Holiday Weekend That Was

For all our blog fans in New York City, and anyone who was planning on traveling through the Northeast this week, sorry about the snow. Here is the latest. And here.

Times Union wonders why Senate Republicans didn’t respond to calls for redistricting reform last week.

Bob McCarthy warns that the war over re-drawing the lines has already begun.

NY Post is questioning a non-profit that Senator Eric Adams founded over missing state funds.

New York Times urges Andrew Cuomo to raise taxes in order to deal with the state’s financial problems.

Larry Levy is the latest to reflect on the legacy of David Paterson.

NY Post is praising outgoing Inspector General Joe Fisch.

Outgoing NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein has some regrets.

John Liu has spent a lot of time running for mayor, the NY Post suggests.

NY Pols think Obama has his swagger back.

Joe Biden said same-sex marriage is inevitable in America, during Friday’s Good Morning America.

Ashley Dupre explains why she won’t go see “Client 9″.

One quick reminder. My colleague Liz Alesse will be taking care of the blog for the next two days. Her email is

Holiday Weekend Open Thread

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas to those to whom it applies!

Liz A. here.  Liz B. is out of the country on a much-deserved vacation, so we’ll do our best to keep you up to speed in her absence.

In the meantime, feel free to vent or reflect here about the last year in NYS politics and what you anticipate in the Cuomo era.  Have at it!!

Gillibrand’s Home Finally Sells

It has been a good month, professionally speaking, for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who saw a number of legislative successes – from the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the passage of the 9/11 health care bill.

And now comes news of yet another win for New York’s junior senator – this time on the domestic front. The Register-Star reports Gillibrand and her husband, Jonathan, have finally sold the historic home they’ve been trying to unload for some nine months.

On Dec. 5, the couple sold their five-bedroom house with Hudson River views for $1.3 million to Time magazine managing editor Richard Allen Stengel and his wife, Mary Pfaff Stengel.

The property first went on sale in April at a price of $1.71 million. By October, it had dropped to $1.48 million. A Gillibrand spokeswoman told the paper that the senator, who spends much of her work week in Washington, D.C., wanted to move with her husband and two young sons to Albany to be closer to family.

The Gillibrands have owned this house for seven years. At first, it was a part-time residence, as Gillibrand, a Capital Region native, was wrapping up her life in NYC in preparation for her first run for public office.

This became an issue in her 2006 campaign against then-GOP Rep. John Sweeney, who sought to portray his Democratic opponent as a carpetbagger out of touch with upstate values.

Paterson’s 24 Christmas Pardons

Gov. David Paterson announced this morning that he has issued 24 more pardons to immigrants subject to deportation because of their prior convictions.

At a press conference in his Manhattan office (which started 36 minutes late), Paterson had some strong words for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office, which he said is casting too wide a net and catching small fish while trying to keep the US safe from terrorists.

“As we tighten and strengthen our laws on those highest offenders, there is no reason that we should be as inflexible and insensitive for those who have committed comparably smaller crimes, particularly when there’s only one offense,” Paterson said.

“I believe in rehabilitation and redemption. ICE clearly does not.”

UPDATE: Here’s the press release with the names and background information of the pardonees.

Paterson said the people he has pardoned have “paid their debt to society” and are now “otherwise enterprising citizens.” He said he recognizes the power of pardons and insisted he has only utilized it in the interest of “justice.”

He spoke of one man who committed a misdemeanor crime 37 years ago and is now facing deportation.

Another man shot and killed an intruder who was sneaking into his window, the governor said. The DA declined to charge the man with murder, but he was convicted on an illegal weapons charge. “ICE ignores the law because there was a death in the incident,” Paterson said.

The governor lamented that crimes that were once not considered deportable offenses now are classified as such. He suggested people who pleaded guilty to those crimes years ago might not have done so had they known the law would change.

Prior to today’s announcement, Paterson had already granted 9 pardons to immigrants convicted of crimes that included drug possession, robbery, and attempted murder. All were subject to deportation as a result of their convictions.

This past May, the governor set up a panel to weigh pardons for people facing deportation. He set an Oct. 1 deadline for applications and received 1,100 pleas.

During the press conference, Paterson was grilled about the controversial commutation he issued yesterday to John White, an African-American man who was convicted of manslaughter in the 2006 shooting of a white teenager, Daniel “Dano” Cicciaro Jr.

The governor was criticized for announcing the commutation prior to speaking with the Cicciaro family. Paterson admitted that “in retrospect I would have sought the victims’ input.” He said he spoke with Cicciaro’s parents for about an hour this morning.

Paterson refused to disclose the details of that conversation and insisted he would not have changed his mind about White’s commutation had the talk taken place prior to his granting of it.

He did, whoever, say Cicciaro’s mother has raised some “issues” that he will “think about over the holidays.”

Bruno’s Appeal

As expected former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s attorneys have filed an appeal of his January 2009 indictment on federal corruption charges, arguing in part that the theft of honest services statute under which he was convicted has been invalidated by the US Supreme Court.

The attorneys argue that the government “rolled the dice” in its case against Bruno and “cannot get a ‘do-over’ simply because it got the law wrong.”

The feds have said they should be allowed to take another crack at the former Rensselaer County Republican by filing a superceding or new indictment against him using a different legal arguement this time around.

But Bruno’s attorneys say the government is barred under the double jeopardy close of the Constitution from pursuing any additional chares.

Bruno Appeal 12/23/10


Karl Rove supects Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.

Ten years of Clinton style.

Gov. David Paterson has “vacated” the executive mansion and will spend Christmas in NYC.

Gersh Kuntzman tried to convince Assemblyman Vito Lopez that OpEds are a good thing.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will push for a law that bars lawmakers convicted of felonies from receiving their pensions.

Joseph Spinelli will be the acting chair of the Public Integrity Commission following Michael Cherkasky’s departure, effective Jan. 1. (No link).

Suffolk County DA Thomas J. Spota blasted Paterson for commuting John White’s sentence without reaching out to the victim’s family first.

The Open Space Institute’s Joe Martens is being considered by Team Cuomo as the next DEC commissioner.

Larry Schwartz’s job with the Cuomo administration might not be good news for the environmentalists.

Whole Foods is under fire from wineries, unions and small businesses for its plan to sell wine in its stores.

Dan Collins includes Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani in the “losers” column when it comes tot he Zadroga bill.

A tree that survived the 9/11 attacks returned home.

Rahm Emanuel won his residency case, bringing him one step closer to his dream of becoming mayor of Chicago.

State lawmakers and Labor Department officials met with the producers of “Spiderman” to express concern over safety at the accident-prone Broadway show.

Cuomo has reportedly hired Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s chief of staff to be his Jewish liaison.

Paterson signed a bankruptcy protection bill.

Debate began in court over the waiver granted to NYC Schools Chancellor-in-waiting Cathie Black.

A Note From Liz

We are rockin’ and rollin’ here at CapTon today, trying to tape a week’s worth of holiday shows while simultaneously preparing for tonight’s show, so I’m going to be signing off the blog a bit early.

Tomorrow, of course, is Christmas Eve, (yes, I flubbed this the first time around; Liz A. fixed it) and we’ve decided to give the hard-working CapTon crew the day off to spend it with their friends and families. I will be around, but will probably be blogging only a bit because I’ve got a lot of packing to do.

Yes, it’s true. I’m taking a vacation.

Those of you who know me well are probably aware that this is a miracle befitting the holiday season.

I’ll be out of the country for six whole days with only spotty Internet service – at best. (If I survive this spate of disconnection without having a nervous breakdown, we’ll have yet another miracle on our hands; I’m already missing the BlackBerry).

And so, I’m leaving the blog in the capable hands of Liz Alesse and Michael Johnson. Please be kind to them. You can contact them at (Monday and Tuesday) and (Wednesday and Thursday).

I’ll be back Friday in time for Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s private swearing-in at the executive mansion.

Until then, I hope you have a happy and healthy holiday season. Thanks for all you do for me, the blog and the show. I couldn’t do it without you.

Be well.


DiNapoli Makes Another Appointment

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has been busy this week, announcing several members of his new staff. He just released a statement with another appointment. Stephen Hamilton will be his new Inspector General, replacing George King who had been in that role since 2007.

According to the release, Hamilton served as Special Counsel for the Office of State Comptroller’s Investigations Unit of the Legal Services Division. He was also counsel for Law Enforcement and Compliance at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Associate Counsel for the New York State Ethics Commission.

His salary will be $150,000.

DiNapoli’s ‘New Beginning’

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli sent out a holiday greeting to supporters today, thanking them for their support in what turned out to be a very close election against his GOP opponent, newcomer Harry Wilson.

In the message, DiNapoli discusses how a new year “holds great promise for a new beginning.”

He’s already taking that to heart as he prepares to start his first four-year term, adopting a get-tough approach with his former legislative colleagues by changing his stance on pensions for lawmakers found guilty of felony offenses and also shaking up his senior staff.

DiNapoli and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo weren’t exactly allies during the campaign, although Cumo did clear the comptroller of wrongdoing in his pay-to-play pension fund probe in the weeks heading into the general election.

He did not, however, campaign with DiNapoli, preferring to help pull his successor, AG-elect Eric Schneiderman, across the finish line. And Cuomo has made it clear he would like to change the sole trusteeship of the pension fund to a board-run system – something DiNapoli opposes.

All that should make for an interesting year, particularly since the comptroller’s office is charged with auditing executive agencies.

Here’s the text of DiNapoli’s message:

Dear Friends,

The holiday season is a special time and I wanted to wish you and your family joy, health and happiness as you celebrate over these coming days.

I am especially grateful for all the loyalty and goodwill that you have shown me this past year and I know that with your continued support, we can make 2011 the starting point for a new and better future for New York’s families.

The new year holds great promise for a new beginning. You can rest assured that I will be working extraordinarily hard in the coming months to deal with the important issues that confront our State.

For now, I wish all of you and your families the best during this holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year.

Your friend,
Tom DiNapoli

‘Aunt Sandy Claus’

Sandra Lee is very, VERY into Christmas.

Not only does she have seven trees at the white-on-white Mt. Kisco home she shares with Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo – each dectorated with a different theme – but she also signed her most recent “Semi-Homemade” blog post “Aunt Sandy Claus.”

(H/T Politics on the Hudson).

Ms. Claus/Lee revealed she recently did a little Christmas shopping to pick up a gift for “my life’s love, Andrew.” She did not, however, drop any hints about what she might have purchased the governor-elect, who is about to inherit a whopping piece of coal in his stocking – the multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

Lee informed her fans that she’ll be back in the studio to film the 15th season of her Food Network show, so at least we know where to find her in the future (on the TV dial, anyway).

The state’s first girlfriend likes to drop little asides in her blog about her live-in love. Her Dec. 14 post, for example, mentions the “200-plus person party” she hosted for “my sweethearts (sic) birthday.”

(Unlike last year’s Cuomo birthday/fundraiser bash, this was a private affair that featured a cake shaped like the Empire State).

Lee kept a relatively low profile throughout the campaign, leaving the family stumping to his three daughters, although she did attend Cuomo’s official campaign announcement and the Democratic convention in Rye where he was officially nominated.

She will be attending the inauguration. But there’s still no word on whether Lee will be joining Cuomo at the post-inauguration receiving line at the executive mansion on Jan. 1. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Perhaps there will be tablescapes…and cookies.