Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Caucus Cautious On Cuomo

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, chair of the state Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, released a (belated) and rather lukewarm response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address, expressing concern over the governor’s proposal inventive-based education funding and health care cuts that will could disproportionately impact minority New Yorkers.

While insisting the caucus recognizes the state’s fiscal challenges and looks forward to working with Cuomo, Hassell-Thompson said its members are looking forward to “fruitful dialogue with the Governor to ensure that the burden of closing the budget gap is not fallingsaliently on the shoulders of indigent communities and communities of color.”

The senator said the caucus was “encouraged” by Cuomo’s strong words about overhauling the juvenile justice system and boosting procurement contracts for MWBEs.

However, there is “uncertainty on the implementation process” for Cuomo’s approach to having schools compete for funding and worries about rent regulation, which is shaping up to be a flashpoint in the budget battle, but is also something the governor has yet to take a definitive position on.

The caucus has the potential to be very powerful – if, that is, its members were able to vote together in a bloc, which hasn’t happened in the past. However, even without a uniform voice, the minority members are strong enough to influence the policy agenda in the Legislature.

Cuomo has been particularly sensitive to issues of race ever since his disastrous 2002 primary against then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, New York’s first black major party gubernatorial candidate. He also took heat from black and Latino leaders during the 2010 campaign due to the lack of diversity on the statewide Democratic ticket.

At the time, Cuomo promised his administration would be the most diverse in New York history. His appointment to a top ESDC post today of Leecia Eve, a former Hillary Clinton aide and daughter of ex-Assemblyman Arthur Eve, which came on MLK Day, was no doubt choreographed specifically to address this ongoing issue.

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Stringer Sides With Cuomo On Shared Sacrifice

Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, who is aggressively preparing for a likely run for NYC mayor in 2013, is signaling support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “shared sacrifice” approach (although he’s reluctant to call it that), which would require labor unions to make concessions to help close the $10 billion state budget deficit.

Appearing on CUNY TV’s “Citywide,” Stringer told former NYC Councilman Ken Fisher the state and city “now at that same juncture” as they were during the last big fiscal crisis back in the 1970s.

“Now’s the time to put the politics aside and sit down and have that conversation that no one has been willing to have for quite some time,” the Manhattan Democrat said.

“And I’m going to do everything I can to get those leaders in a room to start thinking about it. Because going forward there’s a lot we can do to rebound this economy. But at the end of the day, labor has to talk to business, real estate has to talk to counterparts, and we’ve got to figure this out because that’s what’s at stake in the city.”

Stringer said the federal government will “not listen to us” if the city and state seek additional assistance unless local NY officials first work to get their respective fiscal houses in order. He praised Cuomo for taking steps to “set the tone” for a collaborative effort.

(Up to a point, of course; as we learned this morning, there’s also an element of “my way or the highway” to the governor’s approach).

The WSJ reported over the weekend that Stringer appears to have raised more campaign cash last year than any other potential 2013 candidate, although Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has done zero fundraising, still has more money on hand.

The full Stringer interview will air on Jan. 19 on CUNY-TV/ Channel 75, NYC CABLE TV.

Cuomo Hires Former Clinton Aide At ESDC

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon he has hired Leecia Eve, a onetime aide to ex-Sen. Hillary Clinton and daughter of former Assemblyman Arthur Eve, to serve as senior vice president and counsel to the Empire State Development Corporation.

“Ms. Eve’s extensive expertise and knowledge of economic issues in New York, across the nation, and abroad will be instrumental in reopening New York State to business,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“Her decades of legal experience, combined with an intrinsic understanding of our state’s diverse economic needs, will help businesses thrive and prosper. I thank her for her ongoing commitment to public service.”

This is, I believe, Cuomo’s first ESDC-related appointment. He has been slow to tap people to serve in the economic development arena, despite the fact that he has insisted “jobs, jobs, jobs” is a main focus of his administration. This delay has not gone unnoticed and has earned the Cuomo administration a measure of criticism.

(To be fair, however, it should be pointed out that ESDC is a notoriously troublesome entity). At the moment, all we know, thanks to LG Bob Duffy, who confirmed this on CapTon last week, is that the current head of ESDC, Dennis Mullen, won’t be sticking around, despite his expression of interest in doing so.

Eve, who is African American and hails from Buffalo, also was one of several LG candidates passed over by then-AG/gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer in 2006 in favor of then-Senate Minority Leader David Paterson.

That decision angered the so-called Harlem Gang of Four, which included Rep. Charlie Rangel and Paterson’s father, former state Secretary of State Basil Paterson, who had already endorsed Eve and didn’t get a heads up from Spitzer about his selection.

Eve most recently served as VP for Policy of the No Limits Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that promotes economic issues at home and abroad and advocates transforming American foreign policy around the world, including advancing the rights of women.

She has worked as a judicial clerk to the state Court of Appeals Judge Fritz W. Alexander II, Judiciary Committee counsel to then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and as Senate counsel to then-Sen. Clinton.

Cuomo also announced Erik Bottcher has been appointed to serve as special assistant for Community Affairs. Bottcher is an LGBT advocate and worked for NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn. For more on his hiring, click here.

Diaz Accuses Cuomo Of Blackmail

Senator Ruben Diaz is blasting Governor Cuomo in response to today’s article in the NY Post.

The paper reported that Cuomo has told his top staff members that he plans on shutting down the government if the State Legislature failed to negotiate a budget by the April 1 deadline.

Diaz has been one of the most vocal advocates against cutting funding for health care, education, and other social services. In a statement he continued to urge lawmakers not to make cuts.

“I am dismayed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s public threat to shut down New York State’s government if we do not approve budget cuts that will most definitely hurt the poor, our children’s education, New York’s healthcare system, and our senior citizens, Diaz said.”

The Bronx Senator went on to suggest that what Cuomo is suggesting is blackmail.

“When my colleagues and I once attempted to negotiate change in the Legislature to improve the lives and well-being of less advantaged New Yorkers, the Four Amigos were accused of black-mailing. We weren’t, but it seems all too obvious to me that Governor Cuomo is blackmailing New York.

Siena: Cuomo’s Honeymoon In Full Swing, Obama Rising

Today’s Siena poll contains good news for Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he gears up for the first budget battle of his tenure, finding his favorability rating has risen to 70 percent for the first time in more than a year and more than two-thirds of New Yorkers trust him – not the Legislature – to do the right thing for the state.

Only 17 percent of those polled view the new governor unfavorably – the lowest since August 2009, according to Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

Cuomo is viewed favorably by 78 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans; 73 percent of downstaters and 65 percent of upstaters; and even 53 percent of conservatives.

A plurality of voters, 44 percent, says h’s doing an excellent or good job as governor, compared to 28 percent who graded his early performance as merely “fair” or “poor.”

On the trust issue, Cuomo beats the Legislature hands down: 68-17. Thirty-three percent of New Yorkers view the state Senate favorably, while only 29 percent said the same of the Assembly.

Sixty-nine percent said Cuomo’s decision to impose a 5 percent pay cut on both himself and his top staffers set a good example that will help him during the budget negotiations.

The poll was also positive for President Obama, who is heading to the Capital Region this Friday for a trip to GE in Schenectady that was rescheduled following the Arizona shooting.

Obama’s favorability rating is 61-36, up from 55-42 last month, and the best it has been since February 2010. Half of all voters say they’re ready to re-elect the president in 2012.

Voters had dramatically different reactions to the Tucson shooting from a policy perspective.

Democrats, women, liberals, moderates, New York City, black, and Jewish voters and voters over the age of 55 said the incident should lead to stronger gun control laws, while Republicans, men, conservatives, and upstaters said some acts of violence simply can’t be prevented.

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Here And Now

Happy MLK Day, some light blogging is on tap and there is no CapTon this evening. In the meantime, some headlines…

Lawmakers are embracing a new civility in the wake of the Arizona shooting.

Appearing on “Meet the Press,” New York’s US senators say they hope that tone continues during the gun control debate.

Former NYT reporter Jonathan Hicks says King would have been shocked by today’s political culture.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is joining forces with the Rev. Al Sharpton to help black churches.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly threatening a government shutdown if legislative leaders don’t go along with his fiscally conservative budget plans.

Tough fiscal times are pushing governors all over the nation and on both sides of the aisle to adopt the same sober tone and tough approach. More here.

Cuomo’s push for a spending cap is an uphill battle.

Cuomo is fighting with the Seneca Nation over $200 million in unpaid casino revenues.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani admitted on “Face the Nation” that he has thought about a 2012 run “in recent weeks.”

State lawmakers have already submitted more than 4,000 bills in the 2011 legislative session.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is off the ventilator.

Members of Congress are holding public events again, but cautiously.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Sarah Palin, saying she used a “wrong word” in her post-Arizona shooting video, but he nevertheless understands how she could “feel very upset.”

The tragedy indicates the country needs to drastically overhaul the way it addresses mental illness, Giuliani said.

Rep. Michael Grimm thinks members of Congress and their staffers should be armed.

Sen. John McCain took a backhanded swipe at his old running mate.

Rep. Tom Reed has stepped up security measures, but insists that won’t prevent constituents from reaching him.

People who admit to using illegal guns should be banned from owning firearms, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

David Kaczynski, brother of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, reached out to the family of accused Tucson gunman Jared Loughner.

Assemblyman Peter Rivera, who might be up for a job with the Cuomo administration, steered taxpayer dollars to a pet nonprofit even as it was in the crosshairs of federal investigators.

The TU accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sending mixed messages on pay raises.

More >

Paterson/Spitzer?

SNL isn’t quite finished with former Gov. David Paterson…or his predecessor, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, for that matter.

Despite the fact that Paterson, with whom I thought SNL had long ago buried the hatchet, has been out of office since Jan. 1, the show’s writers resurrected the ex-governor for a sketch that imagined him as the replacement for Spitzer’s current CNN co-host, Kathleen Parker.

The bit also includes a cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays a pretty unconvincing Heidi Klum. Fred Armisen, of course, is Paterson.

Meet RNC Chair Reince Priebus

After 7 rounds of voting, Wisconsin State Chair Reince Priebus has been named the next RNC Chair. He led the voting in every single round, ultimately ending up with 97 of the 164 votes in a 3 way contest with Saul Anuzis and Buffalo native Maria Cino.

Reince PriebusIn the final ballot, Maria Cino ended up with just 28 votes. Her highest vote total was in round 5, when she picked up 40 votes. That was immediately after chairman Michael Steele announced that he was dropping out of the race and supporting Cino’s bid to be chair.

Here’s how the voting broke down on the 7th ballot.
Rience Priebus – 97
Maria Cino – 28
Saul Anuzis – 43

Here is more on Reince Priebus.

Priebus Just 5 Votes Away

Reince Priebus is now just 5 votes away from being the next RNC Chair, after the 6th round of voting.

Here is the tally:

Priebus – 80
Anuzis – 37
Cino – 34
Wagner – 17

Last round, Cino had 40 votes. So it seems that her support is now on the decline. That said, the votes have been fluctuating a lot, so you never know what is going to happen.