Defending Grannis (Updated)

Two of Pete Grannis’ former Assembly colleagues have issued statements in support of the ex-DEC commissioner, who was unceremoniously relieved of his job yesterday after being charged with “insubordination” by the Paterson administation.

UPDATE: Grannis’ firing was reportedly connected to the leak of an internal memo that was critical of Gov. David Paterson’s layoff plan. Grannis has said the memo was leaked without his knowledge.

The first comes from Kevin Cahill, a Hudon Valley Democrat, who said the former Manhattan lawmaker was axed for “sounding the alarm and because the truth came out about the Department of Environmental Conservation.”

“Budget cuts and staff attrition have pushed the agency to the brink,” Cahill continued. “Instead of rising to the challenge and working to address these serious issues, the Governor’s reaction was to fire the one person holding it all together.”

“This wrong-headed move will cost New Yorkers dearly. A functional DEC is essential for the protection of our air and water quality. The drastic cuts the agency has been forced to endure under the Paterson Administration have left it a skeleton of what it once was.”

“Retirements of critical senior staff and the failure to replace that lost institutional expertise have left DEC struggling to meet its responsibilities. We are seeing it locally with a permitting bottleneck further delaying responsible developments.”

“Looking ahead, even if hydrofracking was safe, DEC does not even come remotely close to having the resources to enforce drilling regulations.”

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Mermel Boosts Paladino

M. Myers Mermel, the one-time LG contender and short-lived gubernatorial candidate who failed to make the cut at the state GOP convention this summer, has contributed $21,000 to Carl Paladino’s campaign for governor, making him among the Buffalo businessman’s largest (if not THE largest) individual contributors.

(Aside from Paladino himself, that is. The candidate just invested another $1 million of his own cash into his campaign this week).

Mermel, who backed erstwhile gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio after Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy failed to get on the ballot at the convention, hosted a breakfast fundraiser for Paladino (his first in Manhattan) this past Wednesday.

Another big Paladino contribution that just popped up on the 24-hour notice list is $20,000 from Sean and Ana Fieler of New Jersey.

I believe Sean Fieler is the managing member of Equinox Partners and also the president of the Williams Catholic Network.

Maloney E-mails For ‘Too-Close-To-Call’ House Colleagues

Now that her own 2010 challenge is safely behind her, Rep. Carolyn Maloney is working overtime to help her fellow NY House members who are, in her own words, “running in races that are too-close-to-call.”

Maloney sent out a fundraising appeal today on behalf of eight “courageous New York Democrats” who are fighting for their political lives this fall.

The Upper East Side congresswoman, who easily defeated her primary challenger, newcomer Reshma Saujani, in the Sept. 14 primary, lambasted the Republicans and their “secretive outside groups” who are spending big money on attack ads in many of these races.

“This is it. We have entered the final days of this campaign where close races are won or lost depending on what actions we take right now,” Maloney wrote.

“…Unless we raise $10,000 in the next 48 hours, they won’t have enough to fight back against these millions of dollars before it’s too late.

Contribute $25, $50, $100, or more in the next 48 hours to help these eight courageous New York Democrats under attack by Republicans and their shady, secretive outside groups. We all have a stake in making sure that these New York leaders are in Congress next year.”

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Dems Plan Coordinated Blitz (Updated)

The state Democratic Party is kicking its coordinated campaign into high gear this weekend as the 2010 election season heads into the home stretch.

The party had dubbed the effort “Mobilizing for Victory” and will hold simultaneous rallies at 11 a.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Westchester County, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Suffolk County, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the press release with all the details, as per a request in the comments section.

The Manhattan event, which is being held at the New York Hotel Trades Council HQ on W. 44th Street, will feature Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

(Recall that the statewide field effort for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo is being headed by Neal Kwatra, HTC’s political director, who’s on loan to the party until the end of the campaign).

The Westchester County event at the local Democratic HQ will be headlined by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and the Nassau County event, also at the local Democratic HQ, will feature Sen. Eric Schneiderman, the party’s AG nominee.

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Bill Clinton For DiNapoli

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has picked up the backing of former President Bill Clinton, who has also recorded a Robocall for the fellow Democrat.

Here’s the script:

“As our Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli has been looking out for us, uncovering nearly $3 billion in waste, fraud and abuse.”

“Standing up to legislators of both parties who refuse to come together to pass a budget. And refusing campaign contributions from anyone doing business with the State pension fund.”

“These are the kind of changes we need, so on Tuesday, November second, please make sure you vote all the way down column A, for State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the reformer who gets results,” Clinton added.

A recent poll by Siena College showed DiNapoli with a sizable lead, 49% to 32%, but it was below the magic 50 percent mark that all politicians like to be at this close to election day.

Yesterday, while picking up the endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, Wilson suggested their internal polls show the race much closer.

Cuomo Up 23 Points in Marist Poll, 14 in Rasmussen

With less than 2 weeks until election day, we can expect to see a lot more of these polls. Today, Marist finds Andrew Cuomo leading Carl Paladino comfortably, 60% to 37% among likely voters.

“The gap between Cuomo and Paladino has widened as Paladino is increasingly viewed negatively by New York voters,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, “Carl Paladino may have wanted to run for governor in the worst possible way, and judging from these numbers, that may be exactly what he has done.”

Another telling number from the poll is that Cuomo is actually winning upstate as well. Marist found that 51% of voters upstate say they plan to vote for the Democrat, and only 47% say they are going to vote for Paladino.

Siena College had Cuomo up by even more in their poll earlier this week, 63% to 26%. The Paladino camp quickly moved to debunk that poll, claiming they had internals showing the race much closer.

Today, Rasmussen also put out a poll with showed the race on 14 points apart, 51% to 37%, which the led to this response from the Paladino campaign.

“Today’s Rasmussen Reports survey of likely voters in the New York State shows Buffalo builder Carl Paladino down by 14 points against career politician Andrew Cuomo, 51 to 37 percent. This is wildly different from the recent Siena and New York Times surveys, both which showed a dubious difference. Public polls are unreliable in this volatile election season, but Rasmussen appears to have a better handle on their research in this environment.”

DioGuardi: ‘Do You Want A Senator That Strikes A Pose?’

One lighter moment in last night’s US Senate debate was when Joe DioGuardi was asked if recent attention to Sen. Gillibrand’s appearance was appropriate.

Gillibrand recently appeared in Vogue magazine, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently said the the Senator “was the hottest member” at a fundraiser.

DioGuardi responded by asking the question himself.

“Do you want a Senator that strikes a pose? Or do you want a Senator that is a certified public accountant to protect the bottom line and preserve the American dream for the future.”

The comment that drew more laughs was when DioGuardi once again mentioned that he was a CPA – something he did nearly a dozen times during the debate.

When pushed on whether it was appropriate or not, DioGuardi said, “Human nature being what it is, what we see we like to talk about.”

Sen. Gillibrand took the question as an opportunity to make a point that more women need to be involved in government.

“I think it is irrelevant. Candidates should be judged on their merits… But these kinds of issues are ones that are real. Because, in fact, a lot of women don’t choose to be in public service because of it,” Gillibrand said. “And, we need more women in government. We only have 17% women in the House and in the Senate. And when you have more women serving, you have more role models.”

Debate: Gillibrand Drilled On Job Creation

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi clashed on a variety of issues last night. Among them, how best to create jobs in New York.

Liz B asked Sen. Gillibrand how many jobs she can claim she has created, or would create if elected to another 2 years. Gillibrand refused to put a number on how many jobs she might create, instead focusing on legislation she is pushing that would help small businesses get loans.

“I don’t think it is possible to tell how many jobs you’ve created. I think it is so difficult. But what I do know, is that there are ways to offer solutions for New Yorkers who want to create those jobs. So, for example, I have an agenda that is focused on both manufacturing and agriculture,” Gillibrand said.

Liz B then followed up, asking if Hillary Clinton should have promised to bring 200 thousand jobs to New York, as she did in her first run in 2000. Gillibrand responded by saying that was Clinton’s decision.

DioGuardi seized on the question, blasting Gillibrand for failing to create jobs during her nearly 2 years in the US Senate.

“Obviously your report card is not good. Not only did you not create jobs, we have lost many jobs. And you have got to be aggressive about what you do to change that,” DioGuardi said. “And one of the things, is we are in a toxic environment in this state. Mainly because of your party. The Democrat party is dysfunctional in Albany.”

Here And Now

The ever-astute Tom Precious on the AEG mess: “In a town grown weary of corruption cases, the findings of an investigation of Albany’s newest scandal rocks the very foundation of the Capitol’s three-men-in-a-room system of governing.”

The DN says the Senate Democrats are at a “fateful crossroads,” and must choose between blessing “gross corruption” and dumping Sen. John Sampson as their leader.

The Post ties AG hopeful Sen. Eric Schneiderman to the AEG mess, saying he’s “thick as thieves” with the Senate Democratic leadership.

Schneiderman said he’ll return the $76,000 in contributions made to his campaign this year by the campaigns of Sampson; the Senate president, Malcolm Smith; and Sen. Eric Adams, all of whom were criticized in the IG’s report.

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo said it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on the AEG scandal because there’s an ongoing investigation. (See above link).

Sen. Antoine Thompson was one of five Senate Democrats to whom the DSCC asked AEG to steer campaign cash. Thompson, a Buffalo lawmaker, said he will return the $8,600 he received.

“This scandal proves once again that absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos.

This mess could not come at a worse time for the Senate Dems, Dan Janison notes.

Staten Island DA Dan Donovan detailed his relationship with disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik and brushed it off, saying a lot of people had personal ties to him.

NYC – and Wall Street, in particular – is the target of attack ads in campaigns all over the nation.

Sen. Gillibrand has had her two-year tryout and I believe she has flunked,” Joe DioGuardi said during last night’s YNN/NY1 US Senate debate. “It’s time to give Joe DioGuardi a two-year tryout.”

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DEC Commissioner Fired

A spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson confirmed tonight’s TU report that DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis has been fired – effective immediately.

I can confirm that he has been terminated effective immediately; we have no further comment,” said Jessica Bassett.

An administration source said Grannis had been terminated for “insubordination and poor performance,” adding: This decision came directly from the governor and was the result of more than one action.”

The TU has far more details that I can provide at this hour, including some choice quotes from Grannis, a former Manhattan assemblyman who was appointed to his post by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 (a move widely seen as designed to get Grannis out of the running for the state comptroller’s post, which eventually went to another former assemblyman, Tom DiNapoli).

Grannis told the TU that he had been called in on the carpet by Paterson’s top aide, Larry Schwartz, for the leaking a memo critical of plans to further cut employee at his agency. Grannis, who insisted the memo had been leaked without his knowledge, called Schwartz a “hatchet man” and a “thug.”

“Here I am being called on the carpet for doing what we were supposed to do, for being asked to tell the administration what the cuts they want meant,” Grannis told the TU. “Apparently facts don’t sit well with this administration.”