Mar 8th - 1:16 pm
LG Bob Duffy this morning called the governor’s plan to increase the rate of participation by MWBE businesses to 20 percent “a great starting point,” saying the administration hopes to push that even further in the future.
Back in February, the governor issued an executive order establishing a 30-member committee to explore ways to overcome institutional barriers faced by MWBEs in the procurement process and more than double the current participation rate of 9.2 percent.
“We can go beyond 20 precent across the state if we do our jobs and work collaboratively,” Duffy said.
“When I was a mayor, issues like bonding availability of capital are all challenges. I think those are all things we have to work on, especially in this economy, but it can be done because MWBE businesses are going to be the backbone of change in this state.”
Here’s some video of Duffy and Senate Minority Leader John Sampson’s remarks. The LG also said new York should be looking to neighboring Pennsylvania as a model for business development:
Mar 8th - 1:13 pm
Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous insisted during a CapTon interview last night that the Republican majority is striving to work with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, despite splitting with him on several key issues – so much so that their cooperation might be catching the governor by surprise.
Libous told me the Senate plans to take up and pass the governor’s Power for Jobs bill today. It will also likely confirm four more of Cuomo’s administration appointees, all of whom are being considered by the Senate Finance Committee as I type.
“So far we have done a number of things that the governor has given us,” Libous told me.
“We passed the election bill that he gave us. We’re going to pass, I think, Power for Jobs tomorrow. That will be the third governor’s program bill. The Assembly’s only done one.”
“And I think maybe we’re surprising him a little bit- that the Senate actually wants to move in a positive direction and we’re willing to work with him. I think that makes people sometimes wonder or suspicious.”
Libous said he thought Cuomo might have also been surprised by the passage of the LIFO repeal bill being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg (it was narrowing approved, 33-27). That might have led to the governor’s hasty announcement of his own teacher evaluation bill, the senator speculated.
The Binghamton Republican said his conference remains allied with Cuomo on opposing the extension of the millionaire’s tax, saying it would be a “mistake” for the Assembly Democrats to include that in their budget proposal next week. I noted opinion polls show public support for the extension, and he replied:
“That’s if you read polls, sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t…Selective poll reading, but I’m talking about principle. I mean, if you’re going to do no taxes, you have to do no taxes.”
Mar 8th - 12:46 pm
It’s refreshing! Tastes great! And is a dead ringer for orange soda (on which, in spite of former Gov. David Paterson’s best efforts, there is still no so-called “fat” tax).
Drink up, Republicans, says state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King.
“We’re bringing this scientifically and medically proven fact, this juice – I don’t suggest any reporters drink it while on – but this juice has been shown to actually bring about the truth,” said King of his latest stunt, of which he declined to partake himself.
“So, let (Senate Republicans) take a sip of it and let New Yorkers know what’s really going on. I’ve tried it. It was a difficult situation, but I’m not going to to it today.”
King delivered bottles of his “juice” to all 32 Republican senators. He also toted eight additional bottles for “friends.”
He stuck to the Cuomo script on all matters, even going so far as to insist that he wasn’t aware of any public support for the so-called millionaire’s tax, despite the fact that public polls have found widespread support for extending the temporary personal income tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.
UPDATE: There’s also a rather lengthy statement from state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, which appears after the jump.
Mar 8th - 12:34 pm
New Roosevelt Initiative founder Bill Samuels told me on CapTon last night he plans to up the ante in his push for redistricting reform by targeting two Republican senators in their home districts.
Samuels, an outspoken and sometimes eccentric Democratic activist whose group played a role in ousting former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. last year, declined to tell me how much money he plans to spend or reveal the names of the lawmakers in his crosshairs.
Two likely targets: Freshmen Jack Martins, who bumped Democrat Craig Johnson in Nassau County last fall, restoring the entire Long Island delegation to GOP hands; and former Assemblyman-turned-Sen. Greg Ball, who won a contentious primary and then landed the seat that belonged to the former Sen. Vincent Leibell.
UPDATE: To be clear, the NRI hasn’t yet settled on any targets for its redistricting campaign, nor has it launched anything formally yet. Samuels said he’ll be making an announcement in the next week or so.
Samuels said he doesn’t think Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing enough to push his redistricting reform bill, saying the governor should expend some political capital to hold the Senate Republicans to their collective NY Uprising pledge last fall.
(Keep in mind, this interview took place before state Democratic Party Charlie King’s appearance in the Capitol this morning to deliver so-called “truth juice” to the Senate Republicans and call them out on redistricting).
Mar 8th - 12:18 pm
The Center for Justice & Democracy has filed a formal ethics complaint with the Public Integrity Commission calling for an investigation into four Medicaid Redesign Team members whose employes stand to gain from the reforms/cost-cutting plan they helped devise and are now championing.
The complaint names HANYS President Dan Sisto, GNYHA President Ken Rakse, North Shore LIJ Health System President and CEO Michael Dowling and consultant Jeffrey Sachs, who is also a close friend and advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“We believe this matter of a great urgency as the Governor has included in his budget MRT Proposal 131 and these measures will directly benefit the employers of Team members, inviolation of state law,” the complaint states.
“We ask the Commission to use all investigatory tools necessary toinvestigate this matter as quickly as possible.”
This isn’t the first time Sachs and the role he has played both on the MRT and in the Cuomo administration has raised questions. Good government advocates and the Center for Justice & Democracy called last month for Sachs to reveal his client list and for the PIC to investigate whether he had violated the lobbying law by failing to register.
Cuomo dismissed that call, saying at first that he wasn’t buying the conflict-of-interest argument.
He later insisted he’s following the law to make sure Sachs has no undue influence on his, pointing out members of advisory boards aren’t legally required to reveal their clients.
Mar 8th - 12:00 pm
Erie Council Executive Chris Collins is demonstrating his support of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s congressional bid in NY-26 by sending his top aide to run her campaign.
Collins announced today his chief of staff, Christopher M. Grant, has taken an unpaid leave of absence (effective yesterday) to serve as Corwin’s campaign manager.
“Chris is a dedicated and valuable member of my team, and while he will be missed, his talents are needed to help Assemblywoman Corwin bring her common sense approach and fiscally conservative principles to Washington, DC to represent the residents of New York’s 26th Congressional District,” Collins said.
Collins’ communications director, Grant Loomis, will serve as acting chief of staff in Grant’s absence.
Other developments in NY-26, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the seat of disgraced former Rep. Chris Lee before the week is out:
- Corwin launched a radio ad that describes her as a “small businesswoman” and “conservative voice” who will “fight to cut federal spending” and “balance the federal budget” and “protect out Constitutional freedoms by taking on Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”
The ad, which you can listen to here, notes Corwin has the second-highest rating in the Assembly from the state Conservative Party, an “A” rating from the NRA and the highest rating from the “pro-business, pro-jobs” advocacy group Unshackle Upstate.
Clearly, this is an effort to counter claims by Corwin’s rival for Row C, David Bellavia, that the assemblywoman is actually a liberal Republican and not a true conservative. That line of attack doesn’t seem to be catching fire with the Conservative Party, which appears poised to follow the GOP’s lead and endorse Corwin in the race for Lee’s seat.
- The Democratic Party is expected to announce within the next hour or so a formal process for selecting a candidate in NY-26.
The frontrunner for the Democratic nod is Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul, but there’s widespread speculation the Cuomo camp would prefer to see her stick around and take on Collins this fall in hopes of ridding the governor of a potential 2014 rival.
No wonder Collins is so heavily invested in this race.
Mar 8th - 11:42 am
ICYMI: MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” folks criticized rival CNN with relish this morning for dumping columnist Kathleen Parker from the erstwhile “Parker Spitzer” show, saying she had been “brutalized” by the network.
H/T Newsbusters Mark Finkelstein. He takes CNN’s side and also notes the folks showering praise on Parker aren’t exactly the most conservative of commentators, which sort of undercuts the whole argument of her being a supposed counterweight to the former governor.
Mar 8th - 11:10 am
Education Reform Now has hit the airwaves with a new TV ad that backs Mayor Bloomberg’s push to repeal the last in, first out rule on public school teacher layoffs, arguing in favor of a merit-based evaluation system.
This spot, which is running in NYC and Albany markets, counters the UFT’s new ad campaign that insists Bloomberg is unfairly targeting unionized teachers and unnecessarily pushing for layoffs in spite of the city’s $3 billlion surplus.
New York City is going to be forced to send thousands of pink slips to the wrong teachers if the state doesn’t act soon,” said Joe Williams of Education Reform Now.
“We’ve got to be allowed to protect our best classroom teachers, regardless of seniority, and the state should act quickly to inject some common sense into the layoff process.”
ERN is a pro-charter school group that was heavily involved in the Race to the Top push to lift the charter school cap.
This is at least its second LIFO-related ad. Teachers unions and their allies note that ERN is financed by wealthy hedge funders who met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the run-up to his gubernatorial run last year.
Cuomo is a charter school supporter, but he has stopped short of siding with Bloomberg and his allies in the LIFO war. The governor angered the mayor by introducing his own teacher evaluation bill, which doesn’t repeal LIFO, shortly after the GOP-controlled Senate passed the bill the mayor championed. The two have since calmed their public rhetoric and are talking about talking on this contentious topic.
Here’s the ERN ad script:
Narrator: 1.1 million New York City school children. A $10 billion Albany budget shortfall. How do we protect our kids? By guaranteeing we have the best teachers in the classroom.”
“That means changing Albany’s outdated law so we can keep teachers based on merit, not seniority. And continuing Mike Bloomberg’s education reforms: recruiting top-notch teachers, raising graduation rates, demanding results. Because if we want great schools for our kids, we must keep great teachers in the classroom.”
Mar 8th - 10:36 am
Long Island Congressman Pete King defended his upcoming hearings on the radicalization of Muslims during a roughly 12 minute interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning.
The Republican Congressman also argued with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who was critical of King in his column today, calling the hearings a “public exercise in Islamophobia” and saying it “can do no good – and much harm.”
“These hearings are absolutely essential. I am facing reality. My critics are not. They want to get tied up in some world of political correctness,” King responded.
Robinson also accused King of making a shocking accusation that Muslims don’t talk to law enforcement. King fired back by saying the Thursday hearing will feature testimony from Islamic families who will tell personal stories of how their relatives became more radical, and about how certain Imam’s encouraged other Muslims to protect potential terrorists.
Update: King also says New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly has assigned someone from his staff to work with Rep. King for the next two years during his investigation. After conferring with Liz B., we both think this is the first time this has been mentioned.
A frequent reader of SOP also suggests that having a member of the NYPD assigned to look into the radicalization of Muslims might create a political problem for Mayor Bloomberg.
Mar 8th - 9:22 am
Add one more name to the list of people descending on the Capitol for lobby day: State Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King.
In King’s case, however, the target audience is reporters, not lawmakers.
The Democratic official, who was hand-picked by then-gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo during the 2010 campaign, will hold an 11 a.m. press availability on the Capitol’s third floor “calling on GOP State Senators to follow through on their promise to support independent redistricting,” according to a press release.
King’s appearance comes on the heels of the Democratic Party’s release this morning of a radio ad featuring Cuomo calling on New Yorkers to pressure legislators to support his budget and ethics reform plans.
The party, of which Cuomo is the de facto head, has been stepping up its involvement on behalf of the governor over the past week.
King engaged in a war of words with local Democratic elected officials who questioned Cuomo’s progressive credentials in an open letter last week, and state Party Chairman Jay Jacobs accused the Senate GOP of flip-flopping on a host of issues – including redistricting reform.
Cuomo introduced a redistricting reform bill, but so far hasn’t invested much political capital in trying to get it passed.
However, the fact that the Democratic Party is getting involved to supplement the Senate Democrats’ push to hold the Republicans accountable for seemingly renegging on their reform promise to ex-NYC Mayor Ed Koch indicates the governor is indeed serious about trying to get this measure addressed in the current session.
That’s bad news for the Senate GOP, which has been arguing for more time on redistricting reform, noting the next district lines don’t have to be in place until 2012.