Dec 11th - 11:48 am
After thinking over the decision for more than a month, NYC’s incoming First Family has decided where to live. The de Blasios are leaving Park Slope and moving into Gracie Mansion.
A statement from de Blasio’s transition office is reporting that they’re leaving their beloved neighborhood row house for fancier digs. Gracie Mansion which has served as the official home for the city’s mayors since 1942.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg never moved in, preferring his own elegant townhouse off Fifth Avenue to Gracie Mansion, an 18th Century former country house, which was built in the Federal Style at a bend in the East River. The Bloomberg administration has frequently used Gracie Mansion for receptions and meetings.
Here’s part of the statement from de blasio:
For a variety of reasons, like logistical and security concerns, we’ve decided to move to Gracie Mansion. It’s a practical choice but one that we make with respect and gratitude for the people of New York City.
While this is a temporary move for us, it is one that we are very proud to make. It’s also one that we will phase in over the next few months.
De Blasio said the choice wasn’t easy… in part because his teenage son Dante now has an easy commute to Brooklyn Tech high school in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene section. That’s going to be a longer ride now, although presumably he can catch a ride in a city car.
The incoming first family also says they’re keeping their Brooklyn home, and stopping by Park Slope favorites like The Purity Diner and Bar Toto as often as they can.
And they add: don’t bet against seeing them at the Park Slope YMCA occasionally.
Dec 11th - 6:47 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City.
At 10:30 a.m., he’ll attend the regional economic development awards, Hart Theatre, Egg Center for Performing Arts, Empire State Plaza, Albany.
At 8 a.m., the founder of the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol, NYC Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, and Sen. Simcha Felder host an “Appreciation Breakfast” honoring outgoing NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, The Canal Jean Building, 2236 Nostrand Ave., Brooklyn.
At 11 a.m., Sen. Liz Krueger, joined by advocates and government officials, outlines her legislative proposal to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 11:30 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg will sign Nelson Mandela’s condolence book at the South African Consulate General, 333 East 38th St., (between First and Second avenues), Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., the Assembly Standing Committee on Real Property Taxation will hold a public hearing on the STAR registration program, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany.
From 4:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, former Mayor David Dinkins, the Rev. Al Sharpton and others attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, 91 Claremont Ave., Manhattan.
At 5:30 p.m., Councilwoman and NYC Public Advocate-Elect Letitia “Tish” James will host a transition town hall meeting, York College, The City University of New York, 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., Jamaica, Queens.
House and Senate negotiators reached a budget deal that would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, shifting the pain of across-the-board cuts to other programs over the coming decade and raising fees on airline tickets to pay for airport security.
Cuomo’s tax commission recommended $2 billion in tax cuts and rebates aimed mostly at reducing levies on property, providing a blueprint for the governor’s 2014 fiscal agenda.
NYC homeowners were largely left out of the commission’s relief recommendations, though renters may get a break. The panel paid zero attention to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s plan to tax the rich to pay for pre-K.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reacted cautiously to the recommendations, saying: “Any proposal should be premised on a principle of fairness to all New Yorkers, city residents, suburbanites and rural residents alike.” He also wants any pre-K and the DREAM Act.
At the Long Island press conference where the report was unveiled, Cuomo said he had not yet read the document, but called it “impressive.”
Business groups and some lawmakers hailed the commission’s proposals, while left-leaning critics called them unaffordable, ill-targeted toward the wealthy and corporations, and likely to leave less money for public schools.
In 2011 and 2012, at least 52 grants or tax breaks totaling $40 million worth of projects awarded by Cuomo’s regional economic development councils were either pulled or rejected.
The FBI and federal prosecutors are reportedly now investigating whether top Upstate Medical University administrators illegally received extra pay, intensifying a scandal that has already resulted in resignations.
A Manhattan judge removed herself from a case brought by two of Vito Lopez’s sexual harassment victims against the Assembly and Speaker Silver because she is a former colleague of Silver’s attorney.
A federal safety agency says the technology known as positive train control would probably have prevented the Dec. 1 train derailment that killed four people in New York.
SL Green Realty Chairman Stephen Green addressed business owners’ anxieties over the incoming administration of de Blasio, calling those feelings “overblown.”
Dec 10th - 5:21 pm
Chris Cillizza/The Fix named NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn’s failed mayoral bid the “worst campaign” of 2013.
Elle magazine profiles incoming NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, calling her “outspoken, activist, political strategist, mother of two, sexuality-fluid, (and) ever-feminist.”
Did Mayor Bloomberg make New Yorkers healthier over his 12 years in office? Statisticians say: “Yes, but it’s complicated.”
Jenifer Rajkumar, who lost primary challenge this year against NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin, has registered a campaign committee to run for the seat held by Sen. Daniel Squadron.
Squadron has been floated as a potential candidate for NYC parks commissioner.
Why has Bloomberg declared war on polystyrene?
The New York City Council voted to pass lobbying reform legislation that builds on laws it passed in 2006
Nearly six in 10 superintendents in New York said their schools are safer today than they were a year ago after the Newtown school shootings.
Vincent Ignizio, a conservative Republican from Staten Island, has been elected the leader of the NYC Council’s three-person Republican caucus.
Newsday will bolster its Capitol bureau by adding Michael Gormley, a longtime reporter, columnist and editor for the Associated Press.
Several CSX tank cars carrying crude oil derailed on a train in the Broadway-Harlem Road area of Cheektowaga this morning. There were no leaks or injuries.
Three Central New York hospitals had higher than average infection rates in 2012, according to a state Health Department report.
He wasn’t expected to attend, but Cuomo made a surprise appearance during a meeting in Albany about the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg.
Veteran baseball writer Roger Angell will be honored this summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
“Cuomo technically shares control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie, though you wouldn’t know it from his silence on the latest scandal to tarnish the reputation of the sprawling bi-state infrastructure agency.”
New York City is expected to draw 54.3 million visitors in 2013, an all-time high in tourism in the five boroughs and a 54 percent increase since Bloomberg took office 12 years ago.
The Court of Appeals accepted the Commission on Judicial Conduct’s recommendation that Middletown Town Court Justice Glen George be removed from the bench.
Dec 10th - 5:18 pm
Labor organizations were not fans of the tax commission report that recommended a series of business tax cuts as well as curbing the growth of business and residential property taxes.
The criticism from labor — including the AFL-CIO and the Civil Service Employees Association — comes despite Denis Hughes, a former AFL-CIO president, being named to the panel ostensibly to provide some cover for its recommendations.
“The Pataki/McCall Commission appears to be a missed opportunity,” said the current AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “Its out-of-touch recommendations would throw hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue out the window to fund corporate tax breaks and lessen the tax burden of millionaires, seemingly without any consideration for the potential impact on jobs and services. Those are clearly not the priorities of New Yorkers who are working harder and harder, but falling further and further behind.”
CSEA, which haven’t really been Cuomo fans to begin with (the union declined to endorse him in 2010, despised his successful effort to create a new pension tier in 2012 — also released a statement blasting the report.
“It’s easy to promise more tax giveaways to the rich and powerful when they come at the expense of local government taxpayers and the community services they depend on,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue in a statement. “No one should be fooled by the election year rhetoric in Governor Cuomo’s Tax Commission recommendations – this is more of the same policy that will just increase the misery index for people and communities in the real “new” New York.”
As Liz noted earlier, the state’s other major public workers union, the Public Employees Federation, is even open to backing a Republican in 2014 against Cuomo (who that alternative candidate would be is another question).
The criticism also comes despite the recommendation of a circuit-breaker for property taxes that ties increases to household income — a mechanism that had been preferred by public labor groups to the tax cap.
It’s possible the criticism from the left would be there no matter what, given the inclusion of Republican former Gov. George Pataki as a commission co-chair.
Nevertheless, the tax commission report does appear to more aimed at suburbanites, homeowners both upstate and downstate — crucial constituencies both in a re-election year.
Dec 10th - 3:10 pm
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax commission is using the property tax cap and sharing services as a vehicle to achieve a two-year tax freeze on homeowners, local government lobbyists in New York are naturally wondering: Where’s the mandate relief?
The commission led by Carl McCall and George Pataki unveiled a report on Tuesday that included a proposal to tie tax rebates to homeowners whose local governments budget within the 2 percent cap on local governments and in a subsequent year find ways to either share services or consolidate operations.
For Cuomo, it would be yet another carrot and stick mechanism to add an incentive — or pressure — on the various levels of local governments in New York and potentially strip them down.
“We just have too much government, period,” Cuomo told reporters after the event, held on the campus of SUNY Old Westbury. “We have to find a way to get them to consolidate and share services.”
Cuomo since his attorney general days has tried to find ways to consolidate local governments, only voters on the local level have rejected those proposals.
This move appears aimed at spurring homeowners in those communities to support a paring down of government layers.
“Not every government has to do everything,” Cuomo said. “Not every government has to have its own insurance department and payroll department and legal department. There can be efficiencies.”
Peter Baynes, the executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors, said in an interview that finding ways to cut local property taxes is a good idea, but municipalities need the help from Albany to do so, not pressure.
That includes stripping required spending mandated by the state as well as more aid to local governments which has been frozen in the past several budgets, he said.
“That sounds good but without giving local governments the tools to stay under the cap — without meaningful mandate relief, additional state aid that we have not received in at least five years — it’s going to be very, very difficult for local governments to stay under the cap,” he said.
Cuomo did push through a new pension tier, as well as an option for local governments to smooth out pension costs, but those cost savings aren’t immediate.
Dec 10th - 1:18 pm
ICYMI on last night’s CapTon or this morning’s memo: PEF President Susan Kent says her union is open to backing someone other than Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year – perhaps even a Republican, which would be only the second time in the union’s history that it has endorsed a non-Democrat for governor.
“We do have a democratic process in my union where we have regional PACs and then the executive board that will weigh in,” Kent told me in response to a question about whether PEF might consider endorsing a challenger to Cuomo in 2014.
“But I can tell you right now with the sentiment of my membership and what we’re seeing in terms of just further erosion of public sector jobs and services that people need, it seems to be a extremely distinct possibility. And we really are looking for – whether it’s Democrat or Republican, whether it’s a third party candidate – someone to step up that is going to really speak out for working people.”
PEF broke with several big public sector unions that remained neutral on Cuomo in 2010 and gave the then-state attorney general its endorsement. The thinking of union leaders at the time was that it would be better to be on the all-but-certain-to-win new governor’s good side, particularly with contract negotiations looming.
But when Cuomo actually took office, PEF didn’t fare any better than the state’s largest public employee union, CSEA, when it came to wrangling a new contract. In fact, the PEF talks lasted longer and were even more acrimonious, despite the union’s 2010 nod.
Disappointment among the PEF rank-and-file with the endorsement process and the subsequent contract contributed to the ouster of former union President Ken Brynien by Kent and her team in 2012. Kent, who pledged to take a harder line with the Cuomo administration, is clearly sensitive to that fact, and she is determined not to repeat Brynien’s mistakes.
The unions are unhappy with Cuomo on a number of fronts. There’s lingering resentment from the Tier IV battle, but more pressing is the slew of prison and mental health facility closures that the governor has undertaken without legislative input.
In 2002, PEF endorsed its first-ever Republican gubernatorial candidate, backing incumbent Gov. George Pataki against Democratic state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who had beat back a quixotic (and short lived) primary challenge from Cuomo (then fresh off his stint as President Clinton’s HUD secretary). The union had also endorsed former GOP Sen. Alfonse D’Amato for re-election in 1986.
If CSEA and NYSUT again decide to take a pass on Cuomo in 2014, and PEF joins in, it could be more difficult for Cuomo to land the support of the AFL-CIO – an umbrella organization of labor unions that has a weighted endorsement process. Then again, it’s a safe bet Cuomo will have plenty of labor support, especially from the more conservative trades and his longtime ally, SEIU 1199.
Also, it would be difficult for the public sector unions to outright endorse a Republican challenger if that candidate is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who has had his share of battles with CSEA over the years.
You can watch my entire interview with Kent here. She also discussed the recently pension-related bankruptcy ruling in Detroit and what that might mean for New York.
Dec 10th - 1:09 pm
Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, ever the one to march to the beat of his drum, is appearing alongside Republican Chairman Ed Cox and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a potential GOP contender for governor next year against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The state Republican Party was more than happy to break the news that Astorino was added to the guest list on Tuesday; the event with Cox and Diaz together was announced yesterday. Also due to appear is Democratic Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.
The event, a Toys For Tots charity drive with the U.S. Marine Corps, is being held on Monday at the Rafael Hernandez School in the Bronx.
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, is one of the more socially conservative members of the state Senate, and is a prominent opponent of both abortion and same-sex marriage.
Dec 10th - 12:14 pm
A 13-page report from a commission led by former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall and former Gov. George Pataki found $2 billion worth of recommended tax cuts spread out through 2018, and also provides a carrot-and-stick approach for getting local governments to live within the state’s cap on property tax increases and consolidate services.
In addition to recommending the so-called circuit-breaker approach for property taxes and cuts to business taxes such as a complete phase out of the 18a assessment surchage for utilities, the commission called for linking the tax cap, consolidating services and individual tax credits for homeowners.
In sum, the move appears aimed at goading local officials into shrinking their governments while also providing an incentive for homeowners to back local consolidations and sharing of services in order to receive what is essentially a tax freeze.
Indeed, the move would likely apply more pressure on — or incentive to, depending on your point of view — local governments and school districts to budget within the property tax cap, which was approved in 2011.
Local governments can override the cap with a two-thirds majority of a governing body’s approval.
The cap on local property tax levy increases is generally at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
The freeze would work like this: In the first year, homeowners eligible would see a tax rebate that’s equal to the amount of an increase in their tax bill.
By the second year, the homeowners in municipalities living within the tax cap would receive a receive of their tax increase if the local government is taking “meaningful concrete steps” toward a permanent structural savings such as sharing services or consolidating local governments.
The goal appears to make it so that individual tax savings will in theory become more apparent for homeowners if local governments find ways to merge or share.
“Only through such bold steps can New York hope to achieve a long-term reduction in real property taxes,” the commission’s report found.
Cuomo at a news conference on Long Island announcing the report acknowledged the difficulty in consolidations, which have been opposed when put before voters in the past.
But, he said, it’s necessary to get the country’s highest property taxes under control.
“Corporate America did this 30 years ago,” he said.
McCall, whom Cuomo unsuccessfully challenged in 2002 Democratic primary for governor, was more pointed, saying: “Why are the property taxes so high? It’s because of the spending of our towns and local governments,” he said.
Dec 10th - 11:27 am
Former Gov. David Paterson ruled out a run for the Harlem seat held by longtime Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, Paterson said he hoped Rangel would run for another two-year term later this year as he mulls whether to run for re-election and interviews potential successors.
And he praised Rangel as an “exemplary leader.”
“Since leaving the Governor’s office I have had the good fortune to explore many exciting opportunities in broadcasting and other private endeavors while continuing to be active in public service at the MTA and also finding time to travel and spend time with loved ones. I anticipate a number of exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months, but running for Congress will not be one of them.”
For what it’s worth, Assemblyman Keith Wright — who has also been named as a potential Rangel successor — has said he’s certain the 83-year-old will run again.
Paterson currently has a drive-time radio show co-hosted with Guadrian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
The full statement:
As a long-time resident of Harlem I have always had a very strong affinity for the issues and events that impact the 13th Congressional District. I have also always believed that answering the call to public service is an endeavor that can only be undertaken at one hundred percent capacity, unwavering in the commitment required to effectively represent those that would elect someone to lead. Over the past months speculation surrounding the possibility of attempting to potentially succeed Congressman Charles Rangel has arisen and, with the 2014 election cycle rapidly approaching, I would like to make it clear that I have no intention of running for Congress in the 13th District, either now or in the future.
Since leaving the Governor’s office I have had the good fortune to explore many exciting opportunities in broadcasting and other private endeavors while continuing to be active in public service at the MTA and also finding time to travel and spend time with loved ones. I anticipate a number of exciting opportunities in the coming weeks and months, but running for Congress will not be one of them.
Further, Charles Rangel has been an exemplary leader in our community and continues to fight every day for the people throughout the entirety of the district. It is my hope that he will run for re-election and continue to be our representative in Washington.
Dec 10th - 11:16 am
The state Court of Appeals in a ruling released Tuesday sided with a Fox News reporter who authorities in Colorado are trying to compel her to reveal her source.
In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that the state’s shield law applies to reporter Jana Winter, who had reported on the contents of a notebook written by alleged Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes.
While officials wanted to know who her source was for obtaining the notebook, lawyers for Winter argued that she was protected under the state’s shield law for reporters.
In the majority opinion, Judge Victoria Graffeo stressed it was not granting the state’s shield extra authority in another state and that its ruling was narrow:
And lest there be any confusion, we reiterate that the issue we confront is whether a New York court should issue a subpoena compelling a New York journalist to appear as a witness in another state to give testimony when such a result is inconsistent with the core protection of our Shield Law. Thus, the narrow exception we recognize today, which permits a New York court to consider and apply New York’s journalist’s privilege in relation to issuance of its own process — a subpoena — in a narrow subset of cases, is not tantamount to giving a New York law extraterritorial effect.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Robert Smith — the father of BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith — said just because the communication took place in New York doesn’t mean the state’s shield law applies.
“I do not think this is a proper case, however, because the allegedly privileged communications took place wholly in Colorado, and the New York Shield Law does not apply to them,” Smith wrote.