The WFP’s Big Quarter (Updated)

NYPIRG’s spreadsheet king Bill Mahoney released this little number earlier today. It lists all the committees that have so far filed Jan. 15 financial reports with the state Board of Elections.

UPDATE: Apparently, a glitch in the BoE’s software caused every number in the WFP’s filing to report twice. So I asked Mahoney to re-calculate the numbers, and the labor-backed party is NOT the top filer, but rather the third-highest.

The WFP’s filing has been updated on the BoE’s Website. The party raised $1.06 million, spent $1.03 million and has $290,793 on hand.

Not surprisingly, the WFP’s biggest donors are unions, including CWA (co-chair Bob Master is the political director), SEIU/1199 and NYSUT’s political arm, Vote/Cope.

The party still owes $107,635 to two law firms – Skadden Arps and Levy Ratner – dating back to its legal troubles in 2009.

The WFP announced back in August 2009 that the US attorney’s office had cleared it of any wrongdoing in a probe of the party’s for-profit arm, Data and Field Services.

That announcement cleared the way for then-AG/gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo to agree to run on the WFP line, but he made the party sign off on his “New NY Agenda” before he accepted its endorsement. Cuomo won sufficient votes on the line, compared to other minor parties, to bump the WFP from Row E to Row D.

Jan 11 Filers

PEF: Massive Layoffs Would ‘Cripple’ State Services

The Public Employees Federation, New York’s second-largest state workers union, is weighing in on this morning’s reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is thinking of following in his father’s footsteps and seeking a massive reduction in the state workforce in his first executive budget.

In a prepared statement, PEF President Kenneth Brynien said he has received “no formal notification” regarding any proposed layoffs.

He warned that slashing the public payroll by 10,000 to 15,000 positions would not only “cripple the delivery of essential services,” but would also likely have the opposite effect of a key Cuomo initiative: Growing the state’s economy.

“We all understand the state’s fiscal crisis and the need to find solutions,” Brynien said.

“But any suggestion of reducing the state workforce by 10,000 to 15,000 would not only cripple the delivery of essential services, it would have a chilling effect on the state’s economy and undermine the state’s fragile recovery. We should all be working together to create jobs, not more layoffs.”

Brynien said the state suffers from both a spending problem AND a revenue problem, and suggested the union would soon be presenting the governor with its ideas about how to address both of those issues.

CSEA, the largest public employees union, declined to comment when contacted by the NY Times yesterday. Union spokesman Steve Madarasz said:

“We’re not going to respond to speculation at this point. When he has a proposal to make, we’ll respond to it appropriately. Abstract numbers without any context don’t tell us very much.”

Cuomo has made it quite clear since the campaign that he wants the public sector unions to be “part of the solution,” which to him basically means that they agree to concessions or suffer the consequences.

Both CSEA and PEF are poised to enter contract negotiations this spring with the Cuomo administration. The governor has said he intends to be personally involved in that process.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is weighing plans to lay off 10,000 to 12,000 – or maybe even 15,000 (depending on which newspaper report you believe) state workers. The last governor to order that many pink slips: Mario Cuomo.

On the chopping block: Clerical workers, state troopers and park rangers. A workforce reduction that large would undoubtedly cause a noticeable reduction in government services.

The governor’s breakfast with Assembly Democrats at the executive mansion turned heated as lawmakers took on the governor for abandoning his progressive roots and tangled with him over the millionaire’s tax.

The challenge to Cuomo came from Assembly members Catherine Nolan, Rory Lancman and Barbara Clark, all of Queens.

Cuomo will continue his post-State of the State tour with a speech at Marist College in Poughkeepsie this morning.

The budget deficit has ballooned to $11 billion, according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long plans to launch a campaign that will include robocalls, mailings, emails, a postcard drive and radio and TV ads in support of Cuomo’s agenda.

Cuomo praised Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address, saying he “rightly recognizes that government has to do more with less and that during these difficult times, tough choices and sacrifice are required.”

Bloomberg narrowed his focus in the speech, with little talk of national politics.

Bloomberg’s 2011 Albany agenda includes pension reform.

More >


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will likely leave the hospital Friday and move into a Texas rehabilitation center.

Top aides have departed the NYC Central Labor Council to protest Jack Ahern’s leadership.

Hillary Clinton hasn’t committed yet to serving a second term as secretary of state.

Sen. Lee Zeldin saw his first bill pass in the upper house – with a super-majority.

The Senate GOP approved business tax cuts and spending limits that go beyond what Cuomo has proposed.

Deposed RNC Chairman Michael Steele likened himself to Caesar.

Rep. Anthony Weiner during today’s health care law repeal debate: “I just want to advise people watching at home, playing that now-popular drinking game of ‘you take a shot whenever the Republicans say something that’s not true’: Please assign a designated driver. This is going to be a long afternoon.”

Living wage advocates weighed in on Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address.

Tier VI may be on the horizon.

“We’re looking at different things that we can do with Triborough – maybe freeze it, suspend it,” said Larry Schwartz. “Maybe there’s something for the next two or three years it can be done and revert back. We have to be at least willing to discuss them.”

The governor’s Mandate Relief Task Force has a Website.

The Authorities Budget Office released a highly critical report on the Genesee County IDA.

“We, at last, after 34 flaky years, have a great senator in district who will make us proud,” former Bronx BP Freddy Ferrer said of Sen. Gustavo Rivera.

Bloomberg will weigh in “from time to time” on Bloomberg LP editorials.

Cuomo served the Senate Republicans sliders at the executive mansion.

Here’s the NYLCV’s 2011 policy agenda.

Marcia vs. Mike, place your bets now. (I’m going with the former).

Senate Staffing Cuts Update

Not surprisingly, the Senate Republicans didn’t take kindly to Minority Leader John Sampson’s suggestion on CapTon last night that the multimillion-dollar administrative spending deficit that occurred on his watch was due to the Democrats’ desire to treat their colleagues across the aisle better than they had been treated.

“Despite Senator Sampson’s assertions, the $10-$14 million Senate budget deficit was not caused by Democrat generosity toward Republicans, it was purely a result of their chronic overspending,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif.

“Breaking their commitment to allocate resources in a more equitable way and overspending their own budget by millions of dollars was not being generous, it was the height of fiscal irresponsibility. ”

“Sadly, it’s what New Yorkers had come to expect from the Democrats’ failed two-year experiment running the State Senate, and it’s why we are taking immediate steps to close the deficit and protect taxpayers.”

The two conferences agreed on the following staff allocations following the 2009 Senate coup and 31-day stalemate: $27.8 million, Democrats; $22.5 million, Republicans.

The Democrats were on track to blow that budget by a mile, clocking in at $41 million, while the Republicans were under budget at $18.5 million.

Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran disputed the GOP’s take on this situation, sending the following statement:

“We’ve made significant payroll reductions to bring spending down to appropriate levels. Further reductions are ongoing and greatly depend on whether the Republicans will be as fair with the resources as we were in the majority so all members can serve their constituents equally.”

As of yesterday, the Senate Democrats have terminated 130 staffers, reducing the payroll from just over $40 million to approximately $27 million.

(That number seems on the low side because it does not include the former staff of members who are no longer in the Senate or those who voluntarily resigned).

Sampson: We’ve Cut Our Way Out Of $10M Deficit

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson told me on CapTon last night that he has taken the new “do more with less” approach in the Capitol to heart and imposed drastic cuts to bring central spending back into line to avoid saddling the GOP with a massive operating deficit.

Sampson reiterated the claim that the Democrats were a “victime of our own generosity,” which doesn’t, as you might expect actually mean that they overloaded their central staff payroll and perhaps allowed members to spend too much on districts offices.

No, what Sampson means is, essentially, that the Democrats were too nice to the GOP, too anxious to share resources and not treat their newfound minority colleagues the way they were treated, ‘lo those many years.

“We did not do business the way it was done before,” Sampson said. “We wanted to change the atmosphere with respect to the rules changes that were implemented in 2009. But you know, the buck stops with me. There wsa overspending we’re correcting it.”

Sampson said the Democrats have reducing their spending from $41 million to $26 million over the past eight weeks (basically, since it became clear that they had lost the majority).

And how did that happen? Well, as CapConf reported yesterday, by laying off hundreds of staffers, effective today. Sampson characterized that as a function of any transition, or, as he put it, “a natural progression,” which is true – but only up to a point.

I asked the leader if he thought he might have been able to avoid firing so many people had he been less generous back when he was majority leader. “Not at all,” he insisted.

Bloomberg’s Groundhog Humor

Mayor Bloomberg really is going out of his way to try to make himself seem warm and fuzzy.

The mayor opened his State of the City address with this video from one of Staten Island’s more recognizable, and, apparently, “most celebrated” denizens – Charles G. Hogg (AKA: “Staten Island Chuck”).

Chuck is, of course, the groundhog who experiened 15 minutes of fame back in 2009 when he rather unceremoniously bit the mayor’s gloved finger while Bloomberg was trying to lure the skittish creature out of his home for a Groundhog’s Day event.

In the video, Chuck calls the mayor “my good friend,” and then references the ’09 incident thusly: “You know, yes he is my good friend. Cut that out. I know what you’re talking about. He’s my good friend.”

Koch’s New Quest: Pension Reform

Mayor Bloomberg just announced during his State of the City address that pension reform will be his “number one priority in Albany” this year – a lobbying effort that will be led by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

Bloomberg noted the octogenarian Manhattanite led a crusade to reform Albany last fall, successfully convincing statewide and legislative candidates on both sides of the aisle to sign on to the trio of pledges pushed by his NY Uprising PAC.

(Of course, now the Senate Republicans appear to be balking on the independent redistricting piece of that, but Koch insists he plans to hold everyone’s feet to the fire on that).

“This year Ed will expand his crusade,” Bloomberg said. “And if you know Ed, he won’t do it quietly. Thank you, Ed.”

“Working with Ed and our partners in state government will be work to pass several basic reforms to bring our pension systems into the 21st Century.”

Koch released the following statement:

“There’s no question that adding a plank to the reform effort makes our job that much harder. But I didn’t jump back into the morass of state politics because I saw an easy victory.”

“I did it because I see that our government is failing, and we have a once-in-a-generation chance to fix it. With stakes like these, we better get it right – and we won’t get it right unless we enact meaningful pension reform.”

More >

Bloomberg’s State Of The City

Here’s Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address, as prepared for delivery, which he is giving this afternoon at Staten Island’s St. George Theatre.

The upshot: The state of the city is “strong,” according to the mayor, who is struggling to come come back from several trouble-filled months, but the administration is facing tough choices.

Bloomberg has pledged to “grow our way” out of the ongoing fiscal mess. He also reiterated his “no new taxes” pledge. This is much the same “do more with less” message that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been giving. It’s all the rage these days with elected officials all over the nation.

20-11 (State of the City)

Schneiderman’s Gives Bonuses, Owes Himself

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t the only victorious statewide Democratic candidate to dole out post-campaign bonuses at the end of 2010.

AG Eric Schneiderman also rewarded members of his campaign team following his long slog to succeed Cuomo as New York’s top attorney.

The former Manhattan Democrat, who won a five-way primary last September (not, it should be noted, as Cuomo’s preferred candidate) and went on to defeat GOP Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in the general election, handed out just over $39,000 worth of bonuses to nine campaign aides.

The top bonus of $6,379 went to Christina Harvey, who has worked for Schneiderman since 2003. She was his chief of staff in the Senate and then executive direcor of his AG transition committee. She’s now director of operations in the AG’s office.

Schneiderman’s campaign manager Emily Arsenault received $6,015. His spokesman, James Freedland, another Senate-to-campaign-to-AG’s office transplant, got $4,509.

Another notable bonus: $819 to Rachel Kagan, the niece of US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who also happened to be at the wheel during Schneiderman’s fedner-bender outside NY1 back in July.

The Schneiderman bonuses are quite modest in comparison to the high five-figure rewards Cuomo lavished on a handful of top staffers, most of whom are now working for him on the second floor of the Capitol. All told, Cuomo handed out $401,500 worth of bonuses.

Schneiderman and his fellow statewide official, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, followed Cuomo’s lead in taking a 5 percent pay cut earlier this month.

The AG also owes himself $550,000, according to his filing. He has $131,862 on hand. He raised $132,100 and spent $282,582.

Also interesting: Some $34,058 worth of spending in Schneiderman’s report appears to have paid for his public swearing in at CCNY. The bulk of that – $20,792 – went for catering services. There’s also a $1,478 expenditure for elevator repair. Weird.