Some Of Her Best Friends

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.”

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Here And Now

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.

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“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.

Rudy Giuliani 2012?

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.”

Talk About Bold

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.


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.”

Brodsky: Assembly Won’t ‘Roll Over And Die’

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.

A Very Cuomo Christmas

Here’s Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s holiday e-mail, which arrived in my in-box today:

Dear XXX,

As this joyous season continues, I want to extend my warmest wishes to all the dear friends and supporters who will now be celebrating the upcoming holidays.

Now as we approach the end of 2010 and close in on the New Year, this is a great time for all of us to think back about all that we have to be grateful for and to hopefully be able to look forward to an even better year coming up.

This New Year is obviously very significant to me as I prepare to assume the critical tasks that you have entrusted to me as Governor. With your continued help, I know we can make a difference and, once again, make our state the greatest place to live, work and play.

Again, best wishes to all of you during this holiday season. Enjoy your friends and family. Be safe and be healthy.

Andrew Cuomo

Zadroga Will Pass By Unanimous Consent (Updatedx2)

Don’t expect a lot of fanfare when the reported deal on the 9/11 health bill finally gets passed today in Senate, signaling an end to a long and ardous negotiation process.

The measure is expected to be approved by unanimous consent, according to a source familiar with the plan, which means there will be no debate and no official vote.

Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to announce on the floor that the newly-negotiated Zadroga bill will be taken up – perhaps even before the New Start Treaty is passed. (Actually, the Start debate is already underway).

The DN’s Mike McAuliff has a mini tick-tock of how this deal came about.

Apparently, staffers were meeting until well after midnight to further trim to cost of the package down to $4.3 billion.

The two sides agreed on doctors who treat workers being reimbursed at 140 percent of Medicaid (the Republicans had hoped to lower this to 125 percent, but the Democrats refused), a 10 percent cap on lawyers fees and strong language to prevent people from getting cash both through this bill and the recent 9/11 lawsuit settlement.

This morning, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand met personally with the top GOP opponents of Zadroga, Sens. Mike Enzi, of Wyoming, and Tom Coburn, of Oklahoma.

Here’s a joint statement on the “Christmas miracle” that led to this agreement from Gillibrand and Schumer:

“The Christmas Miracle we’ve been looking for has arrived. Over the last 24 hours, our Republican colleagues have negotiated in good-faith to forge a workable final package that will protect the health of the men and women who selflessly answered our nation’s call in her hour of greatest need.”

“We are pleased to announce that we crafted an agreement that will allow this legislation to pass the Senate, and the House, this afternoon. We thank our Republican friends for coming together to fulfill America’s moral obligation to the Heroes of 9/11.”

“This has been a long process, but we are now on the cusp of the victory these heroes deserve.”

“We would not be here without the strong leadership of Majority Leader Reid, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Nadler, Congressman King, Congressman Weiner, Congressman Crowley, Congressman McMahon, the entire New York Congressional delegation, and most of all, the many brave first responders and community survivors.”

UPDATE:Bill was passed through unanimous consent at 2:30 p.m.

UPDATE2: Coburn put out a press release that details the changes in the bill as a result of negotiations over the past 24 hours. They appear in full after the jump.

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Team Schneiderman

AG-elect Eric Schneiderman just announced six top staff appointments – the first round of senior legal positions he’ll be filling as he prepares to take over for outgoing AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo.

Schneiderman is so far keeping one member of Cuomo’s top tier staffers: Barbara Underwood, who has been serving as solicitor general since the outgoing AG took office in January 2007. The other four are:

- Harlan Levy, first deputy attorney general. Levy is a partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner, chair of the Council on Criminal Justice of the NYC Bar Association, a member of the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Fund for Modern Courts, and a member of the American Bar Association Committee on Criminal Justice Standards. He previously served as a homicide prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office and served as co-chair of the Special Victims Committee of Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s transition team.

- Terryl Brown, counsel to the AG. Brown has served as the executive vice president and general counsel of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for the past two years. Prior to joining NYPA, Brown was acting counsel to Gov. David Paterson and first assistant counsel to governors Paterson and Spitzer. He also worked for Spitzer in the AG’s office.

- Karla Sanchez, executive deputy attorney general for Economic Justice. Sanchez is a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler and was the first and only Hispanic ever to rise to that position.

- Nancy Hoppock, executive deputy attorney general for Criminal Justice. Hoppock joined the United States Attorney’s Office in New Jersey in 2001, where she handled a broad range of federal white collar and violent crime cases.

- Janet Sabel, executive deputy attorney general for Social Justice. Sabel is the General Counsel of the Legal Aid Society and an experienced civil litigator. She has been an attorney at the Legal Aid Society since 1985.

More Staff Changes For DiNapoli

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli made two more staffing announcements today as he continues to shake up his team following his close election to the office back in November.

Cathy Calhoun is departing her post with the Paterson administration as deputy secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs to become deputy comptroller for Intergovernmental Affairs for DiNapoli. The job pays $150,000 a year.

Prior to joining the Spitzer/Paterson administration, Calhoun worked for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton as regional director of her Central NY office.

DiNapoli also is bumping up Shawn Thompson to the post of chief of staff. Thompson, who used to work for the Senate Democrats, has been serving as the executive director of the comptroller’s office since January 2009. His salary is $152,000.

The comptroller announced earlier this week that Civil Service Commission President Nancy Groenwegen would be joining his staff as general counsel.

These changes come on the heels of a DN report that DiNapoli had asked 15 members of his senior staff for their resignation letters. The comptroller’s office made it clear, however, that not everyone who was asked to tender a letter would end up without a job in the end.