Perkins: Rent Regs Expiration A ‘Tsunami’

While unveiling a clock counting down to the day rent control for New York City expires, Sen. Bill Perkins said the looming deadline was like a “tsunami.”

“The word you are looking for is ‘tsunami,’” Perkins, a Manhattan Democrat, said after saying the expiration of rent control would be similar to disasters around the world that displace people from their homes. “This will have that kind of effect on people if this clock runs out.”

The Democratic-led Assembly approved an expansion of rent regulations on Monday, but the Republican-led Senate is likely hesitant to approve a broadening of the regulations.

Perkins said he wished the rent regulations had been dealt with in the budget, which was approved several days early.

Rent control is due to expire for New York City and some suburban communities on June 15.

Sen. Adriano Espaillat charged that Senate GOP lawmakers, like “a coach in a game” are choosing to run down the clock.

“Not only is the rent too damn high, but the clock is ticking,” he said.

Espaillat was hesitant to say the negotiations over the rent regulation legislation should be tied to the ongoing debate for a tax cap. Senate Republicans approved a 2 percent cap in January and do not want to submit to negotiations that would weaken the measure.

Senate Dems Try To Force The Ethics Issue

The Senate Democrats are again trying to use a 2009 chamber rule change to their advantage in hopes of forcing a public hearing on their reform agenda, which is contained in five ethics and campaign finance-related bills.

The minority will deliver to the GOP a petition signed by one-third of the Rules Committee members seeking a hearing on these bills. According to the ’09 change, a hearing must be held within two weeks unless the majority of Rules members (read: Republicans) vote not to do so.

The Democrats tried this with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting bill and got nowhere, although they did receive media attention, which is half the battle. The point, of course, is to force the opposition onto the record with “no” votes and then try to paint them as anti-reform.

The five bills in question are:

- Establishing an independent commission on governmental ethics (S31/Squadron).

- Stripping elected officials convicted of misusing office of pensions (S2333/Krueger).

- Increasing financial and client disclosure requirements (S382/Rivera).

- Restricting the personal use of campaign funds (S3053/Krueger).

- Eliminating Pay to Play (S1565/Addabbo).

Cuomo has been negotiating behind closed doors with legislative leaders over an ethics bill for weeks now (much to the chargin of the NY Times editorial page, which called over the weekend for these talks to go public).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver insists his chamber has a two-way deal with the governor and the Senate Republicans are balking, but the GOP rejects that allegation.

NOTE: Cuomo said during a press conference last week that there is “no final agreement” on ethics with either house, although “conversations have proceeded further with the Assembly.” (At about the 1:20-minute mark in the video in this link).

Either way, we’ve yet to see any bill language.

41311 Ethics Reform Package Petitions

Cuomo Out-Polls Q Poll’s Govs

Just how popular IS Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Well, according to today’s Q poll, more popular than his counterparts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and even New Jersey, which is headed by a Republican to whom the Democrat Cuomo is often compared.

Cuomo has a 64-16 percent job approval rating, which is higher than any other governor in any state where the Q poll has conducted surveys so far this year.

Christie comes in at 52-40 (as of Feb. 9). The other executives – all of them engaged in unresolved budget battles – are under 50 percent.

Cuomo’s rating is up from 56-15 in February, and even Republicans like him (58-18). New Yorkers approve of the on-time budget, 47-31, with 31 percent saying the governor is most responsible for getting it done, while 57 percent said the job was equally shared by the governor and the Legislature.

Voters generally approve of the job their local state legislators are doing, but disapprove overall of the Legislature as a whole (29-58). However, that’s the Legislature’s best grade since its 32-50 rating in February 2009 and up from 20-65 just two months ago.

The near-government shutdown at the federal level didn’t do anything to improve the standing of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer in New Yorkers’ eyes. Schumer is at 55-32, down from 60-26, while Gillibrand is at 49-26, down from 54-20 just last month – her highest Q poll score.

041311 NY GOV + BP

Here And Now

President Obama is expected to address Medicare and also call for taxing the rich in his deficit speech today.

A vote on the eleventh-hour federal budget deal was delayed by a day as House Republicans scrambled to find votes.

Lobbyists won key concessions in the budget deal.

The governor vowed to veto any pension sweetening bills.

The governor was furious with RSA President Joe Strasburg for mentioning former Gov. Mario Cuomo at a recent meeting. Strasburg insists this was not a personal attack.

Michael Goodwin waxes on about Cuomo’s “100-day miracle.”

A growing list of people are gunning for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox’s job.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos squabbled over the property tax cap.

Skelos insists his conference won’t negotiate on the 2 percent cap Cuomo has proposed.

Republican Assemblyman Don Miller wants to freeze taxes, not just cap them.

Silver on speculation that Dean Fuleihan’s departure signals his own demise: “I have no place to go, nobody to see, so I intend to be here awhile…I’m not going anyplace.”

“He never accepted a bribe from anyone for any matter and he never abused his public office in any way whatsoever,” Sen. Carl Kruger’s attorney said after the Brooklyn Democrat pleaded not guilty to corruption charges.

More >

Room For A 2 Percent Cap? Silver Says Yes

Is a 2 percent cap possible in the Assembly?

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it is. Maybe. Possibly.

Silver, speaking to reporters after huddling in a short Democratic conference this afternoon, said a 2 percent cap could pass his chamber. But some exemptions may apply.

“Obviously it would have a cap on property taxes, probably the 2 percent the governor has in it, and probably beyond that we’ll have a discussion.”

But Silver said exemptions could be built in to the measure, which he dismissed as minimal.

A news conference held by Senate Republicans tried to re-frame the argument that Silver was being recalcitrant on the property tax cap.

Silver Fetes Fuleihan, Says He’s Losing ‘Right Arm’

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver bid farewell today to his “right arm,” a top aide with so many duties he will have to split the job into two (Liz broke that story earlier today).

Silver issued a lengthy goodbye press release to Dean Fuleihan, a 33-year veteran of the Assembly.

“He has been one of the most brilliant, one of the most loyal, one of the most giving of his time in his job and it is really like I’m losing my right arm at this point,” Silver told reporters.

Fuleihan gave no indication during the reporter gaggle about what he would do, and Silver only said it “would not be in this building” referring to the Capitol.

Taking Fuleihan’s responsibilities are Lou Ann Ciccone, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Speaker for Program and Policy; and Matthew Howard, who is being promoted to Secretary to the Ways and Means Committee.

“For all the negatives we hear, there are incredible positives,” Fuleihan said of the Legislature. “It’s an experience of a lifetime. I don’t leave this easy.”

He does plan to stay in New York and added that he wants to “make a contribution.”

Silver also said this was not a sign he would end his tenure as speaker, which began in 1994, making him one of the longest serving Assembly speaker in the state’s history.

The full release on Fuelihan’s departure is after the jump: More >


Sen. Carl Kruger and Dr. Michael Turano may seek separate trials on their respective corruption charges.

Potential 2012 GOP presidential contender Haley Barbour doesn’t think much of the lead his potential rival, Donald Trump, has in the polls.

It’s Equal Pay Day.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appreciates former Gov. David Paterson. (No wonder, he’s the reason she’s got her current job).

Ralph Nader took the left to task for failing to bring the progressive fight to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

We aren’t New Jersey, according to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

The moment that sealed Cathie Black’s fate.

Does Matt Bai have a liberal bias?

NYC Councilman Dan Halloran, defender of Happy Meals.

The Brady Campaign unveiled a new TV ad in its ongoing push to ban large-capacity gun magazine clips.

Legislative leaders are calculated in their cozying up to the governor.

New Yorkers have a mixed view on government consolidation, which is a priority for Cuomo.

Assemblyman Micah Kellner wants the NYC Taxi of Tomorrow to be wheelchair accessible, which boosts a Turkish manufacturer’s bid.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is named in an Oneida Indian Nation lawsuit.

“We’re not a fat organization,” NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott said.

A Republican is likely to run for the Assembly seat Audrey Pheffer is expected to vacate to become Queens County clerk.

The incoming DNC chairwoman may accept PAC cash.

NYCLU has a new TV show.

Ball, Undaunted, Announces Next Hearing

After receiving a threatening package in the mail today, Sen. Greg Ball announced the date of his next Homeland Security Committee hearing on post-9/11 preparedness.

package contents

“Law enforcement is investigating this incident and I am confident this is in good hands,” the Hudson Valley Republican said.

“I will continue my efforts to review both progress and failure since 9-11 and look forward to my next hearing to be held in Albany, May 17, 2011.”

Ball released photos of the letter he received (it appears after the jump) and also the contents of the package, which the State Police said included a vial of an unknown substance.

Also included: A stuffed Curious George doll wearing a Star of David on its forehead and a label that says “Final Destination: Auschwitz.”

The letter referred to the doll as “your own stuffed miniature Jew that you can worship in the privacy of your own home.”

More >

State Police Investigating ‘Suspicious Package’ Sent To Sen. Ball

A State Police spokeswoman confirmed the agency is investigating a “suspicious package” received by Sen. Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican who hosted a controversial hearing last Friday on the state’s public safety preparedness in the post-9/11 era.

Troopers responded at approximately 1:05 p.m. this afternoon to Ball’s office in 817 of the LOB after he reported receiving the package in the mail that contained “a vial with an unknown substance in it, and a letter containing numerous racially charged and anti-Semitic statements,” according to a State Police statement.

The Albany Fire Department Hazmat team responded, secured the package, and transported it to a Department of Health laboratory for analysis. The investigation is ongoing.

This comes on the heels of a threatening email that was sent to numerous Albany lawmakers and reporters on April Fools Day. The State Police determined there was no evidence of a credible threat there.

Ball was criticized by Senate Democrats for including witnesses at his hearing to testified about terrorism and Islamic law (Sharia).

The event struck a number of observers as in keeping with a hearing on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims that was hosted by Rep. Peter King, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman, which drew national attention and criticism.

Not long after his first hearing in Washington, D.C., King received a bloody pig’s foot in the mail. It was accompanied by a note that included anti-Semitic references. (The Long Island congressman is Catholic).

King himself testified at Ball’s hearing, which had some heated moments, but was largely uneventful.

Ball has often been a magnet for controversy. He was elected last fall over the objections of the Senate Republicans who are now his colleagues. (They even sent out a mailer highlighting allegations that he engaged in a sexual assault and stalking).

And need I remind longtime Ball watchers of “Goatgate“?! I’m not sure that was ever solved. But one thing is certain: Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky didn’t do it, even though he and Ball tangled (verbally) on the Assembly floor several times.

Breslin: My Brother’s Retiring, Not Me

Albany County Executive Michael Breslin may be stepping down, but his brother Sen. Neil Breslin says he isn’t going anywhere.

“I’ve never been more excited to run again. I look forward to getting back in the majority and look forward to running again and campaigning again,” Breslin told me this afternoon.

And he’s got no interest in seeking his brother’s job.

“I did see a mention of that, I have no interest in running for county executive,” Breslin said.

The lawmaker faced a difficult re-election campaign last year in an anti-incumbent season.

After facing a spirited challenge from Luke Martland, he was pulled over by State Police, but not charged after passing a sobriety test. He went on to win the general election in November by a wide margin. Update: A reader, I think correctly, points out that Breslin won re-election by a 54-40 percent margin, which is not exactly a wide margin for a Democratic incumbent.