Seminerio Dies In Prison

Former Assemblyman Tony Seminerio, who pleaded guilty last January to federal corruption charges, has died in a North Carolina prison.

The 75-year-old Queens Democrat had represented his district for 30 years. He was sentenced to do six years behind bars back in February 2010.

The Queens Courier recalls that Seminerio seemed to realize he was likely to die while incarcerated, saying shortly after his sentence was handed down: “I’m 74 years old. How much time have I left?”

To Every Season, Churn, Churn, Churn

It’s that time of year again.

An unusual number of lost seats (at least 8, maybe 9, depending on how the Skartados/Kirwan race ends up) and retirements has created considerable opportunity for advancement in the Assembly majority when it comes to leadership roles and committee charimanships.

Overall, 16 Democrats (if you include Indpendence Party member Tim Gordon, who caucused with the Democrats) didn’t return this year. Not all of them had committees or titles, though.

The majority operates on a seniority basis, and due to its considerable size (even with the losses it sustained this year) there aren’t enough lulus to go around. So, it’s a big deal to the rank-and-file when things open up like this.

It also enables Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to reward members and make people who have been toiling on the back benches happier by boosting their rather meager $79,500 base salaries (remember: state lawmakers haven’t received a pay raise since January 1999).

Keep in mind that when one member moves up, he or she leaves behind a committee or leadership vacancy to fill. And thus people further down the food chain move up, too. We call this phenomenon “churn.”

The two biggest posts open at the moment are the chairs of the Labor and Corporations, Authorities & Commissions committees, which belonged to former Assemblywoman Susan John and former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, respectively.

Also available: The Committee On Committees (this is a leadership post that belonged to former Assemblyman Bill Parment), Deputy Majority Whip (former Assemblywoman Ann Margaret Carrozza), Small Business Committee (former Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat), Administrative Regulations Review Commission (former Assemblyman-turned-Sen. Mike Gianaris).

Here’s another interesting tid-bit: Due to their loss of 8 (or 9) seats, the Assembly Democrats are going to have to reallocate committee memberships, which are based on proportionality. Now that there are more Republicans, they’re going to have more ranking members on committees.

All of this is rather complicated, and it could take several weeks to sort out. But committees are scheduled to start meeting when the session work gets underway next week.

Breslin Compares Indy Coalition To Amigos

Cap Ton’s Sr. Producer Liz Alesse caught up with Albany State Senator Neil Breslin yesterday after the state of the state address and asked him about the four Democrats who have formed the Independent Coalition, because they are upset with current leadership in the Democratic conference.

“I am disappointed,” Breslin said. “We saw this 2 years ago with the four amigos. We are just getting over that. We are a team. There are some things you don’t like and some things you do like. So hopefully they will come back.”

Breslin went on to say he was never contacted about possibly joining with the four, though ideologically he is probably closer to many of them then he is to the current Senate leadership.

Here And Now

Welcome to Day 6 of Cuomo II, it should be slightly less hectic than Day 1 and Day 5 were. There’s nothing on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s official schedule except AG Eric Schneiderman’s public swearing-in ceremony in NYC at 7 p.m.

But, given the ambitions and aggressive approach of this new governor, who knows? Here are the headlines…

The governor mentioned the word “tax” or “taxes” 21 times – mostly to denounce them and promise to lower them – in his decidedly pro-business State of the State address.

Cuomo’s speech wasn’t all about cutting, it also included some $900 million worth of new initiatives.

Fred Dicker thought the “normally hard-charging Cuomo uncharacteristically punted” due to the lack of detail in his SoS.

The Times also found Cuomo’s speech short on details, but did see “a few particularly promising ideas.”

Bill Hammond was impressed by Cuomo’s stagecraft.

There’s skepticism in the North Country about Cuomo’s desire to overhaul the prison system.

Dan Collins writes: “His State of the State speech must have set a PowerPoint record, with 82 slides in all. New York could invade Canada with that many slides.”

Not everyone approved of the PowerPoint approach.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver struck a conciliatory tone in his remarks.

The Post slammed Silver for turning his head away when Cuomo was speaking about ethics reform. (To be fair, I believe there was a monitor placed off stage for those sitting up there to follow the PowerPoint presentation).

Former state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson liked Cuomo’s speech and urges Silver to get on board.

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Video: State Of The State

Watch Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in its entirety:


SoS responses galore.

“In many ways, Mr. Cuomo’s speech and his policy proposals reinforced that he was ideologically a Democrat more in the mold of his former boss, Bill Clinton, than his father, Mario M. Cuomo,” write Danny Hakim and Nick Confessore.

This assemblywoman’s cell phone went off duing the speech.

GOP Sen. Betty Little thought it was the best SoS she’s heard in 16 years of listening.

Freshman GOP Sen. Lee Zeldin liked the speech, too. (It was his first).

Hunger Action was disappointed by the lack of Cuomo’s attention to issues dealing with poverty.

Get your 2011 legislative session calendar here.

Harry Wilson, who attended the SoS, chalked his loss to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli up to a lack of voter attention to down-ballot races.

Sen. Greg Ball posted his swearing-in on YouTube.

Ball insists he can be a team player.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (finally) has a new counsel.

Silver went further than ever before in expressing support for a property tax cap.

Gabe Pressman pens an ode to two fallen “pillars of journalism,” Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins.

Robbins explains why he followed Barrett out the door.

Robert Stacy McCain will never forgive Dede Scozzafava.

The Manhattan Madam did not like the Craigslist killed movie.

Mayor Bloomberg supports the new Senate Independent caucus.

So does Bill Samuels.

Cuomo To Speak At Schneiderman Swearing-In

AG Eric Schneiderman announced this afternoon that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will speaking at his public swearing-in ceremony tomorrow night at City College.

The event, which starts at 7 p.m., will also feature unnamed “special guests” from around the state.

Schneiderman, as you’ll recall, was widely believed not to be Cuomo’s first choice to succeed him in the AG’s office. In fact, the governor reportedly preferred one of the former senator’s four Democratic primary opponents, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, largely due to her ticket-balancing capabilities.

(Remember: The statewide ticket ended up being almost entirely male and white and downstate dominated, with the exception of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and LG Bob Duffy (on the upstate part, not the gender part).

Cuomo endorsed Schneiderman after he won the primary and then campaigned with him in the days leading up to the general election – a favor he did not bestow on his fellow statewide contender, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Kennedy: Senate Dems Ready To Partner With Cuomo (Really?)

Here’s freshman Sen. Tim Kennedy’s response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. The WNY Democrat pledges that he and his fellow minority members are ready to start working with the governor and calls on the Republicans to do the same.

An excerpt:

“Despite the failings of the past, now it’s time to stop putting politics ahead of progress. As Governor Cuomo made clear today – we have a moral obligation to work together.”

“I’m working to bring my colleagues together to join me in building a Senate that works together – Democrats and Republicans, upstate and downstate. Because that’s the only way we’ll ever reform Albany and move New York State in a new direction.”

“$10 billion dollars….that’s how big and deep the deficit this coming fiscal year will be….larger than the entire budget of many states.”

“There will be significant cuts, but they must be thoughtful, deliberate, and not place an unfair burden on the backs of seniors, our children, veterans or our most vulnerable citizens.”

Hmmm. That last part is particularly notable. “Deliberate” cuts that don’t disproportionately hurt the sorts of people that Democrats like to protect. Might the Democrats be gearing up to be the new party of “no”? Sounds like it.

Of course, with the new four-member independent Democratic conference, which is very much on board with key elements of Cuomo’s agenda – property tax cap, spending cuts etc., economic development, ethics reform etc. – the 32-member GOP conference is likely to have some breathing room when it comes time to vote.

The full transcript of Kennedy’s remarks appears after the jump.

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If you missed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first State of the State address, or if you thought it was so fantastic that you just had to give it another listen, you can do so here.

Cuomo’s press office says the Power Point presentation that went along with the speech will eventually be on-line. It’s not there yet. But apparently, it will show up here at some point.

UPDATE:  The entire text of the governor’s address appears after the jump.

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Shelly’s Spread

CapTon’s Liz Alesse sent this photo from Meeting Room 6 where Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is hosting a post-State of the State reception.

It’s the standard NYC deli fare – bagels, smoked salmon (lox, for those of you who speak Kosher) with all the trimmings, various cream cheeses, salads and pastries.

This event traditionally took place in the Assembly parlor before the SoS, and, in my humble opinion, was always one of the best parts of the day I like to refer to as “the first day of school.” Everyone from the governor on down would come in and take a lap or two around the table, chatting and eating as they went.

But since Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved his SoS to the Empire State Plaza convention center to, as he put it, send a message that change is indeed possible in change-averse Albany. I thought Silver’s reception would be a casualty of the move, but apparently he’s capable of change, too.