Memo: Layoff Threat Remains For Professors, Correction Officers Unions

In a memo lauding CSEA workers for approving their labor agreement, State Director of Operations Howard Glaser buries the lead when he says members of the NYSCOPBA and UUP have been “slow to engage” in negotiations for their contracts.

Glaser writes to department heads that the unions representing corrections officers and public university professors that it may prove impossible to avoid layoffs in those bargaining units.

“We will be providing further instruction regarding reductions in affected agencies with these units in the coming days,” Glaser writes.

The Public Employees Federation, a union of white-collar state workers, will vote on its contract by September. The union’s leadership, like CSEA, agreed to givebacks in its contract, including pay freezes and furloughs.

The memo from Glaser today could simply be an effort to spur UUP and NYSCOPBA into action. Correction officers have been particularly concerned with the plan to close state prison facilities, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced last month would impact communities across the state.

Glaser Memo

Park51 Developer Blasts Turner

Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the controversial Park51 project, knocked Republican House candidate Bob Turner for using the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” as an issue in the special election.

Gamal, interviewed on NY1′s Inside City Hall last night, said Turner’s re-airing of the issue is “pathetic.”

“Today a politician is entering a race with a misleading ad. We are not building a Ground Zero mosque. This is a man who wants to become a leader in a district? That’s pathetic,” Gamal said.

The Park51 issue morphed into a heated debate last summer, which intensified in the glare of 2010 campaign season.

“We’ve been dealing with a PR crisis for the last 12 months and our goal was we needed to get the facts out about what we were doing,” Gamal said.

Turner, a businessman, used his first television ad to criticize his Democratic opponent, Assemblyman David Weprin, for supporting the project being built near the World Trade Center site.

The Turner campaign has kept the pressure on Weprin, releasing a statement this morning in reaction to the news that the project applied to receive a $5 million federal grant.

Turner Spox Knocks Old Foe

It’s feeling a lot like 2010!

Republican political consultant Bill O’Reilly zeroed in today on Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s endorsement of David Weprin, knocking the Democrat as a “career politician,” and dusted off a few talking point attacks against his 2010 foe.

While this is a different campaign, it is in many ways old hat for O’Reilly. He ran Republican Harry Wilson’s failed comptroller bid last year. Wilson, the architect of the federal auto bailout, lost narrowly to DiNapoli.

But the campaign was lauded for its strong messaging and placing a close second in a state that’s becoming increasingly difficult for Republicans to win.

“Career politician Tom DiNapoli (D) says we need career politician David Weprin’s ‘financial and budgeting experience’ in Washington. Exactly what experience is he referring to – career politician Weprin’s Slush Fund Scandal in the City Council that he purports to know nothing about? His support of the biggest property tax hike in New York City history? Or his years of overspending that have killed job creation and business development in New York State to the point where we rank dead last among the states in business friendliness. The last thing – the absolute last thing — New York needs is another career politician in Congress.”

Steve Cohen: Air Cuomo Story Overreached

Steve Cohen, the former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, knocked the Associated Press stories about the governor’s state aircraft usage in a Talk 1300 radio interview today, calling the pieces misleading.

“I respect the reporters generally and the fact they ask hard questions, that’s their job,” Cohen told Fred Dicker in an interview this morning. “What I found curious about this is, if not frustrating, is there’s a broader context here. What is going on is not just a qualitative difference. The stories are just wrong, Fred.”

The AP — as LCA reporters have done for previous governors — filed a Freedom of Information Law request to take a look at Cuomo’s aircraft usage since taking office. The governor has used the aircraft with less frequency than his predecessors and the cost has been estimated to be only about $13,000.

The Times Union also came out with a piece Monday, calling attention to the heavily redacted documents, a rather odd move for an administration that has pledged unprecedented transparency. As Liz pointed out earlier this week, it’s also surprising that the Cuomo administration mishandled what has become a routine request.

Still, Cohen says the fact remains that Cuomo didn’t violate state law, nor did his use fall under the ill-defined “private gain” rule for aircraft usage.

“On that handful of occasions, he returned to his legal residence. It’s August, people are looking to write things,” he said. “This was one where the story overreached. And not just overreached, but confusing to misleading to the public at large.”

The AP stories did note that Cuomo had not violate the law and that the aircraft usage was low compared to previous state executives. However, the private gain definition remains murky at best, good-government advocates say.

Bad News In July Cash Report

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office sounded a strong note of caution in the July cash report released today, saying the state’s sagging economy is at the mercy of a confluence of factors.

Cash is up slightly from this time last year, but between the Wall Street roller coaster, sustained unemployment and Washington dysfunction, New York can’t seem to gain ground, DiNapoli found.

“New York’s recovering economy is struggling to reach cruising altitude, and the turbulence from volatile financial markets, a lackluster job market, a struggling housing sector, and political brinksmanship in Washington is creating additional drag,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Each of these factors could impact results through the remainder of the fiscal year. We have to remain vigilant to keep our finances on track. Our fiscal margins are very tight, and we could go off course very quickly.”

The report found the state ended the month with just $9.4 million higher in the bank than initially projected. All told, the state has $1.9 billion on hand in the general fund. Meanwhile, receipts in the general fund were $61.5 million below estimates and disbursements were $70.8 million below plan.

If anything, the report throws cold water on the hope among some lawmakers who had proposed the state use an extra $899 million to allow businesses avoid a steep unemployment insurance fee. Both DiNapoli and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ruled that idea out, saying the state is not out of the fiscal woods yet.

July 11

DiNapoli Latest Dem To Back Weprin (Updated)

The parade of Democratic officials backing the party’s nominee in NY-9, David Weprin, continues. Today it is Comptroller Tom DiNapoli who praised Weprin’s for his private sector financial experience while throwing his support behind him.

“With our nation facing some of the greatest fiscal challenges in a generation, we need David Weprin’s financial and budgeting experience in Congress,” said DiNapoli. “I know David Weprin and I trust David Weprin. He is ready to make the tough decisions it will take to keep our fiscal house in order while protecting critical programs like Medicare.”

The press release goes on to highlight Weprin’s time as the chair of the NYC Council’s finance committee, touting his successful balancing of the budget for 8 straight years without “cuts to vital services”.

Update:

Turner’s campaign just fired off this response to DiNapoli’s endorsement. It comes from campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly.

“Career politician Tom DiNapoli says we need career politician David Weprin’s ‘financial and budgeting experience’ in Washington. Exactly what experience is he referring to – career politician Weprin’s Slush Fund Scandal in the City Council that he purports to know nothing about? His support of the biggest property tax hike in New York City history? Or his years of overspending that have killed job creation and business development in New York State to the point where we rank dead last among the states in business friendliness. The last thing – the absolute last thing — New York needs is another career politician in Congress.”

Weprin Wraps Turner On Pie, Turner Continues Park51 Push

Democratic congressional candidate David Weprin knocked his Republican opponent Bob Turner today for proposing what he says will be deep cuts to Medicare.

The Weprin campaign is pointing to an opinion piece in The National Review Online in which Turner proposes slashing federal spending by 30 or 35 percent. Weprin’s campaign says that could only mean a deep cut to the popular health-care program for the poor.

“Bob Turner’s Tea Party-inspired budget plan gives the one-two punch to Medicare,” said Weprin campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr. “No matter how you slice it, Turner’s either lying to voters or he plans to cut Medicare. No one who lives in budget reality is coming to his Tea Party.”

Turner, meanwhile, is keeping the pressure on Weprin over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” — a Muslim community center being built near the World Trade Center site.

The Turner folks are calling attention to this story in The Daily Beast, which reported that the group behind Park51 is seeking a $5 million federal grant to complete the delayed and controversial project. Turner’s first television ad revived the debate over Park51, which engulfed campaigns last summer.

“Not one penny of taxpayer money should be spent building that Mosque,” Turner said in a statement. “It is bad enough that its developer insists on building on that site, but now he wants the taxpayers to pay for it. It is the height of outrageousness, and I will do everything I can in Congress to stop it.”

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester with no public schedule.

Mayor Bloomberg joins Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas to make an announcement at the Central Park Conservancy at 12:30 p.m. and then plays mini-golf with the Space Shuttle Atlantis crew at 2:30 p.m. in Queens.

A bad poll for Bloomberg, but he’s still held in higher esteem than many elected officials around the country.

Cuomo and NJ Gov. Chris Christie are seeking changes to the 9/11 10th anniversary ceremony so they can have larger speaking roles, and, in the case of NY’s governor, more control.

An idea floated during backroom PA bridge/tunnel toll negotiations: Letting motorists pay slightly less while trucks take it on the chin.

Mitchell Moss says a toll hike is necessary – albeit bad-tasting – medicine.

The Orthodox paper Hamodia writes glowingly of NY-9 GOP candidate Bob Turner and says Democrat David Weprin is losing Jewish support because of his “yes” vote on gay marriage.

Following the CSEA’s contract vote, Cuomo cast himself as the anti-Scott Walker.

A “big win” for Cuomo, says Dan Janison.

The focus now turns to PEF, whose members must ratify its 5-year contract deal with Cuomo, and smaller unions that are still in negotiations.

Difficult times lie ahead for Cuomo and CSEA.

More >

IP Neighbors: Keep Nuke Plant Open

Nearly half of the residents who live near the controversial Indian Point nuclear plant oppose a plan to close the aging facility, a NY1/YNN Marist College poll found.

The poll found 49 percent of adults living near the facility are at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vow to close the Westchester County facility.

Forty percent of Hudson Valley residents say they back closing the nuclear plant, while 11 percent remain unsure.

“After all these years, this remains a highly charged issue,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Governor Cuomo still has some convincing to do.”

Indian Point became a renwed issue of concern after a Japanese power plant was heavily damaged by a Tsunami. The facility does rest on a fault line, but the facility’s owners, Entergy, have insisted the plant remains secure in the event of an earthquake.

Overall, 48 percent of New York residents told Marist College want to keep the plan open and 42 percent of New Yorkers support closing it. Fifty-two percent of New Yorkers say they support nuclear power, while 36 oppose.

Cuomo hopes that with the long-sought approval of the Article X power-plant siting law, New York can begin to build new power plants and take Indian Point offline. The plant is the predominant supplier of power for New York City, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said closing the plant would lead to higher energy bills and blackouts.

The Marist poll also found divergent attitudes on another hotly debated energy issue: hydraulic fracturing.

The natural-gas extraction process known commonly as hydrofracking, has the supprot of 37 percent of respondents and 33 percent oppose. A large amount of New Yorkers — 30 percent — say they haven’t made up their minds. More >

Lawmakers: What’s Next For LGBT Community?

Now that same-sex marriage has taken effect in New York, more than a dozen lawmakers and elected officials are holding a forum tonight on the future of the LGBT community’s political obstacles.

“After ‘I Do’: What’s Next for LGBT New Yorkers?” starts at 6:30, and folks not at Manhattan Commuinity College can follow the action with this Livestream embed below. The forum features Sen. Dan Squadron, along with Sen. Tom Duane, the openly gay state lawmaker who was instrumental in passing the marriage bill in the Republican-controleled chamber.

The forum features U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand as a special guest.

Watch live streaming video from senatordanielsquadron at livestream.com