Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to hone his photography skills while touring the damage wrought by Irene.

Almost-Mayor Mark Green’s 9/11. He waited 10 years to tell the story in full.

Mayor Bloomberg will endorse the Democrat, Dan Quart, in the race for Jonathan Bing’s former UES Assembly seat. Bloomberg, a Bing backed, is a constituent. The GOP is not happy.

Bloomberg gave blood today, and is urging others to do the same.

The CFB has published its official NYC voter’s guide for the upcoming fall elections.

NYC’s non-evacuation of Riker’s Island inmates during Irene was reminiscent of New Orleans’ treatment of prisoners during Katrina.

The FEC believes Rep. Gabby Giffords should be able to use campaign cash to pay for security at her Arizona home.

Giffords is reportedly walking with a cane and writing with her left hand.

AG Eric Schneiderman accused four motor vehicle inspectors of issuing more than 7,000 safety inspection certificates without testing the vehicles.

Irene hit NY farmers hard, but the apple crop appears to be OK.

Clyde Haberman says ex-Gov. George Pataki’s never-realized presidential bid demonstrates what a political “backwater” NY has become.

The LGBT community is thanking Cuomo for pushing through gay marriage with a high-dollar fundraiser.

Assemblyman David Weprin posted a video of his opponent Bob Turner, reversing himself on whether the Zadroga Act should cover 9/11 volunteers. It’s unclear who conducted the interview.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn insisted Bloomberg’s no-holds-barred approach to Irene prep had nothing to do with his administration’s post-December blizzard debacle.

North Country officials applauded Cuomo’s decision to suspend special permitting requirements to help High Peaks communities rebuild after Irene.

The Nassau Police Department has had some odd dealings with Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says “categorically we are safer” in the US than before Sept. 11.

Cuomo Seeks Expedited Federal Disaster Aid

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has formally requested an expedited major disaster declaration from the Obama administration in hopes of accessing federal funds to reimburse communities for debris removal and emergency protective services provided in response to Irene.

The Individual Assistance program would provide the following aid to homeowners, renters and small businesses:

The Individuals and Households Program, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, USDA food coupons and distribution, USDA food commodities, Disaster Legal Services, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Small Business Administration disaster loans. The Governor is also statewide seeking implementation of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation program.

Cuomo’s full letter to Obama, with whom the governor spoke on the phone yesterday, appears in full after the jump.

More >

Tonko: There Will Be A Post-Storm Review

Everyone from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted there was no way of knowing Irene would have such a significant impact on upstate while leaving far less of an imprint on downstate areas like Long Island.

This not, of course, to minimize the damage that did occur in Nassau and Suffolk counties and in NYC – particularly on Staten Island. But it turned out that the bulk of the resources deployed from the Capital Region south would potentially have been put to better use right here at home.

While it’s true officials had no way of knowing Irene would dump so much rain in such a short period of time on the already water-logged upstate region.

However, as Rep. Paul Tonko noted during a CapTon interview last night, people who pay attention to such things were well aware that creeks, rivers and streams were running high and probably wouldn’t be able to handle much additional water.

Tonko praised the Irene response during our discussion, singling out the Cuomo administration in particular. But he also said there would likely be a complete post-storm review at some point down the road – after the powers-that-be address the more immediate issue of getting resources to hard-hit communities to help them recover and rebuild.

“A number of people have said, you know, the tributarious were at a tremendous flow, historic largest flow, and, you know that does impact,” Tonko told me. “It was Mother nature pounding away.”

“We will review all of the efforts made by various groups….I was told that they drained the resevoirs as associated with the DEP for the Gilboa Dam, the Department of Environmental Protection…and we will, you know, go through all of this in the aftermath to make sure that what happened in fact did happen and if there are lessons to be learned.”

APA, DEC Lift Permit Requirements For Storm Damage

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is temporarily lifting requirements from the Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environemtnal Conservation to allow for emergency bridge and road repairs in the storm’s aftermath.

The DEC is also providing directions for how to dispose of storm debris and waste.

In parts of the North Country and upstate, this is a big deal.

Local officials have long complained of APA and DEC overreached when it comes to local construction and economic development.

The APA, in particularly, has been a point of contention for some Adirondack residents, who often wade through a sea of read tape to get anyhting done on their land.

“Government needs to do all it can to help devastated communities and homeowners get back on their feet and sometimes that means getting out of the way and allowing for quick rebuilding and restoration,” Cuomo said.

Roads in rural areas remain closed because of storm damage.

Of course, the biggest concern for many of these towns and counties moving forward will be paying for these repairs. Already cash-strapped from budget tightening, they’ll have to live within a 2 percent property tax cap next year, making federal aid all the more important.

Napolitano To NY, NJ Tomorrow

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate will travel to New York and New Jersey tomorrow to survey ongoing response and recovery efforts in the wake of tropical storm Irene.

No details about the duo’s trip were included in the White House press office’s advisory, other than the following:

“(Napolitano and Fugate) will meet with local officials, first responders, and volunteers to reaffirm the federal government’s continued commitment to working with our state, local and community partners and helping the communities and individuals affected by Hurricane Irene to rebuild and recovery.”

The two federal officials are traveling today in North Carolina, Virginia and Vermont, as Nick noted earlier.

FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino is in New Jersey today, following meetings with emergency officials in Hartford, Conn.

Yesterday, FEMA Regional Administrator (Region II) Lynn Gilmore Canton joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo for an aerial survey of the storm-ravaged Mohawk Valley, Catskills and Hudson Valley.

Today, Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will visit Elizabeth City, N.C. to survey crop damage from the air. They will later to go to Richmond, Va.

Fugate will join Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch in Burlington, Vt. for a tour of the storm damaged areas of the state via helicopter, and to meet with additional state and local officials working on the response and recovery efforts.

Cuomo Forms Storm Task Force

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is forming a 12-member task force to deal with the aftermath of Irene, charged with coordinating state agencies and departments to deal with infrastructure repairs and reconstruction.

The panel is composed of Cuomo’s cabinet, and will be lead by co-chairs Darrel Aubertine, the Agriculture and Markets commissioner and Matthew Driscoll, President and CEO, Environmental Facilities Corporation.

In addition to the infrastructure concerns, the panel will also be charged with helping the affected areas recover economically.

The announcement comes as parts of upstate remain devastated by the effects of the tropical storm that left many communities flooded, bridges destroyed and hundreds of thousands of customers without power.

Cuomo’s office estimates that between 500 and 600 homes were destroyed and thousands of acres of farmland were impacted by the flooding.

“From repairing roads and bridges, getting power back, helping with insurance claims and working with family farms, state government has rapidly mobilized to make sure that all available resources are in place to help the affected areas recover. This task force will ensure the highest level of state and local coordination to leverage all state resources and get them to where they are needed,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo toured the flood ravaged Mohawk Valley on Monday by helicopter and today he’s in Essex County to survey the North Country’s damage. Here’s a full list of the task force:

Co-chair — Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Markets
Co-chair – Matthew Driscoll, President and CEO, Environmental Facilities Corporation
Joan McDonald – Commissioner, Department of Transportation
General Pat Murphy – Adjutant General, Division of Military and Naval Affairs
Andrew Feeney – Director, State Emergency Management Office
Joseph D’Amico – Superintendent, State Police
Joseph Martens – Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
Ben Lawsky – Superintendent, Department of Financial Services
Garry Brown – Chairman, Public Service Commission
RoAnn Destito – Commissioner, Office of General Services
Brian Stratton – Director, Canal Corporation
Kenneth Adams – President and CEO, Empire State Development Corporation

Court Of Appeals Rejects Nassau County Lines (Updated)

A Court of Appeals decision for Nassau County could have statewide implications for the redrawing of legislatively boundaries next year.

Or, at least that’s what Senate Democrats hope.

The Court of Appeals ruled 7-2 7-0, with two judges dissenting in part (whoops!), this morning rejected boundaries drawn by the Nassau County Legislature, which the judges claim ignored a three-step process as laid out in a county charter.

The court’s opinion, which reversed an Appellate Court ruling found that the Republican-led Legislature must go through the full process, and not ignore the proper redistricting guidelines. The redistricting law that passed the Legislature in May was signed off on by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican.

The Court of Appeals is composed for four Republican gubernatorial appointees and three Democrats.

But here is where it gets interesting.

The Republican cause was argued by attorney John Ciampoli, a go-to GOP lawyer with ties to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County. The plan approved by the Legislature would have broken up distrcits represented by four Democrats, a plan the party claims is a power grab by the GOP.

State Democrats now say this is a sign that the courts are on their side when it comes to redistricting.

“The Courts and the public will not stand for a rigged process. This is a major defeat for Senator Skelos and the Senate Republicans. The people of New York are sick and tired of the same old political games. Unfortunately, unless we have a truly independent process this scenario will play out across New York hurting people in every district. Now is the time for real reform,” said Senate Democratic Conference spokesman Mike Murphy.

Senate Democrats, who are pushing for an independent redistricting process for state and federal offices, believe this foreshadows the big redistricting fight next year.

While the lawmaker-led commission on redistricting is moving forward with its own redistricting process, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto lines not drawn by an independent commission, throwing that process to a court-appointed panel.

Cuomo’s views on this line with Senate Democrats, who fell into the minority last year, and hope independent redistricting will give them a leg up back to the majority, thanks to the state’s overwhemling Democratic enrollment.

Update: Senate Republicans respond with a statement.

“It’s sad that the chronically dysfunctional Senate Democrats have to inject politics into everything, but New Yorkers know better than to trust them on taxes, on spending, or on anything else. Senate Republicans are focused on working with the Cuomo administration and local officials across the State to make sure those affected by Hurricane Irene get the assistance they need so we can continue to move New York forward together. We’ll leave the politics to others.”


Power Outage Update

I am particularly interested in this since I have been without power down in Greene County since very early Sunday morning.

While this was novel – and even fun – at first (lots of candles, marathon Scrabble/rummy, Happy Hour starting at noon, trying to eat everything in the house before it went bad etc.), it got old quite quickly, particularly since I have a well, and no power = no water. Not fun.

Turns out the culprit was a downed tree at the end of the block that took the power lines right to the ground. The people at the other end of the street have power, while a small enclave – about 20 or so homes by the Hudson – were completely knocked out.

After seeing the footage of all the flooding and devastation in the Catskills – just about 20 or so miles from me – I feel very lucky to only be suffering a loss of power.

And I just received a recorded message from Central Hudson, which is working overtime to get customers back onto the grid, that my neighborhood might have been restored. I just have to go home and check.

Here’s a shout-out to Central Hudson and all the hard-working linemen, (and women?), tree cutters etc. out there working around-the-clock to get my lights back on. Thanks all! In the meantime, new numbers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Total customers without power (statewide): 528,160

LIPA: 270,264
Con Edison: 41,409
National Grid: 50,135
NYSEG: 88,305
Central Hudson: 56,896
Orange & Rockland: 21,151

The following is a summary of the estimated restoration times available at this time:

• Con Edison has reported estimated restoration times for 90% of the customers in the New York City to be today at midnight with the exception of Westchester, which is projected to be Thursday (9/1/11) at midnight.

• LIPA and Orange and Rockland utilities estimate that 95% of their customers will be restored by Friday (9/2/11) at midnight.

• National Grid outages in the Troy district are estimated to be restored by later this afternoon. National Grid estimates that the Hudson and Saratoga areas will be restored by tomorrow at noon. National Grid is also expecting the following areas to be restored by Thursday at midnight: Albany, Glens Falls, Warrensburg, Ticonderoga, Northville, Gloversville, Cobleskill, and Schenectady. These restoration times by National Grid are also dependent on flooding issues where they persist.

• Central Hudson estimates that the majority of its customers in Columbia County, Dutchess County, Orange County, and Putnam County will be restored by tomorrow at midnight. Central Hudson will have more restoration times later today.

• NYSEG is expecting a prolonged outage for some its customers due to severe flooding in its service territory.

Napolitano Skipping New York? (Updated)

Here’s a question for my colleagues taking the trip up to Keene today to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Why isn’t Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano not traveling to New York?

Napolitano will be traveling to Vermont, North Carolina and Virginia to view storm and flood damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Also touring flood damage is Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

Notably absent from the itinerary is New York, where more than a half million people are still without power, roads are washed out, bridges destroyed and parts of upstate remain underwater.

FEMA Regional Director Lynn Canton did take an aerial tour of the flood damage with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, but stressed the agency was still in response mode.

UPDATE: Here’s Napolitano addressing grumbling that Irene was “over-hyped” at a Christian Science Monitor event earlier today. She atrributed that sort of talk to the “blinding clarity of hindsight.”

Napolitano defended the no-holds-barred preparation approach taken by officials, noting the storm – while perhaps not as bad as originally anticipated – was still deadly and caused considerable damage.

Kellner Raises Concerns With Roosevelt Island

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s response to the storm was more or less praised (as opposed to his Bermuda blizzard vacation), Assemblyman Micah Kellner is raising issues with the preparations taken by the city for Roosevelet Island.

In a letter sent to Bloomberg, the Democratic lawmaker who represents the island writes that the island could have fared much worse if the storm were stronger.

And he points out that there’s no practical evaucation plan on the books for the island’s 14,000 residents.

From his letter:

While many of the evacuations throughout the City were smoothly executed, I fear that if the storm had been stronger we would be facing an extremely different and deadly outcome on Roosevelt Island. Despite being a Class “B” Flood Zone, Roosevelt Island was not immune to flooding. During this storm, there was severe flooding in Lighthouse Park, which is located at the northern tip of the Island and adjacent to the Coler Hospital campus. The eastern seawall which runs along to the Goldwater Hospital campus, the future site of the applied sciences center at the southern end of the Island, also flooded. In light of Irene being downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching New York and still causing flooding in close proximity to these to these two acute care hospitals on separate ends of the Island, it is safe to say the situation would have been
much more dire should a Class 1 or Class 2 hurricane have touched ground.

8.29.11 Letter to Mayor RI Emergency Plans[1]