End Of An Era In Albany County (Updated)

In Albany there isn’t a more well known political family than the Breslins. Neil Breslin is a state senator. Tom Breslin is a county judge. And Mike Breslin has been county executive for the past 16 years, since he was elected in 1995.

Today, Mike Breslin announced he is not going to seek a 5th term in office, and will be stepping down from the post at the end of 2011.

“Serving as Albany County Executive has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Breslin. “I look forward to fulfilling my commitment to the voters of Albany County by serving through 2011. We’ve made government more open, professional, transparent and accountable with a focus on public service. Over the course of my tenure, I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish and now it is time to move on to new challenges and opportunities.”

In the press release, Breslin didn’t say why he had made the decision to step down. He is however talking to members of the media this afternoon, so I am sure that question will come up.

As for replacing Breslin, there are sure to be a handful of Democrats interested in the position because of the solid enrollment edge Democrats have in the district. Also, because the election is this year, members of the legislature, including Sen. Neil Breslin, could seek the seat and not lose their current job.

Update: Senator Schumer just issued this release.

“For 16 years Mike Breslin has served the people of Albany County with honesty, integrity and considerable talent. I understand his reasons for not running for a fifth term, but I am saddened because we need more people like Mike in elected office not fewer.

I have worked with Mike on countless issues, from bringing jobs to the NanoCollege and the Watervliet Arsenal, to trying to assist counties with their budgets, to the effort to gain recognition for Sgt. Henry Johnson, and literally hundreds of issues in between. He has been a tremendous public servant, but I am also pleased to call him my friend.”

The Shuttle Has Landed

Sources have confirmed to NY1 that an original Space Shuttle prototype will be making its new home at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.

An official announcement is expected later today that the Enterprise prototype will be coming to the floating museum that is moored on the Hudson River.

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand had been pushing hard since 2010 for the Intrepid to land a retiring shuttle.

The Enterprise shuttle was a test model that flew, but never orbited space and was not equipped with a heat shield. It is expected to move to the Intrepid by May 2012.

NASA is also expected to announce later today where the retiring Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour shuttles will go on display.

Other shuttle finalists are thought to include the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Tax Cap Vs. Rent Control, McMillan-Style

If you want to find the elusive link between a property tax cap and rent control legislation, look no further than the teachings of former gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.

Twice in less than 24 hours, New York’s favorite catchphrase from the 2010 campaign has emerged in the debate over the tax cap and rent control bills. Depending on who you ask, rent/property taxes are “too damn high!”

jimmy mcmillan

Capital Region Assemblyman Jim Tedisco is calling on the Assembly majority to vote on Gov. Cuomo’s property tax cap bill, which the Senate has already passed.

“Some may be outraged about the cost of rent in New York City, but there’s no doubt about it, New York State’s property taxes are too damn high!” said Tedisco (R-Saratoga).

“If the Assembly can protect rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan then it has the time to bring tax cap legislation to the Floor for an up or down vote before the month is up.”

Tedisco voted against the bill, which would cap the amount tenants pay for their apartment.

Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats and even some in the minority conference are touting the rent control bill as a major win for downstate residents, saying it would adjust income thresholds to more accurately reflect current wages and the rate of inflation.

“Gubernatorial candidate and fellow Vietnam Veteran Jimmy McMillan summed it up best: The rent is too ‘damn high,’ words that ring true for too many tenants in Westchester County and throughout the greater metropolitan area,” said Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R–Goldens Bridge).

Tasini Files Suit Against AOL, HuffPo

New York political activist Jonathan Tasini announced today he is filing a class-action lawsuit against The Huffington Post and AOL over its compensation (or lack thereof) for bloggers and other content producers.

The website, which was purchased earlier this year by AOL for $200 million, highlighted the concern among those in journalism and publishing that HuffPo is a repository for junk content written to appeal to quick Google searches.

“Arianna Huffington is pursuing the Wal-Martization of creative content and a Third World class of creative people,” said Jonathan Tasini, the lead plaintiff in the suit, in a statement. “Actually, that is unfair to Wal-Mart because at least Wal-Mart pays its workers something for the value those workers create. In Arianna Huffington’s business model, economic gain is only reserved for her. Everyone else, apparently, is expected to work for free regardless of the value they create. Greed and selfishness is the order of the day.”

Tasini, a New York City resident, has launched unsuccessful Senate campaigns against both Hillary Clinton in 2006 and HuffPo contributor Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010.

Tasini_et_al._v._Huffington_et_al._Filed_Complaint_April_12_2011

L&0′s Meloni Films HRC Video

TV cop Christopher Meloni filmed a pro-gay marriage web video for the Human Rights Campaign, which is recruiting celebrities to advocate for the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York.

Other celebrities who have joined the HRC’s effort include Ethan Hawke, Russell Simmons, Mark and Sunrise Ruffalo, Joan Rivers, Barbara Bush, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Fran Drescher, Moby, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Cuomo Celebrates GM Investing $100M In Rochester

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning is touting General Motors Corp. plan to invest $100 million for a new fuel injection product line at its Rochester plant.

Cuomo’s news release says the investment at the GM plant will retain “hundreds” of jobs and create 30 additional jobs.

“To say that New York is open for business is an understatement – and this announcement just proves the point,” Cuomo said in a statement. “For generations, General Motors has provided quality products and good jobs for New Yorkers, and this move builds on the company’s historic legacy in this state. As a car enthusiast, I look forward to seeing the future of automotive technology designed, engineered, and built by New Yorkers.”

The announcement is good news for Rochester, which has seen a variety of major businesses, notably Kodak, severely cut back on jobs and its corporate presence. Cuomo also needs businesses like GM to stay and expand in the economically troubled upstate region, which has struggled to retain jobs.

The governor’s budget, which remained largely intact through the budget process, was developed with an eye toward reversing the state’s perception that its high taxes are hostile to businesses.

The announcement comes as Cuomo is poised to dispatch his lieutenant governor, former Rochester mayor Bob Duffy, to lead the 10 regional economic development councils that are charged with developing job-creation ideas. The councils survived the budget battle, which were met with skepticism by Senate Republicans.

Koch Unveils ‘Enemies Of Reform’ Robocall (Updated)

As promised former New York City Mayor Ed Koch today unveiled his list of Senate Republicans he’s targeting for public shaming over supposedly reneging on their promise to deliver independent redistricting reform.

Koch’s robocall targets 11 members of the Assembly and 31 senators (a full list is available after the jump) who have signed the Koch pledge, but have so far failed to act on the reform agenda. The call forwards recipients directly to their local legislators’ office.

Koch had all Senate Republicans sign on to his New York Uprising pledge, which, among other things, called for an independent commission to redraw legislative lines.

UPDATE: A comment from Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif appears after the jump.

Here’s the script and audio in the dolcett tones of the mayor himself:

More >

Here And Now

The Assembly passed a rent control bill, setting up a showdown with the Senate.

The Assembly Republicans offered Goc. Andrew Cuomo’s property tax cap bill as an amendment to the rent control measure – they were not successful. (No link).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says Cuomo needs to be the closer on rent control. No commitment from the governor on that as of year.

After meeting yesterday with the governor, several Senate Democrats pushing for rent control said there won’t likely be a vote in their house until next month.

So far this year, legislators have introduced 55 bills that would either increase pension payments, broaden the scope of disabilities that can be used to claim retirement pay, or enhance health insurance benefits.

The Post wonders if Cuomo is losing his stomach for the fight over pension reform with the Legislature.

The budget battle ended well for Cuomo.

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson is open to discussion of more exemptions in the property tax cap bill.

Bill Hammond thinks the Assembly is stalling on the property tax cap.

Rudy Giuliani will be the first Republican to speak at Cornell’s graduation since the annual tradition of hosting a guest speaker began in 1984.

Donald Trump will “probably” run for president as an independent if he doesn’t get the GOP nod.

More >

Extras

President Obama misses being anonymous.

The president and congressional Democrats are getting the credit for averting the government shutdown.

NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Dennis Walcott will be in Albany tomorrow. He’ll meet with the Senate and Assembly education committees and members of the LCA. (No link).

Democrats marked the anniversary of “RomneyCare.”

The former Massachusetts governor decided this would be a great day to form a presidential exploratory committee. (He’s now the second semi-declared GOP contender; Tim Pawlenty was the first).

Homelessness in NYC reached an all-time high last year, according to advocates.

Former Gov. David Paterson to Washington: “We have a revenue crisis. The road out of this is revenue generation.”

Pension reform in reverse in the Legislature.

New York has the highest executive pay of any other state – but that’s pre-5 percent pay cut.

Former Reps. Sherwood Boehlert and Amory Houghton OpEd for campaign finance reform.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch says “his” bridge is “better than the George Washington Bridge.”

Awwwkward.

John Legend on The Donald.

Worst nightmare comes true.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets some good press….in Connecticut.

NYC water bills are going up, but less than expected.

Flanagan ‘Surprised’ By Lazio’s County Exec Trial Balloon

CapTon’s Nick Reisman caught up with Sen. John Flanagan today to get his reaction to Rick Brand’s report that former Rep./2010 gubernatorial contender Rick Lazio is considering a run for Suffolk County executive now that incumbent Steve Levy has been forced to the sidelines.

Flanagan, who is considered a frontrunner for the GOP nod, but has not yet announced his intentions, said he was “as surprised as a bunch of people” to learn of Lazio’s potential interest in the job, but tried to put a more-the-merrier sping on things.

The senator said he considers Lazio a viable candidate and confirmed that he’s indeed still mulling the race himself. Candidate screenings are scheduled to start this week.

So far, Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter is the lone announced GOP contender. (The Suffolk County GOP was the first to endorse Lazio’s gubernatorial bid, but then jumped ship to join state GOP Chairman Ed Cox in backing Levy, leaving some bad blood between the county committee and the ex-congressman).

Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone is considered the likely Democratic candidate. He has been fundraising for some time now, and is expected to announce his candidacy April 27.