Jun 21st - 6:05 pm
The Senate just wrapped up debate on the twelfth round of budget extender bills. The appropriation portion of the extender passed by a margin of 33 to 28. Saratoga Republican Roy McDonald broke ranks with his party by voting “yes.”
The appropriation bill includes funding for things like education, the state payroll and social services needed to keep the state up and running.
The second part of the budget extender known as the Article 7 also passed – this time along party lines by a margin of 32 to 29.
This bill includes the additional $1.60 tax on a pack of cigarettes and the collection of taxes on cigarettes sold to non-Indians on Native American reservations. Several senators stood to explain their opposition to the tax, but ended up voting in favor of the bill in order to prevent a dreaded government shutdown.
Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson defended the measure.
“It raises revenue, reduces health risks, and lowers health costs for all New Yorkers,” Sampson said by way of statement.
Jun 21st - 6:01 pm
Basil Smikle was spotted outside the Senate chamber earlier this afternoon, doing laps with his cell phone to his ear.
I reached Smikle on said cell phone, and he said that he had been in Albany to meet with Assembly members who represent parts of the Harlem Senate district where he’s mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Bill Perkins. (That’s the seat once held by Gov. David Paterson, in case you forgot).
“I’m here as a constituent today,” Smikle told me. “I’m meeting with my representatives…I come up every so often, but I’m not an Albany lobbyist, so I don’t come up every day during the session. I don’t really do all that much lobbying; it’s not my bailiwick.”
Smikle is, for the record, registered to lobby in NYC. He mostly makes his living as a consultant – most recently crossing party lines to work for Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent Mayor Bloomberg against Democratic then-NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson.
Jun 21st - 5:12 pm
Jun 21st - 5:07 pm
Commission on Public Integrity spokesman Walter Ayres sent over the following statement about GOP gubernatorial nominee Rick Lazio’s financial disclosure statement, which hasn’t yet been filed and was due on June 10:
“On June 17, one week after Mr. Lazio’s financial disclosure statement was due, the Commission sent him a letter notifying him of his responsibility to file.
“While that letter contained an incorrect date for when the form was due, it does not change the fact that his filing already was a week late when the letter was written.”
Earlier today, Lazio spokesman Barney Keller released the letter to which Ayres is referring.
Keller also said Lazio’s campaign is “working on completing this form based on the guidelines provided to us by the commission” and will be provided a non-redacted copy of his filing with “interested parties” (like myself) within the next few days.
Keller’s statement came in response to state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King’s teleconference with reporters during which he slammed Lazio and Carl Paladino for failing to follow AG Andrew Cuomo’s lead and make public their finances.
Since Paladino is not the GOP’s official designee, he is not required by law to file with the CPI.
Jun 21st - 4:02 pm
Rep. Chris Lee spoke again about a House Office of Congressional Ethics probe into his fundraising activities that was first reported last week.
Lee is one of eight lawmakers – five Republicans and three Democrats, including his fellow New Yorker, Queens Rep. Joe Crowley – on whom the OCE has requested campaign contribution information from Washington, D.C. lobbyists.
“We received a letter from the OCE,” Lee told reporters at a ground-breaking ceremony at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.
“…They are looking at 8 members who all held fundraisers within 72 hours of a vote. In my case, the complete Republican delegation voted against the issue.”
“But they want to look at, or audit, our fundraising records, which I have been fully compliant with,” the congressman continued. “I have given them all the information two weeks ago, and they promise within 30 days to have an answer for us. I completely believe in accountability and transparency. They’ve got to do their job. And I have fully complied, and look forward to their answer.”
Jun 21st - 3:19 pm
Here’s a new twist to add still more drama to today’s extender bills votes.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office says the 12th round of extenders must be passed and signed into law and the appropriations authorized all by 5 p.m. today or some 153,000 state employees won’t get their paychecks on time this week.
As you’ll recall, this week’s extenders included just one week’s worth of payroll appropriations in the hopes of upping the ante still further on lawmakers.
Some $270 million worth of checks are ready to go out the door, DiNapoli spokesman Dennis Tompkins informed NY1′s Erin Billups. But they can’t be processed until the extenders are signed by Paterson, chaptered by the counsel’s office and certified by the Budget Division.
The longer it takes the Legislature to pass the bills, Tompkins said, the later the checks will be.
No pressure or anything, guys and gals.
Jun 21st - 3:07 pm
The state Democratic Party followed up the (semi) release of AG Andrew Cuomo’s financial disclosure via the Wall Street Journal by siccing Executive Director Charlie King on his GOP gubernatorial rivals.
During a tele-press conference this afternoon, King played the role of attack dog to the hilt and slammed gubernatorial hopefuls Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino, saying they are “stonewalling” by refusing to release information about their personal finances.
King wants the details about those earnings made public in unredacted filings posted on-line ASAP.
He said he’s learned through (undisclosed) sources that both Republican candidates have made millions over the last decade, pegging Lazio’s income over the last 10 years at around $8 million and Paladino’s net worth at about $150 million.
Official designees for statewide office who were put on the ballot at the major parties’ conventions are required by law to fill out financial disclosures forms and had to file them with the Commission on Public Integrity on either June 3 (for the Democrats) and June 10 (for the Republicans).
Jun 21st - 2:32 pm
AG Andrew Cuomo continued his series of non-campaign related press availabilities today, announcing a new initiative to crack down on child pornography.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate discussed how his office has used “hash values” (basically a collection of numerical data from the internet) to help create a database of child pornography.
The use of the word “hash” piqued the interest of NY1′s Josh Robin, and he asked Cuomo if he has ever smoked hash. The AG laughed at what prompted the inquiry.
“What I have said. The question has come up before. What I have said, is I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth,” Cuomo said.
“In no way do I suggest that any young people should do any experimentation whatsoever.”
The rest of the exchange went as follows:
JOSH: “That’s the only illicit drug?”
CUOMO: ‘Yes sir.”
(Recall that Gov. David Paterson admitted on live TV not long after he ascended in the wake of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal that he did both cocaine and pot when he was in his 20s).
GOP Candidates Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino have yet to answer the question publicly, though I do not recall if they have ever been asked.
Jun 21st - 1:13 pm
Remember that bomb threat reportedly called into Carl Paladino’s Buffalo Ellicott Square office building in the wake of the gubernatorial candidate’s email scandal? Well, today the Paladino camp announced an arrest in the hoax.
Campaign manager Michael Caputo released the following statement this afternoon:
“Today we were pleased to learn a New York City man was arrested in connection with the bomb threat phoned in to Carl Paladino’s campaign office April 13, 2010. The caller claimed to be a part of ‘a black militant group’ and said he was ‘going to bomb all of you.’”
Caputo says 63-year-old Miles Fisher has been charged by the US Attorney’s office in Buffalo and now faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Apparently, Fisher’s criminal history includes 37 arrests – some of them for violent crimes.
Publicizing this arrest lends credibility to the threat, which some questioned at the time it was reported. However, it also serves to remind New Yorkers about that email scandal, in which dozens of racist and pornographic emails were forwarded from Paladino’s account.
Paladino is now in the process of gathering the signatures needed to petition his way onto the GOP ballot. He is also seeking a third party line.
Jun 21st - 12:33 pm
Also from AG Andrew Cuomo’s Alan Chartock interview (as mentioned, it was a darn long interview) was a fascinating moment in which the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful panned initiative and referendum, which is a the signature issue of the state Independence Party’s platform.
Here’s what Cuomo said:
“Well, California makes the case, I believe, against initiative and referendum or it shows you the downside of initiative and referendum…They have a system that in many ways has paralyzed effective government process.”
Cuomo went on to note that the government consolidation bill he successfully pushed through the Legislature and saw signed into law by Gov. David Paterson last summer is “initiative and referendum on a micro level” because it allows citizens to petition to shut down obsolete government entities in an effort to cuts costs and (theoretically) reduce property taxes.