DeFrancisco Suggests Some Wiggle Room On The Cap

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, suggested today that Senate Republicans would be open to compromise on the yet-to-be released proposal from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on his 2 percent tax cap.

“It’s always good to compromise, you want to have results. It’s nice to have principles and stay with those principles, but if you don’t get a result, it’s not good,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has said he’s hesitant to negotiate on a cap fearing it would ultimately water down the bill.

The Assembly’s cap will have some modifications, likely to ease its passage in the Democratic-dominated Assembly.

DeFrancisco also said the he could not comment directly on the proposal until he had seen it.

“Not knowing what the unspecified changes are, there’s not much more I can say about that, but I would say that we can look at it,” he said.

Silver said Tuesday he plans to introduce his own 2 percent property tax cap, but a different version than what Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants and that the Senate passed on Jan. 31.

“We think that’s the best bill,” said DeFrancisco of the governor’s bill.

Collins: Cap With No Mandate Relief Would Undo Society

Erie County Executive Chris Collins today warned that a 2 percent cap on property taxes without significant mandate relief would “be the undoing of society as we know it.”

Collins, a Republican and launcher of an aborted campaign for governor last year, also said in a Talk 1300 AM radio interview that the budget agreed to by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers was largely “status quo” that shifts costs to school districts.

But he reserved his greatest concern for the 2 percent cap on property taxes that was approved by the Republican-led Senate in January. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told us Tuesday that he would introduce his own proposal with some changes, but keeps the 2 percent cap.

“We have to have mandate relief and all of us being punished by state mandates … it would be the undoing of society as we know if it passed without mandate relief,” Collins said of the cap.

He criticized the mandated spending — especially for Medicaid, a huge cost driver for his county.

“The county of Erie has the largest Medicaid burden of any of the counties outside of the five boroughs,” Collins said. “That burden is so onerous in the case of Erie County it takes up 100 percent of property values.”

Collins knocked the state for not doing enough to control the required spending on local governments.

“The finger points all the way back to Albany,” he said.

Collins, after dropping out of the gubernatorial race in 2010, was a strong supporter of Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino’s campaign.

He also said federal officials aren’t doing enough to help western and upstate New York and that too much attention has been showered on the downstate region.

“Why is the world treating Erie County and Nassau County, with all its wealth, as the same,” he asked.

No Pataki Invite To Obama’s Ground Zero Visit (Updated)

A source close to former Gov. George Pataki, who was governor on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, said he was yet to receive an invitation to President Obama’s Thursday visit to Ground Zero.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, however, was invited to the event, but it is unclear if he will attend as Maggie Haberman reported. The terror attacks were the defining moment of Giuliani’s mayoralty and Pataki’s public role in the attacks was overshadowed by “America’s Mayor.”

Obama’s trip to Ground Zero follows the death of Osama bin Laden at the hand’s of U.S. forces in Pakistan on Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office is yet to announce if he will attend. But sources with direct knowledge of the plans say the governor’s office is coordinating with the White House on possibly attending.

Cuomo has skipped the president’s political events and fundraisers held in New York City, but did attend Obama’s visit to General Electric in Schenectady.

During his first unsuccessful run for governor in 2002, Cuomo infamously criticized Pataki for his response to Sept. 11, saying “He held the leader’s coat.”

Most notably, former President George W. Bush is not attending the event, choosing to stay out of the spotlight in his post-presidency.

UPDATE: A Pataki source says the former governor received a call from the White House shortly after noon today inviting him to join the president tomorrow. (CapTon, getting results).

Now the question is: Will he attend? The former governor is traveling in the southwest and it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to make it back in time for the Grounz Zero event, which is taking place in the afternoon.

Here And Now

Former President Bush declined President Obama’s invite to join him at Ground Zero tomorrow.

A spokesman said Bush prefers to remain out of the spotlight, but “continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

Rudy Giuliani got an invite, too.

The White House is keeping mum on who the president will be seeing in NYC, although sources told the DN retired FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches, whose firefighter son, Jim, was killed on 9/11, will be there.

According to Mayor Bloomberg, Obama will also be at Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks – a move the mayor called “terribly important.”

Obama kept his promise, Michael Daly says.

Obama’s poll numbers are up as much as nine percentage points, but Americans are worried Osama bin Laden’s death will increase the threat of terrorism in the short term.

The investigation leading to the 9/11 mastermind’s demise has revived the debate over harsh interrogation tactics like waterboarding.

Prosecutors are expected to dismiss charges against bin Laden stemming from a 1998 indictment.

The House Republicans pushed through a bill that defunds key parts of Obama’s signature health care reform law.

AG Eric Schneiderman has issued subpoenas to two investment firms that own stakes in a paperwork-processing firm under investigation regarding questionable foreclosure practices.

More >

Extras

The details of the Bin Laden raid were “corrected” by the Obama administration.

Pakistani officials have “concerns and reservations” about the president’s decision to go ahead with the raid without providing them any advance warning.

First Lady Michelle Obama does The Dougie! And The Running Man!

The president enjoyed a post-Bin Laden poll bump.

Donald Trump to Bloomberg News: “In my mind, I have already decided. I am going to announce. But I can’t do anything until the show ends.”

If you haven’t seen the official “Move Your Body” video by Beyonce…Well…Here it is.

Rep. Peter King: Waterboarding works.

Asks Josh Benson: “Where has this sober and responsible iteration of Rudy Giuliani been this whole time? And why has he resurfaced now?”

A Giuliani loyalist has joined the Draft Trump movement in Florida.

Rep. Anthony Weiner is convinced that he is a “big deal.”

Bloomberg will be back taking taxis in 973 days. But who’s counting?

The WFP is amassing signatures for an on-line 92nd birthday card to folk legend Pete Seeger.

The five top recipients of corporate tax breaks gave $7.86 million worth of campaign contributions in 2010, according to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

Cuomo is optimistic gay marriage will pass before the legislative session ends.

Sandra Lee wore long, white, translucent gloves to the Met Costume Institute Gala.

Senate Republicans established the first ever Select Committee on Native American affairs.

The state GOP is worried about Jack Davis.

Jon Huntsman took a step toward 2012.

Cuomo made the NY Observer’s list of NYC’s top 100 real estate power brokers.

A former aide to Rep. Charlie Rangel pleaded guilty to failing to file tax returns (his own) from 2003 to 2009.

Nissan won NYC’s Taxi of Tomorrow contest.

Scott Pelley will indeed replace Katie Couric in the”CBS Evening News” anchor chair.

Silver To Introduce His Own Tax Cap

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said today he plans to introduce his own property tax cap measure that includes a 2 percent ceiling on local levies, but will have some unspecified exemptions.

“You’ll see when we introduce it,” Silver said of the changes.

Silver, D-Manhattan, said he had spoken about his new separate measure with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“He didn’t say he was in favor of it, but obviously like you he’d like to see it,” Silver said.

The Republican-led Senate already approved Cuomo’s 2 percent cap on local and school property taxes. But the measure faces a significantly tougher climb in the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has said he doesn’t want the bill watered down to the point of being irrelevant.

The governor has said in recent weeks, including today, that he expects to negotiate a compromise bill on the tax cap.

IDC Proposes Hospital Ban On ‘Deadly Ties’

The four breakaway Senate Democrats who comprise the Independent Democratic Conference are proposing a ban on neck ties, long-sleeve lab coats, jewelry, and other loose clothing often worn by doctors and other medical professionals.

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Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) informally dubbed the proposal, “bare below the elbows,” saying those garments often acts as a “cesspool of diseases” because infection-causing bacteria can linger on fabric and easily be transferred from person to person. Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) added men in particular are to blame for the spread of infectious diseases such as MRSA.

“Men change a lot of things in their life and they clean a lot of things in their lives,” said Savino.

“One thing we found is most men don’t clean their ties on a regular basis and if you are a doctor and you are treating people in a setting where people are exposed to infectious diseases, that tie is the deadliest organism in that room.”

There are concerns over cost. One idea floated by the IDC would require facilities to have uniforms or on-site laundry facilities, but they say those mandates don’t necessarily have to be included in the final proposal.

Other concerns include patients that may not want their doctor to look like he or she is fresh off the golf course. However, Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) explains that changing the collective attire of the medical community is more of a generational obstacle, and would be accepted over time.

“One medical journal points out that JFK, when he was inaugurated, he broke tradition” said Carlucci. “He didn’t wear a top hat and that has changed society now today because people wanted to emulate that.

So if we have sophisticated doctors that people respect following this practice, we believe it will be something easy to fall in line.”

It’s unclear if other types of clothing or accessories would be banned under such a proposal. Some that come to mind include bow ties, bolos, ascots, cravats, foulards, neckcloths, or string ties–or top hats for that matter. Klein says those questions will be answered when a bill is drafted at a later date.

Cuomo To LCA Show: Drop Dead

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a pass on delivering a rebuttal at the 111th annual Legislative Correspondents Association show this Saturday, LCA Show Chairman Casey Seiler confirmed.

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Adding insult to injury, the governor won’t even be attending the black-tie extravaganza (proceeds of which, after show costs are covered, go to charity), the DN’s Glenn Blain is reporting (as per Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto).

LCA old-timers say this might the the very first time a first-year governor is skipping the venerable show, which is the oldest political satire spoof in the nation.

“We’re sorry the governor isn’t going to attend, because he’s going to be missing a great night,” Seiler said.

The governor is a great ticket-selling draw. However, it’s also not such a bad thing if he’s not on hand for the show because people tend to feel a lot less inhibited at cutting loose when he’s the butt of the jokes.

(Don’t believe me? Check out the nervous laughter at the Washington Post table – at which Donald Trump was seated for the White House Correspondents Dinner last weekend – when the president was zinging The Donald).

The show is going to be great this year. And we will have rebuttals from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the four-member IDC. Asked by Susan Arbetter this morning for a preview of his response, Skelos replied:

“It’s not going to be exactly what you think. But in junior high school I was Conrad Birdie. I’m Conrad Birdie, and I’m also of Greek origin.”

By my recollection, Cuomo last did the LCA show in 2002 – the year of his last (and never fully realized) gubernatorial run. He was a last-minute add to the night’s responses, one of which was delivered by his primary opponent, then state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

If I remember correctly, while McCall’s response included a song entilted “I’m the Real McCall” and spoof video. Cuomo did a stand-up routine that included jokes about a future marriage between his children with then-wife Kerry Kennedy and the children of Martin Luther King Jr. Consider the possible last-name combinations! Talk about a political dynasty!

There was also a line about revenge being a dish best served cold.

DN Albany Bureau Chief Ken Lovett notes Mayor Bloomberg has never missed an Inner Circle Show. He did forgo an appearance, however, after the Pope John Paul II’s death on the same day of the show in 2005. (Also, a reader just reminded me: Cuomo didn’t attend this year’s Inner Circle Show, either – all in keeping with his below-the-radar approach).

Gay Marriage Advocates Optimistic For Vote

Advocates for gay marriage say the climate for legalization is becoming friendlier, making a vote in the Legislature more likely by the end of this year.

The Empire State Pride Agenda held a news conference today with a group of religious leaders and clergy urging the Legislature to approve gay marriage this session — a measure that has the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Pride Agenda is part of a pro-gay marriage coalition of advocacy groups known as New Yorkers United Marriage, formed at the urging of Cuomo.

But with the Republican-controlled Senate, however, it remains unclear if a vote would be successful, or if the measure would go down in another defeat, as it did in 2009 when Democrats were in control of the chamber.

Executive Director Ross Levi said he was encouraged by the increasing support in the polls for same-sex marriage legalization.

“We believe the environment for marriage now is very strong,” he said.

As for cajoling various members of both parties, Levi said all lawmakers were being lobbied.

“Right now the count we are focused on is the count of New Yorkers who are in support of marriage. We are thrilled that the people are with us. We have legislators are our side, we have business leaders on our side, we have religious leaders on our side,” Levi said.

Cuomo said at a news conference earlier today that he was more concerned with the strategy of passing gay marriage than he was of the timing of the vote.

“At this point it’s sort of binary,” he said. “We’re talking, we are discussing these issues, but the question is will they pass or not or will they pass in the next six weeks.”

Levi also said that another defeat would not necessarily mean the end of the issue.

“The only time table we’re working on is working every day,” he said. “We know the end of session is June, the clock is ticking. We are working as hard as we can everyday.”

Pataki’s Happy ‘Butcher, Mass Murderer’ bin Laden Dead

ICYMI: Here’s former Gov. George Pataki reacting to the the death of Osama bin Laden on “Morning Joe” earlier today.

While he didn’t go nearly as far as his fellow GOP leader in office for the 9/11 attacks, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said he once told President Bush he wanted to execute bin Laden himself, Pataki did say he was “happy” to hear that “this butcher, this mass murder” is finally no longer in the land of the living.

His next thought – “literally, within the first five seconds” – the families inof the victims.

“As ectastic that they are that this mass murder is dead, it doesn’t bring back the loved ones,” Pataki said. “There’s no closure…It’s the turning of a page, but it’s not closure.”

“Because there are almost 3,000 American families who, for the rest of their lives are going to have this void at the dinner table. And I can’t help but think of them. You know, I saw the young people celebrating and cheering, and that’s wonderful. But there’s a long way to go. And there are still those who want to attack us again, and we can’t forget that.”

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