Q Poll: Support For Gay Marriage Hits New High

Good news for gay marriage advocates in today’s Q poll, which founds support for legalizing same-sex marriage has hit a new high with 56 percent of New Yorkers in favor and 37 percent opposed.

That compares to a previous high of 51-41 in June 2009. When the Q poll first started questioning voters on this issue, they were opposed, 55-37.

In today’s poll, support for gay marriage is 69-25 percent among Democrats and 55-39 percent among independents. Republicans are opposed 52-41. Men back gay marriage 54-40, and women support it 58-34 percent. Support is highest among suburban voters, 61-33. NYC voters support it 55-37 and upstaters are at 54-39.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo favors gay marriage. Although the degree of his support was called into question during the campaign, he said it would be a priority during his first term and did mention the issue – albeit very briefly – during his State of the State address.

After much speculation and back-room wheeling and dealing, the gay marriage bill, which has passed the Assembly three times, finally came to the floor of the Senate in December 2009, where it failed, 38-24.

Since then, advocates changed their political approach, ceasing to simply support the Democratic conference as a whole in hopes of pushing the issue across the finish line and targeting key “no” voters for ouster.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told the Log Cabin Republicans during the 2010 campaign he would be willing to let the marriage bill come up for a vote, but still opposes the measure himself. It’s still unclear whether there is sufficient GOP support to pass the legislation.

Today’s Q poll also finds New Yorkers oppose (51-40) the idea of public campaign financing, which Cuomo supports, and back – albeit narrowly, 48-42 – the full disclosure of outside income by state lawmakers. Voters also want independent redistricting reform, 64-24, but don’t believe (49-34) lawmakers will keep their promise to former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and actually relinquish their power to draw their own district lines.

012711 NY FIX + BP

Here And Now

Mayor Bloomberg: “Because heavy snow fell in the City overnight, all non-emergency City government offices are closed for today, in addition to all public schools. New York City almost never takes a snow day, but today is one of those rare days. People should stay at home and off the roads.”

All NYC public schools are closed, too. Chancellor Black made the call via a press release that hit my in-box at 4:43 a.m.

The snow, which measured as much as 15 inches in Central Park, has caused transit delays for the morning commute and closed airports.

Bloomberg called for tort reform during a speech at the New York Bar Association.

NYC Councilman Dan Halloran is standing by his claims of a Christmas blizzard weekend clean-up slowdown even after the NY Times cast doubt on his story.

The DN calls on Halloran to stop protecting the whistle-blowers.

Most New Yorkers oppose cuts to education aid and Medicaid – both of which the governor is expected to propose in his budget next week.

Voters also say they would prefer service cuts to tax increases, which seems out of the realm of the possible.

AQE and Democratic lawmakers are girding for a fight with the governor over school aid cuts.

Freshman Sen. Mark Grisanti is among their targets, but he’s not worried, saying: “It doesn’t put any fear in me.”

It’s a bad time to be a state worker in America.

More >

Web Extra: Senate Seating Fight

Here’s the entire video of Monday’s Senate session that sparked a heated debate over the seating arrangements in the chamber and prompted Sen. Eric Adams to accuse the GOP majority of slighting some Democrats based on their race/sex.

The point of order is introduced just before the 39-minute mark and the heated exchange between Sen. Adams and Tom Libous starts at 43 minutes.

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is lonely on the second floor.

Cuomo is expected to deliver his first executive budget at 1 p.m. next Tuesday in the Egg.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s SOTU response made Rep. Anthony Weiner want to drink. His thoughts on Rep. Michele Bachmann: “(She’s) clearly not in touch with the mothership.”

Rep. Eliot Engel doesn’t mind being called an aisle hog, saying his constituents would “think I was sick or something” if he wanted in the opening SOTU shots.

Sen. David Carlucci accepted campaign cash from a former Rockland County Democratic chairman who did time after pleading guilty to bribery and tax evasion.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson wants to do away with partisan seating altogether.

Richard Bamberger is a survivor.

NYC is having another weather emergency.

Obama will address gun control at some point in the future.

NRA lobbyist Chuck Cunningham has a new nickname for Mayor Bloomberg: “Mayor Blame.”

Newsday hired 31 staffers to focus on local news and on-line reporting.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich sued over a sandwich.

AG Eric Schneiderman will make a “major announcement” tomorrow in his Manhattan office at 11 a.m. (No link).

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano believes NIFA’s takeover was “unfounded, premature and unnecessary” and will take “legal action to protect the taxpayers.”

Citizens Action says Andrew Cuomo is no Mario Cuomo.

Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz does a lot of public eating.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew talked layoffs with Educators 4 Excellence.

Bloomberg is a stickler for time.

Rep. Gary Ackerman cut ties with J Street.

An “oops” moment for Sen. Tom Libous.

DiNapoli To Mangano: Don’t Sue

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Nassau County resident and former assemblyman, weighed in today on the news that a state oversight board has seized control of the county’s finances.

DiNapoli, who ran an unsuccessful camapign for Nassau County executive (he was the party favorite when he lost the 2001 Democratic primary to Tom Suozzi, who subsequently lost to the current executive, Republican Ed Mangano), urged the interested parties “not to focus on the takeover itself, but on the steps necessary to restore fiscal stability to Nassau County.”

“Protracted litigation will only delay the inevitable hard choices that must be made to put Nassau back on solid fiscal ground,” DiNapoli said.

Mangano has threatened to sue NIFA if he made good on its long-standing threat to do what it did today in a 6-0 vote.

DiNapoli went on to lament Nassau County’s “stagnant sales tax revenue” (Mangano tried unsuccessfully to convince the state Legislature to let him increase the sales tax and also proposed a budget that contained some $20 million worth of state aid that never materialized and $61 million worth of what have been deemed “phantom” labor concessions).

“Also, it has been disappointing to see that after more than 10 years, it has been reported the County has not been able to reduce their borrowing for tax certioraris, which is one of the main issues NIFA was designed to assist with,” the comptroller continued.

“It’s just not acceptable to continue down the path of burdening future generations with this growing debt. Nassau taxpayers already pay some of the highest local taxes in the nation. They need and deserve responsible, strong action to restore fiscal responsibility to their county.”

Comings And Goings

The latest news in hirings/expansions…

- Red Horse Strategies, the political consulting/field firm founded in 2007 by a group of former Senate Dems’ staffers, is expanding into the fundraising business. As such, the firm has hired Ariana Caplan – another Senate refugee – to work in its upstate office.

Red Horse was primarily a downstate firm until early last year when it grew to include a strategic communications component and an upstate office, which is run by Cort Ruddy, a former speechwriter for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and long-time chief of staff to Sen. Dave Valesky.

“We are proud to now offer fundraising services to our clients,” said RHS’s co-founder and partner Doug Forand.

“By adding Ariana and her considerable talent to the Red Horse team, we can more efficiently offer the comprehensive campaign services that our clients need.”

- Ostroff, Hiffa & Associates, an Albany-based lobbying firm, has two new staffers: Vanessa E. Bongiorno and David P. Wehner.

Bongiorno has 13 years of lobbying experience, representing clients before the Legislature, executive chamber, state agencies and local government, primarily in the areas of health care, insurance, human services, professional licensure, higher education and public safety.

Wehner is the former executive director of the state Insurance Fund and chairman of the Workers Compensation board. He worked for nine years on the executive staff at the state Department of Labor. Before that, he was state media director for former US Sen. Alfonse M. D’Amato both in Washington, D.C.
and in Albany.

Senate GOP’s ‘New Beginning’ Is Not Cheap (Updated)

A reader forwarded this invite for what I believe is the Senate Republicans’ first Albany fundraiser – being billed as a “new beginning” – since they officially returned to the majority in early January.

The Feb. 7 event is being held in the shadow of the Capitol at The State Room. Tickets are running from $1,000 (friend), to $2,500 (patron) to $5,000 (host).

Considering the rules and resource fights that transpired over the past week in the Senate chamber, it seems like this is less of a new beginning and more of a deja-vu-all-over-again situation.

That said, the Republicans are considerably better situated than their Democratic counterparts as far as campaign cash is concerned, which could prove challenging for new DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris, who keeps insisting the GOP might be returning to the minority prior to the 2012 elections.

The Democrats, as has been widely reported, are $3 million in the hole – a situation that wasn’t helped much by a fundraiser in Albany this week described to be by one area lobbyist as “sparsely attended.”

UPDATE: As it turns out, the ticket prices for the Dems’ “winter reception,” held Monday at the Crowne Plaza, were pricier than for the GOP event: $1,000 (Friend), $5,000 (Supporter), $10,000 (Sponsor), $25,000 (Host).

Also, Gianaris informs me my source was “flat wrong,” insisting there was “great turnout” that night that “exceeded our expectations for money raised; all in all, a great start to our efforts to turn the corner and return to the majority.”

The Republicans, by contrast, reported no debt in their Jan. 15 financial filing and $243,430 on hand, plus another $367,701 in housekeeping.

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Salmon!

Here’s that salmon joke President Obama made during the SOTU last night.

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater,” Obama said. “I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Still unsure what that was all about – a subtle shout-out to Brooklyn and New York’s senior senator, maybe?

Whatever the case, it was fairly amusing. So much so, that it became one of the top three words used to describe the president’s speech by (go figure) NPR listeners.

Nassau County Finances Under State Control (Updated)

In the fall of 2009, Ed Mangano was on top of the world after coming from behind to oust a Democratic rising star, then-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, in a win that shocked the New York politerati.

Now, just over one year later, Mangano has fallen from grace in a big way.

Earlier today, a state oversight board seized control of Nassau County’s finances, saying the fiscally troubled county has failed to balance its $2.6 billion budget in spite of its wealth and considerable property tax base wealthy in spite of months of warnings to do so.

Mangano repeatedly assured the board that he would be able to close the county’s deficit, which at one point reached nearly $350 million, but he has failed to keep that pledge.

This is only the second time that a county has been taken over by the state, according to the NY Times. The other was Erie County, which is New York’s 24th weathliest county and has a median income that is half of Nassau’s, the state’s richest county.

(My understanding of the Erie County control board was that it was a “soft” board and only acted in an advisory capacity, as compared to the City of Buffalo’s board, which was fully empowered. An effort to weaken its powers was vetoed by former Gov. David Paterson).

UPDATE: Actually, the history of the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority (AKA, the control board) is more complicated than I imagined. Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz explained, via e-mail, it was “soft” when it was created in 2005, switched to “hard” in November 2006 and then went back to “soft” in July 2009. It’s now threatening to go back to its more stringent iteration when it meets in February.

Mangano inheritied a deficit from Suozzi, but he worsened the situation by eliminating a tax on home heating oil that generated some $40 million in revenue. (He was seeking to fulfill his campaign pledge to cut taxes, which had gone up on Suozzi’s watch).

More >

Can’t They All Just Get Along?

Following yesterday’s rules revolt, which ended in a draw thanks to (yet unexplained) absence of Sen. Ken LaValle, Senate Minority Leader John Samspon has issued a plea to his majority counterpart, Dean Skelos, for a bipartisan summit at which the two sides might hammer out their differences.

Sampson sent a letter to Skelos today asking for a reinstatement of the Temporary Committee on Rules and Administration Reform, which the Democrats formed back in 2009, then chaired by Sens. Dave Valesky and John Bonacic.

“There should be a public, transparent, and bipartisan process led by members from both conferences, who will be charged with drafting permanent rules all 62 members can support,” Sampson wrote.

“…It is my hope we can build on the progress made in the 2009 rules reforms, and give New Yorkers greater confidence their voices will be heard in the Senate that is run in the serious and bipartisan manner these difficult times demand.”

The temporary committee had six members – three Republicans and three Democrats. Since Valesky is no longer a member of the Democratic conference, Sampson has proposed appointing Senators José Serrano, Dan Squadron, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins to represent the minority.

No word yet on whether Skelos will agree.

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