Dec 10th - 8:55 am
In the wake of the Senate’s failure to bail out the cash-strapped NYC OTB, Mayor Bloomberg is patting himself on the back for having the foresight to dump the ailing downstate gambling operation on the state.
“One of the great transactions in history was New York City pushing OTB into the state’s lap, because it isn’t that OTB didn’t have more revenue than expenses, it is that the state, by law, took…120 percent of the profits,” Bloomberg told WOR’s John Gambling during the duo’s weekly radio show this morning.
The mayor called it “ridiculous” to say New York is the only place that could run a money-losing gambling operation, insisting people who have said that “just don’t understand what they’re talking about.”
“OTB did make money, but they demanded 120 percent of it go to support the racing industry,” Bloomberg said. “…It’s not the city’s obligation, thank you very much.”
As you’ll recall, the state stepped in to take over the NYC OTB back in June 2008 after marathon negotiations between the Bloomberg and Paterson administrations that at times turned contentious. Bloomberg threatened at the time to shut down betting parlors in the five boroughs unless the state agreed to take them over.
(Hmm…are you starting to see the pattern here?)
The deal included a job as state Racing and Wagering Board chairman for then-Sen. John Sabini, providing him with a soft landing after he lost the support of his fellow Queens Democrats in a primary battle with then-NYC Cocuncilman Hiram Monserrate. (Boy, did they bet badly on that one).
The Paterson administration made good on its threat of a shutdown this time following the Senate’s failure to follow the Assembly’s lead and pass a NYC OTB bailout bill. Republican senators have insisted negotiations are ongoing, but the governor challenged that assertion yesterday.
An Assembly spokeswoman told me in no uncertain terms last night that Speaker Sheldon Silver will not be calling his members back to Albany prior to the end of the year, which doesn’t bode well for the Senate GOP’s so-called compromise bill to include suburban and regional OTBs.
The Assembly will be holding a hearing next Wednesday in Albany on consolidation of the OTBs statewide.
Dec 10th - 7:51 am
Business leaders who intend to raise $10 million to help Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo fight state employee unions through the new Committee to Save New York have found an unexpected ally in Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera.
Cuomo is “domiciled” in Sandra Lee’s $1.2 million Mount Kisco home, where the two “share in expenses…including the property tax expense.”
Cuomo paid the residency tax in NYC, where he keeps an apartment, out of an “abundance of caution,” a spokesman said, even though his primary residence is in the suburbs.
The two residences thing can get confusing.
The governor-elect tapped old allies from the AG’s office and his father’s administration to serve as his closest advisers on the Capitol’s second floor.
The man occupying the top post among Cuomo’s senior staff, Steve Cohen, wanted to leave state government, but agreed to stay after prodding by the governor-elect.
Page Six is not pleased with Cuomo’s spokesman Josh Vlasto, adding his name to “the liar’s den.”
New Yorkers are girding themselves for tax increases in spite of Cuomo’s assurances that there will not be any.
The Times wants Cuomo to push for stronger lobbying laws.
Rep. Anthony Weiner and the Rev. Al Sharpton are at odds over the tax cut deal President Obama cut with the GOP.
Republicans blocked a vote on the Zadroga bill, whose backers now hope to attach it to the tax cut agreement.
Dec 9th - 7:30 pm
President Obama announced today that he has tapped former Spitzer/Paterson administration commissioner Denise O’Donnell to serve as director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice.
O’Donnell most recently served as state deputy secretary for Public Safety, but resigned in the wake of the David Johnson domestic violence scandal. She was initially appointed in 2007 by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to the post of commissioner of the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
O’Donnell, a former US attorney (during the Clinton years) who hails from Buffalo, ran an unsuccessful campaign for attorney general in 2006 and dropped out shortly after failing to get onto the ballot at the state Democratic convention in Buffalo.
She mulled a run this year, too, but ended up taking a pass and endorsing the lone woman in the race: Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice.
Rice lost to now AG-elect Eric Schneiderman in the five-way Democratic primary this past September. Schneiderman went on to defeat Republican Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in the November general election.
Dec 9th - 5:06 pm
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo doesn’t pay property taxes because the house in which he lives in Westchester belongs to his girlfriend, Sandra Lee.
Mayor Bloomberg praised President Obama in front of US Education Secretary Arne Duncan and insisted (again) that he’s not running in 2012.
Gov. David Paterson apologized to The Jewish Week for eliminating the state’s kosher food inspection unit, but said budget cuts forced him to do so.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is willing to give Cuomo “political cover.”
Josh Greenman: Bipartisanship is not a one man game.
Where is Rep. Scott Murphy, who still has three weeks left in public life? It’s tough to tell.
Paterson warned other OTBs could be on the chopping block, and the Assembly scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday on the subject.
NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Cathie Black gave the DN a preview of layoffs.
The latest bad schools list is out.
More details about Gregg Birnbaum’s departure from the NY Post.
Norman Seabrook is off the MTA Board.
NYC will start charging private hospitals for ambulances.
The Seneca Nation might delay solution of their casino compact dispute until Cuomo takes office.
Judicial Watch is suing the Bloomberg administration for Ground Zero mosque-related documents.
Bloomberg declined to extend the Priority 7 voucher program – a move that won’t sit well with the Orthodox community.
Dec 9th - 4:59 pm
Appearing at an event honoring former AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” R. Greenberg, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s investigative tactics and accused him of unfairly persecuting the ex-insurance executive.
Giuliani appeared at the fourth annual benefit dinner of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation honoring Greenberg, who is the current chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co. He called Greenberg “a remarkable American” and a “patriot.”
From a National Underwriter Online News Service report on the event:
Mr. Giuliani added: I think what was done to him was one of the great outrages in American legal history,” referring to Mr. Greenberg’s forced retirement from AIG in 2005 during an accounting scandal that subsequently saw an AIG executive and four executives from General Reinsurance convicted of manipulating AIG’s financial statement.
Clearly referring to Mr. Spitzer, but not referring to him by name, Mr. Giuliani said: “And the person who was doing it is terrible on television,” adding,: “What a nit-wit.”
Mr. Spitzer, who was elected governor of New York in 2006 and resigned in disgrace after a liaison with prostitutes was uncovered in 2008, is now host of an evening talk show on CNN.
Dec 9th - 4:29 pm
Former Assemblyman-turned-White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley’s domestic abuse trial ended today with his conviction on five of nine criminal charges.
The Hudson Valley Democrat rejected calls for his resignation, and insisted he will appeal.
“I am innocent, of course, I’m not going to step down. The truth will come out,” Bradley said.
The Times reports Bradley was found guilty of attempted assault, harassment and contempt of court, all misdemeanors, and could face a year in jail when sentenced on March 17, officials said, though it would be unusual if he were to receive jail time given his clean previous record.
He was found guilty of five charges and not guilty of four more, including the most serious charge of third-degree assault by District Court Judge Susan M. Capeci, who heard the case without a jury.
UPDATE: Bradley just released a lengthy statement that starts off:
“Today’s verdict is deeply disappointing, and one with which I disagree.”
“From the beginning, I have been unequivocal in stating that the charges against me were false and unfounded, and that I did not in any way mistreat my wife. I still believe that the truth will ultimately come out in the judicial process, and it is for this reason that I will appeal.”
The rest of the statement appears after the jump.
Dec 9th - 3:37 pm
LG Richard Ravitch made what is likely his last appearance in Albany as lieutenant governor for a free-wheeling speech and Q-and-A session with reporters during which he addressed his frustrations since he was appointed to the job by Gov. David Paterson almost 18 months ago.
Ravitch also joined me for a CapTon interview that will air tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. In the meantime, here are some outtakes from his stint at the Rockefeller Institute…
On feeling that he didn’t get enough done when he was LG:
“I understand the disincentives. I shared vicariously the pain that a lot of the good people in government feel when their ideas are ignored.”
On whether Paterson was a strong governor:
“I think he wanted to. I think it was difficult set of circumstances to succeed the way he did, and he had not had experience as an executive. But I think he tried to do the right things, absolutely.”
On why his budget reform proposal got tanked by the governor:
“That’s a difficult question to answer. I told you, I made a set of recommendations. I assume he didn’t agree with them because he didn’t push that legislation.”
“But in fairness to David, he wanted to see what the reaction was generally, and two things happened. One: The attorney general conveyed to the distinguished gentleman from the Associated Press that he was opposed to it, and that was well known very quickly.”
Dec 9th - 3:11 pm
After presiding over his final closed-door meeting today, outgoing Public Integrity Commission Chairman Michael Cherkasky released a lengthy statement that is equal parts self-congratulatory and critical of the body he has led since last May.
Cherkasky, who announced back in October that he would resign on the first day of Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s tenure due to an “increasing number of conflicts of interest” posed by his day job as Altegrity CEO, applauded the PIC commission staff for working long hours “frequently under fire” as well as the commissioners themselves.
“You have been disparaged on more than one occasion by critics, many of whom have acted out of self-interest and self-promotion,” Cherkasky wrote. “You have responded by raising the level of the dialogue, going about your business in a professional manner and doing the job that you volunteered to do.”
(Recall that Gov. David Paterson, who appointed Cherkasky to replace John Feerick, turned on the PIC, calling for every commissioner to resign in the wake of a scathing IG report that accused them of botching the Troopergate probe).
The commissioners did not resign, and went on to investigate Paterson himself in two separate inquiries – the Yankees World Series tickets and David Johnson domestic abuse scandal.
Cherkasky said he was “proud” the commission stood its ground against Paterson, adding:
“I found the commission’s actions to have been appropriate, and the Commissioners’ refusal to resign was both courageous and proof of independence from the political process, a characteristic that is a must for a watchdog on integrity.”
Cherkasky said he regrets leaving his post at this point in the PIC’s history, and then highlighted five matters of “concern,” which appear in full after the jump. In short, he says the commission has too many members selected by a process that “looks too partisan” and lacks sufficient resources to accomplish its mission.
He also noted the need for more stringent legislative oversight, saying: “Integrity cannot be limited to the executive branch of government.”
Dec 9th - 2:11 pm
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to 13 other states – including New York.
The lion’s share of the cash, up to $624 million, is going to California. Next comes Florida with $342.3 million, Washington State with $161.5 million and Illinois with $42.3 million.
Comparatively speaking, especially when you consider that New York is right up there in terms of size, we’re not getting very much – $7.3 million. But it’s not nothing. And it’s a heck of a lot more than Indiana is getting ($364,980).
Cuomo made a pitch for the rejected high-speed rail dollars within days of his landslide win over Carl Paladino in the Nov. 2 general election. In a letter to LaHood, the governor-elect called high-speed rail a “top priority,” adding: “High speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State and help rebuild Upstate New York’s economy. Now is the moment to build.”
Dec 9th - 12:25 pm
The US Senate has failed to pass a key test vote that would open debate on the 9/11 Health Care and Compensation Act, also known as the Zadroga bill. It would provide $7 billion in aid to first responders and their families.
The measure needed 60 votes to pass and only managed to get 57 votes.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid initially indicated he would vote yes, but changed his vote at the last minute. The maneuver allows him the option of bringing the bill up again.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued the following statement:
“The idea that tax cuts for millionaires would derail this legislation is simply outrageous and offensive. The men and women who rushed to the burning towers and worked for hundreds of hours on the pile did not delay and the Senate should not have delayed either, certainly not to give tax breaks for millionaires. We should not have to wait for tax deals to do what’s right.”
The House has already passed its version of the bill.