Gillibrand On Meeting With Giffords

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her colleague, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke at length with reporters on Air Force One last night about their experience visiting their friend and fellow member of Congress, Rep. Gabby Giffords, in the hospital before last night’s memorial service in Tucson.

Gillibrand said she had been holding Giffords’ hand when she opened her eyes for the very first time – something the president revealed during his speech.

The moment came, the junior senator said, when she and Wasserman Schultz were joking about how their friend had to hurry up and get well because of all the social outings they wanted to take with her.

“She was rubbing our hands and gripping our hands so we could – she could really – we knew she could hear and understand what we were saying and she moved her leg, and so we knew she was responding,” Gillibrand said, according to a transcript provided by the White House pool reporter.

“And the more we joked about what we were going to do, she started to open her eyes literally.”

“And then you have to recognize, her eyes hadn’t opened – we didn’t know that – and so she started to struggle. And one of her eyes is covered with a bandage because it was damaged in the gunfire. So her eye is flickering. And Mark sees this and gets extremely excited. ”

“And we didn’t – I didn’t know what that meant. And so he said, Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes. And he’s really urging her forward. And the doctor is like perking up and everyone is coming around the bed. And she’s struggling and she’s struggling and it’s a good – we couldn’t figure it out, maybe 30 seconds, where she’s really trying to get her eyes open, like doing this, this, this.”

“And then she finally opens her eyes and you could she was like desperately trying to focus and it took enormous strength from her. And Mark could just – can’t believe it. I mean, he’s so happy. And we’re crying because we’re witnessing something that we never imagined would happen in front of us.”

Gillibrand went on to describe how Giffords grabbed the wrist of her husband, Mark, after he asked her to touch his ring. She and Wasserman-Schultz both recounted how Mark Kelly had predicted his wife would make a full recovery and would even be walking within two weeks.

The transcript is quite long, but it’s also moving. Gillibrand recalls a double date she and her husband had recently with Kelly and Giffords at a Washington, D.C. pizzeria and describes them as being deeply in love and in a perpetual newly-wed state.

So, I’m going to post it in full after the jump.

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Extras

NJ Gov. Chris Christie to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani: “I guess when you are retired and out of politics its easy to come on these shows and shoot away.”

Sarah Palin’s use of the term “blood libel” in her Arizona shooting fallout response has angered Jews.

The Anti-Defamation League came to Palin’s defense, while admitting she could have chosen her words better.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called Palin’s remarks “unhelpful.”

House members reconvened in Washington to honor the dead; Republicans rejected calls for more gun control.

Mayor Bloomberg is “relieved” about the response to the latest snow storm.

Bloomberg will deliver his 10th State of the City speech at the St. George Theater on Staten Island.

Jim Malatras is the Cuomo administration’s point man on MTA policy.

Patrick Gaspard marks the one-year anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sidestepped a question about whether the Committee to Save NY should make its donor list public.

Mark Steyn will speak at the Conservative Party’s Political Action Conference on Jan. 31 at the Holiday Inn in Colonie.

Walmart started a mail campaign about moving into NYC.

The Deutsche Bank building is nearly no more.

The Brennan Center has some suggestions for rules reform in the state Senate.

Assemblyman Rory Lancman released a report on emergency preparedness in the NYC theater district.

Richard Lipsky is disgusted with the WFP.

The governor will speak at Jefferson Community College in Watertown Friday; he’ll be in Jamestown tomorrow.

Cuomo, very frugal.

So sad, but not surprising.

The head of a nonprofit that got substantial member item support from Assemblyman Peter Rivera was hit with federal corruption charges.

Klein’s Office Odyssey Continues

Sen. Jeff Klein is about to be relocated yet again, booted from his temporary digs in Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ old office by his replacement as Minority Leader John Sampson’s No. 2, Sen. Neil Breslin.

Apparently, Klein’s claim that his office swap with Libous, which had been widely viewed as some kind of perk awarded him by the Republicans after he bolted the Democratic conference, was in fact not a permanent trade turns out to be true.

The Bronx Democrat expects to be relocated to the LOB next week – he hopes on the third floor and somewhere nearby his fellow Independence Democratic Conference members, Sens. Diane Savino, Dave Valesky and Dave Carlucci.

Klein told me his lone request to the GOP was that the IDC be afforded a conference room so they can meet and strategize separate from their former Democratic colleagues.

The senator said he has not yet heard anything about committee assignments from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who hasn’t closed the door on giving the IDC members chairmanships, but also hasn’t done so yet, preferring instead to let three of his own members do double duty (Patrick Gallivan, Andy Lanza, and John Bonacic).

The committee question may be settled as early as next week. In the meantime, Klein is sticking to his claim that his decision to leave the Democratic conference had nothing to do with the perks he might receive from the GOP.

Perks and the trappings of the office were not the reasons to form the Independent Democratic Conference,” the senator told me.

“Our purpose is to move a Democratic legislative agenda in a bipartisan fashion. We’ll leave the perks and the office space to John Sampson’s leadership. He deems that very important.”

Delinquent Authorities

The Authorities Budget Office released a report today that identifies state and local authorities that have not filed a budget, annual and/or audit report for the most recent reporting period as required by new Public Authorities Law.

The release of this report is considered a public warning of non-compliance pursuant to Section (6)(2)(f) of the law.

Public authority reform, as you’ll recall, was a big priority for former Assemblyman/AG candidate Richard Brodsky, who liked to refer to the so-called shadow government as a “Soviet-style bureaucracy.”

January 2011 Delinquent List

Oddo: Damage To Bloomberg Can’t Be Undone

There has been much talk of second chances for Mayor Bloomberg in light of the most recent snowstorm to blanket the five boroughs with flakes.

But NYC Council Minority Leader Jimmy Oddo, who isn’t shy about speaking his mind when it comes to the Bloomberg administration, told radio host Curtis Sliwa last night that no matter how fabulous the response this time around, the mayor won’t likely be able to redeem himself from the last blizzard debacle.

“”I expect them to come out with their A game tonight,” Oddo said on AM 970 The Apple during a special,m post- storm evening edition of Sliwa’s show, which usually airs early in the morning.

“The ironic thing is even if they do a good job and we don’t have the same problems we had with the blizzard, I’m not sure they’ll get any credit for it. I think there’s been permanent damage done to their reputation.”

Bloomberg said earlier today that the response to this (considerably smaller) storm has been “exemplary.”

Oddo praised his Council colleagues for their day-long hearing Monday on the administration’s Christmas weekend blizzard response, saying he believed they “did right by the people in the city.”

“It was a fascinating day,” the Staten Island Republican said. “You had a deputy mayor sit there and tell the public that a decision about a snow emergency was reached without anyone notifying the mayor of the city of NY.”

“Now think about that. The guy has an iPad. He’s got a BlackBerry. He made millions of dollars in the technology field and no one thought to send him an e-mail.”

Save The Date!

It’s that time of year again…time to save the date for the 2011 LCA show (May 7).

Compliments of TU State Editor Casey Seiler, here’s a little taste of what’s to come in the nation’s oldest political gridiron show.

It revisits one of the highlights of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, a little dust-up just north of here that we at CapTon like to call the “Sagamore Smackdown.”

Yes, it’s true. Yet again we find ourselves with a plethora of material for this year’s show. AND, it’s the first show of Cuomo II.

Hopefully, the governor will play ball and respond. He did during the 2002 gubernatorial primary, and knocked the ball out of the park, despite the fact that he was a very late add.

If Carl Paladino buys a ticket and shows up, I will eat my own hat.

WFP Targets ‘Right-Wing Talking Heads’

In the wake of the Arizona shooting, the Working Families Party is asking supporters to send an e-mail to “Right Wing talking heads and the advertisers who pay for their shows” to condemn what the labor-backed party’s leaders deemed “violent rhetoric” and ask them to stop “playing with fire.”

WFP Co-Chair Bob Master and Executive Director Dan Cantor refused to accept that the left also engages in the sort of heated political discourse that has been widely condemned since the Tucson tragdey – perhaps even with this very e-mail – writing:

“No, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Rupert Murdoch didn’t put the gun in the deranged shooter’s hands.”

“But they and their politician allies created the perfect storm of anti-government propaganda that, together with the NRA’s bought-and-paid-for gun laws, made an act of violence against a Democratic elected official inevitable.”

“…One phrase we’re sure you’ve heard is ‘extremists on both sides.’ But we’re not going to cede ground to those who wish to create false equivalencies. Only the Right’s extremists are validated every day by their leaders in Congress and the media, who have succeeded in pushing the boundaries of acceptable discourse with each passing debate.”

Master and Cantor specifically take aim at Sarah Palin for her “now infamous image” of crosshairs aimed at the districts of 20 Democrats, including Giffords.

“Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck may not be ready to tone it down, but the corporate advertising departments that pay their salaries are keenly attuned to public opinion,” the WFP officials said.

“It’s time to reflect and retreat when it comes to over-the-top rhetoric, and the corporations paying the bills need to be told that they too are accountable.”

Palin this morning released a video statement that accused reporters and political observers of “blood libel” in pointing the finger of blame at her. She said shootings like the one in Arizona “begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state.”

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength” from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Gillibrand To Tucson With Obama (Updated)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office just announced the junior senator has boarded Air Force One to travel with President Obama to Tucson, Az. to attend tonight’s memorial service for the victims of last Saturday’s shooting.

Gillibrand, who has spoken often about her friendship with Rep. Gabby Giffords, will join other (unnamed in this press release) members of Congress at the University of Arizona Medical Center to visit the congressman’s husband, staff, and other victims and their loved ones.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that only in moments of darkness, can we see the stars.,” Gillibrand said.

“I hope in this time of sadness and loss, we can find new strength to come together as a nation and foster greater respect for one another.”

“We may never make any sense of this heinous crime, but I remember how Gabby so often urged people to stand up to the violent language that divides us, and focus on solutions. That is exactly what we need to do right now.”

“I want to thank President Obama for his compassionate leadership at this time of great national tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims of this horrible tragedy, their loved ones, and with all Americans as we struggle to move forward together.”

UPDATE: As per the pool report, the other people on the plane are: Justice Anthony Kennedy, Attorney General Holder, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Other House members: Paul Gosar, Trent Franks, Ben Quayle, David Schweikert, Jeff Flake, Clyburn, Wasserman Schultz.

Program note: We here at CapTon will be taking the president’s speech live tonight, and then will be taking calls from viewers. I’ll be joined by Syracuse Political Science Prof. Grant Reeher. That’s at 8 p.m. with a re-air at 11:30 p.m.

NOTE: Spelling of Tucson fixed. My brain is at home with the cat.

Medicaid Redesign Team To Meet Publicly (Updated)

The 27-member team tapped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to come up with recommendations for overhauling New York’s behemoth Medicaid system will hold its first public meeting tomorrow afternoon.

The get-together will be held in the Blue Room on the second floor of the state Capitol and last from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to an alert blasted out this morning by StateWide Senior Action Council e-news, which also included the following shout-out:

“Thanks to Assemblymember (Richard) Gottfried for pushing to make these meetings open to the public.”

Earlier this week, Cuomo announced the creation of a Website for the Medicaid Redesign Team, which, like the Mandate Relief Team, is tasked with reporting back to him with proposals by March 1.

UPDATE: The location has been changed to Meeting Room 6 in the Empire State Plaza concourse, which can hold a bigger crowd. The time remains the same. Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader who pointed out the switch.

Tomorrow’s meeting is posted on the site.

This comes in the wake of criticism of Cuomo after he held a closed-door lunch at the executive mansion with majority legislative leaders.

(He’s also going to be meeting with minority leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers as he seeks to build early support for his fiscally conservative budget and top agenda items).

Critics said Cuomo’s meeting with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was too reminiscent of the old “three men in a room” style of hashing out deals and not in keeping with the governor’s pledge to bring a new era of transparency to Albany.

Cuomo said Monday that he’s going to be taking his message to the people – starting, as it turns out, with an abbreviated version of his State of the State speech in Jamestown tomorrow morning. He also said he’ll be meeting with whoever he can, wherever he can to try to rally support for his proposals.

Cuomo Surprised And Shocked By NYSP Raises

After meeting with officials at the State Emergency Management Office to talk about the snow storming slamming much of New York, Governor answered questions about today’s report in the NY Post that several high ranking members of the New York State Police got raises in the past few weeks.

“Surprised. And shock. How bout that,” Cuomo said when asked for his reaction to the report. “We are going to be reviewing those raises. I am aware of the story that was in the press today and we are going to be reviewing it as part of the budget process. But I was surprised and I was shocked as I think most New Yorkers were.”

Cuomo went on to criticize the entire state salary structure, saying their are many areas of the state where it doesn’t make sense because commissioners make less than their deputies, and then turned his attention back to the issue of raises for state workers.

“Giving large raises at this point in time, in this context, when you know the fiscal problems the state is having, you know the state is in the middle of laying off 900 employees because of the budget problem. To be giving raises in that environment I think is problematic. I think it is insensitive,” Cuomo added.

Cuomo also answered questions about the snow storm. He refused to talk about the problems that arose during the late December snow storm that shut down much of New York City. And he dismissed a question suggesting that his appearance at SEMO was in some way intended to show up Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was blasted for poor snow response during the last storm.

“I am here because this is my job. This is what the Governor should be doing. This is what state government should be doing. It should be working. It should be coordinating. It should be preparing. Agency heads should be working together. You should be anticipating winter storms are going to happen. Let’s get ready, let’s get prepared. This is the state government working.”