What A Gov’t Shutdown Looks Like

Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew released the following memo yesterday late yesterday detailing how the federal government would go about shutting down.

Last night’s talks – the third negotiating session in 24 hours – failed to generate a deal, but President Obama said he told congressional leaders he expected an answer this morning.


Here And Now

Policy fights over contentious issues like financing for abortions and environmental regulations are stalling budget talks in Washington as the midnight shutdown deadline looms.

A shutdown would have a widespread impact, but experts disagree on just how much it might hurt the economy.

For New York, a shutdown would be “disruptive in the short term and damaging in the long term,” according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

“(T)he speed with which Mr. Bloomberg abandoned his education chief underscored what is his most embarrassing reversal yet, and magnified the image of his third term – which was made possible only because he helped overturn a term-limits law – as an episodic drama of debacles large and small,” writes David Halbfinger.

Dumping Black will enable Bloomberg to finally hit the reset button on his third term, says Chris Smith.

But that’s only if he has finally learned his lesson, which two top allies say is “unclear.”

The mayor reportedly struggled with his decision to abandon Black, and huddled with her predecessor, Joel Klein, before doing the deed.

The Post praises Bloomberg for “uncharacteristically” acknowledging his mistake.

“It’s laughable,” said former Staten Island BP Guy Molinari, a onetime Bloomberg supporter. “His numbers are in the toilet. He’s trying to convince people that he’s better than they think he is. It’s outrageous. Only someone with his kind of money can do that.”

The Times chides Bloomberg for picking Black in the first place and calls her replacement, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, a “sensible, solid choice.”

The people who really hated Black seem to be OK with Walcott.

More >

A New Indictment For Kruger, Boyland Et Al

Federal officials today released an 11-count superseding indictment of Sen. Carl Kruger and Assemblyman William Boyland, along with those in what law enforcement has described as “broad-based bribery ring.”

New indictments for lobbyist Richard Lipsky, real estate developer Aaron Malinsky, health care consultant Solomon Kalish, former Chief Executive Officer of Parkway Hospital, Robert Aquino, and Michael Turano, a Manhattan-based gynecologist were also issued.

Kruger, Boyland and the others were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office last month in a bribery scheme that involved allegedly accepting illicit payments in exchange for favors. Kruger himself was accused of accepting cash in exchange for streamlining hospital mergers that allowed him to live a lavish, if not somewhat bizarre, lifestyle.

Those allegedly involved in what U.S. Attorney Preet Bhara said was a wake-up call for Albany on the need for ethics reform were initially charged under a three-county indictment. Under the indictment issued today all eight defendants are now charged in a single indictment.

Kruger and Boyland, both Brooklyn Democrats, are yet to resign their seats. All are due in federal court for an arraignment on April 11. More on the indictment after the jump.

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Silver, Unions, Chime In On Black And Steiner

The unions that represent teachers in New York praised outgoing Commissioner David Steiner’s tenure at the state Department of Education, while the United Federation of Teachers said Cathie Black’s resignation as city schools chancellor offered a chance to “rethink” the system.

First, from the state United Teachers union President Richard Ianuzzi:

“We have a great deal of respect for Commissioner Steiner as an educator and we wish him well. We are confident he will move into a position that is personally and professionally satisfying for him. We trust the state Education Department and Board of Regents will work on a good transition and search process during this very critical time, when the department must make monumental decisions that will impact education in New York state for decades. There must be no break in the state’s efforts to concentrate on the needs of students and the needs of schools. That’s what we will be looking for.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan also complimented Steiner’s 2 years at the department, who he called a “terrific leader.” More >


Some progress, but no deal in the federal budget talks. The congressional leaders will reconvene with President Obama at 7 p.m.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel is fundraising off the threat of a shutdown, blaming the “Tea Party Republicans” who want the Democrats to “surrender to their outrageous demands.”

The DSCC solicited funds for a “Shut Them Down Project.” (The “Republican extremists,” that is).

Rep Jerry Nadler called the House GOP budget “the most radical budget we’ve seen in our lifetimes.”

Earlier this week, ex-NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein downplayed the exodus of top deputies from the Education Department, insisting it could actually benefit his (now former) replacement, Cathie Black.

Dan Collins is looking forward to some peace and quiet under NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott.

Walcott told his new staffers: “You’ll see me in your offices, you’ll see me hanging out. I told some folks already, you guys don’t know what you’re in for. They’re going to have to tie me down, because I’m just going to be all over the place.”

This is all about Bloomberg’s legacy.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner said it was a “bizarre coincidence” that news of his departure broke on the same day as Black resigned.

Rudy Giuliani called a woman who questioned his opposition of an independent investigation of 9/11 “a conspiracy nut” and suggested she seek psychiatric help.

Donald Trump said he has “people” in Hawaii researching the president’s citizenship who “can’t believe what they’re finding.”

Sen. Tim Kennedy is on team sweet corn, and he wants you to be, too.

Sen. Liz Krueger says the budget passed by the Legislature last week was “not the best we could have done.”

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is continuing his criticism of both the budget and the governor.

An April Fool’s joke got Sen. Chuck Schumer in trouble with classic car buffs.

The formerly wayward Bronx Zoo cobra has a name. (Not my first choice).

CGI animated the whole fast food toy/trans fat, salt and smoking ban argument in NYC. Look for the moment when Bloomberg is depicted as throwing the Star of Davis at Colonel Sanders, Jewish Ninja-style. Weird.

Jeffries On The Extender Option Challenge

ICYMI: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries told me during a CapTon interview last night that he could support a legal challenge to the governor’s use of budget extender bills to make policy, but doesn’t believe the Senate GOP’s legal challenge to a law ending so-called prison gerrymandering is the right way to go about that.

“I think there is a legitimate issue in terms of deciding what is the legislative perogative to be a co-equal branch of government in terms of the budget document, which is the most important thing that the governor and the Legislature can do in any given year,” the Brooklyn Democrat said.

“But this lawsuit is not the appropriate vehicle for that challenge for a variety of reasons.”

Jeffries maintained the change in how prisoners are counted for the purposes of redistricting was not done in an extender bill that was forced upon the Legislature as a take-it or leave-it choice, but rather through an Article 7 language bill that was negotiated – albeit after the April 1 deadline – by the governor, the Senate and the Assembly.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver admitted during an interview with WAMC’s Alan Chartock that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s threat of forcing lawmakers to choose between passing his entire budget in an extender bill and shutting down the government did help facilitate this year’s on-time budget – the first in five years.

The speaker also said during a recent interview with our Erin Billups that the executive’s extender power has “not been fully tested” and will likely be challenged in court at some future date.

Steiner Confirms Departure ‘Later This Year’

It’s a big day for education departures. First Cathie Black, and now this…

State Education Commissioner David Steiner just released the following statement confirming his plans to leave the post he has held since July 2009:

“As the end of the school year and the legislative session approaches, I am immensely proud of the reforms we’ve achieved – guiding New York’s successful Race to the Top application, designing a new teacher and school leader evaluation system, reforming teacher preparation and certification and implementing a tough re-setting of our 3-8 tests. ”

“With the anticipated approval of a final teacher evaluation program in the coming months, I have informed Chancellor Tisch and members of the Board of Regents that I intend to leave the State Education Department later this year. Together we will begin to plan for a seamless transition.”

Tisch, who let the cat almost all the way out of the bag during an interview this morning with the Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter, said the following:

“We recruited David because he is one of America’s leading education reform visionaries, and as Commissioner he has delivered – leading New York’s successful Race to the Top application and guiding this department through an amazing array of reforms. ”

“As he approaches the end of his second legislative session and second school year as Commissioner, he has informed me of his desire to return to a role outside of state government where he can continue to champion reform. I know he is weighing a number of exciting options. ”

“In the weeks to come the Board will begin an orderly transition and continue to move forward with our reform agenda.”

Steiner Next To Go

The man who granted embattled former NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black a controversial waiver enabling her to take the job she lost this morning might be following her out the door.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner’s departure is “imminent,” The Post’s Brendan Scott reports. A source with knowledge of Steiner’s plans confirmed for CapTon’s Nick Reisman that Steiner is indeed on the way out the door.

A formal statement is expected later today.

Steiner was confirmed by the Board of Regents in July 2009 to replace outgoing commissioner Richard Mills. Prior to this post, he was the dean of Hunter College. (The governor does not control the selection of the education commissioner – a fact that has long been a thorn in the side of any number of executives).

State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch confirmed during an interview with the Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter this morning that Steiner is “exploring his options,” but hastened to add: “I think no decision has been made.”

Tisch praised Steiner, saying: “He put together a brilliant application for Race to the Top and created an extraordinary vision for educational reform … But, as I said, no decision has been made.”

Steiner was roundly criticized for heeding Mayor Bloomberg’s request to grant Black a waiver to run the nation’s largest public school system even though she had no experience as an educator. (That decision was challenged and upheld in court).

As a compromise, Bloomberg agreed to install a chief academic officer as Black’s No. 2 who will be staying on when Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott takes the helm.

Walcott also needs a waiver. He attended public school, has taught kindergarten and holds a masters degree in education, but lacks the required certification as a school administrator. Bloomberg said today that he expects Walcott to receive the waiver in short order.

What A Shutdown Would Mean For NY

With a federal government shutdown looking increasingly likely, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has outlined what impact that might have in both the long and short terms here in New York.

Congressional leaders and members of the Obama administration remain at odds in their budget battle, and lawmakers have now moved on to a debate over whether they should get paid if they fail to reach a deal (which some 800,000 civil services employees will not) – never a good sign.

Some of what DiNapoli lays out here is fairly obvious – about 126,000 full and part-time federal employees work in New York, and some $687 million in federal cash were used to partially or fully fund state emplloyees.

Less obvious is a potential cash flow crunch when the state is not able to draw down cash for federally-funded programs and projects. Not good at a time when we’re already facing a fiscal crisis here at home.


In Bid For Peace, Farm Bureau Holds Veggie Vote

As close followers of state politics are aware, the contentious, passionate debate over designating an official state vegetable blew up this week, with even Gov. Andrew Cuomo being forced to weigh in on the matter.

Though the governor declined to give his preference, the Farm Bureau has stepped in to make the decision easier for New York officials caught between the onion and the sweet corn.

The Farm Bureau, which is the state’s largest agriculture lobby, is holding a vote on the issue via a Facebook page.

“Picking an official vegetable is a tough choice,” said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, in a statement. “As we do with all of our Farm Bureau policy positions, we are soliciting a consensus opinion from our members, and others interested in agriculture throughout New York.”

Democratic Sen. David Carlucci is backing the onion, while Sen. Michael Nozzolio, a Republican, is in favor of sweet corn.

Possibly throwing a monkey wrench into this debate, however, is the bureau’s suggestion of the pumpkin (quick aside: isn’t that gourd?)

From the bureau:

New York should also be considering the pumpkin as an official vegetable since it ranks first in the nation in crop value, according to the statistics service.

Pumpkins showed a value of $35.1 million last year, first in the nation. There were 6,800 acres harvested. Value of production in 2010 increased 61 percent from 2009.