Weekend Open Thread

Same-sex marriages will soon be taking place all over the state.

Meanwhile, NY residents continue to try to beat the heat wave – heat dome? – that appears to have settled in like a summer rental guest who has long since outstayed their welcome.

Hope you’re keeping cool, and, if it applies to you, mazel tov!



NY1 Exclusive: Mayor Ed Koch is endorsing Bob Turner for Congress.

The White House has certified the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell.

The repeal goes into effect in 60 days.

Sen. Neil Breslin will give the speech he wasn’t allowed to deliver the same-sex marriage passed the Senate at a gay wedding Sunday night in Albany.

Two couples who were Lambda Legal’s former plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging NYS’s lack of a gay marriage law will be among the same-sex duos marrying this weekend.

Cuomo and DNC Executive Director (and former NYer) Patrick Gaspard will headline DL21C’s 50th Birthday bash for President Obama opn Aug. 3.

So much for that peace deal among the Buffalo Democrats. Back to the drawing board, Charlie King.

Senators John DeFrancisco and Mike Gianaris are going to debate redistricting on a Syracuse radio station. Time is still TBD.

County Executive Rob Astorino continues his push for the building of a new Tappan Zee bridge.

The state Labor department says “operator error” led to the death of one people at Darien Lake two weeks ago.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are standing by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, during her ordeal with Republican Rep. Allen West.

The eyes of the world are on the terror attack in Oslo, Norway.

DeFrancisco Says Cuomo Should Sign ‘Fair’ Lines

Republican Senator John DeFrancisco is echoing what Democratic Assemblyman Jack McEneny said a few weeks ago, that Governor Cuomo shouldn’t veto district lines that are drawn by LATFOR – the legislative body in charge of redistricting.

At a press conference in Syracuse today, DeFrancisco suggested the Governor’s pledge to veto any redistricting plan that is not drawn by an independent commission is not an ultimatum.

“I don’t think he is grandstanding. I think he truly believes that an independent commission is the right thing to do. But, I would hope that he’d recognize that you can’t just change the constitution by a statute. That’s number one. And number two is, that, he should be looking, I believe, at whatever the redistricting committee that is running around the state and ultimately the legislature ultimately passes, as to whether it is fair or not. If it is not fair, he should veto it. It’s happened before,” DeFrancisco said.

DeFrancisco went on to point out that the governor has compromised in the past, and he thinks he will likely do so again, if the lines are drawn fairly.

“It’s not like the Governor gives an ultimatum and he doesn’t negotiate or he doesn’t listen to other people. I think if he sees in the long run that this is fair redistricting he will sign it. If he doesn’t it is going to go to court anyway by someone else,” DeFrancisco added.

Earlier this month, Cuomo made it clear that he believes in a non-partisan commission, and reiterated his belief that gerrymandering needs to stop.

Gottfried: Med-Mar Would Be Legal If Not For Bruno’s Fall

ICYMI: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told me during a CapTon interview last night that he believes medical marijuana might be legal by now – if only Joe Bruno was still the Senate majority leader.

“I think there’s a very good chance if Joe Bruno had stayed around as majority leader in the Senate the bill would be law today,” the Manhattan Democrat said.

“Joe Bruno had, perhaps to some surprisingly, progressive positions on many issues on medical care – I think growing out of his life experience.”

“And the co-sponsors and votes for the bill in the Assembly have been from all over the political spectrum, from left and center, and some of our most conservative, rural legislators, have been active and very vocal sponsors of the bill.”

Gottfried, as you may know, has sponsored a bill to legalize med-mar for well over a decade now. The measure has passed the Assembly several times – the first time back in 2007 – but it has never been taken up in the Senate.

The bill did, at one point, have a majority sponsor – ex-Sen. Vincent Leibell, who has since been found guilty on federal corruption (not pot-related) charges and is now doing time behind bars.

Bruno expressed support for the measure after his successful treatment for prostate cancer. The sticking point has always been whoever is sitting in the governor’s office. Republican George Pataki was opposed. Ditto for Eliot Spitzer, who said his doctor brother told him synthetic drugs like Marinol work just as well, although he was open to discussion on the subject.

(For the record, advocates and med-mar users say Marinol is inferior because it’s hard to regulate the dosage – unlike smoking, which is done in, well, puffs).

Former AG Andrew Cuomo said during the 2010 governor’s race that he opposed the legalization of pot for medical use. Just this week, however, following NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to lift the freeze and his state’s program that he enacted last spring, Cuomo said he’s reviewing the issue, but doesn’t have a “final position.”

New York’s Cartoon Countdown To ‘Gaymageddon’

Yes, it’s time for another incomprehensible Taiwanese cartoon dramatizing American news events.

Today, the folks at Next Media Animation take a look at the same-sex marriage law taking effect in New York on Sunday. The cartoon describes the day as “gaymageddon,” perhaps in an attempt to match “carmageddon” in Los Angeles (although apparently not with the same negative connotation since the cartoon ends with claiming “everyone wins” with same-sex marriage).

Making a cameo is Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, officiating at same-sex marriages at midnight.

H/t to Jon Campbell at PolHud

Ah, Nothing Like A Fine Wine (Bill)

It’s Friday, it’s absurdly hot, make some sangria.

And perhaps with that in mind, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced the signing of legislation aimed at helping the state’s wine industry.

The measure, known as the Fine Wine Bill, clarifies rules for wineries when it comes to “custom crush capabilities” for grapes. It also allows wineries to operate up to five branch stores and consolidates license application by lifting the requirement for wineries that manufacture less than 1,500 gallons of wine annually to apply for a separate micro-winery license.

“This bill is a huge boost for wineries across the state. Reducing the regulatory burdens on farm wineries will allow them to continue to thrive as a key tourism, agricultural, and economic engine for our state. I want to thank Commissioner Aubertine, Senator Young and Assemblyman Schimminger for their dedication to this bill,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Left unmentioned is Cuomo’s stance on the contentious issue of allowing the sell wine in grocery stores. The last effort to legalize WIGS in order to provide revenue to the state budget failed after small business groups decried the proposal.

Dems Claim Victory In Nassau Co. Redistricting

State Democrat Party Chairman Jay Jacobs cheered a state Supreme Court decision yesterday that the GOP-controlled Nassau County Legislature jumped the gun by coming up with a redistricting plan for the 2011 election cycle.

In his decision, Justice Steve Jaeger determined the effort to reconfigure the 19 county legislative districts in time for the fall elections is “null and void for lack of compliance” with the county charter, adding:

“The earliest election for which the new legislative district lines based on the 2010 Census data should be in effect is for the 2013 general election, not the 2011 election.”

Nassau County’s redistricting battle has been closely watched by Albany lawmakers who are just now entering into what’s likely to be an epic fight with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and good government advocates of redistricting reform in advance of the 2012 elections. (That’s the next upcoming state and Congressional cycle, while 2013 is for local races).

Jacobs, who also chairs the Nassau County Democratic Party, said GOP County Executive Ed Mangano and his “cronies” had tried to redraw the district lines “behind closed doors” and then rush their plan through the Legislature in spite of considerable public consternation over the gerrymandering it contained.

“Thankfully, a Supreme Court judge saw through the Republicans’ blatant power grab,” Jacobs continued. “The November elections will take place on the old lines, ensuring a fair fight for both parties.”

“It’s a good time to be a Democrat in Nassau County. But this decision is more than a political victory for us. This is a victory for the Five Towns. This is a victory for Hempstead and Elmont. This is a victory for voters countywide.”

“The Republicans tried to gerrymander themselves into a permanent majority with this invasive and illegal redistricting plan – and now that they’ve failed, we the people have complete freedom to go to the polls on November 8 and show them what we really think of them.”


Cox Taps Finance Chair, Sets High $$$ Goals

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox, who may face a challenge this fall from Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, is stepping up his fundraising game, tapping a new party finance chair and setting some lofty goals – not to mention ticket prices – for the upcoming annual dinner.

In an email sent this morning, Cox reminded state committee members of the rescheduled dinner – now taking place on Sept. 14 and featuring Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (again) as a keynote – and then added:

“I would like to invite you to serve on the Host Committee for this special evening: General Chairs are committing to raise/give $100,000; Co-Chairs are committing to raise/give $50,000; Vice-Chairs are committing to raise/give $25,000; Members are committing to raise/give $10,000.”

“Serving on the Host Committee, will entitle your name to be listed on the official invitation and highlighted at the event. Please fax or email back your response by Friday, August 5, 2011. Individual tickets to the reception are $1,000 per person.”

The memo cc’ed Matthew Mellon, the GOP’s new finance chairman. Cox mentioned him to me during a recent CapTon interview during which he also said he has raised $1 million for the past since January – most of which went to the federal fund and has long since been spent.

According to the GOP’s latest FEC report, Cox has raised $799,096 so far this cycle and spent $808,365. The federal committee has just $48,259 on hand.

The party has $208,576 on hand in its state-level reporting committee, for which Cox raised $272,611 since January and spent $168,581 (most of that appears to have covered operating expenses: $114,025). The housekeeping account, which has no contribution limits, has a balance of $70,812. It has received $0 in contributions since January.

Mellon is a scion of the wealthy and influential Pennsylvania Mellon family (yes, THOSE Mellons, as in Carnegie Mellon, the banking and oil Mellons). He apparently has a bit of a reputation – or he did, as of 2006 – as a Playboy.

He got caught up in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal, but, then again, so did a lot of high-profile famous and rich people. Interesting choice for a finance chairman, though.

Cox, as you’ll recall, made his ability to fundraise central to his campaign for the state chairmanship. He argued that his connections to veteran GOP donors made him a better candidate for the job than his rival at the time, then-Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek, who lost to Cox even though he was supported by the bulk of the GOP establishment.

Despite Bipartisan Appeal, More Dems Give To Cuomo

Leave it up to numbers whiz Bill Mahoney at NYPIRG to run an interesting analysis of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign finance haul from the last six months.

Cuomo, who raised $9.2 million over the last six months, received help largely from members of his own party despite his current cross-party appeal.

The NYPIRG analysis of the 57 percent of identifiable enrolled voters who gave to Cuomo showed 67.63 percent were enrolled Democrats. However, larger donors were less likely to be enrolled in the Democratic Party. Less than 20 percent of Cuomo’s donors were identified as enrolled Republicans.

Cuomo’s first six months, some progressives in his party would argue, was marked by fiscal conservatism. He opposed raising taxes, cut the state budget and pushed through a tax cap.

Cuomo still has more than $6 million in the bank.

NYPIRG Cuomo Donor Analysis

Here And Now

TGIF. Another hot day. Hydrate well, work out early and be glad you’re not in Newark.

Not a great time for sewage to be leaking into NYC waters, causing officials to ask people to stay on dry land.

It’s Opening Day at the Saratoga Racetrack and CapTon will be there – LIVE! – tonight. Look for us…I’ll be the very short TV anchor in the very large hat.

It’s the 143rd meet, and officials don’t expect to cancel it – despite the heat.

The Post celebrates Opening Day by suggesting the obliteration of NYRA.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still in Albany with no public schedule. Prepare yourself for a 4 p.m. announcement of some sort.

More headlines…

As of yesterday, 3,145 couples had preregistered to receive NYC marriage licenses this weekend. Of that, about 2,200 are estimated to be same-sex couples.

NYC received 823 lottery entries for 764 spots available for marriage at clerks’ offices July 24. To accommodate everyone, the Bloomberg administration increased the number of slots in Manhattan to 459 from 400.

Same-sex couples break tradition with their pre-post wedding celebrations.

Attorney and former Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias discussed the difficulties of same-sex divorces and pre-nups with Cindy Adams.

Says Mejias: “One lesbian couple took weeks to divvy up Manolos. Not like he has golf clubs and she has ballet slippers.” He also said his firm is located in Long Island because that’s where a “preponderance of homosexuals” are.

More >