Zadroga Bill Signed Into Law

The Obama administration released the following statement this afternoon:

“On Sunday, January 2, 2011, the President signed into law: H.R. 847, the ‘James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act,’ which establishes the World Trade Center Health Program and extends and expands eligibility for compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001.

Here’s a photo, compliments of the White House press office (as you can see, the president is still on vacation in Hawaii).

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That was followed by a statements from various different NY pols who were key players in the long push to get this bill passed, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, who said:

After a long, arduous path with several near-defeats, this bill is finally law. The heroes who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after the attacks will not be forgotten.”

“These first responders were like veterans, and this law keeps with a time-honored American tradition of standing by our veterans when they get harmed answering the call. We will begin work immediately to make sure this law gets renewed for another five years.”

…and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

“All Americans should be proud of this accomplishment. Our nation – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – all came together to do what was right and provide health care to the brave men and women who served with such heroism in the days and weeks following 9/11.”

“This was our undeniable moral obligation.”

“I commend President Obama for helping champion this effort and signing this bill into law. Today’s victory is for the first responders, fire fighters, police officers, every family and every volunteer who never gave up and made sure that Congress fulfilled its duty to the 9/11 heroes. We will always remember your sacrifice, and stand united behind you.”

Paterson, Out

Former Gov. David Paterson was front and center this afternoon for the swearing in of his successor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and seemed to enjoy himself, considering the circumstances.

He was seen chatting and laughing with Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (Lippman’s predecessor, Judith Kaye, swore Paterson in back in March 2008) prior to the ceremony.

He spoke briefly with reporters after the event, praising Cuomo’s speech and his decision to remove the concrete barriers from around the state Capitol, saying he has long felt “chagrined” about how inaccessible the building has been to the public. (No word on why he never acted on that feeling during his own tenure).

Asked what he plans to do now, Paterson responded with a flash of his old trademark humor: “I’m going to go home.”

(Without a State Police detail, it should be noted, since his request for a continuation of his taxpayer-funded protection has been denied).

Cuomo’s Speech

Here’s the full text of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inauguration address, provided by his press office (upon request).

Governor Andrew Cuomo Inaugural Address Transcript

One Big Happy Family

Newly-minuted Gov. Andrew Cuomo was practically singing Kumbaya during his first official gaggle with the Capitol press corps following his inauguration ceremony in the War Room this afternoon.

Cuomo, who is not necessarily known for his peaceful approach to politics, insisted he looks forward to partnering with his fellow state government officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – regardless of what might have occurred between them in the past.

He was asked (by Newsday’s James T. Madore) about his relationship with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who Cuomo didn’t endorse prior to the November election. (He did, however, give the comptroller a big hug after his swearing-in today).

“Mr. DiNapoli and I had, did have, issues. Right? Not personal issues, but they were real, serious issues in terms of matters I was working on at the attorney general’s office,” Cuomo replied.

“So, that was a very legitimate situation where there were issues, difficult issues, we were working through, Those are now gone. I look forward to working with the comptroller. I look forward to working with the attorney general. I look forward to working with the Legislature on both sides of the aisle.”

Other highlights of this 10+ minute Q-and-A:

Cuomo said has no intention of rescinding the 900 layoffs of state workers undertaken by his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson.

“No new taxes. Period.”

He signed an executive order to remove the 9/11-era concrete barriers outside the Capitol and plans to issue more orders, but didn’t provide any details.

Live Stream, Cuomo/Duffy Inauguration

…it’s already underway. Watch here:

Sign Of The Times, II

That was fast.

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LG Duffy, Defender Of Upstate

Newly-minted LG Bob Duffy gave an impromptu press gaggle after the Cuomo administration’s first cabinet meeting and pledged to continue to act as a champion of upstate interests in his new role – much as he did in his old job as mayor of Rochester.

Just before the three-minute mark in this video, Duffy tells a story of coming to Albany during his tenure as mayor to lobby for mandate relief and meet with an unnamed high-ranking official in a previous administration. Through the door, he heard said official “react with disgust” about having to see him, telling an aide to give him no more than three minutes.

Needless to say, Duffy was very upset, and he promised that would never happen while he’s in office.

He also declined to say who the official was, but did say that person isn’t in the Capitol at this moment and also wasn’t former Gov. Eliot Spitzer or Larry Schwartz. “I came away with a sense that sometimes there is a disconnect…This government has to work for the people.”

Duffy said that will all change when he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are in charge.

New Year, New Senate

The Republicans wasted no time in taking control of the official Senate Website, which now features a “welcome” letter from re-installed Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

In the letter, the Long Island lawmaker pledges to work “closely” with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Assembly to meet “the significant challenges that lie ahead.”

“The people’s priorities must be our priorities,” Skelos continues. “That means balancing the state budget, closing the deficit, easing the burden on taxpayers, and doing everything we can to strengthen our economy and create private sector jobs.”

This Website provides extensive access to a wide array of Senate proceedings and legislative information, and enables members of the public to watch Senate sessions and committee meetings live. ”

“You can also use this site to find your State Senator and contact him or her to voice your concerns and priorities, ask questions, make recommendations or discuss issues that are important to you, your family and your community.”

The Senate Democrats put a lot of cash and effort into the official Website after they took control of the chamber back in 2008. Many of those bells and whistles – including the “open Senate” feature that improved public access and participation – appear to still be functioning.

Sign Of The Times

Things change quickly here at the Capitol.

The sign outside the first floor Senate conference room where YNN and NY1 are set up for our inauguration coverage has already been switched to recognize the change in command in the AG’s office – from now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to his successor, AG Eric Schneiderman.

Oddly, the Interweb has yet to catch up to reflect the new regime. As of 11:25 a.m., the AG’s Web page still had Cuomo’s name on it.

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NY’s 56th Governor

Here’s the footage of the private swearing-in ceremony held at the executive mansion last night where LG Bob Duffy and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were administered the oath of office by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman as friends and family members looked on.

Cuomo was attended by his three daughters and his girlfriend Sandra Lee, who held the Bible.

The oaths were administered at 10:09 p.m., but Duffy and Cuomo didn’t officially take office until midnight. Cuomo’s press office sent out the following statement from the new governor at 10:24 p.m.:

“I am honored and humbled to accept this tremendous responsibility. The time has come to return integrity, performance, and dignity to New York and make it the Empire State once again. I look forward to getting to work right away for the people of our great state.”