Dec 20th - 1:05 pm
The New York Public Interest Research Group did not mince words in responding to the news that the Commission on Public Public Integrity has fined Gov. David Paterson $62,125 for lying under oath during the Yankes Word Series tickets probe.
In short, NYPIRG more or less feels Paterson’s 33-month tenure is one string of ethical lapses and will outweight much of the good he has managed to accomplish while in office.
“The governor’s ethics legacy includes the Kennedy fiasco, the clumsy handling of the assault investigation involving one of his top aides and the botched AEG contract,” the good government watchdog’s statement reads.
“Governor Paterson also mishandled the chance for an improvement in ethics laws when he vetoed legislation passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses. At that time, the governor argued that he wanted a stronger bill. ”
“However, he never once put ethics on an agenda for the many special sessions he called and he never put ethics into one of his budget extenders. He never called a leaders meeting on the issue after his veto.”
“The governor’s failures on ethics policies and his behavior will forever tarnish his record.”
NYPIRG urged the state Board of Elections to reject any further effort by Paterson to use what’s left of his campaign cash to pay his legal bills, since the CPI rejected the governor’s claim that his appearance at Game One was in his official capacity.
Paterson is on track to end his time as governor with slightly over $225,000 in his campaign committee, but he has already spent a good chunk of political change on attorneys to defend him in the David Johnson and Yankees tickets probes.
Dec 20th - 12:11 pm
The Commission on Public Integrity has fined Gov. David Paterson $62,125 soliciting, accepting and receiving five complimentary tickets to Game One of the 2009 World Series for himself, two aides, his teenage son and his son’s friend.
“The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top,” said outgoing CPI Chairman Michael Cherkasky, who was tapped by Paterson to head the ethics/lobbying watchdog.
“Unfortunately the Governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor.”
(The final CPI decision and the hearing documentation appear after the jump).
The CPI determined the governor violated the Public Officer’s Law and the testimony that he intended all along to pay for the tickets was “false” and was refuted by “his staff, the Yankees, an independent handwriting expert and common sense.”
The commission also decided that Paterson did not, as he had claimed, perform a ceremonial function at the Word Series game and his attendance was not related to his duties and responsibility as a public official.
By his own admission, the governor didn’t speak at the opening ceremonies of Game One and wasn’t even recognized during the public address announcement that singled out other public officials who were present.
The $62,125 civil penalty consists of the following:
Dec 20th - 12:10 pm
Andrew Cuomo continues to wrap up unfinished business before he leaves the Attorney General’s office at the end of the month. He just announced that he has arrested former State Fair Director Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. on felony charges of grand larceny, defrauding the government and official misconduct.
This past summer, Cuomo’s office announced that they were investigating the fair, and Cappuccilli after an Inspector General’s investigation suggested that more than $800 thousand was misspent by the former Fair Director.
“According to the complaint, Peter Cappuccilli abused his government position and misused taxpayer resources to benefit himself and his family,” said Attorney General Cuomo.
“The Fair is an upstate economic engine and an important cultural outlet that is intended to serve all New Yorkers. As today’s actions show, we will not tolerate the graft and backroom deals that have corrupted this proud institution.”
Among the allegations leveled against Cappuccilli, are charges he held weddings for his 2 daughters on the fairgrounds for significantly less than fair market value.
If convicted, he could face as many as 7 years in prison.
Entire press release after the jump.
Dec 20th - 11:57 am
Here’s the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s last-minute pitch to the Senate to pass the revised James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act before leaving Washington, D.C. for good this year.
Bloomberg delivered his remarks in the Blue Room. He was joined by Reps. Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Peter King, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, PBA President Patrick Lynch, UFA President Steve Cassidy, UFOA President Al Hagan and Responder Advocates Joseph Zadroga, Father of James Zadroga, John Feal and Kenny Specht.
““These attacks were attacks on America by a foreign enemy,” the mayor said.
“They were acts of war, and they led us to war in Afghanistan. Caring for the men and women who rushed to our defense on that dark day, and in the days that followed, is nothing less than a national duty.”
“America is too great a country to shirk this duty. We are too strong. Too proud. Too patriotic. And this is the week that we have to show it.”
“…the time for excuses is over. Very simply: it’s time to end the debate and let the bill be voted on.”
Dec 20th - 11:00 am
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Dec 20th - 10:59 am
New York State Chairman Ed Cox just released a statement declaring his support for Maria Cino to be the next RNC Chair. She is one of a handful of potential candidates who are challenging current RNC Chairman Michael Steele for the post.
Now, Steele and Cox had bad blood between them throughout the campaign. Steele chose to bypass Cox with RNC Funding, instead sending cash directly to campaigns or county chairs.
In an interview with Capital Tonight in July, Cox took a swipe at the RNC, saying they probably won’t have much money for New York because of their high burn rate.
Then, following the primaries, Steele didn’t even mention Cox in a statement he released praising the winners.
In today’s statement, Cox does not mention Steele. Simply makes the case for Cino to be the pick.
“Frankly, no one is better than Maria at stepping into a challenging situation and turning things around. As Executive Director of the NRCC during the 1990′s, she took an organization on the verge of bankruptcy, made the tough choices and ultimately tripled revenues while helping Republicans win and then maintain our first House Majority in 40 years,” Cox said.
He also has gathered the support of the entire Republican Congressional Delegation from New York. They issued this joint statement.
“As Members of the New York Republican House delegation, we wholeheartedly endorse Maria Cino to become Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Maria was born and raised in New York, where she began an exemplary political career running winning campaigns in a politically difficult region for our party.”
The general feeling is that Steele has roughly 35% of the GOP behind him, making him a favorite for re-election if there is a crowded field. The Wall Street Journal recently put together a handy list of the candidates.
The entire press release from Cox and the GOP Congressional Delegation is after the jump.
Dec 20th - 8:59 am
Say what you will about the Rev. Al Sharpton, but the man’s got rhythm.
Sharpton cut a rug with his daughter, Dominique, to the tune of James Brown’s “Poppa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” at last week’s “The Stars of New York Dance” fundraiser in Brooklyn that raised money for at-risk children.
The “contest” was won by Colvin Grannum, president and CEO of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and his partnter, Shani M. Worrell, dancer and vocalist for the Restoration Youth Arts Academy.
NYC Councilwoman Tish James also participated, (if you click here the link in the first line, there’s video), and apparently suffered from a “wardrobe malfunction,” when the strap on her gown broke. NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio danced with his wife, Chirlane McCray, but there’s no video that I can find.
Dec 20th - 8:45 am
USA Today landed a “Sandra Lee at home for the holidays” interview that is simply too good to pass up.
The Food Network star and soon-to-be first girlfriend of New York State reiterates that there are no marriage plans in store for herself and her live-in beau, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, insisting she’s “really happy” right now. She also again says she doesn’t plan to change anything or assume any official duties once her long-term significant other takes office.
The bulk of the article, which features a photo of Lee, wearing her signature white and posing in her white living room in front of a white Christmas tree, is devoted to how the semi-home made domestic diva decorated the Mt. Kisco home she shares with Cuomo for the holidays.
The house has seven – SEVEN – Christmas trees, each with its own theme. More:
Lee had “one elf” assisting her with the project, which extends outdoors to wreaths and poinsettias, but she wishes she’d had more help.
“I would love for (Cuomo’s girls) to have been there when I was putting up the trees,” she says. “There are sacrifices that every family makes to have happy, healthy children and a happy, healthy lifestyle.” (She is going to help the girls put together their inaugural outfits.)
Not surprisingly, their busy dad couldn’t be there, either. The tinseled transformation was “a little bit of a surprise,” says Lee, who insists that the governor-elect does have input into the décor. “I mean, it’s his house, too.”
…Still, when outfitting their home for the holidays, “I thought, ‘Oh gosh, he’s going to think I went over the top.’ ” But when Cuomo saw her handiwork, he gushed, “I love it!”
Nonetheless, Lee wasn’t done — at least having fun. When Cuomo came home from work the next day, a Saturday, she casually announced that she had trimmed the entire upstairs. “And he goes, ‘What?!’ And I go, ‘Just kidding.’”
And then there’s this little snippet:
…And soon to grace the wall of the dining room – aka the Founding Fathers room – is Lee’s recent birthday present to her partner, a letter from yet another famous New York governor, Franklin Roosevelt, that touches on the issues of his era, such as poverty. It’s “pretty amazing,” Lee says. Cuomo “loves” it.
Dec 20th - 8:23 am
Democratic donor and reform advocate Bill Samuels told Kaitlyn Ross during a CapTon interview last Friday that he thinks the Legislature purposely missed a deadline for passing a constitutional amendment that would have provided real redistricting reform and anything that occurs from this point forward won’t be real change.
“I think it’s over. I think we missed it,” Samuels said, bluntly.
“Everyone talked about redistricting. The fact is, the Constitution does not allow for an independent nonpartisan commission to make a binding decision. We needed to have a constitutional amendment. There was a conspiracy of silence in Albany on both sides.”
“That constitutional amendment had to be passed by Dec. 31 – right now – and then passed again in the first quarter of 2011. Without it, yes, there will be some independent commission set up. But the fact is it has to go to the Legislature to be approved. There will be some progress here. Without a constitutional amendment, no real progress. I predict it will be until 2022 when we have real change.”
Even sponsors of the independent redistricting reform bill being pushed by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch’s NY Uprising PAC and others admit a statutory fix subject to the whims of state lawmakers is not the most optimal solution.
It is, however, probably the best the state is going to get at this point, as constitutional amendments, (which also require approval via a public referendum), are notoriously difficult to pass.
Koch is appearing at a NYC press conference this afternoon with some of his Senate “heroes” to call on the (assumedly GOP-controlled) state Senate to pass a package of reform bills as the first act of business in the New Year.
The bills include ethics reform, budget reform, and establishing an independent redistricting commission – all included in NY Uprising’s reform pledge signed by 53 of 62 incoming senators before the November elections.
Dec 20th - 8:05 am
After reading the comments section, I went looking for this vintage TV ad from the 2006 gubernatorial election, which features the Long Island elementary school attended by outgoing Gov. David Paterson that will soon bear his name.
Spitzer and Paterson wrapped up a pre-primary statewide barnstorming tour at the Fulton School four years ago.
But while the ad (made by Jimmy Siegel) seems to indicate both candidates toured its hallways, only the then-LG contender and former pupil walked inside. Spitzer delivered remarks from the schoolyard and never crossed the threshold.
Paterson’s parents, Basil and Portia, were Harlem residents when the governor was born. But local schools refused to mainstream their legally-blind son, so his mother relocated to Long Island, where Fulton elementary agreed to put him in classes with sighted kids.
Interestingly, the Times is reporting this morning that Paterson, who never learned to read Braille and uses neither a seeing-eye dog nor a cane as a result of his mainstreaming, plans to enroll at a school for the blind that he last attended when he was three years old.
He says he needs to re-learn how to fend for himself after he leaves office and no longer has a taxpayer-funded support staff.