GOP Stealing Medicare Issue?

In a sign that Democrats are losing the messaging war in the wake of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner’s twitter troubles, the National Republican Congressional Committee is knocking Long Island pol Tim Bishop for the Democratic plan the GOP says would “decimate” Medicare.

The issue was used effectively in the 26th CD when Kathy Hochul upset Republican Jane Corwin, using the same Medicare issue.

“Hello, I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee with an important alert about your Congressman, Tim Bishop. Washington Democrats already cut $500 billion from Medicare with their government takeover of healthcare, and Tim Bishop is making it worse. Bishop backs a partisan plan that the media says would quote “decimate Medicare.” The Bishop-backed plan will cut Medicare benefits by 17% and lead to “political rationing” of health care…taking personal healthcare choices away from seniors. That would “shred the social safety net” and leave seniors vulnerable….exposed….at risk. Call Tim Bishop at 202-225-3826. Tell him to change his mind…and take action to save Medicare.”

H/T to Celeste at Daily Politics on this one.

Tax Cap Foes Decry Biz Groups’ Big Spending

The opposition to a cap on local and school property taxes say they’re the underdogs in the fight.

Witness, says Ron Deutsch of the New Yorkers For Fiscal Fairness, the piles of cash spent by business coalitions like the Committee to Save New York.

“We’re not the forces of darkness that the governor would have you believe,” Deutsch said at news conference outside the state Senate chamber that included advocacy groups and unions rallying against the cap proposal.

“The people that support this tax cap, on the other hand, are the same ones who support tax breaks for millionaires so that should give you some idea where they’re coming from on this issue,” he added. “This is a job-killing tax cap, make no mistake about it.”

The Committee to Save New York has spent about $8 million on lobbying the state, included a concerted campaign to get a limit on property taxes.

The state United Teachers union, meanwhile, is countering with a $1.3 million ad campaign that began last week running ads opposed to the cap with a television commercial.

NYSUT officials say the money their union is spending dwarfs in comparison to CSNY.

“In terms of media buys, it’s a least 3-to-1 advantage from this corporate hedge funds who are backing this astro turf campaign across the state,” said NYSUT’s legislative director Steve Ellinger.

Cuomo Robos For Rent Regulation

The State Democratic party has tapped Andrew Cuomo for a robo-call asking residents to call their lawmakers and urge them to strengthen the state’s rent laws. Current legislation expires a week from tomorrow.

In the call, Cuomo warns that not extending and strengthening the laws would be a crisis for the state.
Here’s the transcript.

Before I was Governor Cuomo, I was Secretary Cuomo.
I worked as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration and was the head of housing for our nation.
There’s no doubt that affordable housing is the foundation of strong communities.
But for too many New Yorkers, affordable housing is just out of reach.
More than 1 million people in our state are protected by New York’s rent regulation program.
However, this program is set to expire next week on June 15th.
That would be a crisis for our state.
But we need to do more than extend our rent laws we need to strengthen them.
Under current standards another 130,000 apartments could be removed from rent regulation in the next few years.
Having affordable housing works for all New Yorkers – a strong middle class is the heart of our state.
As New Yorkers we need to work together to protect the quality of life for all our people.
Please contact your state legislators and urge them to extend and strengthen our state’s rent laws.
Thank you.

Lawmakers are leaving today for a 5 day weekend. When they return, they will only have 3 session days to hammer out a deal on rent regulation. It’s unclear at this time if a property tax cap bill will be tied to any legislation on rent regulation, as was proposed by Speaker Sheldon Silver in late May.

More Business Leaders Join Same-Sex Marriage Drive

As negotiations on a same-sex marriage bill come down to the wire, New Yorkers United For Marriage announced today more business leaders are in favor of the measure.

Back in March, business leaders including Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs signaled their support for same-sex marriage in an open letter.

Now, business leaders like Dick Parsons, Bruce Rattner and Steve Tisch (who, it should be noted, are all deep-pocketed and active political donors) said they were signing on to the effort.

“As a company, Xerox values and benefits from creating a diverse, inclusive workplace that thrives on equal opportunity so our people and our business succeed,” said Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, Chief Technology Officer of Xerox. “We expect and believe our people deserve nothing less from the communities where they work and live. And, that’s why Xerox adds its full support for this bill so that our colleagues in New York State are afforded the equal rights they so rightly deserve.”

Another major player in both business and politics, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has personally lobbied Senate Republicans who may be on the fence. According to our vote tracker, seven GOP senators have not taken a public position on the issue.

Business Groups Mail On Tax Cap

As the fate of the property-tax cap remains in limbo, the Rochester-based Unshackle Upstate and a host of business organizations are mailing on the issue, urging lawmakers to support of the measure.

All 212 legislators and the governor’s office are due to receive the postcard.

But the passage of the cap is far from certain. Despite last month’s announcement on a three-way agreement on the cap, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has signaled concerns in recent days about letting the agreement expire alongside rent control for New York City.

The cap has broad support in polls, but some municipalities and education groups say mandate relief is also needed before a cap can take effect.

Prop Tax Cap Postcard 2

Senate Considers Lt. Gov. Appointment Bill (Update)

The Senate will consider a bill today that would create a succession plan for the lieutenant governor, fixing an issue that could have ended the 2009 leadership coup early.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, would allow the governor to fill the lieutenant governor’s office if there’s a vacancy. The pick would be subject to Senate approval. There is no Assembly same-as measure.

The lack of a succession plan went into relief in 2009, when two Democratic lawmakers — Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate — joined with Republicans to overthrow the Democratic majority.

When Monserrate switch back to the Democratic fold, the Senate was tied 30-30. Because Eliot Spitzer had resigned in disgrace leaving Gov. David Paterson in charge, the temporary president of the Senate became the acting lieutenant governor.

It was unclear during the coup if Dean Skelos was filling that job or if it was Pedro Espada — that latter of which was an especially horrifying prospect for good-government groups and Democratic lawmakers. Paterson tried to appoint Richard Ravitch to fill the job, but then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the appointment was illegal.

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled in favor of Paterson.

From the bill memo:

The recent vacancy in the office of Lieutenant-Governor has called attention to the fact that under current law, there is no method available to appoint a new Lieutenant-Governor. This bill would enact a system identical to the one used under the Federal Constitution to fill a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President. Requiring separate votes from each House of the Legislature, rather than a single vote in joint
session, ensures that no single House has enough votes to confirm the nomination by itself.

Senator Griffo tells CapTon that he is going to lay the bill aside today, because it doesn’t have an Assembly sponsor. He has introduced this bill for the past 4 years, even before the Senate coup. He tells us that the inspiration for the bill actually came from Alfred DelBello’s resignation back in 1985.

1199 SEIU Joins Gay Marriage Push

The latest union to join the push for legalization of same-sex marriage is the powerful 1199 SEIU. They are holding a news conference later today at the capitol, and union President George Gresham is expected to attend and also lobby lawmakers.

Gresham is a power broker in the Working Families Party, so it’s possible he could convince some Republicans who are on the fence but worried about losing the Conservative party’s endorsement to vote yes, in exchange for some level of support from the WFP – or possibly even an endorsement.

More likely, he could convince the 3 Democrats who are undecided or risk losing the backing of labor. Though, as of yet labor leaders are mixed on whether or not this issue should be a litmus test for state lawmakers when it comes to 2012.

Lawsuit Accuses Buffalo Mayor Of Pay-To-Play

Here’s a copy of a lawsuit filed against Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown by a Cleveland developer who accuses the WNY Democrat of scuttling a housing project over the company’s refusal to give one of the mayor’s supporters a job.

Brown rejected the firm’s allegations, saying through a spokesman: “Our city deserved better than the proposal we received from the out-of-town developer. We are prepared to defend the lawsuit. The allegations are without merit.”

As you’ll recall, Brown is a former state senator and also was widely believed to be on the short list to run as then-AG Andrew Cuomo’s lieutenant governor during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Ultimately, Cuomo selected former Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy to be his No. 2. Duffy, a former police chief, was hailed as a straight shooter, but Cuomo took some heat from black and Latino leaders for rounding out the all-white statewide Democratic ticket.


Here And Now

Welcome to Day 11 of the Weinergate scandal. After yesterday’s performance, how long can the beleaguered congressman survive?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by Rep. Anthony Weiner’s admissions and called for a House ethics probe. The congressman said he will cooperate fully.

A 40-year-old blackjack dealer in Las Vegas said she sexted with the congressman for nine months and once engaged in phone sex with him. She claims he used House resources to cover up his bad behavior.

Weiner reportedly coached former porn star Ginger Lee on how to lie about her on-line relationship with him.

“By the Chris Lee standard, these are offenses that merit resignation,” David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs in New York City, said of the latest chapter in Weinergate.

The Post says Weiner has “disgraced” the office he holds and “needs to quit.”

If the House ethics probe shows he broke the rules, Weiner will have to resign, opines the Times.

“One of the most unbearable news conferences ever seen,” says the WSJ, which urges any other pols with problems similar to Weiner’s to “get out now; spare the rest of us.”

New York Republicans plan to mount a vigorous challenge to Weiner in 2012 (assuming he makes it that far) and are hoping for national assistance.

Timeline of the Weiner scandal.

Hank Sheinkopf: “Don’t bet on Mayor Weiner for 2013. The guy with the second-toughest job in America doesn’t usually sit around sexting all day long. It’s just not what mayors do.”

Some of Weiner’s on-line endeavors took place while his wife, Huma Abedin, was away on business with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abedin was notably absent from Weiner’s tearful tell-all press conference.

Andrea Peyser doesn’t give the Weiner-Abedin marriage long.

More >

Could Weiner’s District Get Carved Up?

With Rep. Anthony Weiner saying he is going to run for re-election in spite of his bombshell admission today, and more Democrats subtly hinting that that is a bad idea, the talk could soon turn to re-drawing the Congressional lines to make it harder for the scandal-scarred Brooklyn/Queens pol to get re-elected.

New York is slated to lose 2 seats in 2012, so the politically vulnerable – whether due to poor performance in 2010, poor judgement (a la Weiner) or poor health (like Rep. Maurice Hinchey, for example) are the most likely to become casualties of redistricting.

And they are also the least likely to get support from members of the Legislature who are (so far) still in charge of redrawing district lines – both for Congress and themselves.

Weiner represents a sprawling district for the New York City area, that actually borders 6 other CD’s.

Here they are.

  • NY-5, Rep. Gary Ackerman
  • NY-6, Rep. Gregory Meeks
  • NY-7, Rep. Joe Crowley
  • NY-8, Rep. Jerry Nadler
  • NY-10, Rep. Ed Towns
  • NY-12, Rep. Nydia Velazquez


Another thing to think about: One of the two districts that New York is going to lose is likely going to come from New York City, despite cries that the census numbers from the five boroughs are wrong.

Another interesting fact is that Queens, a piece of which is in Weiner’s district, only grew by a little over 1,000 people since 2000, according to the Census numbers.

The two districts in Queens that are closest to where Weiner lives, and therefore are the easiest to re-draw into his district, are NY-5 and NY-6.

Of the two, Rep. Gregory Meeks is the more politically vulnerable because of reports that he is being investigated by the FBI.

If they carved that section of Forest Hills into NY-5, then he’d be up against Rep. Gary Ackerman in a district that represents parts of Nassau County. Many of those voters would only know Weiner from this bad week of press.

Here’s a great website if you want to see where the lines are drawn. (Best to just manually zoom into NYC)