Schneiderman Pushes NRC On Indian Point (Updated)

AG Eric Schneiderman is pressuring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to consider seismic risk in relation to the relicensing of Indian Point, an argument the state has heretofore been unsuccessful in making while seeking to prevent the nuclear plant from getting permission to remain open for another 20 years.

In a letter to the NRC commissioners, Schneiderman argues that the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan, coupled with a new report that ranked Indian Point’s Reactor No. 3 as at the highest risk of quake damage in the US, merits consideration.

“As the NRC has acknowledged, Indian Point Unit 1, which was authorized in 1956, was built prior to any specific requirement for earthquake protection,” the attorney general wrote.

“Although the NRC revoked the operating license for the Indian Point Unit 1 power reactor in 1980, many of Unit 1’s system, structures, and components were conjoined to Unit 2 and Unit 3 and are still in use today.”

“These aging Unit 1 systems, structures, and components were built to inferior seismic specifications, and Unit 2 and Unit 3’s continued reliance on these systems today poses significant safety questions.”

“The NRC has consistently blocked consideration of New York’s seismic concerns, as well as related concerns about population, emergency evacuation, fire safety, and site security.”

Indian Point’s operator, Entergy Corporation, has applied for its two reactors to be allowed to continue operating for another two decades past 2013 and 2015 when their 40-year licenses expire.

Entergy insists Indian Point’s reactors can easily withstand the sort of low-magnitude quakes that occur in the Northeast, which are nothing compared to the 8.9 monster that ravaged Northern Japan, causing a massive tsunami.

Yesterday, the Obama administration ordered a safety review of all the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has long maintained that Indian Point should be closed and began the process to block its relicensing when he was AG, expressed renewed concern about the facility and ordered a complete safety review.

Cuomo said the proximity of the plant to NYC – just 24 miles to the north in Westchester County – makes it too risky to keep open. But Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday that he supports the plant’s continued operation, noting it generates up to 30 percent of the city’s energy.

“Short term, we have to have power if we are going to grow, adn Indian Point at the moment is a big part of that,” Bloomberg said. “All of these other alternatives are a number of years down the road.”

The full text of Schneiderman’s letter appears after the jump. UPDATE: John Durso Jr., executive director of a business/labor/community group called the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NY AREA) released a pro-Indian Point statement that appears just before the AG’s letter.

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Kruger Scandal Gets Cute

Compliments of a reader, an anime version of Sen. Carl Kruger and “Real Estate Deverloper No. 1 (AKA, it’s fairly ceratin, Bruce Bender of Forest City Ratner) discussing how to use $4 million of worth of taxpayer funds for a variety of projects – including the Carlton Avenue Bridge.

All the dialogue is lifted directly from the US attorney’s criminal complaint against Kruger, Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., lobbyist Richard Lipsky et al.

Report: Fix Is In For Hochul; Morelle Objects

Democratic leaders in NY-26 are scheduled to interview seven potential candidates to run for former Rep. Chris Lee’s seat tomorrow in Oswego Geneseo, but according to a “knowledgeable source” who spoke to Roll Call, all but one of those would-be contenders shouldn’t bother showing up.

According to this source, the county chairs will officially nominate Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul Sunday night. However, that comes as not-so-welcome news to one of those chairs, Monroe County Assemblyman Joe Morelle, he told me he’s planning to travel to Oswego aGeneseo nd has no favorite.

“That’s news to me,” the chairman told me when I reached him this afternoon. “…I haven’t committed to anyone. I’ve spoken to Kathy Hochul, but I’ve spoken to a lot of people because we’re going through a process.”

Hochul has been the presumptive frontrunner on the Democratic side since Lee’s abrupt resignation following his Craigslist scandal. But she was also mulling a potential challenge to GOP Erie County Executive Chris Collins this fall, and it was unclear which of these two likely uphill battles she really wanted to take on.

The NY-26 Democrats have been dragging their feet on selecting a candidate as the DCCC has been reluctant to commit to investing in the race. Not that you can blame Rep. Steve Israel, the new DCCC chairman, considering this is a GOP-dominated district that’s on the short list to be redistricted out of existence.

The Republicans went early with Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, who has since landed the Conservative and Independence Party lines as well.

Corwin is already campaigning hard around the district and launched her first TV ad this week.

Democrat-turned-Republican businessman Jack Davis is circulating petitions to run as an independent and has said he’ll spend as much as $3 million on his own money on the race. Republican-turned-Conservative Iraq War veteran David Bellavia’s supporters are also trying to collect 3,500 good signatures in 12 days to get him onto the ballot, although it’s not clear he’ll actually go through with a run.

Further complicating the field, Ian Murphy, editor of the Buffalo Beast Website, has confirmed he plans to run on the Green Party line, changing his registration from the Working Families Party to do so.

Eliot Spitzer Won’t Discuss His Fantasies, Likes ‘American Idol’

This Sunday’s NY Times Magazine will feature a Q&A with former Governor-turned-CNN host Eliot Spitzer, in which he again declined to as he once put it, offer a “Shermanesque” denial about haboring an interest in entering the 2013 NYC mayor’s race.

“The only thing I can say is that I have not thought for a millisecond nor done anything to prepare for any sort of political campaign,” Spitzer told reporter Andrew Goldman.

“I’m doing one thing and one thing only, and that’s trying to show the folks here at CNN and the audience that we can create something that will be worth watching.”

Spitzer also declined to say whether he fantasizes about being president of the United States, noting: “I don’t talk to journalists about what I fantasize about.”

When Goldman protested that he hadn’t really been “going there” – a tactic nod to Spitzer’s potential sensitivity to discussing his (ahem) fantasies, the former governor replied:

“You thought that this one was fair game? Look, these days the fantasies are seeing headlines that say, ‘CNN at 8 o’clock is beating all the competition,’ that we’re beating ‘American Idol’ and O’Reilly.”

Quipped Goldman: “Keep dreaming.”

Spitzer: “Yeah. I hate to admit it, but ‘American Idol’ is a great show.”

The former governor said he still isn’t able to laugh about the prostitution scandal that forced him to resign from office three years ago this month, but also doesn’t “live in a hermetically sealed container and pretend things didn’t happen.”

And he issued an open invitation for some of his top political enemies – Ken Langone, Hank Greenberg and Dick Grasso – to come debate him on “The Arena” any time, but thinks “they will run for the hills.”

Superintendents To Cuomo: Say What?

The New York State Council of School Superintendents is firing back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a blog post (!) that refutes a number of claims he made in his Red Room tirade against school districts and their allies yesterday.

The council questions Cuomo’s claim that schools have received “tremendous” increase in funding over the past decade, noting, for example, that aid increased 1.9 percent in 2009-10 largely because federal stimulus cash averted the need for layoffs that would have been caused by the $1.1 billion worth of cuts proposed by then-Gov. David Paterson.

The post goes on from there, addressing the governor’s assertion on the percentage of expenditures devoted to classroom instruction versus administrative costs, as well as his insistence that districts can make up the difference in lost aid with reserve funds and economize by reducing waste, fraud and abuse.

“Conclusion: The Governor and Legislature face hard choices in assembling a budget for the state,” the council’s Deputy Director Robert Lowry wrote.

“So do superintendents, boards and voters in putting together budgets for their schools. Nothing good can come from minimizing the challenges we share.”

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Paladino And Sheen Out On The Town? WINNING!

Now here’s a recipe for disaster: Carl Paladino and Charlie Sheen tying one on in the Queen City.

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Curtis Sliwa this morning on AM 970 The Apple said the city was dissed by Sheen for scheduling Erie, Pa. on his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option Show” tour–bypassing Buffalo. He then asked Paladino if he had any advice for the former TV star.

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“Come to Buffalo, you’ll have a lot of fun here,” he said.

“I’ll take you out afterward. I’ll show him the highlights. We’ll have a ball together.”

Paladino went on to say Sheen isn’t so crazy and his recent outrageous and erratic behavior is all a ruse.

“I think he’s really putting all this on,” Paladino continued.

“I think he’s having a ball. He’s a good actor and an absolutely funny character. He’s playing games with them all right now and I like that.”

Given that endorsement, perhaps a run for office is in the cards for Sheen down the road?

DiNapoli: Foreclosure Outlook A Mixed Bag

A new report out this morning from the State Comptroller’s Office finds new foreclosure filings fell sharply last year, but properties already in the process of foreclosing continues to grow.

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“New York had a sharp drop in new foreclosure filings in 2010, but that drop can be attributed in part to a temporary suspension of foreclosure related activity, not an improvement in the market,” said State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

“The growing percentage of mortgages in the foreclosure process is a more precise indicator of the continuing fallout from the housing crisis and recession.”

DiNapoli is also publishing a new brochure designed to learn about their rights in this process.

You can view DiNapoli’s full report here.

Q Poll: NYC Voters Like Bike Lanes And Walmart, Dislike LIFO, Koch Bridge

Today’s Q poll finds NYC voters want to see (57-36) a Walmart open in NYC, in spite of strong union-backed opposition to the idea, and also say they’d have no qualms about shopping (68-29) in the retail giant should it be successful in locating within the five boroughs.

Fity-four percent of city dwellers also support bike lanes, which have been causing an increasing amount of controversy of late, because “it’s greener and healthier for people to ride” than drive. Generally speaking, Democrats and independents like the lanes, while Republicans oppose them.

NYC voters aren’t keen on Mayor Bloomberg’s push to name the Queensborough Bridge in honor of former Mayor Ed Koch. Overall, opposition stands at 64-24, but the negative sentiment is strongest in Queens (70-20).

Bloomberg is seeing more success in his quest to convince NYC residents that the “last in, first out” rule for firing public school teachers has to go.

Seventy-eight percent of poll respondents said if teachers need to be laid off, the decision about who to cut should be made based on merit and not seniority. Ditto for cops and firefighters (73-20).

When it comes to other budget issues, NYC voters would prefer to see tax hikes over service cuts (49-35), oppose laying off city workers (67-27) but support furloughs (45-40), pay freezes (61-33) and reduced pension benefits for new employees (50-44).

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Mayoral Odd Couple For Gay Marriage

Former NYC Mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch have signed on to the Human Rights Campaign’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality effort, recording separate Web videos in which they profess their support for letting same-sex couple legally wed in the Empire State.

“They are a mayoral ‘odd couple’ on lots of things – but not when it comes to marriage equality,” said Brian Ellner, the senior strategist on the HRC Campaign for New York Marriage.

“Mayors Koch and Dinkins both believe that it’s time for all loving and committed New York couples to be treated equally and for New York to lead again.”

There are now three mayors involved in this effort. Mike Bloomberg was the first.

Momentum is building in the gay marriage movement. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently convened a summit of LGBT advocates at the Capitol to start mapping out a strategy to push for a vote on this issue after a budget deal is reached.

According to attendees at that get-together, the governor made it clear that he will be personally involved in trying to get the marriage bill passed in both houses of the Legislature this year.

The Assembly has approved the marriage bill three times, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told me during a recent CapTon interview that he believes there are still sufficient votes to pass it a fourth time, despite the losses in his conference last fall. He also said he has no immediate plans to bring the bill to the floor, and will likely wait to see what happens in the Senate before doing so.

The marriage bill died the one time it came to the floor for a vote in the Senate, going down 38-24. A number of “no” voters have since lost their seats, and several – including Sens. Joe Addabbo, Shirley Huntley and Jim Alesi – are now either undecided, or, as Alesi put it, “undeclared.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said last year that he would advocate bringing the marriage bill back to the floor if the GOP returned to power in the chamber, but also said he would leave the final decision about whether a vote should be held to his conference.

CSNY Backs Up Cuomo In School Funding Battle

On the heels of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s war of words with school districts yesterday, the business-backed Committee to Save New York has hit the airwaves with a new TV ad – its third of this budget cycle, I believe – in support of the governor’s education funding cuts.

The new 30-second spot, entitled “Worth,” hit the airwaves in some markets this morning. There’s also a radio version that can be heard here. Both will eventually be running statewide. CSNY spokesman Bill Cunningham said the buy is “substantial.”

It reinforces the governor’s claims that districts are spending too much on administrative costs – including superintendents’ salaries, which he has proposed capping (although that’s a program bill that came after his 2011-2012 budget was unveiled).

Here’s the script for the TV spot:

“When it comes to school spending, is New York getting its money’s worth? Twenty-one cents of every education dollar is spent on something other than teaching our kids.”

“Forty percent of school supervisors make over $200,000 a year. And while New York ranks first in education spending, we’re 34th in performance. The governor’s plan targets bureaucratic waste, and protects our students and teachers. Tell your lawmaker to support the governor’s plan.”