Carroll: Poll Numbers Will Help Cuomo Agenda

The robust poll numbers for Gov. Andrew Cuomo in today’s Quinnipiac College survey bodes well for the year’s remaining agenda.

“It impresses the Legislature. They see a governor who’s got high marks. And he’s said if people are with him, then he’ll go in and help them. The idea that a popular successful, high-scoring governor might come in and put his arm around you, that has to be a plus.”

The Democratic governor still has a host of issues he must contend with: an ethics package, expanding rent control laws and passing a property tax cap. The Legislature is about to go on a two-week break and Cuomo plans to start traveling the state drumming up support for the tax cap.

Here’s some video from the interview:

Panel To Consider Walcott Waiver Changes Composition

Just over an hour before its scheduled meeting to consider Mayor Bloomberg’s waiver request for NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott, the state Education Department announced two changes to the now 10-member screening panel.

Fadhilika Atiba-Weza, superintendent of the Enlarged City School District of Troy, will take the place of Shenendehowa Superintendent Oliver Robinson, who had a scheduling conflict and cannot make today’s 1 p.m. meeting, according to SED spokesman Tom Dunn.

In addition, Frank Muñoz, an attorney and the former deputy comissioner of the Office of Professions at SED, has been added to the panel. He is the lone Hispanic member. There are several is one African American member, according to Dunn. (Walcott happens to be black).

Education Commissioner David Steiner announced the panel’s membership yesterday while Walcott was in Albany meeting with legislative Education Committee leaders for the first time since he was tapped by Bloomberg last week to replace ousted Chancellor Cathie Black.

The panel is expected to make a recommendation to Steiner on Walcott’s waiver later today. Steiner has not set a time limit for acting on the request, although he has said he recognizes the needs to move quickly. Considering Walcott’s education experience – something Black sorely lacked – his approval is a fairly safe bet.

Walcott Waiver final WED

Senate Dems: Ethics Matters (Updated X2)

Senate Democrats are trying to push the Republican majority into supporting a host of ethics reform measures and are attempting to force the issue by using a Senate rule to get a hearing on the matter.

Senate Democrats used the same trick — albeit unsuccessfully — to get Republicans to have a hearing on creating an independent commission to redraw legislative districts.

But with an economy still struggling to recover, rent control laws due to expire in New York City and a tax cap wanted by a large portion of the public, Senate Democrats may be trying to swim against the tide on the issue.

Senate Democrats disagree, pointing to a Siena College poll earlier this week that showed broad support for an ethics bill.

“Siena released a poll earlier this week showing 60 percent of New Yorkers want ethics reform, specifically transparency,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan. “The public has caught on. There is reason why there is such distrust in the state government in New York.”

Update: Here’s the Republican response, from Senate GOP spokesman Mark Hansen: “The Senate Democrats didn’t pass any of these bills when they were in the majority, but they did violate a few of them. Discussions with the governor and Assembly on ethics reform are ongoing and we are confident we will reach an agreement.”

Updated X2: Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran says, “We passed ethics reform last year that contained many similar components to this year’s ethics package. Like independent redistricting, Republicans supported it and then backed off their promise. This is a clear pattern of broken promises by the Senate GOP.”

Then-Gov. David Paterson vetoed the ethics bill approved by the Legislature when the Democrats held a Senate majority on the grounds it was not strong enough.

‘Lauren’s Law’ Passes Senate

The Senate approved a measure today that would prohibit a driver’s license application from being processed until the licensee becomes an organ donor (or selects “not at this time”).

It’s also tangible proof that being in the breakaway conference of independent Democrats has its advantages.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland County, is named after 11-year-old Lauren Shields, a heart transplant survivor.

“Today is an extra special day for me. Without my donor angel, I would not be here today to celebrate my 11th birthday or the passing of Lauren’s Law,” Lauren Shields said in the statement. “I want to thank Senator Carlucci for working so hard to save other people’s lives who are waiting for a life saving organ just like I was. I also want to thank Senator Skelos and all of the other Senators who voted today to save lives. Last week I had a special meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and I hope very soon to be celebrating with him and Assemblyman Ortiz when it passes the Assembly.”

Passage of the bill was also a victory for Carlucci, a freshman member of the Independent Democratic Conference, the breakaway faction of Democrats who do not conference with Democrats, but are aligned with Senate Republicans. The bill’s passage is a tangible sign of the benefits of being in the conference. Carlucci, along with Sens. Diane Savino of Staten Island, Jeff Klein of the Bronx and David Valesky of Oneida.

It is generally rare for a member of the minority party in the Legislature to have a bill approved, much less voted on, but that has changed slightly in recent years.

The conference voted with the GOP to pass a constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting commission. Most Senate Democrats opposed the measure because the commission would not be in place until 2022. With a GOP lawmaker absent, the conference’s vote gave Republicans the needed votes to pass the bill. More >

GOP Assemblyman: ‘Bully’ Koch In Cahoots With Silver (Updated)

Assemblyman Sean Hanna, a Rochester-area Republican, is speaking out against what he deemed the “bully tactics” of Ed Koch, accusing the former NYC mayor of being dishonest and disingenuous in his independent redistricting push.

Hanna took issue with being branded as one of Koch’s so-called “enemies of reform”, saying he should not be lambasted for refusing to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting bill, as introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, because he never technically pledged to do so.

This argument is a little twisted, but basically what Hanna is saying is that while he did indeed sign the NY Uprising PAC pledge, said pledge did not actually require his support of THIS EXACT bill, but merely A bill that would establish a nonpartisan commission to redraw the congressional and state legislative lines in time for the 2012 elections.

“As Mr. Koch is well aware, I have joined Democratic Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries to sponsor A03432, a truly bipartisan, independent redistricting commission,” Hanna said.

“Our bill assigns the same number of commissioner appointments to the leaders of the majority and minority conferences in each house. So, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have an equal say. By promoting this bill, I am fulfilling my pledge to reform the redistricting process.”

Hanna echoed an accusation first leveled at Koch by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, suggesting the former mayor is actually driven by a partisan desire to see his party (the Democrats) control everything in Albany. (Koch has rejected that allegation).

Hanna released an email exchange between himself and the former mayor, which appears below. He also accused Koch of striking a “backroom” deal to amend the bill to address partisan concerns during a private meeting with the governor last week.

UPDATE: Hanna’s name doesn’t appear on the sponsor list for Jeffries bill, but an aide to the assemblyman said the pertinent paperwork was walked over to Jeffries’ office yesterday. As such, a Koch spokesman said, the statement that the mayor was “well aware” of this development is “flat out untrue.”

Email Exchange Between Sean Hanna _ Ed Koch

Perkins: Rent Regs Expiration A ‘Tsunami’

While unveiling a clock counting down to the day rent control for New York City expires, Sen. Bill Perkins said the looming deadline was like a “tsunami.”

“The word you are looking for is ‘tsunami,’” Perkins, a Manhattan Democrat, said after saying the expiration of rent control would be similar to disasters around the world that displace people from their homes. “This will have that kind of effect on people if this clock runs out.”

The Democratic-led Assembly approved an expansion of rent regulations on Monday, but the Republican-led Senate is likely hesitant to approve a broadening of the regulations.

Perkins said he wished the rent regulations had been dealt with in the budget, which was approved several days early.

Rent control is due to expire for New York City and some suburban communities on June 15.

Sen. Adriano Espaillat charged that Senate GOP lawmakers, like “a coach in a game” are choosing to run down the clock.

“Not only is the rent too damn high, but the clock is ticking,” he said.

Espaillat was hesitant to say the negotiations over the rent regulation legislation should be tied to the ongoing debate for a tax cap. Senate Republicans approved a 2 percent cap in January and do not want to submit to negotiations that would weaken the measure.

Senate Dems Try To Force The Ethics Issue

The Senate Democrats are again trying to use a 2009 chamber rule change to their advantage in hopes of forcing a public hearing on their reform agenda, which is contained in five ethics and campaign finance-related bills.

The minority will deliver to the GOP a petition signed by one-third of the Rules Committee members seeking a hearing on these bills. According to the ’09 change, a hearing must be held within two weeks unless the majority of Rules members (read: Republicans) vote not to do so.

The Democrats tried this with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting bill and got nowhere, although they did receive media attention, which is half the battle. The point, of course, is to force the opposition onto the record with “no” votes and then try to paint them as anti-reform.

The five bills in question are:

- Establishing an independent commission on governmental ethics (S31/Squadron).

- Stripping elected officials convicted of misusing office of pensions (S2333/Krueger).

- Increasing financial and client disclosure requirements (S382/Rivera).

- Restricting the personal use of campaign funds (S3053/Krueger).

- Eliminating Pay to Play (S1565/Addabbo).

Cuomo has been negotiating behind closed doors with legislative leaders over an ethics bill for weeks now (much to the chargin of the NY Times editorial page, which called over the weekend for these talks to go public).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver insists his chamber has a two-way deal with the governor and the Senate Republicans are balking, but the GOP rejects that allegation.

NOTE: Cuomo said during a press conference last week that there is “no final agreement” on ethics with either house, although “conversations have proceeded further with the Assembly.” (At about the 1:20-minute mark in the video in this link).

Either way, we’ve yet to see any bill language.

41311 Ethics Reform Package Petitions

Cuomo Out-Polls Q Poll’s Govs

Just how popular IS Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Well, according to today’s Q poll, more popular than his counterparts in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and even New Jersey, which is headed by a Republican to whom the Democrat Cuomo is often compared.

Cuomo has a 64-16 percent job approval rating, which is higher than any other governor in any state where the Q poll has conducted surveys so far this year.

Christie comes in at 52-40 (as of Feb. 9). The other executives – all of them engaged in unresolved budget battles – are under 50 percent.

Cuomo’s rating is up from 56-15 in February, and even Republicans like him (58-18). New Yorkers approve of the on-time budget, 47-31, with 31 percent saying the governor is most responsible for getting it done, while 57 percent said the job was equally shared by the governor and the Legislature.

Voters generally approve of the job their local state legislators are doing, but disapprove overall of the Legislature as a whole (29-58). However, that’s the Legislature’s best grade since its 32-50 rating in February 2009 and up from 20-65 just two months ago.

The near-government shutdown at the federal level didn’t do anything to improve the standing of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer in New Yorkers’ eyes. Schumer is at 55-32, down from 60-26, while Gillibrand is at 49-26, down from 54-20 just last month – her highest Q poll score.

041311 NY GOV + BP

Here And Now

President Obama is expected to address Medicare and also call for taxing the rich in his deficit speech today.

A vote on the eleventh-hour federal budget deal was delayed by a day as House Republicans scrambled to find votes.

Lobbyists won key concessions in the budget deal.

The governor vowed to veto any pension sweetening bills.

The governor was furious with RSA President Joe Strasburg for mentioning former Gov. Mario Cuomo at a recent meeting. Strasburg insists this was not a personal attack.

Michael Goodwin waxes on about Cuomo’s “100-day miracle.”

A growing list of people are gunning for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox’s job.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos squabbled over the property tax cap.

Skelos insists his conference won’t negotiate on the 2 percent cap Cuomo has proposed.

Republican Assemblyman Don Miller wants to freeze taxes, not just cap them.

Silver on speculation that Dean Fuleihan’s departure signals his own demise: “I have no place to go, nobody to see, so I intend to be here awhile…I’m not going anyplace.”

“He never accepted a bribe from anyone for any matter and he never abused his public office in any way whatsoever,” Sen. Carl Kruger’s attorney said after the Brooklyn Democrat pleaded not guilty to corruption charges.

More >

Room For A 2 Percent Cap? Silver Says Yes

Is a 2 percent cap possible in the Assembly?

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said it is. Maybe. Possibly.

Silver, speaking to reporters after huddling in a short Democratic conference this afternoon, said a 2 percent cap could pass his chamber. But some exemptions may apply.

“Obviously it would have a cap on property taxes, probably the 2 percent the governor has in it, and probably beyond that we’ll have a discussion.”

But Silver said exemptions could be built in to the measure, which he dismissed as minimal.

A news conference held by Senate Republicans tried to re-frame the argument that Silver was being recalcitrant on the property tax cap.