Cuomo Reiterates Veto Threat On Redistricting

Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeated his promise to veto legislative boundaries not drawn by an independent commission despite lawmakers today signaling that there’s no time to get the commission in place by the 2012 elections.

“My position is crystal clear, it has been for a long time,” Cuomo said at a property-tax cap signing event in Geddes outside of Syracuse. “I said during the campaign, when I was first running, that we have to stop the gerrymandering and that I support an independent commission so we have a non-partisan redistricting plan. That’s what this has been all about from day one and it’s something I’m going to pursue.”

Earlier today, Assemblyman Jack McEneny said it would be “petty” and “dumb” for Cuomo to veto lines because they aren’t drawn his preferred way. He also said the Democratic governor should wait to see the final boundaries before immediately judging them flawed.

Cuomo, however, said the process commonly referred to as gerrymandering, which involves drawing a jigsaw puzzle of lines in order to keep incumbent parties in power, needs to end.

“The position I took is the position of the people of the state of New York support. To the extent that the assemblyman has some unkind words to say about it, I would disagree, but I will leave that for the assemblyman,” Cuomo said.

He also took a swipe at McEneny, saying the Albany Democrat would prefer to keep his district more or less in tact.

“I will veto a plan that is not independent or a plan that is partisan. I’ve said that all along. That’s what the people of the state of New York overwhelmingly support. I understand the assemblyman’s point that he wants to draw his own lines. And everyone, you know, wants to draw their own lines defining their districts. I want to have lines drawn that represent the people of the state of New York,” Cuomo said.

New lines must be redrawn every 10 years based on fresh Census data. If Cuomo does veto the lines, they would need to be drawn by the courts.

WNY ‘Intrigue’

ICYMI: Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who was once a contender for the Erie County clerk’s job vacated by now-Rep. Kathy Hochul, told me he decieded against seeking the post because the shuffling of local Democrats – including the departure of ex-Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, has provided him an opening to gain power and seniority in his current role.

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Maria Whyte announced last week that she’ll be seeking Hochul’s old job. The Republicans are backing Christopher Jacobs.

Whyte’s annointment by the Erie County Dems is actually part of a peace brokered by state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King among the notoriously fractious local party players.

I asked Gabryszak if the reason the Cuomo camp is so interested in WNY might be to present a united front in hopes of knocking GOP County Executive Chris Collins from his perch, thereby preventing him from mounting another statewide bid in 2014, and he replied:

“I’m not privy to that part of the conversation, but you know, quite honestly, looking at it from the political standpoint, you could see the reasoning behind that.”

“…You have (Comptroller) Mark Poloncarz who’s running for re-election. Any time you go against an incumbent, it’s definitely not the easiest thing to do. Mark has a message that he has to get out there. The Democratic Party has a message they want to take to the people. County Executive Collins has a record over the past four years he’s going to run on.”

“So, I’m sure there’s some looking down the road in terms of the next governor’s race. As you said, Chris Collins has toyed with the idea in the past, and that’s not to say he wouldn’t have aspirations again in the future. So, from the political standpoint, I’m sure there’s some of that intrigue involved in this race.”

Spitzer’s ‘In The Arena’ Axed

The NYT reports that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s CNN show, “In the Arena,” has been axed by the network and will be replaced by Anderson Cooper’s “AC360.”

According to an internal memo from the executive in charge of CNN/U.S., Ken Jautz, the channel is “in discussions with (Spitzer) about an alternative role.” But Spitzer’s own statement, obtained by NY1 and CapTon, seems to cast doubt on that, as it’s decidedly past tense.

“We engaged serious people in conversations about national and global issues in a way that was informative and challenging,” Spitzer said.

“I believe that we provided diverse and valuable perspectives during the show’s tenure. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNN.”

The former governor’s show, which debuted as “Parker Spitzer,” went through a revamp after the February departure of his onetime co-host, Kathleen Parker. But that did nothing to improve its ratings.

Spitzer has repeatedly expressed a longing to return to politics, and his name has been floated as a potential candidate in the 2013 NYC mayor’s race.

Public opinion polls have consistently indicated that New Yorkers aren’t yet ready to see Spitzer return to the public (ahem) arena, yet that hasn’t stopped the former governor from refusing to give, in his own words, a “Shermanesque” rejection of the idea that he might run for another executive post.

At least now he has time to campaign….Paging Dick Grasso!

Two Down, Five To Go (Updated)

Michael Simanowitz, the longtime chief of staff to retired Queens Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn, wasted no time in formally announcing his special election bid for her seat in the 27th AD after receiving the nod from his fellow Democrats earlier today.

The Queens Dems tapped Simanowitz, whose press release appears below; and Phillip Goldfeder, an aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer and former aide to Mayor Bloomberg, to run for the 23rd AD seat vacated by former Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, who departed to take the Queens County clerk job.

Simanowitz was the frontrunner for his former boss’ seat, but Goldfeder’s selection was not a foregone conclusion, I’m told. When I spoke to Pheffer back in April, she indicated she would likely support her chief of staff, JoAnn Shapiro, to replace her. At the time, I was also told that a GOP district leader, Jane Deacy, was also interested in the job.

A reader familiar with the GOP vote in Queens indicates that NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich’s surprise decision (announced on NY1 last night) not to run for former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in NY-9 is helpful to Goldfeder, because Ulrich would likely have drawn a lot of right-leaning voters in the 23rd AD.

“Ulrich was playing kingmaker in that area before the Weiner stuff hit the fan. If Ulrich was preoccupied with (the) congressional seat, he wouldn’t have time to put the effort in for (Goldfeder’s) opponent. Now that he’s not running – and probably won’t care who does – he can focus on beating Phil. Ulrich wants his own fiefdom out there.”

The Queens Democrats have not yet made a decision about who will run for Weiner’s seat in the Sept. 13 special election. Brooklyn Democratic Chairman Vito Lopez and Queens Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley were expected to talk today about their preferred candidate.

More >

Let The Redistricting Fracas Begin

Vetoing legislative lines drawn by lawmakers would be a “dumb reason” and a “petty approach” by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Jack McEneny charged today, following the first meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.

McEneny, an Albany Democrat, said Cuomo should judge the quality of the lines drawn by the commission and not veto them solely because he deemed the process non-independent.

“That would be a dumb reason to veto it. He should judge it on the quality of the product,” said McEneny, the Democrartic co-chairman on the committee.

He added:

“I think if the governor judges the final product I hope he will judge it on how it was done and whether it serves the people and not who the person was who held the pencil to draw the line,” he said. “I think that would be a very petty approach.”

The commission known as LATFOR held its first hearing in Albany today, with a dozen more planned around the state including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Westchester, Binghamton, Buffalo and the New York City boroughs.

Cuomo has vowed to veto lines drawn by the Legislature and has pushed for an independent commission to redraw the boundaries, which must be done every 10 years based on new Census data. Government reform groups decry the traditional process of redrawing state and federal office boundaries that often keeps incumbents protected from shifting demographics.

Earlier today, the good-government group Citizens Union urged that a special session be called this year in order to create the indpendent panel.

That suggestion was rejected by Sen. Micahel Nozzolio, who said lawmakers are under a tight schedule to get the lines in place in time for the 2012 elections.

“We’ve long since run out of time for that process to unfold,” Nozzolio said.

“We believe there will be a bipartisan redistricting process established. We look towards establishing the most open and transparent process possible with using available technology to expand citizen participation. We think that is certainly the step in the right direction.”

He pointed to the earlier New York primary dates schedule for 2012 and the deadlines set by the U.S. Justice Department.

“The process timewise is compacted,” he said. “We’re under the gun here in terms of timing.”

Hanging over the process is the law approved last year that requires prisoners be counted as residents of their last known address, not where they are currently incarcerated.

Some Senate Republicans, whose large upstate contingent stands the most to lose under the law because many prisons are found in their districts, are suing to overturn the measure that was approved when Democrats were in charge of the chamber.

DiNapoli Revokes SUNY ‘Quick Pay’ Privileges

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli is calling for more scrutiny of how SUNY spends its money following the Administrations decision to award a $270k consultant contract to the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP. The contract was to study the relationship between the SUNY Research Foundation and the college campuses.

DiNapoli says SUNY didn’t open up the contract to a competitive bidding process, and therefore didn’t comply to current state laws.

“New York’s procurement laws exist to make sure taxpayers get the most for their money,” DiNapoli said. “SUNY circumvented those laws at the same time it was lobbying for greater procurement flexibility. My office will put SUNY’s future payment requests under an even sharper microscope to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“This procurement produced a good report that will help SUNY repair some serious problems. But the end product doesn’t justify the means. SUNY went down the wrong road on this procurement.”

The comptroller’s office has now revoked the SUNY Administration’s “Quick Pay Voucher” privileges until they put into place better internal controls.

A spokesman for SUNY says they are now reviewing the Comptroller’s actions, and don’t have an immediate comment.

Goo-Goos To Lawmakers: Get Redistricting Done

As the joint Senate-Assembly commission on redistricting gets underway this morning, the good-government group Citizens Union is urging lawmakers to adopt an independent body to redraw boundaries state and federal offices.

Dick Dadey, the group’s executive director, said in a statement that the Legislature received an “I” for incomplete in not getting the independent commission up and running this otherwise productive legislative session.

From Dadey:

We request legislators honor the commitments they made to their voters and return to Albany pronto to remove the self-interested conflict that exists when they draw the lines for themselves and essentially choose their voters before the voters choose them.

Though it was one of the most productive legislative sessions in recent memory, the legislature so far deserves only a grade of “I” for “Incomplete” which can be improved if they return and enact redistricting reform as they had promised New Yorkers they would.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto any lines drawn by the Legislature — which historically are done so that incumbent political parties are protected — and says he would allow the courts to reshape the boundaries.

Redistricting must be done every 10 years based on fresh Census data.

The hearing in Albany today is not being livestreamed, but follow us on twitter, @capitaltonight, for the latest updates.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes his tax cap victory tour to Central NY today. He’s in Irondequoit at 11 a.m. and Syracuse at 1:30 p.m. In both cases, the governor will again use private residences as a backdrop.

The LATFOR (legislative reapportionment task force) gets its work underway – even as a push continues to reform it out of existence – with a 10 a.m. hearing at the LOB in Albany.

Headlines…

Semi-First Lady Sandra Lee is the first “romantic companion” of a governor not subject to the state’s financial disclosure law since its passage in 1987. Some firms she contracts with, like beverage giant Diageo PLC, have business before the state.

Several of the “yes” votes Cuomo obtained for same-sex marriage come with considerable political – and legal (in the case of Sen. Carl Kruger) baggage.

One of those voters, Sen. Jim Alesi, who’s divorced, on whether he’s gay or might marry again: “I was going to make a joke and say, ‘When the right guy comes along,’ but I didn’t want you to print that…You can print it, but put it in as a joke.” (See above link).

As of yesterday, NYC marriage licenses still required one member of a couple to be the “groom.”

Last night, the city clerk posted updated marriage license applications with spaces for “Bride/Groom/Spouse A” and “Bride/Groom/Spouse B.”

The GOP lost its presumed frontrunner for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat when NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich announced on “Inside City Hall” that he’s not running.

Ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s attorneys are set to argue today that the charges against him should be dismissed altogether.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. may attend today’s meeting between the prosecutors and DSK’s lawyers.

More >

Extras (Updated)

Casey Anthony was acquitted on charges that she murdered her daughter, Caylee Marie.

Dominique Stauss-Kahn’s accuser filed a libel suit against the NY Post, which called her the “hooker maid.”

Mayor Bloomberg changed his mind about perp walks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the DEC report on hydrofracking shows “balance.”

David Sirota thinks Cuomo is a “standard-issue Northeastern Republican.”

Dave Weigel talks to a Democrat who likes Cuomo’s anti-union approach and finds the discussion “jarring.”

Former Rep. Liz Holtzman says she could “hit the ground running” if tapped by Democratic leaders to run for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat.

Candidates interviewed by the Brooklyn/Queens GOP include: Would-be GOP candidates in NY-9: Asher Taub, Andy Sullivan, Juan Reyes Tim Cochrane, Col. Fred Britton, Steve Schiffman, Robert Turner. NOT interviewed: NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, Assemblyman Doc Hikind, Civil Court Judge Noach Dear. (No link).

The controversial founded of the NYC Independence Party, Fred Newman, died over the weekend.

Next on tap in the upstate energy debate: New power lines?

Michael Caputo accuses Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy of being anti-veteran.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn still leads the 2013 pack in developer dollars.

A fundraiser will be held in Saratoga Springs for Rep. Gabby Giffords’ potential 2012 re-election effort. Her ex-astronaut husband and brother-in-law are expected to attend.

The governor wants local governments and school districts to buckle down and cut.

Who might primary Sen. Roy McDonald in the wake of his “yes” vote on same-sex marriage?

Hillary Clinton, trend-setter?

New Gingrich’s 2012 campaign is already in debt.

UPDATE: Carl Paladino LOVES the idea of losing his erstwhile opponent to the White House.

An Albany Leader ‘With A Great Sense Of Humor’

That is how comedian-drug law reform advocate Randy Credico described Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in the subject line that accompanied this photo of the two Democrats hamming it up at a recent event.

shellyrandy

“Funny” is not the word usually used to describe the slow-talking speaker, who is more often deemed “reticent” and sometimes even “obstinate” for his close-to-the-vest, wait-you-out style that has proved equally maddening to both members of the press and his fellow leaders down at the Capitol.

But the speaker actually has a humorous side – if you like your humor bone dry. And apparently, Credico does. I asked him for more information about the event where this photo was taken, and he wrote:

“Last Tuesday at the event for Judge Marks…Marks was Shelly’s predecessor. I had just finished a great story involving the speaker, (former Manhattan DA Robert) Morgenthau , (former NYC Public Advocate) Betsy Gotbuam and me.”

“…I was with them in 2005 on primary day. We all went into a kosher pizza place on the Lower East Side. A Hassidic man was yelling at the speaker as we were leaving. I think they were talking in Yiddish. Morgy, Gotbaum and I were waiting in a SUV .”

“Shelly then walks in and tells us that “the guy was upset that Betsy was wearing a skirt above her ankles.’ So, I asked him what did he say, and Shelly says: ‘I told him she was running for public advocate not Grand Rebbe.’”

“We in the car hit the floor laughing, as did the crowd the night of the Marks’ event.”

“…Shelly was great that night – passionate and very funny. We all laughed and cried during his speech. He stole the show. I went straight to the band after he finished…impossible to follow. The crowd was half ex-prisoners and their families.”

(I have taken some liberties with the grammar and the spelling in Credico’s tale, but otherwise its verbatim).