Nov 23rd - 7:57 am
The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports a fascinating political contortion act by Rep. Bill Owens, who just won re-election in the GOP-dominated 23rd Congressional District and supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to continue on as party leader once the Democrats are relegated back to the minority.
Owens said he hadn’t yet decided who he will vote for for speaker. He said it was “quite possible” he would vote for the Republican leader, (John) Boehner; he also said he might abstain.
(Recall that during the campaign Owens ran an ad touting his habit of voting with Boehner and the GOP conference – an effort to counter the NRCC’s attacks that branded him a Pelosi-loving liberal).
Owens said he was not one of the 43 Democrats who voted for North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler over Pelosi, who received 150 votes in last week’s leadership contest (a secret ballot election).
He told me heading into the vote that he might abstain unless he received an assurance from the California Democrat that she would adopt a more pragmatic approach moving forward. Apparently, whatever she said was what he needed to hear.
“When I was asked to support her (Pelosi), I said I will if she agrees to govern from the center and makes jobs her priority,” Owens told the paper, echoing his recent comments to CapCon’s Jimmy Vielkind.
“She assured me that she would, and I made it equally clear that if she didn’t, I would not support her going forward.”
“…Clearly, she made it very clear that she was a progressive and pushing a progressive agenda, which is one of the reasons why, on a number of issues, I stepped away from the Democratic leadership.”
Owens insisted he doesn’t believe his ongoing support of Pelosi, who was a major target in House races across the country this fall, will hurt him in the 2012 elections, explaining: “The issue is two years away, and people will be able to tell by my voting record whether I went with her or didn’t go with her.”
Nov 23rd - 7:42 am
Today’s Q poll finds NYC voters are generally not supportive of Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg’s pick to succeed Joel Klein as schools chancellor.
Most residents (64 – 26) say education experience matters more than management experience when it comes to overseeing the city’s vast network of public schools.
Fifty-one percent don’t believe Black, a magazine publishing executive, has the right kind of background for the job, while 26 percent think she’s well qualified and 23 percent are undecided.
NYC voters disapprove of Bloomberg’s selection of Black by a 47-29 percent margin, with 25 percent undecided. Voters with children in public schools disapprove of the appointment 62-25 percent and say 63-21 percent that Black does not have the right experience.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s own approval rating has taken a hit, dropping to 55-35 – his lowest score since a 55-36 percent Q poll rating June 22, 2005. Poll respondents disapprove 48-41 with the way the mayor is handling the public schools.
“The City Hall spin machine better shift into high gear,” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll. “So far, all the negative news stories are murdering Cathleen Black – and not doing Mayor Michael Bloomberg much good, either.”
Generally speaking, NYC voters aren’t buying all the “Bloomberg 2012″ hype. Sixty-one percent say Bloomberg would not make a good president, while 65 percent believe all the White House talk is nothing but “political gossip” and not a “serious political movement.”
Nov 23rd - 7:28 am
Steve Rattner on AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s lawsuits against him: “What the attorney general’s done is close to extortion…Because he has basically threatened me all along the way that if I don’t do what he wants me to do he will prosecute me to the ends of the earth, basically.”
The governor-elect called it “ridiculous” to have state workers babysit an upstate juvenile facility that stopped serving kids in July.
The situation stems from a law tucked into the budget while Cuomo’s father was governor that requires lengthy lead time prior to the closing of state facilities.
Bill Hammond says the Tryon Residential Facility is “is a symbol of Albany dysfunction at its worst.”
Rep. Charlie Rangel apologized to his supporters via e-mail.
A congressional aide predicted “a lot of absences” on the day the full House votes on Rangel’s censure.
Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV thinks censure is a fair punishment for Rangel, and is still interested in his seat – when and if he vacates it.
State officials admitted they didn’t vet members of a panel who will decide on NYC Schools Chancellor-in waiting Cathie Black’s waiver for ties to her champion, Mayor Bloomberg.
The panel is meeting for the first time today and could make a recommendation as early as this afternoon. (No link).
NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports Mayor Bloomberg’s right to select whomever he wants to be the next schools chancellor.
Nov 22nd - 8:15 pm
Rep. Tim Bishop continues to claw his way to a wider lead over his GOP challenger, Randy Altschuler, growing what a margin of what was just over a dozen votes this weekend to more than 200 votes today (actually, 206 votes to be exact).
“It is becoming increasingly clear that Tim Bishop will win this election,” Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider said. “For a fifth straight day, Tim Bishop has picked up votes and Randy Altschuler is running out of room to make up the difference.”
Through the end of the day, 169 election districts in Brookhaven have been counted, leaving 125 districts left to review. All told, 9,200 ballots have been reviewed, leaving 1,912 ballots remaining.
Additionally, counting is complete in East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton and Southold.
Altschuler has challenged 337 more voters than Bishop, which will ultimately bolster his lead even further, according to Schneider. Altschuler has challenged 1,051 voters while Bishop has challenged 714.
Nov 22nd - 7:06 pm
And, here we go again.
CNN reports Park51 (AKA the mosque and community center proposed for construction near Ground Zero) has requested federal funding for the project through the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.
The funding would come from money the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated to help rebuild the neighborhood after the 9/11 attacks.
“Park51 has applied for a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant,” said Sharif El-Gamal, CEO of SOHO Properties, the developer behind the Islamic center.
In a statement, El-Gamal said the money would “in part fund social service programs such as domestic violence programs, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services.”
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation received more than 265 applications seeking more than $175 million for community and cultural programs, though the LMDC has only $17 million of federal funding to allocate.
“We are now turning to the challenging but important task of sorting through the applications to identify those that address long-standing community and cultural needs,” said Avi Schick, chairman of LMDC.
Nov 22nd - 5:36 pm
Rep. Tim Bishop is now ahead by 69 votes.
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo see no legal problems with Gov. David Paterson’s casino deal with a Wisconsin-based Indian tribe.
Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos says the Democrats are “grasping at straws.”
Paterson will appear on WAMC Wednesday.
Joy Behar’s favorite Republican is Mike Huckabee.
Steve Rattner thinks Hillary Clinton would be “incredibly well-positioned” to run in 2016.
A Q poll found Sarah Palin in the lead for the GOP nomination in 2012, but trailing President Obama.
DEC is losing its so-called “CSI” unit.
The president of National Grid is on Cuomo’s energy transition team, too.
Goodbye Quadrangle Group.
NYC doesn’t believe UFT members are entitled to privacy where effectiveness scores are concerned.
Bloomberg disliked Eliot Spitzer right away.
Traffic fatalities in NYC are at an all-time low.
SNL takes a shot at Rep. Charlie Rangel.
Nov 22nd - 5:13 pm
Former US Senate candidate David Malpass declined during a CapTon interview today to join the call for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to resign, taking the position that as a political newbie (this was his first time out as a candidate), he would prefer to leave such decisions to the experts.
“You know, I’ve never run for office before, and I’m not so much in the political establishment, so I’m going to let those guys, you know, sort it out a bit,” Malpass told me.
“I want to keep focused on what my organization stands for in trying to have issues that make the government smaller.”
When I noted that Malpass, along with his fellow GOP Senate contenders – Bruce Blakeman and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi – had been fairly definitive in their collective “no” responses to a pre-primary debate question on whether Cox had been a good chairman, he responded:
“You know, that was my opinion on that night in a lightning round answer. I think Ed had a lot of impact, positive impact as we led up to November 2.”
“So, I’m really not eager to get into that debate. I want other people to sort that out. And then to begin thinking about how the Republican and Conservative parties in New York can come up with unified strong candidates as we head into 2012.”
Malpass also didn’t rule out – or rule in – another attempt to oust Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand when the term for which she was just elected (technically, the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s six year term) is up in 2012.
Nov 22nd - 4:20 pm
The Civil Service Employees Union used a well-placed FOIL request to reveal the Paterson administration has added 36 top-level positions to the beleaguered Department of Environmental Conservation over the past five much, 18 of which pay more than $100,000 – all since the establishment of a July 2008 hiring freeze.
The DEC has become a Ground Zero in the ongoing battle between the governor and the public employee unions over layoffs ever since its former commissioner, Pete Grannis, was fired for insubordination after the leaking of a memo he wrote warning further cuts at the agency would render it unable to fulfill its core missions.
“At a time when the Paterson administration is seeking to lay off rank and file state employees, there is no way this administration can justify this action,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue in a press release.
“CSEA believes that necessary work is being undermined in numerous state agencies and it is essential to have qualified employees in place, but in light of the governor’s layoff threat it is outrageous that the administration continues to hire top level personnel.”
CSEA, which has threatened to sue Paterson if he goes forward with his plan to lay off 898 state workers prior to the end of his term on Dec. 31, has pending FOIL requests regarding hiring at other – yet unnamed- state agencies.
UPDATE: DEC spokesman Yancy Roy took issue with the characterization of these hires as additions, saying the people who got these jobs were promoted from within to fill vacancies left by early retirements.
He could not immediately say whether the salaries they’re receiving are equal to those of the individuals who departed the payroll, which would seem to defeat the purpose of early retirement incentives.
Also, it should be noted that this isn’t the first time the administration has hired since the freeze went into effect.
UPDATE2: A statement from Paterson spokeswoman Jessica Bassett appears after the jump.
Nov 22nd - 4:04 pm
Rep. Dan Maffei is getting a 24-hour reprieve.
Attorneys for both sides (which would be Maffei and his challenger, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle) have agreed to postpone their Tuesday morning court date until Wednesday to give everyone, including the state Board of Elections, a chance to review the numbers one final time.
According to a source involved with the absentee count effort, there’s considerable concern about the Wayne County operation, which was apparently rife with “human error” (according to this source, a nice way of saying “incompetence”).
In the meantime, Maffei’s campaign just released the following statement:
“No decisions have been made and we are reviewing the re-canvass and audit documentation that the counties are providing to the state Board of Elections as part of the process that is required in order for them to ultimately certify this election.”
Nov 22nd - 3:04 pm
Gov. David Paterson insisted he’s not just running out the clock in the final weeks of his tenure, but is working diligently in hopes of minimizing the financial mess his successor, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, will have to face when he assumes control at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1.
“We try to notify the governor elect of everything we’ve been doing, but we are working until Dec. 31,” Paterson told reporters earlier today after announcing a land claims deal with Stockbridge-Munsee Community and Band of Mohican Indians.
“We are not wasting any time or any taxpayer money that’s paying for us to be here. We’ll be here, we’ll be working on a number of issues until the end of the year,” the governor continued.
“The Legislature is coming back next Monday. Hopefully, they would consider reducing the deficit that’s grown because many of our budget claims, particularly related to the sale and taxation of cigarettes, have been bottled up in the courts.”
“And we’re going to need about $315 million so that the new governor can come in with an even playing field and tackle next year’s projected $9 billion deficit. So, we are not taking it easy in our last days.”