Feb 17th - 3:18 pm
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman told me an interview last week that he still believes in the push to raise the retirement age for judges, adding that the measure should be revisited at some point.
“I think it still makes a lot of sense,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that message across.”
Voters this past November turned down a proposal to increase the retirement age for certain state judges. Under the failed amendment, judges on the state Supreme Court and on the Court of Appeals would retire at 80, up from the current retirement age of 70.
Lippman himself will be forced to retire in 2015.
Sitting judges cannot advocate for a constitutional amendment, but the measure was supported by a political action committee that included contributions from retired judges, as well as the state’s top politically connected law firms.
Lippman himself insisted he never coordinated with the committee, Justice For All.
Opposing the measure, albeit quietly, was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will be able to remake the entire Court of Appeals with his own appointees due to pending retirements should he be re-elected to a second term.
Still, Lippman believes the amendment should have another shot.
“We’re going to revisit it,” Lippman said in the interview. “I think that we have to take a look at the proposal. The proposal that was on the ballot was not the one we submitted or at least I submitted. We want to take a look at it, go back to the drawing board, get a proposal that will hopefully affect all of our judges.”
Lippman said the public needs to be presented with a proposal framed this way: “To keep the experienced, wise judges is good for our society, good for citizens and something that makes sense.”
It’s not entirely clear what form another age raise amendment campaign would take, and voters wouldn’t be able to consider such a move for at least several years.
“I think we can do that, but it’s got to be thoughtful,” Lippman said.
Feb 17th - 1:27 pm
Which state had the most governors go on to become President? #NY, with four: Martin Van Buren, Glover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt and FDR.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) February 17, 2014
As to whether the current governor will be added to the list remains to be seen. He, of course, says he is focusing on the job at hand.
Feb 17th - 12:36 pm
A pro-charter schools group is launching a digital campaign over the next several weeks on social media and other websites opposing multiple de Blasio administration efforts, it announced Monday.
The campaign, which features 30-second videos on YouTube, is part of an effort from Families for Excellent Schools opposing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent reduction of $210 million in capital as well as a new charter rent policy.
“The de Blasio administration has said parent voices matter to them, but they seem to be discounting ours,” said Rafael Lois, the father of two Girls Prep Bronx scholars who is featured in one of the videos. “My daughters are receiving an excellent education, which is their moral and legal right, and I will do everything in my power to make sure they continue to have these opportunities.”
Families for Excellent Schools added in a news release they are also concerned about that the administration “also continues to hint at plans” that would roll back charter co-locations.
New York City has 185 charter schools, which the coalition points out serves students who live in poverty and are 93 percent black or Hispanic.
The push comes a day after de Blasio’s latest trip to Albany for caucus weekend, when he again reiterated his push for a universal pre-Kindergarten program that would be paid for by taxing those who earn $500,000 and more a year.
The mayor did not mention the tax increase in an event with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he wants a statewide universal pre-K program without the tax increase for New York City.
The YouTube channel can be viewed here.
Feb 17th - 10:46 am
Also from the Memo this morning:
Just in time for the Black and Latino lawmakers’ annual caucus weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan that would fund college classes for inmates in state prisons – a move that is aimed at reducing recidivism.
The governor unveiled this proposal at the Wilborn Temple First Church of God in Christ in Albany. It would provide college-level education at 10 state prisons, each in a different region of New York.
In a statement, Cuomo pointed to the high cost of incarceration – about $60,000 per year, per prisoner – compared to the relatively inexpensive cost of the college level classes, about $5,000 per prisoner.
The governor’s office also points to studies that have found earning a college degree in prison reduces the likelihood of recidivism. New York’s current recidivism rate is 40 percent.
Cuomo’s announcement drew a swift response from Democrat-turned-Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, of Buffalo, who pledged in a statement to oppose the governor’s plan to “use tax dollars to pay for college tuition for inmates.”
The cost for Cuomo’s proposal, Grisanti noted, would be about $5,000 per inmate. There are some 54,000 people currently behind bars in New York, but presumably not all of them would enroll to take college courses.
“I support rehabilitation and reduced recidivism, but not on the taxpayer’s dime when so many individuals and families in New York are struggling to meet the ever-rising costs of higher education,” Grisanti said in a statement.
“I am fighting to restore the availability of graduate-level Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds for middle class taxpayers that was previously eliminated, and I will continue to fight for its reinstatement before I even begin to entertain the idea of supporting this program.”
This is an interesting position for Grisanti to take, though it’s not terribly surprising given the make-over his district received when the state Legislature last redrew the lines.
Grisanti’s district went from 54 percent white and 37 percent black to 85 percent white and five percent black, with many of the African-American voters being shifted into the district next door, which belongs to Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy. Kennedy is fighting for his political life, facing a re-match against the woman who nearly toppled him in 2012, Erie County Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant.
Democrats have tried and failed to reclaim Grisanti’s district, which used to be one of the most Democrat-dominated in the state and belonged to former Democratic Sen. Antoine Thompson.
In 2012, thanks to his “yes” vote on gay marriage, Grisanti ran without the Conservative Party line, which provided his margin of victory in 2010. But he still defeated a GOP primary challenger – unlike two of his fellow GOP “yes” voters, ex-Sens. Roy McDonald and Steve Saland – and went on to win the general election with 50 percent of the vote, running on just the GOP and Independence Party lines.
Grisanti’s success two years ago may have been in part due to support – although not an outright endorsement – from Cuomo, who went out of his way to laud the senator at every turn, and did not object when he played a starring role in a Grisanti campaign ad. So, the fact that the senator is now going out of his way to oppose a Cuomo initiative is doubly curious.
The Independence Party has already announced its early support for Grisanti’s re-election bid this year, though the senator could face a primary from Tea Party activist Rus Thompson, who is an enrolled Indy member and is also close to Carl Paladino.
There have been reports that Grisanti, at the urging of his mentor (and fellow party switcher) former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, might try to get a cross-endorsement from the Democrats. He also could face multiple primary challenges from fellow Republicans and appears unlikely to land the Conservative line, thanks to his “yes” vote on the SAFE Act.
Feb 17th - 10:31 am
ICYMI from today’s Morning Memo:
A whopping eighty-eight percent of New York voters support the legalization of marijuana for medical use, with only nine percent opposed, a new Quinnipiac Poll out this morning found.
A majority of state residents – 57 percent – also back the idea of legalizing small amounts of pot for recreational use. There’s a gender gap and generation gap when it comes to this question, however, with support stronger among younger voters and men.
Fifty-two percent say pot is not a so-called “gateway,” and doesn’t lead to the use of other drugs, while 45 percent believe marijuana and alcohol are equally dangerous. New Yorkers are not eager to share details of their own pot use, with 46 percent saying they’ve tried it, and 51 percent denying that they ever have.
This poll could breathe new life into the med-mar debate, which has been on the back burner since Cuomo announced in his State of the State address that he planned to circumvent the Legislature on this issue and use his executive power to launch a limited hospital-based program to let seriously ill New Yorkers legally access pot.
This plan has been hotly debated – especially by Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who have been carrying med-mar bills for several years now and say the governor’s proposal is clunky and unworkable. Also, Sen. Liz Krueger has introduced a full legalization bill, which the Cuomo administration has flatly rejected as a non-starter.
Feb 17th - 10:02 am
Posted by Zack Fink in [...]
Politics ( like driving a car in New York City ) can be a contact sport. Wielding power and punishing enemies is often part of the job. The good ones never forget a slight, and they always get you back.
I remember Former New Jersey Senate President ( and one time Governor ) Dick Codey didn’t speak to me once for nine months. It was so long, I was actually impressed. We only finally broke the ice when I did a series of stories about corruption at the Delaware River Port Authority, which was controlled by South Jersey Democratic Boss George Norcross. Codey **hated** Norcross so much, that he suddenly wanted to be my friend again. A politician I know used to joke that the Irish forget everything…except the grudges.
Governor Cuomo has proven himself not only a shrewd politician, but a master of the Albany political game. Having grown up around it, he just understands it, and plays it better than anybody else. He also knows how to use the full power of the office. Sure, it doesn’t always work out, but there are multiple tools at his disposal and he is not afraid to employ them. One of those is what I would call the blanket of the office. The warmth it provides can be very reassuring to fellow politicians, even members of the opposite party. When some are left uncovered by that blanket it can start to feel very chilly.
A number of Republican members of the State Assembly have relayed numerous examples of instances when Cuomo either came to their district for an event and didn’t include them or invited them very late after everyone else already knew. It’s not quite Watergate here, although some of those who feel they were dissed have dubbed it “Snubgate.” First a couple of examples…last August Governor Cuomo was in Herkimer County to deliver checks to those whose businesses and homes were damaged by July flooding. Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney says she was not invited, so she wound up crashing the event. Although technically the press conference was not held in her district, her constituents were among those receiving checks as much of the damage **was** in her district. Tenney had previously been outspokenly critical of the Governor, which apparently kept her on the wrong side of the velvet rope. ( Do I need to say again how high school it is in Albany at times?!? )
But wait, there’s more. Last year, Cuomo was on Staten Island to announce a home buyout program in Oakwood Beach. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis was not invited, despite the fact that it was her district taking the buyouts. She had previously criticized Cuomo on Verrazano Bridge tolls. Earlier this month Cuomo held a press conference to announce that tolls would be reduced for Islanders, and it’s worth noting that malliotakis was, in fact, present at that one. But guess who wasn’t? Republican Assemblyman Joe Borelli, who was previously critical of Cuomo’s Tax Free New York program.
Let me be the first to say that I am not one of those people who criticizes politicians all the time for constantly looking toward re-election, and always angling to get their face on the news if something good happens in their district. For starters, they must run every two years, so yes, they are always looking towards their re-elect. And frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. This is what they have chosen to do with their lives. It is how they make a living ( albeit not a very lucrative one ). It is completely legitimate for an elected member to wanna be at a press event with the Governor to demonstrate to their constituents that they were part of securing help. That’s only natural. For the most part, these guys fights hard for their districts and they want to be able to share the spotlight when something positive happens. That’s why it can be hurtful when they are left out in the cold.
The Governor’s office holds a lot of power, and not just constitutionally. Cuomo has emphasized many times that he wants to be the Governor for all New Yorkers. Power politics and the culture of persuasion are alive and well. Cuomo is not the first Governor to employ hardball tactics, and he will certainly not be the last.
Feb 17th - 6:10 am
Posted by Liz Benjamin in [...]
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.
It should be a quiet week in Albany (famous last words) since the Legislature is off this week for it’s Presidents Day/mid-winter break. Lawmakers are due back at work on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
At 9 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli discusses the economy, local government finances and the state budget during a keynote speech to members of the Association of Towns to open its annual meeting and training school event, Grand Ballroom, third floor, New York Hilton Midtown Hotel, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will be at Cobar Dairy on Monday with the Barnes family to discuss the impact of the recent Farm Bill on dairy and family farms, Barnes Farm, 893 Highway 1, Mt. Upton.
New York State voters support 88-9 percent the legalization of medical marijuana, with overwhelming support from every group, according to a new Q poll. Fifty-seven percent also support the legalization of recreational pot.
Furious over a snarky Buzzfeed article about his political aspirations, Donald Trump took a page out of his TV show, “The Apprentice,” and canned Sam Nunberg – the adviser who had urged him to do the interview.
Aiming to silence skeptics who don’t believe he’s serious about running for governor, Trump says he’ll open an exploratory committee “within a week or so,” and is in the process of setting it up right now. (Second item).
The de Blasio administration has settled its first labor contract – a quick deal with 200 environmental officers that could signal a smoother period of labor relations after the cold war between the unions and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On his second lobbying trip to Albany, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pared his pitch to lawmakers of color during a Sunday morning church service, declining to mention an income tax hike as he stressed the need to expand pre-kindergarten.
At a news conference after the church service, de Blasio said he was simply being “respectful” to Cuomo and insisted his tax-the-wealthy proposal was the only “real plan on the table” to fund universal pre-K in the city.
About a dozen Democrats in the Assembly and Senate questioned why, tactically speaking, de Blasio would suddenly spring the minimum wage issue at the same time he is asking the Legislature to fight for his pre-K tax plan.
The pastor whose arrest last week has turned into a political headache for de Blasio appeared publicly on Sunday for the first time since the incident, leading a rousing service in Brooklyn but saying nothing about his arrest — or the controversy that has entangled the mayor.
Three Democratic Westchester County officials are accusing County Executive Rob Astorino of neglecting his duties within the county as he travels the state and country exploring a run for governor.
New York opponents to the Common Core have a lot of company in red states.
The Department of Motor of Motor Vehicles has suspended the driver’s licenses of 7,850 motorists who owe the state more than $10,000 in back taxes.
Fred LeBrun: “The tedious public tiff between our beloved governor and the mayor of the city of New York over how to fund universal pre-kindergarten in New York City, and in the rest of the state, has taken a turn into Monty Python territory.”
Feb 16th - 6:46 pm
Speaking at a church service for attendees of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus in Albany, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio dialed down the temperature in his ongoing clash with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over how to fund universal pre-kindergarten.
De Blasio later insisted he was just being “respectful” to Cuomo, who was present for the speech.
On Friday, Cuomo offered de Blasio “an olive branch in one hand and a shiv in the other, defending the much-criticized decision to open New York City schools in a snowstorm but mocking the mayor for his signature mantra.”
Rev. Al Sharpton said de Blasio’s controversial call to police to check up on a friend who was arrested “ain’t no big deal.”
“If Rudy Giulani and Al Sharpton agree on something, then y’all need to go on to the next thing,” Sharpton said.
The “friend” in question, Bishop Orlando Findlayter, was scheduled to make a statement about the incident at Sharpton’s National Action Network Event, but was advised not to.
An angry former tenant says Findlayter used to be a slumlord.
A look at current pre-kindergarten programs in NYC – most of which are provided by a smattering of organizations with city contracts – shows that funding isn’t the only challenge. Staffing, academics and space can also be difficult issues.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said on Twitter that the rumored opening of a Remington factory in Alabama will not impact the company’s factory in Ilion, Herkimer County.
The TU says politics was at play when Rep. Chris Gibson voted “no” on the clean debt ceiling vote and criticized his party’s leadership for putting it forward.
The NYT: “The rollout of the Common Core standards, which will give students in all districts a better chance at a good education, has not been perfect. But missteps aside, the state cannot afford to let this project founder.”
Can Buffalo afford a brand new stadium for the Bills? It’s possible there are other, more affordable, options.
Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on two federal agencies to create and enforce stronger security standards at electrical power plants across the nation.
Western New York salt mines are having a hard time keeping up with demand this winter.
Bob McCarthy: New York Republicans are playing the “chicken game” with the governor’s race.
Adapting a line from her mother, Chelsea Clinton said that shedding light on LGBTQ issues should be a major focus for human rights advocates this century.
Mitt Romney said former President Bill Clinton both “embarrassed the nation” and shirked his adult “responsibilities” as president.
Feb 16th - 2:26 pm
A plan announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday would fund college classes for inmates in state prisons, a move that is aimed at reducing recidivism.
The program, unveiled by Cuomo at the Wilborn Temple First Church of God in Christ in Albany on caucus weekend, would provide college-level education at 10 state prisons, each in a different region of New York.
In a statement, Cuomo pointed to the high cost of incarceration — about $60,000 per year, per prisoner — compared to the relatively inexpensive cost of the college level classes, about $5,000 per prisoner.
The governor’s office also points to studies that have found earning a college degree in prison reduces the likelihood of recidivism. New York’s current recidivism rate is 40 percent.
“Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more,” Cuomo said in the statement. “New York State currently spends $60,000 per year on every prisoner in our system, and those who leave have a 40 percent chance of ending up back behind bars. Existing programs show that providing a college education in our prisons is much cheaper for the state and delivers far better results. Someone who leaves prison with a college degree has a real shot at a second lease on life because their education gives them the opportunity to get a job and avoid falling back into a cycle of crime.”
The state plans to issue requests for proposal beginning March 3 soliciting responses from educational associations that would provide professes and accredited programs for inmates.
Feb 16th - 11:03 am
Likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the gun manufacturer Remington Arms expands its footprint to Alabama.
The expansion doesn’t impact any existing jobs at the gun manufacturer’s upstate plant in Herkimer County, where its workers have been vocal opponents of the gun control law known as the SAFE Act.
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi on Twitter last night wrote that “Some are misinformed, others gleefully spreading misinformation, but to be clear, no Remington jobs are leaving NY.”
But Astorino, the Westchester county executive gearing up for a statewide campaign against Cuomo this year, said the move was a sign jobs are leaving the upstate region.
“Remington’s decision to locate 2,000 jobs in Alabama is another devastating blow to New York’s economy that is already failing under Governor Cuomo,” Astorino said in a statement issued Saturday evening. “Under his tone-deaf leadership, New York has the worst business climate in the nation, while thousands of jobs and New Yorkers are fleeing to other states in record numbers. Adding insult to injury, his hostile political statements and assault on law-abiding gun owners is having a chilling effect. No matter how many millions Governor Cuomo spends trying to convince people New York is open for business, the truth is clear: we are a state that is losing.”
Astorino opened an exploratory committee for governor earlier this month, but is yet to officially declare his candidacy.
Cuomo’s office in a joint statement with Senate leaders, including Republican Dean Skelos, touted the recent upstate jobs numbers that showed a 2 percentage-point drop in joblessness in upstate counties between December 2012 and December 2013.