Albany

Thompson’s Ex-Wife Mulls Challenge To Parker

Former city Comptroller’ Bill Thompson’s ex-wife, Sylvia Kinard, confirmed yesterday that she is mulling a primary challenge to controversial Brooklyn Sen. Kevin Parker. (This is an extended version of the second item in my DN column).

Kinard, a lawyer and minister who split from Thompson in 2005, told me in an e-mail she’s considering the race. She did not, however, respond to an inquiry about her residency. Voter registration records show Kinard last voted in the 2006 general election and does not live in Parker’s district. (She lives in the 18th).

Parker is under fire for yelling at Sen. John DeFrancisco during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last week, accusing the Syracuse Republican of racism. Parker then upped the ante by going on the radio and calling his GOP colleagues “white supremacists.”

During a telephone interview yesterday, Parker accused Mayor Bloomberg of pushing Kinard, noting the mayor backed his 2008 primary challenger, former City Councilman Simcha Felder.
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Moya’s First Union

Francisco Moya has received his first labor endorsement in his quest for the 39th Assembly post vacated by now-Sen. Jose Peralta, who departed for a successful special election bid for Hiram Monserrate’s seat.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union announced its support of Moya, citing his commitment to fighting for the rights of working men and women, and his dedication to promoting immigrants’ rights.

“The members of the RWDSU have been able to count on the support of Francisco in the fights for our members,” said union President Stuart Appelbaum.

“Whether it was standing with us in our fight at Duane Reade, fighting for living wage jobs or standing up for immigrant rights, Francisco has been and continues to be a strong advocate for issues facing the working men and women in his community and across the city.”

“He will bring that advocacy to Albany to make sure that the constituents of the 39th Assembly district get the representation and resources they need.”

Incidentally, the RWDSU has been busy this week. This its second legislative endorsement in less than three days.
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Volker: ‘No Regrets,’ ‘I Did My Best’

Soon-to-be-former Sen. Dale Volker has released a formal statement confirming multiple reports yesterday that he has decided not to seek re-election this fall.

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Volker, who made his announcement this morning at his Depew regional office, said he tried during his 38 years in public office “to put the people over politics.”

The veteran GOP lawmaker has always been outspoken – sometimes to his detriment. But he is nevertheless well-liked on both sides of the aisle.

He went out of his way today to praise Western NY elected officials – both Democrats and Republicans – saying they are “for the most part…fine individuals with good intentions that work very hard on behalf of their constituencies and their communities each and every day.”

“I have no regrets in making this decision, only very fond memories,” Volker continued.

“I have always lived my life with dignity, integrity and honesty; and I can say without hesitation that I brought those same characteristics everyday when I proposed bills, passed legislation, debated public policy, and fought tooth and nail to protect western New York on the floor of the New York State Senate for the past 38 years.”

“Thank you all again for allowing me the honor and privilege in representing you over the past 38 years. I did my best.”

Volker did not endorse a successor – at least not in this press release.

Erie County GOP Chairman Jim Domagalski is expected to throw his hat into the ring. He’s got the inside edge to receive support from the SRCC, Senate sources said.

Volker’s 2008 primary opponent, former East Aurora Mayor David DiPietro, had already announced his intention to primary Volker again this fall, which likely contributed to the senator’s decision to bow out of the race.

Damn Yankees

Considering the Yankees World Series tickets ethics charge lodged against Gov. David Paterson and the Senate Democrats’ recent pay-to-play dust-up, you might think a baseball-themed fundraiser isn’t the best idea.

But that hasn’t stopped Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson from making his “9 Innings at Yankee Stadium” event a tradition. (The June 13 fundraiser is being billed as the “second annual”).

A base level ticket is going for $2,400. You can also be a $4,500 “silver slugger,” a $7,000 “gold glove” or a $9,500 “MVP.” All tickets buy access to a luxury suite.

The DSCC has been fundraising very aggressively in preparation for the epic battle it will be waging this fall against the outgunned (in cash terms, anyway) SRCC for control of the chamber – a crucial fight, since whoever has power over the next round of redistricting will have he upper hand for at least the next decade.

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Ravitch Warns: NY Has No ‘Fairy Godmother’

LG Richard Ravitch was the featured speaker at this morning’s ABNY breakfast, and he gave his usual grim assessment of the state’s perilous fiscal situation, NY1’s Bobby Cuza reports.

Ravitch, who is widely credited with helping to rescue NYC from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s, said what New York is facing right now is “even more serious,” but harder to solve.

“It lacks a precipitating event,” the LG explained. “And behavior has not changed even though consequences of the path we are on are as serious if not more serious than what the city faced in 1975.”

Ravitch said Gov. David Paterson’s controversial proposal to furlough state employees until there’s a budget deal is an effort to “get the attention of people,” adding:

“We are legally constrained because of our inability to file an insolvency petition. So we’re trying to get people to recognize that there’s no fairy godmother. And they better change their behavior.”

All In The Senate Family

Senate Democrats were poised this week to axe yet another member of their central staff who had been hired during the Malcolm Smith era, but abruptly called off the firing when the aide’s politically-connected father intervened, sources confirmed.

Rodney Rivera, who works in the majority press office compiling media clips and doing other low-level communications tasks, splitting his time between 250 Broadway in Manhattan and a satellite office on Long Island, was on the chopping block as of yesterday morning.

By afternoon, however, his job, for which he has been paid $65,000 to date, according to SeeThroughNY.net, was safe, although he’s been relocated out of the press office and into conference services.

This likely had something to do with the ire expressed by Rivera’s father, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, sources said. Spokesmen for Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson refused to comment on Rodney Rivera or whether the assemblyman intervened on his behalf, but did confirm he is still working for the majority.
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‘Stop Listening To The Teachers Union’

Here’s yet another TV ad from the pro-charter school group Education Reform Now, which is pushing Albany to raise the charter cap in advance of the next “Race to the Top” funding application deadline on June 1.

In keeping with its previous spots – both radio and TV – this one blames the teachers union for blocking a bill to raise the cap, which died at the eleventh hour in the Legislature and contributing to the state’s second-to-last placement in the first round of RtTP cash.

Here’s the script:

Parent: “When I heard that we did not get the $700 million in school aid from President Obama, I was really angry.”

Parent: “I was speechless.”

Parent: “I couldn’t believe it.”

Parent: “$700 million dollars.”

Parent: “Schools definitely need the money now, especially since their budgets keep getting slashed.”

Parent: “Albany can still make this right.”

Parent: “We can get the $700 million, if Albany just passes the reforms.”

Parent: “Like allowing more charter schools.”

Parent: “Albany’s listening much to much to the teachers union.”

Parent: “Stop listening to the teachers union.”

Parent: “Listen to parents.”

Parent: “Speak for children.”

Parent: “And make decisions that are going to benefit the kids.”

Paterson Threatens Special Session

If you can’t cajole ’em to pass a budget, try forcing ’em.

Gov. David Paterson this morning threatened to call a special session of the Legislature to force state lawmakers to return to Albany in hopes of getting a deal on the budget, which is now almost one month late.

During an interview with WCBS 880 AM Radio, Paterson stressed that he has not yet included his plan to furlough public employees one day a week in emergency budget extenders, which would essentially force legislators to choose between infuriating state worker unions and a government shutdown.

However, the governor said he “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of eventually putting it in there,” adding:

“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of calling a special session and forcing the Legislature to stay if I don’t see a concerted effort. It’s one thing when you’re not reaching an agreement, it’s another thing when I don’t get the impression you’re making very much of an effort at all.”

Lawmakers departed Albany as scheduled yesterday without heeding Paterson’s call for an up-or-down vote on his budget proposal “just to see where we stand,” as he put it this morning. They also didn’t vote on the furlough bill.
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Ramos vs. Diaz Sr., Officially

Charlie Ramos, a Bronx Democrat who has been dithering between a primary challenge to Assemblyman Marcus Crespo and Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. has finally chosen his target.

And the winner is…

Body Shot

“This September I will run for the State Senate and take on Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. in the Democratic primary,” Ramos wrote in a “Dear Friend” e-mail he is poised to blast out this evening.

“I’m running because the people of the Bronx are hurting and our State government is not helping our community, but making living conditions worsen.”

“…The people of the Bronx deserve better than this. I would go a step further and say the people of the Bronx are at risk because of the failure of our State government. If I become your State Senator – I will be accountable only to you. My very first priority will be to protect our children and bring jobs to our community.”

“But I’m going to need your help. The incumbent has the backing of the entrenched interests, the Landlord Lobby, and the corrupt powers that have mismanaged the Bronx for years. But I have something much more important – I have you, my closest friends, supporters and colleagues.”

“Together, we can create a State government that will protect our children, bring jobs to those who desperately need them, and protect our civil liberties – including the right to marriage. That is my firm conviction and that is why I am running for office.

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Sampson Chides, But Won’t Discipline, Parker

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said he gave Sen. Kevin Parker a talking-to following his verbal attacks on his Republican colleagues, but that’s the extent of the disciplinary action the controversial Brooklyn lawmaker will face.

Asked what he had said to Parker, Sampson replied:

“Enough with the finger pointing, name calling, and heated rhetoric, New Yorkers want results. I need members in both parties to step back and focus on what’s important: balancing the budget, creating jobs, and providing property tax relief.”

Sampson would not answer with a direct “no” when pressed on whether he would be heeding Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos’ call for Democrats to repudiate Parkers’ comments calling GOP members – specifically Sen. John DeFrancisco – “white supremacists” and discipline or censure him.
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