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.
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Could Microstamping Split Bloomberg And Senate GOP?

The near-defeat of the microstamping bill yesterday may very well signal the end of the long – and lucrative- relationship between Mayor Bloomberg and the Senate Republicans in a crucial election year when the minority can ill-afford to lose the billionaire mayor’s financial support.

“I would say the relationship suffered a major setback,” said a source intimately involved in the debate.

“The mayor cares very much about guns. If the Republicans couldn’t give him three votes on a microstamping bill, what does that mean if they take back the majority? They’ll never put a gun bill on the floor.”

Bloomberg, who made a special trip to the Capitol (a place he is widely known to dislike immensely) to lobby in favor of the measure, had a heated exchange during a closed-door meeting with Sen. Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican, in advance of the vote that saw the measure abruptly yanked from the floor before it went down in flames.

Sources with knowledge of the meeting confirmed the “passionate” debate between Libous, the deputy Senate minority leader, and the mayor, during which voices were raised on both sides.
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Senate Dems Blame Golden For Microstamping Failure (Updated)

The Senate Democrats pulled the microstamping bill off the floor late this afternoon after it became clear the bill would not pass if the vote was allowed to finish. Now the majority conference is pointing the finger of blame across the aisle at GOP Sen. Marty Golden, who wasn’t in the chamber while the slow roll was called.

“Today Senator Martin Golden and his Republican colleagues struck a victory for gun criminals and a blow to law enforcement,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran.

“It is a disgrace that a former cop took a walk from the chamber and refused to stand up for law enforcement and let politics get in the way of public safety.”

“Microstamping gives law enforcement the tools they need to catch dangerous criminals and protect New York’s families. Unfortunately, the special interests won out over public safety. We could say we saw Senator Golden at his worst, but we did not see him at all – he was absent when it counted most.”

The “special interest” in this case is the gun lobby, which was opposed to the bill.
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Out Of Sight, But On The Phone

The start of the petitioning period last Tuesday signaled the official kick-off of the 2010 campaign season, but state lawmakers are stuck in Albany while the budget battle drags on and their opponents capitalize on their absence back home.


Mindful this is not the best year to be “out of sight, out of mind” with an electorate increasingly willing to dump incumbents, Assemblyman Jeff Aubry has started roboing his constituents to assure that he’s gone but not forgotten.

UPDATE: Aubry does have a primary opponent. Anthony Miranda, who founded the Latino Officers Association and ( I believe) used to work for expelled ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate, is reportedly circulating petitions to get onto the ballot.

Starting this morning, residents in the 35th AD (that’s Queens, upstaters) started receiving a 37-second message from the Democratic lawmaker. He explains why he hasn’t been seen as much in the district as of late and reassures them that there will be no government shutdown.

Here’s the script:

“Hi, this is your assemblyman, Jeff Aubry. I’ve been in Albany doing what you’ve elected me to do, representing your interests and making sure vital services are protected for our community. Although the budget has not passed as of yet, state government will not shut down. You will continue to receive services provided by the state. And you will also continue to receive your state benefits.”

“Once again this is your assemblyman, Jeff Aubry, and I will continue to fight for you. Please call my office at xxx-xxx-xxxx if I can be of assistance to you or if you have any questions. Thank you, and have a good evening.”

A Tale Of Two Pledges

Former Mayor Ed Koch is so far having better luck getting the AG contenders to sign his reform pledges than Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo is with his “New New York Agenda” plea.

To date, three of the six candidates vying to replace Cuomo have formally put their names to Koch’s trio of New York Uprising PAC pledges, one plans to sign but hasn’t done so yet, and two are still reviewing it.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman was the first to sign Koch’s pledges, which call for nonpartisan independent redistricting, ethics and budget reform. But he had a head start because legislative candidates and incumbents got their pledges before the non-Albany AG candidates got theirs.

Sean Coffey has also signed. (I believe he was No. 2). Coffey has made a point of calling for more stringent ethics reform than his primary opponents, saying the bill sponsored by Schneiderman, passed by both houses of the Legislature and vetoed by Gov. David Paterson doesn’t go far enough in its disclosure requirements.

Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the lone GOP AG contender, signed his Koch pledges today.
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Paterson: I May Move Up Layoffs (Updated)

Gov. David Paterson just revealed that he’s thinking of moving up his plan to lay off public employees, saying he might start cutting jobs while he’s still in office instead of waiting until the first day of the next governor’s four-year term.

“I have already set up a plan for layoffs in this fiscal year…this coming fiscal year, but what bothers me is – it’s just gnawing at me – I don’t think I should be setting up a layoff plan for the next governor to do,” Paterson told the Capitol Pressroom’s Susan Arbetter.

“I mean if you’re going to do layoffs, you should do them yourself,” the governor continued. “And so I’m really considering altering that starting the layoffs sooner.”

Just to be clear, Arbetter broke in and asked: “So, in 2010, you mean, 2010?” Paterson replied: “2010, yes.” He then added:
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1199/GNYHA Mail Against More Health Care Cuts

The Legislature has already approved a round of health care cuts in an extender bill (in fact, that was the first time Gov. David Paterson employed that controversial approach), but SEIU 1199 and the Greater NY Hospital Association are clearly concerned additional reductions could be in the offing.

The health care workers union and its industry partner have launched a campaign in hopes of dissuading the Legislature from going back to Medicaid in search of more cuts – something the Senate Republicans have advocated – or revisting the issue of increased taxes on hospitals.

The campaign includes a TV ad that hits the airwaves today in Albany and NYC as well as a mailer that warns of hospital closings if funding is reduced further and protests outside key lawmakers’ district offices.
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Paterson: We’ll Do This Again Next Week

Despite all the positive talk from legislative leaders yesterday about movement on an actual budget deal (to the extent there’s much left that hasn’t already been passed in an extender bill), Gov. David Paterson didn’t sound too optimistic this morning, suggesting another extender showdown is likely in the offing.

“I think we’ll have to do it again next week,” Paterson said on WCBS 880 AM.

“But I do think that the recognition now by the Legislature that this is the governor’s authority granted to the governor by the law will get them moving a little quicker on the budget.”

“I just want to see balanced budget passed, and I don’t want to see it encumber the next administration because I’m leaving at the end of the year, or the next generation.”

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Kruger Tries To Pin A Non-Shutdown On The Dems

Here’s Senate Finance Chairman Carl Kruger opening debate on the 11th budget extender and trying to pin the blame for a possible government shutdown (which we now know isn’t going to happen) on the GOP.

He speaks of being on the “precipice of doom.”

Paterson ‘Protecting’ Cuomo In Pigeon Probe?

A reader brought to my attention a rather weird passage in ace Buffalo News political reporter Bob McCarthy’s story yesterday about the Paterson administation’s referral of an election law violation case regarding Steve Pigeon to the US attorney’s office in Manhattan.

At the heart of the case are allegation by former prosecutor Mark A. Sacha (who was fired after the News initially reported his complaints) that two successive Erie County DAs gave Pigeon a pass on what Paterson’s counsel Peter Kiernan has since determined was a “pattern” of violations.

Kiernan’s reasoning: US Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara is already investigating Pigeon on unrelated tax and money laundering charges. So what’s one more charge added to the mix?

Well, Sacha doesn’t see it that way. McCarthy writes:

“Informed that the governor’s office was referring the Pigeon investigation to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Sacha questioned why the matter has been referred to federal investigators when the local FBI and U.S. attorney’s office did not prosecute in 2008, citing lack of jurisdiction.

Sacha says that while Paterson was interested in pursuing the case last fall when he was a candidate for governor, the lame duck governor is now committed to protecting the gubernatorial aspirations of Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

“The rules that regard election laws are fundamental because they ensure that it protects the right to free and fair elections,” Sacha said. “And the right to vote is fundamental because it protects all the other constitutional rights, and the state has a duty to protect that.”

As attorney general, Cuomo would be charged with appointing a special prosecutor (or appointing himself as special prosecutor) to probe Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic chairman and now counsel to a top State Senate leader.

That would have proved “embarrassing,” Sacha said, because Pigeon has emerged as a significant influence in determining the endorsement of the often influential Independence Party, which last month backed Cuomo for governor.

Sacha goes on to note that Pigeon, a former Erie County Democratic chairman and counsel to Senate Majority Pedro Espada Jr. (whom Cuomo continues to invesigate after slapping him with two civil lawsuits), has influence over how state Independence Party founder Tom Golisano – a Cuomo fan (and, since the millionaire’s tax passed, Florida resident) – directs his considerable resources.

“(Frank Clark and Sedita) improperly used their discretion to protect a political friend,” Sacha told McCarthy, “and the governor has used his discretion to improperly protect the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.”

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