Dec 23rd - 9:56 am
The co-foiunders of “No Labels,” the bipartisan group that aims to organize voters at the center of the political spectrum, engaged in a time-honored holiday tradition: The re-writing of “A Christmas Carol.”
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land, Americans were joining a new bipartisan band.
They were calling out the media and the politicians too, for putting parties first instead of me and you.
In 2011, wherever the partisans are found, there will be a new force seeking common ground.
Santa Claus may be just one of the fables. But you’ve made something real: You’ve created No Labels.
Dec 23rd - 9:34 am
A reader forwarded this memo sent late last week by Gov. David Paterson’s secretary, Larry Schwartz, to political appointees asking them to submit yet another letter of resignation in advance of Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s arrival on the second floor.
Apparently, there were mistakes in the suggested resignation language included in the first letter, which was sent out to some 2,500 people on Dec. 14. Also, people were instructed to tender their own pink slips to the wrong place (the Budget Division, rather than Schwartz’s own office).
So, Schwartz made some changes and then sent this one on Dec. 17, informing recipients that they had until close of business Dec. 21 (this past Tuesday) to comply.
Needless to say, Schwartz isn’t the most popular person at the Capitol these days. A number of appointees have privately expressed their dismay over this move, although Republicans who worked in the Pataki administration insist it’s a pretty standard thing to do.
Dec 23rd - 9:13 am
Gov. David Paterson has rejected a bill that would mandate service workers at public utilities be paid a prevailing wage – a measure that pitted labor unions (pro) against business interests (anti).
CapCon’s Jimmy Vielkind, who caught Paterson’s WOR interview with John Gambling this morning (which I competely spaced on; apparently, my brain is already on vacation), reports:
Paterson said that by targeting “really, private companies that are assumed to have a significant public interest” would lead down a slippery slope.
“I’m vetoing that bill because we think that it sets a very bad precedent,” Paterson said. “First it will be Con Ed, then it will be some other private institution.”
“And we certainly want workers to be compensated but we think, particularly the business districts would have been severely harmed by the passage of this legislation. And right now, in the middle of a recession, it is very hard to start creating a new wage cycle.”
The bill was one of just three remaining pieces of legislation the governor has to deal with before his tenure ends at midnight on Dec. 31. All the bills were sponsored by outgoing Senator/AG-elect Eric Schneiderman.
Dec 23rd - 8:50 am
Senator-turned-uber-lobbyist Al D’Amato, who once was paid $500,000 to make a single phone call, has received close to $1 million to represent the interests of an upstate county that reportedly is unable to demonstrate any tangible results the Long Island Republican’s firm has provided.
Madison County has appropriated $300,000 to continue its contract with D’Amato’s firm, Park Strategies, and has so far spent some $800,000 since retaining its services in August 2000, The Oneida Daily Dispatch reports.
The paper filed a FOIL request seeking “a list of funds procured for Madison County by the lobbying firm and access to any written reports the firm has submitted to the county about its activity in the last year.” But 29 days later, the county denied that request on the grounds that no such records or reports exist.
Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker defended the expense, insisting Park Strategies has helped the county gain access to powerful political figures and made sure local residents are getting their fair share of federal and state funding. He characterized lobbying firms as the “Wizard of Oz” of the political world.
Becker said county officials receive regular verbal briefings of the firm’s efforts on their behalf, despite the fact that its contract with Park Strategies stipulates they’re supposed to receive that information in writing.
Dec 23rd - 8:20 am
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand finds herself gracing some very prominent real estate this morning: The front page of the NY Times. Above the fold, no less.
The story, accompanied by a photo of the junior senator, focuses on her unlikely and rapid rise from a relatively obscure upstate congresswoman to an influential senator who played a big role in two major lame duck session victories this week: The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and passage of the 9/11 health care bill.
In the piece, Gillibrand says she’s long been a supporter of gay rights. Writes David Halbfinger:
(I)n an interview, she said she had realized from an early age that discrimination against gays was wrong.
Her mother – a black belt in karate who the senator said “did things differently her whole life” – worked in the arts and surrounded herself with gay friends. During the height of the AIDS crisis, Ms. Gillibrand’s sister, a playwright and actress, volunteered to help children with AIDS.
And when Ms. Gillibrand was a young associate, working long nights at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, she recalled, “the straight men found time to date and get married and have kids and went home at six every night, and the only ones left were the women and gay men.”
So she wound up vacationing with gay colleagues on Fire Island and in the Hamptons, and forging lifelong friendships. “A lot of them are now having children,” she said. “And it never occurred to me that they should not have every benefit that I have.”
Dec 23rd - 7:45 am
The lame duck session brought two big victories for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: The 9/11 health care “Zadroga” bill and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“Our Christmas Miracle has arrived,” Gillibrand told enthusiastic first responders after a scaled-down version of the 9/11 bill passed by a unanimous voice vote.
The bill passed the House in a vote of 206 to 60 and is headed to President Obama’s desk for his expected signature.
Sen. Mitch McConnell insisted there was never any doubt that the Zadroga bill would pass, saying the suggestion Republicans wanted to kill the measure is a “gross distortion of the facts.”
Mayor Bloomberg gave props to Jon Stewart for highlighting the bill on The Daily Show.
“Imagine if our cops or firefighters were like the U.S. Senate and took nine years to answer a cry for help,” Michael Daily wrote.
Bloomberg rebuffed the state Independence Party’s attempt to return the roughly $1.1 million the Manhattan DA says John Haggerty stole from the mayor.
Paul Rivera, man of mystery.
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo tapped Joseph D’Amico, who headed up an AG investigation into the State Police, to lead the troubled law enforcement agency.
D’Amico is an ex-NYPD deputy chief.
Dec 22nd - 5:49 pm
“We are not doomed to endless gridlock,” said President Obama.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, chair of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, is contemplating holding a hearing on the accident-ridden “Spider Man” show.
The DEC’s new outdoor boiler regulations were approved.
Yellow cabs will be part of the Access-a-Ride program.
Sen. Chuck Schumer disagrees with Rep. Carolyn Maloney about whether the president did enough to get the Zadroga bill passed.
Sen. Eric Adams refuted a report that Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo was supposed to join him, Gov. David Paterson and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson for dinner.
Outgoing Rep. John Hall thanked his constituents.
NYC Councilman Danny Dromm thinks immigrants with green cards should be allowed to vote.
Alec Hamilton breaks down the Citizens United case.
Lincoln Restler, 26-year-old Brooklyn power broker.
A Medal of Honor recipient will be joining Mayor Bloomberg in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
PEF does not like Bloomberg’s plan to have local governments take control of the juvenile justice system, calling it “misguided and dangerous.”
Chris Cillizza relegates state GOP Chairman Ed Cox’s RNC candidate, Maria Cino, to the “second tier.”
Dec 22nd - 4:30 pm
A sharp-eyed reader forwarded the following brief from The Brooklyn Paper:
A daring thief broke into a 2006 Chevrolet Impala parked on Downing Street on Dec. 16 – apparently not knowing that the the ride belonged to the state Attorney General.
The state employee left the vehicle between Gates and Putnam avenues at 8:20 a.m., but when he returned at 8:25 a.m., the door had already been forced open and the cabin was looted of an E-ZPass and a few other automotive items.
Somewhere out there is a thief with a lot of chutzpah…looting a car detailed to the office of the AG/governor-elect. Yeesh.
Dec 22nd - 4:03 pm
Sen. Chuck Schumer heaped praise on his colleague, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, at the press conference following the passage by this afternoon of the Zadroga bill, saying her doggedness was one of the main reasons the Democrats finally managed to forge a deal on the 9/11 health care legislation with the Republicans.
In fact, to hear Schumer tell it, the junior senator was downright relentless. So much so that she had some of her colleagues begging for mercy.
“She did an amazing job,” Schumer said. “She never gave up in the darkest of days and was indomitable.”
“You know, some of these senators said: Would you stop her from bothering me? And I said: No! And the result of all that hard work we see today. What a great victory for a new legislator, isn’t that fabulous. For any legislator, but for someone this new to do so much so soon is utterly amazing.”
Dec 22nd - 3:14 pm
Outgoing Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who has been among the most outspoken defender of the Legislature and its independence, vis-a-vis the executive branch, told me during a CapTon interview yesterday that he expects there will be considerable tension between the two branches in the coming year.
“I’m not of the view that the Assembly is going to try to obstruct the governor,” Brodsky said. But I’m not of the view that they’re going to roll over and die.”
“So, you’re going to see conflict. You’re going to see argument. But you’re going to see in the end people doing what they think best for the people of the state.”
Brodsky predicted a big sticking point between the Assembly Democrats and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo will be the so-called millionaire’s tax, which sunsets at the end of 2011.
Cuomo made a “no new taxes” pledge during the gubernatorial campaign, but the state is definitely going to be hurting for revenue in the face of a $9 billion to $10 billion deficit.
You can watch the entire interview here. Brodsky said he doesn’t have a firm plan for his post-government career, but he might do a little journalism (!?). He didn’t elaborate.