Espada Is Bill Samuels’ First Target

Remember LG wanna-be Bill Samuels and his pledge to launch a $250,000 independent expenditure campaign to elect reform-minded senators?

Well, he has his first target. And it was sort of a no-brainer.

“Pedro Espada represents all that is wrong with state government today,” Samuels said in a press release that announced the scandal-scarred Bronx lawmaker will be the first incumbent targeted by his New Roosevelt Initiative.

“He’s a wealthy guy from one of the wealthiest parts of Westchester who lines his pockets with taxpayer money yet fails to address the real needs of his district – in which he doesn’t even live”

“The people of the 33rd Senatorial District face real challenges getting affordable housing, access to health care and decent schools. But they have a State Senator who takes money intended for health care and uses it to hire family members and cronies instead; who ignores tenants and sides with landlords; and who turns his back on Democratic values so he can cozy up to his rich Republican friends in the State Senate.”

More >

Reinventing History

Here’s a copy of a mailer Republican East Syracuse Mayor Dan Liedka sent out that seeks to tie the man he hopes to unseat, Sen. Dave Valesky, with the scandal-scarred leadership of the Senate Democrats.

The piece was mentioned during a report by YNN’s Bill Carey that appeared on “Capital Tonight” last night.

The mailer is clearly from Liedka (it clearly says it was paid for by his campaign, but I wasn’t able to fit that part onto the jpeg; sorry), but it’s written in Valesky’s voice and signed: “Dave.” The text slams the senator for the late budget, recent DSCC pay-to-play fundraising stories and the fact that his top aide, Troy Waffner, was recently hired by the State Fair.

“He’ll make a hundred grand a year, (but) he’ll still be able to work on my Senate payroll, and I’ll be able to hire a couple more campaign workers on my Senate payroll,” the piece reads. “It doesn’t get much better than that. What hiring freeze?”

Liedka isn’t the only Republican challenging Valesky. Concert pianist Andrew Russo is also vying for the GOP nod.

Businesswoman Jessica Crawford was also in the running, but ended her bid when she failed to gain sufficient traction among local GOP leaders. (Updated).


Bloomberg vs. Perkins

Mayor Bloomberg, a longstanding charter school champion, teed off this morning on Harlem Sen. Bill Perkins, who hosted a controversial public hearing on the schools yesterday.

“Bill Perkins is a guy who went to elite private schools and he represents a districts where most people can’t afford elite private schools and charter schools are their opportunity to get their kids a great education,” Bloomberg told WOR’s John Gambling.

“….The public wants better schools. Charter schools are public schools, and you’ve got to remember: Most of the public schools are not charter schools, and they keep getting better and better. And one of the reasons I think they keep getting better and better is that charter schools give them competition. Competition’s great for everybody, and it’s one of those things we want to encourage.”

“Perkins has been violently against it, while the educators, the public and the parents want more of it.”

More >

Levy Accuses Cuomo Of ‘Selective Enforcement’

During my interview with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy earlier today, I asked for his thoughts on AG Andrew Cuomo’s case against Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. and whether he believes, as Espada has asserted, the AG’s investigation was politically motivated.

“Well, I don’t know if that was the motive,” Levy replied. “But it is interesting that even with Mr. Monserrate, who has been dumped out of the Senate, you know, there are a lot of other senators and assemblymen who have done some pretty shaky things.”

“And there seems to be some selective enforcement regarding where they come down on this – not to say that what those other gentlemen did or alleged to have done was good stuff.”

Levy then segued into his “Cuomo needs to announce” riff, adding:

“I think what Mr. Cuomo wants to do is just stay on his perch as Attorney General and issues subpoenas and duck the questions that naturally flow toward a person that wants to be the executive.”

Again, the full interview will air on “Capital Tonight” at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Education Interests Sue Paterson – Again

The state School Boards Association, Council of School Superintendents, United Teachers, and the School Administrators have filed yet another lawsuit against Gov. David Paterson, challenging the legality and constitutionality of his decision to withhold $2.1 billion worth of payments scheduled for March 31.

The money is not due by statute until June 1. Paterson has said the state intends to meet that deadline, assuming it has sufficient cash on hand to cover the payment. (He has also said that the state will run out of money in June, so it’s unclear which of those statements is going to trump the other).

This same group sued Paterson the last time he withheld scheduled payments ($582 million back in December). At the time, the governor said the state would send out the money as soon as its fiscal picture improved, and he kept his word on that one, which caused the groups to stand down on their legal action.

In a joint statement, the groups said:
More >

Espada Continues Tour Of Defiance

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. held his third press conference in as many days to declare his innocence and slam AG Andrew Cuomo for his ongoing probe into the embattled Bronx Democrat and his nonprofit, Soundview Healthcare Network.


Today, Espada appeared at Soundview with a doctor from the clinic and accused the AG and federal investigators of “scaring these patients and these families (into) thinking this place is going to close.”

NY1 Noticias’ Jonathan Inoa was on the scene, and sent the following comments from the senator:

“I am now under investigation, be just about it, be proper about it, focus on what you really need. Don’t raid our institution in the dawn of the morning, and scaring these patients and families thinking this place is going to close.”

“Every single document that was seized here was already in the possession of Andrew Cuomo’s office. And I know why that happened, so I could be found guilty before we ever had a chance to even be charged with anything, OK? Or even have the conversation we are having today.”

More >

Dinallo: AG Candidates Should Keep Quiet on Espada

AG hopeful Eric DiNallo slamming his Democratic primary opponents for weighing in on the Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. scandal, saying it’s inappropriate for anyone seeking to succeed the current AG, Andrew Cuomo, to comment on a case he or she might end up inheriting.


Would-be AGs Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice and Sen. Eric Schneiderman both released statements yesterday saying Espada should voluntarily relinquish his post as majority leader in the wake of the civil charges slapped on him by Cuomo.

Dinallo also announced a six-point agenda for investigating public corruption, which includes stringent new disclosure requirements for charities (like, say, the Bronx-based Soundview, which Cuomo says Espada looted of more than $14 million), using the Tweed Law to investigate the misuse of public funds, and pursuing election law violations under the existing Executive Law.
More >

An Anti-Espada Earth Day Missive

New York League of Conservation Voters President Marcia Bystryn sent an Earth Day appeal to supporters this morning featuring Albany’s current Public Enenmy No. 1: Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.


The missive warns NYLCV supporters to be on the alert for so-called “greenwashing” – when elected officials make noises about loving the environment, but don’t put their money where their mouths are. Bystryn writes:

“As we’ve told you throughout this Earth Day campaign, here’s what Albany’s foes of the environment are proposing to do:

Deeply cut the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), whose dollars go toward protecting our drinking water, open space and recycling; Close state parks and campgrounds and slash staffing levels at our environmental enforcement agencies; and Steal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Fund, which was set up to invest in our clean-energy economy, not serve as a piggy bank for politicians.”

Bystryn goes on to make a pitch for the NYCLV’s Climate Action PAC, which the organization uses to support candidates and elected officials it deems supportive of its platform.

Traditionally, a slew of Earth Day events would be taking place at the Capitol today, but those have fallen victim to budget cuts – along with so many other things in Albany and around the state.

Lawmakers did manage to pass a slew of Earth Day-inspired bills earlier this week.

‘Shame On You, Bill Perkins’

As Sen. Bill Perkins prepares to hold a hearing to, as he puts it, “look at the books of companies affiliated with charter schools” today, the pro-charter organization Education Reform Now has launched a new ad that features parents scolding the Harlem Democrat.

The ad has been added to the mix of spots already in rotation in the downstate market, and will be a “significant part” of the buy, according to a spokesman for the group.

Perkins is under fire from charter school advocates, who are shopping for a potential primary opponent to take him on this fall. They might be assisted by allies of Gov. David Paterson and Rep. Charlie Rangel, who aren’t pleased with the outspoken senator’s willingness to speak his mind about these embattled fellow Dems.

The senator, who holds Paterson’s old seat, has been widely speculated to be eyeing a potential primary challenge to Rangel, but he is so far keeping his powder dry. Perkins formally announced his re-election campaign last weekend.

charter school ad from Elizabeth Benjamin on Vimeo.

EXCLUSIVE: Sampson Questions Cuomo’s Espada Case

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson is sticking by embattled Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., suggesting during an interview with me this afternoon that AG Andrew Cuomo could have gone much harder on the Bronx lawmaker if his alleged misdeeds were indeed so nefarious.

Cuomo yesterday called the charges he levied against Espada “outrageous,” adding: “I have not seen anything on this scale.”

Sampson, who is an attorney, stopped short of agreeing with Espada’s claim that Cuomo’s case was politically motivated, but did say “there were things that the attorney general could have done.”

“You have to think about the magnitude of this,” Sampson told me. “He could have asked for a temporary restraining order, which prevented Senator Espada’s health care from receiving any monies from any government entities or he could ask for a preliminary injunction, which again would have prevented his entity from operating.”

“These are things he could have utilized to prevent his facility from operating if there is such widespread abuse, fraud and mismanagement going on. And people need to think that and you wouldn’t know that unless you had a legal mind and you know the remedies available to the attorney general.”

More >