Sen. Chuck Schumer accused the Republicans of “holding a gun to our heads” in the FAA fight.

The president took a burger break with staffers who worked on the debt agreement.

Just 22 percent of likely voters approve of the debt deal, according to Rasmussen, and 58 percent believe it’s unlikely to lead to significant spending cuts.

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand “put politics before country” by voting “no” on the debt deal.

Fred Dicker dismissed the suggestion that Gillibrand “might have pretentions for the presidency,” adding: “That’s like talking about George Pataki for president.”

David King recalls that Dicker has a “chummy relationship” with another potential 2016 contender: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gillibrand wants to send five women to the state Senate in Wisconsin.

Rep. Ron Paul is scheduled to speak at a Tea Party rally in East Aurora on Friday.

US AG Eric Holder is taking “seriously” allegations that News Corp. reporters tried to hack 9/11 victims’ cell phones.

Not again!

Tea Party leaders have set their sights on Medicare cuts and intend to make that an issue in the 2012 election cycle.

Sarah Palin defended the Tea Party’s honor.

LATFOR is meeting tomorrow in Albany.

Mayor Bloomberg raised $1.5 million from private donors to resume Regents testing statewide.

Sen. Kevin Parker for Brooklyn BP in 2013?

The NY Times uncovered an EPA report on a freshwater aquifer contaminated in the 1980s by hydrofracking – something the industry insists is not a risk. Other cases hard to investigate due to sealed settlements.

Scientology uses movie stars as lobbyists.

Rep. David “Tiger Man” Wu is still in office, even though he said he would resign after voting on the debt deal.

The WTC work stoppage continued for a third day.

Assembly Dems: We’ll Follow Prisoner Law

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Jack McEneny released a joint statement this afternoon pledging to follow the law that requires prisoners be counted as residents of their last known addresses, not where their facility is located.

And the lawmakers say they have updated figures from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which will soon be released.

The statement comes as LATFOR, the lawmaker-driven task force charged with redrawing legislative boundaries based on new Census data, is currently using the old way of counting prisoners.

The law is being challenged by some Senate Republicans in a lawsuit, who would likely lose population in their districts if the measure is upheld. Republicans hold a thin 32-30 majority in the Senate.

Republicans have argued that the bill was passed through the budget, a possibly dubious way of approving a policy issue like redistricting. The law was enacted when Democrats controlled the Senate for a two-year term.

LATFOR will hold a meeting in Albany Thursday at 10 a.m.

Of course, this could all be moot. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to veto lines drawn by lawmakers and throw the process to the courts.

Here’s the Assembly statement:

Last year, the Legislature passed a law requiring that prison inmates be counted in their home communities rather than their incarceration address for the purpose of redistricting. The Assembly Majority believes that complying with the law as written is not only the prudent thing to do, it is also the right thing to do. In order to comply with the law, Assembly staff have been working with the original inmate records provided by Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to ensure inmates are counted properly. Our work is nearly complete and the results will be made public in the near future.

We urge our task force members to join with us, ensuring compliance with both the letter and intent of the law. This is the responsible action for the Legislature to take. Regardless of any personal political stance on the prison count issue, we encourage all task force members to join us in our effort to fully comply with the law as it is written.

Edwards Won’t Challenge State GOP Chair Cox

Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards has decided not to try to oust state GOP Chairman Ed Cox from his post when his two-year term ends this fall.

Edwards, who was tapped by former Rep. Rick Lazio to be his LG running mate in 2010, and – by a quirk of the state Election Law – ended up running with Lazio’s successful primary foe, Carl Paladino, instead, told me this afternoon that he has decided he would rather remain an elected official and perhaps run for higher office than pursue a purely political position.

The county executive said the fact that he would have had to give up his current job in order to serve as state chairman also weighed heavily into his calculation. The Chautauqua County charter makes it clear that the county executive “shall devote full-time to the duties of the office” – something it would be impossible for him to do if he succeeded Cox.

The state GOP is clearly on the ropes these days. Newsday’s Yancey Roy noted yesterday that party enrollment is at its lowest point since the early 1990s, although that probably has a lot to do with the fact that the GOP is out of power at the state level and has been since ex-Gov. George Pataki left office at the end of 2006.

Edwards told me he has not heard of anyone else actively pursuing a campaign to challenge Cox the way he was. He didn’t trash Cox, but he didn’t praise the chairman, either.

The entire interview – which focused mostly on the first meeting of the WNY economic development council, which took place in Buffalo today – will air this evening on Capital Tonight at 8 p.m. and re-air at 11:30 p.m.

Quietly, CPI Expands View Of Lobbying Law

Two weeks after lawmakers sealed a deal that would essentially abolish the Commission on Public Integrity, the ethics watchdog quielty posted an advisory opinion on its website that put a wedge in Albany’s revolving door.

The case is a bit complicated, but essentially the commission rescinded a previous year’s ruling and expanded the intrepretation of laws governing former state employees moving over to the lobbying side.

Here’s what happened: In 2010, a former state Department of Health employee who was involved in setting budgets and, in a previous role, developing regulations, became executive director of an advocacy group. She asked the CPI for an advisory opinion to determine whether she was violating the state’s lifetime ban on lobbying.

At the time, the commission ruled:

“… that the lifetime bar only prohibits a former State employee from subsequently rendering services on the same “case, proceeding, application or transaction.” The Commission determined that once the “legislative/regulatory creation” has been completed, however, the lifetime bar does not prohibit a former State employee from rendering services repudiating the program that he or she worked to create.”

But in June, the commission decided in a rare move to reverse itself. And, rarer still, the commission’s ruling included two dissenters who warned of the “grave implcations of the reversal.”

The broader definition of the lifetime ban comes as the CPI itself will likely be dismantled in favor of the 14-member Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which will oversee both the executive and legislative branches.

Cuomo is actually yet to sign the measure into law and the members of JCOPE are yet to be announced.


Cuomo To Receive Award From ESPA (Updated)

The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s largest statewide LGBT organization, plans to honor Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his “unwavering dedication and determination” in pushing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage through the Legislature during his first session in office.

Cuomo will be presented with the Douglas W. Jones Leadership Award at the Oct. 27 event at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in Midtown Manhattan. It is the first time ESPA has given this recognition to an elected official, but the organization believes Cuomo “could not be more deserving of this tribute,” according to a “save the date” email being sent out today.

Cuomo has come a long way from the days (during the 2010 campaign) when some LGBT advocates questioned his dedication to pushing for same-sex marriage.

The governor was on tap to skip ESPA’s big dinner, but ended up make an last-minute decision to attend the cocktail hour after his GOP opponent, Carl Paladino, stunned the LGBT community by warning against the perils of children being “brainwashed” about homosexuality.

ESPA endorsed Cuomo for governor. This year, the organization and its executive director, Ross Levi, were intimately involved in Cuomo’s coordinated campaign for same-sex marriage.

ESPA also contributed $60,000 to Cuomo’s political campaign as he pushed for the marriage bill – one of the largest contributions he has received since taking office last January.

UPDATE: Levi confirmed Cuomo will be on hand to accept this award, and also will be speaking. He said the money raised will “primarily” fund ESPA’s political arm (a 501(c)4) and also its PAC, both of which will contribute to/spend to assist “yes” voters who might be in danger next fall.

Tickets for the fall dinner range from $750 per person for general entry to $100,000 for a “diamond sponsor,” which includes two tables for 10 with VIP placement, the inside cover of the event journal and more.

While the dinner – ESPA’s biggest annual fundraiser that nets more than $1 million – is in part a celebration of the passage of gay marriage bill, organizers also want to “build a base to protect our victory and continue the fight for equality and justice.”

“With a 20 year history of success and victories, we have the tools to continue to work for our community,” the email continues.

“We must advocate for transgender civil rights, pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, implement the legislation our community has already achieved, and work to ensure that the health and human service needs of the LGBT community are addressed. With your support of the Fall Dinner, we can achieve this for our community.”

Cuomo Calls For Non-Profits Probe

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today called for an investigation into executive compensation at non-profits receiving taxpayer dollars and formed a cabinet-level task force to probe the organizations.

“Not-for-profits that provide services to the poor and the needy have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them. Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets. This task force will do a top-to-bottom review, not only to audit current compensation levels, but also to make recommendations for future rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to serve and support the people of this state, not pay for excessive salaries and compensation,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The investigatory body will be headed up by New York State Inspector General Ellen Biben, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, the Medicaid Inspector General Jim Cox, and the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky, Cuomo’s office said.

The announcement follows a New York Times story that found executive pay at a Medicaid-financed home for the disabled ran more than $1 million.

Cuomo, in the news release, called the pay “startlingly excessive.”

Currently there are no laws on the books governing executive pay at non-profits that receive state aid.

Diaz To Gillibrand: Where Were You? (Updated)

As Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took her lumps from both the left and the right on her vote against the debt deal, state Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is coming to her defense upbraiding her for what he says is a “janus-nature” when it comes to taxing the rich.

Update: Whoops, it looks like I misread the release. Diaz is actually blasting Gillibrand for failing to speak up earlier on New York’s budget cuts.

Diaz, who voted against the 2011-12 state budget that included deep cuts in social services and education spending, said it was akin for not voting for keeping a surcharge on those making $1 million or more.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo steadfastly opposed keeping the tax on the wealthy, as did Senate Republicans, over the objections of Democratic state lawmakers.

Diaz says Cuomo “started the trend” of making deep cuts without raising taxes on the rich, and knocked Gillibrand for failing to speak up at the time.

Gillibrand said her vote against the debt deal was no because of the lack of revenue raisers (or tax increases) in the plan.  Gillibrand’s no vote was quickly criticized by her possible Republican opponent, George Maragos, and the state GOP committee.

Gillibrand, who is running for re-election in 2012, has emerged as a major advocate of LGBT causes, while Diaz is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage.

Here’s the Diaz statement after the jump. More >

Budget Division: Expect Weaker Tax Receipts

Despite higher-than-expected revenue earlier this year, the state Division of Budget doesn’t expect the good news to last.

The Cuomo administration’s numbers crunchers released a quarterly budget update today, showing weaker tax receipts will be in store later this year.

The report was likely written as the federal government was considering deep cuts to spending while wrangling over raising the debt ceiling, but there’s no indication the activity in Washington is reflected in the report.

“The budget is where we expected it would be at this point in the year,” said Morris Peters, a spokesman for the DOB.

The projection largely lines up with what Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced earlier this month, namely that the state received nearly $800 million more in revenue.

DiNapoli pegged the figure at $799 million, the DOB projects it to be $809 million/

But the update quickly rains on that parade.

“DOB attributes the favorable variance to the timing of tax payments, which are expected to be offset by marginally weaker receipts collections over the remainder of the year,” according to the report.

Still, the state’s coffers were $1.6 billion higher in June than they were at that time last year. The DOB says that is due to positive wage growth, lower PIT refunds, sustained corporate profits and increased spending from consumers.

And budget deficits are still being forecast for the next three fiscal years, which begin April 1: $2.4 billion in 2012-13, $2.8 billion in 2013-14 and $4.6 billion in 2014-15.

Those gaps were estimated to be significantly higher before this current enacted budget, which closed a $10 billion budget gap through cuts.

The division continues to rely on $450 million in workforce concessions, but those savings are yet to be completely realized. And the division says $1.6 billion in savings has been achieved through across-the-board cuts from state agencies. But as Tom Precious pointed out, what those cuts exactly are remain a mystery.


Schneiderman Continues Fracking Push

As the federal government seeks a dismissal of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s hydraulic fracturing lawsuit, the state’s top lawyer said he’s dealing with the issue “at several levels.”

Bloomberg News reported earlier today that the U.S. government will seek a dismissal of the suit filed by Schneiderman’s office earlier this year. The AG filed his suit back on May 31, claiming the government is allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to move forward in the Delaware River Basin without a proper environmental review.

In a radio interview with The Capitol Pressroom, Schneiderman said his office was looking into the issue commonly known as hydrofracking on multiple fronts.

“There’s not been a ruling yet,” Schneiderman said of the suit. “We’re dealing with the hydrfracking issue at several levels.”

Among those levels is the rights of property owners. Schneiderman said his office has received several complaints from landowners who say gas companies are trying to extend leases during the ongoing environmental review process from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC issue a preliminary draft environmental review of possible regulations for allowing high-volume hydrofracking in the state. Natural gas companies are eyeing the state’s Marcellus Shale formation in the Southern Tier as a prime spot for exrtraction.

“Our office has received a lot of complaints that gas exploration companies have sent out letters trying rto extend their leases and claiming they have the right to do so because of DEC’s review process, which has been delayed. We’re looking at some of that very closely,” Schneiderman said. “We want to make sure landowners are treated fairly.”

He added, “This is not a frack or don’t frack issue. It’s about the fair treatment of landowners.”

Whatever regulations the DEC does develop, Schneiderman would have to defend them in court. The DEC actually pushed back its public comment period by a month as it continues

“I’m hopeful that we come out with the best regs we possibly can. As attorney general I’ll have to defend it.”

Cuomo Loses Speechwriter

Traci E. Carpenter is leaving her post as a senior speechwriter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo after spending less than six months on the job.

The PR firm MMW Group announced this morning that Carpenter has joined the agency as director of Speechwriting and Content.

In this position, according to the press release, she will oversee the development of speeches, op-eds, blogs, and other content for MWW Group’s corporate and consumer clients, both online and through traditional media channels.

“Every successful marketing campaign or communications strategy hinges on the power of language to effectively connect big ideas with diverse audiences,” said MMW Group President and CEO Michael Kempner.

“Traci’s unique combination of political speechwriting and nonprofit marketing experience has enabled her to adapt to different voices and styles, meet impossible deadlines, and drive the conversation from tweet to speech. We are pleased to welcome Traci to our team, and look forward to sharing her talents with our clients.”

Page Six reported in March that Carpenter, who had worked for four years for former President Clinton after he left the White House, would be joining Cuomo’s team. Cuomo, as you’ll recall, served as a member of the Clinton cabinet as HUD secretary.

Carpenter directed Clinton’s speechwriting process and also provided strategic messaging and content development to advance the mission of his foundation’s initiatives – including the Clinton Global Initiative.

Carpenter began her political career with former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and later served as a chief writer on Granholm’s 2006 re-election campaign.