Siena Poll I: Nice Guy Cuomo vs. Undecided

Today’s Siena poll finds New Yorkers believe the kinder, gentler Andrew Cuomo storyline and want him to hurry up and declare his gubernatorial candidacy so he can get busy explaining how he’ll save the state.

Cuomo, who has never managed to completely shake his Type-A reputation among political insiders, is viewed by nearly two-thirds of voters as just the right degree of aggressive.

By a margin of 63-23, poll respondents said the AG is someone who’ll help clean up Albany rather than too much a part of its dysfunctional culture to be truly effective as a change agent.

Cuomo’s Rose Garden strategy hasn’t hurt his popularity – 66 percent view him favorably, up from 63 percent last month. But for the first time, more voters (49 percent) say the time has come from the AG to make his political intentions clear rather than waiting still longer to announce his candidacy (36 percent).
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The Monserrate-Peralta Summit

Observers were taken aback to see Sen. Jose Peralta engaged in deep and prolonged discussion with the man whose comeback he thwarted, expelled ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany this past Saturday night.

hiram and peralta, 2

Both men were in town for the annual Somos el Futuro Spring conference. Monserrate kept a rather low profile, while Peralta was feted at various receptions throughout the evening, jokingly introduced as the “senior senator” at an event he co-sponsored with Assemblyman Adrian Espaillat and Sen. Eric Schneiderman. (More on that get-together later).

The tete-a-tete between Monserrate and Peralta lasted for at least half an hour, during which I had the opportunity to snap this (rather dark and fuzzy) photo from across the bar. I later asked Peralta what the erstwhile opponents had discussed, but the senator would only tell me that Monserrate was “wishing me well.”

A source close to Peralta who was briefed on the chat characterized it as a “long-overdue conversation in which Monserrate conceded that Jose won the race.” (The two Queens Democrats apparently had not spoken face-to-face, if at all, since the March special election in which Peralta defeated Monserrate’s attempt to win back the seat from which he had been ejected by his former colleagues).

The source said Monserrate also discussed a recent trip he took to Russia and expressed an interest in “moving on,” although he didn’t provide any details. He has been speculated to be eyeing Peralta’s 39th AD Assembly seat, but there are already at least two Democrats in the running: Francisco Moya, the establishment favorite, and Bryan Pu-Folkes.

Giuliani, Mario Cuomo ‘Trustees’ Of Koch Albany Reform Effort

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. Mario Cuomo are among the nine trustees of former Mayor Ed Koch’s new reform Albany effort, “New York Uprising,” sources with knowledge of the nascent organization confirm.

All nine trustees – “prominent New Yorkers,” according to the press release – will be announced at a press conference tomorrow morning at the Manhattan offices of Bryan Cave, where Koch is a partner.

Giuliani, a Republican, was once considering a run for governor against the presumptive Democratic nominee, AG Andrew Cuomo, who is Mario Cuomo’s son.

Organizers of tomorrow’s event say they’re hopeful both Giuliani and Cuomo-the-elder will show up in person, but at this point it’s unclear if either of them will do so.

The fact that the former governor is lending his name to an effort that has considered trying to oust state lawmakers who aren’t sufficiently reform-minded at a time when his son is seeking to be in a position where he will have to work with the Legislature is fascinating – and potentially problematic.
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Paterson’s Budget Line In The Sand

Gov. David Paterson, who perhaps has the most to gain from the ongoing state budget stalemate, sent an e-mail today to supporters that slams lawmakers for wanting to fund property tax relief with borrowing and continues his tough talk about the need for spending cuts over “fiscal tricks.”

Paterson took a swipe of sorts at his appointed LG Richard Ravitch, saying “too much of the conversation in Albany has centered on borrowing to balance our budget and satiate the desire to spend more money.”

(Recall that the Ravitch plan proposed borrowing tied to a host of budget reforms. To the degree that they have embraced the LG’s ideas, state lawmakers so far like the borrowing, but not the reforms).

Paterson then went on to chastise “some lawmakers” (ahem, Senate Democrats) who have talked about borrowing to restore funding for the STAR property tax rebate checks for seniors – an idea the governor deemed “unequivocally terrible.”

Here’s the key paragraph of the governor’s budget manifesto:

I will not accept a budget that continues the same tired fiscal tricks of the past. I will not accept a budget that shields the special interests. And I will not accept a budget that allows New York to slip into an economic coma from which it could take a generation to wake up.”

“Instead, I will keep fighting to restore fiscal sanity, no matter how late the budget is and now matter how many times I am threatened with frivolous lawsuits.”

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Levy: Lazio And I Are Tied!

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy emerged from today’s GOP county leader confab and insisted to reporters that he and primary rival Rick Lazio are deadlocked in their fight for the dominance in the party’s weighted convention vote, Capital Tonight’s Kaitlyn Ross reports

“We’re at about 4o percent of the vote and I think Mr. Lazio is too…I feel very confident I can split that vote and get the numbers we need for June,” Levy insisted.

“They feel that if it’s a matchup between Andrew Cuomo with his numbers and his money, against Rick, who hasn’t really been able to raise any money with no real plan, it’s going to be a slaughter. They wanted me in this race because they wanted a chance to win.”

When I last checked in, Levy had been endorsed by 13 county chairs who account for about 24.82 percent of the vote. Maggie Haberman pegged him at somewhere between 20 and 25 percent.

I think Levy might have added one or two chairs since then, but certainly not enough to boost him up to 40 percent, particularly not when Nassau County is so far remaining loyal to Lazio. (Levy has the support of John Jay LaValle, chair of the other big fish, Suffolk County, but not all of the committee members are loyal).
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Senate Dems Robo On Taxes

The Senate Democrats have launched a series of robocalls in the wake of Tax Day, accusing 12 Republicans of “sitting on the sidelines, running from a decades-long record of taxing, spending and borrowing away the financial stability of our state.”

“Senate Republicans bear the brunt of responsibility for landing us in our current fiscal straits. They owe it to their constituents, and to all New Yorkers, to engage in good faith negotiations to help fix their mess,” writes the DSCC’s new media maven/blogger Mike Connery. We’re not going to let them run from their record any longer.”

The calls, which you can hear on the DSCC’s new-and-improved Web site, also accuse the minority of holding up the budget process and then trying to blame the Democrats “for their own mess.” (Unfortunately, whoever is reading the script was not coached beforehand on the proper pronunciation of Albany, which seems fairly self-explanatory).

The targets include: Minority Leader Dean Skelos, Ken LaValle, Kemp Hannon, Owen Johnson, Steve Saland, Hugh Farley, Tom Libous, Michael Ranzenhofer, Joe Robach, John DeFrancisco, James Alesi and Frank Padavan. Apparently, this is the Democrats’ target list, although I’d be surprised if Skelos and Johnson face serious opponents.

This isn’t the first time the Senate Democrats have roboed on taxes.

The focus of the last round of calls was property tax relief, which the majority included in its budget resolution – much to the chagrin of the governor and Mayor Bloomberg. Unfortunately for the Democrats’ the calls went out at the tail end of the Passover holiday, which provided fodder for the GOP.

Mixing Policy And Politics

Here’s the invitation to the Senate Democrats’ “first annual issues conference and spring gala,” that is combining discussions about serious topics like reforming Albany and eliminating government waste with a $1,000 to $5,000 per person fundraiser.

issues fundraiser

As Knickerbocker noted earlier today, this comes on the heels of the Senate Democrats’ efforts to create so-called “councils” of labor, business and LGBT leaders, offering exclusive access to members of the majority conference for the low, low price of $50,000 to $25,000.

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson defended the councils. But Gov. David Paterson said the whole thing smelled a whole lot like pay-to-play, calling that an “outrage” that would have been banned had his reform package not been scuttled by the Legislature.

In this case, the Democrats aren’t even bothering to try to separate the issues conference from the fundraising gala – both are taking place at the same location: The Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South.

City OTB: Your Money’s Safe, Even If We’re Not

The city OTB, which is poised to cease to exist this weekend unless state leaders manage to hammer out an eleventh-hour deal, is rushing to assure customers that their money is “safe and secure.”

State lawmakers left Albany Wednesday without passing a bailout package for the bankrupt racing operation. Asked if any negotiations have been going on since legislators departed the Capitol Wednesday, a Senate Democratic source responded there have been “no talks that I know of”

Here’s the statement from the city OTB, which is responding to comments made earlier today by Racing and Wagering Board Chairman (and former senator) John Sabini that raised the possibility of bettors losing money if the closure actually happens:

“In light of press reports and the statement released by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board earlier today, NYC OTB would like to clarify to its customers that all uncashed winning tickets, vouchers or funds on account with NYC OTB are safe and secure. Customer funds are held in a separate bank account, designated as containing ‘customer’ funds and deposits, that is fully funded and entirely segregated from the Corporation’s own corporate funds.”

“In the unfortunate event that NYC OTB ceases operations, a limited number of branches will remain open in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan for six calendar days after the last day of operations so that customers can cash tickets/vouchers and make account withdrawals. Thereafter, these transactions can be conducted at NYCOTB’s customer service center located at 1501 Broadway in Manhattan for up to six weeks. The locations that will remain open temporarily are: 107-40 Queens Blvd. (Forest Hills-Queens); 67-19 Bay Parkway (67th Street-Brooklyn); and 515 7th Avenue (37th Street-Manhattan). The hours of operation will be from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the six calendar days following the last day of operations.”

NYC OTB’s Board of Directors will be holding a public meeting at 11:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, April 17, 2010.

(Unannounced) Destito Raising

Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito has yet to announce whether she will seek re-election to her seat in the 116th AD, but perhaps the fact that she is holding a fundraiser in Utica next month is an indication of her plans.


The event, which runs from $300 (contributor) to $1,000 (blue sponsor) a head, will be held on a Friday (May 7) from noon to 2 p.m. (The assemblywoman is throwing caution to the wind on this one, since there still is no budget deal in sight, although the Legislature is not officially scheduled to be in session that day).

Destito’s Republican challenger, businessman Greg Johnson, formally announced his candidacy at the Fort Stanwix Tea Party yesterday. The local Democratic Party chairman, Bill Barry, expressed hope that Destito will “announce soon and run” and said no other Democrat has indicated an interest in running in her place.
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Espada Primary Challenger Hunter Hires BerlinRosen, Prepares Launch

Activist Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter will officially announce her primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. at 11 a.m. tomorrow outside the Bronx Library Center, and she has retained a firm that is intimately familiar with the Senate and the Democratic conference to help her try to unseat an incumbent many in her party love to hate.


Pilgrim-Hunter, described in the press release touting her impending announcement as a “community organizer and president of Fordham Hill Cooperative Apartments,” is being repped by BerlinRosen, a firm started by Valerie Berlin and Jonathan Rosen – two veterans of the DSCC. The duo struck out on their own after the 2004 election cycle in which the Democrats won three seats from the GOP in what was the start of a successful push to wrest control of the majority for the first time in more than three decades.

The Democrats did not accomplish that feat until 2008, and even then only managed to claim the majority by a slim two-seat margin.
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