Here And Now

There Legislature is back in town with six scheduled days (five of which are all this week) before the end of the 2011 session and a long to-do list. It’s possible some very unrelated – and yet unsettled – issues get lumped together in the end: Property tax cap, rent regulations and same-sex marriage.

Here’s something worth considering as we head into the final stretch.

Seven Senate Republicans have reportedly signaled to Gov. Andrew Cuomo a willingness to vote “yes” on gay marriage, but an administration source puts the likelihood of passage at 60-40 against.

Cuomo insisted to the GOP over the weekend that he can delivered all but two of the 30 Democrats on marriage.

Pro-gay marriage advocates are hoping to exploit the fact that the state Conservative Party chairman can only control endorsements in districts that cross county lines. County leaders make the final decision in at least three GOP cases: Sens. James Alesi, Kemp Hannon, and John Flanagan.

Another top GOP target, Sen. Roy McDonald, says the governor asked him not to comment publicly until the two had a chance to meet – yet again – this week.

The target potential “yes” voters on both sides of the aisle are under a lot of pressure.

Cuomo quietly packed the committees that screen potential judges with high-dollar donors and long-time political cronies.

The governor is on the threshold of setting a record for the fewest bills enacted into law for a calendar year. (Although the final week of session usually brings a last-minute flurry of bills).

A spokeswoman for Rep. Anthony Weiner refused to say what kind of treatment he’s seeking or whether he’ll return to work when he gets out.

While Weiner is away, his fellow House Democrats might vote to oust him from their ranks.

More >

The Weekend That Was

New photos of an all-but naked Rep. Anthony Weiner have surfaced.

The images were taken in the Congressional (members-only) gym, which raises new questions about his use of taxpayer-funded facilities during his online exchanges. The photos were sent to at least one of Weiner’s on-line paramours.

New comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “This is a matter that is obviously very unfortunate on many levels – for Weiner, for the Weiner family, for all New Yorkers. It’s basically a federal matter, so I don’t know that my involvement would be helpful or relevant. Whether or not he should resign, that’s up to him, his constituents and the Democratic leadership.”

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, joined the call for Weiner to step down, citing his “bizarre and unacceptable behavior.”

Weiner may be coming to grips with the reality that he just won’t be able to hold on to his seat. A spokeswoman said nothing has changed and he’s not resigning as of this momeny.

Weiner had been receiving “treatment” and/or therapy of some sort all week in NYC before he left town yesterday for more intensive treatment of an unspecified nature.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already knew of Weiner’s intention to seek out-of-town care when she issued her statement calling on him to resign.

House Democrats aren’t satisfied by Weiner’s decision to take a leave and insist he has to step down.

Friends say Weiner has become “distraught and fragile” and has not yet ruled out the option of resigninig.

The congressman will wait until his wife returns from overseas before making a decision about whether to step down.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said: “I am heartbroken. For those of us who are longtime friends of Anthony Weiner his wrongful behavior is distressing and saddening. It’s clear he needs professional help and I am glad he is seeking it.”

“I think this is a process that will lead to his resignation,” said veteran political consultant George Arzt of Weiner’s long goodbye.

If Sen. David Vitter didn’t have to go, why does Weiner?

There’s no rhyme or reason behind why some politicians survive a scandal and others don’t.

Here’s a blast from the past: Weiner on Imus talking about how then-Gov. David Paterson should resign.

More >

Weiner Seeks ‘Treatment’, Asks For ‘Short Leave’ From House

Rep. Anthony Weiner’s spokeswoman Risa Heller just released the following statement:

“Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person. In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”

“Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”

No mention of resignation in spite of calls from the House minority leader and DCCC and DNC chairs for him to step down, although he seems to leave the door open to that with the words “best decision possible”.

Pelosi To Weiner: Step Down, Get Help

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now joined the call for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign in the wake of new revelations that he exchanged Twitter messages with a 17-year-old Delaware girl.

When this scandal first broke, Pelosi at first declined to call on Weiner to step down. Instead, she initiated a House ethics probe into Weiner’s on-line dalliances, with which the embattled congressman said he would fully comply,

But corresponding with a high-school student – no matter how innocent he insists those exchanges were (actually, the superhero reference is a little creep, to be honest) – apparently has pushed Pelosi over the edge.

Interestingly, her statement references a “recognition” on Weiner’s part that he “needs help.” Since he has said nothing of the sort yet publicly, that signals to me Pelosi knows something we don’t – yet. Here’s what she said:

“Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help. I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a Member of Congress.”

Top House Democrats Call On Weiner To Resign

In a sign that U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s position in Congress are all but untenable, top House Democrats, including New York’s Steve Israel and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have called on the embattled Brooklyn politician to step down this afternoon.

Wasserman Schultz said she made the call with “disappointment.”

“It is with great disappointment that I call on Representative Anthony Weiner to resign,” she said. “The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Representative Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable. This sordid affair has become an unacceptable distraction for Representative Weiner, his family, his constituents and the House – and for the good of all, he should step aside and address those things that should be most important – his and his family’s well-being.”

Israel, a Long Island representative and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in his statement that the distraction had become too much.

“Anthony’s inappropriate behavior has become an insurmountable distraction to the House and our work for the American people. With a heavy heart, I call on Anthony to resign. I pray for his family and hope that Anthony will take time to get the help he needs without the distractions and added pressures of Washington, DC.”

Though the statements were released separately, they landed in reporters’ inboxes within minutes of each other. They come after several other Democratic lawmakers called on Weiner to resign this past week, but today’s effort to oust him would make it difficult to see how Weiner stays past Sunday.

Democrats have been angered by the distraction, which came almost immediately after the party scored an upset victory in an upstate House seat. Democrats had hoped to capitalize on the growing dissatisfaction with the Republican budget plan for Medicare.

The calls for his resignation came after yet another development in the saga of Weiner on Friday, in which his office admitted that he had contacted a 17-year-old woman over the Internet.

Though the contact with the teen was reportedly benign, coupled with the news that Weiner sent explicit messages and photos to women on social networking websites, was likely the final straw for the Democratic leadership.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was reportedly upset with Weiner for lying to both the public and her in the twitter flap.

The resignation calls also seem to put to rest the theory that Democrats wanted Weiner to stay in the seat, quietly, and then let it be redistricted out in 2012.

Silver Shuffles Leadership Posts

Rounding out the late Friday afternoon news dump, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he was shuffling the top leadership and committee chairmanships in his chamber.

Among the notable changes: Tourism Chairman Steve Englebright is moving over to Government Operations, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz is moving from Aging to Consumer Affairs. He is being succeeded at Aging by Assemblywoman Joan Millman. Assemblywoman Annette Robinson will lead the Assembly Banks Committee, taking over for Darrel Towns, who left to become the top housing official in the Cuomo administration.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there was no mention of the stipends or “lulus” the legislators will be paid for their new jobs.

The full roster after the jump. More >


Breaking: Delaware police went to the home of a 17-year-old girl this afternoon to speak to her mother about a direct message she received from Rep. Anthony Weiner in April.

Weiner wrote (by hand) an “I’m sorry” note to his neighbors.

Mayor Bloomberg says it would be “great” for Alec Baldwin to run for mayor – as long as he becomes a NYC resident.

An anti-Weiner ad aired while Bloomberg was doing his weekly radio show.

The state GOP launched a “Weiner must resign” on-line petition.

Weinergate fallout: Less Tweeting by members of Congress.

Former Assemblyman Jerry Kremer thinks Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already surpassed his father “in gaining more notable victories” in just his first five months on the job.

Baldwin fanned the flames of speculation by re-launching his Website.

Eliot Spitzer experienced several awkward moments while covering Weinergate.

“We had a meeting literally every day about how to drive Anthony out of the race,” a 2009 Bloomberg campaign official recalled.

The NYC Central Labor Council is poised to pick as its new leader a former aide who quit in protest to the former president.

PEF says Cuomo pitched a six year contract no pay raises for four years and higher insurance co-pays.

“With respect to the World Bank, I have had no discussions with anyone…I have evidenced no interest to anyone, I do not have any interest and I am not pursuing that position,” Hillary Clinton said.

Lap dances and strip club admissions are subject to sales tax, an appeals court ruled.

Rep. Kathy Hochul will make her NYC debut as a congresswoman next Monday.

A Siena poll is due out Monday on voters’ attitudes on end of session priorities and who they will blame if issues they support are not passed. (No link).

Partial Sarah Palin email dump available here.

Outgoing state Education Commissioner David Steiner’s exit interview.

Larry Levy on the power of the suburbs.

Bill Thompson To Lead Judicial Compensation Panel

Former New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson will lead the panel charged with determining whether the state’s judges deserve a pay raise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

Rick Cotton, an executive with NBC Univerisal, was also named to the board, as was financier Bill Mulrow.

Thompson, who was the Democratic candidate for mayor in New York in 2009, is currently the chief administrative officer/senior managing director at Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. In addition, he is chairman of the Battery Park City Authority.

Mulrow was Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s original pick to become comptroller in 2007 following the resignation of Alan Hevesi. Though he’s considered well-respected in Democratic circles, the Legislature ultimately chose one of their own, the well-like Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli.

The Judicial Compensation Board was established in 2010 during the Paterson administration to study the best pay rate for state judges. Pay increases for the judiciary has been a major goal of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and her successor, Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Judges, whose pay increases have usually been tied to salary hikes for the Legislature (a deeply, insanely unpopular move these days) have not received a pay bump since 1999.

Stephen Baldwin Would Be ‘Very Surprised’ If Brother Alec Runs In 2013

Stephen Baldwin threw some cold water on speculation that his brother and fellow actor, Alec, might run for NYC mayor in 2013 now that scandal-scarred Rep. Anthony Weiner’s candidacy is all but dead.

“I would be very surprised if he would have any serious aspirations for this next New York City mayoral contest; I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Stephen Baldwin told reporters during an appearance earlier today in Syracuse.

“But, you know, it’s interesting conversation – like when Mr. Trump started talking about his aspirations.”

(Being compared to The Donald by your own flesh and blood. Ouch!)

Stephen Baldwin urged reporters not to “misinterpret” his words, saying it’s likely his brother would “consider” a run. Alec Baldwin’s spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that his client “wouldn’t rule it out” when asked about a possible run in two years.

“If there was enough of the perfect storm were to come together, then who knows what he might do,” Stephen Baldwin continued. “But, I just know on a personal level he’s looking to finish the TV show and do more of the things in his personal life that he enjoys, like relax.”

Alec Baldwin has insisted that he’ll be leaving show business in 2012 when his “30 Rock” contract expires. He told former Gov. Elliot Spitzer in January that he is very strongly considering a run for something, although he didn’t get into specifics.

The actor is a liberal Democrat and has been involved in politics for some time. He’s a big supporter of AG Eric Schneiderman.

In case you’re curious what Stephen Baldwin was doing in Syracuse. His mother, Carol, lives in Camillus and has a foundation, the Carol Baldwin Fund. He traveled to Central New York to announce details of the organization’s annual Ride for Research, set for Sept. 11.

Last fall, Alec Baldwin appeared with his mother in a holiday-themed TV ad campaign for Wegmans.

Cuomo Announces Appointments

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just announced four appointments to senior positions within the administration. They are:

- Dennis J. Hayes, chief executive deputy director of the State Insurance Fund. Hayes was previously special deputy superintendent of the New York Liquidation Bureau, but, as Cuomo announced earlier this week, that position has been given to Assemblyman Jonathan Bing.

- Bennett Liebman, deputy secretary for Racing and Gaming. Liebman was executive director of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. Under his leadership, the center established the country’s first full-time racing and gaming law program that focuses on the study of law and policy as it relates to various aspects of gaming including horse racing, Indian gaming, lottery, casino gaming and charitable gaming.

Previously, Liebman served as counsel for the state Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee. From 1988 to 2000 he served as commissioner of the state Racing and Wagering Board that oversees horse racing, off-track betting, bingo, games of chance, and Indian casino gaming.

- Jacqueline Moody-Czub, assistant secretary of Agriculture and Markets. For the past four years, she has been serving as deputy commissioner of Ag and Markets, overseeing the plant, soil and water, and animal industry divisions.

- Katie Campos, assistant secretary for education. Campos is the co-founder and executive director of Buffalo ReformED, a not-for-profit education reform advocacy organization. She has also worked as the director of public affairs for the New York Charter Schools Association and as director of development for Democrats for Education Reform.

None of these positions require Senate confirmation. The initial press release did not include salary information. We are efforting that from a Cuomo spokesman.