Albany

Smikle Spotted In Albany

Basil Smikle was spotted outside the Senate chamber earlier this afternoon, doing laps with his cell phone to his ear.

I reached Smikle on said cell phone, and he said that he had been in Albany to meet with Assembly members who represent parts of the Harlem Senate district where he’s mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Bill Perkins. (That’s the seat once held by Gov. David Paterson, in case you forgot).

IMG00214

“I’m here as a constituent today,” Smikle told me. “I’m meeting with my representatives…I come up every so often, but I’m not an Albany lobbyist, so I don’t come up every day during the session. I don’t really do all that much lobbying; it’s not my bailiwick.”

Smikle is, for the record, registered to lobby in NYC. He mostly makes his living as a consultant – most recently crossing party lines to work for Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent Mayor Bloomberg against Democratic then-NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson.
More >

5 p.m. Deadline For Extender Bills

Here’s a new twist to add still more drama to today’s extender bills votes.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office says the 12th round of extenders must be passed and signed into law and the appropriations authorized all by 5 p.m. today or some 153,000 state employees won’t get their paychecks on time this week.

As you’ll recall, this week’s extenders included just one week’s worth of payroll appropriations in the hopes of upping the ante still further on lawmakers.

Some $270 million worth of checks are ready to go out the door, DiNapoli spokesman Dennis Tompkins informed NY1’s Erin Billups. But they can’t be processed until the extenders are signed by Paterson, chaptered by the counsel’s office and certified by the Budget Division.

The longer it takes the Legislature to pass the bills, Tompkins said, the later the checks will be.

No pressure or anything, guys and gals.

WFP For Espaillat

After initially taking a pass on endorsing Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat for the 31st SD seat Sen. Eric Schneiderman is vacating to run for AG, the Working Families Party has announced its support of the Manhattan Democrat.

“Adriano has a consistent legislative record of results on the issues that matter to working families in our community,” said WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor.

“Whether it is making sure our schools get their fair share of funding, our seniors get the services they need or workers have the right to join a union, denouncing immigration abuse. Adriano Espaillat has always been there for working families when it counts.”

More >

The Education Of Marty Golden’s District

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence members will be “educating” Sen. Marty Golden’s Brooklyn constituents about what they believe is the Republican lawmaker’s “anti-cop” position on microstamping.

The group will be handing out this strongly-worded flyer – also known as “Lesson #1” – during rush hours in Golden’s district over the next several business days, according to NYAGV Executive Director Colin Weaver.

The flyer accuses Golden, who is a former cop himself, of being a “puppet” of the gun lobby and urges his constituents to call on him to “stand with law enforcement and vote ‘yes.'”

Golden, as you’ll recall, took a fortuitous phone call during the slow roll call on microstamping earlier this week. The Democrats yanked the measure from the floor when it became clear it was headed for certain failure – apparently by just a single vote.

Golden told me during a “Capital Tonight” interview that he would have voted “no” had he been in the chamber. He would not reveal what pressing “business” had caused him to step outside at such a crucial moment.
More >

Cuomo’s Albany Fundraiser Falls Victim To Budget Battle

Remember that Fort Orange fundraiser for AG Andrew Cuomo I reported on earlier today? Well, it was abruptly called off by the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s campaign, apparently because someone didn’t realize the Legislature was scheduled to be in session tomorrow.

Here’s the statement from Cuomo campaign spokesman Josh Vlasto:

“This event was planned long ago for day when the Legislature was not scheduled to be in session. Since the Legislature is unexpectedly in session, and so as not to interfere with ongoing budget process, we have decided to postpone the event.”

According to the official legislative calendar, which was agreed to by the leaders of both houses and the governor before 2010 even got underway, the Legislature was only scheduled to be in town either one, three or four days a week in June until the close of the season on the 21st.

Of course, that was long before anyone could have predicted the budget fight would be continuing this far past the April 1 deadline.

It would not have looked at all good for the anti-Albany AG to be raising big money in the shadow of the Capitol -presumably from lobbyists, because who else is free at 11:30 a.m. to drop $750 to $25,000 a head? – while lawmakers and the governor were down the street trying to work out a budget deal.

GOP Wayback Machine (Updated)

File this one under: The dangers of cutting and pasting, a cautionary tale.

The Senate GOP is trying was planning on trying this afternoon to attach a hostile amendment to Sen. Liz Krueger’s bill creating a
non-partisan legislative budget office.

UPDATE: Apparently, the Republicans caught their own mistake. The amendment was handed in and then immediately withdrawn, thus never making it to the floor.

It’s quite clear that the GOP lifted some of the language for its amendment directly from legislation that created the Congressional Budget Office back in 1974.

How do I know this? Well, check out P. 4, which talks about the creation of a nonpartisan legislative budget office that would be headed by a director who would be “appointed by the Speak of the House of Representatives and President pro tempore of the Senate.”

(I think Nancy Pelosi might have enough on her plate in Washington, D.C. without having to worry about policing things up here in Albany).

Not surprisingly, the Senate Democrats pounced gleefully on this gaffe, with one majority source noting snarkily:

“This proves the Senate Republicans haven’t had an original idea since Watergate. Maybe some of them carried this amendment in their briefcases when they got to the Senate, but we need new ideas to fix the old problems they left us with.”

More >

Golden: I Would Have Voted ‘No’ On Microstamping Anyway

Just to close the loop on the whole microstamping mess…during an interview that aired on “Capital Tonight” yesterday, Sen. Marty Golden revealed that had he been in the chamber, he would have voted “no.”

The Brooklyn Republican would not tell me what pressing “business” he had to conduct when he took the well-timed phone call that brought him out of the chamber at the exact moment the slow roll call vote was underway.

Some believed Golden was purposefully absent to avoid casting a vote that would be a direct “screw you” to one of its biggest supporters (not to mention the Senate GOP’s biggest individual donor), Mayor Bloomberg. But the senator rejected that suggestion, saying:

“I don’t think the phone call had much to do with anything. Had I have been on the floor, I would have voted ‘no.'”

Golden said he continues to consider Bloomberg a “close friend,” and insisted his relationship with the mayor has not been strained by his stance on microstamping. Golden also maintained the mayor would continue to be supportive of the Senate GOP, to which he has contributed more than $1 million since 2003.

As of late Thursday afternoon when we recorded this interview, Golden had not spoken to Bloomberg in person, but did speak to members of the mayor’s staff.

He didn’t want to discuss the details of that discussion. He did, however, confirm the “passionate” exchange that took place behind closed doors between Sen. Tom Libous and Bloomberg during a GOP conference before the vote.

You can watch the entire interview with Sen. Marty Golden by clicking here.

Sampson: I Have To Convince The Gov To Borrow

Here’s Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson after the quickest leaders meeting in history earlier today, proclaiming his love of refinancing tobacco bonds and insisting that he’s simply going to have to convince the borrowing-averse (at least today) governor to change him mind about them.

“Well, everyone has seen in my budget resolution that we passed: I like my tobacco bonds,” Sampson said.

“So, you know, let’s don’t take that off the table yet. It’s called negotiation. Everything is everything is negotiable. Well, I mean, I have to convince the governor, that’s all. We will continue, the governor said certain things are off the table. I have to push to make sure certain things are on the table.”

“This has to be a three-way negotiation, especially if we’re going to resolve this on or before the 28th of June. So that means I have a lot of work cut out for myself.”

Sampson continued to insist that providing property tax relief remains a top priority for his conference.

Ravitch: Ask Schwartz Why I’m Not Involved

While continuing to insist he’s not being shut out of budget negotiations, LG Richard Ravitch today complained he’s not being asked to participate in the talks by either the man who went all the way to the state’s top court to get him into office, Gov. David Paterson, or his chief of staff, Larry Schwartz.

Which is sort of a difference without a distinction, don’t you think?

NY1’s Josh Robin caught up with Ravitch in Manhattan today while Paterson and the legislative leaders were participating in that quickie leaders meeting at the Capitol. (Actually, Josh’s interview might have outlasted the Albany confab, which took less than 20 minutes).

“I don’t feel I’m being shut out,” the LG said in response to Josh’s query about a recent Post story claiming Ravitch is “boycotting” budget meetings because he’s not getting his way.

“Look, I have not been a participant in the discussions recently between the governor and the legislative leaders, not at, not at my choice and but it doesn’t bother me,” Ravitch continued.

“I mean, lieutenant governors don’t have a responsibility to do things. I am there to render advice and I’ve given advice for months to the legislative leaders to the governor they don’t have to follow and obviously the governor didn’t agree with my plan and that’s his right and entitlement.”

“…It was never contemplated that I would have the responsibility to negotiate anything. I haven’t been asked to and I haven’t suggested that I should have. You’ll have to ask the governor’s chief of staff and the governor about that.”

More >

Klein On The Defensive

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein, one of several Democrats targeted by a recent AFL-CIO leaflet campaign for leaving a “trail of broken promises” to labor unions, is hitting back with a mailer that highlights his support for public education.

Klein also was reportedly targeted by a round of robocalls in his district recently. Although he’s not in any danger of losing his seat (I’m not sure he even has a challenger at this point), he is not at all pleased to be in labor’s crosshairs.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Klein does have a Republican opponent, Frank Vernuccio, who was among the first batch of candidates to sign on to former Mayor Ed Koch’s New York Uprising PAC reform pledges.

The mailer mentions a “teachers union,” but doesn’t specify whether that means NYSUT or UFT, that is “attacking Senator Klein because he put kids first rather than boosting their pensions and increasing their salaries,” adding:

“But Senator Klein is making you and your family the priority in Albany. He is fighting tirelessly for education funding that our schools and kids need while preventing teacher layoffs.”

Among the many beefs organized labor has had with the Senate majority is its support for increasing the charter school cap to improve the state’s chances in Round II of the “Race to the Top” funding.
More >