Jan 19th - 9:37 am
Here are some excerpts of the remarks embattled White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley delivered last night at the Democratic City Committee meeting where his longtime colleagues and political allies formally called for him to resign for his multiple convictions of spousal abuse.
“I am the first to admit that my inaugural year as Mayor certainly involved some unanticipated events,” Bradley said.
“However, as I’ve done every day since taking office, I have stayed focused on doing my job as Mayor, effectively managing the administration for the benefit of the people of White Plains – and the City is in fact moving forward.”
“…I want to reiterate that I respect the right of those here tonight and other Democratic Party activists to express themselves in any and every appropriate forum.”
“However, I will not engage in the distracting political noise and symbolic gestures that seem to pre-occupy a small faction of this organization and this city.”
The Journal News reports the committee rejected a similar resolution by a 2-to-1 ratio in April, following the assemblyman-turned-mayor’s second arrest.
This time, the resolution was adopted by the same ratio. Forty-two district leaders voter “yes,” 19 cast “no” votes and four abstained. The resolution will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and AG Eric Schneiderman.
In addition, five Common Council members sent a letter to Cuomo Tuesday calling on him to remove Bradley from office.
Jan 19th - 9:12 am
A reader suggested it might be constructive to compare the post-campaign bonuses handed out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to a select few top staffers to those awarded by the state’s last duly elected governor, Eliot Spitzer, back in 2006.
Spitzer exceeded Cuomo in the bonus department in pretty much every way.
First off, he gave out $1.35 million to some 49 individuals as opposed to Cuomo’s relatively modest $401,500 to eight people.
Spitzer’s closest aide, Richard Baum, got the biggest bonus of $200,000 and then went into the government payroll as secretary to the governor. Cuomo’s closest aide, Joe Percoco, received a $90,000 bonus and is now executive deputy secretary to the governor.
More than 20 staffers received at least $10,000 from Spitzer as a “thank-you” for working on his gubernatorial bid, which he won with an historic 69 percent of the vote. (Cuomo received 62 percent of the vote; his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, garnered 65 percent in his 1986 re-election campaign).
Even a few Spitzer campaign interns received small stipends. Not so for Cuomo – at least not as far as I can tell.
Keep in mind, the former governor wasn’t trying to husband resources to do budget battle with the labor unions. He did, however, spend some $1 million of his own money (although Cuomo is hardly hurting for cash, Spitzer has far more in the way of personal wealth) on an ad war with 1199 and GNYHA.
This was a big deal at the time. But Spitzer lost this fight when the powerhouse health care union and its hospital association partner overpowered him on the airwaves and the Legislature restored the bulk of the Medicaid cuts he had sought.
Undoubtedly, Cuomo was watching and learning. Hence, the Committee to Save NY and his post-campaign appeals for ammunition in what is widely anticipated to be a bruising budget battle.
Also, Spitzer didn’t run on a message of fiscal restraint the way Cuomo did, and he didn’t face the same massive budget hole to fill upon taking office, although there was – as there usually is – a structural deficit worth between $4.3 billion and $5 billion. (The one Cuomo faces is projected to be at least twice that).
Cuomo faces a bit of an image problem with these bonuses that Spitzer didn’t have to worry about. The payouts came several weeks before the newly-minted governor, with great fanfare, announced he and his top aides would take a 5 percent pay cut to set an example to the rest of the state in these difficult fiscal times.
A number of those aides received campaign bonuses that represent considerably more money than the 5 percent haircut they took on the public payroll.
However, as the TImes points out, two staffers – Drew Zambelli and Howard Glaser – both gave up lucrative consulting businesses to work for the Cuomo administration.
Jan 19th - 8:22 am
The Times calls on Gov. Andrew Cuomo “as the purveyor of a new, transparent Albany,” to “make certain that all groups – supporting him or opposing him – reveal their donors.”
The DN calls on Cuomo to move ASAP on ethics reform.
Just weeks before he announced a 5 percent pay cut for himself and his top aides, Cuomo gave several of those same aides five-figure bonuses for working on his campaign.
Cuomo, who has pledged to overhaul the campaign finance system, is taking political cash from donors who exploit the LLC loophole.
The governor spent $350 worth of campaign cash at Brooks Bros. for “staff gifts.”
Mayor Bloomberg will try to hit the reset button in his State of the City address today.
New Yorkers for Growth is pushing for repeal of the Triborough Amendment, a provision of the state’s Taylor Law that allows unions to operate under the provisions of an expired contract while a new contract is being negotiated.
Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will deliver the first-ever State of SUNY speech today.
Jan 18th - 6:00 pm
Connecticut Democrat Sen. Joe Liberman won’t seek re-election in 2012.
NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams on Mayor Bloomberg’s recent troubles: “With all his money and all his power, he usually lives in a different world. But at least for now, he’s back to where the rest of us live.”
The Senate GOP is pushing a constitutional amendment that would cap state spending at 2 percent and a bill that would require a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to approve any tax increases.
AG Eric Schneiderman announced an $18 million settlement with the state’s largest residential service provider.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer have a wish list for issues they hope President Obama will broach with Chinese President Ju Jintao.
The NYCCFB is Tweeting NYC politicians’ net contributions.
Mayor Bloomberg will propose in tomorrow’s State of the City address letting livery cabbies legally pick up passengers.
The “good, bad and in-between” of Albany 2010, as seen by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Howie Hawkins and his fellow Greens protested National Grid.
Chuck Cunningham, the NRA”s director of Political Affairs, keynote the Assembly GOP’s second annual “Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day on Jan. 25. (No link).
High-capacity magazine makers have raised millions for the NRA.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Steel City mayor Luke Ravensthal are seeking input on a wager for Sunday’s AFC championship game.
The AP’s Sara Kugler Fraizer has a new job.
Jan 18th - 5:37 pm
Peace Corps founder and former vice-presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, 95, has passed away. President Obama just released the following statement:
“I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Sargent Shriver, one of the brightest lights of the greatest generation.”
“Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Sarge came to embody the idea of public service. Of his many enduring contributions, he will perhaps best be remembered as the founding director of the Peace Corps, helping make it possible for generations of Americans to serve as ambassadors of goodwill abroad.”
“His loss will be felt in all of the communities around the world that have been touched by Peace Corps volunteers over the past half century and all of the lives that have been made better by his efforts to address inequality and injustice here at home.”
“My thoughts and prayers are with Robert, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony, and the entire Shriver family during this sad time.”
Jan 18th - 5:33 pm
The new Senate Minority conference is appealing to the GOP majority in hopes of leveling the playing field when it comes to resources and bringing legislation to the floor.
Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron are proposing a resolution that would give minority members the power to introduce bills even if the majority leader disapproves. It would also require each side have equal staff allocations, resources, and member items.
Krueger touted the rules reform adopted after the 2009 coup, which allowed the then-GOP minority access to more resources.
Of course, now that the Dems are back in the minority, they want those rules to go even further, saying the changes adopted in January and June of 2009 were merely a first step forward.
“What we are hoping to do with this year’s changing rules is to move the ball down the field,” Krueger said using one of many references to football following the New York Jets win over the Patriots Sunday.
“We’re very proud as Democrats to have significantly improve the rules of the Senate over the last two years, but we didn’t go far enough. We know that.”
Republicans are expected to introduce a resolution today that would expand the current rules through Feb. 1. Krueger says she wants the Senate to adopt these new rules now before the budget process begins that same day.
Sen. Krueger and her colleagues were also asked about eliminating member items as a way to ease the state’s estimated $10 billion deficit, which they agreed is a good idea. However, if member items find their way into the budget they say those items should be equal across the board.
Jan 18th - 5:31 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo doled out at least $225,000 worth of bonuses to top staffers on his campaign team after he won the 2010 governor’s race, his most recent financial report shows.
The biggest windfall went to Cuomo’s right-hand and, Joe Percoco, who started as an advance man with former Gov. Mario Cuomo and has been with the current governor’s side through every step of his political career – from HUD to the failed 2002 campaign to the AG’s office.
Cuomo paid Percoco a whopping $90,000 at the beginning of December. That goes a long way toward making up for that 5 percent pay cut all top staffers took at the start of this year, following the lead of their boss, who said he wanted to set an example as he prepares to call for massive spending cuts.
The next largest bonus of $80,000 went to another Mario Cuomo administration, Drew Zambelli, who is the current governor’s uber-message man. Technically speaking, his title is “counselor to the governor” – a position created during Cuomo I, but not held by anyone in recent years. He’s earning $169,100.
Other bonuses went to Ben Lawsky ($50,000), who is now pulling down $169,100 as Cuomo’s chief of staff; Josh Vlasto ($10,000) who’s making $120,000 as deputy communications director.
There are a number of other payments to campaign aides in Cuomo’s Jan. 15 expenditure report, but an administration source informs me these are not bonuses. I’ve been told Cuomo’s finance director, Jennifer Bayer Michaels, also got a bonus, but have been unable to locate that in the filing.
UPDATED: The payment of $65,000 went to Michaels’ firm, JB Consulting Services.
Two former spokespeople who left ex-Gov. David Paterson’s team in the wake of the twin David Johnson/domestic violence and Yankees tickets scandals and then later showed up on Cuomo’s campaign – Peter Kauffmann and Marissa Shorenstein – got payments of $5,000 and $6,666.50, respectively, from the governor’s political committee in December.
Former Hillary Clinton spokesman Phil Singer’s firm, Marathon Strategies, received $10,000.
Howard Glaser’s Washington, D.C.-based firm, Capitol Hill Associates, got a $50,000 windfall. Glaser, who worked with Cuomo at HUD, is now a member of the administration with twin titles: Director of state operations and senior policy adviser. He’s also earning $169,100.
Jan 18th - 3:46 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has made it clear he will spend political cash to advance his agenda in the upcoming budget battle, has just over $4.1 million in the bank.
One of Cuomo’s fundraisers, Jennifer Bayer Michaels, sent out the toplines for Cuomo’s Jan. 15 financial filing, which is not yet available on the state Board of Elections Website. Here’s the breakdown:
Opening Balance: $4,986,705.22
Total Receipts: $217,625.79
Total Expenses: $1,028,211.00
Total On Hand (End of Period): $4,176,120.01
The DN reported last week that Cuomo sent out a fundraising appeal, seeking donors’ help in countering what he called the “special-interest campaigns” he expects will be launched by the labor unions and their allies.
Some opening shots have already been fired in that fight.
NYSUT, for example, recently launched a pro-teacher ad campaign. A coalition of public and private sector unions is airing a radio ad that targets Wall Streeters for getting rich in the wake of government bailouts.
Another group of special interests – namely the business and real estate community – have formed the Committee to Save NY and raised some $10 million to help cover Cuomo’s flank in this fight. The CSNY launched its first pro-Cuomo ad last week.
Jan 18th - 3:35 pm
The “dental procedure” from which Gov. Andrew Cuomo was recovering that prevented him from attending the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MLK Day celebration – more or less a must-attend event for Democratic elected officials – was a root canal, the governor’s office confirms.
Cuomo had the procedure done on Friday. Apparently, he was in a lot of pain, but is doing fine now.
He had a local anesthetic, which is standard for this type of dental work. That means he was awake throughout the surgery, and so there were no issues of succession to deal with.
(Sorry, LG Bob Duffy, maybe next time).
UPDATE: I’m told the governor was spotted on the second floor of the Capitol yesterday – perhaps working on the budget, which he is due to deliver on Feb. 1, so he’s well on his way to a full recovery.
As you might recall, Cuomo’s predecessor, ex-Gov. David Paterson, underwent a series of eye surgeries early in his gubernatorial tenure. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (this was the summer before the 2008 elections when the Democrats took control of the chamber), who was next in line at the time, was alerted about Paterson’s condition – just in case.
The “who’s in charge” question has come up from time to time over the years. Ex-Gov. George Pataki, for example, insisted he was still running the state even when he wasn’t here. He also worked from a hospital bed after undergoing emergency abdominal surgery toward the end of his tenure in the spring of 2008.
The governor hasn’t made any public appearances since last Friday when he delivered two back-to-back versions of his State of the State speech that were tailored for upstate audiences in Jamestown (on Thursday) and Watertown (on Friday).
He’s in Albany with no public schedule.
Jan 18th - 3:07 pm
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will give the first ever “State of the University” address tomorrow.
Zimpher would not divulge details of her speech, but said she’ll indulge in some “bragging” about SUNY’s accomplishments over the last year and then lay out her agenda moving forward.
During a brief interview at the Capitol earlier today, Zimpher also addressed rumors that SUNY campuses may be facing funding cuts and tuition hikes to help reduce the state’s estimated $10 billion deficit:
“This is a tough time. Everybody knows that,” said Zimpher.
“But I think the public deserves to know that the State University of New York is working for it. I think it’s a partnership so we will rally support but we will do our part in exchange.”
The address will be at the Egg in Albany at 10 a.m.