Elizabeth Alesse

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Posts by Elizabeth Alesse

NY Senators Add Their Voices To HRC Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign just snagged two more famous names to add to their growing list of celebrities and politicians appearing in web videos to promote the legalization of same-sex marriage in NYS.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand both sat for 30 second spots expressing support for the measure.

“The two Senators from New York join the ‘New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign’ at a pivotal moment in the fight for equal rights,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese via press release.

“The Senators’ messages of fairness and equality represent the views of their constituents, the fair-minded people of New York.  With an increasing number of lawmakers in New York supporting marriage equality, full equality is on the horizon.”

Gillibrand delivers her message with decidedly more enthusiasm than Schumer.

The senior senator was opposed to same-sex marriage until 2009.  He reversed his position right around the time his appointed counterpart came out in support of marriage equality.

Gov. Cuomo has said he will push for the legalization of same-sex marriage.  The fate of the issue rests in the hands of the Republican-controlled Senate.  The Marriage Equality Act failed in 2009 when the Democrats held a slim majority.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher discusses her 5-year tuition plan after the SUNY Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution empowering her to negotiate it with the legislature and the governor.

Cuomo Meets With Same-Sex Marriage Advocates

Gov. Cuomo held a not-so-secret meeting today with same-sex marriage advocates to discuss their strategy for moving a same-sex marriage bill through the legislature.

The Marriage Equality Act came up for its first and only vote in the Senate in 2009 and failed by a margin of 38 to 24.

The Assembly has passed same-sex marriage legislature twice.

The governor released a statement this afternoon explaining his reason for holding the private meeting.

“Today’s meeting was one in a series of many meetings to discuss a marriage equality bill.

Same-sex couples deserve the right to join in civil marriage, and it is simply unfair to deny them the freedom to make this decision for themselves and their families. To me this is more than just a piece of legislation. This is about the lives of people who I have known for many years, who currently are without the rights to which they are entitled.

I look forward to working with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that New York joins the growing number of states that allow the freedom to marry for all couples.”

Democrats Announce 26th CD Candidate Pool

On the same day Gov. Cuomo declared May 24 the date for the special election to fill the vacant seat in the 26th Congressional District, the seven Democratic county chairs in the district announced they are beginning the process of interviewing prospective candidates.

Seven Western New Yorkers submitted their resume and cover letter to the county chairs by the March 3 deadline.

“We have now received resumes from a highly qualified pool of interested candidates and are preparing to begin our interview process.

The seven county chairs, as a group, will hold initial phone interviews on Saturday, March 12, with each candidate who submitted a resume and cover letter by our deadline. On Saturday, March 19, we will then meet and hold face-to-face interviews with each candidate at Campus House in Geneseo.

“Our process is moving forward and has been open and inclusive. We are incredibly excited and energized, and are confident we will have the strongest possible candidate to serve the people of the 26th District.”

Here’s the list of Democratic contenders:

  • Jane Bauch, Orleans County
  • Kathy Hochul, Erie County
  • Mark Manna, Erie County
  • Martin Minemier, Monroe County
  • Satish Mohan, Erie County
  • Robert Stall, Erie County
  • Diana Voit, Erie County

A Record Breaking Year For Lobbying

The kind folks at NYPIRG passed along some rather illuminating figures this morning.

According to Commission on Public Integrity records, a recording-breaking $210,664,067 was spent on lobbying in New York in 2010. That represents an increase of $197.8 million (6.5%) over 2009.

The biggest spender was the American Beverage Association that doled out a whopping $12.9 million to oppose the proposed soda tax championed by former DOH Commissioner Richard Daines, who passed away last weekend.

According to NYPIRG, the ABA spent the third highest amount ever on lobbying by a single organization in a year.

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP remained the state’s top lobbying firm spending $10.3 million last year.

Here is the complete release from NYPIRG, including the list of the top 25 lobbying expenditures and campaign contributors last year:

NYPIRG- 2010 Lobbying

State Dem Chair: Senate GOP Flip-Flips Like IHOP

NYS Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs is joining the Senate Democrats in calling out the Senate Republicans for breaking a series of promises since reclaiming the majority.

“Since Senate Republicans regained the majority, they’ve flip-flopped more than the International House of Pancakes,” Jacobs said in a press release.

“They promised fiscal discipline only to massively expand their own staff, adding more than two-dozen employees and $1 million in new salaries. They promised ethics reform, yet won’t walk the walk by requiring legislators to reveal the names of their legal clients.”

“And, now, after promising voters that they would support independent redistricting, Republicans claim that the whole initiative is unconstitutional. The Constitution didn’t change after the election.  The only thing that did change was the Senate GOP’s willingness to live up to their commitments to New Yorkers.”

“Sadly, Republicans believe breaking their campaign pledges on the budget and on ethics is easier than making the hard decisions necessary to confront the challenges facing this state.”

Jacobs’ release features a series of links to news stories to back up his “promises made/promises broken” claims. Leading the list is Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ backing away from the NY Uprising pledge on redistricting reform signed by all 32 GOP members during the 2010 campaign.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, the driving force behind NY Uprising, met with Skelos at the Capitol yesterday and told me on CapTon that he’s holding out hope – based on a statement the majority leader released seeming to back away from his backing away on the pledge – that he might yet come around.

The state Democratic Party was on a bit of a post-election hiatus, but has suddenly re-engaged this week.

First Executive Director Charlie King came out swinging in defense of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, slamming 42 local Democratic elected officials who dared to question the governor’s progressive chops in an open letter.

(That was followed by a pro-Cuomo letter signed by a long list of local electeds who are Cuomo allies – from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings).

This is all very interesting, particularly when you consider the fact that Cuomo is the de facto head of the state party, and it’s highly unlikely any of these statements are going out with out the OK from the second floor.

The governor has so far declined to directly criticize the Senate GOP, no doubt recognizing he’s going to need them as allies in the budget battle – particularly when it comes to his more conservative agenda items like the property tax cap.

Kirwan Returns To Albany

Eleven days after he won the last legislative race in the nation, Tom Kirwan is officially a member of the Assembly once again representing the 100th district in the Hudson Valley.

Kirwan Swearing-in

The 77-year-old Republican from Newburgh ousted the incumbent Frank Skartados who bested Kirwan two years ago.

The GOP win gives the Assembly minority conference just enough seats to quash the Democrats’ veto-proof majority.

Corwin Courts Conservatives

Assemblywoman and Republican Congressional candidate Jane Corwin has reached out to Conservative party leaders in New York asking for their backing in the race for the 26th district.

Her campaign released a letter dated Feb. 22 touting her conservative credentials and highlighting her experience running a small business.

NYS Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long indicated the party would wait to select its candidate until after the governor sets a date for the special election.

Two candidates who expressed interest in the Republican nomination, Jack Davis and David Bellavia, are now seeking the Conservative party nod.

The full text of Corwin’s letter appears after the jump.
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Corwin Wades Into Nat’l Politics

She’s been an official candidate for Congress for about 24 hours, and Republican Assemblyman Jane Corwin is already taking on the White House.

She released this statement today in response to yesterday’s announcement that the Obama administration will no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act:

“The President of the United States swore an oath to uphold the laws of our great country and as a member of the Executive Branch he needs to enforce those laws, including the Defense of Marriage Act. It is the Supreme Court’s job to consider the constitutionality of the law and the President should not usurp the authority of the Supreme Court.


“The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law nearly 15 years ago by President Clinton – he himself a democrat like President Obama – who understood that marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman. While more Americans lose their jobs every day, the Obama Administration is blatantly ignoring the law of the land for a political stunt, and I hope the Administration will reconsider this wrong decision and focus on strengthening the economy and creating jobs, the number one issue the majority of Western New Yorkers care about.”

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Nixon Lobbies Against Education Cuts

Just days after NYSUT launched a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign in opposition to the governor’s proposed budget cuts, the Alliance for Quality Education is out with a web video featuring a famous New Yorker.

Cynthia Nixon of “Sex and the City” fame is known entity in NYS politics.  She has lobbied on behalf of AEQ in the past and is an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage.

In the video entitled “Priorities,” Nixon lays out some scenarios that could result from the governor’s proposed $1.5 billion in cuts to education.

She says the cuts will lead to the elimination of programs, cutting teaching jobs, closing schools, etc., which Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto calls scenarios “plucked out of thin air.”

Nixon also urges New Yorkers to send in home videos explaining to Governor Cuomo how his proposed cuts hurt them.  The best entry wins an iPad or a $1,000 donation to a classroom or youth group.

UPDATE: AQE’s Billy Easton called to respond: “These scenarios are not plucked from thin air, plucked from the front pages of newspapers all across the state. It sounds like the governor’s people are out of touch with how these school cuts actually effect local communities all across the state.”