Dec 9th - 2:11 pm
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to 13 other states – including New York.
The lion’s share of the cash, up to $624 million, is going to California. Next comes Florida with $342.3 million, Washington State with $161.5 million and Illinois with $42.3 million.
Comparatively speaking, especially when you consider that New York is right up there in terms of size, we’re not getting very much – $7.3 million. But it’s not nothing. And it’s a heck of a lot more than Indiana is getting ($364,980).
Cuomo made a pitch for the rejected high-speed rail dollars within days of his landslide win over Carl Paladino in the Nov. 2 general election. In a letter to LaHood, the governor-elect called high-speed rail a “top priority,” adding: “High speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State and help rebuild Upstate New York’s economy. Now is the moment to build.”
Dec 9th - 12:25 pm
The US Senate has failed to pass a key test vote that would open debate on the 9/11 Health Care and Compensation Act, also known as the Zadroga bill. It would provide $7 billion in aid to first responders and their families.
The measure needed 60 votes to pass and only managed to get 57 votes.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially indicated he would vote yes, but changed his vote at the last minute. The maneuver allows him the option of bringing the bill up again.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued the following statement:
“The idea that tax cuts for millionaires would derail this legislation is simply outrageous and offensive. The men and women who rushed to the burning towers and worked for hundreds of hours on the pile did not delay and the Senate should not have delayed either, certainly not to give tax breaks for millionaires. We should not have to wait for tax deals to do what’s right.”
The House has already passed its version of the bill.
Dec 9th - 11:55 am
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has released the names of several senior staffers who will join his team once he assumes office.
“I am privileged to welcome such a diverse group of extraordinary talent to help our Administration take on the challenge of restoring our state government and making it work for the people once again,” Cuomo said via press release.
“I want to thank these fine men and women, and all the people who will take up the task of public service in our administration, for their hard work and sacrifice on behalf of the people of the state of New York,” Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo said.
Here is the full list:
- Steven M. Cohen will serve as Secretary to the Governor. Mr. Cohen served as Counselor & Chief of Staff to New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. Prior to joining the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Cohen was a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP, where he was a member of the firm’s Litigation Department. Mr. Cohen also served for a decade as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School teaching a course in federal criminal prosecutions and served as the Chair of The Mayor’s Committee on New York City Marshals. Before entering private practice, from 1991 to 1998, Mr. Cohen was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he served as Chief of the Violent Gangs Unit. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Cohen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stanely Sporkin, U.S. District Judge and then the Honorable Frank X. Altimari, U.S. Appellate Judge.
- Mylan L. Denerstein will serve as Counsel to the Governor. Ms. Denerstein has served as the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice from January 2007 to the present managing almost 100 attorneys statewide in the areas of Charities, Civil Rights, Environmental Protection, Health Care, Labor, and Tobacco Compliance. Prior to her current appointment, Ms. Denerstein served as the Deputy Fire Commissioner for Legal Affairs for the New York City Fire Department, the largest municipal fire department in the country. From 1996 – 2005, Ms. Denerstein served in the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District, first as an Assistant United States Attorney, prosecuting complex securities and insurance fraud, money laundering and organized crime. She later became Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division where she assisted in managing the Criminal Division with over 100 Assistant United States Attorneys.
- Yrthya A. Dinzey-Flores will serve as the Chief Diversity Officer. Ms. Dinzey-Flores previously served as Manager at the Toyota USA Foundation and Program Officer for National Philanthropy Programs at Toyota Motor North America. She also served as a community relations and philanthropic consultant for the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Prior to that she was Director of the Office of School CBO Partnerships at the New York City Department of Education, managing relationships and providing support to more than 350 community-based organizations. The Chief Diversity Officer is one of three statutorily required positions within the executive chamber, along with the Secretary and the Counsel. The Chief Diversity Officer’s task is to reform and strengthen the State’s programs and efforts encouraging the growth of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises within the state government and in the private sector.
Dec 9th - 11:06 am
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, makes Obama administration’s case for the tax cut deal the president cut with the Republicans, pushing back against liberal Democrats’ opposition to the agreement, which centers primarily on the estate tax.
Dec 9th - 9:41 am
Today’s Q poll offers some solace for state workers who are being targeted by Gov. David Paterson and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo in the face of a looming $10 billion budget deficit.
The poll found that a majority of New Yorkers, 52-43, oppose laying off public employees, some 900 of whom are just now starting to receive pink slips in the mail, compliments of the Paterson administration.
Cuomo has voiced support for Paterson’s layoff plan, but the two largest state worker unions – CSEA and PEF – have been fighting hard to counter it, even calling on the governor to rescind the firings after learning that he has doled out some $17 million worth of pork prior to his impending departure from public office.
Paterson defended his spending during an interview with WOR’s John Gambling this morning, saying the cash he handed out dates back to 2008. He noted he declined the traditional $30 million in gubernatorial member items in both 2009 and 2010, effectively saving the state $60 million.
New Yorkers also oppose (56-37) reducing pension benefits for public employees, despite the fact that experts like the Empire Center’s EJ McMahon have warned the state is headed for a serious fiscal mess if generous taxpayer-funded benefits packages aren’t scaled back soon.
The bad news: Voter polled overwhelmingly support (72-23) the idea of freezing state worker wages, which Cuomo proposed in his “New New York Agenda” during the gubernatorial campaign. Even Democrats favor the idea, (72-25), and voters with a union member in the household do, too (69-26).
Otherwise, New Yorkers aren’t very helpful when it comes to offering potential solutions for digging the state out of debt.
They say they favor service cuts over tax increases (56-30), but oppose (78-19) reducing education aid or raising taxes (66-31), and believe (82-13) taxes are probably going up anyway.
Overall, voters aren’t terribly optimistic (46-38) that Cuomo and the Legislature will be able to fix the state’s budget woes, even though 69 percent believe that should be the No. 1 priority in the coming year.
Dec 9th - 8:56 am
Gov. David Paterson is rejecting claims by the Senate Republicans that talks are taking place on a possible compromise bill that would rescue the now-shuttered NYC OTB parlors and also provide assistance to the suburban and regional OTBs upstate and on Long Island.
“We’re not negotiating now,” Paterson told WOR’s John Gambling. “If they came back and decided whether they wanted to reopen it, we’d have to address it then.”
“But the reality is we’re not negotiating. We gave them a second chance, which we were hard pressed to do…We gave them the four days, they voted, it was closed and unless the Senate changes its mind, that’s where it will stay.”
Paterson panned the idea of providing OTBs outside the five boroughs with the same bailout as the cash-strapped downstate gambling operation is slated to receive, noting significant labor concessions were required to get to that agreement.
The upstate and regional operations just want a state infusion of cash without agreeing to any givebacks, the governor said, adding:
“That’s just perpetuating the same system that has caused OTB (to fail) – the only gambling facility that anyone can remember in the history of the world that was losing money.”
“…This is some more of the Albany reasoning that unfortunatekly dictates and pervades every attempt to do something right. It’s that the good is the enemy of the perfect. We cleaned up the New York City OTB, but we didn’t clean up the world so they didn’t vote for it.”
Dec 9th - 8:41 am
Gov. David Paterson this morning said he approves of Mayor Bloomberg’s nudge-nudge-wink-wink strategy of keeping his options open for a 2012 White House run while simultaneously insisting he has no interest in seeking the presidency.
The mayor can’t openly acknowledge his desire to challenge President Obama, reasoned Paterson (who, like the former senator from Illinois, happens to be the first African American to hold his elected post), because then he would be “treated like a candidate” and find it difficult to operate in his day job.
“Honestly, I’m not chiding him,” Paterson told WOR’s John Gambling this morning. “That is the right way, and then you just wait.”
“And if the opportunity were to come, I think the mayor has the resources and he obviously has the capacity to serve. But I think what he does is not put himself in the middle of the fray. It’s just to test how the public is reacting from the outside, which I think is exactly the right way to do it, whether he’s running or he’s not running.”
Interestingly, Paterson didn’t have the same opinion back when it looked like he might be headed for a bruising primary battle with AG Andrew Cuomo.
He repeatedly groused about an unnamed opponent who was sitting back, raising campaign cash and leaking damaging stories about Paterson and his administration, but declining to formally declare his candidacy.
Cuomo, of course, refused to publicly acknowledge his plan to run for governor, which was pretty much the worse-kept secret in Albany, until well after Paterson ended his own campaign.
Paterson also said he believes Bloomberg is saying “all the right things” about the partisan divide in Washington and the gridlock it has caused.
“It’s that indpendent view that people are embracing more than the partisan politics of trying to humilate each other and trying to get each other which everyone’s tired of,” the governor said.
Dec 9th - 7:42 am
Doth Mayor Bloomberg protest interest in 2012 too much? The Post certainly thinks so.
“We have to help the President succeed. If you want to run against him, and I don’t, and I won’t, but if you wanted to do that, the time to do that is near the next election. Right now, we have to pull together,” Bloomberg told Katie Couric.
“We believe New York has a stellar record on jobs creation,” said Bloomberg Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. “We believe we have something to share with the rest of the country on that. The mayor of New York has a national platform. He’s going to use it.”
Bloomberg isn’t the only politician looking for a middle way.
The mayor will appear on “Meet the Press” this Sunday.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…Bloomberg critics say he as exaggerated the success of an antipoverty initiative and ignored data showing that a substantial number of families who enroll in the program end up back in homeless shelters.
Darren Dopp, spokesman for Patricia Lynch Associates, said the lobbying firm is “pleased” put the AG’s pay-to-play probe behind it.
Cuomo also reached a deal with his father’s former aide, Jerry Weiss.
Dec 8th - 6:41 pm
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo just released a statement praising President Obama for brokering the deal with congressional Republicans on the Bush-era tax cuts that has generated intense criticism from many Democrats.
“I commend President Obama for his leadership in forging a compromise that will help stabilize our fragile economy,” Cuomo said.
“Failing to act now would result in higher taxes for most Americans come January 1st. That would be an unacceptable result given the precarious state of our economy and the danger of future job losses.”
“Moreover, the compromise also contains an extension of unemployment benefits that will provide much needed assistance to those who have been hit hardest by the recession and a significant tax break for middle class families in New York and across the country.”
“No one will agree with every provision in this deal, but that is the nature of compromise and bipartisanship.”
Throughout his gubernatorial campaign and into the transition, Cuomo has styled himself as a centrist who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He has spoken frequently of the need to forge relationships across the aisle, and made a point of reaching out to Republicans.
In other words, Obama’s tax cut deal is right up Cuomo’s alley.
All day long the White House has been releasing statements from various elected officials expressing support for the compromise – from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Sen. John Kerry.
Cuomo’s statement, however, came from his own press office, not the White House.
Dec 8th - 6:31 pm
Rep. Pete King is officially retaking the helm of the House Homeland Security Committee, but that might be short-lived.
Mayor Bloomberg is looking for a middle way.
Ben Smith notes Bloomberg’s economic platform basically mirrors the views of the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.
Eliot Spitzer grills VP Joe Biden’s chief economic adviser Jared Bernstein on the president’s tax cut deal.
Alex Pareene thinks Bloomberg “is peddling pure, naked corporatism, masquerading as ‘grown-up’ non-ideological common sense.”
The Senate Democrats are (optimistically) moving ahead with redistricting hearings.
Outgoing Rep. Mike McMahon says fellow Democrats who are opposing the president’s tax cuts deal are “stomping their feet like petulant children.”
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. insisted back in September (back before he stopped showing up to sessions) that he’s not a quitter.
NYC Councilwoman Jessica Lappin is pregnant with her second child. (She broke the news on Facebook).
The Orthodox/Hasidic area of Borough Park, Brooklyn, voted Republican this November.
A DADT test vote is scheduled for Wednesday.
Ira Stoll agrees with Steve Rattner that Cuomo is engaging in “bullying prosecutorial behavior.”
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch really digs his 86th birthday present from Bloomberg.
ColorLines magazine thinks Gov. David Paterson sent mixed messages on deportations with his recent pardons.
Here’s Bloomberg telling Katie Couric, in no uncertain terms: “I’m not going to run for president.”