Nov 18th - 1:09 pm
As foreshadowed by the Post, Mayor Bloomberg has called for the layoff of thousands of public employees, saying the city “simply cannot afford the size of our current workforce” in the face of a mounting budget deficit.
“We’ve kept the City’s financial house in order through these difficult times by planning ahead and never shying away from making the hard decisions, and our current budget remains balanced because of that sound approach,” the mayor said in a press release.
“But we face a significant challenge for next year, as Federal stimulus dollars run dry and the city still suffers from the impacts of the national economic downturn. We began working to attack next year’s deficit immediately after passing this year’s balanced budget, and there is still more work to do.”
“More spending reductions are going to be necessary, and we have to continue to reduce the number of employees we have by not filling positions – we simply cannot afford the size of our current workforce.”
The new budget gap closing actions used to reduce the City’s budget deficit for next year will require a reduction in City headcount of 2,102 employees in the current fiscal year, 2011, and 8,264 in fiscal year 2012. The headcount reductions include 889 layoffs in Fiscal Year 2011 and 5,312 layoffs in fiscal year 2012.
Most city agencies – including the fire and police departments, although no uniformed officers are being laid off – will be impacted by Bloomberg’s latest gap-closing effort, which account for $585 million in the current fiscal year and $1 billion in the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1, 2011.
Details of Bloomberg’s reductions appear in full after the jump.
Nov 18th - 12:52 pm
R. Blake Chisam, counsel for the committee that is sitting judgment on Rep. Charlie Rangel, just recommended that the Harlem Democrat be censured as punishment for the 11 ethics charges on which he was found guilty earlier this week.
Chisam, who is acting as the prosecutor in Rangel’s trial, said the congressman’s “lack of attention and carelessness over a broad range of issues over a lengthy period of time” both “undercut the public’s ability to have faith and trust in this institution” and “brought discredit to the House.”
Based on precedence, “something more than a reprimand but less than a censure would not be inappropriate,” Chisam said.
But he also said he found it necessary to consider Rangel’s stature as the former Ways and Means Committee chairman and the fact that “so many elements of his conduct intersected so overtly with his stature and his position.”
As a result, Chisam said the committee should recommend to the full House that Rangel be censured.
Nov 18th - 12:43 pm
Senate President Malcolm Smith, who shares a passion for charter schools with Mayor Bloomberg and was a longtime ally of the mayor (before they had a falling out over congestion pricing back when Smith was minority leader), is on board with the selection of Cathie Black to be the next NYC schools chancellor.
In a statement fowarded by the NYC Education Department press office, Smith echoed the concern that Black “does not have a background in education.”
But the Queens Democrat also said he’s “encouraged that she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from corporate America that will benefit the Department of Education which is a multi-billion dollar agency.”
“With the help of our teachers, who I believe are the best in the nation, our new schools chancellor will be challenged with reforming an antiquated school system that simply must do better if our children and country are to compete in the rapidly changing global marketplace of the 21st Century,” Smith said
“While I am a staunch supporter of charter schools, our public schools must continue to receive the attention and resources to improve.”
“This is not about pedigree or personalities but the ability to produce results for our children. I commend our new schools chancellor for taking on this difficult challenge of transforming our schools, students and test scores into the best in the nation.”
“But more than wishing her good luck we must all accept this challenge of educating our children.”
Nov 18th - 12:25 pm
AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s communications director Richard Bamberger issued the following statement in response to Steve Rattner’s accusation that the lawsuits filed against him by the AG today were politically motivated:
“Mr. Rattner now has a lot to say as he spins his friends in the press, but when he was questioned under oath about his pension fund dealings he was much less talkative, taking the Fifth and refusing to answer questions 68 different times.”
“Anyone who reads the extensive facts laid out in our Complaint will understand that Rattner’s claims
that he did nothing wrong are ridiculous and belied by the fact that he is paying the SEC $6 million today”
UPDATE: Davidson Goldin, who is handling press for Rattner, issued the following response to Bamberg’s response to Rattner’s initial response:
“No one works harder to spin the press than Andrew Cuomo.Throughout this process, Mr. Rattner has been the victim of continual improper leaks to the press.”
“His efforts to determine the source of the leaks by exercising his rights under New York’s Freedom of Information Law have been frustrated. He is filing an appeal in court to pursue his information rights under the law.”
Nov 18th - 11:19 am
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo said today he hopes to start announcing appointments to his administration by mid-December so his team will be ready to hit the ground running come Jan. 1.
“I know everyone is anxious, but I also want to have an intelligent, orderly process and make sure we pick the best people,” Cuomo told the Post’s Fred Dicker on TALK 1300 this morning.
Cuomo said Albany’s reputation as a hotbed of dysfunction and corruption has made it “extraordinarily difficult” to attract the caliber of people he wants to bring into state government. Further complicating matters is the fact that he “most definitely” expects some of his top aides to relocate to the Capital Region.
Cuomo, who does not plan to relocate full-time to the executive mansion in which he lived when his father was governor, said Albany is the “seat of government,” adding: “To do it right, I think you have to be there.”
On the other hand, Cuomo also said he believes in the “mobility of government” and the importance of “bringing government to the people.” He said he plans to travel the state extensively, and will have his senior staffers do the same – a practice he established at both HUD and the AG’s office.
Nov 18th - 11:11 am
Rep. Charlie Rangel has released a copy of the statement he will read today before the committee that will decide his punishment for the 11 of 13 ethics charges on which he was found guilty earlier this week.
While he admits to making “numerous mistakes,” the embattled Harlem Democrat insists – as the committee’s own counsel noted – that there is no evidence his actions reached the level of outright corruption.
Rangel invokes his military service in the Korean War, work in former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau’s office, time in the state Assembly, and work on behalf of the “poor and voiceless.” He also casts himself as a victim of “attacks and false accusations.”
“How can 40 witnesses, 30,000 pages of transcripts, over 550 exhibits measure against my forty years of service and commitment to this Body I love so much?” Rangel states.
“I ask the Committee in reviewing the sanctions to take that into serious consideration, as well as the effects this ordeal has had on my wife, family and constituents.”
“Even in light of the fact that the Subcommittee’s findings were made without my representation and weighed against what was not found, I hope my four decades of service merit a sanction that is in keeping with and no greater than House precedents and also contains a drop of fairness and mercy.”
NY1′s Grace Rauh, who is in Washington, D.C. covering Rangel this week, says the sanctions hearing is scheduled to start at noon.
Rangel will have 30 minutes to speak. The committee’s chief counsel, who is acting as a prosecutor in this case, will also have 30 minutes. The committee’s 10 members (evenly split between Republicans and Democrats) will then go behind closed doors to deliberate on a punishment.
Nearly all sanctions require the approval of full House. A vote could occur as early as tomorrow, as many of Rangel’s colleagues are eager to get this mess behind them.
Rangel’s full statement appears after the jump.
Nov 18th - 10:58 am
Steve Rattner is fighting back against the civil lawsuits filed against him by AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, which just so happen to come on the same day the SEC announced a $6.2 million settlement with the financier and GM, which Rattner helped save, debuted in the largest initial public offering in US history.
Rattner did not beat around the bush with his statement, flatly accusing Cuomo of playing politics and headline-grabbing.
“While settling with the SEC begins the process of putting this matter behind me, I will not be bullied simply because the Attorney General’s office prefers political considerations instead of a reasoned assessment of the facts,” Rattner said.
“This episode is the first time during 35 years in business that anyone has questioned my ethics or integrity – and I certainly did not violate the Martin Act. That’s why I intend to clear my name by defending myself vigorously against this politically-motivated lawsuit.”
Nov 18th - 10:45 am
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, wearing his AG hat today, said the lawsuits he has filed against financier and former Obama car czar Steve Rattner signal the end of his four-year pay-to-play state pension fund probe.
“This case, in many ways, concludes the entire investigation of the comptroller’s office,” Cuomo said during an interview with Fred Dicker on TALK 1300, noting his effort, which was seen as a long-shot in its early days, has resulted in 7 guilty pleas, 19 civil agreements and the recovery of $140 million.
“…It’s the end of the string, if you will. And with Mr. Rattner, the SEC is going to come to a settlement. We did not reach a settlement.”
Cuomo took a swipe at the SEC, suggesting the federal agency had been too lenient in cutting its deal with Rattner. The AG said the $6 million Rattner would have to pay under the SEC agreement is equal to the amount of money he would have made from the deal.
“It’s not justice to me…Go on your way, put the cookie back in the jar and we’ll make believe it never happened.”
Cuomo said Rattner took the fifth 68 times, which he said “suggests fraud under the Martin Act.” A criminal investigation into that aspect of the case is ongoing, the AG said.
Cuomo did not want to discuss the terms of the deal that Rattner was offered by his office and rejected, but did say the two sticking points were (unsurprisingly) money and the lifetime ban from the securities industry that the AG wants to impose on the financier.
Nov 18th - 10:11 am
With less than two months remaining in his tenure as attorney general, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has filed two lawsuits against President Obama’s former car czar, Steve Rattner, alleging he paid kickbacks in order to obtain $150 million in investments in his private equity firm, Quadrangle Group, from the state pension fund.
The two lawsuits seek at least $26 million from Rattner and his immediate lifetime ban from the securities industry in New York, which is considerably more severe than the settlement deal Rattner reached recently with the SEC.
Cuomo reportedly offered Rattner a deal that would have required him to pay a $20 million penalty, but he rejected it.
“Steve Rattner was willing to do whatever it took to get his hands on pension fund money including paying kickbacks, orchestrating a movie deal, and funneling campaign contributions,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“Through these lawsuits, we will recover his ill gotten gains and hold Rattner accountable.”
In the first action, Cuomo added Rattner as a defendant to a forfeiture action pending in state Supreme Court Henry “Hank” Morris and David Loglisci, (both of whom have pleaded guilty in the AG’s ongoing pay-to-play pension fund probe) and seeks to recover $13 million obtained by Rattner, and millions in future fees and profits.
In the second action, Cuomo filed a lawsuit against Rattner under the Martin Act and the Executive Law, including the Tweed Law, also in state Supreme Court, seeking over $13 million in civil recoveries, millions in future fees and profits, as well as additional remedies including injunctive relief.
In a third action, as part of the Martin Act lawsuit, Cuomo filed an application to permanently ban Rattner from engaging in the securities business in New York.
The application for an immediate securities ban is based on the fact that Rattner engaged in fraud and refused to answer 68 questions based on his fifth amendment privilege, the AG said.
In April, Quadrangle settled with the AG’s office to the tune of $7 million, and also agreed to both comply with the Cuomo’s pension fund reform Code of Conduct and cooperate with the investigation into Rattner.
Quadrangle has disavowed Rattner’s conduct.
UPDATE: Here’s the summons and complaint filed by the AG against Rattner:
Nov 18th - 9:53 am
Rep. Tim Bishop is slowly gaining on his GOP challenger, Randy Altschuler, as the counting of ballots in Long Island’s 1st Congressional District crawls along.
The Democratic incumbent’s spokesman Jon Schneider reports Bishop had narrowed his deficit of votes to fewer than 300 after the second day of counting absentee and affidavit ballots.
The count is almost finished on Smithtown, which Schneider characterized as “easily” Altschuler’s strongest town.
Since counting began, Bishop has picked up 108 votes on Altschuler, closing the deficit to 275 votes. When the day ended, 59 of 60 Smithtown election districts were completed versus 34 of 42 Southampton election districts.
When those two towns are completed tomorrow, counting will begin tomorrow on Southold and Bishop’s strongest town, East Hampton.
“The momentum is clearly on Tim Bishop’s side as we continue to pick up votes,” Schneider said. “We are confident that the votes are there for Congressman Bishop to overtake Mr. Altschuler and win this election.”