The World According To Pedro Espada (Updated)

Now we know why outgoing Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. couldn’t make it to Albany for either the extraordinary session called by Gov. David Paterson and the (failed) NYC OTB session called by Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.

He was too busy writing a report tallying up his many accomplishments over the past two years.

Said report – the first of its kind, according to Espada – includes a “Dear Resident of New York State” letter.

In it, the Bronx Democrat says it has been his “honor to serve” as majority leader over the past two years (he makes no mention of the fact that he won’t be returning, following his defeat in the September primary by Senator-elect Gustavo Rivera).

“While it is impossible to list all of the achievements, it summarizes the highlights of my work on your behalf during 2009-2010,” Espada wrote.

In the report’s executive summary Espada says he and his colleagues “on both sides of the aisle…made history by implementing momentous, unprecedented reform in the New York State Senate.”

“The road was long and difficult at every turn,” Espada continued. “But through a bipartisan effort, rules changes were adopted that strengthened the committee process, increased transparency and disclosure to give the public greater insight into legislative proceedings, and placed term limits on the length of time legislative leaders and committee chairs can serve, among other reform initiatives.”

“Of course, reform never comes easy. But we overcame the obstacles of these unprecedented
tumultuous economic times and strong resistance to change (after all, the status quo had been in
place for over 40 years).”

I believe he’s talking about the 2009 Senate coup here, and, as usual, is continuing to spin that insurrection and the 31-day stalemate that followed as a positive development that somehow improved state government rather than deadlocking it.

I’m not quite sure what else to say about this, other than…happy reading! (It’s worth noting, by the way, that the senator takes credit for everything under the sun, including the “Stop the Sag” campaign, which was unquestionably Sen. Eric Adams’ baby).

UPDATE: A Senate Democratic official said the following: “This document was entirely produced by Senator Espada’s office without the knowledge or involvement of the conference. There are no plans to print this at the taxpayers expense.”


Ballot Line Musical Chairs (Updated)

The state Board of Elections has finally certified the results of the Nov. 2 elections and the line dance by the state Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties is now complete, with the Indys faring the worst by falling two steps on the ballot.

The Conservative Party has re-taken Row C, while the WFP, which had long hoped to bump the Conservatives from Row D, has finally succeeded in moving up a rung. The Indys dropped to the WFP’s old slot on Row E.

WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor is, of course, thrilled. However, he’s ever so slightly disappointed in the party’s performance, saying: “Another 16,293 votes and Matt Damon would’ve put on that Yankees cap for us, and that would have been sweet…There’s always next year.”

(If you’re unsure what Cantor’s talking about, click here).

Sen. Chuck Schumer was the WFP’s top vote-getter ever, receiving 183,707 votes, or 4 percent of all votes cast on Election Day.

Schumer joined state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, AG-elect Eric Schneiderman, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in breaking 4 percent of the total statewide vote on the WFP line for the first time, according to WFP spokesman Bryan Collinsworth.

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Local Officials Seek More Control

NYCOM members are lobbying Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo for more power over their own destinies, arguing his plan for a 2 percent property tax cap won’t succeed unless its accompanied by other local reforms – from a public sector-wide wage freeze to an overhaul of the pension system.

NYCOM’s Mayoral Task Force on Mandate and Property Tax Relief released a report that basically argues “you can’t cap what you can’t control,” which the organization’s president, Jamestown Mayor Teresi, explained thusly”

“In other words, a property tax cap will certainly fail if it is not preceded bysignificant mandate relief, exclusions for those costs (i.e., pensions and healthi nsurance) that will continue to rise rapidly even after enactment of mandate relief, and maintenance of an equitable state revenue sharing program.”

NYCOM argues its members need to be allowed more leeway in collective bargaining and management of their respective workforces.

That point was also made during a CapTon roundtable discussion last week with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who said they’d like to see the provision of the Taylor Law lifted that prevents them from negotiating pension benefits with local unions.

CapCon’s Rick Karlin has more….and here’s the report:

MRTF Report Final

The Return Of St. Lawrence? (Updated)

Perhaps that short-lived long-shot LG run by Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence wasn’t so quixotic after all?

LoHud, Rockland is reporting that St. Lawrence might be up for a job with the incoming Cuomo administration – perhaps as Motor Vehicles commissioner.

Interestingly, that move would have a domino effect that could benefit someone whose name is a blast from the past: Former Assemblyman Ryan Karben, who departed Albany under a cloud (and with a not-so-subtle push from the speaker).

Apparently Karben, who lost his gig as Spring Valley village attorney not so long ago, recently relocated into the district of Ilan Schoeberger, the county legislator who would be poised to move up if St. Lawrence departs.

St. Lawrence, who raised campaign cash for Cuomo, quickly ended his LG run at the Democratic convention in Rye after the news broke that the then-gubernatorial candidate had tapped Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy as his running mate.

(It took another contender, Bill Samuels, a little longer to come around. But he eventually did, deciding instead to focus his efforts on pushing reform and ousting Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. through his New Roosevelt Initiative).

I haven’t managed to reach St. Lawrence, who is apparently out of his office at a meeting, but when asked by a Journal News reporter whether he might soon be heading to Albany, he smiled and replied: “No comment.”

UPDATE: Well, that speculation was short-lived. I just got off the phone with St. Lawrence, and he told me he has not been offered jobs with the state, adding: “I’d tell you if I did.” He has, however, been approached and asked about his interest level in serving.

His response is that he is “absolutely not” leaving his local post, adding: “That’s not my intention; I’m not trying to be coy.”

“I made it very clear to them I want to help the Cuomo administration in any way, but I want to continue to be the supervisor…I have a big town, I have a lot of work to do here. I want to work with the Cuomo administration to help my town.”

First Hydrofracking, Now Archives

Governor Paterson has once again issued an executive order in conjunction with vetoing a similar bill. The first one was the controversial decision about hydrofracking. This time, it has to do with archiving state records.

The main purpose of the bill was to declare all documents created by the Executive Chamber as property of the state, and subsequently allow the NYS Archives to collect the documents when one administration left office. Currently, the documents are property of the Governor. Archivist Christine Ward explained the bill to Capital Tonight back in May.

In his veto, Paterson said the bill “did not provide adequate protection for valued, centuries old governmental privileges that are indispensible to ensure unfettered, candid advice.” Which I take to mean he was concerned that some of the private conversations among staff members or through email might be damaging or embarrassing to staff members.

In a press release, Paterson laid out his reasoning for signing an executive order instead.

“Today’s Executive Order will develop a protocol and policies for the preservation of documents and electronic records from the Executive Chamber,” Governor Paterson said. “We must continue with our efforts to increase transparency and accountability to provide all New Yorkers with information about actions taken by their elected officials.”

He goes on to say that “all records of historic and governmental significance will be preserved, published and made publicly accessible.” But, because it is an executive order, Paterson’s successors in the Executive Chamber could rescind the order if they don’t want to release their documents to the archives.

The full release is after the jump.
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Paterson Stays Loyal To Spitzer

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer has a lot of detractors, but his successor isn’t one of them.

Gov. David Paterson told Don Imus this morning that he thinks the disgraced former governor is “remarkably talented” and it was “unique” that New York “had the chance to have a person who had such a rare combination of skills” serve as its chief executive – if only for a short while.

“He was not afraid of anyone. He was not afraid to mix it up with anyone, and he was brilliantly talented,” Paterson gushed.

There was an awkward moment when Imus asked Paterson how well he had known Spitzer, joking about whether the two had been “double dating,” and then seeming to realize all that comment implied. Paterson flatly replied: “No, actually…and we didn’t date each other, either.”

The governor said he knew Spitzer “pretty well” before the two became running mates, recalling that they had met in 1995 during a radio debate over whether the NYPD should be allowed to keep yearbooks on site to help them identify potential criminals.

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Here And Now

After narrowly winning the Nov. 2 general election, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is shaking up his staff, and has asked for resignation letters from 15 senior aides.

The legal wrangling over the health care reform law could last for years.

Mayor Bloomberg isn’t just post-partisan, but post-party, which could be exactly what Americans are looking for.

The “No Labels” logo appears to be not very new at all.

NY political party leaders pushed back against the “No Labels” concept.

No Labels founding member (and former Rudy Giuliani speechwriter) John Avlon: “There’s this idea that somehow walking in lock step with a party is courageous. I think it’s conformity…That’s the opposite of courageous. It’s cowardly.”

The tax cut deal has some significant sweeteners in it.

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were at odds on the tax cut cloture vote.

“I disagree that we didn’t get anything. We got screwed,” Rep. Gary Ackerman said of the tax cut agreement.

Gov. David Paterson questioned whether Albany is “even governable.”

First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson said she can’t wait for her husband to leave office so she can get her “privacy” back.

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Outgoing LG Richard Ravitch was a surprise guest at the No Labels event and said he thinks Cuomo will be a test case for the post-partisan effort.

No Labels is inclusive right down to its logo.

Chris Cillizza explains why it’s “virtually impossible” to imagine Bloomberg winning a presidential race.

Jonathan Capeheart (a former Bloomberg aide): “Here’s really why Bloomberg can’t win: he has no one to vote for him.”

Bloomberg is worried about disenfranchised voters in the race to replace him.

Mario Cuomo is buying his way into the banking industry, for which Cuomo made life difficult in AG.

Former Assemblyman/DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis has a new job.

School districts are warning about the dangers of a property tax cap.

Goodbye RNC Chairman Michael Steele? We’ll know by 7:30 p.m.

Steve Kornacki on what Rep. Anthony Weiner did and didn’t learn from his mentor, Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Eliot Spitzer refuses to pass judgment (publicly, at least) on Gov. David Paterson.

Paterson signed the Wage Theft Protect Act into law.

Gillibrand Votes ‘No’ On Tax Cut Deal, Schumer Votes ‘Yes’ (Updated)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand voted “no” today on the cloture vote to end debate on the tax cut deal President Obama cut with the Republicans that has caused a civil war among his fellow Democrats.

Sixty votes were required to pass. The vote is still open to give senators time in inclement weather to return to the chamber. So far, the vote is 69-10, with nine Democrats and one Republican (Sen. John Ensign) voting “no.”

“I’m opposing this deal in its current form because right now we need to focus on the middle class, who are always left behind, not the people at the very top, who are doing just fine in this economy,” Gillibrand said.

“Although this deal includes important measures I have fiercely advocated for, extending Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy will saddle our children with billions of dollars of debt.”

“With unemployment near 10 percent and a growing budget deficit, every dollar in this deal should be spent in a way that creates jobs and gets our economy growing, and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not create jobs and will not help our economy grow.”

“This kind of fiscal recklessness is bad for our economy and bad for future generations.”

UPDATE: Sen. Chuck Schumer, who had a falling out with the president over tax cuts and how hard to fight the Republicans, voted “yes” on cloture.

UPDATE2: Schumer’s statement appears in full after the jump.

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Calling All Republicans

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is putting a particular emphasis on luring Republicans into state government, sources familiar with the transition effort confirm.

“People on the transition team have been told (Cuomo) wants to build a bipartisan administration and to get resumes of Republicans willing to serve,” the source said.

This isn’t particularly surprising, since Cuomo made a particular point throughout the campaign of highlighing his Republican support.

His GOPers for Cuomo effort was led by former Pataki spokesman Mike McKeon (a move that the ex-governor was none too pleased with, initially), former Sen. Mike Balboni and former state GOP Chairman Pat Barrett.

The pro-Republican effort will no doubt be appreciated in certain GOP circles, as long as Cuomo, unlike Eliot Spitzer, doesn’t reach into the Senate majority conference to create a vacancy in hopes of tipping the balance of power back in Democratic hands.

Some Democrats might be put out, since the governor’s office controls a lot of patronage jobs, but Cuomo has repeatedly insisted he plans not to hew to the politics-as-usual approach. So, you can’t say he didn’t give everyone ample warning.

If I remember correctly, Spitzer made a particular point of insisting his administration would be blind to political affiliation when hiring, and his appointments office came under fire for not moving quickly enough to suit rank-and-file Democrats in cleaning house of Pataki-era appointees.