Schumer Press Shop Shuffle

After spending four years as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s spokesman and two as his upstate press secretary, Max Young is moving on. Sort of.

Young is departing the senior senator’s office, but he isn’t going far.

On Feb. 1, he will be starting as director of Regional Media for the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee – the new entity created by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid specifically for Schumer to lead as the party heads into another difficult election cycle.

In this role, Schumer has officially become the Senate Democrats’ chief message maker, and he is embracing that role with relish, talking about the middle class and jobs at every turn.

Young, who has somehow managed to maintain composure and sanity in the whirlwind that is the Schumer communications boot camp, will be replaced by Matt House.

(An example of what a class act Young is…He included the following line in his “goodbye/moving on” e-mail to reporters: “Working here for the last two years has been a joy, and I am consistently in awe of the quality of the reporting that you all do on a daily basis.” Ah, yes, flattery will get you everywhere).

As far as I can tell, House last worked for former New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the US Senate as a self-professed “real fiscal conservative” in the 2010 cycle.

Committee To Save NY Registering As A Lobbying Group

In the wake of this morning’s NY Times story and subsequent criticism from the good government community, the pro-Cuomo Committee to Save New York is filing paperwork today to register as a lobbying organization with the Committee on Public Integrity.

“Because we may, at some point in time, be engaged in grassroots lobbying, we would have to report those expenditures, so we’re filing at the commission the way a company would,” CSNY spokesman Bill Cunningham told me during a brief telephone interview.

“We have always said we would comply with all of the rules, and we’re in the process of getting filed. We would have done it yesterday, except for the holiday. We were talking about it last week. Today, is the first day back.”

Cunningham insisted that the committee’s decision to go this route was not in response to the Times story, which highlighted its close ties to the governor and the fact that it has not (and is not under any legal requirement to) disclosed its donors – a move that seems to run counter to Cuomo’s pledge to bring transparency to Albany.

The CSNY launched its first TV ad last week that proclaimed support for the governor and his fiscally conservative agenda. The ad coincided with Cuomo’s upstate tour, during which he re-delivered a slightly retooled State of the State address in Jamestown and Watertown.

Bloomberg’s Gun Control Group Polls On Gun Control

Mayor Bloomberg has joined the pushback effort on the suggestion that passing gun control legislation is neither possible nor palatable in the current political environment, releasing a poll through his Mayors Against Illegal Guns group today that demonstrates a “sensible approach” to the nation’s gun laws.

The poll was conducted jointly by Momentum Analysis, a polling firm with Democratic clients, and American Viewpoint, a polling firm with Republican clients.

“This poll shows that, particularly in the wake of yet another tragic mass shooting, Americans and gun owners agree with our efforts to fix our federal background check system and close loopholes,” said Bloomberg.

“If the tragedy in Tucson was not enough to ensure that Congress finally takes action, we hope this clear call for reform from the public will add to the groundswell of support.”

The results of the poll aren’t terribly surprising, basically revealing that most Americans believe that while the Second Amendment protects the rights of “law-abiding” individuals to own guns, more should be done to ensure that felons, drug abusers and the mentally ill don’t have access to firearms.

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Bloomberg’s New Man In Albany

Mayor Bloomberg has added a new face to his upstate team.

Mark Botnick is returning to the administration to take the spokesman job that has been vacant since the departure of Matt Gorton to work on the mayor’s successful 2009 re-election campaign.

Most recently, Botnick has been working with former NYC Mayor Ed Koch on his NY Uprising PAC, which provided him with some opportunity broaden his downstate-centric world view. (Recall that the mayor did some stumping in upstate America to highlight his so-called “heroes” of reform).

Botnick also worked on Bloomberg’s re-election effort, focusing maining on corralling the Jewish vote.

He departed the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit to join the campaign, but never went back, instead staying on the political side of the fence to manage Brooklyn Democrat David Greenfield’s campaign in the 2010 special election for former NYC Councilman Simcha Felder’s 44th CD seat.

Botnick joins Micah Lasher and Steven Williams in Bloomberg’s upstate office. I believe today is his first day on the job. Nice weather for it. Welcome to Albany, Mark! Enjoy the ice.

Carlucci Ties The Knot, Returns To Work

Freshman Sen. David Carlucci’s office announced this morning that the Hudson Valley Democrat had married his girlfriend of eight years, Lauren Grossberg on Hilton Head Island this past Saturday.

wedding vows

The ceremony was officiated by long time friend Rockland County Judge Victor Alfieri.

Grossberg, 28 is a Rockland County native and an elementary school teacher, according to the senator’s press release. Lauren and Sen. Carlucci met in high school on the track team and dated throughout college. She has taken his last name.

“Lauren is patient, kind and understanding,” Carlucci said. “I have never seen her look so beautiful and I feel like the luckiest man alive to have my best friend as my wife.”

The newlyweds have put off going on a honeymoon, the senator’s office confirmed. They may try to sneak away sometime in February when the Legislature takes its mid-winter break, but for now, it’s work, work, work. Carlucci is planning to be in his seat at 3 p.m. when the Senate is scheduled to be in session.

Although it might not be the smartest move from the standpoint of wedded bliss, Carlucci’s decision to delay his honeymoon might help him avoid the criticism that rained down on the man whom he replaced as the chamber’s youngest member, Sen. Dan Squadron, back in 2009.

At the time, Squadron, an ally of Mayor Bloomberg, was carrying the mayoral control bill, which was coming up for a touch-and-go vote following the end of the 31-day stalemate caused by the Senate coup.

Squadron’s vote wasn’t seen as essential to pass the bill (it was approved, thanks to support from the GOP side of the aisle).

But his decision to stick with his travel plans nevertheless surprised Capitol observers and some old hands (including the man Squadron defeated, former Minority Leader Marty Connor) who said they had put off countless personal events – much to the chagrin of children and spouses – to attend special sessions in Albany.

Considering how angry members of the Democratic conference are with Carlucci for joining Sen. Jeff Klein’s band of independent renegades, it’s probably wise of him not to give his opponents any extra ammunition at this juncture.

Schumer Blasts Christie Over ARC

Sen. Chuck Schumer did not mince words this morning in taking NJ Gov. Chris Christie to task for pulling the plug on the train tunnel project under the Hudson River in October, saying his fiscally-challenged state can’t afford it.

Speaking at the Crain’s breakfast in Manhattan this morning, the senior senator said the project was “not in the planning stages,” noting it had “explicit funding commitments” from both the federal government and the Port Authority. Construction was already underway.

“I will be honest and direct here,” Schumer said. “hough I am extremely sympathetic to the fiscal problems Governor Christie clearly faces, and I recognize there are not easy choices to make, I believe pulling the plug on ARC was a terrible, terrible decision.”

“Practically, by failing to increase our tunnel capacity, we are simply going to force more people into their cars,” Schumer continued. “You think traffic on the George Washington Bridge and in the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels is bad now, just wait.”

“And if you don’t think that’s a disincentive for people to come to this area, let alone to commute into New York, you haven’t spent enough waiting in the helix to get into the Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour.”

Schumer had quite a bit more to say on this topic, saying historians may look back on this moment as a “turning point” when the region – and even the nation – “stopping looking toward the future.” He suggested the country could end up paralyzed if it continues to axe big transportation projects.

The senator’s remarks (as prepared for delivery) appear in full after the jump.

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Duffy’s Replacement Resigns

Rochester will soon have its third Mayor in less than a month.

Today, Mayor Tom Richards announced he is going to step down on Thursday, after a complaint was filed accusing Richards of violating the Hatch Act, which prevents certain employees of a municipality from running for office, or engaging in other political activities. In short, if Richards remained mayor while also running for the office he could jeopardize federal funding for the city of Rochester.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to serve and run for office with the risk of an adverse Hatch Act finding or the intention to fight such a determination,” said Mayor Richards. “I came here to help the city and not to hurt it with fines and possible penalties. The possible loss of even one federal dollar is too much to risk.”

Richards says he is still going to run for the office. That election is scheduled for March 29th. In the interim, City Director of Economic Development Carlos Carballlada will be the acting Mayor.

NYPIRG Questions Committee To Save NY

NYPIRG says the recently formed Committee To Save NY is a lobbying group, and should be investigated by the Commission on Public Integrity for violating state lobbying laws. In a statement NYPIRG suggests the group may be breaking state lobbying rules.

“The Committee argues that it does not have to report since the budget bills have not yet been introduced. However, in at least one area – a cap on property taxes – legislation has been introduced that creates a property tax cap.”

The statement comes after this morning’s report in the New York Times, linking Governor Cuomo closely to the group of business leaders and advocates for fiscal responsibility.

It goes on to suggest that because Cuomo reportedly “spurred its creation” and “helped it build its membership and funding” the Governor must direct the Commission on Public Integrity to investigate the committee and find out if they are complying with state law.

The Committee to Save NY has been up with television ads for the past week now. During his upstate swing in Jamestown, Cuomo downplayed his connection to the group, suggesting it was just a bunch of people who support his budget, but probably did not support many other things he is trying to do.

NYPIRG’s complete statement is after the jump.
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Siena: NYers Back Cuomo’s Agenda, Millionaire’s Tax

Today’s Siena poll (the second in as many days) finds New Yorkers overwhelmingly support the bulk of the agenda Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out in his State of the State address, but also back an idea floated by the Assembly Democrats and organized labor that he has so far ruled out: Reinstating the so-called “millionaire’s tax.”

“The governor claims his election meant he has a mandate from the voters on the issues,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.

“While Cuomo may or may not have an issue mandate, for the moment, as we await his first executive budget, voters certainly support the governor on these issues that he talked about in the State of the State address.”

Eight of 11 SoS proposals are “strongly” backed by voters, including (87-10) Cuomo’s call to close the $10 billion budget deficit without new taxes or borrowing.

Unlike the governor, New Yorkers apparently don’t see a continuation of the personal income tax increase enacted two years ago on those earning more than $200,000 a year as a new tax. They support (55-42) the idea of letting the millionaire’s tax continue past its sunset date at the end of this year.

As seen in previous Siena polls, voters overwhelmingly back Cuomo’s call for a 2 percent property tax cap, and 60 percent believe it will become a reality in 2011. But they’re more closely divided on whether that cap should be able to be exceeded by an affirmative vote of 60 percent of voters, as the governor has argued, or simply a majority vote.

More than three-quarters of voters believe it’s likely the rent laws, which are also set to expire this year, will be continued – a big priority for downstate lawmakers, particularly the Assembly Democrats.

More than two-thirds think it’s likely New York will become a more business friendly state in 2011.

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Here And Now

The Committee to Save NY is operating at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s urging and with his blessing, but creates a sticky situation for a governor who pledged to bring transparency and an end to special interest control in Albany.

The Post echoes Cuomo’s rallying cry.

The governor’s got New Yorkers in his corner – for now, anyway.

Bill Hammond warns Cuomo not to get too comfortable with his high poll numbers.

Gun control was the topic du jour at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MLK Day event in Harlem.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy will be joined by gun control advocates in Washington, DC today to discuss plans to push her proposed ban on high-capacity magazines. (No link).

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ family has begun to search for a rehab center where she will spend the next – likely very long – phase of her recovery.

Sarah Palin’s approval rating has fallen in the wake of the Arizona shooting.

Palin echoed calls for post-Tucson tragedy civility, but said: “I’m not going to sit down. I’m not going to shut up.”

The Senate Republicans will host a Medicaid reform roundtable at noon at the Capitol today. (No link). Several members of the governor’s Medicaid redesign task force will participate.

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