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:

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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.

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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.

Libous: Sorry, But They Aren’t Linked

As Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today reiterated the semi-linkage of the property-tax cap to rent control laws, Deputy Senate Majority Leader threw some cold water on the idea that the two issues are related.

“I don’t think, and I’ll say this again, I know the speaker has said time and time again that they’re related or they’re linked together,” Libous said. “I don’t think they’re linked at all.”

In way, however, the two issues have become linked.

The Democratic-led Assembly is unlikely to take up the 2 percent cap on property taxes, which was proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and approved by the Senate.

At the same time, the Assembly is now passing a bill that enhances rent regulations for New York City, as well as re-approving rent control through 2016 — which the Senate probably won’t take up in its current form.

Libous said his Senate conference was yet to put together a rent control bill.

“We don’t have a bill now, obviously. We’re going to see where this takes us,” he said. “We knew the Assembly was going to come out with some sort of rent expansion bill, but we’ll see where this takes us.”

Silver: No Linking Tax Cap, Rent ‘Per Se’

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this afternoon said a cap on property taxes and linking rent regulations were not linked but suggested that a 2 percent cap as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t too low of a ceiling.

Silver, asked at the end of the news conference if he felt the cap as proposed by Cuomo was too low, said it was not.

“I don’t think 2 percent is too low,” Silver said.

The Democratic-led Assembly is expected to vote on and pass a host of rent regulation expansions, measures the GOP-controlled Senate likely won’t support.

Senate Republicans have said they support re-approving rent control laws, due expire June 15. Unlike rent control, there’s no expiration date for the tax cap and, as a result, no real sense of urgency to pass the 2 percent cap in the Assembly as the Republicans in the Senate did on Jan. 31.

It is highly unlikely the 2 percent cap without exemptions (dubbed a “hard cap” by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos) would pass in the Assembly, where Democratic lawmakers fear the effect the cap would have on school districts. Republicans have said they would not compromise on the cap by either raising the ceiling or including more exemptions.

Silver, at the news conference, also fell back on the familiar line that the tax cap and rent control laws are related philosophically because they keep peoples’ homes affordable.

“There’s no linkage per se,” Silver said at a news conference unveiling an expansion of rent regulations. “But those who would argue we need rent regulations, we need the property tax cap, they’re both about keeping in their homes.”

Schumer Urges Caution On Debt Reduction

Sen. Chuck Schumer weighed in on the next big battle looming in Washington, D.C. – reducing the nation’s ever-growing debt.

“Let me say this: I think to say you’re not going to pay the nation’s debt is playing with fire,” Schumer said during a swing through Buffalo this afternoon.

“That could risk a recession or depression. Because if the credit markets say they’re no longer going to buy US bonds, or they raise the interest rate dramatically to buy them because they don’t think we’re going to pay back our bonds, it could create big, big trouble.”

“So I would urge both parties and all sides: Come together now on a long-term agreement, but don’t threaten you’re not going to pay the debt. That’s like a family saying: I’m not going to pay the debts that I inucrred.”

President Obama is poised to deliver a speech on debt Wednesday.

On the 11th-hour budget deal, Schumer said he wanted to make sure there’s “shared sacrifice,” so the middle class doesn’t bear the brunt of spending cuts, adding: “That’s what we tried to do in this.”

Some of his colleagues in the lower house – including Rep. Paul Tonko – disagree. The Capital Region Democrat said on Fox News that “trillions” are being cut from the middle class.