Kolb Seeks Answers From Great Beyond

When you’re the leader of the smallest legislative conference in Albany, you sometimes have to resort to desperate measures to get information on negotiations at the Capitol.

(A point of clarification, as per a Kolb aide: The Assembly GOP is, in fact, the second smallest legislative conference. The Senate Democrats hold the title for smallest with 26 members – not counting the fearsome foursome (AKA: the IDC). Propotionately speaking, however, and in terms of clout, the Assembly Republicans are the smallest, with 51 members to the Democrats’ 99).

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb expressed his frustration during a CapTon interview last night over being left out of negotiations on key policy issues like the property tax cap, ethics reform and redistricting reform.

Kolb told me he has some suggestions for Gov. Andrew Cuomo about how to tweak his (yet to be passed by either house) redistricting reform program bill. He put those ideas to paper and sent them off to the second floor, but has yet to receive a response.

The minority leader is also annoyed by the fact that he stood at a press conference with the governor and majority legislative leaders (with about an hour’s notice) at a Red Room press conference to hail a so-called property tax cap “deal”, but has yet to see anything codified via passage by the Legislature. I asked if there really is a cap deal, and he replied:

“Back in my office in Albany, I have this thing called a Ouija board. And you take a pulse on the day, the hour, the minute, the second in terms of what’s going to happen or not happen in Albany.”

“And again, I think a lot of this is more posturing, more theatrics, that – quite frankly – it gets tiring…Any help I could get to predict the outcome in Albany would be great.”

Stewart On Weinergate: Day 3

In the “with friends like these” category, we have Rep. Anthony Weiner’s onetime roommate, Jon Stewart, who is not helping the congressman put this whole Twitter scandal thing behind him.

Stewart: “Dammit, the Weiner story’s gotten into the matrix. It’s as though politicians can’t get any attention anymore unless they’re Sarah Palin or have done something terribly wrong.”

Punchline: GOP 2012 contender Tim Pawlenty has emailed a picture of his package…at which point Stewart mocks falling asleep.

Here And Now

Former Senator/presidential contender John Edwards is expected to be indicted today.

The Seattle woman at the center of Weinergate shoots a hole in the congressman’s theory of how she received a lewd picture from his Twitter account, saying: “I never mentioned anything about a hacking.”

Weiner’s constituents are confused about why he can’t recognize his own underwear or remember if he shot a picture of his own crotch.

Day 3 of Weinergate coverage for Jon Stewart, the congressman’s onetime summer house roommate.

Weiner spokesman Dave Arnold makes City Hall’s loser’s list for this week.

Was Arnold the one who called the cops on CBS/Channel 2′s Marcia Kramer?

Weiner hired the law firm Baker Hostetler to investigate the alleged hacking of his accounts. (No link).

“I have confidence in Anthony Weiner that if an investigation is in order that will take place,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Mayor Bloomberg’s former spokesman, Bill Cunningham, on Weiner: “(H)e’s become a joke. And that’s the worst thing that can happen to you in politics.”

A Weiner aide refused to say whether the congressman will be making his planned trip to Wisconsin.

Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is carrying on with her job at the State Department as if nothing has happened in her personal life.

A friend said Abedin is “not worried about infidelity” and is “confident and comfortable in her marriage.”

More >

Ethics Agreement Could Come Friday

Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are on the verge of agreeing to an ethics overhaul measure with an announcement of an accord possibly coming Friday, according to several sources familiar with the negotiations.

As the Associated Press reported earlier this evening, Cuomo and top lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate may make an announcement as early as Friday in New York City.

Those familiar with the discussions, however, say a full agreement is yet to be completely nailed down. A major sticking point has been over appointments to the proposed 12-member Joint Commission On Public Ethics (also known as JCOPE).

It is possible that Cuomo, who has made cleaning up Albany sleaze a cornerstone of his first-year agenda, would cede up to eight of the 12 commission picks to legislative leaders in order to broker a compromise.

Though the Democratic governor and lawmakers have given few specifics on the ethics measure, some details were made known this week.

A bill could include requiring lawmakers to divulge all direct legal and business clients, compel legislators to provide more specific detail on outside income, along with outlawing redactions on ethics filings. In addition, non-profit 501(c)4 organizations would be required to divulge their contributors

Pataki: Debt Notice ‘Sobering’

Former Gov. George Pataki, now chairman of No American Debt, said in a statement today that Moody’s warning of America’s debt warning being on notice is “sobering” and a remainder of what he says is President Obama’s “failed leadership.”

From his statement:

“Today’s action by Moody’s to put America’s debt rating “on notice” is a sobering reminder of the consequences of failed leadership. Time and again President Obama has failed to a step up and engage in a constructive dialogue on real spending and deficit reductions. President Obama’s latest mantra that America does “big things” rings hollow against the backdrop of our nation’s gargantuan $1.65 trillion deficit and monstrous $14.3 trillion debt. America’s ability to do “big things” will be compromised for future generations of Americans if we fail to act now.”

Moody’s issued its warning in response to the political brinksmanship being played in Washington over raising the country’s debt ceiling.

Extras

Another techie take on Weinergate: He was framed.

Weiner’s handling of this incident only perpetuates questions about his maturity, says Chris Smith.

Another person with the last name Weiner (a woman) feels the congressman’s pain. (Metaphorically speaking).

Watch at your own risk.

Analysts debate the long-term impact of this scandal on Weiner’s career.

Rudy Giuliani doesn’t understand why Weiner hasn’t called the FBI.

Matt Damon will lend his name to a Weiner (re-election, not NYC mayoral) fundraiser next month.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous talked it out with his gay cousin Michael, but he’s still a “no” on same-sex marriage.

Sen. Kemp Hannon has moved back into the “no” column.

The owner of Bombers (burritos) tries to get Sen. Roy McDonald’s attention with a billboard.

After meeting with the governor, McDonald said he is “somewhat undecided” and “sensitive to all people.”

Sarah Silverman is helping her fans lobby for same-sex marriage.

Mitt Romney is officially a presidential candidate (again).

Politico’s Maggie Haberman and Alex Burns have a new 2012 blog.

The DNC has some fun at Romney’s expense – with an assist from Sarah Palin.

The Times its first woman editor.

Possible problem for Tom Golisano’s new crusade.

Sheen’s Fading Star Helps NY Solar Bill

In a weird moment of Hollywood and Albany colliding, the coalition that is pushing a bill to incentivize solar energy in New York has become a beneficiary of Charlie Sheen’s breakup with CBS.

Thanks to Sheen’s firing from “Two and a Half Men” in March, CBS pulled its promos for the show from electronic billboard on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th avenues. That made room for a spot supporting the New York Solar Jobs Act.

The ad is actually Round I in an ongoing campaign. Round II asks New Yorkers to submit a photo that demonstrates their support of solar power. Two winners will see their photos displayed larger than life on the Times Square billboard, which is seen by more than 1.5 MILLION people every day.

(Sorry, there was a word missing in that last sentence. Thanks, commentor. – LB)

Adding some (ahem) star power to this effort is an endorsement from Ryan P., one of 25 contestants vying for the heart of The Bachelorette this season. He just so happens to be the director of business development at a company called REC Solar.

Cuomo Cabinet Officials Have Little To Say

Members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet were characteristically tight lipped this afternoon after a closed-door meeting with their boss for more than a hour.

Some cabinet members, like Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, slid by reporters quickly.

Martens said he had a meeting with Deputy Secretary for Energy Tom Congdon.

“Call me,” Martens said while walking down the hall.

Office of General Services Commission RoAnn Destito spoke in vague generalities about “moving forward” on agenda items.

Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Darryl Towns stopped the longest to chat about the pending rent control expiration on June 15.

Teachers Mail Cuomo On Tax Cap

More than 70 teachers from the Albany suburb of Bethlehem sent Gov. Andrew Cuomo a letter this week urging him to back off on the 2 percent cap on local and school property taxes.

The teachers write in the letter that despite cutting back spending and “yet we have still been forced to reduce staff and cut back programs.”

The teachers also tell the governor that living within a 2 percent cap on top of $1.2 billion worth of reductions in school aid would be untenable.

And, despite last week’s Red Room presser on a possible tax-cap agreement between Cuomo, the Assembly and Senate, a deal remains far from certain.

Senate Republicans, who passed Cuomo’s original proposal in January, are increasingly concerned over the sunset in the Assembly version coinciding with rent control.

Here’s the letter:
Bethlehem Letter With Sigs

Cuomo Deploys Duffy To Woo GOP Senators

LG Bob Duffy isn’t merely carrying Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s message (along with fellow cabinet members) on the “People First” tour, he’s also assisting with the lobbying of Senate Republicans on the governor’s top agenda items.

Duffy dined last night with seven majority conference lawmakers at the Ft. Orange Club just a stone’s throw from the Capitol.

The group was dominated by upstaters, which makes sense, considering that Duffy himself hails from Rochester (he’s the former mayor, as you’ll recall). Present were Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous and Sens. Mike Nozzolio, Cathy Young, Joe Griffo, Mike Ranzenhofer and Greg Ball. The lone downstater was Jack Martins of Long Island.

Ball confirmed the get-together during a brief telephone interview this afternoon following the Senate session. He called the dinner a “smart” strategy, but also said Duffy didn’t deviate from the script.

“He just laid out the governor’s aenda and pushed on the importance of all the issues, including (gay) marriage,” said Ball, who is one of a handful of GOP senators in the “on the fence” column on that particular topic.

“It was definitely a productive meeting in the sense of talking about how the Legislature can work productively with the governor on issues where we share objectives: The property tax cap, ethics reform, job creation. It was a good conversation.”

“…It was a free-flowing conversation. We spoke a lot about economic development, which is smart because a lot of members want input on that.”

Duffy was tapped by Cuomo to head up the still-in-formation regional economic development councils.

Another lawmaker who was in the Ft. Orange Club last night, but not to meet Duffy, spotted the group trooping down the stairs last night. So, it sounds like they had a room to themselves.

It doesn’t sound like the menu was terribly fancy. I asked Ball what he had eaten – a question he seemed to find rather odd – and he replied: “Bread and water, and something that resembled chicken.”