Bellavia Withdraws From NY-26 Race

Iraq War veteran David Bellavia has formally withdrawn from the NY-26 race, admitting in a letter to the state Board of Elections that he filed an “insufficient number of valid signatures” to get onto the ballot for the May 24 special election.

Bellavia also acknowledged that he missed the deadline for filing an acceptance to run on his self-created “Federalist Party” line.

MJ called over to the state Board of Elections and was informed that four candidates have been certified to appear on the ballot. They include: Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (GOP, Consverative, Indpendence Party), Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul (Democrat, WFP), Ian Murphy (Green Party) and Jack Davis (Tea Party).

Davis filed 12,015 signatures in his bid to get onto the ballot as an independent. (The required amount is 3,500). Davis’ campaign sent out the following statement from the candidate:

“The people of Western New York understand that both parties have failed to deliver what we need – jobs for the American people. Our independent campaign gives the voters a real choice. When I go to Washington I will fight for the working men and women of this district.”

CD26 Bellavia Federalist Party fax notice 3[1][1].31.11_2

NYSP: ‘No Evidence Of Credible Threat’ In Email

As you may have heard, there were some threatening emails sent to reporters and a few members of the legislature early this morning. We know have an official, and brief statement from the NYSP indicating that there is no evidence of a credible threat.

Here is the release.

“The New York State Police, Troop G, Loudonville and the New York State Police Computer Crimes Unit are currently investigating multiple complaints of threatening e-mails received by local and state politicians this date.

The e-mails are similar in content. At this time, there is no evidence of a credible threat. Due to the sensitive nature of this investigation, no other comments or details will be released at this time.”

Spitzer: Cuomo ‘Wrong’ On Millionaire’s Tax, Medicaid Reform

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer says he’s been trying to “avoid commentary” on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s performance todate, but couldn’t help himself when asked by the West Side Spirit to opine on the governor’s first 75 days in office.

The former governor-turned-CNN host said he disagrees with Cuomo about “certain calls,” adding:

“I think his absolutely no millionaire’s tax was, in this moment of crisis, wrong. Just as I thought extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy was wrong.”

“We talk so much about shared sacrifice, and if you look at the pincers of wealth accretion for those at the top over the past 30 years, the genuine deficit crisis that has been created, not just the sort of crisis out of the crisis which is the recession, which is a revenue crisis, but at the long-term structural deficit, we’ve been squeezing government by dropping rates, which would have been fine if the economy had grown.”

“But when it doesn’t, the question is how are we going to pay for basic things like education, infrastructure, health care. I disagree with him on that.”

Spitzer took issue with Cuomo’s strategy of putting health care players with a vested interest in the Medicaid debate – namely GNYHA and SEIU 1199 – onto the redesign team that hashed out a reform and cost-cutting strategy that included sweeteners for the industry (the indemnity fund, living wage) in exchange for accepting spending cuts.

More >

Skelos, Silver Offer Video Welcomes To Somos el Futuro

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos offered separate welcomes in a pair of YouTube videos for attendees at the Somos el Futuro conference, which kicks off today.

As Liz noted earlier, the conference comes as the fast-growing Latino community’s influence in state government and electoral politics is increasing.

In his video, Silver drops some Spanish and gives props to conference chairman, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who heads the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force that is hosting Somos.

“We need you to work with us to enjoy your stay in Albany and accept our best wishes for a successful conference,” Silver said.

Skelos, who spoke in English throughout his video, said the Republican majority would work with conference members to find “favorable solutions to the issues that face us all.” (UPDATE: I’m told Skelos also spoke Spanish in a longer version of this video that will be shown during the conference this weekend. – LB)

Spend-O-Meter

While it’s true that the $132.5 billion on-time budget passed by the Legislature this week reduces overall spending by 2 percent, it still spends a lot of money. A. Lot.

spendometer

Just to give you an idea of exactly how much money we’re talking about, the folks over at The Empire Center have created a Web-based “Spend-O-Meter” to put $132.5 billion into context.

“Under this year’s budget, our state government will spend more every hour than 200 typical New York families earn in a year,” said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center.

Methodology: The Spend-O-Meter project reflects the “all funds” financial plan disbursements of New York’s state government for the current fiscal year (April 1, 2011-March 31, 2012). It calculates the amount spent since 12:00 a.m. on April 1.

Disclaimer: The Spend-O-Meter calculates the amount based on the “clock time” of the viewer’s computer. Viewers with incorrect time settings or malfunctioning computer clocks may see inaccurate numbers.

4201 Schools Take Victory Lap

Schools for the deaf and blind are taking a victory lap this week after the approved $132.5 billion budget restored about $100 million in funding, rather than shift that cost to local school districts.

The schools, known as 4201 schools, serve high-needs children at 11 centers around the state.

“For nearly 200 years, the state has supported the education of some of New York’s most vulnerable children. Today, we know that the Governor and the legislature are committed to providing certainty and clarity for our students and families,” said Dr. Harold Mowl, Chairman of the 4201 Schools Association, and Superintendent of the Rochester School for the Deaf.

The cut was originally intended to reduce the per-pupil costs at the centers, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget office said was as high as $93,000 per student. The proposal resulted in a rally at the Capitol protesting the cuts.

Instead, the budget agreement includes a new process for determining tuition costs at the schools. The 4201 Schools Association said in a statement that Cuomo was still invited to visit one of their facilities.

“I encourage Governor Cuomo and each and every member of the legislature to visit our schools. They will witness students meeting challenges head-on, observe classroom interaction, and leave with a knowledge that every child deserves an opportunity to lead a fulfilling, independent, productive life,” Mowl said.

Capel To Cuomo Admin (Updated)

Downstate Democratic operative Rodney Capel is returning to the public payroll – this time as a staffer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, sources inside and out of the administration confirm.

Mike McKeon, who lured Capel away from NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office to his PR/consulting firm, Mercury Public Affairs, confirmed the move. Capel will be doing intergovernmental work, which is pretty much what he did for Quinn.

This is a loss for Mercury, which started as a GOP-dominated firm and then broadened its horizons by bringing on a number of Democrats (a move undertaken by a number of firms back when Eliot Spitzer was about to replace George Pataki in Albany).

But McKeon insisted he’s not upset, explaining: “This is good for the governor, and what’s good for the governor is good by us.”

Keep in mind that McKeon headed up the Republicans for Cuomo effort during the 2010 campaign, so he already has ties to the second floor.

Capel joined Mercury, which was started by a number of former Pataki administration staffers, in November 2008.

Capel started working for Quinn’s in 2006 and was responsible for overseeing the Council’s member services division and its state and federal legislative offices. He replaced Kevin Wardally, who departed to join the lobbying firm of former Dinkins administration Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch.

Capel’s father, Jim, has served as Rangel’s chief of staff for decades. The younger Capel worked for the congressman on the Hill. He also worked on H. Carl McCall’s 1994 state comptroller bid and the last three Democratic presidential bids before Obama/Biden.

UPDATE: It’s official. The Cuomo admin just sent out an e-mail formally announcing Capel’s hire. His title: NYC director of Intergovernmental Affairs.

“Rodney has a longstanding and impressive career in government, both on the local and national levels,” Cuomo said.

“His experience makes him particularly suited for this appointment. He will be a great addition to my administration as we work with elected officials from across the state towards a better New York.”

What Does NY Smell Like?

Assemblyman Matt Titone, a Staten island Democrat, sent out a press release yesterday announcing he has introduced legislation that would designate pine as the “official scent” of New York.

I believe this is an April Fool’s joke, of which there are a number running around the Capitol today – including City Hall’s annual homage to the Onion (it’s very funny this year, so take a look if you have time).

When I asked Titone if this was his idea of a prank, he responded: “All I have to say to New Yorkers is Happy April 1st.”

I have to admit though, his press release got me thinking – the state already has an official flower, tree, bird, fish, animal, gem, fossil, beverage, fruit, insect, and muffin. Why not an official smell, too?

Each community in New York has its own particular sights, sounds and smells that make it unique – for better or worse,” Titone wrote in his release.

“In Richmond County, for example, we endure the smells of New Jersey. The scent of pine, however, unifies our state like no other. From the pine barrens of Long Island to the Adirondack forests to the taxi cab air fresheners of Manhattan, the aroma of pine can be found everywhere in New York.”

“Unlike our state tree the Sugar Maple (which has no scent), the pine is an evergreen, sharing it’s unique and unifying scent for all our residents, every day of the year. The pine tree itself shares the tenacity and
can-do attitude of New Yorkers – taking root where it can, surviving and thriving.”

“The pine is the scent of Christmas, representing our best memories from our childhood and of our own families and friends. It is the scent of our open space, our city parks, and the votive candles in the shops of our merchants.”

Cost Of Bill Printing Settled Once And For All

First it was $20 million, then it was $400,000, but now it appears a compromise has been reached on how much it costs to print thousands upon thousands of sheets of paper when bills and memos go to the floors of the Senate and Assembly.

During the budget vote in the Assembly that spilled into Thursday morning, Jim Tedisco (R-Saratoga) spoke behind a wall of paper once again making the case for the Legislature to go paperless.

In the video posted below, Tedisco persuaded Assembly Ways And Means Chairman Denny Farrell (D-Manhattan) to explain the cost of printing is $13 million, plus an additional $40 million for waste management and disposal, according to a press release sent by Tedisco’s office.

Tedisco originally said the cost is estimated at $20 million dollars, which the Democratic majority disputed–putting the cost at only $400,000.

Bratton Joins Marriage Equality Campaign

Former NYPD, and LAPD commissioner Bill Bratton is the latest person to cut a short video for the Human Rights Campaign’s push for marriage equality in New York.

Bratton cut the spot with his wife, Rikki Klieman.

Now that the budget it behind us, we will probably see more of a push for the passage of marriage equality – one of Andrew Cuomo’s campaign promises.