Albany

Koch Fires Back

In response to the snarky statements released yesterday by legislative leaders who landed on his “enemies of reform” list – Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson – former NYC Mayor Ed Koch had this to say:

“Chasing headlines, no. Dreaming yes. Dreaming of headlines like ‘Albany No Longer Corrupt’ and ‘New York No Longer Dysfunctional’.

“Unfortunately, until New York has new leadership more interested in helping the people and less interested in helping themselves and their cronies, that dream will remain a nightmare.”

I’m sure there will be lots more where this came from when Koch embarks on his upstate tour in early August to build support for his PAC, New York Uprising.

It will be his first campaign north of NYC since his failed bid for governor in 1982 in which some disparaging remarks in a Playboy magazine interview about people who live in what my colleague Jimmy Vielkind refers to as “Upstate America” helped seal his primary loss to Mario Cuomo.

Silver, Sampson Question Koch

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson aren’t taking kindly to being called “enemies of reform” by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.

Both Democratic legislative leaders issued statements casting doubt on the campaign being run by Koch’s PAC, New York Uprising, which today dubbed a number of incumbents and candidates enemies after they failed to meet a midnight deadline for signing his trio of pledges on budget, ethics and redistricting reform.

Unsurprisingly, given the fact that he hasn’t been shy about saying he wouldn’t be signing any pledges any time soon, Silver’s statement is the stronger of the two.

“For decades, Republicans controlled the State Senate and blocked every single piece of reform legislation proposed by the Assembly and Democrats in the Senate – campaign finance reform, election reform, ethics reform and budget reform,” the speaker said.

“For Ed Koch to call Senate Republicans ‘reformers’ and ignore our record undermines the credibility of the pledge and his entire campaign.”

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Scozzafava For Cuomo (Updated)

Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, whose name has become synonymous with moderate Republicanism since the NY-23 special election that became a battle for the heart of the national GOP, has again crossed party lines to endorse a Democrat, announcing her support of AG Andrew Cuomo for governor.

“The most important election we have this year is to elect Andrew Cuomo Governor of the State of New York,” Scozzafava said in a statement released by the Cuomo campaign.

“He has the message that can resonate across party lines because it’s about the future of this state, it’s about the people that live here, it’s about making our quality of life better and having this state turn the corner and come back to the prosperity that we know is there.”

UPDATE: Here’s some video of the endorsement today, compliments of The Watertown Times’ Judge Seymour. Scozzafava apparently joined Cuomo at the Lewis County Fair today.

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Koch’s Enemies List

True to his word, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch has released a list of state legislators and candidates who have so fare refused to sign on to the budget, ethics and redistricting reform pledges created by his PAC, New York Uprising, branding these individuals “enemies of reform.”

Two hundred and forty candidates signed – including the entire Senate GOP conference – just hours before the midnight deadline.

The full list of both can be found on the NY Uprising Website. .

Both Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are “enemies”. Silver made it clear early on that he would not be signing any pledges – basically because he simply doesn’t do them, no matter who asks. Not Koch, and not AG Andrew Cuomo, either

“F)ar too many candidates clearly want to keep our state exactly the way it is – they benefit from the corruption, the dysfunction, the inanity that defines Albany and they clearly don’t want to do anything about it,” Koch said in a press release.

“And so when you look at the condition our state is in and when you look at these candidates refusal to do anything about it, it’s clear that they truly are enemies of reform.”

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Silver And Sampson Set An August Deadline

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson agreed on one thing when they met yesterday in Manhattan: The budget has got to get done, once and for all, and soon.

According to a legislative source, the two Democrats settled on the first week of August as a drop-dead deadline for reaching an agreement that would enable the Senate to pass the revenue bill – the last hurdle remaining between New York and a complete 2010-2011 spending plan (not to mention between lawmakers and their paychecks).

That’s more or less as far as they got, however. There is still no clear path about how to address the two outstanding issues – SUNY empowerment and FMAP – in a way that would leave both chambers (particularly the holdouts in the Senate) happy.

Another possible wrench in the works: Gov. David Paterson.

It’s unclear whether the governor will accept the revenue bill even if the Legislature passes it, because, as I’ve noted so many times before, as soon as the budget’s done, whatever relevance and power the governor is currently enjoying diminishes greatly – if not completely.

Paterson is already threatening to drag the Legislature back to Albany for an extraordinary session, although he hasn’t yet picked a date.

Silver told NY1’s Michael Scotto on “Inside City Hall” last night that he sees no need for an extraordinary session, but also didn’t sound all that optimistic about a final two-way deal any time soon.

WIGS Backers Haven’t Given Up Hope

New Yorkers for Economic Growth, a coalition of small businesses, grape growers, liquor store owners, wineries, consumers, and grocers, unveiled a new 30-second TV ad that urges New Yorkers to pressure lawmakers to support legalizing the sale of wine in grocery stores – a proposal that so far has failed to catch fire in Albany.

The ad was posted on-line in hopes that it will be picked up an aired in various New York markets. It also is being e-mailed to state lawmakers.

WIGS, as we’ve taken to calling it, has been pushed by Gov. David Paterson, but largely rejected by the Legislature. Paterson initially included the proposal in his budget extender and also offered a compromise plan.

But he took the measure out of his last revenue bill – a move that was characterized by the administration as a concession to legislators.

The Assembly and Senate didn’t accept Paterson’s last revenue bill, and the Senate has yet to pass the one agreed to in the two-way deal struck by Speaker Sheldon Silver and Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.

Medicaid Meltdown

Here’s a clip from my interview last night with Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who is giving the Paterson administration a taste of its own medicine by refusing to send in his weekly share of Medicaid payments – about $853,000 – to protest the fact that he hasn’t received some $32 million in return for state-contracted services already rendered.

County executives all over New York have been complaining about delayed payments, which the Budget Division says it necessary to manage the state’s cash flow.

Some local officials have resorted to borrowing to get through this crunch, but Picente (a Republican) says he thinks it’s unfair to ask him to put his county in the red and its credit rating at risk.

“I don’t want to go into debt,” Picente told me. “We’re not in debt right now. My county has been above the fold and I want to stay that way. We worked hard, myself and the Board of Legislators, to make sure we stayed that way in these difficult economic conditions.”

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Feel The Burn (Updated)

The Senate Democrats have a pretty significant burn rate, spending more than half ($1.4 million) of the cash they reported raising over the past six months ($2.2 million, not including the $536,000 transferred in from members’ campaign accounts).

On the heels of this morning’s DN report that the majority dropped $26,000 worth of campaign cash on restaurant bills, I took a closer look at the DSCC’s expenditure report to see where all their money went.

Not surprisingly, consultants and attorneys account for much of the Democrats’ spending. I counted no fewer than 13 firms and individuals listed under the “professional” category. (Actually, The Parkside Group, one of the DSCC’s preferred consulting firms, which was paid $260,423, is listed as “other”).

G & L Consulting was paid $55,535. About the same – $52,000 – went to Prestige Communications.

UPDATE1: A reader noted that these two share the same address: 350 W. 110th St. I’m not sure who this is…But I have a suspicion.

UPDATE2: Another reader pointed out that Prestige was also paid another $70,000 from Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson’s personal campaign committee, bringing the mystery firm’s total to $122,000. If G &L and Prestige are in fact one and the same, the total is $177,535.

Also on the list: Attorney Andrew Celli’s firm ($150,869) – recall that he was involved in the legal battles that followed last year’s Senate coup. Ditto for former Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor ($23,380). Skadden Arps (the firm that is home to former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, among others) got $22,705.

Jan Feuerstadt, who is the business partner of state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King, was paid $15,000. The state party got $68,000 for “van access.” The Working Families Party received a $25,000 “contribution”.

Paterson Flexes On Extraordinary Session Powers

Gov. David Paterson today took the unusul step of revoking two proclamations for extraordinary legislative sessions issued on January 17 and June 26, saying the move “lays to rest spurious claims by both the Assembly and Senate that any prior extraordinary session convened by gubernatorial proclamation remains in progress.”

Legislative leaders have argued that they’ve kept alive the last extraordinary session by gaveling in and out of it every single work day (a task that falls to local elected officials like Albany Assemblyman Jack McEneny, who must physically show up for this to work).

By doing so, lawmakers claim they might be able to prevent the governor from calling them back to Albany against their will, reasoning it’s illegal for him to call two concurrent extraordinary sessions.

That doesn’t sit well with Paterson, who has been striving to get back the upper hand ever since the two houses cut him out of the budget process shortly before July 4.

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DSCC’s Primary Approach – Then And Now

I read with interest the City Hall News report this morning that the Senate Democrats are spending money to assist incumbents against potentially tough primary challengers in so-called “safe” districts where they are all but certain not to be in any danger of losing to the Republicans.

According to Chris Bragg, the DSCC transferred $9,500 to the campaign committee of Queens Sen. Shirley Huntley, who faces a primary challenge from the better-funded Lynn Nunes.

(Not surprisingly, Nunes thinks this is a waste of hard-fought campaign cash, arguing it should be used for the purpose for which it was raised: To help oust GOP members and grow the majority).

In addition, the DSCC spent $7,811 to assist Harlem Sen. Bill Perkins, who is facing off against Basile Smikle, who also criticized the conference’s decision to spend money on this race.

The DSCC had no comment. Perhaps because this practice is in direct opposition to what Paul Rivera, communications director for Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, told me last December:

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