Gay Marriage And The Assembly

Following ESPA’s conference call last week, during which Executive Director Ross Levi confidently predicted the same-sex marriage bill would not only come up for another vote in the Senate next year, but also pass, a reader sent me an e-mail, the gist of which was: What about the Assembly?

The gay marriage bill has passed three times in the Assembly now, the last time in May 2009 by a vote of 89 to 52 – slightly better than its 2007 first-ever passage in that house in an 85-61 vote.

But the Assembly Democrats lost eight, and possibly nine, seats in the fall elections, and also are seeing the departure of at least one Republican “yes” vote (Dede Scozzafava, who might or might not be in line for a job with the Cuomo administration).

So , the question stands: Will the Assembly be able to get the 76 votes it needs if and when the gay marriage bill returns to the floor?

CapTon Executive Producer Michael Gareth “MJ” Johnson, (whom we’ve dubbed “Rain Man” due to his ability to recall details) put together the following list of GOP pickups in the Assembly:

- Republican Al Graf. (Defeated incumbent Democrat Assemblywoman Ginny Fields).

- Republican Nicole Malliotakis. (Defeated incumbent Democrat Assemblywoman Janelle Hyer-Spencer);

- Republican Steve McLaughlin. (Defeated incumbent Independence Assemblyman Tim Gordon);

- Republican Don Miller. (Defeated incumbent Democrat Assemblyman Al Stirpe);

- Republican Mark Johns. (Defeated incumbent Democrat Assemblyman David Koon);

- Republican John Ceretto. (Defeated incumbent Working Families Party Assemblywoman Francine Delmonte);

- Republican Andy Goodell. (Won the open seat vacated by Democrat Assemblyman William Parment).

- Republican Dan Losquadro. (Defeated incumbent Democrat Assemblyman Marc Alessi).

- Undecided: Democratic Assemblyman Frank Skartados vs. former GOP Assemblyman Tom Kirwan.

By my count, all but one of those departing and/or defeated Democrats (DelMonte) was a “yes” vote on marriage. (Gordon was a “no” in 2007, but switched his vote as of 2009).

I spoke about this to Levi, who said the Assembly Democrats came to ESPA during the elections and expressed concern that their expected losses would leave their margins thin – and their marginals under pressure – making it difficult to pass the gay marriage bill again.

But the losses, while significant, considering the Democrats’ power of incumbency, enrollment edge and massive campaign cofferes, weren’t as bad as DACC had predicted, Levi said. (There was worry the numbers could be in the 20s).

“We don’t want to lose anybody, but there’s no indication at all that we’re at a crisis point,” said Levi, noting ESPA spent some $72,800 on Assembly races this year, including a $25,000 contribution to DACC.

Levi also noted that all the Republicans, with the exception of Scozzafava, who voted “yes” on marriage are returning to the chamber. (Miller, Sayward, Dupre, Theile, who is actually a member of the Independence Party and is now caucusing with the Democrats).

At the end of the day, ESPA spent $150,117 – more than twice what they spent in the Assembly – on helping Senate candidates.

High Court Rules For Martins, GOP Wins Senate (Updatedx2)

Well. That was fast.

After hearing arguments this morning in the Martins-Johnson case, the Court of Appeals sided, 6-0, with the Nassau County Republican – and the Senate GOP – rejecting the Democratic senator’s request for a hand recount in the 7th SD.

So, the Republicans are now officially back in the majority, at 32-30.

It should go without saying that they won’t have an easy time of it. The Western NY contingent has already signaled a willingness to act independently from the conference when and if its members feel a need to stand up for their constituents.

UPDATE1: Senate Majority Leader-in-waiting Dean Skelos released a statement praising the decision, which appears in full after the jump. UPDATE2: Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran sent a statement, too, which is also after the jump.


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Klein ‘Proud’ Of Senate Election Results

I caught up with Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein earlier today to get his reaction about the news that he’s being replaced as DSCC Chairman by Senator-elect Mike Gianaris.

Klein said the move did not come as a surprise. He received the news from Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson during a brief face-to-face meeting last week.

“The Democratic conference as a whole worked very hard to keep the majority despite scandal and an anti-Democratic mood of the electorate,” Klein told me.

“We still won two seats. I’m proud to have played a role in electing David Carlucci and Tony Avella to two seats that were previously Republican.”

When I asked if he felt this move by Sampson was in any way retaliation for persistent murmors that Klein had designs on the conference leader post and also to comment on blind quotes about his mismanagement of DSCC funds, spending too much consultants and candidates who might have been more pro-Klein than not, the Bronx Democrat replied: “I stand by my quote.”

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No Labels Hails Tax Cut Vote

Cleaning out my in-box, I came across this e-mail from the “No Labels” co-founders, Nancy Jacobson and Mark McKinnon, who cited the bipartisan passage last week of President Obama’s tax cut deal as proof that the area between the “warring factions” on the left and the right is “where we can find common ground.”

“(F)or the first time in a long time, Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a new package of tax cuts and benefits for those facing unemployment,” the duo wrote.

“In the Senate, the package received 81 voters. In the House, it was supported by 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans. This is the first time in a long-time that this level of bipartisanship has been seen on major legislation. It shows that compromise, while difficult, is possible.”

“We’ll need that spirit to be alive on even harder issues in the months and years ahead – and we’ll need you to build the No Labels movement to make this a reality every step of the way.”

The e-mail started out: “Dear No Labeler.” An interesting non-label, no?

NYPIRG: Paterson Record ‘Forever Tarnished’

The New York Public Interest Research Group did not mince words in responding to the news that the Commission on Public Public Integrity has fined Gov. David Paterson $62,125 for lying under oath during the Yankes Word Series tickets probe.

In short, NYPIRG more or less feels Paterson’s 33-month tenure is one string of ethical lapses and will outweight much of the good he has managed to accomplish while in office.

“The governor’s ethics legacy includes the Kennedy fiasco, the clumsy handling of the assault investigation involving one of his top aides and the botched AEG contract,” the good government watchdog’s statement reads.

“Governor Paterson also mishandled the chance for an improvement in ethics laws when he vetoed legislation passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses. At that time, the governor argued that he wanted a stronger bill. ”

“However, he never once put ethics on an agenda for the many special sessions he called and he never put ethics into one of his budget extenders. He never called a leaders meeting on the issue after his veto.”

“The governor’s failures on ethics policies and his behavior will forever tarnish his record.”

NYPIRG urged the state Board of Elections to reject any further effort by Paterson to use what’s left of his campaign cash to pay his legal bills, since the CPI rejected the governor’s claim that his appearance at Game One was in his official capacity.

Paterson is on track to end his time as governor with slightly over $225,000 in his campaign committee, but he has already spent a good chunk of political change on attorneys to defend him in the David Johnson and Yankees tickets probes.

CPI Fines Paterson $62,125 In Yankees Tickets Case

The Commission on Public Integrity has fined Gov. David Paterson $62,125 soliciting, accepting and receiving five complimentary tickets to Game One of the 2009 World Series for himself, two aides, his teenage son and his son’s friend.

“The moral and ethical tone of any organization is set at the top,” said outgoing CPI Chairman Michael Cherkasky, who was tapped by Paterson to head the ethics/lobbying watchdog.

“Unfortunately the Governor set a totally inappropriate tone by his dishonest and unethical conduct. Such conduct cannot be tolerated by any New York State employee, particularly our Governor.”

(The final CPI decision and the hearing documentation appear after the jump).

The CPI determined the governor violated the Public Officer’s Law and the testimony that he intended all along to pay for the tickets was “false” and was refuted by “his staff, the Yankees, an independent handwriting expert and common sense.”

The commission also decided that Paterson did not, as he had claimed, perform a ceremonial function at the Word Series game and his attendance was not related to his duties and responsibility as a public official.

By his own admission, the governor didn’t speak at the opening ceremonies of Game One and wasn’t even recognized during the public address announcement that singled out other public officials who were present.

The $62,125 civil penalty consists of the following:

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Cuomo Arrests Former State Fair Director

Andrew Cuomo continues to wrap up unfinished business before he leaves the Attorney General’s office at the end of the month. He just announced that he has arrested former State Fair Director Peter Cappuccilli, Jr. on felony charges of grand larceny, defrauding the government and official misconduct.

This past summer, Cuomo’s office announced that they were investigating the fair, and Cappuccilli after an Inspector General’s investigation suggested that more than $800 thousand was misspent by the former Fair Director.

“According to the complaint, Peter Cappuccilli abused his government position and misused taxpayer resources to benefit himself and his family,” said Attorney General Cuomo.

“The Fair is an upstate economic engine and an important cultural outlet that is intended to serve all New Yorkers. As today’s actions show, we will not tolerate the graft and backroom deals that have corrupted this proud institution.”

Among the allegations leveled against Cappuccilli, are charges he held weddings for his 2 daughters on the fairgrounds for significantly less than fair market value.

If convicted, he could face as many as 7 years in prison.

Entire press release after the jump.
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Bloomberg On Zadroga: ‘Time For Excuses Is Over’

Here’s the text of Mayor Bloomberg’s last-minute pitch to the Senate to pass the revised James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act before leaving Washington, D.C. for good this year.

Bloomberg delivered his remarks in the Blue Room. He was joined by Reps. Joseph Crowley, Eliot Engel, Peter King, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano, PBA President Patrick Lynch, UFA President Steve Cassidy, UFOA President Al Hagan and Responder Advocates Joseph Zadroga, Father of James Zadroga, John Feal and Kenny Specht.

““These attacks were attacks on America by a foreign enemy,” the mayor said.

“They were acts of war, and they led us to war in Afghanistan. Caring for the men and women who rushed to our defense on that dark day, and in the days that followed, is nothing less than a national duty.”

“America is too great a country to shirk this duty. We are too strong. Too proud. Too patriotic. And this is the week that we have to show it.”

“…the time for excuses is over. Very simply: it’s time to end the debate and let the bill be voted on.”

515-10 (Zadroga Remarks)

Court Of Appeals Hearing Live

If you want to check out the oral arguments for the Johnson v. Martins case, it is being put up live on the State Court of Appeals website. It should begin shortly.

Just a reminder, these are just the hearings. A ruling is not expected to come for another few days.

Cox Snubs Steele, Backs Cino

New York State Chairman Ed Cox just released a statement declaring his support for Maria Cino to be the next RNC Chair. She is one of a handful of potential candidates who are challenging current RNC Chairman Michael Steele for the post.

Now, Steele and Cox had bad blood between them throughout the campaign. Steele chose to bypass Cox with RNC Funding, instead sending cash directly to campaigns or county chairs.

In an interview with Capital Tonight in July, Cox took a swipe at the RNC, saying they probably won’t have much money for New York because of their high burn rate.

Then, following the primaries, Steele didn’t even mention Cox in a statement he released praising the winners.

In today’s statement, Cox does not mention Steele. Simply makes the case for Cino to be the pick.

“Frankly, no one is better than Maria at stepping into a challenging situation and turning things around. As Executive Director of the NRCC during the 1990′s, she took an organization on the verge of bankruptcy, made the tough choices and ultimately tripled revenues while helping Republicans win and then maintain our first House Majority in 40 years,” Cox said.

He also has gathered the support of the entire Republican Congressional Delegation from New York. They issued this joint statement.

“As Members of the New York Republican House delegation, we wholeheartedly endorse Maria Cino to become Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Maria was born and raised in New York, where she began an exemplary political career running winning campaigns in a politically difficult region for our party.”

The general feeling is that Steele has roughly 35% of the GOP behind him, making him a favorite for re-election if there is a crowded field. The Wall Street Journal recently put together a handy list of the candidates.

The entire press release from Cox and the GOP Congressional Delegation is after the jump.
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