NYSAC Voices Tax Cap Concerns

As lawmakers in the Assembly quietly discuss an alternate property tax cap, the state Association of Counties released a report today that found local governments would have trouble living within a 2 percent limit without some major-league mandate relief.

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario said today a “carve-out” needs to be done for counties because mandated spending for health care, pensions and debt service have gotten too large.

Though Acquario supports capping property taxes, he said word of changes being put forward by Assembly Democrats won’t get to need to reduce costly required spending.

“I think disingenuous by the state not to take responsibility for the programs that they are creating and mandating in the state,” he said.

Acquario also predicted the cap as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — a 2 percent or rate of inflation ceiling — would have to be altered before it’s made law.

“The governor has advanced legislation — it’s unworkable. It doesn’t work in its current form, but things are to be negotiated. Nothing gets introduced in Albany and passes as is.

Extras

Photos from President Obama’s Ground Zero visit.

Obama will meet privately tomorrow with the SEAL team members who killed bin Laden.

No word on whether the nation’s most heroic dog will be on hand.

Christopher Cannizzaro, whose firefighter father died on 9/11, greeted the president with a fist-bump and a prayer card.

Only 15 percent of likely US voters think Donald Trump is seriously running for president.

Azi Paybarah thinks the Trump bubble might have burst.

Trump is a very litigious guy, which could turn off conservatives who support tort reform.

Fox News has terminated its contracts with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senator Rick Santorum after the May 1 deadline for them to decide on presidential bids passed.

Mike Huckabee insists he has no such deadline.

The House Republicans appear to have put their controversial plan to overhaul Medicare on hold.

Tonight’s GOP presidential debate will include just five participants, one of whom is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Hillary Clinton suffers from allergies.

The Clinton family vacationed recently at Donna Karan’s luxury villa on Turkcs & Caicos.

Sandra Lee, foodie fashionista.

A suspicious cyclist was tackled by police officers near the president’s appearance at Ground Zero.

The man was initially thought to have pulled a gun, but it turns out he had no weapon. He was questioned and released.

The man behind the Tweet that started it all.

There have been a lot of half-staff orders from Cuomo since he took office in January.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers gave Rep. Louise Slaughter their “Golden Spike” award.

The New York Biotechnology Association is not happy with the governor.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt floats a state takover of the Buffalo public schools, calling it an “extreme measure.”

Katie Couric is reportedly making out very well with ABC.

Attention governor! Jimmy Vielkind is available for consultation on political strategy.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie will follow ex-Gov. David Paterson in filling in on WFAN.

ICYMI: Here’s Erie County Executive Chris Collins sounds very much like a gubernatorial candidate – a job he briefly sought in 2010 and hasn’t ruled out seeking again in 2014.

Avella Revives Call For Millionaires Tax

Queens Democratic Sen. Tony Avella said today he will re-introduce the adjusted tax on those who make more than $1 million, reviving a contentious debate from the budget season.

“While we were recently able to pass an on-time and fiscally responsible budget, our pragmatic approach to closing the budget gap has caused extreme hardship in the form of cuts to schools, health care, energy and environmental programs and a drastic reduction in the state workforce,” Avella said in a statement.

“With this in mind, we must constantly be searching for responsible ways to increase revenue in order to ease that pain of these cuts.”

He estimates the tax would bring in $41.6 billion in revenue for the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo opposed the reinstatement on a tax surcharge for those who make $200,00 and higher, a sentiment shared by the Senate Republicans, a measure that was due to expire at the end of the year.

Democratic legislators, who opposed deep cuts in social services and education spending to close a $10 billion deficit, tried to alter the tax by introducing a “true” millionaires tax on the highest income earners.

But the proposal did not make it into the final budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which began April 1. Cuomo had insisted on passing a budget without tax increases.

Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, Orange County, made an aborted attempt at introducing a millionaires tax in his chamber, but that move was quickly snuffed out by GOP legislative leaders.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said after the budget was approved that a millionaires tax wouldn’t be out of the question later this year.

GOP Worried In NY-26 (Updated)

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, the chief surrogate for NY-26 candidate Jane Corwin, sent out an email plea this weekend for volunteers to go door-to-door on her behalf this weekend.

The message includes a link to the ad attacking independent candidate Jack Davis, whose stronger-than-expected showing in the recent Siena poll has Republicans concerned that he might end up splitting the Republican and Conservative vote with Corwin and provide a path to victory for Democrat Kathy Hochul.

“While Democrat Jack Davis is trying to fool Western New York voters, Republican Jane Corwin is highlighting her record of creating hundreds of Western New York jobs,” Langworthy said, echoing the script of the ad.

“Jane will fight in Washington to create a better environment for private sector job growth by cutting spending, reducing taxes and removing barriers that make it harder for small businesses to create jobs. With the election quickly approaching Jane needs our help to Get Out The Vote.”

The chairman asked for volunteers to door knock for Corwin Saturday in her hometown and base, Clarence, starting bright and early at 9:30 a.m. (Clarence was also home to former Rep. Chris Lee, who Davis, Corwin and Hochul are all running to replace).

UPDATE: In an email with the subject line “wrong”, Langworthy takes issue with my characterization of the GOP as “worried,” saying this was nothing more than a standard GOTV pitch.

“I used my blast email service to promote the kickoff of our scheduled GOTV efforts,” Langworthy wrote.

“I’ve done it many times before and will be doing it again to get the word out to my organization. That’s my job as county GOP chair. It’s a special election, GOTV is critical and we will be doing an unprecedented amount of it.”

State Lobbying Soars Passed $200M

The amount of money spent lobbying state government soared passed $200 million in 2010, according to the state Commission on Public Integrity’s annual report issued today.

The report found $213.4 million was spent on lobbying, an steep increase from the $197.8 million spent in 2009. Of that, $29.8 million was spent on advertising, up from $6.1 million in 2009. At the same time, lobbyists are also gaining strength in numbers. The commission reported 6,659 lobbyists representing 4,091 clients, compared to 5,887 lobbyists in 2009 representing 3,499 clients.

That severely outnumbers the 212 state lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate.

The main issue drivers in 2010 included selling wine in grocery stores and a failed property-tax cap. It’s also important to note that it was an election year.

As usual, it was a good year for the high-powered lobbying shop of Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP, which reported $10.6 million in receipts and reimbursed expenses. They were followed by Patricia Lynch Associates, the firm run by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s ex-aide, which reported $8.1 million.

2010 Annual Report

Obama, Giuliani Meet With NYPD

Obama Ground Zero

After meeting with New York City firefighters, President Obama and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani met with members of the New York City Police Department.

Here is the full transcript of his remarks.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, listen, everybody, the — I’m not here to make a long speech. I am here basically to shake your hands and just to say how proud I am of all of you.
Obviously we had an important day on Sunday. The reason, what is important, was because it sent a signal around the world that we have never forgotten the extraordinary sacrifices that were made on September 11th. We’ve never forgotten the tragedy. We’ve never forgotten the loss of life. We’ve never forgotten the courage that was shown by the NYPD, by the firefighters, by the first responders.

My understanding is all of you were there that day. And I know you’ll never forget. I know it’s hard to fill the hole that occurred as a consequence of you losing folks who you had worked with for so long. But what, hopefully, this weekend does is it says we keep them in our hearts; we haven’t forgotten; we said what we — we did what we said we were going to do; and that Americans, even in the midst of tragedy, will come together, across the years, across politics, across party, across administrations, to make sure that justice is done. More >

Kolb Urges Cuomo To Keep Tax Cap As Is

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb today urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep pressure on Democrats in his chamber to pass the property-tax cap as is, without alterations.

“New York has never been closer to having a property tax cap. In the Assembly, we are only 25 Democrat votes away from the tax cap passing. Think about that: if 25 Democrats join with our Members, our state will finally have a tax cap. If Governor Cuomo takes his statewide tour to Assembly Democrat Majority districts – and the media lets homeowners in these communities know where the Member truly stands – I am confident the property tax cap will pass this session,” Kolb said in a statement.

The Canandaigua, Ontario County Republican’s statement comes as Cuomo begins his statewide tour in favor of the 2 percent cap, along with pushing for gay marriage legalization and an ethics overhaul.

Cuomo’s office shot down the rumored proposal to have a temporary cap from the Assembly Democrats, who may be seeking a measure that would expire within 3-5 years.

Kolb also said in his statement that Cuomo should tout the original proposal that passed the Senate in January.

“The Governor should make it perfectly clear to New York taxpayers who actually supports the property tax cap – and who doesn’t. Our Assembly Republican Conference supports the property tax cap, is on record as voting for the Governor’s property tax cap bill, and has been leading this fight since 2007,” Kolb said.

Report: WNY Lobbyist/Dem Operative Shoved By Seneca Nation Official

The Buffalo News’ seemingly omniscient man in Albany, Tom Precious reports a Seneca Nation Council member was sanctioned by tribal leaders after being accused of shoving well-known WNY lobbyist and Democratic operative, Jack O’Donnell, off his chair at an Albany hotel earlier this week.

The incident took place at 74 State, a downtown hotel and bar that is popular with lobbyists and lawmakers – not to mention the reporters who cover them.

The council member, Bryan Gonzales, was in Albany for a ceremony Tuesday. That same day, Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter and another tribal councillor, JC Seneca, were in the CapTon studio for an interview and didn’t breathe a word about this incident. They were in Albany for the announcement of the Senate’s first-ever select committee on Native American affairs.

O’Donnell is the son of former state criminal justice czar and two-time AG candidate (although she didn’t run all the way to the end) Denise O’Donnell and Supreme Court Justice John O’Donnell.

He’s a commissioner on the Erie County Water Authority and a longtime WNY Democratic operative. O’Donnell has not only run both his mother’s AG campaigns, but also worked for a time for Tom Golisano. He’s also a liver transplant survivor.

O’Donnell, according to Precious, works for the lobbying firm Bolton St. John’s, and represents a client who once worked with the Senecas to land a Catskills deal for the nation. Otherwise, according to O’Donnell, the firm has no involvement in Seneca matters. More from Precious’ story:

O’Donnell reported he did nothing to provoke the incident, which landed him on the floor of the bar and suffering from pain to his torso and head, Deputy Albany Police Chief Stephen Reilly said.

O’Donnell was treated by Albany fire department EMS and taken to Albany Medical Center after the 2 a.m. incident Tuesday.

The injuries “didn’t seem significant,” Reilly said.

Reilly said today he was unsure if Gonzales had been arrested, but that a police report listed a charge of harassment, a violation that is a step below a misdemeanor. “There’s no indication of any confrontation, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were,” Reilly said.

(Snip)

Gonzales was directed to apologize to O’Donnell and he has been suspended, without pay, from his council post for 31 days, Nephew said. He must also attend an employee assistance program and is banned from official travel for six months.

Diaz Calls For El Diario Boycott

In the wake of its editorial in favor of gay marriage, Sen. Ruben Diaz is calling for a boycott of the influential Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario.”

In a letter to the newspaper’s parent company CEO Monica Lozano, the Bronx Democrat said he would call for the boycott at his May 15 rally for “traditional” marriage.

Diaz, one of the most outspoken opponents of gay marriage in the Senate, writes in the letter that he is informing Lozano of the boycott plans “as a mere courtesy.”

The El Diario editorial in favor of same-sex marriage this week caught many by surprise. It comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a coalition of pro-gay marriage advocacy groups, along with business community officials, push the issue.

Monica Cl Lozano169-1

State GOP Postpones Annual Dinner

A reader just forwarded the following message, entitled “save the Date update”, sent to GOP county chairs shortly after noon today by state Chairman Ed Cox:

“The 2011 New York Republican State Committee Dinner Gala is being rescheduled in order to accommodate some of our guest speakers.”

“This event will NOT be held on Thursday, June 2. We will notify you as soon as we have a new date.”

“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. Thank you in advance for your patience and support as we endeavor to make this year’s dinner a memorable event.”

NOTE: Another (Republican) reader pointed out that “cancels”, which was what I originally went with in the headline, seems to indicate a lack of interest in the event. I thought it was fair since 1) the event, as scheduled, will not be held; and 2) no new date was given. However, erring on the side of caution, I have altered the headline. – LB

According to a GOP source, the original plan for the dinner was to invite all the would-be Republican presidential candidates to speak. But so far, no confirmations have been announced. (Part of the problem might be that there are so few actual declared candidates around).

Interestingly, the state Conservative Party’s annual dinner is being held on June 1 (Chairman Mike Long does have a habit of beating the GOP to the punch…just sayin’) at the Sheraton New York, which is a favored locale for political events – particularly Republican events.

Sen. Tom Coburn is the keynote speaker for the celebration entitled “Recovering Row C”, which the party did in the last election cycle, thanks to Carl Paladino – no word on whether he’ll be attending. He and Long weren’t exactly close.

The Sheraton was also to be the location of the state GOP event, and it just so happens to be the very site where Cox suffered an embarrassing defeat when his preferred gubernatorial candidate, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, failed to get onto the ballot.

As you’ll recall, Long’s candidate, former Rep. Rick Lazio, boxed out Levy and became the GOP standard bearer. But he was defeated in a September primary by Paladino, who petitioned his way onto the ballot and then went on to lose big in the general election to Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Another GOP event worth noting is coming up next month: The Manhattan Republicans will be hosting Donald Trump, who is apparently very much in demand among NYC party leaders, at their dinner on June 14.