May 23rd - 10:34 am
Assembly Republicans today released a letter sent to the state’s major polling institutions asking them to survey voters on whether they would support the creation of recall elections.
The lawmakers – Jim Tedisco, Steve McLaughlin, Bill Nojay and Kieran Michael Lalor — write there needs to be some determination on how voters feel about the proposal. The letter was sent to the research firms that do polling work for Siena, Marist and Quinnipiac.
“While there has been statewide polling data on using taxpayer dollars to fund campaigns, to our knowledgem the question has not been asked of New Yorkers whether they support or oppose recall legislation to give power to the people to remove elected officials,” the legislators write.
The lawmakers acknowledge they don’t necessarily have the resources to push a statewide poll of their own on the recall topic.
“Since we don’t have the wherewithal to do an independent statewide survey on this topic, we respectfull request that you add a question on tecall to your next statewide public opinion poll,” they write.
Assembly Republicans last month proposed a recall provision through a constitutional amendment, which was billed as a response in the string of corruption cases that have hit Albany in the last two months.
Obviously they are banking on the poll results to be in favor of a recall trigger for elected officials, arming them with another talking point in pushing the issue.
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 - 6:02 pm
A community activist who briefly gained the national spotlight after a very public battle with the Rochester Police Department is running for Monroe County Sheriff. Emily Good announced her candidacy by channeling former New York Gubernatorial Candidate Jimmy McMillan.
“I’m running because the rate of incarceration in the country is too damn high,” said Good.
Speaking in front of Rochester’s Public Safety Building, Good said she’ll challenge Republican Patrick O’Flynn as the Green Party candidate this November. Good has no experience in law enforcement but she’s no stranger to the criminal justice system.
“There’s a philosophy governing this system that we can change people’s behavior through punishment. It is false,” Good said.
During her time as an activist, Good has been arrested four times for various charges including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration. Each time the charges were eventually dropped.
“There are people in that building (the county jail) who need to be released. And they need us to fix the broken policies, change the laws and make sure we don’t keep wasting so much money, time and precious life locking people up unnecessarily,” said Good.
Good’s most notable arrest came in May of 2011. She was videotaping a Rochester Police traffic stop, and refused several police requests to go back into her home. The video became an internet sensation, and Rochester Police Union President Mike Mazzeo believes that was the point.
“I think it was a strategy to get attention,” said Mazzeo.
Mazzeo said Good went out of her way to interfere with an officer who was just doing his job. And Mazzeo said it’s not the only time. Just two months before making the video, Good was arrested while trying to stop police from enforcing a court ordered eviction.
“In my opinion she tries to entice a response. She then uses whatever action is taken by police to draw attention to herself,” said Mazzeo.
Good refused to answer specific questions from what she called the “corporate media,” but repeatedly criticized “mass incarceration” and policies and procedures in place in the Monroe County Jail.
“I love my community and I want to help in so many ways but I look around and I see so much of my community is missing because they’re trapped in there. We need to bring them back into the discussion,” Good said.
Mazzeo believes Good’s 15 minutes of fame have ended, and Tuesday’s announcement was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
“With such a ridiculous conclusions I doubt her sincerity in running for Sheriff. When you make light of such an important job you do a disservice to the law enforcement community. Be more respectful,” Mazzeo said.
Good said she wants to meet directly with community members before announcing any specific policies or goals should she be elected.
“I’m not coming to this campaign with the all the answers. There’s a lot of problems. But I can see this system’s devastating impact happening all around me,” Good added.
Monroe County Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle said the party will introduce its own candidate next week making it a three-person race.
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 - 4:38 pm
Queens City Councilman Jim Gennaro is calling on fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner to drop his bid for New York City mayor just as it’s getting off the ground.
In a lengthy statement this afternoon, Gennaro acknowledged that Weiner, the disgraced former congressman who sent a picture of his crotch to a woman via Twitter, has the right to run.
But he questioned Weiner’s judgment and subsequent handling of the scandal, including several days of denying he sent the photo, even when it became patently obvious he had.
“…it is critical for a mayor to be able to manage a crisis. Mr. Weiner’s management of every aspect of the crisis of his own making in 2011 was, I believe, abysmal – from the first barefaced lie about being “hacked,” to his statement that he was the victim of an “illness,” to the conclusion of the crisis when he couldn’t even orchestrate his own resignation press conference and was heckled and jeered out of the room. In my opinion, his lies and victim mentality in this episode and his overall lack of crisis management skills more than disqualify him for the mayoralty,” Gennaro said in the statement.
Gennaro is a former state Senate candidate who nearly unseated Republican Sen. Frank Padavan in 2008, but lost in a closely contested race.
As far as I could tell, Gennaro is yet to officially endorse in the Democratic primary for mayor, but Weiner’s entry into the race is being seen as potentially harmful to the chances of Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who wants to avoid a runoff.
Gennaro in his statement says he’s more concerned about the chances of Weiner’s baggage distracting from the issues in the race. He questions whether Weiner is entering the contest in order to have a policy debate or seek some sort of redemption.
I believe his entry in the race would be a terrible distraction from the important issues that should be discussed in this campaign and from candidates who actually are qualified to be mayor. Worse, I don’t believe Mr. Weiner is even entering the race with the intention of winning and serving. Rather, instead of service to the city being his objective, I believe his entry into the race would, by his own admission in recent interviews I have read, be about him; his redemption; him being able to put the sexting scandal behind him.
May 22nd - 3:55 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for tax-free zones around public college campuses is being celebrated by business groups, but blasted by the state’s largest public employees labor union.
Cuomo today is touring the state to tout the tax free proposal, which is subject to legislative approval, with stops in Syracuse and Buffalo, as well as an appearance at the UAlbany nanotech campus.
The state Business Council, which had parted with Cuomo when it came to a minimum wage increase and an extension of tax rates on high-income earners, backed the idea.
“We appreciate this proposal designed to boost the upstate economy, and look forward to seeing the details. It would provide significant tax incentives for emerging tech companies’ businesses, for new investments by existing New York companies, and for other businesses’ collaborating with SUNY and our private universities. It is an innovative approach, and illustrates that we can and should do more to make the state’s overall economy climate more competitive,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the business lobby.
Ditto for the Partnership for New York City:
“Governor Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY proposal will encourage economic activity in distressed areas and help ensure that New York remains at the forefront of the global innovation economy. Students in our public and private university systems will gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurial jobs in the tech and creative sectors, which is the surest way to close the skills gap and connect the classroom more directly to the 21st Century workplace.”
The Rochester-based Unshackle Upstate gave the tax-free proposal the thumbs up, but also called for more tax cuts.
“Today’s announcement is another step in the right direction for the Upstate economy. However, state leaders must enact additional tax relief and regulatory reforms for all businesses across the state. Attracting new employers and jobs is an important goal but we must also provide relief businesses and jobs that have been here for generations.”
But the Civil Service Employees Association was not as impressed.
President Danny Donohue slammed the plan in a statement this afternoon, calling the “new scheme” essentially corporate welfare.
“The governor doesn’t get the fact that more corporate welfare is no answer to New York’s economic challenges,” said Donohue. “No amount of TV ads spinning his record can change the reality that his so-called job creation policies have failed. They have mostly benefitted the super wealthy and big corporations and repeatedly failed to deliver real growth and middle class jobs.”
Donohue said the real problem with lost job growth has been on the local government level, where 60,000 jobs have been lost in the last 2-1/2 years.
“There’s no money to help distressed localities and we have to cut funds from services for people with developmental disabilities, but we can send tax rebates to people who don’t need it in an election year? Now, it’s even more outrageous that the governor and legislative leaders think we can give away even more to businesses without any guarantee of benefit to taxpayers,” Donohue said.
May 22nd - 3:17 pm
Senate Democrats today made a new push for a 2-year moratorium on the controversial gas drilling process hydrofracking with a measure that has already been approved by the Assembly.
But its passage in the Senate remains in doubt, where the number two Republican lawmaker is Binghamton Sen. Tom Libous, a proponent of hydrofracking.
Still, the GOP is not lined up uniformly on the issue. Sen. Greg Ball, for instance, is a hydrofracking skeptic.
“In 2010, we were able to pass a moratorium and that moratorium was a bipartisan moratorium,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a news conference earlier today. “There are people actually on both sides of the aisle who actually believe there is nothing wrong with having more time to study the issue.”
Whether the bill comes to the floor is another matter
I believe if this comes to the floor, we have a moratorium. I believe we can pass it with more than 32.
The bill backed by Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, would provide for a moratorium on fracking until May 15, 2015.
The state has allowed multiple self-imposed deadlines to develop regulations and a permitting process for high-volume hydrofracking to pass. The state Department of Health commissioner, Nirav Shah, is currently conducting a study into the health effects on fracking.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has insisted he’ll base his decision on fracking on the scientific evidence.
But the issue remains a polarizing one for elected officials, with opinion polls showing little daylight between supporters and opponents of hydrofracking.
“I think it’s important that each of the houses, in addition to the governor, be very, very clear that we are interested in knowing that is necessary to know about fracking before we move forward,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, said in a statement that the Cuomo administration to come to a decision as quickly as possible.
“We continue to believe that the science should trump the politics, and that the Cuomo administration should wrap up their thorough decision-making process as expeditiously as possible,” Reif said.
May 22nd - 2:29 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has refrained from making any peep on the possibility of a mayoral candidacy of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner.
But with Weiner now officially a declared candidate in the Democratic primary in the city, would he have something to say?
As it turns out, no. He’s not interested in making headlines, even if he was asked the question in Buffalo.
“None,” Cuomo said. ”No reaction. Look, my face didn’t move. No reaction.”
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.