NY-26 Update: Ian Murphy’s Fireside Chat

NY-26 appears to officially be a five-way race now, thanks to the Green Party’s official nomination of Buffalo Beat editor/prank caller extraordinaire Ian Murphy.

“Ian Murphy has been portrayed by the media as the nation’s most famous prank caller, but his call to Gov. Walker was done to point out how entwined the Democrats and Republicans are with the corporate elite,” said state Green Party Co-Chair Peter LaVenia in a press release this morning.

LaVenia’s fellow co-chair, Howie Hawkins, whose gubernatorial candidacy last fall brought the Greens official party status and a ballot line for the next four years, concurred, saying:

“Ian’s call, and his campaign, reject the imperialism of our Democrat-Republican duopoly and our corporate oligarchy, whether in Wisconsin, New York, or in the Arab world.”

“We consider the austerity measures being pushed by President Obama and Congress to be as illegitimate as the war the President has started in Libya. Ian is the only candidate in the race for the 26th that will articulate these values, and that is why we nominated him.”

Apparently, Murphy has firmed up his platform since my CapTon interview with him last week.

According to the Greens, he’ll be supporting their calls to reduce the military budget, pass Medicare for All, and ban hydrofracking in the Marcellus shale. Meanwhile, Murphy himself released the following statement:

“Blah. Why are we writing press releases? It’s already all over the Facebooks tubes and the Twitter machines. I think they get the point – go to MurphyCanHasCongress.com.”

If you go there, you’ll find Murphy’s official announcement, which is a sort of “fireside chat” spoof. In it, he makes fun of Sarah Palin’s notes-on-my-hand moment. He says his platform is “anger.” His list of things about which he’s angry include the fact that his campaign manager made him “wear this goofy sweater.”

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making good this morning on a promise to reschedule a snow-delayed Syracuse visit. Forecasters are predicting a dusting of the white stuff, but nothing like the storm that prevented his CNY trip earlier this month.

Cuomo said the NRC has made Indian Point a “top priority” in its review of nuclear plants and seismic safety.

This is just the latest round in a long battle between Indian Point and the governor, who continues to insist it should be shut down.

There’s no timeline for the NRC’s review, but Cuomo wants the commission to move “quickly.”

The usually supportive Post is not supportive of Cuomo’s Indian Point stance.

Rep. Eliot Engel, who represents parts of the Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties, is in the “shut it down” camp.

Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, insists the plant is safe, but also says it will cooperate with the NRC review.

Cuomo warned legislators the budget will be done “one way or the other” – either amicably or through the all-or-nothing extender method.

If the budget is indeed on time, Cuomo will have former Gov. David Paterson to thank.

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. is the only state lawmaker willing (so far) to go on the record endorsing a government shutdown over accepting Cuomo’s budget in an extender – if it should come to that.

“As a realist, you want the realist’s answer? As a realist, we have significant issues: Medicaid, education, prison closures,” Cuomo said.

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State grants to communities that host VLT parlors have been restored, according to Sen. Hugh Farley.

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky is anti-NRC.

Four NY Republican House members make the 2012 most vulnerable list compiled by Democracy Corps.

The Ed Koch Bridge is advancing in the NYC Council.

Businessweek is finally integrating with its new parent company, Bloomberg LP.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, no longer nuclear over bike lanes.

Weiner and Rep. Jerry Nadler are among members of Congress questioning Obama’s move against Libya.

Voter support for the US involvement in Libya is growing, albeit slowly.

Nadler and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal called for the immediate remediation of PCBs in schools.

The Japan Society is NYC’s youngest landmark.

Michael Cohen, from failed state Senate candidate to Donald Trump’s “Karl Rove.”

Seen today at today’s protest to Cuomo’s proposed education funding cuts:


Bloomberg Hits Airwaves With Budget Ad

NY1 reports that Mayor Bloomberg is poised to launch a self-funded 30-second TV ad promoting his budget and touting his “independence – not for the special interests, but for all New Yorkers.”

That anti-special interest message is big with executives at all levels of government this year, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

It’s also sure to reignite speculation that Bloomberg is preparing for his post-City Hall life. But Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson insisted the mayor is merely “fighting to get his views out there,” and doesn’t have his eye on a fourth term in his current job or plans to run for another elected office.

The ad, produced by the same media firm – Squier Knapp Dunn Communications – that has worked on Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns, says the mayor is fighting Albany’s education spending cuts through “reforms” that will “keep the best teachers in the classroom, educating our kids.”

The “reforms” in question include a push to repeal the so-called “last in, first out” rule that governs public school teacher layoffs.

Bloomberg’s LIFO push, spending cuts and championing of pension reform have sparked a war with the city’s employee and teachers unions, which have been running some $3 million worth of ads targeting the mayor for weeks now.

“One side has been presented on television and now it’s time to present the other side,” Wolfson told my colleague Errol Louis in an interview that will air on “Inside City Hall” at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. tonight.

Actually, more than one side has been presented on TV when it comes to LIFO. The pro-repeal group Education Reform Now has been airing spots to compete with the union’s ads.

Cuomo The Budget Realist: ‘Whatever It Takes’

While insisting he remains optimistic about reaching an “amicable” and on-time budget deal with the Assembly and Senate leaders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it clear today he will have no qualms about letting the clock run out and forcing his entire budget on the Legislature through extenders.

The governor spoke at length for the first time about exercising the extender power first employed with great success (from a gubernatorial standpoint) by his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson. He expanded – at considerable length – on an interview he gave yesterday to DN columnist Bill Hammond.

“I want a good budget,” Cuomo said. “On time, two men, three men, two men and a woman; it doesn’t matter. These are all means to an end. The end is what’s important. Either amicable on time or through the quote-unquote extender method or whatever it takes…Whatever it takes.”

“…I’m still an optimist…As a realist, I’m telling you a good budget is what is important as opposed to the quote-unquote methodology.”

Cuomo said Paterson’s novel use of budget extenders to force an end to what he deemed “ground hog day” late budgets of the past “changes the equation.” He seemed to almost dare legislators who are balking over education and health care cuts and key policy issues like prison closures and the med-mal cap to challenge him to a game of budget chicken.

“There’s a new option,” the governor said. “The three parties agree or they agree to disagree in a very dramatic fashion, which is the governor does an extender budget and if they really disagree they shutdown the government.”

“You really disagree, and you really want to stop it? You shut down the government. That’s a totally different option…Shut down the government and we’ll take the case to the people, and I’m confident in taking the cae to the people. Why? Because I already did (in the 2010 election).”

Cuomo said he doesn’t believe the property tax cap and rent control laws will be included in the budget deal, in spite of calls from advocates and Assembly Democrats to do so – at least where rent control is concerned.

He also said there’s a “lot of merit” to the concept of the so-called “rational” five-year tuition plan SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher received the go-ahead from the SUNY Board of Trustees this morning to negotiate with the governor and the Legislature.

Cuomo: NRC Will Make Indian Point ‘Top Priority’

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pledged to make Indian Point its first and top priority in its review of seismic risk at 27 nuclear plants throughout the country, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

At the request of the administration, which sent LG Bob Duffy and Director of State Operations Howard Glaser to Washington, D.C. today to discussion the Westchester County nuclear plant with White House officials, the NRC agreed to a cooperative review of Indian Point along with the state.

As a result of the meeting today at its Maryland HQ, the NRC has also agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that requires the sharing of federal data regarding seismic risk specific to Indian Point with New York technical experts and include those experts as part of the on-site inspection team that will evaluate Indian Point with regard to seismic risk.

In addition, NRC Chair Greg Jaczko has agreed to conduct a personal site inspection of Indian Point with New York officials.

“It is essential that the NRC move quickly to answer the significant and long-standing safety questions surrounding Indian Point,” said Cuomo in a press release.

“We appreciate the NRC agreeing to move swiftly and we look forward to working closely with them on this issue to protect the health and safety of New Yorkers.”

Cuomo, as you’ll recall, sought to block Indian Point’s relicensing applications when he was AG – an effort being continued by his successor, AG Eric Schneiderman.

In the wake of the Japan crisis and an MSNBC report that one of the Indian Point reactors is more at risk for earthquake damage than any other in the nation – a claim refuted by the NRC – Cuomo called for a full safety review of the plant.

Cuomo reiterated today that he continues to believe Indian Point is “risky and should not operate.”

Rent Law Advocates: Act Now Not Later

Affordable housing advocates gathered in front of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office this afternoon to call for renewal and strengthening of the rent laws, which are scheduled to sunset June 15, within the confines of the budget, fearing the issue will lose bargaining chip power if left to post-budget talks.

The advocates tried to deliver a letter containing their demands to Cuomo at his Manhattan office yesterday, but since he wasn’t there (he was in Albany and Westchester, with no public schedule), they traveled north to make a second attempt at the Capitol.

Cuomo said recently that he views the property tax cap and rent control as “connected” and believes both should be negotiated as part of the budget. The cap has already been passed by the Senate and is a priority for the GOP, while the rent laws are a significant issue for the downstate-dominated Assembly Democratic conference.

So, the governor’s comments would seem to be a win-win for both majority conferences – not to mention a bit of a shift for the administration, which is insisting Cuomo hasn’t abandoned the “no linkage” stance he took early in the budget talks.

However, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said this week he thinks the rent laws and tax cap should be discussed after the budget, which throws a bit of a wrench into the works.

Trump Defends ‘Taking Advantage’ Of Gaddafi

Potential 2012 presidential candidate Donald Trump is making the rounds of national TV today, alternately claiming that he duped – or even “screwed” – Moammar Gaddafi back in 2009.

The “screwed” claim came during a FOX News interview. The Donald was a bit more subdued during his appearance on CNNMoney. He also says he donated to charity the cash he got from Gaddafi for the rental of a piece of land in Westchester on which the Libyan leader was blocked from pitching his infamous tent.

“As far as dealing with Gaddafi? I deal with everybody, and I like that,” Trump said. “What did I do with Gaddafi? I leased him a piece of land for his tent. He paid me more than I get in a whole year. And then, he wasn’t able to use the piece of land.”

“So, people would say say: Did I take advantage?…So I got in one night, more money than I would have got it all year for this piece of land in Westchester, then didn’t let him use it. That’s called being intelligent….That’s the way we should be dealing…Take advantage of the situation.”

In the FOX interview, Trump proclaims “I didn’t let him use the land,” which isn’t quite true. In 2009, a Trump aide denied reports that Gaddafi was planning to stay in his Bedouin-style tent on the grounds of the real estate developer’s Bedford estate.

A tent was erected by the Lybian government on the property, but an attorney for the town of Bedford ordered work stopped at the site because no permits had been sought for the temporary residence.

Using Kids To Push The Millionaire’s Tax

…Considering Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusation last week that school districts and their allies are playing politics with kids in their opposition to his education funding cuts, this mailer seemed particularly pointed.

Maybe that’s just me, though.

It’s part of a statewide campaign launched today by the labor-backed Strong Economy for All coalition that targets nine senators with radio ads and mailers.


The Monserrate ‘Precedent’

Sen. Kevin Parker might not be out of the woods yet.

While Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos yesterday appeared content to let the combination probation/fine/anger management sentence the Brooklyn Democrat received yesterday for his two misdemeanor assault convictions be the end of his troubles, some other Republican conference members aren’t so sure.

Sen. Andrew Lanza, who co-chaired the committee that ultimately called for the expulsion of former Sen. Hiram Monserrate following his conviction on a misdemeanor charge of abusing his girlfriend, said yesterday that a “precedent” was set with the ex-Queens lawmaker – a precedent that, out of fairness, should now be the standard against which other misbehaving senators are measured.

We now have a precedent that has been established by this Senate, and so I think we should review whether or not these facts trigger that precedent and whether or not we need to take further action and move forward with some sort of task force,” Lanza told our Erin Billups yesterday.

“I think what we ought to do is take a look at these facts, see whether or not the precedent that was established during the Monserrate task force is something that would support an investigation at this time.”

Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, agreed with Skelos’ assessment that the current focus is – and should be – on getting on on-time budget. However, when that deal is finally hammered out, Lanza said, the Senate will “have time to see whether or not we should take a further step regarding the circumstances surrounding Senator Parker.”

Monserrate’s attack on a woman and subsequent use of his elected position to cover that up, influence the outcome of his trial and hide key facts from a committee of his colleagues all contribute to the feeling shared by some members that his actions were far worse than Parker’s attack on a male Post photographer who was staking him out.

Parker’s history of anger issues works against him. But he’s generally well-liked, and Deputy Senate Minority Leader Neil Breslin’s “let bygones be bygones” comments yesterday indicate the Democrats would close ranks around Parker, which would inoculate him against any effort to oust him, which would require more than a party-line vote.

What’s really at work here is something members don’t like to discuss: Monserrate’s involvement in the 2009 Senate coup soured members on both sides of the aisle and set them against him, making it all the more easy to expel him from their ranks.