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.

Here And Now

It’s April Fool’s Day – so you might see a few articles like this one today. Or this one.

Governor Cuomo has won checkers and is now moving onto chess, Jacob Gershman writes.

Times Union has high praise for the budget being passed on time.

Speaker Sheldon Silver says this year’s budget was fair to New York City.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg obviously disagrees.

The Mayor’s popularity is slipping according to our NY1/Marist Poll.

One the eve of SOMOS weekend, Cuomo taps a veteran hispanic public servant to be the next Secretary of state.

NY Post wants Inspector General Ellen Biben to go after NYPA CEO Richard Kessel for past “shenanigans.”

A former prison official is sentenced for defrauding the state.

DN says there is justice in this world.

Donald Trump’s interview with Bill O’Reilly last night is making headlines.

Steve Kornacki thinks Trump’s recent rants are just to boost apprentice ratings.

Poll suggests Chris Christie would be a tough opponent for President Obama in 2012.
More >

Extras

Political heavyweights from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Walter Mondale paid their respects to the late Geraldine Ferraro today.

Ferraro “knew her stuff,” according to former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

John McLoughlin’s retirement didn’t last long.

Save your Weiner jokes, the congressman has heard them all before.

Here’s a highlights reel of the funniest parts of Weiner’s Congressional Correspondents Dinner speech.

Rent control and a property tax cap top Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s post-budget agenda.

The Assembly released its summary of budget conference committee agreements hours after voting on the budget.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo “has advanced the cause of limited government on the Hudson far more than did his past three predecessors – the hapless David Paterson, the shirtless Eliot Spitzer, and the clueless Republican, George Pataki,” writes Deroy Murdoch.

“Mario Cuomo seems to have lost one of his own family members along the way,” says Richard Kirsch.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver insists it’s his budget, too.

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin voted against half of the 10 budget bills – or for half, depending on your outlook.

Cuomo failed to beat his father’s early budget deadline, but he’s got at least three more years to try again.

President Obama is regaining his popularity among young voters.

“Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger slammed a GOP lawmaker’s attempt to gut aviation safety legislation pushed into law last year by the Families of Continental Flight 3407.

Bloomberg appointed a new board member for the NYC Housing Authority.

Snakeonthetown no more.

Bronx Zoo Director James Breheny: “I’ve heard people refer to her by various nicknames throughout the past week, but she does not have an official name. Maybe we’ll do some sort of naming contest.”

Some pork is kosher.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gets results.

George Demos to Randy Altschuler: Not so fast.

NJ Gov Chris Christie’s love of The Boss is not reciprocated.

Skelos Thanks Cuomo, Derides Dems

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is trying to link himself and his conference as closely to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as humanly (and politically) possible, followed the governor’s lead by taking a post-budget victory lap via a Web video released this afternoon.

Skelos took a shot at the Democrats right out of the gate, saying:

“For the past two years, when state government was controlled by the Democrats, New Yorkers were hit with late budgets that increased spending and taxes and drove jobs out of this state.”

“We promised to put an end to that dysfunction and restore fiscal sanity by cutting taxes, reducing spending and creating jobs. The budget we passed two days before the April 1 deadline fulfills those promises.”

“The budget spends less, taxes less and includes real reforms that will put New York back on the road to economic prosperity.”

(Two days early, eh? The majority leader is going by a different calendar than mine, apparently, although there’s been a lot of debate over what constitutes an “early” versus merely “on time” spending plan).

Skelos goes on to reiterate some of his favorite pre-budget talking points, promising to continue this trend of working in a bipartisan fashion with Cuomo to provide sane, adult leadership in Albany.

Not surprisingly, Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran isn’t buying all that. He released the following response:

“The Senate chamber, which Senator Skelos blocked the public from yesterday, should be a place for bipartisan cooperation and united action, not political attacks. It is our hope the spirit of bipartisanship that gave us an on-time budget will continue and the promises we all made will be promises kept,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference.”

Common Cause Considers Suit Over Capitol Lockdown

Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner told me during a CapTon interview that her organization is “looking at” a possible legal challenge over the Legislature’s decision to restrict public access to certain parts of the Capitol during last night’s budget vote.

Common Cause is arguing that the “virtual lockdown” violated Article III, Section 10 of the state Constitution, which says:

“The doors of each house [of the Legislature] shall be kept open, except when the public welfare shall require secrecy.”

I suggested that perhaps a concern for lawmakers’ safety – recall that Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari said the protesters “threatened us” – might be a sufficient cause for taking extra security measures and shutting down parts of the Capitol normally open to the public. Lerner rejected that, saying:

I don’t think anybody’s arguing the budget debates required secrecy. They were telecast. The press was there. So what justification do you have, constitutionally? Convenience is not a constitutional value. This is straightforward language.”

“…I am sure that legislators who are used to being walled off from the people find it very challenging to have people who are angry actually observing what’s going on.”

My full interview with Lerner will air this evening at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

The No Club

By request (from the comments section), here’s a list of the senator who cast “no” votes on the budget bills.

You’ll notice Democratic Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. (Bronx) and Tom Duane (Manhattan) were in the negative on every single bill. Sen. Bill Perkins (Harlem) was excused for the first two votes, I’m told.

2011 BUDGET BILLS

David Koch Continues NY GOP Support

Wisconsin wasn’t the only state engaged in a heated budget battle that saw an influx of cash from conservative billionaire David Koch.

Koch, who is best known as a Tea Party funder (and the guy impersonated by NY-26 candidate/Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy during his prank call to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker), helped finance the counter-protest during the Badger State’s union-backed “week of rage.”

He also ponied up another $100,000 to the state GOP’s housekeeping account here in New York, according to the majority’s off-cycle campaign finance report on file at the state Board of Elections. That was the bulk of the cash the party reported raising since January.

It took in another $50,000 from H.J.K. LLC. and now has $131,802 on hand in its housekeeping account and $104,547 in its general account (the Westchester GOP was the biggest contributor there, sending in $25,000).

Koch has given $173,500 to the GOP since 2000.

All of Koch’s contributions to the party originate from a PO Box in Witchita, Kansas, which is the home base of the family business, Koch Industries. David Koch lives with his wife, Julia, in NYC, but he’s still reportedly banking out in the heartland.

Koch has spread his campaign cash around in New York. He and his wife, Julia, contributed $87,000 to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he ramped up his 2010 gubernatorial bid.

The labor-backed WFP called on Cuomo to return that cash, insisting Koch’s uber-conservative policies aren’t in line with New York’s Democrat-dominated ideology. But the governor has declined to do so (or at least it appears that way, according to Newsday’s Dan Janison, who was the last to report on the Koch-Cuomo connection).

Nadler, King, Maloney Seek 10th Anniversary 9/11 CODEL

Here’s the letter from Reps. Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Pete King to House Speaker John Boehner seeking an official CODEL – a special congressional delegation visit – that would bring all of their colleagues to NYC to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are apparently on board with this idea, which the House members say would “send a strong message to the nation and the world that, 10 years later, we remain unified; that the spirit of New York City and the nation are strong and unshaken; that our commitment to freedom has never wavered; and that we will always honor and remember the victims, the first responders, survivors and their families.”

9-11 CODEL Letter – March 29 2011 – FINAL

Stavisky Sets The Record Straight

A feisty Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky put Sen. Mark Grisanti in his place last night after he claimed the Democrats had done nothing to advance UB2020 when they controlled the chamber.

Savisky, a Queens Democrat who used to chair the Higher Ed Committee during her party’s brief stint in the majority, noted that she – with an across-the-aisle assist from Republican Sen. George Maziarz and the ill-fated (now former) Sen. Bill Stachowski and others – passed a UB2020 bill in 2009.

“That bill passed this house,” Stavisky said. “You are mistaken. You are wrong. I vote aye.”

The Abzug-Ferraro Connection

Attorney Jerry Goldfeder wrote in this morning to note the “profound” arc of history in today’s funeral services for the late Queens (and VP contender) Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who is being laid to rest on the anniversary of the death of the late Manhattan Rep. Bella Abzug.

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Goldfeder described Abzug as “a great pioneer whose achievements and fighting spirit led to the success of many women, including Gerry,” adding: “We should take a moment to salute the memory of Bella as we mourn Gerry Ferraro.”

For those not in the know, Abzug was pounding on the glass ceiling even before many were willing to acknowledge it existed. She was an attorney in the 1940s – a time when very few women practiced law – and took on civil rights cases in the South. She was active in the organization Women Strike for Peace and landed on the master list of Nixon opponents.

Abzug served in Congress, representing a Manhattan district (and part of the Bronx, too, for a while) from 1971 to 1977. She introduced the first federal gay rights bill, the Equality Act of 1974, with then Rep. – and future NYC Mayor – Ed Koch.

She ran for the US Senate in 1976, but was defeated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. She lost a NYC mayoral bid in 1977 and two attempts to return to the House in 1978 and 1986.

Abzug was also Manhattan BP Scott Stringer’s cousin, and he likes to tell the story of how he got his start in politics by campaigning on her behalf at the age of 12.