Judge Blocks Furloughs (Updated)

AP reports a judge has granted the temporary restraining order sought by the public employee unions to block the implementation of the furloughs approved by the Legislature Monday.

The TRO will remain in place pending a May 26 hearing on the lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of Gov. David Paterson’s furlough plan.

From the AP:

“U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn says that until he rules on the union lawsuits seeking an injunction, Paterson and lawmakers are temporarily blocked from implementing any furloughs.”

“Kahn says in his order Wednesday that the unions have shown a permanent 20 percent loss in wages or salaries would constitute irreparable harm.”

UPDATE: Here’s the order:

31277833-Furlough-TRO[1]

Storming The Barricades (Updated)

The revolution shall be texted.

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Assemblyman Michael Benjamin has been sending me updates via his cell phone of the Red Room sit-in staged by some two-dozen Democrats who are fed up with the ongoing budget stalemate and demanding to see the governor.

“On the Jack McEneny Red Room tour,” Benjamin joked, adding that the group is talking with Paterson’s top aide, Larry Schwartz, who is “rightfully faulting union inaction; I believe him.”

Apparently, it was the Albany lawmaker who led the brigade, although we have since received a press release from Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s office announcing she and at least 19 colleagues have “stormed” the governor’s office and want to talk to him about the fact that there have been no substantive negotiations in “weeks.”

“The lack of an approved budget is having serious economic implications for all New YorkersGalef said. “We have had enough waiting and we demand action be taken by all sides.”

UPDATE: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is NOT there. Assemblyman Tim Gordon told reporters that speaker “has a leadership style that is his own.” (As per CapConf).

Paterson just emerged to talk to reporters, who tried to get into the Red Room and were ejected. Capital Tonight’s Kaitlyn Ross said the governor was asked: “Is this a publicity stunt?”

“Even that would help pass the budget,” Paterson replied.

Paterson: I’ll Call A Special In NY-29 (Updated)

Gov. David Paterson has finally decided to call a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Eric Massa, who resigned on March 9 in the wake of a sexual harrassment scandal.

The special will run concurrent with the November general election, which addresses the cost issue that the governor has been citing as the main reason behind the delay of this decision. The Republicans weren’t buying that argument, and have filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to force the issue.

However, it also means that the Democratic Party leaders will dictate the selection of a candidate, protecting their contender, political newcomer Matt Zeller, from a primary challenge. After some jockeying, the Republicans settled on the candidate who had already announced his intention to challenge Massa, former Corning Mayor Tom Reed.

Whoever wins the special election will take office immediately and won’t have to wait until January 2011 like most of the general election victors.

UPDATE1: A reader writes: “I think the candidates appear twice and are voted for twice – once to finish the current term and then to run for next full term.” An election lawyer informs me that is indeed the case because there are “in effect, two separate elections.”

UPDATE2: As a commenter noted below, the governor has not yet officially called the special election. He will issue the proclamation doing so in October, approximately 30-40 days prior to the Special Election, pursuant to Section 42 of the Public Officers Law.

Paterson’s statement appears in full after the jump.
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Mermel The Heavyweight?

Myers Mermel, the lone announced Republican LG contender, has put together a very helpful spreadsheet of the GOP weighted convention vote that shows he has more support than any of the party’s gubernatorial hopefuls.

According to Mermel’s calculations, he has locked down 67.97 percent of the vote. If he gets just over 75 percent, no other candidate would be able to hit the 25 mark necessary to get onto the ballot. I have spoken to at least one of Mermel’s backers, Rochester’s Bill Reilich, who says his support won’t last if the party’s gubernatorial nominee – assuming there is one – picks someone other than Mermel as his running mate.

But, of course, if there’s a gubernatorial primary, then I guess all bets are off in the LG department.

Mermel’s spreadsheet shows that Rick Lazio has been endorsed by county committees that account for 51.5 percent of the convention vote, while Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has 31.56 percent in his corner. Carl Paladino has home county of Erie, worth 6.93 percent. Counties representing 10.11 percent remain up for grabs.

Note that even if all of them went unanimously for Levy, he still wouldn’t surpass the 50-percent-plus-one mark he needs for a Wilson Pakula. However, if Erie County flipped into his column, that would be another story, because Levy would be close enough to perhaps lure some additional flippers over from other committees. This puts Paladino and new Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy in an interesting position.

The subject of rules changes to let Levy onto the ballot with less than that amount was reportedly broached, but state GOP spokesman Alex Carey has since insisted that’s not going to happen…We’ll see.

Copy of Global Lavydino Mermel Tally

Furlough Plans Begin

In spite of the public employee unions’ legal actions to block the furloughs from going into effect on May 17, state agencies are already preparing for how the one-day-without-pay plan will play out.

DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts announced earlier today that all offices operated by his agency in Albany, Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Onondaga, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Queens and Westchester counties will be closed Friday, May 21.

In 51 of the 62 counties, county clerks act as agents of the DMV. These county-run offices will not be impacted by the furloughs. The agency’s Website, where transactions such as registration renewals, duplicate titles, duplicate licenses and payment of traffic tickets, will also function as usual.

“When discussing our options under this requirement, we determined that the best way to minimize the impact on both our employees and our customers was to cease most State DMV office operations for one day,” said Swarts (the former Erie County clerk who has held his post since the Spitzer administration).

Also today, the Tax and Finance Department announced its call center will be closed next Friday to accommodate the furloughs. (Its Website is also going to be functioning).

Of this all assumes that either 1) there is still no budget deal by May 17, or 2) the unions don’t get the TRO they’re looking for.

Darrison Joins Team St. Lawrence

Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence is poised to announce this afternoon that veteran Democratic fundraiser Cindy Darrison has signed on to his LG campaign as a senior political advisor.

This is an interesting development as Darrison used to raise money for the presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee, AG Andrew Cuomo, although she parted ways with his campaign last month.

“Throughout her career, Cindy Darrison has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to electing Democrats and strengthening our Democratic Party,” said St. Lawrence.

“Cindy’s extensive experience and expertise in the political arena and her stellar reputation throughout New York State will help further my agenda for good government, and I am very fortunate to have someone of her caliber on my campaign team.”

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Cuomo Won’t Join Obama In Buffalo, Will Paterson? (Updated: No, Paterson Will Not Be In Buffalo)

AG Andrew Cuomo will not among the political dignitaries cheering President Obama as he delivers a speech on the economy in Buffalo tomorrow, a source close to the AG confirmed.

Cuomo also will not be attending either the post-Buffalo DCCC fundraiser Obama will headline at the St. Regis in Manhattan or the state DSCC fundraiser headlined by his former boss, ex-President Clinton.

The AG will be working out of his Manhattan office, the source said, and he has a “full day” that will prevent him from making the trip to Western NY for the president’s visit. At night he has “family obligations” that will keep him away from the fundraising events.

Cuomo was on hand for Obama’s Wall Street speech at Cooper Union last month.

He was also front-and-center at HVCC last fall when Obama joked about the “shy and retiring” attorney general and shot Cuomo a big grin. (Recall that this was in the wake of the news that the White House had urged Gov. David Paterson not to run this fall, clearing the way for Cuomo).

Paterson took listeners aback earlier this week when he said on a Buffalo radio station that he didn’t know whether he had been invited to Obama’s speech.

UPDATE: Late this afternoon, a Paterson spokesperson said that his office tried to adjust the governor’s schedule to make the event with the president, but couldn’t make it work. Although, the spokesperson says the governor appreciates the invitation.

Rep. Paul Ryan For Malpass

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has recorded a testimonial video lauding economist and US Senate hopeful David Malpass, saying it would be phenomenal and extremely helpful to have someone of his knowledge and character and integrity” in Washington, D.C.

To call Ryan a conservative is actually something of an understatement. He has proposed things like privatizing Social Security and ending traditional Medicare and most of Medicaid.

The three Republicans who have declared their candidacy to take on Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – Malpass, Bruce Blakeman and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi – are battling for support of both the GOP and the Conservative Party.

Blakeman is so far the only contender who has claimed to already have hit the 25 percent mark of the weighted convention vote necessary to get onto the ballot.

Yesterday, Malpass announced he had landed the endorsement of the Niagara County GOP and the Bronx Conservative Party. DioGuardi announced Monday that the Wayne County Conservative Party had backed his candidacy.

O’Donnell For Rice

Denise O’Donnell is taking a pass on a second attempt at the AG’s office this year and will back Nassau County DA Katheen Rice – now the lone woman in the field – instead, a source familiar with her plans confirmed.

The Buffalo Democrat will formally announce her decision today at a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on the City Hall steps in Manhattan.

O’Donnell resigned her post as Gov. David Paterson’s public safety czar in February in the wake of the David Johnson domestic violence scandal, which theoretically freed her up to raise campaign cash and woo Democratic leaders.

But she would have had to work very hard to catch up with her primary opponents, who have been campaigning – albeit quietly, since AG Andrew Cuomo has yet to formally say he’s not seeking re-election – for months now.
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Donohue To Schwartz: Nuts To You, Too!

Sticks and stones, Larry Schwartz!

CSEA President Danny Donohue issued a statement just now in response to comments yesterday by Schwartz, Gov. David Paterson’s chief of staff, calling on the outspoken union leader to basically grow up and quit with the name calling.

Donohue clearly has no intention of doing so, and, in fact, took Schwartz’s criticism as an opportunity to ratchet up his anti-Paterson rhetoric, saying:

“Who cares what Larry Schwartz thinks? My only regret is that the Paterson Administration may still be in office for another seven months…that’s seven more months of incompetence and chaos!”

Note the use by Donohue of the word “may” – might he know something we don’t about the ethics investigations former Chief Judge Judith Kaye is conducting of Paterson on behalf of AG Andrew Cuomo?

Donohue has used some colorful language during the public employee unions’ furlough fight with Paterson, memorably saying during a protest outside the Capitol Monday that it’s an “insult to a rodent” to compare the governor to a rat.