Albany

Lachman For Toback

A reader forwarded this invite to a fundraiser next week on Long Island for Jeff Toback, a former Nassau County legislator who is challenging fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, in a primary this September.

The Aug. 17 event features a reading/signing by former Sen. Seymour Lachman, co-author of “The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975.” (The contribution form features a reading theme, with donors offered a choice between “reader” ($175), “avid reader” ($500), “editor” ($1,000), “publisher” ($2,500) and “critic” ($3,800) as well as the unspecified “other”).

Lachman, who recently appeared on “Capital Tonight” with his co-author, ex-Newsday reporter Rob Polner, also wrote a book condemning state government called “Three Men in a Room“.

Toback has been running against Albany to some degree in his campaign, hitting Weisenberg early on for “retiring” and then returning to the public payroll in order to game the pension system (a not-unusual, though optically problematic pratice).

Lachman has been toying with a return to politics for some time and likes to keep himself in the mix. Last February, he floated his name as a potential candidate in the 44th NYC Council race to fill the Brooklyn seat vacated by Simcha Felder (now a deputy comptroller in NYC Comptroller John Liu’s office), but decided against a run for family reasons.

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‘I’m Greg Ball’s Ex-Girlfriend’

The 40th SD GOP primary just keeps getting dirtier.

Lauren J. Pistone, a former girlfriend of Assemblyman Greg Ball, stood with him last week along with other female supporters as the SRCC targeted him with a mailer that highlighted allegations he engaged in sexual assault and stalking.

She followed that appearance up with an e-mail in which she accused the campaign of Ball’s primary opponent, the SRCC-approved Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy, of approaching her and asking her to “slander Greg.”

All this intra-party fighting bodes well for the Democrats in their quest to win what has long been a GOP-held seat. (Sen. Vincent Leibell is retiring to run for Putnam County executive). The Dems are running Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz.

The rest of Pistone’s rather eye-popping e-mail appears in full after the jump.

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Paterson Rejects Senate SUNY Bill (Updated)

Gov. David Paterson’s spokesman Morgan Hook released a statement this afternoon rejecting the SUNY empowerment compromise bill floated by the Senate this past Tuesday, saying it is “not acceptable”.

“More work needs to be done and more details need to be provided,” Hook said. “The governor’s concerns have been communicated to the Senate. (Senate Democratic Conference Leader John) Sampson says he wants a three-way agreement. Right now, he does not have one.”

Legislative leaders reportedly reached a two-way compromise deal on SUNY empowerment yesterday after rank-and-file lawmakers left Albany following two substance-free extraordinary sessions.

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SRCC Mails Highlights Women’s Claims Against Ball

The Senate Republicans are playing hardball with Assemblyman Greg Ball, sending out an unusually explicit mailer that highlights sexual assault and stalking complaints lodged against him by two women.

This comes on the heels of Ball’s press conference yesterday at which he was defended by an ex-girlfriend and other women who accused his opponents of smearing his good name.

Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif this morning released a statement slamming Ball, who is under investigation by the Assembly Ethics Committee, accusing one of the women who defended the controversial assemblyman of making accusations that were “slanderous and are subject to legal liability.”

The SRCC is backing Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy against Ball in the GOP primary for the seat Sen. Vincent Leibell is vacating to run for Putnam County executive. The Democrats are hoping this intra-party squabble could provide a path to victory for their candidate, Westchester County Legislator Mike Kaplowitz.

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Silver: Koch Is Too Old To Criticize

Here’s Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver taking a swipe at Ed Koch in response to the former NYC mayor’s recent remarks that his fellow Manhattan Democrat is an enemy of reform and a “bum” who should be ejected from office by the voters this fall.

“I’m not going to glorify his statements,” Silver told me during an interview this afternoon that will air in full this evening on Capital Tonight.

“I respect the elderly and I think it is, as my former congressman and my former mayor, someone who supported him many times, I respect his position in life now.”

(For the record: Koch is 85. Silver, by comparison, is a spring chicken at the ripe old age of 66. The two have exchanged verbal barbs several times now on the subject of the speaker’s refusal to sign the trio of reform pledges sent out by Koch’s NY Uprising PAC).

Koch is embarking on upstate tour next week to celebrate lawmakers and challengers deemed “heroes” of reform for their willingness to sign his pledges and slam the “enemies” who, like Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, declined to do so.

He’s hitting Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, but has chosen to avoid Albany. Odd, particularly since the Legislature is expected to be in town for another extraordinary session – what better backdrop against which to engage in a little healthy lawmaker bashing?

This is Koch’s first campaign-like upstate swing since his failed 1982 gubernatorial bid during which his anti-upstate statements are now widely viwed as having cost him the primary race against Mario Cuomo.

SUNY Empowerment Deal In The Works

The SUNY Empowerment Plan is taking center stage at the Capitol today and things are getting a bit testy.

Despite the obvious tension and Speaker Silver’s prior vocal opposition to the plan, an Assembly source tells our Capitol crew that Assembly Democrats prepared to propose a compromise deal to the senate.

Silver and the majority of his Democratic members remain opposed to the idea of allowing SUNY and CUNY schools to set their own tuition.  They say it would put low-income students at too big a disadvantage.

They are, however, willing to allow state schools to increase tuition rates by two to three percent over a period of three to five years.

The Assembly is also poised to propose a procurement compromise that would allow schools to spend funds without legislative approval. The process would instead be supervised by the attorney general and approved by the comptroller.

Earlier today, a closed door meeting between SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, the governor and members of the state Black, Puerto Rican and Asian legislative caucus members reportedly got heated with one senator storming out.

Here is a clip of Zimpher talking to reporters about the importance of SUNY Empowerment and stating quite clearly that she is open to considering any compromise plan.

The second half of the clip cuts to Westchester Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson discussing the importance of protecting access to state schools for minority students, and reiterating there’s a “standoff” with some members refusing to vote for the revenue bill until there’s an empowerment deal.

Diaz Sr. Will Campaign ‘Heavily’ (x3) For Brodsky

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. informed me today that he intends to campaign “heavily, heavily, heavily” for his preferred AG candidate, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, and predicted the Westchester Democrat will “carry the Hispanic community – at least in the Bronx, if not all of the city.”

That is, of course, a snub to Diaz Sr.’s colleague, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who is touted by supporters as the strongest Democratic AG contender among black and Hispanic voters in the absence of a candidate of color among the hopefuls angling to replace AG Andrew Cuomo.

Diaz Sr. has reportedly been telling his fellow senators that his main goal is to thwart Schneiderman, with whom he is very angry for leading the charge to oust ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate from the Senate following the Queens Democrat’s conviction on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting his girlfriend.

The Bronx senator has been Monserrate’s most outspoken supporter, calling yesterday in a letter to Hispanic ministers for prayers and votes for the expelled Queens pol (now running for Assembly) as well as for himself and Sens. Frank Padavan and Shirley Huntley, who are being targeted by LGBT advocates for their “no” votes on marriage.

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Krueger: Ravitch-Led Budget Talks Would Have Been Better

In the wake of the initial stories about the David Johnson domestic violence mess and Gov. David Paterson’s involvement in it, Senate Finance Vice Chair Liz Krueger called on the governor to cede budget negotiating responsibilities to his hand-picked LG Richard Ravitch.

Not only did that not happen, but the governor ended up going in the complete opposite direction, essentially sidelining the man he had fought all the way to the state’s highest court to appoint and publicly trashing his budget borrowing proposal.

Krueger joined me on “Capital Tonight” after yesterday’s gavel-in, gavel-out session and said she couldn’t comment on the Kaye report because she hadn’t yet had a chance to read it.

But she also said she still believes the budget negotiations would have gone smoother had Ravitch been at the table.

“Now, nobody has a crystal ball, so I’m not telling you that we would have been done now or even that I would have liked the budget better because I always knew I was not going to like the budget this year,” Krueger said.

“…But I don’t think three and a half months later, we are going to come out with a better set of options than we would have in April, and I still believe that Dick Ravitch being at the table negotiating could and would have helped the process.”

The End Is Near, So Cortes-Vazquez Resigns (Updated)

State Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, the highest-ranking Hispanic official in the Paterson administration, told el Diaro/La Prensa she is leaving her post to return to the private sector, taking a cjob as the executive vice president for the AARP in Washington, D.C.

Cortes-Vazquez, a Spitzer administration holdover who has close ties to former Assemblyman/lobbyist Roberto Ramirez, told the paper she was accutely aware of the fact that the governor doesn’t have many days on the job remaining, which motivated her to give up her state post before her own time runs out.

“For me this has been a phenomenal experience, I made history as the first Latino (in serving as Secretary of State) and we have reaped many successes because I’ve had a phenomenal employees but things change, the governor decided not to stand for election and me that was very important,” said Cortes-Vazquez, who also noted that his new job is but a continuation of their work to community service.

(You gotta love Google translate).

DN Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Lovett noted Cortes-Vazquez is the latest in a long time of departures from the Paterson administration – a trend that will likely not only continue, but also speed up, as Jan. 1, 2010 nears.

A formal announcement is expected later today.

UPDATE: It is now official. The governor released a statement saying he has accepted Cortes-Vazquez’s resignation. His statement appears after the jump.

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Blown Stack At SUNY Empowerment Meeting

A meeting this morning between SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, state Budget Director and state Black, Puerto Rican and Asian legislative caucus members at which the SUNY/CUNY empowerment plan was the topic of discussion apparently did not go well.

NY1 Capitol report Erin Billups, who staked out the Red Room get-together, reports Sen. Kevin Parker stormed out of the meeting and accused Zimpher of “berating” lawmakers who are not supportive of the so-called empowerment plan that would give the SUNY and CUNY schools autonomy from the Legislature – particularly when it comes to setting tutition.

“If you run an institution and you want something done and you think that helps let’s talk about a collaboration,” Parker said.

“But coming in and berating legislators and calling them names is not the way to do it…I think that if she walked in there with any support she’s going to walk out with none.”

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