Assembly Passes Fracking Moratorium Extension

The state Assembly has passed a bill to extend a moratorium on hydroracking for another year.

CT Frack

Speaker Sheldon Silver said at a news conference this afternoon that further study of the environmental impact of deep drilling, especially on drinking water, is needed before any permits can be issued. He also said public health must take precedence over industry profits.

“The natural gas locked within the marcellus shale isn’t going anywhere. We’re not going to lose it,” he said.

“There is time to do the science. There is time to act with caution and with thoughtfulness.”

The Independent Oil and Gas Association disagreed with Silver’s assessment, calling the measure “job-killing” legislation.

“Further delays simply are unwise and unnecessary,” said Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director.

“[The bill] is premised on bad science and misinformation. This bill would hurt people and places that have endured significant economic hardship and job loss.”

A similar bill is pending in the Senate, which is sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland). Both houses of the legislature (under Democratic control) passed a moratorium last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Paterson. He ordered an executive order suspending the practice of hydrofracking, but allowed other types of drilling.

A spokesman says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is awaiting the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft environmental impact statement and will evaluate it. The DEC’s findings are expected this summer.

Israel: Constituents Will Decide Weiner’s Future

The statements reacting to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s announcement are starting to come in. Among them, this comment from DCCC Chair, and Long Island Congressman Steve Israel.

“Congressman Anthony Weiner engaged in a deep personal failure and inappropriate behavior that embarrassed himself, his family, and the House. Ultimately, Anthony and his constituents will make a judgment about his future .

Israel goes on to back up Rep. Pelosi’s call for the House Ethics Committee to investigate Weiner.

Last week when this story began to break, there was a lot of talk about how the district that Rep. Weiner represents might be winnable for Republicans. The Cook Partisan Voting Index only has it as a +5 for Democrats, which is based heavily on who voters pick for president.

Here are a couple of other numbers though. Current enrollment numbers show Democrats with a 196k to 62k edge, with roughly 85k others. In 2010, he was re-elected 67k to 43k. But in 2012, it is going to be a presidential year, so he if he isn’t defeated in a Democratic primary he could get a bump from higher Democratic turnout. Though, there are a lot of ifs.

Lopez: Conditional Support For Weiner

Brooklyn Democratic Chairman and Assemblyman Vito Lopez issued conditional support for embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, saying that his years in public service shouldn’t be tarnished by the lewd photos sent to women over social networks.

“Unless I’m aware of things that I’m not aware of currently, I will continue to support him. I believe his ability to lead and accomplish a great deal will continue. He’s been a spokesman for reform and I value his accomplishments.

But he said Weiner’s dream of becoming mayor could be imperiled if the scandal isn’t resolved in a “satisfactory manner.”

I believe the key to his running for mayor is key to the way this is resolved. If it’s not resolved in a satisfactory manner, it could be problematical.

State GOP Chairman: Weiner Should Do ‘Honorable Thing’ And Resign

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox is the first to call on Rep. Anthony Weiner to “do the honorable thing and resign” following the Democratic congressman’s bombshell tell-all press conference this afternoon.

“Anthony Weiner’s actions have demonstrated a lack of judgment and his repeated dishonesty has broken the bonds of trust with his family, his constituents and the American people,” Cox said in a statement.

“It is now clear that to further a cover-up he stood by while encouraging others, including Congressional employees, to lie, slander and discredit the professional reputations of those who were telling the truth. His inappropriate behavior has irreparably damaged his ability to serve.”

“His actions are at best despicable and at worst illegal. At a time when our nation has huge challenges, this scandal is a distraction from those important issues that impairs Congressman Weiner’s ability to hold a public trust. He should do the honorable thing and resign for the benefit the people of New York, the United States Congress and the nation.”

‘Terrible Mistakes’

Here’s the video of Rep. Anthony Weiner coming clean this afternoon about his sharing of inappropriate photos and messages with women other than his wife.

He admitted to exchanging communications of an “explicit nature” on Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone over the past six years with “about six women” he met on-line. “Most” of that took place prior to his marriage to Huma Abedin in July 2010, but not all of it.

Weiner insisted he has never met any of these women in person, nor engaged in sex outside his marriage.

(This is the official statement Weiner read. He then took questions from the press, and we’re endeavoring to upload that footage, too).

Extras

“I am stalking you.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner reportedly wrote that to a 26-year-old single mother in Texas, Megan Broussard, who exchanged suggestive photos with him.

“I’m not on a crusade to ‘take him down.’ I just acted to protect myself and my family,” Broussard wrote.

Weiner said he did not use a government BlackBerry to exchange inappropriate images and messages with women.

Ben Smith susses out Weiner’s re-election defense.

Weiner’s meltdown, good for Eliot Spitzer?

Andrew Breitbart, vindicated. More here.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (speaking before the congressman’s bombshell press conference) called Weiner a “very good friend.”

Andrew Breitbart planned to meet today with the (no longer) anonymous woman who sent him the latest pictures and emails from Weiner.

In case Hillary Clinton needs a post-cabinet gig: Roger Ailes is interested.

Sen. Greg Ball wants the governor to reconsider his temporary withdrawal from the Secure Communities program.

Rep. Nan Hayworth is raising campaign cash at Delmonico’s.

Assemblyman Mark Schroeder appears to have been banished.

There’s an ethics deal, but still no bill. (Tomorrow, according to the governor).

David Grandeau says the JCOPE’s members matter more than the legislation creating the commission.

Ex-LG Richard Ravitch, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, the Empire Center’s EJ McMahon and Economic Policy Institute’s Ross Eisenbrey will participate in a forum on public pensions Wednesday.

Katie Couric has officially signed with ABC.

Silver, Skelos And Sunsets (Video added)

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s opposition to the sunset on the Assembly’s version of the 2 percent cap on local property taxes isn’t ruffling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

He said after the news conference on the ethics deal that tying the cap to expire alongside rent control for New York City — effectively wedding a downstate concern with an upstate issue — won’t hinder the passage.

“I think that’s the nature of our agreement in terms of rent and in terms of tax cap and it’s a good thing,” Silver said. “I think something that’s unique and new and we should turn around and look at the impact of what we’ve done.”

The tax cap agreement came even though legislators hadn’t agreed on a specific expiration date. At the time, Skelos said he agreed with everything but the sunset date.

But Silver, in denying that the deal had fallen apart, said the deal was still being worked through, but opened the door to the possibility that a cap won’t be approved

“Wemay have to make some changes, some numbers may change or the world may decide we don’t need a tax cap,” he said. ” don’t know if that deal is falling apart. We focused on the other aspect of that bill, which is rent and that’s where the momentum is right now.”

Skelos, for his part, remained confident that the negotiations would still result in a bill being passed.

“Frst of all, there have been no real discussions on the cap since we announced the agreement. We’ve been working on the ethics bill. I feel very strongly about the sunset for businesses who are looking to make decisions, to locate to stay in the state for families it’s critically important. And I’m also convinced that we’re going to work out whatever problems we have. That’s my position, we’re going to work it through.”

Ethics Reform Press Conference – Liveblog

And….we’re out.

2:53 p.m. Woah. Complicated. Governor tries to explain the JCOPE vote necessary to investigate a legislator. “You need to have two of the four of the quote unquote target party, which is roughly fifty percent; it is fifty percent.”

2:51 p.m. The governor says there are “constitutional” challenges regarding separation of powers in setting up the Joint Commission on Public Integrity, notes the Legislature has two houses and so gets eight members while executive gets only six. “What if the Republicans team up and attack the poor Democratic governor – not that that would ever happen! (legislative leaders shake their heads, murmur no, no, of course not – ….we think this balance does the best you can with those.”

“Imperfect science” of trying to balance conflicting needs…Governor says it’s “historic” (there’s that word again) that the executive and legislative branches are cooperating on an ethics watchdog entity.

2:48 p.m. Cuomo side-steps question about giving the AG’s office more powers to investigate corruption – something he sought when he was AG.

2:47 p.m. The governor reveals details of this bill were being worked out as recently as this morning…insists the bill could be out as early as tomorrow. There is a bill? “Yes. You can get it as soon as it comes out of drafting. We often announce agreements without a full written bill. You have a bill memo that’s quite extensive, and you’ll have a full bill – hopefully – tomorrow.” Refuses to release the draft. Transparency in action.

“I can give you numerous examples of what we didn’t agree to.” Cuomo says the bill is “finished” and “in drafting.”

2:45 p.m. Cuomo on the late Friday press release, jokes it was so lawmakers could have the weekend off, adding: “Sorry if we inconvenienced anyone” (in re: bad for the press).

2:44 p.m. Silver asked if he will have to change any business practices: “No. Not at all.” Cuomo on whether rank-and-file lawmakers will have to not seek re-election because of the new disclosure requirements: “Only one way to find out.”

2:43 p.m. The governor says nothing here is watered down, even though the value of meals has been clarified to let lawmakers accept minimal value food items and attend receptions: “To the extent we’ve clarified those things, I think it’s more intent with common sense, actually, but no, nothing was loosened.”

More >

The Case Of Greg Ball’s Office And The ‘Fake’ Email (Updated)

A Hudson Valley newspaper is alleging Sen. Greg Ball’s office fabricated email addresses of constituents in order to send a laudatory letter to thed editor.

The constituent claims the letter was meant to be private and never for publication.

From The Lewisboro Ledger:

Dan Branda, the Republican senator’s deputy communications director, created an e-mail account in the name of a resident who had written the senator thanking him for helping her daughter. He then used that e-mail address to send the letter to the editors of The Ledger and other local publications to be printed.

But Robyn Fields of South Salem who wrote the letter on May 22 and her husband, Robert, said they sent that letter in private, never gave permission to have it sent to the press and the e-mail address The Ledger received it from was not theirs, despite it having Ms. Fields’ full name in the address.

“There was no reason why the senator’s office had to engage in such subterfuge by creating the false e-mail address and, thus, making it look like my wife sent a letter to The Ledger that, in reality, she did not send,” Mr. Fields told The Ledger.

The full story, which can be found here, is a little confusing, includes some back and forth between Ball’s office and the constituent, with both claiming the other is wrong.

UPDATE: The unedited letter in question, which was posted here, included personal information and so was taken down until it can be redacted. Thanks. Also, Ball’s office is insisting nothing untoward occurred here, and that his aide was merely trying to help a constituent.

In Albany, Mehlman Makes Gay Marriage Pitch

Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee Chairman and a key architect of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, is in Albany today to lobby for same-sex marriage.

Mehlman, who came out as a gay man last year, said he was meeting with Republican senators who have not taken a public position on same-sex marriage.

He refused to say which GOP lawmakers he met with. However, Sens. Roy McDonald and Greg Ball have both said they are undecided. Sen. Jim Alesi has said he’s made up his mind, but won’t say how he’ll vote (check YNN’s gay-marriage vote tracker for more info).

Mehlman said he was making his same-sex marriage pitch to the legislators based on what he said were basica Republican principles of family values and fairness.

“It’s fairly clear there’s been a big change about how voters feel about this issue, especially a majority of independents,” he told reporters. “In terms of Republican values and interests, a party that stands for freedom, a party that stands for freedom and a party that stands for the gold rule ought to be supportive.”

He wouldn’t say whether he agreed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to not introduce the bill in the Republican-led Senate unless the votes are available.

But Mehlman did say he was sure a measure would be placed before legislators by the end of the month (which, by the way, is rapidly approaching).

“I’m speaking as a New York resident who also has a long history in Republican politics. Again, I leave that to experts. I’m hopeful and confident there will be an up or down vote,” he said.