as auditor of Lehman Brothers despite knowing that Lehman fraudulently concealed “Repo 105″ transactions.
Cuomo alleges Ernst & Young helped Lehman engage in an accounting fraud involving the surreptitious removal of tens of billions of dollars of fixed income securities from Lehman’s balance sheet in order to deceive the public about Lehman’s true liquidity condition.
The AG says for more than seven years leading up to Lehman’s bankruptcy filing in September 2008, Lehman had engaged in so-called “Repo 105″ transactions, explicitly approved by E&Y.
The transactions’ purpose was to temporarily park highly liquid, fixed-income securities with European banks for the sole purpose of reducing Lehman’s financial statement leverage, an important financial metric for investors, stock analysts, lenders, and others interested in Lehman.
This practice was a house-of-cards business model designed to hide billions in liabilities in the years before Lehman collapsed,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“Just as troubling, a global accounting firm, tasked with auditing Lehman’s financial statements, helped hide this crucial information from the investing public. Our lawsuit seeks to recover the fees collected by Ernst & Young while it was supposed to be using accountable, honest measures to protect the public.”