Senate Dems Heartened By Redistricting Numbers

Buried in today’s Q-poll are stats showing continued strong support for a non-partisan redistricting commission to redraw boundaries for state and federal offices.

And Senate Democrats say it’s a sign that voters want the Legislature to come back by the end of the year to create the commission — a move supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

From Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy:

“The results of this poll make it clear New Yorkers are sick and tired of politicians who will say one thing to get elected and do another once in office. Now is the time to make it clear that we will put the needs of the public before the interests of the political elite. The Senate Democratic Conference stands ready to go back in session and immediately pass independent redistricting. The Senate GOP must honor their promises to the voters of New York.”

The redistricting process has long been derided by good-government groups as a way for political parties to keep incumbents in power, also known as gerrymandering.

Among the Quinnipiac results Senate Democrats are pointing to:

  • Seventy-six percent of voters want a change to current process of redrawing district lines.
  • Thirteen percent say lawmakers should continue to draw the lines
  • Forty-nine percent want Cuomo to keep his promise of vetoing lines not drawn by an independent commission.

The LATFOR commission, the lawmaker-fueled panel charged with drawing the lines, is holding meetings around the state this summer. Commission members say there just isn’t enough time to have an independent commission take on the duties of drawing the boundaries since they must be in place by early next year.

LATFOR already came under scrutiny after it initially planned to not follow the law requiring prisoners be counted as residents of their last known address, not were their facilities are located. Some Senate Republicans are challenging the measure, which was inserted in the state budget plan last year.

Lawmakers on LATFOR now say they will move forward counting prisoners at their last known address.

A GOP-backed plan to allow for independent redistricting in a state constitutional amendment was approved earlier this year, but that wouldn’t take practical effect until 2022.

An independent panel is expected to benefit Senate Democrats, given the party’s wide enrollment advantage in the state. Senate Republicans hold a narrow 32-30 majority.

Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany, said last month Cuomo should reserve judgment in the final product of the new boundaries before rejecting them. Cuomo disagreed.

King ‘Wouldn’t Count Out’ Perry

Long Island Rep. Peter King told the folks over on Morning Joe today that he could see Texas Gov. Rick Perry running a competitive campaign against President Obama, even in New York.

King dismissed the notion that Perry’s day of prayer last weekend and overt religiousity would hurt him in other parts of the country, though the lawmaker did say “that’s not my style.”

“I wouldn’t write him off,” King said. “In 1978 the Carter people hoped Ronald Reagan would be nominated,” King said.

He added: I’ve met Rick Perry a number of times, he has a dynamic personality, he’s a larger-than-life character and I think people are going to look at the whole picture,” King said.

Perry is expected to enter the campaign for president on Saturday, the same day his fellow Republicans will compete in the Ames, Iowa straw poll.

King has said he would support either former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie if they entered the race. Christie has said he won’t run in 2012 and Giuliani, despite recent visits to New Hampshire. And King himself had been the subject of presidential speculation earlier this year.

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Voters: More Women Pols Means Fewer Sex Scandals

What do Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Chris Lee have in common?

They’ve all been engulfed in sex scandals. They’re also all men — a trait voters notice.

A Quinnipiac poll released this morning found a wide margin of voters say more women in politics would decrease the frequency of Craigslists congressman, tickle-me-Massas and love guvs.

“Let’s have more women in political office, New Yorkers say,” pollster Mickey Carroll said. “Men and women would be pretty much the same in making the right political decisions, voters think. But they look at the headlines and say – overwhelmingly – that women in politics would be far less likely than male politicians to get involved in sex scandals.”

The survey found that 78 percent of men and women both agree that the sex scandals would decrease. But only 22 percent said women are better problem solvers. Fifty-nine percent responded that there isn’t much difference between the sexes.

The poll results are certainly in line with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign to bring more women into the political process. She’s the force behind Off the Sidelines, an effort to elect more female politicos to elected office.

“At a time when there is so much dysfunction in Washington, we need more women at the table in government to unlock the partisan gridlock. I am encouraged that a clear majority of New Yorkers believe there should be more women in office because they are more likely to solve problems and have the right priorities,” Gillibrand said in a statement reacting to the survey results.

Gillibrand isn’t the only women who agrees. U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter said at the time of the shirtless Lee scandal that more women need to be elected to reduce the sex debacles.

New Yorkers, meanwhile, are more split over hydraulic fracturing, the controversial natural gas extraction process.

By a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, New Yorkers support the economic benefits of natural gas drilling. But upstate residents are more likely to support drilling over New York City residents.

“Drill for the jobs, New Yorkers say, even though they’re worried about the environmental effects of hydro-fracking,” Carroll said. “And while we’re drilling for natural gas, let’s tax those drilling companies, voters say 59 – 29 percent. Even Republicans support this tax.”

081111 Ny Issues + Bp

Here And Now

The late Hugh Carey, who served two terms as NY’s 51st governor and died last weekend at the age of 92, will be laid to rest today on Shelter Island.

His 10 a.m. funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral will be attended by a host of family, friends and political dignitaries, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg.

Carey is being lionized for his pragmatism in the face of crisis. The Daily Freeman prefers to remember him “as someone who, when presented with the city’s crisis and the state’s dangerously unsustainable budgetary track, responded by doing his job as a public servant.”

The Statue of Liberty is closing again – this time for $27.25 million worth of safety renovations. The work could last a year. Liberty Island will remain open.

The Bloomberg administration has formally challenged the 2010 Census, claiming Brooklyn and Queens were undercounted.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York called a new NYC mandate that sex-ed be taught in all middle and high schools “troubling,” and some leaders will urge parents to use the opt-out clause.

The NYT Ed Board calls the sex-ed move “long overdue.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s Soundview Health Network will be booted from the state Medicaid program next month.

The Soundview clinics would still be able to treat federal Medicare and private insurance patients.

Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., who is fighting corruption charges, had the rear window of his car shot out while driving with his 7-year-old.

The cops don’t believe Boyland was targeted, and both he and his son were unharmed.

More >

NY1/YNN/Marist Poll: 55% NYers Like SSM Law

It has been legal in New York for same-sex couples to marry for more than a month now, and most adults in the state say they support the bill. Our poll found that 55% of adults like the bill. Only 36% oppose it. And 9 percent are unsure.

The numbers are virtually the same when we asked registered voters. And when we asked if people felt that the bill should be overturned in the courts, support for marriage grew. 63% of adults statewide opposed legal action against the bill. Only 32% supported it.

As expected, support for same sex marriage is biggest among Democrats, younger voters. But regionally, the most support actually came from upstate New York. According to our poll, 60% of upstate adults support the same-sex marriage bill. Only 34% oppose it.

We also asked voters if they would be less likely to support their state senator because he voted for the bill. In the final days before the vote, many suggested that voting for the bill could cost a senator his seat. But our poll doesn’t reflect that.

44% of registered voters in New York say they are more likely to vote for a state senator that supported the same-sex marriage law. Only 30 percent said they are less likely to do so. And 19% say it makes no difference in how they are going to vote.

EMBARGOED_Complete August 10th, 2011 NYS Poll Release and Tables

Medicaid IG To Boot Espada’s Soundview

As expected, the Medicaid IG has recommended that the state exclude former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s Bronx-based Soundview Health Network from the Medicaid program based on its “failure to develop and enact a comprehensive compliance program.”

Medicaid IG James Cox made this decision after an “extensive review of management practices” by Soundview. Reviews were conducted in May by the office’s Bureau of Compliance and depositions were taken from Soundview’s board chair and assistant controller in July.

In addition, the IG subpoenaed thousands of pages of documents from the healthcare organization – some of which have yet to be produced, according to Cox’s press release.

Espada and his son, Pedro G. Espada, were barred from participating in the state’s Medicaid program on Jan. 10, which means they cannot be paid with Medicaid funds. Nevertheless, according to Cox, both Espadas have continued to work at Soundview.

More >

Extras

The Dow closed down 520 points; S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down more than 4 percent. In other words, so much for yesterday’s rally.

The man tapped by Rupert Murdoch to oversee News Corp.’s internal probe of alleged cellphone hacking, Viet Dinh, is best friends with US Attorney Preet Bharara, who is leading the US investigation into the company.

There’s no timeline for the Cuomo administration’s review of the state’s gambling policy.

Advocates and foes of gambling in Massachusetts are keeping a closer eye on New York after Cuomo raised the possibility of licensing non-Indian casinos in the Empire State.

An official (taxpayer-funded?) update from Sen. Carl Kruger makes no mention of his legal troubles.

NYC prisoners call their standard-issue footwear “Air Patakis.” They don’t mean it as a compliment, but the former governor takes it that way.

Pataki believes he can be “more than competitive” in the 2012 presidential race, and will make a decision about whether to run within a “very short horizon” of time.

Rep. Peter King is questioning the access filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are getting to make their movie about the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

Rudy Giuliani is quietly working to hire top political operatives in New Hampshire for a possible 2012 bid.

Mayor Bloomberg says it’s time for the country to rally behind the president.

Former Gov. David Paterson accepted an award on his wife’s behalf.

After failing to force a primary with now-Gov. Cuomo in 2010, Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner wants to challenge GOP Rep. Chris Gibson in 2012.

Diane Cardwell thinks Alec Baldwin has a lot to learn before running for mayor – assuming he ever does.

RWDSU issued a statement in support of the striking Verizon workers.

Bill Clinton will speak at the annual gala thrown by Staten Island’s oldest charity.

Not only is Sen. Gustavo Rivera the first state lawmaker to join Foursquare, but you can keep track of his movements in the districts thanks to this handy interactive map.

Undaunted, Wisconsin Democrats are now going after Gov. Scott Walker.

Rep. Charlie Rangel says Obama, who all but came out and called for the scandal-scarred congressman to resign, “has a lot to do with the decision that I made” to run for re-election.

What’s up with this?

DiNapoli: Oil Fund Could Save Businesses Money

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was on Syracuse radio station WSYR 106.9 FM this afternoon to pitch his natural gas production fund, saying it could ultimately save the industry money in the long run.

DiNapoli is proposing a spill cleanup system for the natural gas industry similar to how the state handles oil and other chemical spilles.

“I think it’s worked out very well when you’re dealing with the issue of oil,” he said.

The proposal comes as the Department of Environmental Conservation considers regulations for allowing high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, in some parts of the state. The Southern Tier’s Marcellus Shale formation is being eyed as a particularly rich source of natural gas.

But environmentalists remain concerned the process, which involves blasting water and chemicals into rock in order to access the gas, could be prone to spills and damage a local water table.

DiNapoli said he was yet to receive pushback from the natural gas industry, but said the program could make energy companies more responsible.

“Even from the industry point of view, it heightens everyones awareness to make sure you’re doing things correctly,” DiNapoli said. “You could argue it saves money in the long run.”

IG Report: Casino Inspector Received Gifts, Didn’t Know Ethics Rules

A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would be open to loosening restirctions in order to build casinos and other gaming facilities, Inspector General Ellen Biben has released a report finding a casino inspector received gifts of cigars, a clock, bar stools and windbreaker from gamblers and slot machine companies along with casino staff.

Edward Hawks, a supervising gaming inspector for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, told the inspector general’s office that he did not receive the gifts in exchange for a specific action.

And he claimed he was unaware that he could receive gifts for less than $75, despite a change to the state ethics laws that ban gifts of even nominal value.

The release pointedly notes that Hawks took ethics training last year.

“As a supervisor, Mr. Hawks had a duty to avoid any conflicts of interest, and as a State casino regulator even the appearance of a conflict is inexcusable,” Biben said in a statement.

Hawks has worked as an inspector since 1999 and is assigned full time to the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.

The case is being handed over to the Racing and Wagering Board and the State Commission on Public Integrity.

Casino Inspector Improperly Received Gifts

Bloomberg Challenges Census, Seconded By Gillibrand

Apparently the federal government didn’t account for all the hipsters moving into Bay Ridge.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg today challenged the Census count for parts of Brooklyn and Queens, including Bay Ridge, Bensonhurts, Astoria and Jackson Heights — “which are among the most vibrant areas in New York City,” the mayor’s office said.

Bloomberg sent a letter to Census Director Robert Groves to challenge the findings.

“It is our expectation that the City’s population could increase by tens of thousands of New Yorkers if the errors from those two Census offices alone were corrected,” he writes.

Bloomberg notes in a news release that the count will not mean the city loses a seat in the House of Representatives. However, it does appear possible New York would lose one upstate district as well as a seat in one of the outerboroughs if the Census numbers hold.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, meanwhile, seconded Bloomberg’s call for a challenge and wrote a letter of her own to Groves.

“While I am aware that extensive measures were taken by the Department to ensure that Census 2010 was the most inclusive in our history, I along with the Mayor, maintain that there is a significant undercount of New York City population growth,” she said.

Asked for his reaction, Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier today said he was yet to see Bloomberg’s challenge to the Census data.

291-11 (Census Challenge)