Rep. Ryan Raises Cash For Corwin

Rep. Paul Ryan, whose Medicare overhaul proposal has become a flashpoint in the NY-26 special election, sent out an “urgent” fundraising appeal this evening on behalf of the Republican contender, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

Ryan is trying to raise $5,000 for Corwin through his PAC, Prosperity Project.

“This will come as no surprise to many of you, but the playbook the Democrats and special interests have been using to attack me is being used right now in New York’s 26th District,” the Wisconsin Republican wrote to his supporters.

“You know the drill: they spread all kinds of falsehoods about the Path to Prosperity and see what sticks. Jane Corwin needs our help.”

“…As the New York Times has pointed out, my budget plan is at the center of the campaign: ‘After leveling a barrage of attacks against the proposal put forth by Mr. Ryan, the Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul, has tightened the race considerably…’”

“I’ve told you all along that one of the goals of the Prosperity Project is to back up those who agree with us that Washington’s spending is out of control and we have to do something about it. Jane Corwin is one of those people. Let’s back her up. Let’s put our money where our mouths are.”

At the end of the email, Ryan assures his backers that Corwin isn’t shying away from his plan, in spite of the fact that the Democrats are trying to use it as a wedge issue in the campaign.

I’m not sure if this is going to help or hurt Corwin.

Certainly, it will add more fuel to this particular fire for the Democrats, although maybe anyone whose vote is going to hinge on the Medicare issue (note that 22 percent of NY-26 residents are senior citizens) already knows about it.

NYSUT: Tisch Response To Cuomo ‘Disturbing’

The state United Teachers union late this afternoon released a statement expressing their concern over what appeared to be Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch’s willingness to quickly incorporate the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s suggestions for revised teacher evaluation standards.

“Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch’s statement regarding regulations applicable to the Teacher and Principal Evaluation Law is extremely disturbing. Understandably, the opinion of the Governor’s office must be given great consideration. However, in this case, the Chancellor’s statement is clearly outside the scope of the legislation first proposed jointly by SED and NYSUT and signed into law.”

Cuomo earlier today released a letter sent to Tisch calling for sharper standards for teachers, which would incorporate both test scores and in-the-classroom observations in order to conduct teacher evaluations.

Tisch responded later that amended evaluation guidelines will be released including the governor’s suggestions.

But the union says Tisch’s statement is “clearly outside the scope of the legislation” first jointly put forward by the state Department of Education and NYSUT.

Here’s the full statement: More >

Jimmy McMillan, Tea Party Spokesman (!?)

Jimmy McMillan is loaning his visage and trademark “too damn high” slogan to a Tea Party-backed push for expanded oil exploration by appearing in a video proclaiming the evils of ever-escalating gas prices.

(H/t to Dave Weigel, who calls McMillan a “New York-based political anger-puppet” and marvels at his ability to outlast his atlotted 15 minutes of fame).

McMillan, as you’ll recall, insists he’s going to run for president in 2012 as a Republican. He even showed up at the CPAC back in February. As Weigel says, now we know why.

Suny Research Prez Fires Back, Demands Probe

After being slapped by the Public Integrity Commission with charges that he awarded a “no-show” job to ex-Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s oldest daughter, SUNY Research Foundation President John O’Connor is firing back by filing a complaint of his own.

In a statement released through his lawyer, O’Connor knocks the commission for “its brief, sad history” and filed a complaint with the state Inspector General Ellen Biben, charging that former Executive Director Herbert Teitlebaum with harassing him.

From the statement:

“As this case clearly demonstrates, the commission has lost sight of its mission, and for the second time in its brief history has eviscerated its reputation by leaking information to the press and failing to safeguard the rights of those under its jurisdiction.”

O’Connor’s lawyer Karl Sleight wrote in a letter to Biben that Teitelbaum, who left office after he was investigated by IG’s office during the Troopergate affair, that the SUNY president had been “victimized on multiple occasions” by the commission.

The PIC alleges O’Connor broke the public officer’s law when he gave a job to Susan Bruno, which an investigation revealed was a no-show job at the foundation. If found guilty, O’Connor faces a $10,000 fine.

JJO Media Package 5.13.11 (HBROC-1590393 v1)

Ball Slams Leibell For ‘Complete Disconnect From Reality’

Sen. Greg Ball, the man who took Vincent Leibell’s Senate seat, ended his silence today at the news that his old rival had been given a 21-month jail sentence and slammed him for trying wiggle out of prison through an unusual request.

Leibell had asked for leniency in his federal corruption case, suggesting that he instead join some sort of nation-building effort in the Middle East.

Ball, who had battled back and forth with Leibell over the years in the rough-and-tumble microcosm that is Putnam County politics, said the request showed his predecessor in the 40th Senate District had broken with reality.

“With today’s sentencing, I want to state publicly that, like many, I took Leibell’s recent requests for leniency, actually seeking ‘overseas nation building’ duty in lieu of jail time, as a final indictment on his complete disconnect from reality and justice,” Ball said in his statement.

Ball was uncharacteristically quiet in the wake of Leibell’s indictment. While running for Leibell’s seat (Leibell was seeking to become Putnam County executive in 2010) Ball faced a daunting primary against state GOP favorite Mary Beth Murphy.

Here’s the full statement from Ball:

“Even with the history of political and personal battles between myself and Leibell, I have remained quiet since last fall, paying respect to both the process and the need for civility. Simply put, I was not raised to kick a man when he is down and I took no personal delight in witnessing his public demise. With today’s sentencing, I want to state publicly that, like many, I took Leibell’s recent requests for leniency, actually seeking ‘overseas nation building’ duty in lieu of jail time, as a final indictment on his complete disconnect from reality and justice. I know I join many in the community in expressing our continued sadness of his use of Putnam County and the taxpayers of New York for his personal gain and I welcome this final chapter in a tragic book. With absolute sincerity, I continue to pray for the Senator and his family and truly look forward to working with this great community to solidly move forward, ever confident in a bright future.”

Archbishop Dolan: Gay Marriage ‘Orwellian Social Engineering’

Archbishop Timothy Dolan has weighed in on the gay marriage debate in a big way, posting a strongly-worded commentary on his blog that says to expand the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage would be “Orwellian social engineering” that is “perilous to all of us.”

Dolan, who is also president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the allegation that anti-gay marriage advocates are prejudiced or bigoted “nonsense”, adding:

“We are not anti anybody; we are pro-marriage. The definition of marriage is a given: it is a lifelong union of love and fidelity leading, please God, to children, between one man and one woman.”

“History, Natural Law, the Bible (if you’re so inclined), the religions of the world, human experience, and just plain gumption tell us this is so. The definition of marriage is hardwired into our human reason.”

“To uphold that traditional definition, to strengthen it, and to defend it is not a posture of bigotry or bullying. Nor is it a denial of the ‘right’ of anybody. As the philosophers remind us, in a civilized, moral society, we have the right to do what we ought, not to do whatever we want. Not every desire is a right.”

More >

Leibell Sentenced To 21 Months

Instead of joining the diplomatic corp, Republican former Sen. Vincent Leibell is going to the chain gang.

In what will had more grist for the mill when it comes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for ethics reform in the state Legislature, Leibell was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme.

The 64-year-old Leibell, of Putnam County, resigned his seat in December just before he was indicted under federal felony corruption charges. He later pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

The Republican ran successfully for Putnam county executive, and bizarrely, knew that federal investigators were about to close in on him. And in even odder turn, Leibell suggested as an alternative sentence that he serve in a peace-keeping or diplomatic capacity.

The recommended sentence was 18-24 months.

Cuomo is touring the state in an effort to build popular support for his 2 percent tax cap, gay marriage legalization and a legislative ethics overhaul. The governor says legislators should reveal their outside income even further in an effort to avoid federal investigations like the one that ended Leibell’s 28-year-career, along with so many others in both political parties.

Bloomberg Praises Cuomo’s ‘Thoughtful’ Teacher Evaluation Approach

Mayor Bloomberg just released a carefully-worded response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for revising the Board of Regents teacher evaluation standards – an issue that has become something of a sticking point as the mayor is threatening to fire thousands of NYC teachers and pushing for the repeal of the last-in, first-out rule.

“In order to ensure we have the best teachers in the classroom, we need a rigorous teacher evaluation system,” Bloomberg said.

“The framework initially proposed by the State Board of Regents provides us a critical opportunity to create a system that evaluates teacher performance based on multiple measures of effectiveness – including student outcomes. But that proposal did not go far enough.”

“The thoughtful recommendations made today by Governor Cuomo will greatly improve the rigor of these new evaluations, and I am heartened that the Regents agreed to adopt them. But it will take the sustained commitment of all invested parties – and perhaps most importantly, the cooperation of the teachers union – if we are to make this evaluation system a reality.”

Recall that Bloomberg (who endorsed Cuomo in 2010) had a bit of a blowup with the governor after the Senate passed his LIFO bill and the governor responded by immediately putting out a statement calling for a statewide teacher evaluation system.

The governor has said there should be “objective, fair criteria” for evaluating teachers that doesn’t “penalize seniority”.

The two administrations have also been at odds over education funding cuts and the amount of cash the city has in reserve. When Bloomberg introduced his budget, he blamed Albany and Washington for the city’s fiscal woes – a line he has repeated often since then.

Why Row C Matters

The state Conservative Party has now codified its threat that any lawmaker who votes “yes” on gay marriage will be politically punished, passing a resolution that states “any elected official or potential candidate who does not support marriage as defined between one man and one woman” won’t get Row C “in any election”.

That makes things complicated for the Senate Republicans, who are gearing up for a big fight over control of the chamber next year – a battle that will be waged with all legislators representing newly-drawn districts.

Leaving aside the whole redistricting reform question for a moment (and yes, I realize it’s a great big wrench in the works), let’s consider how much of a factor the Conservative Party was in the 2010 elections, when the GOP successfully wrested the majority back from the Democrats.

A helpful reader compiled the following vote tallies in four of last fall’s key Senate races:

- In SD-07, Craig Johnson (“yes” on marriage) led Jack Martins (“no”) 42,477 to 36,349 on the Democratic to Republican lines, but Martins received 1,959 votes on the Independence Line and 4,620 votes on the Conservative line to overtake Johnson. The Working Families line was vacant.

- In SD-40, Mike Kaplowitz (“yes”) led Greg Ball (undecided) 43,586 to 42,363 on the Democratic to Republican lines, and Kaplowitz had an additional 4,981 votes on the Independence line, but Ball received 8,342 votes on the Conservative line to overtake Kaplowitz.

Remember: Ball won the Conservative Primary as a write-in candidate. He would have lost the race otherwise by wide margins. The Working Families line was vacant.

- In SD-55, Mary Wilmot (“yes”) led Jim Alesi (unclear) 47,298 to 45,141 on the Democratic to Republican lines, but Alesi received 3,914 votes on the Independence line and 7,970 votes on the Conservative line to win. The Working Families line was vacant.

- In SD-61, Antoine Thompson (“yes”) led Mark Grisanti (undecided) 30,688 to 28,875 on the Democratic to Republican lines, and Thompson received an additional 2,036 votes on the Working Families line, but Gristanti received 4,368 votes on the Conservative line to squeak it out. The Independence line was vacant.

SUNY Research Prez Slapped For Bruno Daughter’s ‘No-Show’ Job

The Commission on Public Integrity announced today that the years-long investigation into the hiring of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s daughter by the SUNY Research Foundation found “reasonable cause” to believe she was awarded a “no-show” job.

The commission found that SUNY Research Foundation President John O’Connor hired Susan Bruno for a job that she wasn’t qualified for, performed little or no work and rarely came to the office.

The CPI found:

“The lack of any documents or testimony evidencing Ms. Bruno’s duties on behalf of the [Foundation] coupled with the statements of the witnesses who all almost universally stated that they rarely ever saw Ms. Bruno at the office supports a determination that there is reasonable cause to believe that Ms. Bruno was afforded what amounted to a ‘no-show job.’”

O’Connor faces a civil penalty of $10,000.

The elder Bruno was found guilty in federal court on felony charges of theft of honest services, in a case unrelated to the Susan Bruno affair. However, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned parts of that law and Bruno may face a new trail with different charges.

Here’s the ruling against O’Connor:
John J. O’Connor NORC