Michael Johnson

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Posts by Michael Johnson

Silver, Skelos, Klein Mourn Ed Koch

Here’s the statement from Speaker Sheldon Silver on the passing of Ed Koch.

It is with great sadness that I mourn the passing of the inimitable Ed Koch. Born and educated in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants, a staunch supporter of Israel, Ed was a man I respected and a friend I treasured.

We served the people of Lower Manhattan together, and I remember fondly walking the neighborhoods with Ed and witnessing the charisma and empathy he brought to every encounter. I am proud to have had him as my congressman and mayor.

Ed’s path through life led from the Bronx to the battlefields of Europe back to the skyscrapers of Manhattan. He was a visionary who used his political acumen to bring his dreams to fruition and to blaze a trail wide enough for a generation of New Yorkers to follow.

The resolve with which he fought for his city, state, and country forged an admirable legacy. Thanks to his leadership as mayor, the City was transformed. From restoring fiscal stability, to building affordable housing, Ed’s mayoralty fueled a metropolitan renaissance.

A decorated veteran, Ed never hesitated when it came to fighting necessary battles. He went to war when his country called him. He served the people as a City councilman, congressman, and mayor, and remained a devoted public servant long after his time in office. Looking at the tenacity with which he continued to advocate for the issues dear to his heart – transparency in government, access and equality for the citizens of this city and state – one could argue that Ed never left office.

Although our opinions sometimes diverged, I will miss his colorful character, his bold spirit, and his sharp wit. A great New Yorker has passed away this morning. May he rest in peace.

And here is the statement from Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who butted heads with Koch in past years over redistricting. Koch specifically called out Skelos for not living up to the pledge he made to Koch’s group NY Uprising to support independent redistricting.

With the passing of Ed Koch, New York has lost one of its true larger-than-life political leaders. He had a passion for public service, and an outsized personality to match.
As a Congressman, Mayor and political commentator, Ed Koch brought enthusiasm to everything he did, and he never stopped fighting for the causes he believed in.
All those who knew or worked with Ed Koch, or were fortunate enough to meet him, understand today that he’ll be sorely missed by the people of New York.

And here is Senate Independent Democrat Leader Jeff Klein’s statement on Koch’s death.

“Ed Koch was a rare breed of politician. I learned that first-hand while interning on his second reelection campaign. It was my first foray into politics, and it was an experience that I will never forget.

“Mayor Koch was a brash, honest, and unyielding reformer. But what set Ed Koch apart was that he always took the time to articulate his argument in thoughtful and compelling terms. During his years in and out of elected office, New York was the better for it.

“As many of us valued, there was never any hiding the ball with Ed Koch. Whether we were discussing policy or politics, I always knew exactly where he stood. That’s something that many in public life have tried to emulate, but few have had the courage to replicate.

” I send my deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will all miss him.”

Pataki On Koch Death: ‘Happy To Call Him Friend And Share The Ride’

Our inbox is getting filled up with lots of statements on the passing of Ed Koch.

This one just came in from former Governor George Pataki who received Koch’s endorsement when he ran for Governor for the first time in 1994, unseating Mario Cuomo.

“The ‘elevator’ of life, like politics has its ups and downs and no one enjoyed the ride more than our great Mayor, Ed Koch. From his outspoken honesty, to his great New York accent, Hizzoner was larger than life. His wit, his wisdom, his candor and his irrepressible spirit will be sorely missed. I was so happy to call him friend and share the ride.”

NRCC Attacks Rep. Maloney For House Majority PAC Ad

The NRCC is blasting newly elected Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney for his role in a new web ad highlighting the success of the House Majority PAC in the last election cycle.

Maloney is one of a handful of freshman Democrats who talk about the impact the PAC had on their election to Congress. Candidates are not allowed to coordinate with these Super PACs during campaigns. But taping an ad for them after the fact isn’t against the law.

In a press release the NRCC says this is “unprecedented”. And it suggests that this is a sign that Maloney is bought and paid for by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who founded the House Majority PACwho supports the PAC.

“It only took a couple weeks but Sean Patrick Maloney has already gone Washington, starring in an ad to thank Nancy Pelosi’s Super PAC for using special interest money to get him into office. It should be no surprise that Maloney is putting Nancy Pelosi’s interests ahead of New York families – Pelosi bought Maloney his seat,” said NRCC Spokesman Nathaniel Sillin

Here’s the ad:

Schumer Quips That Soft Jazz Music May Have Mellowed House GOP

During a Seante leadership news conference today in DC, Senator Chuck Schumer joked that the House Republicans have mellowed since their recent retreat to Williamsburg, Virginia, where the conference decided not to fight the White House over raising the debt ceiling.

Instead they proposed and passed a temporary extension today that also implements a new bill that would withhold Congress members salaries if they don’t pass a budget.

Schumer says he didn’t know what happened at the retreat to make the House GOP abandon their previous stance of demanding budget cuts matching the dollar amount that the debt ceiling was increased to. But he had some ideas.

“It sure had a mellowing effect on their members. Mayber there were deep breathing exercises. Soft Jazz music. But something good happened,” Schumer said. “Either way, we welcome the outcome of their retreat.”

Today the House passed the bill increasing the debt ceiling by a vote of 285-144. The Senate is expected to also pass the bill.

Watch Video Here >>

YNN.com Video


Added: Rachel Maddow scored an interview with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to talk Sandy devastation for the website Gotham.

President Obama delivered an optimistic 2nd inauguration speech, calling Americans to act on many issues.

The speech was praised by black leaders for its focus on civil rights.

For the first time in an inaugural address the word “gay” was used as President Obama called for marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The New York Times Editorial Board says the speech revealed more of his political philosophy than any specific plans for the next four years.

The National Review editors described it like this: “The rhetoric is still soaring, and the country is still stagnating.

Obama’s 18-minute speech also touched briefly on the tragedy at Newtown, CT.

A federal judge gave Assemblyman William Boyland permission to attend the inauguration today, even though the terms of his bail say he cannot travel out of New York State.

The inaugural was truly a star-studded affair.

Officials estimate that more than one million people were in attendance.

Obama took a moment to savor the moment and look out into the crowd.

Vice President Joe Biden had an unusual toast for NY Senator Chuck Schumer – saying “You can’t get rid of me, man. Remember, I’m still part of the Senate!”

Ceremonies celebrating the life of Martin Luther King Jr. took place in NYC, Albany, Rochester, and many other places.

The Steuben County Sheriff’s Department slams the NY SAFE gun control law passed last week.

Few details have been released about the budget proposal Governor Cuomo will roll out tomorrow.

Financial disclosure records show that former state Sen. Jim Alesi decided not to seek another term days after spending nearly $10,000 on an internal poll.

Prince Harry has returned from a deployment to Afghanistan where he reportedly killed Taliban insurgents.

Russia is considering a law that would fine same-sex couples who kiss in public.

Get the shovels ready in Western New York tonight.

Obama Inauguration Speech

Here is the full text of President Barack Obama’s 2nd Inaugural Speech as prepared for delivery.

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.
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Here And Now

President Obama’s second inaugural takes place today at 11am. We will have live coverage of the event on YNN and NY1 starting at 10:30am. Politico.com has a good guide to today’s events.

It is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Most government offices are closed, and there are several events planned throughout the state. The official New York ceremony gets underway at 10am this morning at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.

At 11AM, Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a Community Interfaith Celebration at Trinity Baptist Church in the Bronx.

Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

To the headlines now.

TU reports that Cuomo will call for mandate relief in his budget address on Tuesday, possibly even tackling the Scaffold Law, which would make business groups and local governments very happy.

Cuomo is also lining up pro-business interests that support a minimum wage increase as heads into the session.

Fred Dicker reports that many owners of assault rifles are going to boycott the mandatory registering of their weapons as part of the NY SAFE Law passed last week.

The gun bill was a first test for the new Senate coalition, but many hurdles remain.

Buffalo area Republican Mark Grisanti is facing a backlash from his constituents after he voted for the bill. The only upstate Republican to do so.

Ken Lovett remarks that the gun lobby “had its silencer on” last week when lawmakers passed the bill.

The DN’s Mike Lupica calls Gov. Cuomo the “most effective political leader in the country” as he praises him for leading the way on gun control.

Auburn Citizen suggests a Governor with presidential aspirations could be a good thing for NY, and it could be a bad thing as well.

VP Joe Biden’s 2016 aspirations are on the rise after a productive few months.

President Obama is expected to strike an optimistic tone in his inaugural address today.

Speech may have a similar tone to his address four years ago, because he faces many of the same challenges.

WNY Democrats say they are equally as excited for Pres. Obama’s 2nd inauguration even though it is a more low-key event than 4 years ago.

Obama’s daughters still can’t use Facebook.

One of the first post inauguration issues on the President’s plate will be a budget deal.

NY Sen. Chuck Schumer says the Senate will pass one this year for the first time since 2009.

Hudson Valley Congresswoman Nita Lowey wants earmarks returned to members of Congress.

Troubled Assemblyman Vito Lopez has raised little campaign cash since his sexual harrassment case broke.

Tkaczyk Unofficial Winner In 46th SD (Updated)

With almost all the ballots counted in the 46th Senate District race, Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk holds a 19-vote lead over Republican Assemblyman George Amedore and is the unoffical winner in the race.

There is still one ballot to be counted in Albany County. A newly found ballot in Montgomery County could also be counted, though it would make no difference in the final outcome.

Amedore’s campaign could still ask for a hand recount in the race, but his attorney tells us that is unlikely.

Tkaczyk just released this statement declaring victory:

“It is an incredible privilege to have been selected by the people of the 46th District to serve as their State Senator. No one believed our campaign had a chance in a district hand-carved by Republicans, and yet the power of good ideas and a strong campaign proved itself. Thanks to all those who volunteered both on the campaign itself as well as the successful post-election ballot counting process,” Tkaczyk said.

“I am honored to stand with Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and my fellow Democratic Senators, in pursuing the common sense, progressive agenda that New Yorkers demand. I look forward to hitting the ground running to serve my new constituents because there is no time to waste addressing the many challenges facing our state.”

Her victory makes the official party breakdown in the state Senate: 5 Independent Democrats, 27 Democrats, 30 Republicans, and one Simcha Felder, who is a Democrat conferencing with the GOP.

Bottom line: There are now more Democrats than Republicans in the chamber, making the power-sharing agreement between the IDC and Republicans more necessary. If Amedore had won the seat, the Republican conference (with Felder) would have had 32 members – enough to pass legislation without Democrats or IDC members.

UPDATE: I (Liz) traded texts with IDC spokesman Eric Soufer, who said he’s not yet prepared to issue an official statement on the 46th SD outcome. He did tell me, however, that Tkaczyk’s win will not impact the IDC-GOP coalition – even though the Democrats would now be able to control the chamber outright if the 5 IDC members returned to the fold.

Cuomo: NYC Failure To Reach Teacher Eval Deal Is A Tragedy

Speaking to Rep. Pete King, who was guest hosting for John Gambling on WOR 710 this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was a tragedy that New York City and United Federation of Teachers failed to reach a deal on teacher evaluations, losing out on as much as $450 million in state and federal aid.

“I said last year to the roughly 700 school districts that if you don’t do it, you are not going to get an increase in funding. If you want to get paid, you have to perform. That is the way the world works. I said this a year ago. Almost every school district got it done in the state except New York City. There is a very small handful that didn’t get it done and New York City is by far the largest. They have asked me several times if I would extend the deadline. And I said no. Because a deadline is a deadline. And if you extend, then the next time you say it is a deadline than it’s really not,” Cuomo said.

“So they missed the deadline and the city is not going to get the funding. And it’s a tragedy. It really is a tragedy. And they both failed. One is going to point at the other and ask me who is right, who is wrong. I don’t know who is right or wrong. But I know they both failed because we needed an agreement. And now the education system in the city is going to suffer.”

Yesterday both the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg held separate press conferences within about 30 minutes of one another, and each blamed the other side for their inability to reach consensus.

Bloomberg claimed an agreement could not be reached due to added requests from the teachers’ union. But UFT President Michael Mulgrew said at a later that an agreement was in fact reached, but the mayor renegged on the deal.

The bulk of the radio interview between King and Cuomo focused on the Sandy aid relief package that the 113th Congress passed after both houses of the 112th failed to do so before the end of 2012.

Both Cuomo and King berated lawmakers for taking so long to act on an aid package to assist New Yorkers impacted by the storm.

“The most fierce opposition in Congress we had came from members of Congress in states like Texas and Florida and Gulf states who have received the most aid in the past. California which received earthquake aid. States in the midwest that have got money for tornadoes and floods. They were leading the opposition to us,”King said.

“I just found it disgraceful. And quite frankly it is going to be difficult going back and working with people who you sit next to and when they were in need we responded immediately. Not one member of Congress ever voted against or said one word of opposition to aid going to other states when the money was needed. Yet, we were going around like 3rd world beggars – at least they wanted to put is in that position.”

Cuono and King also discussed New York’s passage of new gun control laws, specifically banning assault weapons, which the Long Island Republican said he supports.

Cuomo reiterated what he has been saying througout the week – that the legislation was long overdue. He went on to say that government has been “delinquent” on the issue of guns because it was politically difficult to take action.

DiNapoli Freezes Investments Into Gun Manufacturers

Right as the State Assembly was passing the new gun control legislation, NY SAFE, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that he has frozen all state pension fund investments into commercial firearm manufacturers.

“The New York State Common Retirement Fund will not buy stock in companies whose primary business is manufacturing firearms for commercial sale,” DiNapoli said. “After the terrible events in Newtown, it is clear that the national movement toward greater regulation of firearms manufacturers will impose significant reputational, regulatory and statutory hurdles that may affect shareholder value. As the fiduciary of the Fund, it is my obligation to protect and grow Fund assets and we will continue to monitor the economic and regulatory environment before taking any additional steps.”

DiNapoli says the move only impacts one company – Sturm, Ruger and Company – whose investments equal about $2 million. According to a press release, DiNapoli says the state Pension Fund does not hold stock in any other company whose primary source is gun manufacturing.

DiNapoli notes that all stock in Smith and Wesson Holding Corporation were sold by an outside manager in their entirety on December 18, 2012.

Last month, after the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT, DiNapoli said he was reviewing all the pension funds investments into gun makers.