Extras

Rudy Giuliani adviser Jake Menges says the former NYC mayor is “still actively thinking” about running for president in 2012.

Mayor Bloomberg voiced support for the Port Authority toll/fare increases, where were approved in a 9-0 vote this morning.

Bloomberg thinks Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done a “great job,” but was less effusive in his praise for NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Sarah Palin, still not a 2012 candidate, released a video about her trip to the Iowa State Fair.

Sen. Joe Lieberman discussed Sabbath sex (among other things) with Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” last night.

The Italian American PAC, based in Howard Beach, Queens, endorsed Assemblyman David Weprin in the NY-9 special.

OPWDD is taking another look at employee discipline.

Rep. Gabby Giffords has asked the FEC to let her use campaign cash to make security improvements to her home.

The individuals granted intervenor status in the prison gerrymandering lawsuit are now seeking to have the case dismissed.

Outgoing Public Integrity Commission spokesman Walter Ayres said the Troopergate scandal “was like the 500-year flood.”

Cuomo signed into law a bill designed to expand the sale of NY-grown products.

The dispute between some 9/11 family groups and NYC continues.

NYC Councilwoman Gale Brewer takes on bedbugs in schools.

Bloomberg’s investing advice: Stick with stocks, despite the wild market swings.

Law Enforcement Officers Get New Union After Rejecting Contract

More than 1,000 officers are joining a new union after rejecting an unpopular contract agreement forged between Council 82′s leadership and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The PBA of New York State today was certified to represent the collective-bargaining interests for the officers of the Agency Law Enforcement Services unit.

The seeds for joining the newly formed PBA were sewn back in April, when Cuomo and the leadership of Council 82 agreed to a long-sought contract that included unpopular concessions. The Cuomo administration had hoped the contract would be an example to follow for larger state-employee unions to accept concessions.

ALES responded by initiating a decertification process that allowed them to breakaway from Council 82.

The bargaining unit that includes DEC officers, forest rangers and state university police has been without a contract since 2005.

“The campaign to declare independence was built around a simple notion, that for women and men of law enforcement serving in state agencies deserve to be represented by those who know their concerns, and the needs of their families,” Manuel M. Vilar, President of the PBA of New York State and a Park Police Sergeant based on Long Island said. “The PBA of New York State is fully prepared, clearly focused and proud to serve – the campaign is over, now it is time to get to work and our number one priority will be to seek an opportunity to participate in negotiations that for far too long languished, and failed to include the voice of our members. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo and being a partner to deliver a fair and equitable contract for our members.”

Senate GOP To Push For More Hearings At Port Authority

ICYMI: Sen. Charles Fuschillo, a Long Island Republican who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, told me on CapTon last night that the majority plans to pressuire the Port Authority to hold more public hearings if and when it approves toll and fare hikes.

Sen. Andy Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, has already introduced a bill that would mandate at least two public hearings in each county impacted by an increase in a fee, toll, fare or other transportation charge be held no less that 30 days prior to any action taken by the board.

The bill also requires the attendance of all commissioners at these hearings.

Fuschillo’s interview was taped prior to the announcement last night by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie in support of the lower-than-expected tunnel, birdge and PATH increases approved this morning by the PA board.

However, the senator expressed strong opposition to any sort of boost, noting the state comptroller’s recent audit that found the supposedly cash-strapped authority had doled out millions in overtime pay last year.

Fuschillo also said it would be wrong for the board to approve a modified toll/fare increase plan without holding additional hearings so commuters could voice their support and/or opposition.

Of course, that didn’t happen. The nine members of the PA board who were present for today’s meeting all voted for the modified plan put forth by Cuomo and Christie.

Fuschillo also said there’s been “no talk” of the Legislature returning to Albany.

Dems To Libous: We Gotta Come Back

Senate Democrats are taking issue with Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous’s reluctance to return to Albany.

Libous, R-Binghamton, told Gannett earlier today that he didn’t see a need to immediately convene the Legislature, unless Majority Leader Dean Skelos or Gov. Andrew Cuomo say otherwise.

But Democrats point to the need to create a health-care exchange in order to receive federal funding, part of the health care overhaul signed into law in 2009. Republican lawmakers have grumbled that the exchange is a step toward helping enact “Obamacare” — using the parlance conservative activists.

Meanwhile, Democrats are also holding out hope for the creation of independent commission for legislative redistricting, but lawmakers running that process have said there isn’t enough time to develop a non-partisan panel in time for next year.

Here’s a statement from Democratic spokesman Michael Murphy:

Despite what some will have you believe our work is not done. Most New Yorkers would agree that there is still a lot to be accomplished before we pat ourselves on the back, whether its ensuring New York gets its fair share in federal health care funding or that we implement independent redistricting, something over 76% of New Yorkers want.

Lawmakers Begin Port Authority Pile On (Updated)

Lawmakers are not reacting well to the news broken late yesterday that Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie are backing a toll hike for Port Authority bridges and tunnels.

Though the toll increases are smaller than the steep raises the authority’s leadership initially called for, the episode has once again put the financially troubled PA in an unflaterring light.

Sen. Andrew Lanza, R-Staten Island, quickly introduced a bill that would require the Port Authority to hold two hearings in the counties impacted by the proposed toll increase.

Meanwhile, Sen. David Carlucci, a Rockland County Democrat, said in a statement that increasing tolls would be “crippling” to families.

“At a time when New York families are really struggling financially, a toll hike on the bridges that residents of Rockland and Orange counties use every day to commute to work is crippling, he said. “Residents of my district who commute to the city daily for work will now be forced to pay an additional $450.00 dollars a year to cross the George Washington Bridge. That means the average commuter from my district is paying
$2,850 a year to get to work. Much like the job killing MTA payroll tax, this additional burden on New Yorkers is literally driving people and businesses out of New York State.

He added that a “bright spot” was Cuomo and Christie pushing for an audit of the PA’s finances in order to determine how the authority was brought to this point.

Earlier Thursday, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Fuschillo of Long Island issued a statement saying the leadership of the Port Authority needs to be evaluated given the toll proposal, financial troubles and overtime audit from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Update: U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm goes further, saying he’s “outraged” that Cuomo would seek a toll hike. He doesn’t mention Christie in the statement.

“I am outraged that Governor Cuomo and the PANYNJ have failed to listen to the voices of people of Staten Island and are moving forward with the toll hikes. As I have said from the day the tolls were announced, this toll increase will not just empty the pockets of every hard-working resident of Staten Island, but kill our jobs and businesses. The announcement that the multinational shipping line APL Limited is leaving the New York Container Terminal is proof – and at a time when the terminal has plans to expand and create more high paying jobs on the island. I refuse to let the Port Authority declare Staten Island ‘Closed for Business,’ and will continue to fight this toll hike and every proposed annual increase. Staten Islanders will not be the bailout for the Port Authority’s debt, mismanagement, and overspending. We deserve some relief.”

Koch Robos For Turner (Updated)

Ah, to hear the dulcet tones of Edward I. Koch

The former New York City mayor, who crossed party lines to endorse Republican Bob Turner in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner, recorded a robocall knocking Democrat David Weprin for trying to “scare seniors.”

Here’s the script:

“This is former Mayor Ed Koch.
“I’m calling set the record straight on something.
“David Weprin is making phone calls trying to scare seniors. They’re NONSENSE. Weprin should be ASHAMED of himself.
“Bob Turner is running for Congress to PROTECT your Medicare and Social Security.
“It’s why I ENDORSED BOB TURNER for Congress.
“If anyone tries to scare you with LIES about BOB TURNER, tell ‘em ED KOCH told them to KNOCK IT OFF.
“BOB TURNER is the BEST candidate for senior citizens in this race.
“Don’t believe anything else.
“Send Washington a message: Vote for Bob Turner for congress on September 13th.
Bob Turner is supported by Rudy Giuliani, the Liberal Party and me.”

Update: Here’s a response from the Weprin side on the “lying” statement from Koch.

“In a pathetic attempt to confuse voters, Bob Turner is lying about his plan to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Bob is telling seniors he really doesn’t want to cut Social Security and Medicare, but he thinks they don’t read the newspaper. Brooklyn and Queens voters already rejected Turner once, and he’s giving them even more reasons to send him packing once again.”

The Turner campaign insists the Republican would “protect” Social Security and Medicare. Turner said he would vote no on the controversial budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, which takes a big ax at social services spending.

Ed Koch Scolds David Weprin from Bob Turner for Congress on Vimeo.

DiNapoli Plans Ticket Audit At State Fair

Most politicos come to the annual State Fair in Syracuse to eat meat on a stick, fried dough and shake a few hands.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli apparently goes to the fair to audit.

As the New York State Fair launches a new electronic ticketing program, DiNapoli announced today he would begin an audit of the program to ensure reliable reporting of ticket sales.

The program uses electronic wristbands and bar-coded cards (similar to going to big concert event, I suppose) rather than paper tickets.

“With a million visitors coming through the gates for this historic annual event, we want to make sure this Midway ticketing method is viable,” DiNapoli said. “It’s our job to ensure the fiscal integrity of the New York State Fair.”

The fair starts next Thursday and runs through Sept. 5. And, as a shameless plug reminder, the CapTon team will be at the fair next week for a special on-location show.

On Vacation, But Still Signing Bills

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be taking a little R and R (and fishing for striped bass in the process), but he’s still signing dozens of measures into law.

His office on Thursday released a list of mostly uncontroversial measures he signed into a law on Wednesday, the same day his vacation officially began.

Cuomo is using an “autopen” which electronically produces his signature on the bills.

Among the bills signed this week with Cuomo’s electronic John Hancock is cavalcade of issues that no one really knew were issues, including prohibiting the possession, sale, or transportation of bear gallbladder. No, really.

Other bills signed into law include:

S5137: Authorizes industrial development agencies to finance automobile racing facilities

A2502A: Requires applicants to complete a master’s degree or higher to obtain a license in physical therapy

A6324B: Relates to penalties for sale of alcohol to minors by licensed barbers

Gov. David Paterson famously broke out his autopen signature last year when he line-item vetoed hundreds of lines of legislative spending last year. Paterson made a point of signing a few of those vetoes personally, however.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still out of the office and somewhere in NYS with no public schedule.

He was sufficiently reachable last night to release a joint statement with NJ Gov. Chris Christie in support of what will be one of the biggest Port Authority bridge and tunnel toll hikes in NYS history.

Under the governors’ plan, tolls on the PA Hudson River crossings would rise $1.50 next month for drivers paying with E-ZPass, and then go up 75 cents in each of the following years until 2015, for a total increase of $4.50.

These bumps are lower than what the PA originally sought. Said one NYC lawmaker: “They probably thought they could get away with putting the $4 out there and then they could come and rescue everybody.”

The Staten Island Advance is disappointed with this outcome.

According to Port Authority records, roughly two out of every 100 cars driving over bridges and through tunnels pass through the gateless EZPASS toll lanes without paying, costing the PA $6.8 million in 2010.

Yesterday, Cuomo was fishing for striped bass as he signed a bill to continue the commercial ban on catching the popular fish.

Mayor Bloomberg urged elected officials to put aside politics for the official 9/11 10th anniversary commemoration.

“We’re not going to let anything get in the way of reminding us what happened that day,” Bloomberg said. “It’s much too solemn an event, and I’m sure Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie understand that.”

Tom Golisano is preparing to go to war over the assessment on his vacant Victor mansion yet again – just as he has done every year since 2006.

More >

Cuomo, Christie Agree On PA Toll Hike

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have agreed to a toll hike on Port Authority bridges and tunnels while also calling for an audit of the agency’s $7.2 billion budget, outlining their reasons in a joint letter released this evening.

According to the letter sent to Port Authority Board Chairman Dave Samson and Vice Chairman Stanley Grayson, drivers using E-Z Pass will be hit with a $1.50 hike, bringing the total toll to $9.50 during peak hours. Cash-paying motorists will be dinged for an extra $.50.

Fares for the PATH train would grow to $2, up from $1.75.

In exchange for the toll hike, the two governors will call for an audit of the Port Authority’s finances. The governors write that up to $5 billion in costs savings have already been identified.

The toll hike proposal comes after the authority floated the idea of raising tolls even higher. The original proposal would have raised tolls for E-Z Pass drivers on bridges and tunnels from $8 to $12 and from $8 to $15 for drivers who use cash.

Both Cuomo and Christie write in the letter that they found the steeper toll increases irresponsible. But they write that given the dire financial straights the authority is in, a toll increase in some form is necessary.

“While we do not want to see any toll increase, given the crisis facing the Port Authority and its finances, and the potential safety and economic risks to commuters and businesses, an increase cannot be avoid,” they write. “However, in this economy climate, a toll and fare increase can only go forward if coupled with a stringent audit of the Port Authority practices that led to the fiscal mismanagement that made these increases the only financial solvable solution in the first place.”

The much steeper toll proposal notwithstanding, criticism of the authority has grown in recent days after Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report that found sky-high overtime costs have accrued by employees over the last several years.

Earlier today, Sen. Charles Fuschillo, the Senate Transportation Committee chairman, said he wants Cuomo and Christie to review the PA’s management in the wake of the toll increase, fiscal problems, overtime and the reports of problems plaguing the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

And calling for toll increases must be a bitter pill for both Cuomo and Christie to swallow. Both governors have tried to lay claim to cautious fiscal conservatism. Though they have different styles, they’ve sought to avoid broad-based tax and fee increases like this one.

Governors Letter to PANYNJ