Lucy Liu For Gay Marriage: NY Is About Diversity

Actress Lucy Liu filmed a web video for the Human Rights Campaign’s effort to legalize gay marriage in New York and recalls her upbringing in Jackson Heights, Queens.

“I was born in Jackson Heights, Queens,” she says in the video. “New York has always been about diversity.”

Other celebrities who have joined the HRC’s effort include Ethan Hawke, Russell Simmons, Mark and Sunrise Ruffalo, Joan Rivers, Barbara Bush, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Fran Drescher, Moby, and Mayor Bloomberg.

Tedisco Calls For ‘Bystander Protection’ Law

On the heels of a threatening email sent last week to reporters and state lawmakers, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Schenectady, is introducing a measure that would increase penalties for anyone who harms a member of the public while carrying out an act of violence against a politician.

Tedisco, who is introducing the measure, said it’s needed after the email threatened to pull a “Gabby Giffords” in the wake of the state budget agreement, referring to the January shooting of the congresswoman from Arizona.

From Tedisco’s statement:

“Acts of violence and methods of intimidation against elected officials will never be tolerated. However, history tells us that attacks on elected officials, such as what happened to Congresswoman Giffords, can also lead to the injury or death of innocent bystanders. Those elected to office do so by the consent of the governed and take on those duties cognizant of the potential violence that can be perpetrated by those who choose to prevent the free public exchange of ideas that’s so important in our democracy. Clearly, the most important voices in our democracy are not the elected officials but the citizens, who give us the honor to serve them. This legislation more fully indicates the importance of their voices and more fully protects those who wish to interact in public with their elected officials,”

The bill does not yet have a Senate version.

The Jan. 8 shooting of Giffords killed six people and wounded 13, including Giffords.

The Tedisco proposal recalls U.S. Rep. Peter King’s measure to ban firearms near public officials. The King bill would have prohibited guns from being within 1,000 feet of federal officials, including the president, members of Congress and others. King was widely derided for the proposal.

State Police said last week they are investigating the threatening email, which was sent Friday.

Letter From Koch

Senate Republicans should be receiving a letter this morning from former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. As you probably guessed, he is calling them out for failing to live up to the pledge they made to him to support a non-partisan redistricting commission.

In the letter, Koch informs the Senators that their districts are on his list of scheduled robo-calls. If they want off the list, they have to co-sponsor one of two bills in the Senate currently. One by Freshman Mike Gianaris, and the other by Senator Dave Valesky.

Last month, the senate passed a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to create an independent commission. Republicans were able to get the votes to pass the plan thanks to the support from the four members of the Independent Democratic Conference (Klein, Savino, Carlucci, and Valesky.)

Republicans touted that as honoring the pledge to reform the process – but Senate Democrats dismissed those claims because the bill won’t go into effect until after the lines are re-drawn for 2012.

Here’s the letter from Koch.

Dear Senator,

You pledged, but have not yet committed to support nonpartisan, independent redistricting for the 2012 elections, by signing on as a co-sponsor of S2543 (Gianaris) or S660 (Valesky).

On March 1, in Albany, I began announcing the names of those who had honored their redistricting pledge by doing so. Now, after this Friday, April 8, I will announce the names of those who have failed to honor their pledge, and declare them “Enemies of Reform”.

Regrettably, you would be on that list, included as such on our website, and when we place robo-calls after the deadline, your district would be included.

If you intend to honor your pledge – and avoid having your name on that list – please add your name as a co-sponsor to one or both of these bills (S2543 and S660) by this Friday, April 8, to avoid any confusion on the part of your constituents as to your commitment to keep your election-year promise for reform.

The budget has been passed, and we believe the priority at this time is redistricting reform. My hope is that with your help, we will successfully create a more functional government for you to work in and serve the communities you represent.

All the best.

Sincerely,
Ed Koch

Here And Now

“Let there be no mistake: The impact of our reduced budget will hurt our ability to serve all New Yorkers, and in particular those who come to our courts seeking justice,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman told court employees, who were also warned of “significant” layoffs.

President Obama is aiming to raise at least $750 million for his re-election bid and plans to use most of that cash to hire an army of field workers.

Obama isn’t likely to do much more than raise campaign cash in NY, while the state GOP hopes to change its primary process to force primary candidates to compete here.

House Republicans were making shutdown plans even as they drafted a one-week spending bill to avert it.

Michael Daly says the president and AG Eric Holder “dithered” and then folded in their reversal on the KSM trial.

The DN’s editorial page supports the about-face.

Mayor Bloomberg called the decision “appropriate,” adding: “Being spared the expense is good for us.”

The Post didn’t approve of Holder’s “ungracious” demeanor.

NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black is not gaining in popularity.

Her approval rating is at 17 percent, and 23 percent of adults in the five boroughs have never even heard of her.

More >

Cuomo: We Want That High-Speed Rail Money

Some governors aren’t interested in high-speed rail money from the federal government. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is.

Cuomo announced today he was seeking $517 million in money for eight high-speed rail projects around the state.

“Days after my election as Governor, I began pushing for more federal money for high-speed rail because New York has projects across the state that are ready to go,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is embracing high-speed rail as a faster way to move people and products and drive our economy in the 21st century, and these federal resources would help us achieve these goals.”

Cuomo’s office said in a statement that the largest of the projects is a $294.7 million plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to construct a new “conflict-free” route for Amtrak along the Northeast corridor.

The governor also wants the money to fund the second phase of the final design for Moynihan Station Project in New York City, which is expected to cost $49.8 million.

Other rail projects include plans to improve commutes between Albany and Poughkeepsie and another project to replace the train station in Rochester.

The full release is after the jump.

More >

Extras

Storytime with Rep. Anthony Weiner.

DSCC deputy director Heather Jung has joined the Business Council.

Katie Couric, who’s on her way to a new job, thinks “perky” is better than “bitchy.” I’m not sure I agree.

Poor Plattsburgh, she can’t get no respect.

Jeremy Irons says smokers should be protected – “like handicapped people and children.”

Five finalists for Bronx Zoo cobra names: Agnes (Greek for pure or holy; reference also to St. Agnes), Amaunet (goddess in Ancient Egyptian religion; meaning ‘the female hidden one’), Cleopatra (the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt; killed herself by means of an Egyptian cobra bite), Subira (Egyptian for patient), MIA (you get it).

Sen. Tony Avella continues his “no lulu” streak.

Saltwater anglers are psyched about the budget.

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi has a new judge and will potentially be sentenced on April 8.

If you can’t get enough of Sen. Gustavo Rivera’s singing…click here.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio gets tough with bad landlords.

Rudy Giuliani is inching ever closer to another presidential run.

President Obama just can’t get enough of the Big Apple – or its plethora of campaign cash.

Another deputy is departing the NYC Education Department.

Mayor Bloomberg said a military trial is “more appropriate” for KSM et al.

The Donald, animated.

Bloomberg defended the Health Department’s new guidelines for what people should eat in the office and how they should smell.

The DNC is laying off in advance of beefing up.

Maziarz: Linkage Always Complicates

Tying a cap on the annual growth property taxes and rent regulations in New York City will certainly complicate matters for state lawmakers, Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, said this afternoon.

“It actually complicates both,” Maziarz said. “Linkage always complicates issues.”

Maziarz went further in an interview with The Buffalo News, saying that both issues would definitely be linked in negotiations with the Assembly and Senate.

He seemed to walk back those comments later, adding that mandate relief needs to be taken care of before a cap on local taxes can be put in place.

“For counties, for local governments, I think clearly the options under the Medicaid system that has to be dealt with because that drives up property taxes.”

Linking the two topics — rent control and property taxes — seems like a natural fit for Albany, where horsetrading is common. Both issues deal with the cost of living. But Senate Republicans, who already approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent cap, have said they would not negotiate on a compromise bill.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said he wants to extend the regulations past their June 15 deadline, as has Cuomo.

Libous: We’ll Do Ethics, No Timetable

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous said the Republican conference would take up an ethics package later this session, but he said it’s unclear what the final bill would look like.

“I have said all along that our conference under Sen. Skelos, we believe in passing the ethics bill, we believe in doing some very strict ethics reform. I think we’re going to get there. I don’t know if there has to be some sort of set time table on getting there. We still have until the end of June and I’m confident that we can get there.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has said an agreement between his chamber and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on an ethics measure has been made, but Cuomo’s office said nothing has been finalized.

Asked if, as Silver suggested to The Daily News, that the bill should expand the powers of the Commission on Public Integrity to include oversight of the Legislature, Libous said he wasn’t sure.

“I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, but that’s just me. I think that’s up to the negotiators,” he said.

RNC: ‘Hope Isn’t Hiring’

The RNC’s answer to President Obama’s official 2012 campaign kick-off today was to launch a fundraising campaign of its own fueled by a Web video that accuses the president of failing to live up to his promises when it comes to the all-important issues of the economy and job creation.

“Over the last two years, Americans have listened to President Obama make grand proclamations about creating jobs and watched as he wasted trillions of taxpayers’ dollars we don’t have on pet-projects benefitting Big Labor Union Bosses and his liberal special interest allies,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote in an email to supporters.

“Yet tens of millions of Americans are still unemployed and our economic recovery is stalled by the record deficit spending Obama has ordered. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now projects that Obama’s budget outline will run $9.5 trillion deficits through 2021. Other economic experts report that unemployment will remain unacceptably high for years to come.”

“After being sold a bill of goods by Obama’s contrived 2008 slogan of Hope and Change, one thing has become abundantly clear to all Americans: Hope Isn’t Hiring.”

The video is a little reminiscent of a 2008 John McCain ad that likened Obama to stars like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, trying to play up the “all flash, no substance” celebrity angle.

The RNC is trying to raise $270,000 in the next 72 hours – $1,000 for every electoral vote required to elect the next GOP president. So far, the party has taken in about $28,022, according to its Website.

Committee To Save NY Lauds Cuomo – And Legislature! – In New Ad

The business-backed Committee to Save New York has launched yet another TV ad (its fourth of this session, I believe) that praises both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature for last week’s passage of a budget that makes good on the governor’s pledge to close the $10 billion deficit without raising taxes.

In lauding the Legislature – a first for the committee – the pro-Cuomo entity is following the governor’s lead. (Recall that he heaped praise on the Assembly and Senate in his post-budget video victory lap).

The ad started running yesterday morning, according to CSNY spokesman Bill Cunningham. It’s available on the committee’s Website. It also makes reference to the property tax cap that Cuomo has been pushing since the 2010 campaign, which wasn’t included in the final budget and so far is just a one-house bill (the Senate).

According to Fred Dicker’s column this morning, the Cuomo administration is sensitive to the fact that the governor will likely be blamed for property tax increases that arise from the roughly $1.3 billion worth of education aid cuts in the budget unless the 2 percent cap he’s proposing is passed.

But that’s going to be a tricky dance, because a cap without mandate relief isn’t going to help matters much, either.

As Tom Precious noted this morning, the governor no longer has the extender bill option he wielded like an iron fist during the budget talks. He does, however, have the power of “linkage”, which could prove helpful if he follows Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s lead and connects the cap with rent control.

It could be a long and fractious rest of the 2011 session. Thankfully for Cuomo, the CSNY didn’t have to spend nearly as much of the $10 million or so it raised during the budget battle and has plenty left over to fight another day (although how a major CSNY player, REBNY, will feel about the rent control fight is another matter altogether).

In the meantime, here’s the new CSNY ad script:

“In New York State, change has finally come. Governor Cuomo kept his promise to close a $10 billion dollar deficit, targeting waste without raising taxes. Bringing real reform to the broken politics of Albany. Thanks to the governor – and Legislature – New York businesses can invest and grow for new jobs and a stronger economy. Today and tomorrow. Together, we’re putting the governor’s plan to create jobs and cap taxes to work for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”