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Posts by Liz Benjamin
May 23rd - 5:12 pm
Michael Barbaro chronicles Anthony Weiner’s “circuslike” first day on the campaign trail.
As expected, the former congressman did a lot of apologizing.
According to the latest polls, Weiner, who visited Harlem during his first day on the campaign trail, is more popular among minority voters than Bill Thompson, who despite his 2009 run is still largely unknown.
Former Clinton administration official Mike Lux called Gov. Andrew Cuomo “more than a bit slippery.”
The seat of power in the Cuomo administration: Westchester.
Mayor Bloomberg has grown his real estate portfolio.
Bloomberg disclosed for the first time this year that he has personal HSBC bank accounts in London, Paris, Bermuda and Hong Kong, in addition to his accounts in America.
The Peace Bridge Authority convenes tomorrow for the first time since discord erupted between its Canadian and American delegations in April, and Cuomo’s recent comments have only exacerbated things.
The Cayuga Nation has “grave concerns” about the recently announced deal that gives the Oneida Indian Nation exclusive gaming rights in Central New York, including Cayuga County.
JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon called Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY “the type of visionary thinking we need from our leaders.”
FEMA will pay a higher share of Sandy-related response costs for the state and local governments.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb hasn’t called on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to resign, even as the state GOP and some of his own members have done so.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, chair of the House Republicans’ campaign committee, said Rep. Chris Gibson is “a blue-collar Republican. He’s earned everything he’s gotten in life.”
Caroline Kennedy and her fellow jurors took just over an hour to acquit a man of charges that he sold four “nickel bag” crack rocks at $5 each to an undercover officer near Harlem River Park.
Democratic NYC mayoral candidate John Liu has picked up the unanimous endorsement of the South Shore Democratic Club.
You knew this was coming.
Cuomo says he’ll make a decision on whether to allow hydrofracking in New York before the 2014 election.
POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin (AKA J-Mart) has joined the NY Times as its national political correspondent.
May 23rd - 4:22 pm
During a public radio interview that will air this weekend, Sen. Liz Krueger expressed “huge reservations” about the Tax-Free NY program Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled yesterday and is traveling the state to tout, warning that it could go the way of past economic development programs that ended up doing more harm that good.
“My immediate reaction was I need more details, but this feels like the next Empire Zone scandal four years down the road,” the Manhattan Democrat told WAMC’s Alan Chartock on the “Capitol Connection,” which airs tomorrow night at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and will also be available on WAMC.org.
“…I am very uncomfortable with special deals for special sub-entites – particularly based on geographic lines. I think there are all kinds of problems written into this proposal.”
Krueger recalled that the ill-fated Empire Zones program, which was created by former Gov. George Pataki in 1999 (it actually morphed out of the New York State Economic Development Zones) ended up being an ill-conceived boondoggle that gave away millions of dollars worth of publicly-funded incentives and tax breaks to businesses that pledged to create jobs and then often didn’t make good on those promises.
The Empire Zones program “grew willy-nilly with no logic,” Krueger said, adding: “When I heard the governor’s (plan), I thought: Oy, is this going to be the same thing?”
The senator said she was especially concerned to learn that the 10-year tax moratorium Cuomo wants to offer to businesses would not just apply to those that relocate onto SUNY campuses, but also to a radius around the schools.
She wondered aloud how long it would take until her legislative colleagues started proposing bills to change the parameters of the program – like they did with Empire Zones – or try to expand its benefits to existing companies.
Krueger isn’t alone in her concerns. Sen. John DeFrancisco told the Post-Standard that he can think of “better ideas” to grow the upstate economy, like across-the-board tax cuts that don’t merely apply to new companies.
May 23rd - 3:55 pm
During his Tax-Free NY announcement at SUNY New Paltz earlier today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked to expand on his remarks to the Syracuse Post-Standard editorial board that if New Yorkers elect former Rep. Anthony Weiner for mayor than “shame on us.”
After the national media firestorm sparked by his comments in Central New York – even Matt Drudge picked up on it – the governor has apparently decided to revert to his tight-lipped approach when it comes to the scandal-scarred former congressman’s candidacy, saying only:
“I don’t have an official position on the mayor’s race, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Cuomo has long said that he’s going to try to stay out of the crowded mayoral contest, but was goaded into giving his opinion on Weiner’s run during the following exchange with Stephen A. Rogers, chairman of the
Syracuse Media Group:
Cuomo: “It’s basically democracy. Those are grownups (in the Assembly) who are picking, who pick their leader.”
Rogers: “So if Anthony Weiner wants to run for mayor, he can run for mayor.”
Cuomo: “He runs? He runs.”
Rogers: “And if we elect him?”
Cuomo: “Shame on us.”
A Cuomo aide told the Daily News’ Ken Lovett that the governor’s poke at Weiner was just a joke.
May 23rd - 7:18 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and Ulster County. At 2 p.m., he’ll discuss his Tax-Free NY initiative at SUNY New Paltz’s Student Union, Multipurpose Room, One Hawk Drive, New Paltz.
Members of the Cuomo cabinet will fan out across the state to spread the gospel about the initiative, too.
- Environmental Facilities Corp. President Matt Driscoll will be at SUNY Oswego, Sheldon Hall, Room 222, 7060 Route 104, 10 a.m.
- Also at 10 a.m., OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito will be at the State University of New York Institute of Technology, Cayan Library’s Mele Room, 5701 Horatio Street, Utica.
- ESDC President and CEO Ken Adams speaks at Suffolk County Community College, Health Sports and Exhibition Center, Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood at 11 a.m.
- Also at 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy will be at the SUNY Brockport Rochester Educational Opportunity Center, 161 Chestnut St., Rochester.
- At 2 p.m., Canal Corp. Executive Director Brian Stratton will be at SUNY Binghamton, Innovative Technologies Complex, 85 Murray Hill Rd., Vestal.
- Also ay 2 p.m., Dede Scozzafava will be at SUNY Potsdam, Barrington Hall Student Center, Fireside Room, 44 Pierrepont Ave.
- At 3 p.m., Budget Director Bob Megna appears at Columbia-Greene Community College
Professional Academic Center, Room 612, 4400 New York 23, Hudson.
- Deputy Secretary for Economic Development Leecia Eve will be at SUNY Fredonia, tudent Union at Williams Center, 280 Central Ave.
Duffy will also speak at the ‘Why I Love the Finger Lakes’ Career Expo at the Finger Lakes Community College student center, 3325 Marvin Sands Dr., Canandaigua.
Newly-minted NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner will greet commuters at 8 a.m. at the 2/3 Subway Stop, 125th Street and Malcolm X. Boulevard, Harlem; and then appear on the Brian Lehrer Show at 10 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York and others host a press briefing about hydrofracking, Room 120, Legislative Office Building, Albany.
At 3:30 p.m., U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara addresses members of the Columbia Law School Class of 2013 at graduation ceremony; South Lawn of Columbia University in front of Butler Library, Manhattan.
At 7 p.m., all the Democratic mayoral hopefuls – including Weiner – will appear at the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club forum at the Riverdale Temple, 4545 Independence Avenue, Bronx.
Mayor Bloomberg’s personal income taxes and his annual Conflicts of Interest Board disclosure report are being made available today for reporters’ examination, as they are every year.
Weiner laid out the rationale for his mayoral candidacy in a DN OpEd, and also said: “(I)f some citizens want to ask me questions about my private failings rather than public policy, I understand.”
Weiner revealed that after he resigned from Congress, he went to the Gabbard Center in Houston, a psychiatric facility that specializes in intensive “three-day outpatient psychiatric evaluations.”
“It wasn’t an addiction thing,” he said. “I mean, it was just a place to get away and to meet people…who might be able to help.”
“I didn’t go to rehab anywhere,” Weiner told Andrea Peyser. “A couple of days I worked with a therapist in Texas I was referred to. Two days, twice, for a total of four days. Or, it might have been three.”
The former congressman is running an unconventional campaign so far, and says – uncharacteristically – that he’s not interesting in attacking anyone this time around.
May 22nd - 5:29 pm
After announcing his campaign via a YouTube video that went live at midnight, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner spent the morning avoiding reporters.
The Weiner campaign tried to soothe the savage media beast with pizza.
“The new Anthony Weiner looks a lot like the old: full of bluster, full of ideas, full of himself.”
Most of Weiner’s opponents didn’t have much to say about his candidacy.
…Weiner’s former boss, Sen. Chuck Schumer, didn’t have any comment, either.
Weiner insists he sees a path to victory.
Despite his one previous comment to the contrary, Weiner says he’s “not going to go on an anti-bike lane jihad if I’m lucky enough to get elected.”
New Yorkers weigh in on Weiner’s candidacy.
In non-Weiner news…
The House Ethics Committee has granted a waiver for Rep. Sean Maloney to receive gifts from his partner, Randy Florke, without having to report them on his personal financial disclosure report.
Lawmakers in D.C. have introduced a bill that would create a “critter car” on Amtrak trains.
Speaking at a fundraiser for Oakland County Republicans last night, Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton will be “very, very hard to beat” in 2016 (if she runs).
Indicted Queens Councilman Dan Halloran made news by showing up to work.
Critics of the deal struck by Cuomo and the Oneida Indian Nation will hold a panel discussion at Sherrill City Hall tonight.
First Lady Michelle Obama has overtaken Hillary Clinton in Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women.
Cuomo and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner were all smiles at an event in her hometown.
The Catholic Conference’s Kathleen Gallagher says New York should not become a “safe haven” for “monsters” like Kermit Gosnell.
May 22nd - 4:57 pm
A Thruway Authority official was forced to resign last night and was escorted out of his office after an investigation found a sexual harassment complaint lodged against him to be credible, an authority spokesman confirmed.
“A sexual harassment allegation was made against the employee earlier this year,” said Dan Weiller. “The Thruway Authority conducted an independent investigation into the allegations and at the conclusion told the employee to resign or face termination proceedings.”
A source familiar with this matter confirmed the official in question is Donald Bell, director of maintenance and operations since March 2006. Bell started working at the authority in 1991.
According to this source, Bell was not an “at will” employee, which made firing him outright difficult because it would have been a lengthy process likely involving arbitration. Instead, he was given a choice by the administration: Voluntarily resign or see an effort to terminate him undetaken by the authority.
These kinds of incidents likely – and regrettably – occur a lot more frequently than we know. But in the post-Vito Lopez world, a higher level of scrutiny is being paid to the handling of sexual harassment complaints.
It’s worth noting that this was dealt with quickly, once the complaint was determined to be viable. But, then again, the rules governing elected officials and employees are entirely different. To start: You can’t simply fire (or, in this case, force out) a lawmaker who was put in place by the voters.
May 22nd - 1:26 pm
Add the City of Poughkeepsie to the list of New York municipalities teetering on the edge of fiscal disaster.
According to an audit released today by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, “inaccurate budgeting” by the Hudson River city has left it with a $11 million general fund deficit and caused “severe” fiscal stress. Complicating matters is the fact that the city’s debt burden has increased 45 percent over the past five years.
“Communities across New York are dealing with increased fiscal stress and Poughkeepsie is no different,” DiNapoli said in a press release.
“But unrealistic budgeting has severely deteriorated Poughkeepsie’s financial condition. City officials have continued to overestimate revenue and under-budget for known expenditures. Ultimately, this may reduce the city’s ability to provide services to its residents and place a growing burden on property taxpayers. Officials must develop a long-term plan to get the city back on track.”
In 2010 and 2011, auditors found city officials over-estimated revenues by $3.2 million and under-budgeted appropriations by $4.7 million. This includes over-estimating payments in lieu of taxes ($381,000), rental payments ($305,000) and interest earnings ($426,000); as well as over-expending budget line items for health insurance ($944,000), accumulated sick pay and vacation pay ($750,000), and workers compensation ($415,000).
DiNapoli recommended the city develop a comprehensive plan to reduce the its outstanding long-term debt and take immediate steps to reduce the deficit in the general fund. The city council is required to prepare a plan of action that addresses the comptroller’s recommendations within 90 days.
May 22nd - 1:01 pm
Committee members of the state Democratic Party, attending the annual spring meeting here in Albany this afternoon, just unanimously passed a resolution calling on scandal-scarred former Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign his last remaining party posts: State committee member and district leader in the 53rd AD.
“Instead of accepting responsibility for his misconduct and apologizing to his victims, Vito Lopez blames his victims for his own misconduct,” the resolution reads. “…There is no place in government or politics someone who conducts himself as Vito Lopez has; now, therefore, be it resolved that the New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) seeks to send the strongest possible message condemning his conduct, and declare that New York State will have zero tolerance for sexual harassment in our legislature, our party, and the halls of government;and be it further.”
The resolution was initally put forward by JoAnne Simon, a Brooklyn Democratic district leader and state committee member who has long been at odds with Lopez. The final version was changed just slightly from Simon’s initial proposal.
Lopez, who was not present at today’s meeting, has already given up his post as Brooklyn Democratic Party chair, and also resigned his Assembly seat on Monday morning. He had wanted to remain in office until the end of the legislative session, but bowed to pressure from a wide array of his fellow Democrats, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Sheldon Silver, to step down ASAP.
UPDATE: A source familiar with last night’s get-together for Democratic leaders hosted at the executive mansion by the governor says Cuomo called for passage of this resolution at the event, saying: “We are a party that believes in government; we must have total integrity.”
May 22nd - 7:08 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany, Erie, and Onondaga counties.
At 10 a.m., he makes an announcement at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
NanoFab Xtension Building, 141 Fuller Rd., Albany.
At 1 p.m., he makes an announcement at the UB Center for the Arts Drama Theater, 103 Center For The Arts, Buffalo.
At 4 p.m., he makes an announcement at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Medical Alumni Auditorium, Weiskotten Hall, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse.
Apparently, the governor will not be attending the state Democratic Party’s annual spring meeting, which is being held at the Desmond in Colonie (outside Albany) at 11:30 a.m.
Also at 11:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Chris Quinn joins LGBT activists in calling for the Legislature to pass GENDA.
At 8:30 a.m., state Education Commissioner John King will speak at the Long Island Association HQ, 300 Broadhollow Road, Melville.
From 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Sen Patrick Gallivan will hold a bipartisan forum on the expansion of crossbow hunting in New York, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.
At noon, anti-fracking activists and rent reform advocates rally for fair elections during their lobby day, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.
At 1 p.m., drug law reform advocates and members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus hold a press conference calling for reform of the state’s marijuana possession law, Million Dollar staircase, state Capitol, Albany.
At 8 p.m., Hillary Clinton receives a Humanitarian Award at the Spirit of Helen Keller Gala, Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan.
“I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons,” Weiner said.
“I’m running for mayor because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life. And I hope I get a second chance.”
Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, appears in the video, saying: “We love this city, and no one will work harder to make it better than Anthony.”
The video came out just a few days short of the second anniversary of Weiner’s initial ill-fated tweet, and was apparently released by mistake.
Weiner was greeted by a new Quinnipiac poll that found 49 percent of New Yorkers don’t think he should run – that’s up from 44 percent one month ago.
The same poll found voters’ support of Democratic mayoral primary frontrunner, Council Speaker Chris Quinn, has steadily eroded from 37 percent at the end of February to 25 percent today.
….in other words, a Democratic runoff is highly likely this fall.
Meanwhile, NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is trying to capitalize on the ascendancy of Brooklyn in his mayoral campaign.
May 21st - 5:51 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to unveil a plan to use tax credits and other incentives to entice businesses to locate near SUNY campuses.
Will tonight’s executive mansion reception be the first meeting between Cuomo and his hand-picked state Democratic Party Co-Chair Stephanie Miner in seven months?
Cuomo tapped former Buffalo Mayor-turned-lobbyist Anthony Masiello to serve on the Peace Bridge Authority at a time in the bridge’s 86-year history when Canadian and New York officials are in a sharp dispute.
Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. claims bets are being placed on who in Albany will be the next to be indicted.
The Cuomo administration’s agreement with the St. Regis Mohawk dashed any hope of building a casino in Lake George.
Cuomo says any decision on whether to move forward with hydrofracking won’t be based on the economy in the Southern Tier.
Pro-life groups want to know: Where are the pro-choice advocates on the Assembly sexual harassment scandal – specifically, on the “should Sheldon Silver remain speaker” question?
Sen. Kevin Parker and NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams make cameo appearances in a music video denouncing the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik decided to end his campaign for Queens borough president after the Queens Democrats endorsed Melinda Katz.
In the next step in what investors hope will be one of the new casinos built in the state, investors for the new Nevele Resort and HTC reached a labor agreement.
CWA Local 1180, a union whose leader is a force in a superPAC attack on NYC Democratical mayoral primary frontrunner Chris Quinn, endorsed Comptroller John Liu for mayor.
Congrats to CapTon’s own Maureen McManus!
AG Eric Schneiderman announced the appointments of Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. to serve as executive deputy AG for Social Justice and Eric J. Stock as chief of the AG’s Antitrust Bureau.
It’s Bill Clinton vs. David Axelrod (again, and by proxy) in today’s LA mayoral runoff.
Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner has reportedly hired Camille Joseph, a former Obama campaign aide and adviser to US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to be the political director of his soon-to-be-announced mayoral campaign.
Laid-off print reporters are finding second careers on camera.