Nick Reisman

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Posts by Nick Reisman

Proposed Cut To Security Benefits Podunk, Idaho?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, and other lawmakers today to discuss the proposed $100 million cut to New York’s federal homeland security funding.

Sen. William Larkin, R-Orange County, said the money needed to go to New York, not a part of the country that wouldn’t be a target for terrorists.

“Do you think Podunk, Idaho is some place they would be looking at? I don’t think so,” Larkin said during the news conference.

The mayor said the city continue to stands out as a target.

“New York is the iconic symbol of the United State around the world for those people who don’t like the fact we’re in charge of our own destiny and we have the right to say what we say,” Bloomberg said.

“Unfortunately the likelihood of something happening again is very high,” he added, saying the cut would impact the city’s ability to thwart an attack and adequately respond to one.

After U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden, concerns have been raised that another attack would be launched on U.S. soil. Information in the compound where bin Laden was hiding included plans to bomb trains in the United States, possibly on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ball, the chairman of the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, sent a letter to President Obama last month urging him to reconsider the cut.

Ball also held a committee meeting on the issue of preparedness, which was criticized for including witnesses who are critical of Islam.

Coalition Aims To Curb ‘Archaic’ Abortion Laws

The Bipartisan Pro Choice Legislative Caucus is increasing its efforts to end what it calls “archaic” laws that restrict reproductive freedoms and is pushing to update language in the state law to reflect modern views on providing abortions.

In a news release, the group, led by Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, says New York’s laws need to be updated in order to fit with modern times.

The group is trying to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which, among other things, guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion, even when her health is endangered and revises language to treat abortions as a “public health” issue, not a medical practice.

While New York once led the nation in breaking barriers on behalf of women’s reproductive rights, these same laws, which have not been updated in 40 years, are now antiquated and ill serving in modern times. After the nation followed New York in securing a women’s right to choose, and even provided greater protections for these rights, our State failed to match this new standard. Instead, New York settled into complacency and left our laws unchanged. Even now, under New York State law, there are inappropriate limitations placed on a woman’s ability to terminate her pregnancy in situations that put her health in jeopardy.

The law also has the backing of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Bar Association Outlines Legal Case For Gay Marriage

The New York Bar Association is laying out the legal argument today for the legalization of same-sex marriage, the same day that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is in Albany to likely push the issue as well.

“The right to obtain a civil marriage license cannot be denied to a particular group on the grounds that it historically has been denied that right,” said Samuel W. Seymour, President of the New York City Bar Association. “If that were the case, interracial couples would still face barriers to marriage.”

The argument is similar to the one made by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and conservative lawyer Ted Olsen, who penned a Daily News op/ed earlier this week laying out a legal argument for same-sex marriage.

And, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo quietly pushes the issue in the hopes of getting it approved by the end of the legislative session in June, the argument is in line with the strategy of New Yorkers United for Marriage. As Republican strategist Bill O’Reilly opined earlier, the coalition is trying to lay out a logical, not emotional argument for its passage.

Same-Sex Marriage Press Release (2)

In Albany, Business Groups Urge Tax Cap

A coalition of upstate business groups is in Albany today to lobby for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2 percent cap on local and school property taxes, meeting with Assembly Democrats in an effort to push the measure into law.

The meetings with Assembly Democrats comes a day after Cuomo held his second “People First” tour event in Nassau County. The Republican-led Senate approved the measure in January, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has said he would introduce a different bill with some exemptions for built-in cost drivers such as local debt and pensions.

Cuomo himself has at times suggested he would be interested in compromised measure, but his office signaled they are steadfastly opposed to letting the cap expire. But today Cuomo is also making a concerted effort to extend and expand rent regulations for New York City and released a web video on the issue.

The cap, which enjoys broad popular support, faces its biggest hurdle among those in the base of the Assembly Democrats, who say a cap would harm school districts who are already facing deep cuts due to a reduction in state aid.

Today, coincidentally, is also when 697 school districts’ budgets are before voters.

The groups include Unshackle Upstate, National Federation of Independent Business, New York Farm Bureau, Westchester County Association, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, Rochester Business Alliance, The Manufacturers Association of Central New York, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors and the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce.

Retailers Union Mails Bloomberg On Living Wage

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum mailed New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today knocking his long-standing opposition to living-wage laws.

The letter comes as the city Council is considering a wage-mandate law, a provision opposed by a coalition of business groups.

The Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act will help lift retail workers out of poverty. As you know, the proposed legislation would establish a living wage for workers in large taxpayer-subsidized development projects. Similar legislation is already successfully in effect in a number of cities and municipalities across the country. Workers in those cities earn more and there has been no adverse impact on job creation or development.

The City Council is set to vote on the living-wage bill Thursday, but it is opposed by small business groups and larger retailers.

Here’s the letter:

Open Letter to Mayor Bloomberg From Stuart Appelbaum

Tedisco: If Assembly Goes WiFi, Why Not Paperless?

As the Assembly chamber takes a step toward becoming a Starbucks by offering a free WiFi hotspot (and really, we do need more of those) Assemblyman Jim Tedisco is renewing his call for a paperless chamber.

“This is a step in the right direction and it certainly is confirmation that my message of the need for New York State government to save taxpayers money and reduce our state’s carbon footprint is resonating,” Tedisco said in a statement. “Now that the Assembly has gone Wi-Fi, now’s the time for it to go digital and burn the paper.”

“When you consider the costs of all this wasteful printing to taxpayers and the environment, now that the Assembly has gone Wi-Fi, it’s obvious that going digital just makes ‘cents,’” he added.

Tedisco has been pushing a bill that would eliminate the paper waste produced by the Legislature, even standing in front of a giant stack of budget books during the spending plan debate.

The Saratoga Republican says the measure would save the state $13 million in printing costs.

Evergreen Debate Gets Testy In Senate

One of the more spirited and testy debates in the Senate this month hasn’t been over gay marriage, or an ethics bill or an even a revised property tax cap measure.

No, the Senate just completed a debate on whether public buildings should be allowed to display fresh-cut evergreen trees.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, Seneca County, would exempt certain fire codes, allowing the trees to be displayed.

The measure was opposed by Democratic Sens. Dan Squadron, Liz Krueger and Carl Kruger (marking the first time Krueger and Kruger may agreed on anything).

The bill passed 56-3, but not before Squadron and Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, traded barbs.

The Democrats’ chief concern seemed to breakdown on concerns that the bill was only meant for Christmas trees or that fresh-cut trees would be a hazard (I’m assuming the executive mansion has fresh-cut evergreen trees on display each December. If not, someone put an end to it).

At one point, Squadron asked DeFrancisco if the bill would only pertain to Christmas trees. The reaction from DeFran was quick: “That was the most asinine question I’ve heard since I’ve been on the Senate floor.”

That prompted Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany, to call for civility in the debate.

“OK,” DeFrancisco conceded. “It wasn’t the most asinine question I’ve ever heard.”

Earlier, he had asked Krueger if she would be against different types of bushes in government buildings.

“Would I have a problem with any type of shrubbery in government buildings?” she asked in response.

Breslin: Remain civil on the floor

PEF, CSEA Knock Tier VI Plan

The state’s two largest public-employee unions blasted a proposal floated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to offer a less-generous Tier VI pension program, which comes as the governor continues to negotiate a new contract for the bulk of the state workforce.

Civil Services Employees Association President Danny Donohue complained that the news leaked to the Associated Press, which moved the story this morning:

“It is very clear from the Cuomo administration’s leaks about plans to seek Tier VI pension changes for public employees that the governor does not care about the impact of his policies on working people.”

“The governor is engaging in political grandstanding to impress his millionaire friends at the expense of working people and the services they provide to the people of New York.”

And the Public Employees Federation also criticized the idea, calling it unnecessary:

“We think it’s unnecessary,” said spokeswoman Darcy Wells. “We think there are significant changes under Tier V and there hasn’t bee enough time to see any changes there. If the state’s going to continue to chip away at the benefits package and jobs security then the state is not going to be able to continue to support quality workforce.”

Committee To Save NY Spent $4.8M Lobbying

The Committee to Save New York, the consortium of business interests and allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, spent $4.8 million in March and April lobbying the Legislature on the state budget and the 2 percent cap on property taxes.

The group, which registered for lobbying activity with the state after good-government organizations issued concerns, was formed to back Cuomo’s fiscal agenda at the beginning of the year.

The committee filed its financial statement with the Commission on Public Integrity today, showing the bulk of its money — about $4.1 million — was spent on TV, radio and Internet advertising.

The lobbying and PR shop DKC reported $10,000 worth of work on behalf of the group.

The committee’s filing covers March and April; the budget passed two days shy of the April 1 deadline, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

The committee, which includes business groups, conservative labor unions and lobbyists with ties to Cuomo, reported spending nearly $2.6 million in January and February.

Cuomo’s proposed budget aimed at cutting spending for the first time in 15 years. The governor’s first budget also had to close a $10 billion deficit, which he pledged to do without new borrowing or new taxes.

The committee, whose board at one point included the now-head of the Empire State Development Corp. Kenneth Adams, was with the governor the entire time on the budget, running ads touting his proposal as a means to restore New York’s fiscal health.

And in the end, Cuomo got the budget he wanted passed the Legislature: no broad-based tax increases and deep cuts to the state’s most expensive items, education and health care. More >

Lawsky Nominated To Lead Financial Services Department

Confirming what we already knew (thanks to a gun-jumping email from the Citizens Budget Commission) Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief of staff Ben Lawsky is being nominated to become the first superintendent of the new Department of Financial Services.

The agency combines the departments of banking and insurance, which is part of Cuomo’s overall plan to re-size state government.

Lawsky’s appointment is not that much of a shock. It was “broken” thanks to an errant email sent by the Citizens Budget Commission and obtained by The New York Times. Before joining the Cuomo administration, Lawsky worked in the Cuomo attorney general office.

The newly formed department was originally supposed to include the state Consumer Protection Board and be called the Department of Financial Regulation, but it was scaled back after insurance and baking industry officials raised concerns.

In addition, Cuomo also announced former Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer would be nominated to the MTA board. James J. Wrynn is being nominated to become deputy superintendent at the Department of Financial Services. Cuomo also made nominations for the Council on the Arts and for members of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (a full list is after the jump).

And John Milgrim, a press aide for Cuomo in both the AG’s office and the governor’s office is being moved over to become spokesman for Inspector General Ellen Biben, replacing Kate Gurnett. More >