“When I see what Governor Cuomo is doing across the river, I think it’s true, I think we were separated at birth,” NJ Gov. Chris Christie said this morning at a Big Pharma conference.

Mayor Bloomberg, testy? Never.

Former Sen. Vincent Leibell knew the day he won the Putnam County executive race that he would be slapped with federal corruption charges.

Some elected officials have sweet taxpayer-funded rides.

A handful of upstate Democrats who voted “yes” on the stopgap budget last week voted “no” on the actual budget today.

Birther congressman joins wannabe birther presidential candidate at Boca Raton Tea Party tax rally.

Donald Trump complained about not being quoted in a column that quoted him.

Mort Zuckerman refutes Trump’s claim that he “saved” the Daily News.

What about Mitt Romney’s birth certificate?

Blair Horner’s imminent departure from NYPIRG is causing ripples at the Capitol.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to protect the privacy of military funerals.

Jonathan Tasini calls Arianna Huffington’s response to his class-action lawsuit “unhinged and disingenuous.”

School districts are scrutinizng every last state mandate in hopes of getting some relief.

Bloomberg celebrated “Poem in Your Pocket” day with his own “original poem.”

Chelsea Clinton is headlining the first fundraiser of a new gay rights group.

The Blind Wine Chick thinks Florida is a more important wine market than New York because you can guy vino in supermarkets there.

April 16 is Foursquare Day in NYC.

Ball Mails Obama On Emergency Radios

Sen. Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican, is sending a letter to President Obama urging him to address the problem of emergency radio operating during an emergency, by making it a federal funding priority.

The letter comes from one of the more benign topics of Ball’s terrorism preparedness hearing held earlier this month, which included a discussion on Islamic radicalism and Shariah, or Muslim law.

Radio problems plagued first responders in the early moments of the Sept. 11 attacks, making it all the more difficult for fire, EMT and police crews to clear the towers before their collapse.

Ball writes in the letter:

Whether the problem is a technical one, a political one, a funding issue, or a collective action licensing problem, it is imperative to fix our radio interoperability problem once and for all, and to insure the safety of the lives of our first responders, and the millions of New Yorkers they protect. A continuation of a failure to address this situation is simply unacceptable.


NY Republicans Stick With Boehner On Budget (Updated)

The 11th-hour budget deal that will keep the government funded through the end of September passed the House 260-167, with 59 Republicans breaking ranks with Speaker John Boehner to reject the agreement.

The defections by members who thought the $38 billion worth of spending cuts weren’t sufficient forced Boehner to rely on Democrats to pass the measure and prevent a government shutdown.

The entire seven-member (they’re down one since former Rep. Chris Lee’s Craigslist scandal) New York GOP delegation voted “yes” on the budget.

Twelve Thirteen New York Democrats joined Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in voting “no”, including: Gary Ackerman, Yvette Clarke, Joe Crowley, Eliot Engel, Maurice Hinchey, Brian Higgins, Carolyn Maloney, Charlie Rangel, Louise Slaughter, Jose Serrano, Nydia Velazquez and Anthony Weiner.

UPDATE: Somehow, I left Rep. Jerry Nadler, who’s probably about the biggest lefty in the delegation, off the “no” list. Mea culpa. So sorry.

Hochul Cheers House Budget Accord

Congressional hopeful Kathy Hochul likes what she sees in the just-approved federal budget compromise in the House of Representatives.

“It is only fair to ask would they have supported a budget compromise that kept essential services going or would they have supported a massive shutdown that would have delayed essential services to our veterans, our troops, our business owners, our students, our seniors, and to the American taxpayers? The lack of interest and care by Jane Corwin and Jack Davis has been disheartening and I hope they finally join my lead and support this budget compromise that will cut waste and get our economy moving forward.”

Hochul, who is competing against Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and independent Jack Davis, linked the compromise to what she said was her early support of the agreement that averted a federal government shutdown last week.

“From early on, I called for this compromise and challenged both Jane Corwin and Jack Davis to follow my lead. Today – six days later – neither candidate has yet to say a word,” she said.

Nearly 1,300 Buses Stopped In Safety Push

A month after the tour bus accident in the north Bronx that killed 15 people, the state has stopped 1,286 buses in “surprise inspections,” the Department of Transportation announced today.

“Bus drivers who don’t follow the rules as well as buses that are unsafe must be taken off the road so that New Yorkers can have confidence in the safety of the public transportation system,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “My administration is aggressively enforcing the laws governing bus safety and I commend the inspectors and their law enforcement partners for their stepped-up efforts.”

State officials said the highest number of violations occurred in the New York metropolitan region. Of the 302 inspections performed in the area since March 17, 55 drivers as well as 59 buses were taken off the road due to the violations.

In total, 124 drivers were cited and 96 buses were taken off the road.

The March 12 accident highlighted safety concerns over the tour buses. The driver of the bus was found to have a suspended license. Last month, the state stopped 164 buses in a safety crackdown, finding that more than 40 drivers had license violations.

Molinaro Throws Hat Into Dutchess Co. Exec Ring

Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, a Tivoli Republican, formally announced today he will run for county executive in Dutchess, formally kicking off the race today with an announcement in Poughkeepsie.

The two-term assemblyman has a new website as well, www.molinarofordutchess.com. Molinaro, a former mayor was long rumored to be a candidate for the post.

From his website:

Marc Molinaro’s number one priority is improving the quality of life for all those who call Dutchess County home. Marc has long advocated for lower taxes, reining in the size, scale and scope of government, sustainable economic development, smart land use decisions, and demanding greater government accountability, accessibility & responsiveness.

A h/t to Joe Spector at Politics on the Hudson who had this first and also reports that Molinaro Democratic challenger is 29-year-old Dan French, the Beekman town supervisor.

The two are seeking to succeed longtime County Executive Bill Steinhaus, who is retiring.

Council 82 Contract Reflects ‘Economic Realities’ Says Cuomo

Making an appearance in North Tonawanda, Niagara County, earlier today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo again praised the agreement between the state and Council 82, which included a pay freeze and an increased employee contribution to health care.

“I think the Council 82 contract is a fair and reasonable contract. It recognizes the economic realities that we’re in. The state is functionally bankrupt. If the public employees think they can get a big raise from the state, they can’t. We don’t have the money. I think it was a fair and reasonable contract.”

Cuomo’s Wednesday announcement that Council 82, a union that represents about 160 law enforcement officials (it does not represent correction officers or State Police) had agreed to its first contract in five years. The governor used the agreement as a chance to show the larger public-employee unions that concessions can be made, a statement that union officials shrugged off.

“We’re still at the table with CSEA and PEF, we’ll see what happens,” Cuomo added.

Asked about the possibility of the much sought-after economic development program for SUNY Buffalo known as UB2020, Cuomo said he would continue to fight for its approval, which would grant autonomy in certain areas for the campus.

“UB2020 is a very important project. It is I believe a long term economic engine for western New York that you need and I”m going to work as hard as I can to make it a reality. I know there are issues in the Legislature. Fundamentally what we’re trying to do in Albany as colleagues is make the government work.”

UB2020 was not in the final approved budget plan, but the governor said he would hold a “summit” on the issue.

Cuomo was in Niagara County to officially sign the bill that creates the Recharge NY program, which provides low-cost power to businesses in exchange for job creation.

Horner’s New Job

Veteran NYPIRG lobbyist Blair Horner, one of New York’s most well-known good government advocates, has taken a position with the American Cancer Society of NY & NJ as vice president for advocacy, the organization announced today.

Horner’s first day at his new job will be May 2. NYPIRG’s Russ Haven and Bill “Excel Whiz” Mahoney will be picking up the slack in his absence.

“When you talk about change and reform in Albany, you talk about Blair Horner,” said Donald Distasio, CEO of the American Cancer Society of NY & NJ.

“Now that Blair has the opportunity to lead our vast network of volunteers and expand efforts in the rest of New York and into New Jersey, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. Blair will be a significant addition to the American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer.”

Horner has been with NYPRIG for about three decades (he started in 1978) – minus one year when he departed to work for then-AG Andrew Cuomo (from February 2007 to March 2008).

While at the AG’s office, Horner set up Project Sunlight, a searchable database of the state’s many on-line repositories of information on everything from lobbying to campaign finance to contracts.

More >

An Unfortunate Connection

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s office sent out this video of a press conference in Washington this week where the fiancee of one of the Tucson shooting victims endorsed the congresswoman’s proposed ban on high-capacity magazines.

Kelly O’Brien was engaged to marry Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to Rep. Gabby Giffords who was one of six people killed at the Jan. 8 “Congress on Your Corner” event where Jared Loughner opened fire.

McCarthy has noted on numerous occasions that the magazine Loughner used was similar to the one employed by Colin Ferguson in the 1993 LIRR massacre in which the congresswoman’s husband was killed and her son seriously injured.

This tragedy is not the only similiarity McCarthy and O’Brien share. As the congresswoman’s spokesman, Shams Tarek, wrote:

“Kelly and Rep. McCarthy have a lot in common – both women, both nurses, both lost their partners in mass shootings involving high-capacity magazines, and both went to Washington as activists trying to reduce gun violence. Rep. McCarthy sees a lot of herself in Kelly, and a lot of Kelly in herself.”

Schenectady Loses Another Dem To Cuomo Admin (Update)

Schenectady County Legislature Chairwoman Susan Savage announced today she’ll be stepping down from her post to accept a yet-unnamed position in the Cuomo administration.

SSavage Headshot

She’s the second Schenectady Democrat to leave the political arena in favor of a job with the new governor. Former Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton, who was facing a potentially difficult re-election bid this fall, left to head the Canal Corp.

Savage has been a member of the Legislature since 1998 and has served as chairwoman since January of 2004. She ran an unsuccessful challenge to veteran GOP Sen. Hugh Farley last fall.

“I am truly grateful to the people of Niskayuna, Scotia and Glenville and Schenectady County for giving me the opportunity to serve my community for the past fourteen years,” Savage said in a press release.

“Like all of those in public service, my goal has always been to leave this community a better and stronger community than it was when I took office fourteen years ago.”

“I’m proud to have lead county government at a critical period and I thank my constituents and my colleagues on the County Legislature for the confidence they placed in me”

Savage is married to well-known Albany lobbyist Steve Weingarten, of the Weingarten, Reid and McNally lobbying firm.

UPDATE: City Hall News tweets that she will be the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Real Property Services. If that’s the case, then this is a homecoming for Savage. She previously served as director of intergovernmental relations at ORPS.

Savage also has worked as a lobbyist for the Medical Society and for both the Assembly and the Senate.