Klein ‘Disgusted’ By Fellow Dems, But Not Enough To Jump Ship

Sen. Jeff Klein’s distaste for his fellow Democrats might have caused him to relinquish his leadership post, but isn’t strong enough to spur him to break ties with them completely and join forces with the GOP.

“I’m a Democrat and I still adhere to Democratic values, I just don’t want to be judged by the actions of others and I can no longer make excuses to my constituents for the behavior of this conference,” the Bronx lawmaker told me this afternoon following the DN’s report that he had relinquished his post as deputy leader of the (now) minority conference.

Klein said he doesn’t believe the conference will be capable of moving forward with an agenda that will enable it to return to the majority as long as the man under whom he served, Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson, continues to be in charge.

“We failed on every course,” Klein said. “You can say all you want about why we may have lost the majority. It’s never one thing. But certainly I think it was the leadership and how they conducted themselves.”

“The coup, and the IG investigation (into AEG), but also probably the STAR rebate check, the MTA payroll tax, the failure to pass a tax cap, ethics reform, gay marriage and redistricting. You know, it runs the gambit.”

(Of course, Klein was, in fact, part of the leadership team when most of those initiatives were either passed or failed to pass. But that fact muddies up the argument).

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Labor’s First Salvo

A coalition of public and private sector labor unions and their community advocacy allies has launched a new radio ad that takes Wall Street to task for “collecting a record $144 billion in pay and bonuses” and issuing a rather nebulous call for building an economy that “benefits everyone.”

The 60-second spot, dubbed “Party On,” 60-second spot delivers a New Year’s message set to “Auld Lang Syne” and noisemakers. It will start airing tomorrow on major NYC metro-area and Albany stations, including WBLS, WCBS, WINS, WRKS, WLTW, WKLI-FM and WGDJ-AM, and remain on the airwaves through Jan. 11.

The ad, produced by Shorr, Johnson and Magnus Strategic Media, was paid for by a group calling itself the “Strong Economy For All Coalition,” which includes:

The Municipal Labor Committee, Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, New York Communities for Change, the Alliance for Quality Education, the New York City Central Labor Council, the UFT, Citizen Action and NYSUT.

It’s a first salvo in what’s expected to be a protracted budget battle as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gears up to fulfill his pledge to make deep spending cuts – most likely by goring the ox of some heretofore sacred cows, including the public employee unions and education aid.

(He’s already promising to unveil an “emergency financial reinvention plan” in his first-ever State of the State address Wednesday).

It will be interesting to see how – and when – the pro-Cuomo business group, the Committee to Save New York, gets on the airwaves with its answer to this ad campaign, which seems to me to be setting up an argument in favor of re-authorizing the so-called millionaires’ tax that’s set to sunset at the end of 2011.

Cuomo reiterated his “no new taxes” pledge during his post-inauguration press conference, but perhaps one could argue that re-upping an already existing tax isn’t technically instituting a new one? Or maybe that’s a little too cute by half.

The script for the ad appears in full after the jump.

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Cuomo Executive Order No. 2: Mandated Ethics Training

Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed his first executive order (removing the 9/11-era concrete barriers from around the state Capitol) with one that requires ethics training for all top state officials and executive chamber staffers, to be completed within 60 days after Jan. 31.

The training, which will focus on “the rules about serving in government, according to a press release, will be offered by the Commission on Public Integrity and is also mandated for all agency commissioners and their respective counsels and ethics officers. In addition, anyone who takes it now must also get a refresher every two years.

A signed statement certifying participation must be submitted by each individual for their personnel file.

“Honor and integrity will be a hallmark of this administration, and I am confident that we have assembled a team that reflects that commitment,” Cuomo said.

“Nonetheless, it is imperative that Chamber staff and other high ranking government officials be versed in the ethics rules and regulations that apply to them. Top government employees should have no questions, no gray areas, and no possibility of confusion regarding what is proper and what is not.”

The release includes statements of praise from NYPIRG’s Blair Horner (who used to work for Cuomo in the AG’s office), Barbara Bartoletti from the League of Women Voters and Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey.

(UPDATE: CU did not, as I erroneously reported, endorse Cuomo for governor because he was never interviewed due to “scheduling conflicts” on both sides. Mea culpa).

Cuomo spoke throughout the campaign and during his inauguration speech about the need to clean up Albany and restore the public’s trust in government.

Aside from improving access to the Capitol and ending the so-called “Fort Pataki” lockdown on the second floor, this is yet another symbolic move that the newly-minted governor is using to demonstrate his commitment to upholding those pledges.

(I think background checks are required for some of the top-level state officials, but I’m not certain what protocols exist in terms of training – if any. If you’ve got an idea, please advise).

UPDATE: A former executive chamber staffer from a previous administration writes:

“All executive chamber personnel were hired with the understanding that employment was conditional pending the results of a required background check by the State Police. Yearly, executive chamber personnel involved in policy administering positions filed disclosure statements.”

Zadroga Bill Signed Into Law

The Obama administration released the following statement this afternoon:

“On Sunday, January 2, 2011, the President signed into law: H.R. 847, the ‘James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act,’ which establishes the World Trade Center Health Program and extends and expands eligibility for compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.

Here’s a photo, compliments of the White House press office (as you can see, the president is still on vacation in Hawaii).


That was followed by a statements from various different NY pols who were key players in the long push to get this bill passed, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, who said:

After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law. The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten.”

“These first responders were like veterans, and this law keeps with a time-honored American tradition of standing by our veterans when they get harmed answering the call. We will begin work immediately to make sure this law gets renewed for another five years.”

…and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

“All Americans should be proud of this accomplishment. Our nation – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – all came together to do what was right and provide health care to the brave men and women who served with such heroism in the days and weeks following 9/11.”

“This was our undeniable moral obligation.”

“I commend President Obama for helping champion this effort and signing this bill into law. Today’s victory is for the first responders, fire fighters, police officers, every family and every volunteer who never gave up and made sure that Congress fulfilled its duty to the 9/11 heroes. We will always remember your sacrifice, and stand united behind you.”

Paterson, Out

Former Gov. David Paterson was front and center this afternoon for the swearing in of his successor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and seemed to enjoy himself, considering the circumstances.

He was seen chatting and laughing with Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (Lippman’s predecessor, Judith Kaye, swore Paterson in back in March 2008) prior to the ceremony.

He spoke briefly with reporters after the event, praising Cuomo’s speech and his decision to remove the concrete barriers from around the state Capitol, saying he has long felt “chagrined” about how inaccessible the building has been to the public. (No word on why he never acted on that feeling during his own tenure).

Asked what he plans to do now, Paterson responded with a flash of his old trademark humor: “I’m going to go home.”

(Without a State Police detail, it should be noted, since his request for a continuation of his taxpayer-funded protection has been denied).

Cuomo’s Speech

Here’s the full text of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inauguration address, provided by his press office (upon request).

Governor Andrew Cuomo Inaugural Address Transcript

One Big Happy Family

Newly-minuted Gov. Andrew Cuomo was practically singing Kumbaya during his first official gaggle with the Capitol press corps following his inauguration ceremony in the War Room this afternoon.

Cuomo, who is not necessarily known for his peaceful approach to politics, insisted he looks forward to partnering with his fellow state government officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – regardless of what might have occurred between them in the past.

He was asked (by Newsday’s James T. Madore) about his relationship with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who Cuomo didn’t endorse prior to the November election. (He did, however, give the comptroller a big hug after his swearing-in today).

“Mr. DiNapoli and I had, did have, issues. Right? Not personal issues, but they were real, serious issues in terms of matters I was working on at the attorney general’s office,” Cuomo replied.

“So, that was a very legitimate situation where there were issues, difficult issues, we were working through, Those are now gone. I look forward to working with the comptroller. I look forward to working with the attorney general. I look forward to working with the Legislature on both sides of the aisle.”

Other highlights of this 10+ minute Q-and-A:

Cuomo said has no intention of rescinding the 900 layoffs of state workers undertaken by his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson.

“No new taxes. Period.”

He signed an executive order to remove the 9/11-era concrete barriers outside the Capitol and plans to issue more orders, but didn’t provide any details.

Live Stream, Cuomo/Duffy Inauguration

…it’s already underway. Watch here:

Sign Of The Times, II

That was fast.


LG Duffy, Defender Of Upstate

Newly-minted LG Bob Duffy gave an impromptu press gaggle after the Cuomo administration’s first cabinet meeting and pledged to continue to act as a champion of upstate interests in his new role – much as he did in his old job as mayor of Rochester.

Just before the three-minute mark in this video, Duffy tells a story of coming to Albany during his tenure as mayor to lobby for mandate relief and meet with an unnamed high-ranking official in a previous administration. Through the door, he heard said official “react with disgust” about having to see him, telling an aide to give him no more than three minutes.

Needless to say, Duffy was very upset, and he promised that would never happen while he’s in office.

He also declined to say who the official was, but did say that person isn’t in the Capitol at this moment and also wasn’t former Gov. Eliot Spitzer or Larry Schwartz. “I came away with a sense that sometimes there is a disconnect…This government has to work for the people.”

Duffy said that will all change when he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are in charge.