Sampson On Redistricting, Pre-Koch Conversion

A reader forwarded this video of then-Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson explaining his reservations about the redistricting reform pledge pushed by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch during the 2010 campaign.

Sampson, as you’ll recall, was a late convert to Koch’s NY Uprising agenda. He didn’t sign the PAC’s budget, ethics and redistricting reform pledge until shortly before the September primary – a move characterized as a major victory by Koch, and one that left Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the odd man out among the four legislative leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ agreement, along with all his fellow GOP conference members, to sign on with Koch is now coming back to bite him as the former mayor is not accepting the constitutional amendment bill passed yesterday by the Republicans – with an assist from the four IDC members – as fulfilment of their promise to him.

Skelos has raised constitutional concerns about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s redistricting reform bill, and has been roundly criticized by the Democrats for doing so. But, as you can see from this video, which was referenced by the AP’s Mike Gormley in a story published yesterday, Sampson was saying much the same thing, back in the day.

“We’re asking an independent commission to do redistricting,” Sampson says. “These are un-elected individuals who are bureaucrats who are going to make these decisions.”

“One of the reasons we have been elected by the people is to make such decisions. And the question is are we violating our accountability to the voters because they elected us to make those decisions. I know I can make a fair, I can be fair and I can be accountable with respect to dividing lines.”

“But my issue is: The Republicans who signed onto this, they had an opportunity for the last 44 years – four decades now – to do reapportionment. They could have been equitable in the way that they’ve drawn lines.”

Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? It’s almost as if he’s reading off the Senate GOP’s 2011 script.

CWA Targets Grisanti

CWA Local 1180 is poised to unleash a hard-hitting radio ad against Sen. Mark Grisanti, assuming the Democrat-turned-Republican freshman from Buffalo votes “yes” on the Senate GOP’s one-house budget that does not include a millionaire’s tax extender.

CWA is a member of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, a new union-backed group that is organizing part of the labor community’s response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2011-2012 budget.

The coalition’s main goal was to change the way the budget battle is fought, moving away from the traditional TV air war and focusing more on grassroots organizing and social media.

However, some old habits die hard, as this radio ad demonstrates. Radio does offer a lot of bang for the buck, considering it’s ad rates are a heck of a lot less expensive than television and its reach is considerable.

CWA President Arthur Cheliotes, who is at the Capitol lobbying on the millioniare’s tax today, told me more “vulnerable” members of the majority conference will be targeted with ads, which are being produced by The Advance Group.

“We need them to understand that they’ve got to do what’s right for working people and not just protect the rich,” Cheliotes told me. Here’s the script:

“Senator Grisanti, you gotta be kidding me! We’re facing the worst economic times of a generation, and you want to cut taxes for millionaires? You gotta be kidding me!”

“Wall Street gave its biggest bonuses ever last year – two years after the trillion dollar bailout – and you want to give them a tax break? You gotta be kidding me!”

“Mark Grisanti would rather cut funding for education, close up state facilities and lay off thousands of our teachers than let downstate pay their share? Mark Grisanti, you gotta be kidding me! But this isn’t funny!”

Cuomo ‘Honored’ By Fake Christie

The demonstrators who brought you the pro-millionaire’s protest that blocked the Capitol’s State Street entrance and ended with more than a dozen arrests planned another “action” today – this time a little public disturbance/theater featuring a mock NJ. Gov. Chris Christie.

The Republican governor (who will be depicted by a protestor in a Christie mask) is “awarding” his Democratic counterpart for “ensuring the richest 1 percent will get richer by allowing their fair share tax to expire and balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and working class of New York State,” the flier reads. “Kudos, Governor Cuomo!”

There have been a lot of column inches filled in recent weeks with stories likening Cuomo to his counterpart across the river, who also may or may not have White House aspirations.

Christie himself heaped praise on Cuomo, noting the “son of a liberal icon” is pushing policies that mirror his own – including the superintendents’ salary cap.

cuomo action – christie public ed flier

Senate GOP Budget Based On Rosy Expectations, Cuts, Prayer

The Senate Republicans’ budget restores $280 million worth of education cuts proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, eliminates $296 million in unfunded mandates for local governments and spend slightly less overall than the governor ($132.5 billion, to $132.9 billion) – all without any new revenue generators (AKA taxes).

About 68 percent of the restored education aid would be sent to schools districts north of NYC, Skelos said, explaining: “What we’re doing is we are essentially restoring shares to the cuts. So there willl continue to be cuts…but especially upstate, they were disproportionately hit in terms of rural districts and small city school districts.”

Asked how the majority is accomplishment this feat, Sen. John Flanagan joked during a noon press conference: “Senator Marcellino said we pray a lot; if we don’t maybe we should.”

In reality, the Senate is banking on the fact that the economy will recover “slightly” faster than expected, improving the state’s revenue picture more quickly than the Cuomo administration’s Budget Division has predicted. (An exact dollar amount on this isn’t yet available, but should be by the afternoon, I’m told).

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Canestrari: Gov’s 2-Year Education Spending Plan A ‘Straightjacket’

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari struck a conciliatory tone on budget negotiations while chatting with reporters earlier today, insisting the Legislature doesn’t want to be “confrontational” with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, considering the fact that this is his first budget.

Canestrari, an Albany-area Democrat, admitted the “my way or the highway” budget extender threat from Cuomo is an “added incentive” to get an on-time deal. He noted the Assembly and Senate aren’t terribly far apart in their respective one-house proposals, which are on tap for passage this afternoon.

But Canestrari also flatly rejected the governor’s plan to put education aid and Medicaid funding on a two-year track, which is something Cuomo proposed as part of his 30-day budget amendments.

“It’s a straightjacket,” Canestrari said. “It’s tough to suggest that with everything else we’re doing.”

“It certainly is creative on his part, and I see the direction he’s going in. But I think that’s a heavy lift at this stage of the game. I really do. We have enough we’re dealing with right now. Let’s get the budget underway. I think that is hard.”

“…I do oppose it. I’d like to see more of the details. I have not looked at it that closely, to be honest. But I just think it ties our hands unnecessarily for a long period of time. I’d like to see more about it.”

DiNapoli: Risks Remain In Cuomo Budget

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli just released his analysis of Governor Cuomo’s 21 day and 30 day amendments, praising it for additional details, while also criticizing it for not being specific enough.

“The Governor’s Executive Budget proposal took welcome steps to remedy the state’s longstanding bad habit of spending more money than it takes in,” DiNapoli said. “The budget amendments provide additional detail on how savings will be achieved, but work remains to ensure the budget gap can be closed.”

DiNapoli focuses in on the work of the Medicaid Redesign Team, which came back with $2.3 billion in cuts. DiNapoli says $640 million of those cuts remain unspecified, which is a concern. He also warns that another $662 million in cuts come from proposals that have been previously failed in the state legislature.

And the comptroller also calls for more details when it comes to the cuts to the state operations budget. Specifically the $450 million in workforce savings that Governor Cuomo is calling for. The administration is currently negotiating new contracts with CSEA and PEF, which will have an impact on that aspect of the budget.

Complete press release after the jump:
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Pat Barrett To Head ORDA, Again (Updated)

Andrew Cuomo’s public schedule says he is in Essex County today. And while we don’t know exactly where he is, we have learned that he has tapped former GOP state chair Pat Barrett to head up the Olympic Regional Development Association, based in Lake Placid.

Barrett held the post during the final years of the Pataki era. When Eliot Spitzer was elected, he replaced Barrett with Joe Martens (who was confirmed as the new DEC commissioner earlier this month). But Barrett has remained on the ORDA board.

Barrett was also one of the first Republicans to publicly support Andrew Cuomo during his campaign for governor, even cutting a television ad for Cuomo. And he served on Governor Cuomo’s transition team.

Update: Multiple sources say Barrett’s selection was expected. The only concern is his health. He has had several heart surgeries in recent months.

Haggerty Trial Set For 6/1 (Updated)

NY1′s Josh Robin tells us that the judge has set a June 1st start date for the trial against Republican political operative John Haggerty, who is charged with setting up a sham company that was paid more than a million dollars for ballot security on Election Day, 2009.

The money came from Mayor Bloomberg’s checkbook, but was funneled through the state Independence Party.

Haggerty’s attorney, former state AG Dennis Vacco, tried to have the case dismissed. But today, the judge denied that request and set up deadlines for defense to file motions, and for the prosecution to respond.

Considering the political nature of the case, the judge also issued a gag order to both sides, barring them from talking to the press.

UPDATE: Here’s the order from Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel that allows the case against Haggerty to go forward. “Defendant is not Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor,” wrote the judge.

Zweibel accused the Queens GOP consultant of concocting an “elaborate scheme” to “enrich himself at Mayor Bloomberg’s expense and got caught” when the press started to investigate where the mayor’s $1.1 million contribution to the Indy Party actually went.


Redistricting Battle Goes Anime

It had to happen sooner or later.

In the wake of the Senate Republicans’ passage – with some help from the IDC – of Sen. John Bonacic’s constitutional amendment redistricting bill, which can’t possibly take effect until well after the 2012 election cycle, the DSCC has released a new animated video that accuses the majority of breaking its promise to former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

The video pretty much speaks for itself. Look for the “liar, liar pants on fire” moment. I’m told this is the first in a series.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told me during a CapTon interview last night that he believes Bonacic’s bill satisfies the collective redistricting reform pledge he and his conference made to Koch’s NY Uprising PAC.

When I noted that Koch disagrees with that, the Long Island lawmaker basically told me the former mayor is entitled to his opinion, and he’s not concerned with being called a liar, because he – and his constituents – know the truth.

Here And Now

Eighteen days until the 2011-2012 budget is due. The Senate and Assembly are expected to pass their respective one-house budgets today and get the conference committee process started.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is headed to Essex County (no word from his press office on where, exactly, or for what).

Lobbying today at the Capitol: SUNY and CUNY students and teachers (calling for lawmakers to reject Cuomo’s proposed higher ed cuts), Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians (advancing a pro-life, anti-gay marriage agenda), home health aides who serve senior citizens (protesting Medicaid cuts).

Mayor Bloomberg will join Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in Washington today to announce House legislation to close gun background check loopholes.

Village elections are taking place across the state today.

The worsening situation in Japan has many people – including Michael Daly – worried about Indian Point.

The threat of a meltdown in Japan has not deterred Massena officials from their desire to have a nuclear plant in their neck of the woods.

Ditto for Rep. Chris Gibson, who is pushing for a nuclear facility in NY-20.

Mayor Bloomberg says it’s “not terribly important” what anyone but the governor thinks about extending the millionaire’s tax, which he opposes even if it raises revenue for education aid.

Newsday editorializes against the millionaire’s tax.

The Bronx bus crash revealed lax safety regulations for the rapidly-growing discount bus tour industry. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the NTSB to broaden the scope of its investigation past this single incident.

It doesn’t appear the background check for the driver of the Bronx bus was particularly vigorous.

Another bus crashed last night on the New Jersey Turnpike.

US Sens. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have given campaign cash they received from scandal-scarred state Sen. Carl Kruger to charity.

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