Gas Industry Mails Cuomo On Fracking

As anti-fracking advocates plan a demonstration today at the Capitol opposing the controversial natural-gas extraction process, the oil and gas industry is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to begin granting permits.

“Nearly three years has gone by since the state essentially halted the permitting of natural gas drilling in the Southern Tier,” wrote Brad Gill, Independent Oil and Gas Association of NY executive director, in his letter to the governor.

“During that time we have watched people, jobs, businesses and opportunity flee our state for Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, where those economies are rebounding strongly as a result of increased natural gas development.”

Gill added:

“Our industry is asking the state to provide an economic opportunity that is balanced by environmental protection.”

“We are asking that policymakers work right now to embrace the economic opportunity that is balanced by environmental protection, and allow science, reason and our existing rigorous SGEIS process to trump emotion as New York works to derive the benefits of natural gas.”

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is due to release its report on the safety of the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, sometime this summer. Before leaving office, Gov. David Paterson signed a moratorium on the process until the review is completed.

Though environmentalists oppose the process, industry groups and some landowners hope they state will being granting permits soon, arguing that it will aid the economically troubled Southern Tier region.

Pride Agenda Bolstered By Siena Poll

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director is happy with what he sees as a growing trend of support for marriage equality, further bolstered by today’s Siena poll.

“Today’s Siena poll results are yet another indication of ever-increasing support in New York for allowing loving, committed same-sex couples to marry. State legislators who have not supported marriage equality in the past should take note that New Yorkers – including nearly two thirds of suburban voters and a majority of upstate and Catholic voters – clearly believe in fairness and equality for their LGBT family, friends, neighbors and colleagues,” Ross Levi said.

According to the poll, 58% of New Yorkers support marriage for same-sex couples and only 36% oppose it.

Assembly To Vote On Rent Regs Expansion

The Democratic-led Assembly today plans to vote on an expansion of rent regulations for New York City and some suburban communities, a measure that is unlikely to have support in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The proposal appears to increase regulations on landlords and expand tenants’ ability to contest rent increases.

The measure would extend rent control laws until 2016, decrease from twenty percent to ten percent the amount a landlord could increase rent upon vacancy and also prohibit a landlord from taking more than one increase in any one calendar year, among other provisions.

In addition, a landlord whose building is in violation of required maintenance laws would be prohibited from collecting rent increases.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Vito Lopez plan a 3 p.m. news conference to discuss the “expected passage” of the bill.

Rent control for New York City is due to expire June 15.

The bill comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to get the Assembly to pass a cap on local property taxes. Cuomo has said he supports extending rent control for the city and possibly expanding regulations. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said he wants to keep rent control, but would be hesitant to increase regulations on landlords.

Cuomo has to walk a careful line has he tries to keep his pro-business coalition together. The Committee to Save New York includes landlords who are in favor of his 2 percent cap, which the Senate already approved, but property owners are likely to oppose any expansion of rent regulations.

At the same time, Silver has said the two issues – a tax cap and rent control – are “philosophically linked” but not necessarily joined at the hip.

Iannuzzi Elected To 3rd Term

NYSUT just announced that delegates have re-elected Dick Iannuzzi to a 3rd term as president of the state’s biggest teacher’s union.

Iannuzzi has been one of the few outspoken critics of Governor Andrew Cuomo and his proposed budget, which cut state aid to schools by 2.7% or about $1.3 billion. NYSUT chose not to endorse the Governor during last year’s election, though they didn’t block the endorsement by the AFL-CIO, their umbrella labor group, which they likely could have.

In their press release, NYSUT takes a slight shot at Cuomo and the legislature for those education cuts, calling them devastating.

Iannuzzi will begin his latest term at a critical juncture for the labor movement, as issues like collective bargaining and seniority are under attack nationwide, and as public K-12 and higher education in New York struggle to cope with the devastating effects of more than $1 billion in cuts by state government.

Those cuts, in fact, come at a time when there are 15,000 fewer teachers and support staff in New York state public schools than two years ago, and as districts statewide expect to lay off at least 10,000 more employees in 2011-12.

The release also included this quote, which Iannuzzi is said to have delivered to the delegates that elected him.

“The road ahead will continue to be challenging. You know the issues and the challenges. … The battle will be fought here and won here. Not won or lost here, but won here. And that’s because of each of you and the work you do.”

The delegates also re-elected another slate of officers including Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta, Vice Presidents Maria Neira and Kathleen Donahue, and Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler. All terms are for three years.

Siena: Broad Support For Cuomo’s Post-Budget Agenda

Today’s Siena poll finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo heading into post-budget policy negotiations with a very strong hand, as New Yorkers strongly support his top agenda items – from instituting a property tax cap (83 percent) to creating an independent redistricting commission and legalizing same-sex marriage (both 58 percent).

Cuomo saw both his job performance and favorability ratings jump following the budget battle, even though voters believe their local schools and hospitals lost out as a result of the on-time spending plan passed by the Legislature.

“Andrew Cuomo starts his second hundred days as governor continuing to enjoy ‘rock star status’ among New Yorkers,” said Siena poll spokesman Steve Greenberg.

“His favorability rating is back over 70 percent, his job performance rating is up and, by a 61-9 percent margin, voters say he was a winner, not loser, in the just-completed budget battle.”

The governor is viewed favorably by 73 percent of voters and unfavorably by 18 percent, up from 69-20 last month. Fifty-four percent say he is doing an excellent or good job – up from 51 percent last month – and 41 percent say he’s doing a fair or poor job (unchanged).

SNY0411 Crosstabs

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Here And Now

Hundreds of anti-fracking advocates are expected to demonstrate in Albany today.

The Marcellus shale drilling isn’t likely to be an issue in WNY.

The hydrofracking lobbying bill – both for and against, but mostly for – now tops $3.6 million.

Expelled ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate has a new job working the counter at a Queens pizzeria.

“The guy in charge is Andrew Cuomo.”

Cuomo’s quiet pick of Kevin Gagan, a former assistant AG, to serve as the No. 2 at the State Police has angered some senior officers who had been hoping for one of their own.

Cuomo advisor Drew Zambelli calls LG Bob Duffy “a tremendous asset to the administration.”

Former Staten Island Rep. Guy Molinari gave Cuomo an “A” for his first 100 days.

President Obama will turn his attention this week to the next battle looming in Washington: Reducing the nation’s debt.

Obama advisor David Plouffe says Donald Trump has “zero” chances of making it to the White House.

It was the first time the administration responded to Trump’s ongoing questioning of the president’s citizenship.

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The Weekend That Was

The eleventh-hour budget deal impacts two pieces of the health care reform law.

Eleven NYC members of the state’s congressional delegation voted against the stopgap budget bill.

Tick tock.

Details of the deal are still being hammered out, but some NYC homeland security funds were reportedly preserved.

Next up in Washington: A fight over the national debt ceiling.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is more like President Clinton than he is like his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

The Times “would feel a lot better” if negotiations over the ethics bill were happening in public and not behind closed doors.

The fight in Albany over prison gerrymandering is stalling redistricting efforts at the local level.

The Democrat & Chronicle says Cuomo is on target “for the most part” when he says his first 100 days in office were good for New York.

NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott won’t be deviating from the Bloomberg playbook.

In the post-Cathie Black era there’s speculation about who will be the next to go.

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Mario Cuomo, Still A Liberal

A poignant piece in today’s Times magazine by Matt Bai about former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who is still clinging to a brand of liberalism and belief in, as he once said, “all the government we need”, even as a new generation of Democrats – including his son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo – are hewing to a new brand of fiscal discipline.

Clearly sensitive to comparisons between his tenure in office and his son’s, Mario Cuomo waxes on about the “senselessness of political labels,” Bai reports, and also speaks with administration about the capacity of fellow Dems like former President Clinton (Andrew Cuomo’s ex-boss and political mentor) and President Obama to triangulate – even as it drives die-hard lefties like himself a little nuts.

Did that mean, I asked, that Mario Cuomo, who strongly opposed Clintonian compromises like the welfare-reform law of 1996, had come at last to appreciate triangulation?

“No,” he said quickly, shifting a bit in his swivel chair. Then, more softly, “I’m still a liberal, I guess.”

Another telling anecdote:

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Weekend Open Thread – Crisis Averted Edition

The eleventh-hour deal struck by the president and congressional leaders with two hours to go until the shutdown deadline cuts $38 billion from federal spending this year.

The agreement did not defund Planned Parenthood, as Republicans had hoped, but did restrict abortion financing in Washington, D.C. The impact on NY is not yet known, as some of the details have yet to be revealed in full.

The compromise will be considered some time next week (it takes time to put these things into bill form). In the meantime, lawmakers passed another stopgap measure to keep the government up and running. That means there will be no furloughs for federal employees, no park closures, no tax refund delays and no interrupted paychecks for members of the military.

The abortion issue isn’t likely to go away any time soon, nor are the fights over spending. Another budget battle is looming, as it a fight over raising the debt ceiling.

Lots to discuss….not to mention Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s first 100 day milestone, which he’ll officially hit tomorrow.

Government Shutdown Avoided At Last Minute

President Obama tonight is celebrating a “historic” agreement with Congressional leaders that will keep the federal government in business while lawmakers and the White House continue to a larger philosophical debate over the nation’s debt.

The announcement avoids what would have been the first government shutdown in 15 years.

Under the agreement announced with about a hour to go before the government’s operations ground to a halt, $38.5 billion will be sliced from the federal government’s spending.

Though Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Speaker John Boehner said the agreement kept the government operating, lawmakers planned to approve a short-term a continuing resolution to keep money flowing through Monday until a long-term measure could be voted on.

The agreement came after The New York Times reported noted conservatives, including possible presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Mike Huckabee, applied pressure to Boehner over avoiding a shutdown.

The agreement also reportedly resolved issues over funding for Planned Parenthood, which GOP lawmakers had pushed hard for over the last several days, Democrats had charged.

Both Reid and Boehner issued a joint statement shortly after 11 p.m.:

“We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year, as well as a short-term bridge that will give us time to avoid a shutdown while we get that agreement through both houses and to the President. We will cut $78.5 billion below the President’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders. In the meantime, we will pass a short-term resolution to keep the government running through Thursday. That short-term bridge will cut the first $2 billion of the total savings.”

The full remarks from Obama are after the jump: More >