Committee: Censure Rangel

The 10-member bipartisan ethics committee has taken its counsel’s advice and recommended that the full House vote to censure Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was found guilty on 11 counts of violation congressional rules, the AP reports.

The committee also says Rangel should be required to pay restitution for any unpaid taxes for financial and fundraising misconduct.

The House will vote after the Thanksgiving break. This will require Rangel to stand in front of the chamber and be publicly rebuked.

More as it develops…

Aubertine Concedes

…No big surprise here, but the North Country Democrat had been hanging on and refusing to accept the fact that the lead of his GOP challenger, Patricia Ritchie, was insurmountable.

Now, it appears he has finally come to terms with the fact that his seat is returning to Republican hands. Here’s his statement:

“I am extremely grateful for the support I’ve received over the years and the opportunities I’ve been given to serve the people of the North Country for eight years and Central New York for the past two and a half years.”

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished working together across political divisions and I wish Senator-elect Patty Ritchie well in serving the people of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.”

Aubertine, as you may recall, is a retired dairy farmer who won a special election in February 2008, running against GOP Assemblyman Will Barclay.

It was a hard-fought race, and a significant victory for then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, seen as a corner-turning moment for the governor…who promptly imploded several weeks later and resigned in the wake of his prostitution scandal.

Rangel Apologizes

After two years and fighting and posturing and insisting he has done nothing wrong, Rep. Charlie Rangel has finally issued a whole-hearted mea culpa – just as his colleagues are deliberating whether to accept to recommend that the embattled Harlem Democrat be censured in a full House vote after he was found guilty of 11 ethics charges earlier this week.

“Today I stood before the Ethics Committee to apologize for the embarrassment I have brought upon this body that I love dearly, and to the Members of Congress, and to my family and constituents,” Rangel said.

“There has never been any corruption or personal gain in my actions as the Committee’s chief counsel noted. Neither has there been any intent on my part to violate the House rules. My actions may have been sloppy, or even stupid, but never corrupt.”

“There is no excuse for my acts of omission and failures to abide by the rules of Congress. I have made many mistakes that I will forever regret, and I apologize for them.”

“This has been one of the most difficult days of my life. All of this has been brought upon me as a result of my own actions. In the end, I hope that you would judge me on my entire record as a soldier and a dedicated public servant – not by my mistakes.”

“To my beloved Colleagues, my constituents and the American people, I am sorry.”

Cuomo: Rattner Is ‘Worst Example’ Of Pay-To-Play Fraud

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo fired back at financier Steve Rattner today, telling me during a CapTon interview that the persident’s former car czar exhibited some of the “worst behavior we’ve seen” in the AG’s four-year pay-to-play pension fraud probe.

I asked Cuomo about Rattner’s claim that the dual lawsuits filed against him by the AG’s office were politically motivated. The governor-elect told me he had “no idea” what Rattner was talking about, and then got in some digs of his own.

“I think that Steve Rattner is in many ways the worst example of this fraud,” Cuomo said.

“Steve Rattner is making a lot of comments to the press today. When he came into the office he took the Fifth Amendment 68 times, Liz, 68 times he took the Fifth Amendment.

“…He refused to answer questions about his involvement in the corruption in the comptroller’s office. This is a multimillionaire who took $150 million from the state pension fund. He paid off Hank Morris, who was the quote-unquote fixer in the situation.”

“They then offered a special gift to a state employee, the brother of a state emloyee, who was in charge of making the state investments…I think this case is the worst behavior we’ve seen.”

(As you can see, Cuomo joined me by phone. The full interview, during which the AG also addressed his involvement in the state Senate recounts and his upcoming inauguration, will air at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.)

Bloomberg Critic Backs Black

Sen. Carl Kruger, a critic of both mayoral control of the NYC public school system and Mayor Bloomberg, has joined the ranks of Cathie Black boosters, urging state Education Commissioner David Steiner to approve a waiver so she can succeed outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.

“The Legislature has given the mayor virtual and unbridled control of the system. With that control comes the responsibility for its management,” Kruger wrote in a letter to Steiner (to read it, click here and here).

“The chancellor of the New York City school system (I prefer to call the position commissioner) should be determined by the person who has overall responsibility– the mayor. His choice– barring some egregious set of facts– should be his and his alone.”

“…The mayor’s powers as delineated under state education law seem unquestionably clear that he has both the right and authority in exercising his prerogative to select the chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.”

“While I may not agree with the mayor’s selection, I do understand the rationale behind it. Cathleen Black is a seasoned professional with a skills set that – without dispute – more than qualifies her to manage a bureaucracy the size of the Department of Education and its workforce of 135,000 people.”

Kruger, a Brooklyn Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee, was one of eight senators who voted “no” on reapproving mayoral control back in August 2009.

He also exchanged some rather colorful verbal barbs with the mayor in the press at that time, some of which had to do with Nazis. (Just click the link; it’s too long to get into here).

Tom Reed Sworn Into Office

After a brief health scare earlier this week, Rep. Tom Reed (NY-29) has been officially sworn into office.

reed

Reed, who easily defeated his Democratic opponent, Matt Zeller, for the seat vacated by disgraced ex-Rep. Eric Massa, was supposed to take the oath of office Tuesday. His swearing-in was postponed after he was admitted to the hospital Sunday night and treated for blood clotting in his lungs.

*One other Note: In the video, the entire New York Congressional delegation – Democrats and Republicans alike – joined Reed as he took the oath, including Rep. Charlie Rangel, who hightailed it over to the chamber after being recommended for censure.

Lippman Heeds Cuomo’s Call (Updatedx2)

Saying he is in “full agreement” with Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo about the need to swiftly determine the balance of power in the senate, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has established an expedited calendar to ensure that the three cliffhanger races don’t drag on into 2011.

In response to Cuomo’s letter yesterday calling for the cases in the 7th, 37th and 60th SDs to be fast tracked, Lippman said the “swift resolution of the legal issues presented in these matters is of critical importance,” adding:

“The New York Unified Court System is therefore taking immediate steps to insure that all three pending election cases are fully and finally resolved before the end of the calendar year.”

“…I greatly appreciate your recognition of the courts’ essential role in the fair and expeditious resolution of these and other disputes affecting the well being of out State. I look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of the public we all serve.”

The schedule Lippman has set out appears in administrative order that appears after the jump (following Lippman’s letter).

This is a win for the Republicans, since they are currently ahead in two of the three yet undecided races (the 7th and the 60th) and would very much like to see this recount situation come to the end, while the Democrats have been trying to prolong the proceedings.

More >

Bloomberg Calls For Layoffs, Cuts

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.

More >

Censure Recommended For Rangel

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.

Black Gets Malcolm Smith’s Support

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.”