Same-Sex Marriage Groups Eye ‘No’ Votes

Advocacy groups pushing for same-sex marriage in recent days have launched an advertising campaign targeting nine Republican Senate districts with robocalls and mailers, including the districts of lawmakers who are avowed “no” votes on the issue.

The lawmakers who say they’re no votes, but are being hit with advertising anyway, include Sens. John Flanagan and Ken LaValle of Suffolk County, Sen. Jack Martins of Nassau County, Sen. Joe Robach of Monroe County and Sen. Betty Little of Warren County.

Little is an interesting lawmaker to include in this list. The North Country Republican represents a Republican-dominated district that has a strong Libertarian streak. And her district overlaps with the district of Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, a popular Republican whose strong support of gay rights is well known (Sayward’s son is gay).

Not on the list is Sen. Kemp Hannon, who is reportedly on the fence as well. Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Democrat-turned-Republican from Buffalo who has said he supports civil unions for gay couples, is also not on the list.

The advocacy groups, including the coalition New Yorkers United for Marriage, are also looking at GOP lawmakers who say they are on the fence, including Sens. Greg Ball, Stephen Saland, James Alesi and Roy McDonald.

Also at play for many Republicans is retaining the Conservative Party line. The party’s state chairman, Michael Long, has said he would drop his endorsement of GOP senators who vote for same-sex marriage.

A vote for same-sex marriage failed in the Senate in 2009, 38-24. At the time, all Republicans and three Democrats voted no.

When Fiction Imitates Life

I’m not sure if you would call the young-adult novel penned by Mayor Bloomberg’s younger and self-professed “bad” daughter, Georgina, “hotly awaited” among members of its intended audience, but it’s likely to be perused by not a few political/City Hall reporters.

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The A Circuit” is, as has been reported on several occasions now, a very thinly veiled tell-all about a horseback-riding black sheep daughter trying to navigate the world of her overbearing billionaire father while in the shadow of an over-achieving, good-girl older sister.

The cover illustration even sort of resembles Georgina, who is a competitive equestrian.

The book just shipped and has already been obtained by the NY Times, which reported:

Unlike most authors, who clamor for media attention, Ms. Bloomberg did almost no promotion and, after a single sit-down interview the day her book was published, hopped on a plane to Bermuda for a vacation with friends. (Her waterfront house is a few hundred feet from her father’s.)

“My publicist told me I’m the only author who leaves town the day her book comes out,” she said during an interview in a downtown restaurant.

Georgina Bloomberg’s publisher, Bloomsbury, put her together with a co-writer (Catherine Hapka) and gave the duo a two-book contract.

Vanessa Williams For Gay Marriage

The actress, Grammy Award winner and first African American Miss America (who competed in the pageant as Miss New York) is the latest notable Empire State resident to lend her name to the Human Rights Campaign’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it a priority to push the bill (which has yet to be introduced in the Senate) through both houses of the Legislature prior to the session’s end on June 20. There are 10 more working days scheduled in the 2011 session. Not much time left.

DiNapoli: AG-Comptroller Partnership ‘Unprecedented’

The joint effort by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to root out public corruiption is “complimentary” to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to overhaul ethics in state government, DiNapoli said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom today.

“I think the governor has been very clear that we are at a time when more needs to be done to deal with the issue of ethics and integrity and corruption in our society and government at all levels,” DiNapoli said. “This certainly helps to advance that agenda. I think it’s very complimentary to much of what the governor’s been talking about.”

The team up between the AG and comptroller’s office allows Schneiderman to prosecute corruption cases involving public money.

When he was in the attorney general’s office, Cuomo attempted to expand the Department of Law’s authority through legilsation, but was turned down. Now, as governor, Cuomo is trying to pass an ethics overhaul measure that may require legislators to reveal more details about their outside income and clients who do business with the state.

DiNapoli, a former assemblyman, said the partnership is “unprecendented.”

“All the appropriate concern about public office, public integrity or the lack thereof in too many situations where you have corruption, you have waste, you have abuse of power and of the taxpayers’ money — that’s what we look at in our respective roles,” he said.

Journalism’s Loss Is Doheny’s Gain

I’m very sorry to pass along the news that Jude Seymour is departing the world of journalism to go to what we ink-stained cynics refer to as the “dark side”, accepting a job as the deputy campaign manager and spokesman for Matt Doheny’s 2012 congressional campaign.

Seymour, who dominated coverage of the historic 2009 special election that turned ex-Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava’s last name into an adjective/verb, made the jump not long ago to TV (WWNY-TV 7) from the Watertown Times.

Now, he’s leaving the media world altogether to help Doheny in his second House bid. (Seymour’s last day in his current job is June 21).

“Jude is one of the best north country reporters, so I’m thrilled that he’ll soon be using his talents to help get me elected to Congress,” said Doheny.

“The public portion of the campaign won’t commence for many more months. In the meantime, Jude and I will be working hard to ensure that, come Election Day 2012, north country and Central New York residents know I am the right man for the job.”

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Schneiderman To Sue Feds Over Fracking

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today he is filing suit against the federal government after officials turned down his request to study the safety of the controversial natural-gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing.

Before any decisions on drilling are made, it is our responsibility to follow the facts and understand the public health and safety effects posed by potential natural gas development,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored.”

The suit is being filed later today in federal court in Brooklyn — easily one of the more high-profile legal cases Schneiderman has initiated since becoming attorney general in January.

Schneiderman last month asked the Delaware River Basin Commision, an interstate federal body led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to review its regulations for the method commonly known as hydrofracking.

The process involves a mixture of chemicals and water to blast through rock and access natural gas reserves underneath. Hydrofracking is supported by energy companies, who say it can be done safely and is a potential economic boon to the Southern Tier region of the state, which is under severe economic stress.

However, environmentalists say the process is dangerous and could irreperably harm drinking water.

Schneiderman had vowed on April 18 to sue the federal government if they didn’t review the safety regulations.

Closer to home, the suit comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Friday quielty directed the Department of Environmental Conservation to extend its review of hydrofracking to July 1.

A moratorium on hydrofracking is in place through executive order issued last year and affirmed by Cuomo after he took office.

Corwin’s Spending, Broken Down

A reader with better Excel skills than mine (not difficult, considering mine are so rudimentary), emailed over this spreadsheet of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s spending on her failed NY-26 bid from April through the first pre-special election filing.

The next filing is due June 23 (that’s the post-special report). This spreadsheet accounts for $1.65 million, the bulk of which went to the Arlington, VA-based firm of Michael Hook ($1.39 million), who was the media consultant and handled the ad buys.

Expenditures – Jane Corwin for Congress 2011

UFT Calls For Same-Sex Marriage Passage

The United Federation of Teachers is joining the chorus of groups pushing for same-sex marriage legalization in New York this year, signing their name to the New Yorkers United For Marriage coalition.

“Our union prides itself on a diverse membership and as a champion of equality we believe that it is time for all New Yorkers to be treated equally,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of United Federation of Teachers. “This is a civil rights issue and we are calling on New York State’s Legislature to pass marriage equality legislation and give all New Yorkers the right to marry the person they love.”

The coalition has attracted a few of the public and private-sector unions to join the campaign, including 32BJ, CWA District 1 and 1199 SEIU.

New Yorkers United For Marriage, formed at the urging of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has attracted a broad coalition of advocacy groups and gay-rights organizations.

A vote to legalize same-sex marriage failed in the then-Democratic-led Senate in 2009, 38-24. But several of the senators who voted no have since left the chamber. And some of the past no votes, including Sens. Roy McDonald, Kemp Hannon and Stephen Saland are undecided.

A Conservative Dissenter

Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo, calling in to respond to my previous post, said he doesn’t intend to “draw a line in the sand” on gay marriage when local candidates seek his endorsement.

That puts Lorigo at odds with the state Conservative Party, which recently passed a resolution barring any candidate – either for state or local office – from running on its ballot line (Row C) if he or she doesn’t agree with the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

Lorigo, whose party endorsed Democratic Assemblyman Mark Schroeder’s Buffalo comptroller bid even though he has voted “yes” on gay marriage, said he personally has a “difference of opinion” on this issue with the assemblyman. But in this instance, Lorigo said, social issues take a back seat to fiscal conservatism.

“I don’t think he’ll be voting on gay marriage as comptroller,” Lorigo said. “Fiscally, he’s very responsible, and my body believes be’s entitled to our endorsement based on what he’s looking for in this situation.”

“…Different jobs have different responsibilities, and in my world, we have an economic crisis in the state of New York. It needs to be handled by people who are fiscally conservative, and that’s absolutely true of Mark Schroeder. He’s low man on the totem pole with (Assembly Speaker) Sheldon Silver. That should say worlds about this guy.”

Lorigo said he’s personally “strong in the conviction that New York should not pass gay marriage,” but added: “On the other side of the coin, I have no problem with the equal rights part of it. I have a problem with calling it ‘marriage’, I’m OK with the civil union part of it.”

Lorigo said he did not participate in the state executive committee vote on the gay marriage resolution. He’s had a bit of a communication breakdown with the state party since he primaried Long’s preferred candidate, Rick Lazio, for Row C in the 2010 gubernatorial race, the chairman said, although he allowed that might be due in part to the fact that he changed his email address after it was hacked.

Long: Schroeder Endorsement ‘Ill-Conceived’

A reader wrote in late last week to question the Erie County Conservative Party’s endorsement of Democratic Assemblyman Mark Schroeder for his city comptroller run, noting the nod runs counter to the state party’s recent passage of a resolution barring any candidate who supports gay marriage from running on Row C.

Schroeder not only voted “yes” on same-sex marriage in 2009, but also spoke in favor of the bill on the floor.

Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo told The Buffalo News: “There was not even a need for Mark to speak.” He noted the assemblyman’s longtime support from the party in both his county legislature and Assembly runs.

But state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long told me this morning that the endorsement of Schroeder was “ill-conceived”, adding:

“If it was within the confines of my capability of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and that of the state executive committee, (Schroeder) would not have gotten the endrosement.”

“..If you would call Ralph Lorigo, he would tell you the comptroller’s office has nothing to do with gay marriage. Number one, that’s not true. Number two, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t go dipping into the trough for patronage jobs and close your eyes to what an assemblyman did that was wrong.”

Long admitted he has “no authority” to do anything about this endorsement, since the office in question is located entirely within the confines of Erie County borders. (The state executive committee can only intervene if offices and/or districts cross county lines).

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