Nick Reisman

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Lopez: Conditional Support For Weiner

Brooklyn Democratic Chairman and Assemblyman Vito Lopez issued conditional support for embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, saying that his years in public service shouldn’t be tarnished by the lewd photos sent to women over social networks.

“Unless I’m aware of things that I’m not aware of currently, I will continue to support him. I believe his ability to lead and accomplish a great deal will continue. He’s been a spokesman for reform and I value his accomplishments.

But he said Weiner’s dream of becoming mayor could be imperiled if the scandal isn’t resolved in a “satisfactory manner.”

I believe the key to his running for mayor is key to the way this is resolved. If it’s not resolved in a satisfactory manner, it could be problematical.

Silver, Skelos And Sunsets (Video added)

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’s opposition to the sunset on the Assembly’s version of the 2 percent cap on local property taxes isn’t ruffling Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

He said after the news conference on the ethics deal that tying the cap to expire alongside rent control for New York City — effectively wedding a downstate concern with an upstate issue — won’t hinder the passage.

“I think that’s the nature of our agreement in terms of rent and in terms of tax cap and it’s a good thing,” Silver said. “I think something that’s unique and new and we should turn around and look at the impact of what we’ve done.”

The tax cap agreement came even though legislators hadn’t agreed on a specific expiration date. At the time, Skelos said he agreed with everything but the sunset date.

But Silver, in denying that the deal had fallen apart, said the deal was still being worked through, but opened the door to the possibility that a cap won’t be approved

“Wemay have to make some changes, some numbers may change or the world may decide we don’t need a tax cap,” he said. ” don’t know if that deal is falling apart. We focused on the other aspect of that bill, which is rent and that’s where the momentum is right now.”

Skelos, for his part, remained confident that the negotiations would still result in a bill being passed.

“Frst of all, there have been no real discussions on the cap since we announced the agreement. We’ve been working on the ethics bill. I feel very strongly about the sunset for businesses who are looking to make decisions, to locate to stay in the state for families it’s critically important. And I’m also convinced that we’re going to work out whatever problems we have. That’s my position, we’re going to work it through.”

The Case Of Greg Ball’s Office And The ‘Fake’ Email (Updated)

A Hudson Valley newspaper is alleging Sen. Greg Ball’s office fabricated email addresses of constituents in order to send a laudatory letter to thed editor.

The constituent claims the letter was meant to be private and never for publication.

From The Lewisboro Ledger:

Dan Branda, the Republican senator’s deputy communications director, created an e-mail account in the name of a resident who had written the senator thanking him for helping her daughter. He then used that e-mail address to send the letter to the editors of The Ledger and other local publications to be printed.

But Robyn Fields of South Salem who wrote the letter on May 22 and her husband, Robert, said they sent that letter in private, never gave permission to have it sent to the press and the e-mail address The Ledger received it from was not theirs, despite it having Ms. Fields’ full name in the address.

“There was no reason why the senator’s office had to engage in such subterfuge by creating the false e-mail address and, thus, making it look like my wife sent a letter to The Ledger that, in reality, she did not send,” Mr. Fields told The Ledger.

The full story, which can be found here, is a little confusing, includes some back and forth between Ball’s office and the constituent, with both claiming the other is wrong.

UPDATE: The unedited letter in question, which was posted here, included personal information and so was taken down until it can be redacted. Thanks. Also, Ball’s office is insisting nothing untoward occurred here, and that his aide was merely trying to help a constituent.

In Albany, Mehlman Makes Gay Marriage Pitch

Ken Mehlman, the former Republican National Committee Chairman and a key architect of George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, is in Albany today to lobby for same-sex marriage.

Mehlman, who came out as a gay man last year, said he was meeting with Republican senators who have not taken a public position on same-sex marriage.

He refused to say which GOP lawmakers he met with. However, Sens. Roy McDonald and Greg Ball have both said they are undecided. Sen. Jim Alesi has said he’s made up his mind, but won’t say how he’ll vote (check YNN’s gay-marriage vote tracker for more info).

Mehlman said he was making his same-sex marriage pitch to the legislators based on what he said were basica Republican principles of family values and fairness.

“It’s fairly clear there’s been a big change about how voters feel about this issue, especially a majority of independents,” he told reporters. “In terms of Republican values and interests, a party that stands for freedom, a party that stands for freedom and a party that stands for the gold rule ought to be supportive.”

He wouldn’t say whether he agreed with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to not introduce the bill in the Republican-led Senate unless the votes are available.

But Mehlman did say he was sure a measure would be placed before legislators by the end of the month (which, by the way, is rapidly approaching).

“I’m speaking as a New York resident who also has a long history in Republican politics. Again, I leave that to experts. I’m hopeful and confident there will be an up or down vote,” he said.

Grandeau: We’re Commenting On A Press Release Right Now

David Grandeau, the former executive director of the defunct Temporary Commission on Lobbying, said it’s difficult to comment on the ethics overhaul announcement without any details.

But Grandeau, a fierce critic of the successor organization Commission on Public Integrity, said he liked what he saw so far of the proposed Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which would replace the CPI.

“The basic question is, how do you comment on something when you don’t have a bill, so we’re commenting on the press release right now,” he said.

As of right now, there’s no formal bill language that’s been introduced. Officials said the bill language will be available by the planned 2:15 news conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

“But at the end of the day, to the extent that what results from this press release gets rid of the Public Integrity Commission, we have an opportunity for new people, I think we’re making a huge step ahead,” he said.

Grandeau also said governor receiving fewer appointees to JCOPE than the Legislature is not a problem.

“It’s going to be the picks. If you have six good picks, it’s better than Spitzer’s seven bad picks, isn’t it? So let’s judge this governor on who those picks are and what those picks are.”

‘Alcopops’ Ban On Senate Agenda

The Senate today will consider a measure that would ban caffeinated-alcoholic beverages in New York, a move aimed at stemming the so-called “alcopops” market critics say is aimed at minors.

The measure, sponsored by Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference, would make it a felony to sell alcoholic beverages like Four Loko that contain stimulants.

The Assembly version is sponsored by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who famously attempted to drink Four Loko, with rather gross results.

From the bill memo:

The popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol at bars has led to the introduction of energy drinks premixed with alcohol. Many of these beverages are primarily malt based beverages, and therefore,
can be sold in the same places as beer and malt liquor, i.e., supermarkets, convenience stores, and bodegas. These sales points are also the same place that teenagers can hang around at and purchase soda and snacks. High alcohol CABs such as Joose and Four Loko are examples of this trend.

Last week, Klein announced would subpeona the makers of Four Loko to determine how they market their product. Klein believes the Chicago-based company tailors its marketing to entice those underage to drink the brew.

Koch: One Down

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, the driving force behind the reformist New York Uprising, is cheering the ethics overhaul deal, giving credit to voters for holding lawmakers’ feet to the fire on the issue.

In a letter sent to supporters, Koch congratulated them for backing ethics reform. Koch singled out the new Joint Comission on Public Ethics for having “teeth” and praised the bill for its requirements to disclose client lists.

But Koch also says more work needs to be done: He still wants an independent commission to redraw legislative boundaries.

From his letter:

Congratulations to the Governor and his colleagues on reaching this essential milestone.

And just as important: Congratulations to you. The crescendo toward this moment has been building over the last year or so. After relentlessly helping to make ethics reform a major issue in virtually every campaign in the state, we successfully raised its profile and placed tremendous pressure on the system and the players to enact a strong bill before the end of session.

New York Uprising set out by identifying the three most important reforms necessary for fixing our state’s dysfunctional government — including Ethics Reform. With your support behind me, I traveled the state, calling for outside income disclosure in Buffalo, disclosure of client lists in Long Island, and in Albany, a state ethics commission with teeth.

Diaz: I’m Keeping Weiner In My Prayers

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, said he was keeping embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner in his prayers, knocking how their fellow Democrats are deserting him.

Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, said it was “shameful” to see other officials abandon him after Weiner’s twitter account sent a lewd photo to a woman in Seattle.

Here’s the full statement from Diaz:

“The Bible teaches us to take care of others and to help others when they are down.

It is appalling to witness the way that Congressman Anthony Weiner’s colleagues have been running away from him during these past few days. It is just shameful to see how many of Congressman Weiner’s supposed friends – especially those who are elected officials – have abandoned him as the media makes a total mockery of him.

Although Congressman Weiner has never defended my positions on some of the issues that matter most to me, I know that he has fought hard for New York State. He has fought hard for the Democratic Party, for his colleagues in the Democratic Party, and for the President of the United States.

I am not defending any mistakes he may have made – who knows – but it is shameful to watch this ongoing ridicule of Congressman Weiner.

I am praying for Congressman Weiner and I ask everyone to join me and pray for him during these difficult times.”

Skelos On Ethics Bill: ‘Significant Reform’

Individual members of the of GOP conference were involved in the ethics overhaul negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said in a radio interview this morning.

“This has really been a legislatively involved process,” Skelos told John Gambling this morining.

The deal, announced late Friday, would require legislators to reveal more information about their outside income and reveal clients at law firms who have both direct and outside clients and customers doing business with, receiving grants or contracts from, seeking legislation or resolutions from, or involved in cases or proceedings before the state.

Sens. Kemp Hannon and Andrew Lanza were involved in the negotiations, Skelos said.

Multiple legislators in both houses and parties also moonlight as lawyers, including Skelos, Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Attorney-legislators have resisted revealing their outside clients, citing attorney-client privledge.

He added the agreement forged between himself, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is “significant reform.”

“You have a personal life and a professional, political life and certainly the governmental political life should be open,” he said.

In interview, Skelos also dug in on a so-called sunset date for the property-tax cap, saying enacting such a bill would not provide certainty to taxpayers. The Assembly proposal, being embraced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would tie the expiration of a 2 percent limit on property tax increases to rent control for New York City.

“I don’t believe there should be a sunset date. I believe that’s the wrong way to go. Down the road you could have a Leiglsature of all one party and they could just say let it go,” he said.

Senate and Assembly Dems To Hold Redistricting Forum

Democrats in the Senate and Assembly plan to hold an “interactive” forum on creating an independent redistricting commission on Tuesday that will use social media websites and live questions from voters on the issues.

Questions will be taken via Twitter through @NYSenDems and the hashtags #NYRedistricting and #NYSenate and the forum will be broadcast over Livestream and Senate Democrats’ Facebook page.

Good-government groups like NYPIRG and Citizen Union are also participating.

Senate Democrats are trying to reignite the somewhat dormant issue of using an independent commission to draw the boundaries of state and federal districts — a topic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not raising on his People First tour around the state.

The GOP-led Senate did approve a measure that add an amendment to the state constitution requiring independent redistricting, but it won’t realistically be in place for 10 years.

“Our energies are focused on passing Governor Cuomo’s independent redistricting legislation to fundamentally change Albany,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran. “Despite Senate Republicans’ attempt to maintain their stranglehold on power through the partisan drawing of electoral lines, we will continue to engage the public in an all-out effort to highlight the critical need for a fair and independent redistricting process,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vowed to veto any lines drawn by the Legislature, throwing those duties to the courts.