Maffei Concedes, Only Regrets Losing

Rep. Dan Maffei finally recognized the writing on the wall and conceded the hard-fought NY-25 race to his Republican challenger, Ann Marie Buerkle, opting to take the advice of Democratic attorneys and GOP leaders and forgo a lengthy, expensive and all-but-certainly futile full hand recount.

YNN’s Bill Carey tells me Maffei called Buerkle shortly after 2 p.m. and informed her he would not be pursuing legal action to challenge her 567-vote lead. (The two sides were due back in court this morning, but postponed that until tomrrow).

Maffei, a former congressional staffer (he worked for Rep. Charlie Rangel), sent a lengthy and heartfelt statement to his supporters and members of the media, lamenting the fact that his “dream” of getting to Congress himself had been so short-lived.

“The electorate may have changed tremendously from 2008 to 2010 in terms of who turned out to vote but I kept my pledges to the people who elected me and I will forever be proud of that,” Maffei said.

“Not only do I not apologize for my positions on the stimulus, the health care bill, financial reform, and the credit card bill, but my only regret is that there were not more opportunities to make healthcare more affordable to people and businesses and get more resources to the region for needed public projects – particularly transportation and public schools.”

“…I make no apologies, except to my friends, supporters, and staff for the fact the final outcome was not what we wanted. I congratulate Congresswoman-elect Buerkle and her supporters and family. I wish her luck in the new Republican majority.”

Buerkle is scheduled to have a press conference at 4 p.m. Maffei’s full statement appears after the jump.

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By The Power Vested In Him (Updated)

Here’s the report released by Reinvent Albany that calls on Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to issue 11 executive orders that will improve government transparency and reform ethics in keeping with the sweeping pledges he made during the campaign.

Reinvent Albany’s executive director, John Kaehny, called the report both a “gift” and a “challenge” to Cuomo, telling the New York Times:

“Here are 11 things that you can do right now. This is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. We designed them to be politically possible, things that the governor can do within this fiscal environment and within his constitutional authority.”

Cuomo didn’t seem to take too kindly to this particular gift/challenge (in which, I should point out in the interest of full disclosure, my father also played a role).

The governor-elect pooh-poohed one aspect of the report – a call for fuller financial disclosure reporting by executive chamber staffers – during his TALK 1300 radio interview with The Post’s Fred Dicker earlier today, saying it doesn’t address the biggest problem facing Albany: Breaking the stranglehold on government by special interests.

UPDATE: You can listen to Cuomo discussing the report with Dicker after the jump.

Kaehny told me during a CapTon interview today that the governor-elect focused on a very small portion of the report and noted it was specifically designed to be in keeping with the platform Cuomo laid out during his campaign.

Exec Orders Web Rez Final

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Women For Black

Opening up a new front in the Cathie Black offensive, a group of 28 prominent New York women have written to state Education Commissioner David Steiner and urged him to approve her waiver so the ” the largest public schoolsystem in the country will, for the first time, be headed by a woman.”

“Over the past 30 years in the publishing industry, Ms. Black has played a critical rolebreaking through the glass ceiling – not once, not twice, but time and again,” the women wrote, noting Black is currently serving as the first female publisher of Hearst magazines.

The letter is signed by a wide variety of women – including a number with ties to Mayor Bloomberg, like NARAL Pro-Choice NY’s Kelli Conlin, whose organization has endorsed the mayor; US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s wife, Iris Weinshall, who served as DOT commissioner under Bloomberg and his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani; and actress Whoopi Goldberg, who was one of the mayor’s many celebrity endorsers in 2009.

The eight-person panel that will evaluate whether Black is qualified to receive a waived and serve as the next NYC schools chancellor is meeting today, just as the state is coming under fire for failing to vet whether members had ties to Bloomberg. (They do).

This also comes as a Q poll released this morning found most New Yorkers don’t think Black is sufficiently qualified to succeed outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.


Rivera Makes The Stewart-Cousins Argument

Senator-elect Gustavo Rivera is the latest Democrat to express concern over Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s call for an expedited process to declare winners in the three cliffhanger races that will determine who controls the chamber for the next four years.

Rivera, a former staffer to Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, recalled during a CapTon interview this morning that the Westchester lawmaker came within 18 votes of ousting her GOP target, then-Sen. Nick Spano, in 2004, but actually trailed by 1,600 votes on election night.

We went through the whole legal process because we had seen that there were a lot of irregularities and inconsistencies. It took until, I believe, the end of February,” Rivera told me.

“I believe that every vote must be counted. If somebody has actually participated in the process, I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that their vote is counted, and let the chips fall where they may.”

“…I don’t want it to be done slowly for the sake of being slow. I want it to be done correctly. And I want to make sure every vote is counted.”

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Paterson Lashes Out At Unions, Legislature

Gov. David Paterson teed off on two of his favorite targets – public employee unions and state lawmakers – earlier today, pushing back against CSEA’s claim that he violated his own hiring freeze at the DEC and also taking legislators who might be thinking of skipping the lame duck session to task.

On CSEA’s claim that he added 36 top-level positions to the DEC, which is slated for a round of staffing cuts, Paterson said:

“There are always going to be replacements for people who are leaving service in positions where you can’t promote someone to take their place. And then if you promote someone to take their place, you’re going to write that you gave them raises.”

“So, we don’t need to play any games or have any distractions. This is the reality: There didn’t have to be any layoffs at all. I don’t want to lay off anybody.”

“Layoffs adds to the real crisis that we have, which is a revenue crisis. If you lay people off, you’re bringing in less revenue. So why did we do it? Because we couldn’t get a plan from the public employee unions to meet $250 million in workforce reductions.”

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Cuomo Will Use Campaign Cash To War With Unions

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo made it clear this morning he intends to back up his tough talk against the so-called “special interests” – chiefly, the public employee unions – with dollars in an air campaign war, if necessary.

Speaking to The Post’s Fred Dicker on AM TALK 1300, Cuomo said he understands he’ll be targeted by organized labor when he proposes deep cuts in his first executive budget, adding: “They will attack me. And I understand it and I understand why they do it. I anticipate it, and I am prepared for it.”

“I have said I am going to do it,” Cuomo said. “I have been doing it. I did it through the campaign. I understand the argument they are making. I have a mandate.”

“If the Legislature wants to choose the special interests, then I want to make it clear to the people of the state of New York exactly what their choices were.”

“…. I have campaign money. I am working with (everyone). There will be a full discussion and argument with all sides being heard. I think if the public hears all sides, then it will not even be close. And I think that the legislature will follow the side of public.”

The governor-elect said he will be ending the year with some $4 million left in his campaign coffers. He said that’s “not enough to wage the type of campaign I’d like to wage,” adding: “I want to make sure I am raising ehnough money to (get my message out).”

Dicker noted that CSEA has launched a new ad campaign (just radio at the moment, but I’m told TV spots are coming), that slams unnamed “politicians” who think public sector layoffs are a “quick fix” and argues that firing state workers “only makes the economy worse.”

“Politicians who talk about creating jobs while promoting layoffs are talking out of both sides of their mouths; everybody knows New Yorkers have had enoguh of that,” the ad concludes.

Just yesterday, Cuomo was at Tryon talking about the “ridiculous” waste of keeping an empty facility open because state law requires a long lead time prior to closing it down (largely to protect union jobs). He also insisted only private sector job creation will help pull New York from its fiscal morass.

Owens Wants It Both Ways

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports a fascinating political contortion act by Rep. Bill Owens, who just won re-election in the GOP-dominated 23rd Congressional District and supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to continue on as party leader once the Democrats are relegated back to the minority.

Owens said he hadn’t yet decided who he will vote for for speaker. He said it was “quite possible” he would vote for the Republican leader, (John) Boehner; he also said he might abstain.

(Recall that during the campaign Owens ran an ad touting his habit of voting with Boehner and the GOP conference – an effort to counter the NRCC’s attacks that branded him a Pelosi-loving liberal).

Owens said he was not one of the 43 Democrats who voted for North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler over Pelosi, who received 150 votes in last week’s leadership contest (a secret ballot election).

He told me heading into the vote that he might abstain unless he received an assurance from the California Democrat that she would adopt a more pragmatic approach moving forward. Apparently, whatever she said was what he needed to hear.

“When I was asked to support her (Pelosi), I said I will if she agrees to govern from the center and makes jobs her priority,” Owens told the paper, echoing his recent comments to CapCon’s Jimmy Vielkind.

“She assured me that she would, and I made it equally clear that if she didn’t, I would not support her going forward.”

“…Clearly, she made it very clear that she was a progressive and pushing a progressive agenda, which is one of the reasons why, on a number of issues, I stepped away from the Democratic leadership.”

Owens insisted he doesn’t believe his ongoing support of Pelosi, who was a major target in House races across the country this fall, will hurt him in the 2012 elections, explaining: “The issue is two years away, and people will be able to tell by my voting record whether I went with her or didn’t go with her.”

Poll: Bloomberg In The Red With Black

Today’s Q poll finds NYC voters are generally not supportive of Cathie Black, Mayor Bloomberg’s pick to succeed Joel Klein as schools chancellor.

Most residents (64 – 26) say education experience matters more than management experience when it comes to overseeing the city’s vast network of public schools.

Fifty-one percent don’t believe Black, a magazine publishing executive, has the right kind of background for the job, while 26 percent think she’s well qualified and 23 percent are undecided.

NYC voters disapprove of Bloomberg’s selection of Black by a 47-29 percent margin, with 25 percent undecided. Voters with children in public schools disapprove of the appointment 62-25 percent and say 63-21 percent that Black does not have the right experience.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s own approval rating has taken a hit, dropping to 55-35 – his lowest score since a 55-36 percent Q poll rating June 22, 2005. Poll respondents disapprove 48-41 with the way the mayor is handling the public schools.

“The City Hall spin machine better shift into high gear,” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll. “So far, all the negative news stories are murdering Cathleen Black – and not doing Mayor Michael Bloomberg much good, either.”

Generally speaking, NYC voters aren’t buying all the “Bloomberg 2012″ hype. Sixty-one percent say Bloomberg would not make a good president, while 65 percent believe all the White House talk is nothing but “political gossip” and not a “serious political movement.”

112310 NYC Mayor + Bp

Here And Now

Steve Rattner on AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s lawsuits against him: “What the attorney general’s done is close to extortion…Because he has basically threatened me all along the way that if I don’t do what he wants me to do he will prosecute me to the ends of the earth, basically.”

Hank Morris pleaded guilty to a single felony count in connection with Cuomo’s pay-to-play pension fund probe.

The governor-elect called it “ridiculous” to have state workers babysit an upstate juvenile facility that stopped serving kids in July.

The situation stems from a law tucked into the budget while Cuomo’s father was governor that requires lengthy lead time prior to the closing of state facilities.

Bill Hammond says the Tryon Residential Facility is “is a symbol of Albany dysfunction at its worst.”

Rep. Charlie Rangel apologized to his supporters via e-mail.

A congressional aide predicted “a lot of absences” on the day the full House votes on Rangel’s censure.

Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV thinks censure is a fair punishment for Rangel, and is still interested in his seat – when and if he vacates it.

State officials admitted they didn’t vet members of a panel who will decide on NYC Schools Chancellor-in waiting Cathie Black’s waiver for ties to her champion, Mayor Bloomberg.

The panel is meeting for the first time today and could make a recommendation as early as this afternoon. (No link).

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports Mayor Bloomberg’s right to select whomever he wants to be the next schools chancellor.

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Bishop Campaign: We’re Ahead By 206

Rep. Tim Bishop continues to claw his way to a wider lead over his GOP challenger, Randy Altschuler, growing what a margin of what was just over a dozen votes this weekend to more than 200 votes today (actually, 206 votes to be exact).

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Tim Bishop will win this election,” Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider said. “For a fifth straight day, Tim Bishop has picked up votes and Randy Altschuler is running out of room to make up the difference.”

Through the end of the day, 169 election districts in Brookhaven have been counted, leaving 125 districts left to review. All told, 9,200 ballots have been reviewed, leaving 1,912 ballots remaining.

Additionally, counting is complete in East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton and Southold.

Altschuler has challenged 337 more voters than Bishop, which will ultimately bolster his lead even further, according to Schneider. Altschuler has challenged 1,051 voters while Bishop has challenged 714.