NRCC Robos Rep. Owens On Debt

North Country residents might get a phone call in coming days from the National Republican Congressional Committee, talking about how Democratic Congressman Bill Owens voted against a balanced budget amendment in Congress.

“Rep. Owens talks a big game about being fiscally responsible, but that’s where his commitment stops. When it comes time to force Washington to live within its means, Owens sides with Nancy Pelosi and opposes serious fiscal reform, including a balanced budget amendment. Middle-class families are hurting as a result of Owens’ broken promises, which is why we’re holding him accountable,” said NRCC Spokesman Tory Mazzola.

House Republicans voted to pass a balanced budget amendment as part of their cut, cap, and balance bill, which was not voted on in the Senate and would have been vetoed by the President.

Democrats argue that a balanced budget amendment is just a political tactic. It would have to be receive 2/3rds vote in both the House and Senate, and then be ratified by the 2/3rds of state legislatures. So, even if Congress passed the measure, it could take years for it to be ratified, if it was at all.

The complete transcript of the robocall is after the jump:
More >

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

The Capital Region Economic development council will meet at 9:30 a.m. at the UAlbany. The Mid-Hudson council will meet at 3 p.m. at SUNY New Paltz. Both meetings are closed to the press and the public.

NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio will support Verizon workers on their third day of striking, walking with them in Brooklyn at 9 a.m. and at Verizon HQ in Manhattan at noon.

The Assembly Housing Committee will hold an 11:30 a.m. hearing in Buffalo on affordable housing.

The Wisconsin recall elections are today.


European stocks rallied at the opening this morning, but then fizzled, suggesting another tumultuous day on Wall Street.

Michael Daly takes Standard & Poor’s to task.

The rating agency found a defender in Mayor Bloomberg.

The specific impact of the federal fiscal troubles on New York and its municipalities remain unclear, but higher interest rates could be in the offing for the state and local governments.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie unleashed a wave of criticism across the Hudson for the Port Authority’s proposed toll hikes, directing his most pointed barbs at Executive Director Chris Ward.

Anonymous sources insist both Cuomo and Christie knew for months about the PA’s toll hike plan, despite the fact they claimed to have been blindsided by the proposal.

The PA’s plan re-opens the discussion of tolling the East River bridges and perhaps establishing congestion pricing.

More >


The Dow closed down 633 points – its worst day since December 2008.

Everything was in the red by the day’s end.

“Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some may say, we’ve always been and we’ll always continue to be a AAA country,” said President Obama.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is in for 2012. He’ll make his intentions clear this weekend during a RedState conference in Charleston, S.C.

The Advocate put Cuomo on its September cover, along with the headline “Leading Man.”

A Bronx woman responsible for the hit-and-run crash that left a young aide to Mayor Bloomberg in a “persistent vegetative state” received the maximum possible sentence: Up to four years behind bars.

The House is ending the page program, which has been the focus of some scandals over the years. (The cost: $69,000 to $80,000 per page).

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch wants to know what S&P has to say about the attacks on its “integrity.”

Bloomberg believes the S&P did the right thing.

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin was impressed by the late Gov. Hugh Carey’s “moxie” when he offered to drink a glass of PCBs.

Streetsblog gives Carey props for saving NYC’s transit system, too.

Carey, the great “mirthologist.”

Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff to honor Carey. They’ll remain that way until his funeral.

The DCCC’s “Accountability August” campaign includes NY-23 GOP candidate Matt Doheny.

OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito is featured in a mailer for Anthony Brindisi, who’s running for her old Assembly seat.

Fifty-five percent of likely US voters disagree with the characterization of Tea Partiers as economic terrorists, according to Rasmussen.

Bloomberg had no opinion whatsoever on the Port Authority’s proposed toll hikes at Hudson River crossings, but did invoke the ghost of congestion pricing.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s reaction: “You’re kidding, right?”

The billionaire mayor’s next role: “urbanity’s great ambassador” (?)

Redistricting will be the biggest political issue in 2012, predicts Newsday’s Yancey Roy.

The Farm Bureau deemed Cuomo a friend of the equine industry.

Sen. Tony Avella and Assemblyman Andy Hevesi are teaming up to combat a racoon infestation in Queens.

The Lessons Of Hugh Carey

New Yorkers are continuing to offer up rememberances of the late Gov. Hugh Carey, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 92, recalling him as a witty and often tenacious leader who was quick to forge alliances across party lines and is credited with saving NYC from fiscal calamity in the 1970s.

Rep. Paul Tonko, a Captial Region Democrat who was in county government when Carey lived on Eagle Street, said Carey’s “calm and steady hand at the mantle of leadership will always be his legacy,” saying that “legacy should speak to us today.”

Schumer echoed that sentiment. He called Carey’s time in office “an interesting lesson,” adding:

“These are tough times, but with leadership and strength – the kind that Hugh Carey showed back in 1975 when I was a 23-year-old freshman here in Albany in the state Legislature – we can overcome them.”

“And to remember him for the kind of human being he was. He was a kind and gentle man. Fun-loving in many different ways…but he also was a true leader, and he showed that even in the most desperate of times, we can turn things ago. And that ought to be his legacy and lesson that is particularly appropriate today.”

A number of people – including one of Carey’s 14 children, Nancy Carey Cassidy, who is joining us for a special tribue to her father on CapTon tonight – have noted the strong role that the former governor’s Catholic faith played in his life.

To wit: Bishop Howard Hubbard, who was ordained bishop of Albany in 1977 – two years after Carey was elected – took the unusual step of issuing the following statement to mark Carey’s death on behalf of the state Catholic Conference:

“Governor Hugh L. Carey was a superb public servant whose commitment to our nation and state was extraordinary.”

“He demonstrated great vision and courage in confronting the fiscal crisis in New York City in a bipartisan fashion, while at the same time protecting the needs of the most vulnerable in our Empire State: the poor, children, the mentally ill and the elderly.”

“The Governor was a role model of faith, integrity and civility in a society where such is needed today so desperately.”

Interesting, particularly given the fact that Carey fought to make sure poor women on Medicaid would be able to receive abortion services even though he personally opposed abortion.

NY-1 GOP, Conservatives Seek To Avoid 2010 ‘Mistakes’

GOP and Conservative leaders in Suffolk County welcomed George Demos to the 2012 NY-1 race by announcing their support for his opponent, Randy Altschuler.

“We need to learn from last year’s mistakes and not let divisions within our own partyallow Tim Bishop to sneak back into office again,” said County GOP Chairman John JayLaValle in a statement released by Altschuler’s campaign.

“Our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis, and we need abusiness leader like Randy Atlschuler in Washington to fix it.”

Suffolk Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh accused Demos of trying to boost Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop, adding:

“The fact of the matter is that Demos can’t win this race and he knows it. The only thing his candidacy does is make it easier for a job-killing liberal like Bishop to get re-elected. He has zero support within the Conservative Party and if he cared at all about defeating Bishop he would get out of the race.”

Demos is a Republican, which means he doesn’t need permission in the form of a Wilson-Pakula to run for that party’s line, and could simply petition his way onto the ballot. That’s not the case with the Conservative Party, so it looks like he’ll have to run as a write-in.

That’s what Christopher Nixon Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, tried to do in 2010, filing opportunity-to-ballot petitions with the Board of Elections after the Conservative Party declined to allow a primary between himself and its preferred candidate, Altschuler.

Altschuler easily defeated Cox and Demos on primary day. He came close to upsetting Bishop, too, but eventually conceded the race in early December – the last undecided Congressional contest in the country at that point.

The final tally in the November general election was Altschuler, 97,723; Bishop, 98,316.

Suffolk GOP & Conservative Leaders Unite Behind Altschuler 8-8

Lanza, Fuschillo, Blast Port Authority Toll Hike

Republican Senators Andrew Lanza, of Staten Island, and Charles Fuschillo, of Long Island, just issued a statement calling on the Port Authority to abandon plans to nearly double tolls for a handful of bridges and tunnels including the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and the George Washington bridge.

“The toll hikes are unjustified and would unfairly hit businesses and residents on Staten Island that must pay tolls to get on and off the Island,” Senator Lanza said. “The hit this record- high toll increase would have on local businesses and families on Staten Island in this economy would be devastating and they should not go forward.”

The two senators are urging the Port Authority to streamline operations and better prioritize projects to avoid the toll hikes.

“Senate Republicans have worked with Governor Cuomo to balance the budget and cap property taxes to strengthen our economy and create jobs,” Senator Fuschillo said. “We finally have New York pointed in a new direction, but this toll hike would put our economy in reverse and cause more people and businesses to leave.

Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie should direct their appointees to the Port Authority to vote against the toll hike when it is voted on August 19th. Should the PA board approve the increases, I would urge both Governors to use their authority to veto the decision of their commissioners.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he has yet to make a decision on whether he will veto the proposal.

Cuomo Announces MTA Chair Search Committee

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced a 20-member search committee that will assist in recommending and evaluating candidates to replace outgoing MTA Chairman Jay Walder, who recently surprised both transportation insiders and the administration by announcing his resignation to take a job in Hong Kong.

The panel is fairly diverse, including representatives from labor (AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes), rider advocates (the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign’s Gene Russianoff), business (ABNY’s Bill Rudin), transportation policy wonks (ex-LG Richard Ravitch, former US DOT Secretary Rodney Slater, Regional Plan Association President Robert Yaro), and government types (NYC Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, Director of State Operations Howard Glaser).

Cuomo has also tapped the executive search and recruitment firm, Krauthamer & Associates, to assist in the national and international search for Walder’s replacement.

City Hall News notes a rather glaring omission from this committee: TWU President John Samuelsen. Whoever the next MTA chair is will have to preside over a contract negotiation process that is already shpaing up to be rather ugly.

Samuelsen recently told the Chief-Leader that the TWU “has every intention of putting on a contract campaign and fighting tooth and nail for what we consider a fair contract” and doesn’t plan to follow the leads of CSEA and PEF in accepting no raises.


WFP Links Verizon To Tea Party

“Tea Party” is now officially the dirty adjective of choice employed by lefties to describe anything they see as anti-worker, anti-union and anti-middle class.

Case in point: The email sent out earler today by Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor that deemed Verizon “a Tea Party corporation if there ever was one.”

And Cantor did not stop there. He accused the company of wanting to “destroy the middle-class life – nothing fancy, but stable and with a future – that the 45,000 union workers at Verizon have built up over 50 years of collective bargaining.”

Verizon workers who belong to Communications Workers of America (35,000 employees) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (10,000 workers) announced Sunday that they were calling an immediate strike due to lack of progress in contract negotiations.

The labor-backed WFP sent out an email this afternoon calling for its supporters to sign an on-line petition calling on Verizon management to bargain in good faith.

“Verizon is one of the most profitable corporations in America,” Cantor wrote. “They make money hand over fist. Their workers deserve to share in the productivity gains that they help deliver.”

“Enough with the Tea Party-style of bargaining, where compromise is a dirty word and the goal is to make a few people incredibly wealthy while tens of thousands get the shaft. The top guy at Verizon earns something like $400,000 PER WEEK.”

“The American economy is in a serious crisis. Verizon is trying to take advantage of the crisis by lowering the living-standards of its employees and thus increase its profits. The workers are right to stand up. Let’s stand with them.”

These sorts of “stand with them” emails are standard operating procedure for the WFP. It’s also worth noting that one of its co-chairs, Bob Master, is the political director at CWA District One.

Also: CapCon’s Casey Seiler reports that picketing Verizon workers is accusing Verizon of using “Wisconsin-style” tactics (shorthand these days in labor-speak for “union-busting”) during contract negotiations.

Stringer Calls For Nautica Tri Review (Updated)

After yesterday’s Nautica NYC Triathlon left one 64-year-old man dead and a 40-year woman hospitalized, Manhattan BP Scott Stringer is calling for a “top-to-bottom review” of the competition’s safety protocol.

UPDATE: AP reports the woman, whose name has not yet been released, has died after reportedly going into cardiac arrest twice after Sunday’s swim. That brings yesterday’s death toll to two and the overall toll for the 11-year history of this event to three.

Stringer, who is raising money for a likely 2013 NYC mayoral run, also questioned the organizers’ decision to go ahead with the race – an Olympic-distance tri that requires a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run – despite less-than optimal weather conditions including Saturday night rain, choppy water and strong currents in the Hudson River, and temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.

“New Yorkers signed up for a triathlon – not a game of Russian Roulette,” Stringer said in a press release.

“Choosing to compete is a decision every athlete has to make for themselves – but it is the obligation of the City to make sure all potential risks are accounted for to the extent possible.”

“The public deserves a comprehensive examination of the safety conditions of this triathlon, including existing rules, registration requirements and prerequisites, as well as available paramedic and rescue protections in each portion of the race. With triathlons increasing in popularity, we must do everything we can do ensure the safety of all participants.”

The race director, Bill Burke, had deemed the weather conditions “optimal,” according to Stringer, who expressed disbelief about that statement.

Stringer noted that a 32-year-old man died in the 2008 NYC tri and an autopsy deemed his death “inconclusive,” although it was linked to a condition involving high blood pressure, according to the NYTimes. In the 11-year history of this year, there have been two deaths, including the one that occurred yesterday.

The BP cited 2009 study by Minneapolis Heart Institute found that athletes participating in triathlons have twice the risk of sudden death. He also quoted a Journal of the American Medical Association study that found14 people died while participating in triathlons – 13 while swimming – from 2006 to 2008.

I did the race yesterday – my third time competing – and so perhaps can offer a different perspective than Stringer, who I don’t believe was there.

More >

State Test Scores Remain Largely Flat

Test scores in English and math for students in grades 3 through 8 remained largely flat, with most districts showing a slight decline in scores.

Overall, students meeting the grade for math edged up slightly from 61 percent 63 percent, while English exam scores fell from 53.2 percent to 52.8 percent passing.

The state Education Department pinned the lower scores on increased proficiency standards that were raised last year in attempt to better reflect whether a student is achieve college-level scores on future exams.

Education officials said this recent batch of scores was evidence that the state needed to move quickly on overhauling the Regents examinations.

“Student outcomes have been stubbornly flat over time. The Regents reform agenda is designed to change that, by driving long-term gains in student performance,” said Commissioner John King.

“Better tests are only one part of the reform strategy. We’re also moving forward in our efforts to ensure better training and better support for the teachers and principals in our schools; to provide more transparent and useful data; and to help our lowest performing schools take the necessary steps to turn around their performance or replace them with innovative alternatives.”

“Taken together, these efforts will dramatically improve the likelihood that New York’s students are well-prepared for college and careers.”

The results show scores are down in all four of the state Big Five school districts – Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and Syracuse – while they are up in slightly both math and English in New York City. (Corrected). The achievement gap for black and Hispanice students also remains wide, the Education Department said.

More >