Here And Now

Welcome to the last officially scheduled day of the 2011 legislative session, although lawmakers are privately allowing they could be here through Wednesday – at least.

The temporary extension of the expired rent laws passed (after some Twitter-related confusion) last Friday expires today, so that’s on the agenda, as are (still) same-sex marriage and the tax cap. The Senate is scheduled to be in session at noon, the Assembly at 1 p.m.

State workers deadlocked with the Cuomo administration in contract talks are rallying across New York at noon. Gay marriage opponents – including Giant David Tyree – will hold a press conference/deliver 63,000 petitions outside the Senate GOP conference room at 1 p.m.


“We’re at the stage of the session where nothing will happen until everything happens,” said tenant advocate Michael McKee.

There’s new movement in the stalled rent talks, thanks to RSA’s reported decision to move off its long-held position that the laws must only be extended in their current form and not strengthened at all.

A reportedly tentative deal will raise the rental threshold under which apartments can be decontrolled to about $2,500 a month – up from $2,000 – and boost the maximum annual income for tenants in regulated apartments from $175,000 to about $200,000, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

Some LGBT WNYers see passage of the gay marriage bill as inevitable. Sen. Mark Grisanti was still undecided as of yesterday.

Negotiations continued over the weekend, and the Senate GOP could break on marriage as early as today.

Religious exemptions in the bill allowed some Assembly members who had previously voted “no” to changed their votes this time around.

Gay New Yorkers rallied around the state over the weekend.

Sen. Greg Ball, thought to be a solid “no” at this point, sought input on Twitter as to how he should vote.

As New York appears on the cusp of letting same-sex couples wed legally, those who “married” in New Paltz in 2004 recall their unions.

The gay marriage battle is personal for Andrea Peyser, who recently attended the nuptials of her lesbian niece.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have clashed on a number of issues – the latest is the planning of the 10th 9/11 memorial ceremony.

Bloomberg’s mother, Charlotte, died at the age of 102.

Charlotte Bloomberg was an observant Jew. Will her son sit shiva? If he does, it would take him out of work for several days – at least.

More >

The Weekend That Was

President Obama is due in NYC this week for his first-ever “Gala with the Gay Community” fundraiser. Meanwhile, his aides are mulling the tactics of how he might come out in support of same-sex marriage.

Maureen Dowd thinks Archsbishop Timothy Dolan has a lot of “gall” in opposing same-sex marriage so vehemently when pedophile priests remain a problem.

The legalization of gay marriage would be good for the economy, supporters argue.

Will Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s championing of gay marriage help him or hurt him if he runs for president in 2016?

After meeting with Senate Republicans last week, the governor said he’s open to more religious exemption and also believes the marriage bill will pass.

Ken Tingley praises Sen. Roy McDonald for breaking ranks with his fellow Republicans to announce support of same-sex marriage.

The Journal News calls on the Senate to vote “yes” on Cuomo’s marriage bill.

Michael Goodwin is not impressed with the ethics reform deal cut by Cuomo.

Alan Chartock takes a closer look at the ethics bill and finds it lacking.

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin accuses same-sex marriage advocates of buying off opponents.

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the career slide show.

Huma Abedin has re-written the “disgraced wife” playbook.

The former congressman took an unusual large unitemized deduction on his 2010 tax return.

Members of the NY congressional delegation are among the richest and poorest in the nation.

More >

Cuomo: One Thing At A Time

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged patience on the remaining agenda items, saying that rent control for New York City must be resolved as soon as possible.

Outstanding issues include same-sex marriage, a tax cap, a SUNY tuition increase and his pension reform bill.

Cuomo also said there were enough religious exemptions in his same-sex marriage bill, adding that what he’s seeking a civil matter, not a spiritual one.

“I happen to be a Catholic and that’s my business and that’s my religion. This has nothing to do with my beliefs as a Catholic. This is marriage in a civil context. Marriage defined by government, not be a religion,” Cuomo said.

Here’s video from his press gaggle (which, after a temporary rent control measure was approve, is now a little dated):


Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly upped the rent regs ante threatened to essentially return the power to control rents to the NYC City Council.

Sen. Kevin Parker jokingly proclaimed himself “the most powerful person in the Twitterverse.”

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous: “We’re going to conference. Diane. Don’t go home.”

Sen. Roy McDonald made TMZ.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney introduced Mr. and Mrs. Catsimatidis Nixon Cox.

What’s the incentive for a Republican to be the 32nd vote?

Happy 46th Birthday to Senate Minority Leader John Sampson!

Mayor Bloomberg created a new development agency to focus on helping NYC nonprofits grow.

Weinergate: Not the worst political sex scandal in recent years.

Debating the former congressman’s resignation.

What others can learn from Weiner’s mistakes.

Why some pols survive sex scandals and others don’t – an inexact science.

Is Rep. Kathy Hochul the ultimate winner in Weiner’s departure?

NJ Gov. Chris Christie on where his kids go to school: “None of your business.”

A bill restricting protests at military funerals in New York is awaiting Cuomo’s signature.

Tracy Morgan made amends.

An AEG moment on the Senate floor.

Here’s former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno after his court appearance earlier today. “I’m confident that justice will be served…I just can’t wait to get it behind me,” Bruno said.

Did Twitter Nearly Ruin Our Weekend? (Updated)


The Senate was poised to vote on a measure that would have temporarily extended rent-control laws for New York City when Republicans abruptly adjourned.

That came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo told legislators they would have to return to Albany on Saturday and Sunday unless they approve the temporary extension through Monday

And it came after our own Liz Benjamin tweeted that Sen. Kevin Parker would not vote for the bill “Sen. Parker: Andrew can drag us here, we’ll be here…I have no deal w the gov. If GOP wants rent extension they shld deliver 32 votes.”

Confused? Yeah, I know, it’s Albany.

Here’s a rough outline of what just happened.

At 4:15, Cuomo called a news conference issuing his ultimatum, that he would keep lawmakers in town or the extension wouldn’t pass.

Later, Liz ran into Parker. As any good reporter would do, she asked the outspoken Parker his thoughts, which resulted in the aforementioned tweet.

Around the same time, Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran told LCA members that Senate Democrats would support the bill. We duly tweeted that fact.


The Parker tweet got some exposure after it was retweeted by several people, including the Times’ Nick Confessore. It was also emailed around to Senate staff, setting off more alarm bells.

The Parker comments resulted in Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos personally adjourning the session. Skelos, recall, had said all 30 Democrats must vote for the temporary extension bill.

Reporters rushed over to the chamber to hear Sen. Martin Golden on the floor pointing to Parker’s comments in the tweet for the reason why the vote was derailed.

Republicans are now huddling in closed-door conference. I spied Skelos meeting with Cuomo aides Joe Percoco and Larry Schwartz, who did not look happy. The Senate, I’m told, is planning on going back into session sometime later tonight once everything cools down.

Skelos told NY1′s Erin Billups that “It’s my understanding the the Senate Democrats will stop jerking around and vote for that extender.”

Update: They passed the bill! Unanimously! The adjournment was a blip on the radar, afterall. It seemed that the tweeted Parker comment came between a deal being struck on the rent regs and the actual vote, only Republicans had thought it was much more of a recent comment. Apparently Parker has since proclaimed himself the most poweful person in the twitterverse. Mazel Tov.

Gillibrand Raises On Spectre Of GOP Takeover

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand sent out a fundraising appeal earlier today, casting herself as one of the four members standing between the Republicans and their desire to re-take control of the upper house.

“Every time we take a step forward, the Republicans are there to push us back,” Gillibrand wrote in the email, which was forwarded to me by a helpful reader.

“Health care, women’s rights, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. Repeal, repeal, repeal. As they fight against any and all progress, the Republicans insist on keeping tax breaks for the wealthy and subsidies for Big Oil while Americans buckle under the pressures of a still struggling economy.”

“I’m proud to be a part of the Democratic majority in the Senate that is standing up to the Republicans. But the fact is that our majority is in jeopardy.
Republicans need just four seats to take over the Senate. Will you help me make sure that mine is not one of them? June 30 is a major filing deadline, so we must act now to show the Republicans that we are strong and ready to fight.”

“…We’ve all seen how important it is to have a majority in the Senate to be our first line of defense against the GOP’s outrageous proposals. Please help me keep my seat so I can remain in Congress and continue fighting for the things New Yorkers care about.”

Gillibrand is aiming to raise $100,000 by the next FEC filing date on June 30. She raised more than $3 million in the first quarter of 2011 – a show of fundraising force intended to give pause to any potential 2012 challengers.

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is so far the only Republican to formally confirm his plan to run against Gillibrand next fall. He said he would spent between $4 million and $5 million – not $45 million, as originally reported – of his own money on the campaign.

NYers For Marriage Celebrate ‘Historic Week’

New Yorkers United For Marriage are celebrating a “historic” week for same-sex marriage even though the bill is yet to clear the Senate and its fate remains uncertain.

The bill cleared the Assembly, 80-63 with several no votes flipping to yes. In addition, five lawmakers in the Senate, three Democrats and two Republicans, announced they were changing their 2009 same-sex marriage votes to yes.

“With bipartisan passage of marriage equality legislation in the state Assembly, and five additional senators from both sides of the aisle pledging to vote in of support marriage legislation, this week has been nothing short of historic for New York. We are now only days away frommaking marriage equality the law in our state, and we will continue to makesure that the record majority of New Yorkers who support marriage have their voices heard until a vote occurs.

Senate Dems Open To Temp Rent Reg Bill

Senate Democratic Conference spokesman Austin Shafran just fired off this statement, saying the conference will only support a temporary rent regulation extender if there are “active negotiations”.

Most believe the Assembly and Senate will pass a temporary bill extending the regulations until Monday, when theoretically a more comprehensive deal can be worked out. But the statement from the Senate Dems suggests that their members might not join with Republicans to pass the bill.

“As we said from the start, we would only support a temporary extension of rent laws if there were active negotiations about strengthening rent regulations for the long-term. If there are active negotiations on track to expand rent laws, we would consider supporting a short-term extender that better positions tenants to achieve the stronger rent regulations they deserve,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference.

So I guess the question is how are negotiations going. Publicly, lawmakers aren’t saying much about the talks. Privately, the word is that they are stalled. But it is Albany, and stalled talks have become deals within the matter of hours in the past.

Skelos: No Marriage Vote Today

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said this afternoon there will be no vote on a same-sex marriage bill today.

He emerged from a close-door meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the governor was listening to him on the exemptions being sought by fence-sitting Republican legislators who are concerned the same-sex bill could open religious institutions to lawsuits.

“This has been a very complicated year in terms of the issues that we’ve addressed and I’ve found the governor from the very beginning starting with the budget process has always had an open ear and is flexible in terms of the suggestions I give or the speaker gives,” Skelos said.

Skelos also said there would be no Sunday session. Lawmakers are due back in Albany Monday for the final regualrly-scheduled day of session. Cuomo has indicated he would call special sessions of the Legislature in order to extend rent control for New York City on a long-term basis.

Rent laws expired Wednesday night, but a new bill is being worked on that would extend the laws through the weekend.

“There are discussions going and we understand the needs of the speaker a bit better, the different parts of the real-estate industry and we’re just going to pull these parts together.

He added: “We’ll see what happens with the rent extender the governor sends us Monday.”

Skelos: GOP Worried About ‘Unintended Consequences’ Of Gay Marriage Bill

Another marathon closed-door Senate GOP conference has passed without a decision on whether to move Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s same-sex marriage bill to the floor for a vote. According to Majority Leader Dean Skelos, members on both sides of the issue continue to be concerned about protections for religious individuals and institutions.

“There is a concern right now as to the unintended consequences of some of the religious clauses, carve-outs, protections, and we’re reviewing that,” Skelos told reporters after emerging from a nearly three-hour session.

“As you know, there have been some meetings with the governor’s office indicating that they are receptive to some changes, and those discussions are going to continue. There’s been no decision. In fact that really was not the discussion as to whether it would come out yet, who’s voting for it, who’s voting against it, other than people want to feel comfortable if it is reported to the floor that there will not be, as Archbishop Dolan mentioned, unintended consequences to this legislation.”

Asked for specifics, Skelos brought up the issue of adoption services offered by Catholic churches.

The majority leader could offer no timeline of when the bill might come to the floor, saying: “I’ve told you all along, with our conference this is going to be a very deliberative process and members on both sides are raising concerns.”

A reporter noted that the Assembly has already passed the governor’s bill (the fourth time the legalization of same-sex marriage has been approved in the Democrat-dominated house) and any changes would require the house to go back a a fifth time (so would the passage by the Senate of a bill in extraordinary session, if the governor calls one to deal with the ongoing rent laws logjam)

“A lot of bills are passed, and they can be amended; they can be changed,” Skelos said.

As for whether we’re going to be here over the weekend, the majority leader said: “I know that the speaker goes home this evening and will not be available until Sunday, (because he observes the Jewish Sabbath), but our staffs will continue discussions.”