Dec 14th - 4:27 pm
Following reports that pop star Miley Cyrus was caught on video smoking what she insists was not pot but rather the nautral – and legal (in California, anyway) salvia divinorum, Sen. John Flanagan is calling for the Assembly to join the Senate in passing a ban on the hallucinogen right here in New York.
It turns out that Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, has been pushing for such a ban for years and has managed to get it approved in the Senate several times now.
“As someone who is a role model for millions, the video of Miley Cyrus allegedly smoking salvia has made the public more aware of the dangers posed by this legal substance, and I am hopeful that it will inspire the Assembly to join me in fighting to ban its sale in New York State,” Flanagan said in a press release.
“This is a gateway drug that is known to adversely affect people with the possibility of causing long-term damage and we need to get it off the shelves of our community.”
Apparently, interest in this plant has soared since Cyrus’ little smoke fest tape was released. People are reportedly walking into LA head shops and requesting “the stuff Miley was smoking.”
Flanagan noted the National Drug Intelligence Center has indicated the long term effects of smoking what’s commonly known as Diviner’s Sage, Sister Salvia, Ska, Maria Pastora, or simply “salvia,” may be similar to
those produced by other hallucinogens such as LSD, including depression and schizophrenia.
The senator’s bill would subject violators to a $500 civil penalty per violation.
Flanagan has been lobbying for the state to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana products that are being smoked by teenagers as an alternative to marijuana. The fake drug is legally available under a variety of names like K2, Spike 99 and Spice at stores throughout New York.
Dec 14th - 4:09 pm
As the holidays approach and the likelihood of retaining the majority has dwindled to a near-impossibility, Senate Democrats are starting to have hard conversations with members of their central staff.
In other words: The polishing of the resumes has begun in earnest.
“It’s at the point where it’s getting close to the end of the year, and people cannot have a completely uncertain outlook,” a conference source said.
“…So the right thing to do, the respectful thing to do is what’s being done, which is to tell them to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
It strikes me that it’s a little late for these talks, especially since a judge on Nassau County all but handed the majority back to the Republicans with his Dec. 4 ruling that declared Jack Martins the winner over Sen. Craig Johnson. (Johnson is appealing the decision, but most Democrats aren’t holding out much hope).
Resourceful Democratic staffers probably have been quietly circulating their CVs and calling their contacts for some time now, while Republicans who were laid off when the GOP lost the majority two years ago for the first time in four decades are no doubt eagerly anticipating their return to the state payroll.
The Democrats are holding out hope that the Republicans will continue with the more equitable distribution of resources with the minority that they say took place on their watch.
My source noted all senators are starting with the base of $350,000 to run their respective offices now, and while the average difference between majority and minority members was $150,000 to $200,000 under GOP control, it’s now closer to $65,000.
“There were a lot of internal operational changes that if the Republicans choose to keep would give the minority a greater functionality than the Democrats had the previous time they were in the minority,” the source said.
Some members of the Republican conference (Sens. George Maziarz and Tom Libous come to mind, along with Sen. John Bonacic, who’s been pushing for more of a share-and-share-alike approach for while now) have said they had their eyes opened by their brief stint in the minority, and now feel more magnanimous about playing nice – at least where resources are concerned – with their colleagues across the aisle.
Time will tell.
Dec 14th - 3:20 pm
BerlinRosen, arguably New York’s most prominent progressive political consulting shop, announced three new additions to its growing firm. They are:
Andy McDonald will join BerlinRosen as managing director of national issue advocacy practice. McDonald is currently senior communications officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Prior to Pew, he was assistant director of communications at SEIU, where he focued on union’s property services division – including the national Justice for Janitors and security officers’ campaigns — as well as for campaigns with the public services and healthcare divisions and in support of Wall Street reform and immigration reform. McDonald also worked as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s press secretary.
In addition, Dan Levitan and Matt Tepper are joining BerlinRosen’s public affairs and campaigns and elections practice.
Levitan, as I reported earlier this month, is departing his post as spokesman for the Working Families Party, where he has been for the past three-and-half years. He also worked for SEIU (as an organizer) and for CWA, both of which are WFP affiliates.
Tepper managed Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s re-election campaign, in which she handily defeated her Democratic primary challenger, Reshma Saujani.
He also worked as Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s field director during the 2009 campaign and the school outreach director for LEARN NY, which pushed successfully for the reauthorization of mayoral control by the state Legislature.
Tepper worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, starting as a regional field director in the New Hampshire primary and then hop-scotching the country from South Dakota to Pennsylvania to Texas.
Dec 14th - 2:33 pm
It appears Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo will not be following the lead of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who has decided to delay his inauguration to avoid holding the festivities on a Saturday and conflicting with Shabbat.
“We have consulted with Jewish leaders, both political and religious – including Speaker Silver – who have not raised an objection to holding the inauguration on January 1,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto. “We will announce the details of the inauguration at the appropriate time.”
No word yet on whether Silver, who is an Orthodox Jew, would actually attend the inauguration if it’s held on Saturday. (I guess he could if he stays near the Capitol, assuming that’s where it’s held, and then walks over after morning services…although it really would technically be work).
DiNapoli is erring on the side of caution here, which makes sense, since Silver has long been his champion, and was instrumental in landing the former Long Island assemblyman his job after Alan Hevesi resigned.
So far, there has been zero in the way of details about the inauguration, other than the fact that, according to Fred Dicker’s source, the ceremony will be “small,” “austere” and “very economical” in keeping with Cuomo’s fiscally conservative message.
For the sake of comparison, at this time in 2006, we were already well aware of then-Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer’s plan to hold a so-called “people’s inaugural” that was held outdoors for the first time in the state’s history.
Spitzer paid for the celebration, which included a concert featuring James “I’m a Steamroller, Baby” Taylor, with some of the $5.5 million left in his campaign kitty. (Cuomo has just shy of $5 million worth of leftover political cash, but he’s saving it to battle the public employee unions).
At the time, AG-elect Andrew Cuomo joked after learning Spitzer’s inauguration would be held outside that he might show up late to catch the tail end of the speech the then-governor-elect suggested might clock in at 45 minutes.
Dec 14th - 1:36 pm
Now we know why outgoing Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. couldn’t make it to Albany for either the extraordinary session called by Gov. David Paterson and the (failed) NYC OTB session called by Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.
He was too busy writing a report tallying up his many accomplishments over the past two years.
Said report – the first of its kind, according to Espada – includes a “Dear Resident of New York State” letter.
In it, the Bronx Democrat says it has been his “honor to serve” as majority leader over the past two years (he makes no mention of the fact that he won’t be returning, following his defeat in the September primary by Senator-elect Gustavo Rivera).
“While it is impossible to list all of the achievements, it summarizes the highlights of my work on your behalf during 2009-2010,” Espada wrote.
In the report’s executive summary Espada says he and his colleagues “on both sides of the aisle…made history by implementing momentous, unprecedented reform in the New York State Senate.”
“The road was long and difficult at every turn,” Espada continued. “But through a bipartisan effort, rules changes were adopted that strengthened the committee process, increased transparency and disclosure to give the public greater insight into legislative proceedings, and placed term limits on the length of time legislative leaders and committee chairs can serve, among other reform initiatives.”
“Of course, reform never comes easy. But we overcame the obstacles of these unprecedented
tumultuous economic times and strong resistance to change (after all, the status quo had been in
place for over 40 years).”
I believe he’s talking about the 2009 Senate coup here, and, as usual, is continuing to spin that insurrection and the 31-day stalemate that followed as a positive development that somehow improved state government rather than deadlocking it.
I’m not quite sure what else to say about this, other than…happy reading! (It’s worth noting, by the way, that the senator takes credit for everything under the sun, including the “Stop the Sag” campaign, which was unquestionably Sen. Eric Adams’ baby).
UPDATE: A Senate Democratic official said the following: “This document was entirely produced by Senator Espada’s office without the knowledge or involvement of the conference. There are no plans to print this at the taxpayers expense.”
Dec 14th - 1:01 pm
The state Board of Elections has finally certified the results of the Nov. 2 elections and the line dance by the state Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties is now complete, with the Indys faring the worst by falling two steps on the ballot.
The Conservative Party has re-taken Row C, while the WFP, which had long hoped to bump the Conservatives from Row D, has finally succeeded in moving up a rung. The Indys dropped to the WFP’s old slot on Row E.
WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor is, of course, thrilled. However, he’s ever so slightly disappointed in the party’s performance, saying: “Another 16,293 votes and Matt Damon would’ve put on that Yankees cap for us, and that would have been sweet…There’s always next year.”
(If you’re unsure what Cantor’s talking about, click here).
Sen. Chuck Schumer was the WFP’s top vote-getter ever, receiving 183,707 votes, or 4 percent of all votes cast on Election Day.
Schumer joined state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, AG-elect Eric Schneiderman, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in breaking 4 percent of the total statewide vote on the WFP line for the first time, according to WFP spokesman Bryan Collinsworth.
Dec 14th - 12:40 pm
NYCOM members are lobbying Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo for more power over their own destinies, arguing his plan for a 2 percent property tax cap won’t succeed unless its accompanied by other local reforms – from a public sector-wide wage freeze to an overhaul of the pension system.
NYCOM’s Mayoral Task Force on Mandate and Property Tax Relief released a report that basically argues “you can’t cap what you can’t control,” which the organization’s president, Jamestown Mayor Teresi, explained thusly”
“In other words, a property tax cap will certainly fail if it is not preceded bysignificant mandate relief, exclusions for those costs (i.e., pensions and healthi nsurance) that will continue to rise rapidly even after enactment of mandate relief, and maintenance of an equitable state revenue sharing program.”
NYCOM argues its members need to be allowed more leeway in collective bargaining and management of their respective workforces.
That point was also made during a CapTon roundtable discussion last week with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who said they’d like to see the provision of the Taylor Law lifted that prevents them from negotiating pension benefits with local unions.
CapCon’s Rick Karlin has more….and here’s the report:
Dec 14th - 12:21 pm
Perhaps that short-lived long-shot LG run by Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence wasn’t so quixotic after all?
LoHud, Rockland is reporting that St. Lawrence might be up for a job with the incoming Cuomo administration – perhaps as Motor Vehicles commissioner.
Interestingly, that move would have a domino effect that could benefit someone whose name is a blast from the past: Former Assemblyman Ryan Karben, who departed Albany under a cloud (and with a not-so-subtle push from the speaker).
Apparently Karben, who lost his gig as Spring Valley village attorney not so long ago, recently relocated into the district of Ilan Schoeberger, the county legislator who would be poised to move up if St. Lawrence departs.
St. Lawrence, who raised campaign cash for Cuomo, quickly ended his LG run at the Democratic convention in Rye after the news broke that the then-gubernatorial candidate had tapped Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy as his running mate.
(It took another contender, Bill Samuels, a little longer to come around. But he eventually did, deciding instead to focus his efforts on pushing reform and ousting Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. through his New Roosevelt Initiative).
I haven’t managed to reach St. Lawrence, who is apparently out of his office at a meeting, but when asked by a Journal News reporter whether he might soon be heading to Albany, he smiled and replied: “No comment.”
UPDATE: Well, that speculation was short-lived. I just got off the phone with St. Lawrence, and he told me he has not been offered jobs with the state, adding: “I’d tell you if I did.” He has, however, been approached and asked about his interest level in serving.
His response is that he is “absolutely not” leaving his local post, adding: “That’s not my intention; I’m not trying to be coy.”
“I made it very clear to them I want to help the Cuomo administration in any way, but I want to continue to be the supervisor…I have a big town, I have a lot of work to do here. I want to work with the Cuomo administration to help my town.”
Dec 14th - 10:17 am
Governor Paterson has once again issued an executive order in conjunction with vetoing a similar bill. The first one was the controversial decision about hydrofracking. This time, it has to do with archiving state records.
The main purpose of the bill was to declare all documents created by the Executive Chamber as property of the state, and subsequently allow the NYS Archives to collect the documents when one administration left office. Currently, the documents are property of the Governor. Archivist Christine Ward explained the bill to Capital Tonight back in May.
In his veto, Paterson said the bill “did not provide adequate protection for valued, centuries old governmental privileges that are indispensible to ensure unfettered, candid advice.” Which I take to mean he was concerned that some of the private conversations among staff members or through email might be damaging or embarrassing to staff members.
In a press release, Paterson laid out his reasoning for signing an executive order instead.
“Today’s Executive Order will develop a protocol and policies for the preservation of documents and electronic records from the Executive Chamber,” Governor Paterson said. “We must continue with our efforts to increase transparency and accountability to provide all New Yorkers with information about actions taken by their elected officials.”
He goes on to say that “all records of historic and governmental significance will be preserved, published and made publicly accessible.” But, because it is an executive order, Paterson’s successors in the Executive Chamber could rescind the order if they don’t want to release their documents to the archives.
The full release is after the jump.
Dec 14th - 8:24 am
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer has a lot of detractors, but his successor isn’t one of them.
Gov. David Paterson told Don Imus this morning that he thinks the disgraced former governor is “remarkably talented” and it was “unique” that New York “had the chance to have a person who had such a rare combination of skills” serve as its chief executive – if only for a short while.
“He was not afraid of anyone. He was not afraid to mix it up with anyone, and he was brilliantly talented,” Paterson gushed.
There was an awkward moment when Imus asked Paterson how well he had known Spitzer, joking about whether the two had been “double dating,” and then seeming to realize all that comment implied. Paterson flatly replied: “No, actually…and we didn’t date each other, either.”
The governor said he knew Spitzer “pretty well” before the two became running mates, recalling that they had met in 1995 during a radio debate over whether the NYPD should be allowed to keep yearbooks on site to help them identify potential criminals.