Nick Reisman

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King: If Rudy’s Out, I’m In

U.S. Rep. Peter King of Long Island said today he would consider runnning for president if his friend former Mayor Rudy Giuliani declines to enter the sparse Republican field.

“If Rudy jumps in, I would support Rudy,” King said. “If not, I’ll see what happens. Stranger things have happened.”

King’s name as a possible presidential contender was floated last week by the Nassau County Republican Party. The Long Islander, who at this point is the most visible Republican holding public office in New York, said he hasn’t ruled out a run.

But he thinks Giuliani, who ran in 2008, was gearing up for 2012.

“As of this moment, he’s very much inclined to run,” King said on Fox News this morning.

King also said Giuliani’s focus would be on the early primary states, a reversal of the failed and much derided late-game strategy of focusing on Florida three years ago.

“He very much wants to run and this time he would focus on New Hampshire,” King added. “It seems that there’s no candidate focusing on what Rudy would bring, which is tough on national security.”

Democrats Keep Beating Medicare Drum

The upset victory in the 26th congressional district gives Democrats a template in future races, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in an interview on MSNBC last night.

Wasserman Schultz looked to Kathy Hochul’s victory over Republican Jane Corwin as a sign that voters were concerned about the GOP proposal in Congress for Medicare, as championed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. She also pointed to a New Hampshire House race and the contest for the mayor of Jackonsville, Fla.

“All of those races turned on Medicare,” she said.

Not mentioned was the impact independent tea party candidate Jack Davis had on the race and whether he siphoned votes away from Corwin. Republicans have charged Democratic scare tactics on Medicare — and the GOP’s ineffective pushback — led to Corwin’s loss as well.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, forced a vote on the Ryan plan Wednesday, which failed 57-40, in order to press their perceived advantage on the issue. Wasserman Shultz said it was likely those votes will be used against Republicans up for re-election in 2012.

“There are a number of seats that are up for election this election cycle. It’s really shocking to me that anyone after yesterday’s outcome would actually vote again to end Medicare as we know it. Seniors and Americans have sent a very strong message and we’re going to make sure that we hold Republican candidates accountable for thier vote.”

Ruben Diaz Will Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is blasting the planned “F*** Ruben Diaz Festival” to be held at a Brooklyn bar on June 11, calling it the continuation of a “vulgar” campaign against his opposition to same-sex marriage.

The “F” in this instance is presumably the word that rhymes with “duck” and one you hear emanating from the CapTon bureau around deadline time.

“I continue to be the target of a vulgar campaign by seething extremists who oppose my defense of New York’s marriage laws,” Diaz said in a statement.

The full title of the event is “F*** Ruben Diaz Gay Erotica Featuring NYC’s Number One Bigot!” The link to the event is here (and, goes without saying, the page includes salty lanuage). The festival is advertised as a writing contest mocking Diaz, with suggested titles like, “‘Ruben Diaz Gives Impassioned Anti-Gay Speech to his Co-Op Board.”

Scribes are charged to: “Imagine a day in the life of the Bronx’s most prominent Pentecostal minister. Is he downtown scoring poppers? Is he rehearsing his latest screed in his bathroom mirror? Is he waking up in a tangle of hard man-bodies after a raging orgy?”

Diaz, one of the most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage legalization in New York, held a rally for traditional marriage earlier this month the same day as an AIDs awareness rally in New York City, didn’t see the humor.

It is sad to see the disrespect and irreverence that flourishes from those who have no respect for religious leaders here in New York and those who mock us as we serve our communities.

As a Christian and as the President of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, I will continue to defend the teachings of the Bible and oppose homosexual marriage. As a Member of the New York State Senate, I will continue to defend the definition of New York’s marriage laws to be between a man and a woman.

Bruno Discusses Evolution Of Gay Marriage Views

Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno spoke at length this morning in a Talk-1300 AM radio interview on the evolution of his views on same-sex marriage, saying he now supports the measure.

It’s a very emotional, confrontational issue. In politics, in life, with legislation, timing is everything. Poll after poll shows the great majority of people recognize the individual rights of people to be united civilly in marriage. That’s where I came down for people to be recognized civilly. It really comes down in my mind for equal rights for everyone. So yes, I support it. I think the time has come.

It’s a turnaround from more than a decade ago when the Republican referred to homosexuality has an “abnormal lifestyle” — a comment Bruno said he now regrets.

“I have followed the more enlightened crowd that individuals can do what they see fit as long as they don’t hurt anybody else,” Bruno said. “Fred, I am enlightened, I have seen the light.”

Bruno first said he supported same-sex marriage back in 2009.

He also gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo “credit” for pushing the issue of same-sex marriage legalization. Cuomo’s goal is legalize same-sex marriage by the end of the legislative session in June.

“He’s leading very boldly and very aggressively,” Bruno said.

Bruno, An ‘Andrew Cuomo Republican,’ Says Skelos Doing Best He Can

Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno declined to criticize his successor Dean Skelos in a Talk-1300 radio interview this morning, saying the Long Island Republican wasn’t out manuevered on the tax cap deal struck between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Assembly.

“In terms of getting things done, timing is everything,” Bruno told Fred Dicker. “The process in each house could be somewhat different. I think this is the process in action and I think it all relates to timing. I know that Dean Skelos has said publically he supports a cap on property taxes. In fact, he passed the governor’s bill. That’s their issue, it’s a Republican issue.”

Instead, he praised Skelos, along with Cuomo and his old foe Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for coming to a tentative agreement on the cap, which excludes pensions and an unspecified expiration date.

The deal seemed to not include Skelos, however the majority leader later released a statement saying he agreed with the plan save for the sunset date and minor details.

But Bruno noted that Skelos and the Republican-led Senate already approved the governor’s original cap in January.

“People can be critical that he hasn’t stepped up, but he passed the governor’s bill,” he said. “He said very clearly by his actions, he passed the tax cap bill. On the issue, he’s terribly supportive. You have to give credit were credit is due. He did mandate relief and that has to go hand in hand with a tax cap.”

Asked if he should be considered an “Andrew Cuomo Republican,” Bruno agreed.
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Cuomo Insists Tax Cap Deal Still In Place

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning remained certain the somewhat tentative agreement on the property tax cap will hold, despite E.J. McMahon throwing cold water on the proposal this morning.

Still, speaking on The Johnn Gambling Show this morning, Cuomo signaled he was interested in getting the cap in place sooner rather than later.

I’m healthy cynic in Albany, being part of Albany. But the Assembly speaker has agreed to this plan, the majority leader in the Senate, Dean Skelos has agreed to this plan. They both have supported it for a long time. The Assembly actually passed a tax cap 15 years ago. Dean Skelos and the Republicans have been agressive about the tax cap. So we all stood up, we all agreed to it. I’m a little bit of a cynic, I want to sign it, I want to get it done and we have some other pieces of business we have to do here also.

Cuomo is embracing the plan submitted by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that would still cap property taxes at 2 percent, but exclude pensions. The cap would also be timed to expire with rent control for New York City.

It’s the sunsent component that has McMahon, of the fiscally conservative think-tank The Empire Center, concerned. Writing in The New York Post this morning, McMahon points out that one house of the Legislature could simply walk away from the cap, but approve rent control for New York City.

McMahon’s initital reading of the legislation found that one couldn’t exist without the other. However, based on an interview that Silver gave with the Post’s Fred Dicker on Wednesday, McMahon raised a red flag on the issue.

No specific sunset date has been announced for the tax-cap proposal, a point that Skelos has said is the only issue that’s separating the three parties. Silver has said rent control, due to expire June 15, and the tax cap are now “inextricably linked.”

From his Op/Ed:

Under Silver’s bill as introduced, a tax-cap law could be repealed or modified in the future only by agreement of both houses of the Legislature — or by one house alone, but only if it is also willing to kill rent control (which, while desirable, is highly unlikely).

By contrast, a tax cap with its own specific expiration date could be killed through inaction of only one house of the Legislature.

Assembly To Hold Fracking Forum

The Assembly will hold a public hearing Thursday to examine the impact on human health of the controversial natural gas extraction method known as hydrauclic fracturing, or hydrofracking.

The hearing comes as the Assembly considers a new moratorium on hydrofracking in New York for 2012. A moratorium was put in place by Gov. David Paterson through executive order and continued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the state Department of Environmental Conservation develops its draft environmental impact study on the issue.

Hydrofracking involves using a cocktail of chemicals and water to blast through rock and access the gas underneath. Business groups and the energy industry want the state to begin issuing permits soon, arguing it can be an economic boon for upstate, especially the economically troubled Southern Tier.

However, environmentalists argue the process is unsafe and could damage the water table.

The forum, to be led by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, starts at 9:30 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building.

Cuomo Denies Boxing Out Skelos On Tax Cap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted he didn’t box out Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on the tax cap agreement announced Tuesday, saying that he it was the product of a “collaborative process.”

“I think the Senate will say they passed the tax cap years ago, they passed my original bill on the tax cap early on, so there’s no doubt this was a collaborative process all along. And I’m hoping to ethics reform as a collaborative process. We need the Assembly, we need the Senate,” Cuomo said.

Speaking to reporters after a “People First” event in Utica, the governor demurred as to whether he would attempt an ethics overhaul the same way.

“I’d go up, down, left right, doesn’t matter to me as long as we get it done,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to the people of the state who does it first, it matters if we get it done.”

Cuomo moved quickly on Tuesday to latch onto the Assembly’s proposed cap on local property taxes, which includes a narrow carve-out for pension growth and a yet-to-be-determined sunset date tied to the expiration of rent control laws for New York City (The full measure can be viewed here).

Senate Republicans had long pointed to their passage of Cuomo’s original tax cap in January. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said he didn’t want to negotiate a bill if it meant a watered-down cap.

If Skelos was left out of the negotiations with Silver, it could make negotiations for an ethics overhaul that much harder. Cuomo wants legislators to reveal more of their outside income and their list of clients who do business with the state.

Skelos, who has made his financial disclosure information public, has said he would consider introducing legislation to police the executive branch as well, a vow that Cuomo shrugged off.

Silver, meanwhile, promised to not end the regular legislative session in June without approving an ethics bill.

NYSUT Withdraws From Teacher Evaluation Confab

The state United Teachers union today announced it would back out from the state Department of Education planned teacher evaulations conference after the department adopted stricter evaluations standards recomended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The State Education Department and Board of Regents had an opportunity to build on nearly a year of collaborative work with teachers and other stakeholders to implement a rigorous, comprehensive and transparent teacher evaluation system,” said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi in a statement. “Instead, the Regents ignored the voice of teachers; undermined more than a year of good-faith work and turned their backs on the concept of partnership. Participation of state and local teacher union leaders in a conference aimed at a building collaboration would appear to be, at this point, counter-productive.”

The teacher evaulations that Cuomo proposed — which were quickly accepted by Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch the same day — rely heavily on student test scores and discount teacher tenure for faculty layoffs.

The union said the conference, scheduled for June 11 at Cornell University in Ithaca, would have “highlighted ways districts and unions could work collaboratively to design strong evaluation systems.”

Earlier this week, the three former teachers of the year winners sent a letter to the education department decrying the evaulation regulations.

In the letter they wrote:

“We could call upon assessment experts who insist that standardized tests were not developed to evaluate teacher effectiveness. And we could examine the last decade of educational results that followed No Child Left Behind: rampant gaming of the system to provide the appearance of growth, narrowing of the curriculum, excessive teaching to the test and virtually no change in the achievement gap.”

Read The Assembly Tax Cap Proposal

Here, in all its 37-page, 12,966-word glory, is the Assembly’s alternative proposal for the cap on local and school property taxes along with the bill’s memorandum of support.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now backing this measure, which would exclude pension costs above 2 percent and allows for a 1.5 percent “carryover” provision.

The plan does include an unspecified “sunset” provision that would be tied to rent control for New York City. Senate Republicans say they’re onboard with this plan for the most part, but have not agreed to a specific expiration date.

Note that there’s no identical bill, or “same-as” introduced in the Senate yet.

This bill is a comprehensive property tax cap that will help alleviate the burden caused by such ever increasing property taxes that are currently hurting homeowners and businesses throughout New York. This bill will help make New York State more affordable and competitive and provide relief to businesses and homeowners in New York state.

Tax Cap