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]

House Democrats Come To AG Schneiderman’s Defense

As Gannett reported this morning, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, along with the other 20 Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation, are weighing in on the ongoing saga of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman being booted by his fellow attorneys general from a multistate mortgage panel.

Schneiderman was kicked off the panel after he refused to go along with a settlement with major banks that, among other things, would have prohibited future inquiries on additional fraud by lenders.

In the letter, the lawmakers ask Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller how New York’s interests will be represented in the mortgage settlement now that Schneiderman was pulled from the task force. And they write that removing New York’s top lawyer from the panel sets “dangerous precedent” for other AGs who may refuse to speak up.

“As members of the New York congressional delegation, we are united in fighting for a fair resolution of the housing crisis that has devastated tens of thousands of families across our state,” the members wrote. “That is why we are deeply troubled by your recent action to silence New York’s voice by removing New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from an executive committee negotiating a nationwide settlement with the banks. We ask that you explain how New York’s interests will be protected as negotiations move forward.”

Ltr to Miller Re Schneiderman Dismissal August 2011

Gannett reported today that 21 members of New York’s congressional delegation

Obama Phones Cuomo

President Obama phoned Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, but if the statement from the governor’s office is any indiciation, the president stopped short of pledging full assistance to flood-ravaged parts of upstate.

Cuomo did travel yesterday with FEMA Regional Director Lynn Canton, who stressed the agency was still in “response” mode to the flooding.

Here’s the full statement from Cuomo’s office:

“President Obama called this afternoon. He had been briefed on our situation and expressed his desire to immediately be helpful in our recovery efforts. We discussed ways the federal government could help and coordination between New York State, FEMA and other relevant agencies. The President specifically asked that I pass on his heart-felt condolences to the families of those who were lost.”

Here And Now

Day II of Irene clean-up. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with (so far) no public schedule.

“It will get worse before it gets better,” Cuomo said of the storm damage after two aerial tours of the Mohawk Valley and Catskills.

Cuomo is expected to make a formal request for FEMA aid as early as today.

“These economic consequences are going to be very difficult,” said Cuomo.

The governor received a call from the president, who expressed his condolences and said he wants to be helpful with clean-up.

It will take weeks to tally up New York’s final storm bill. Early estimates put the price of cleaning up the lightly hit Big Apple alone between $7 billion and $13 billion.

The Cuomo administration reportedly didn’t want any of its senior official appearing at Mayor Bloomberg’s Irene press conferences. Outgoing MTA Chairman Jay Walder bucked that directive after an “angry phone argument.”

The town of Prattsville’s Main Street was basically obliterated by Irene. Supervisor Kory O’Hara is unsure if the community has a future.

“She survived Hitler, but she couldn’t survive Irene.”

Capital Region river levels broke some historic high-water marks, and officials are keeping a nervous eye on several dams.

A crack in the Mill Hollow dam along the Battenkill in Washington County caused evacuations.

The Green Island Bridge remains closed this morning, according to Troy Mayor Tutunjian. (Via Twitter).

The flooding reaches all the way into the North Country, where the bridge over the Marcy Dam has been washed clean away.

More >

Cuomo Views ‘Terrible Price’ Of Irene

chopperpics2

It’s fair to say that the devastation of Irene in the Mohawk and Schoharie valleys was pretty apparent from the view of a Blackhawk helicopter.

And while New York City was largely spared the full brunt of the storm, large swaths of upstate were hit especially hard.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took two helicopter tours of the devastation in the Mohawk Valley. The second included a contingent of the LCA, along with FEMA Regional Director Lynn Cantor.

We dipped over Prattsville, in Greene County, whose remaining downtown appeared to be covered in a large brown puddle. Roads, bridges, homes and farms were all flooded or completely erased by the water.

The helicopters settled down at a flooded soccer field outside of Fulton where Cuomo met briefly with local officials and New York guardsmen.

“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can,” Cuomo said.

The differences between the images of city commuters returning to work (albeit slowly) and upstate residents trying to pick up the pieces of their town is stark.

“We were very lucky in New York City. But in the Catskills, in the Hudson Valley, this is a different story, and we’re paying a terrible price,” Cuomo said while walking off a bridge that had a gaping hole in it.

The epic flooding was attributed to the rise in the water level of the Schoharie Creek, which seeped into the Mohawk River. The heavy rainfall from the summer had already led to high water levels.

“It was a record rainfall on saturated land that then created a record flood, and the record flood is going to wreak havoc. I think a lot of preparation was done here also, but it’s a record flood and the flood is going to do damage.”

It remains unclear just how much the damage will cost, though State Operations Director Howard Glaser later estimated that it would be significant. This is one of the poorest regions of the state and the small communities and counties that were affected by this won’t be able to pay for the damage on their own.

And for a cash-strapped state like New York, attention will be focused on FEMA and whether it will qualify these towns for any aid.

Extras

Oh, boy.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey wants FEMA to add Dutchess County to the emergency declaration list for New York.

Sen. Jim Seward wants the state to pick up the local share of flood expenses.

Some Florida mayor came to the defense of Mayor Bloomberg, who is being accused by some of overreacting (or fear mongering, take your pick) in his Irene prep.

Bloomberg released a photo of himself on the subway this morning.

Chris Smith: “Was Bloomberg overcompensating for the administration’s mistakes during the snowstorm? Yes – and so what?”

Gabe Pressman thinks Bloomberg “seems to have learned a lesson” from last December’s Christmas blizzard debacle.

The mayor has a sense of humor about his less-than-perfect Spanish, which was mocked by a parody Twitter account created over the weekend. (Video!)

Assemblyman David Weprin accused Bob Turner of flip-flopping on FEMA.

Kudos to NY1 for its storm coverage, particularly to Bob “Den Mother” Hardt.

The CBC predicts widespread layoffs will again be threatened in NYC “soon” due to the failure to negotiate labor concessions.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ranks No. 1 among Senate fundraisers from Jan. 1 – June 30. Sen. Chuck Schumer – a prodigious fundraiser in his own right – doesn’t even crack top 50.

Environmental Advocates calls on Cuomo to rely on “science” in making a hydrofracking decision. (The next DEC report is due out Wednesday).

President Obama’s uncle, after being charged with drunk driving last week in Framingham, Mass., said: “I think I will call the White House.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney on whether the Obama administration is certain Hillary Clinton won’t primary the president: “You’ll have to ask her. We’re fairly confident – that we need to focus on the task at hand.”

Leiby Kletzky’s father sued his son’s alleged killed and his father.

Cuomo: It Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better

Fresh off a helicopter tour of the upstate areas worst hit by Irene this weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned New Yorkers not to be deceived by the beautiful late summer weather today, noting the worst of the tropical storm’s impact is likely yet to come.

“Flood levels have set records and the amount of damage is devastating in some areas,” a polo shirt-clad Cuomo told members of the Capitol press corps assembled in the Red Room. “And will get worse before it gets better.”

That is the exact opposite of the message Cuomo delivered yesterday during a brief call in to our sister station, NY1, during which he said: “This isn’t over yet, so let’s stay smart and the worst is behind us.”

Cuomo himself acknowledged there are distinctly different Irene stories going in New York today. Downstate, where most of the pre-storm preparations took place, pretty much dodged a bullet, while upstate took a beating in the form of heavier-than-expected rain that caused rivers, streams and creeks to flood and cause what the governor deemed “devastating” amounts of damage.

Many of these swollen tributaries have yet to crest, Cuomo noted, including the Hudson River, which is expected to do so this afternoon.

The governor declined to second guess his administration’s Irene preparations, noting all models had indicated that Irene would pummel downstate and largely leave upstate unscathed.

“I don’t know what you can do, even in retrospect, about record rainfall and record floods that are going to fill creeks,” Cuomo said. “…Mother Nature wins at the end of the day…It could have been a lot, lot worse. It really could have been, and that’s the silver lining to the extent that there is one.”

Director of State Operations Howard Glaser said there have been 191 emergency rescues statewide since Irene began – most of which took place in the Catskill region – and six deaths, all but one of which were drownings. (The sixth was an electrocution).

Cuomo declined to even put a ballpark figure on the cost of the storm clean-up, but he did say there will be a “significant” economic impact at the end of the day.

The governor also said he expects the state will be able to pay for the damage “within the budget framework,” adding: “One way or the other, these roads and bridges have to be repaired.”

Cuomo went out of his way to praise New Yorkers for heeding calls to prepare for Irene and helping one another – particularly the first responders, volunteers and members of the National Guard. “It is in our darkest hours that we shine the brightest,” said Cuomo, who added that he is “proud” to be governor of New York at this time.

Power Outage Update (Updated)

…From Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is – I believe – touring damage in Fulton, Schoharie County right now with members of the LCA (the Capitol press corps) in tow. (They all traveled via helicopter with the FEMA regional director on board with the governor).

Statewide, 890,698 New Yorkers are still without power. Utility companies are warning it could take several days to restore service to everyone. The breakdown:

- LIPA: 398,000 still have no power, 125,000 customers have had power restored.

- ConEdison: 89,119, 98,000 customers restored.

- National Grid: 121,678.

- NYSEG: 131,690.

- Central Hudson: 102,211.

- Orange & Rockland: 48,000.

UPDATE: As of about 4 p.m., Cuomo says LIPA as well as Orange & Rockland currently estimate that the majority of their customers will have power restored by the end of the day on Friday.

The news for upstaters – particularly NYSEG customers – is far more glum. According to Cuomo: “Upstate power utilities are still assessing damage today and have reported that there may continue to be extended outages as flooding and downed trees are hampering the restoration.”

Director of State Operations Howard Glaser said NYSEG has reported 2,500 wires down and 200 utility poles broken over an area the size of Connecticut. It’s possible that customers in the more remote parts of the state will be without power into next week.

At this moment, some 4,000 line and tree crews are “in full restoration mode” all over the state, with crews from outside New York coming in to provide assistance where possible.

Romney’s NY Nightmare: Perry-Giuliani Collaboration

A highly-placed New York Republican called late last week to note a story that went largely unnoticed in all the pre-Irene hoopla regarding Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of the Susan B. Anthony List’s antiabortion pledge.

Perry’s signature would pretty much rule out the Perry-Giuliani ticket floated recently by former NY GOP Chair Bill Powers – or the appointment of the former NYC mayor to any cabinet posts (like US AG, for example), since the document requires the nomination of only antiabortion judges and appointees.

Perry’s main GOP 2012 rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, refused to sign the pledge, calling it too broad.

The Republican who brought the Perry story to my attention is a Romney supporter, and also thought it worth highlighting that Perry endorsed Giuliani for president back in 2008.

What I found noteworthy about this exchange was the fact that a NY Romney supporter would be seeking to drive a wedge between Perry and Giuliani.

My GOP source explained that Romney, thanks to his 2008 run and tenure as governor in neighboring Massachusetts, is considered a strong frontrunner in New York – particularly with ex-Gov. George Pataki out of the race (if anyone really considered backing him) and Giuliani pushing off a decision until the end of this month.

Perry is unknown to many New York GOP operatives and county chairs, but he’s starting to make some inroads here.

He already has some WNY backers, including former Sens. Mary Lou Rath and Dale Volker. The governor also keynoted the NYC GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner back in June, filling in for Donald Trump after the developer decided to take a pass on 2012.

Trump is now saying very nice things about Perry, and has reportedly been chatting with him on the phone. Getting support from The Donald, who hasn’t completely shut the door on an independent White House run, is a top priority for a number of the GOP presidential contenders – including Romney, too.

Romney backers in the Empire State worry Perry’s operation, which is pretty much nonexistent here, would get a big boost if Giuliani decided to throw in his lot with the Texas governor.

Apparently, a number of key GOP county chairs are making noises about backing Romney, but – like the bulk of the national GOP – aren’t quite sold. They’re still hoping NJ Gov. Chris Christie will change his mind, which would shake up the field in a big way.

Minus One Vote For Weprin (Updatedx2)

Juniper Park Civic Association President Bob Holden slammed Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin this morning for calling off a scheduled debate in NY-9 tonight, accusing the candidate of using Irene as a scapegoat to get out of an event he never really wanted to attend in the first place.

According to Holden, the Weprin campaign officially backed out of the debate last night by calling the newspaper co-sponsor, the Times Newsweekly, but failed to make a courtesy call to him.

When he finally did speak to a camapign representative this morning, Holden said, he was told the storm had complicated “logistics” for the candidate, making it difficult for staffers to get into work.

When he requested more specifics about Weprin’s schedule, Holden said, he was informed the campaign aide was “not at liberty to tell you where the candidate is going to be tonight.”

“I’m just beside myself,” Holden said during a brief telephone interview. “…I’m going to tell my membership the candidate had something more important to do tonight, or some other place to go that’s more important than us.”

“…I’ve seen shenanigans before, but nothing like this. They’re using the storm, but our power is all back on. There’s a few downed trees being cleared away, but everything is fine. I suspected they were going to do this, I just can’t believe they actually did. I feel like I just got kicked in the head. This is no way to run a campaign.”

Holden, a Democrat, admitted that the association’s territory is “more conservative” (and used to be represented by a Republican in the NYC Council, until Councilwoman Liz Crowley came along). But he insisted Juniper Park is not biased in favor of Republicans, noting both he and his first vice president are Democrats.

“I was really undecided as to who I’d vote for,” Holden told me. “Not anymore.”

Republican Bob Turner’s campaign is, of course, seeking to capitalize on the Weprin camp’s decision. Turner spokesman Bill O’Reilly provided reporters with Holden’s contact information. He also released the following statement:

“Career politician David Weprin is in hiding. After demonstrating a stunning lack of knowledge about the size of the federal debt – he was off by $10 trillion the last time he was asked – maybe he’s home studying up. But still, it was rude to cancel at this late notice.”

O’Reilly is referring to this DN editorial yesterday that took both NY-9 candidates to task – Weprin for not knowing the national debt, and Turner for saying the Zadroga Act shouldn’t apply to volunteers. The field, according to the DN, makes voters “yearn for Anthony Weiner.”

UPDATE: A response from Weprin’s campaign, which chalked the candidate’s debt stumble up to a “slip of the tongue.”

“Obviously David knows that the national debt is $14 trillion. David’s slip of the tongue is not going to harm Brooklyn and Queens working class families and seniors like Bob Turner’s plan to end Medicare and Social Security as we know it. Nor will it take away health care for our brave volunteer first responders, which is what Bob Turner wants to do.”

And on the debate cancellation, there’s this from Team Weprin:

“The hurricane caused major logistical and scheduling problems for the campaign and thus David is not able to make the debate this evening.”