May 24th - 3:41 pm
New York Republicans are again knocking U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for not criticizing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
After Gillibrand made the rounds on TV this week to condemn the spate of sexual assaults in the military, state Republican Committee spokesman David Laska suggested in a statement the Democrat was trying to have it both ways.
“Kirsten Gillibrand can’t have it both ways: while she treks around the country claiming to fight for sexual abuse victims, New Yorkers haven’t forgotten that she stood shoulder-to-should with sex abuse enabler Sheldon Silver at the DNC, and still refuses to call for his resignation. If she wants to eradicate patterns of sexual abuse in America, we suggest she begin at home.”
The criticism of Gillibrand on the issue is a line of attack we saw back in August, when the allegations of sexual harassment against Lopez were first made and Gillibrand was running for a full, six-year term against Republican Wendy Long.
Though most Democrats have not called on Silver to step down as speaker (in a chambe that Gillibrand isn’t a member of), she did criticize Manhattan Democrat’s handling of the matter in the October YNN/NY1 debate with Long.
“Vito Lopez should have paid those fines himself,” Gillibrand said in the debate. “Taxpayer money should not have been used.”
May 24th - 2:40 pm
As the Boy Scouts of America approve a plan that would allow gay scouts but still prohibit gay and lesbian leaders, Sen. Brad Hoylman is calling for an to the tax-exempt status to youth oriented organizations that discriminate against sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
Hoylman is not just only the lone openly gay member of the Senate, but he’s also a former Eagle Scout.
“As the only openly-gay New York State Senator, a parent and a former Eagle Scout (Troop 70, Lewisburg, WV), I am outraged that the BSA has maintained its ban on gay adult leaders. This policy represents rank discrimination by the organization against LGBT people and is extremely painful to families like mine.
Hoylman introduced his bill May 13, but is touting the measure now as the BSA officially adopts the new membership guidelines.
Hoylman, D-Manhattan, called the move to continue to prohibit gay leaders in the Boy Scouts of America a stigma that reinforces and legitimizes bullying.
“I strongly believe that the BSA is obliged by the Constitution of the United States, longstanding state and local anti-discrimination laws and the Scout Law itself to categorically end its policy of bigotry toward gays and lesbians,” he said in a statement.
May 24th - 1:38 pm
Opposition to changes to the state’s Scaffold Law remains a heated issue in Albany, as evidence by the criticism from some advocates of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance’s BBQ fundraiser held last night.
My inbox last night included several statements of anger over the fundraising effort, which funds the alliance’s political action committee.
“This is disgusting — a barbecue to celebrate a campaign against injured workers?!? They are partying, while injured workers are suffering, to raise money to take away the wheelchairs from workers who fell off of roofs through no fault of their own. This is a morally reprehensible extension of big developers’ attempt to put profits before people’s lives,” said Joel Shufro of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.
The event, according to the invite below, is rather small dollar by PAC standards — $25 per person.
That a fundraiser for a political action committee is garnering this much criticism does seem unusual, but it’s a sign the issue, while not dominating the public conversation at the Capitol now, could become a noisier one as we head into the homestretch of the legislative session.
I’v reached out to the Lawsuit Reform Alliance and will post any response.
Update: Comments from both Unshackle Upstate and the New York chapter of NFIB have come in.
From Brian Sampson of Unshackle:
“It is no secret that the Scaffold Law has been the ‘goose that laid the golden egg’ for the Trial Bar in New York. No one is attempting to take away the rights of a worker to sue for injuries sustained on the job. But there needs to be fairness in the law that allows the employer to demonstrate what they have provided relative to training and safety equipment to his/her employees. The change we support would simply change the law to consider the actions of all those involved, not just hold the employer absolutely liable.
And from Mike Durant at NFIB:
“Scaffold law remains the standard bearer for the old New York’s anti-business reputation and is solely a golden egg for the Trial Bar. Worker safety is of course a concern for all employers, this law serves only to the benefit of the Trial Bar. Any and all efforts to reform this notorious law should be front and center as session ends. This criticism is ridiculous at best.”
Update X2: And Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance emails to note the fundraiser “had nothing to do with the Scaffold Law.” His repsonse:
For purposes of accuracy, our PAC fundraiser had nothing to do with the Scaffold Law, but it is amusing to me that the Trial Lawyers’ allies are increasingly hysterical about our organization and our Scaffold Law effort. Further, it is ironic, given that we were trying to raise $25 at a time, while the Trial Lawyers spend millions to block reforms.
In response to Mr. Shufro’s ravings, I welcome any proof that reforming the scaffold law would compromise safety in any way. Evidence from other states shows safety improved after they repealed their versions of the scaffold law. Perhaps Mr. Shufro should look at the data before he shoots his mouth off about our BBQ
May 24th - 12:30 pm
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli today warned against getting too accustomed to April’s rosy tax revenue, with collections standing at $8.6 billion, a 25.2 percent increase over that same period.
In a report released this morning, DiNapoli attributed the increase due to the growth of the personal income tax, but it’s likely to be a temporary increase, he said.
“The state’s new fiscal year started strong but we are unlikely to see PIT collections continue at this pace,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “The growth in these collections comes primarily in April tax settlements from individuals who accelerated income to avoid federal tax changes that took place in January. Economic signs are mixed, and while the financial markets are strong, the state must watch spending and trends carefully.”
The general fund has a closing balance of $6.4 billion, about $71 million lower than projected by the enacted budget.
All government fund spending grew by 27.8 percent, $1.5 billion, which is attributed to the timing of local assistance payments, according to the report.
May 24th - 10:20 am
From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
The effort to expand casino gambling in New York is rapidly emerging as perhaps the most do-able of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s end-of-session agenda items.
Unlike abortion rights or public financing, most lawmakers seem to be in favor of allowing commercial, non-Indian casinos in theory.
In practice, however, the move is a lot more complicated.
Cuomo has been trying to clear the deck of the most nettlesome concerns in the process, and that’s striking deals with the state’s American Indian nations. Already he’s put in place agreements with the Oneidas in central New York (to the consternation of the Cayuga) and with the Mohawk in the North Country that allows them to retain their exclusivity on casinos, but grants the state and local governments a slice owed revenue.
In a radio interview Thursday morning, the governor conceded the talks with the Seneca Nation of Indians in western Neow York aren’t going well and that he doesn’t expect a deal to be done with the nation.
Tribal politics and resolving decades-old disputes with the Indian nations aside, Cuomo has to also contend with state lawmakers, who also want some influence in the process.
Just as Cuomo wrapped up his interview on The Capitol Pressroom, Senate Racing, Wagering and Gaming Committee Chairman John Bonacic released his own detailed plan for casino siting, a move that he had originally signaled he wouldn’t do after speaking with Cuomo.
Broadly, the proposal gives priority to casino construction in the Catskills, with downstate gaming facilities in the mix by 2019.
The bill offers want lawmakers have generally said they want: A clear idea of where casinos could be built should a constitutional amendment be approved to expand gaming.
It also doesn’t seem likely to pass the Democratic-led Assembly, where there isn’t even a same-as bill.
Cuomo has insisted he wants the process of citing specific casino locations not in the hands of legislators, but vested in his own gaming commission. Publicly that remains a major sticking point.
After announcing his deal with the Mohawk earlier this week, the governor and legislative leaders huddled for nearly two hours on the casino issue. They emerged to say little, but also to reveal some internal disagreement.
Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos emerged from the Tuesday afternoon meeting to float a plan to allow Long Island OTB facilities to operate to manage VLT operations.
“Certainly, the governor is very affirmative about three casinos upstate. We need that for economic development there, but we’re going to look at all regions of the state and how everybody can benefit,” Skelos said told reporters waiting outside.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver came out of the governor’s office a little while later to plead ignorance on the OTB proposal, saying Skelos hadn’t raised the issue in the meeting.
May 24th - 6:28 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At noon, Delta Air Lines holds an opening celebration for its new terminal; John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 4, Queens. Mayor Bloomberg, LG Bob Duffy and Reps. Joe Crowley and Greg Meeks are expected to attend.
Ex-Congressman-turned-NY mayoral contender Anthony Weiner will meet with reporters at three Queens newspapers – the Chronicle (3 p.m.), the Tribune (4 p.m.), and the Courier (5 p.m.) He’ll then attend a Rockaway Community Meeting at 6:45 p.m., 446 Beach 139th St. Queens.
NY Post today: “Cuomo Beats Weiner, Then Goes Limp.”
The governor’s office said he was just joking when he made a disparaging remark about Weiner’s campaign – the second time in a month that reporters have been told that they failed to understand Cuomo’s humor.
Sources close to the couple say Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, has been a main architect of her husband’s rehabilitative journey, shaping his calculated comeback and drawing on her close ties with the Clintons to lay the groundwork for his return.
Broadway vet Harvey Fierstein made Weiner jokes.
Ginger Lee, a stripper who was intimately involved in the sexting scandal that led to Weiner’s downfall, is among his detractors as he now seeks the top job in City Hall.
A taxi fleet owner filed a federal complaint against Bloomberg, claiming the mayor expressed “retaliatory intentions” during a profanity-laced exchange with him at a Knicks game last week.
Trial lawyers will likely kill a bill that would exempt owners from liability lawsuits from those who fall after wearing their bowling shoes outside, as long as the owners post warning signs.
Cuomo’s Tax-Free NY plan is sparking some interest, as well as skepticism, among entrepreneurs, investors and development experts.
Central New York business owners and politicians warned that Tax-Free NY It can’t repeat the mistakes of the Empire Zone program.
Sen. George Maziarz encouraged the governor to explore the possibility of applying various incentives under Tax-Free NY to assist in the redevelopment of 200,000 square feet of available space at the old Rainbow Centre Mall.
May 24th - 12:54 am
The Erie County Democratic Committee has endorsed Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in his bid for re-election. It’s a move the party’s chairman hopes will unite Buffalo Democrats.
“The Mayor did not support my election for chair. But the minute we talked, five days later, we both said let’s pull this thing together. Let’s work together,” said Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner.
Brown had a strained relationship with former Chairman Len Lenihan, and didn’t receive or ask for the party’s backing four years ago. But seeking a third term, Brown seemed to be looking at the party’s backing differently.
“Having the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Committee is important. It’s significant. It is a major backing in this campaign and I’m very pleased to have it,” said Brown.
Former FBI agent Bernard Tolbert announced earlier this month he’s challenging Brown in a Democratic Primary. Tolbert seemed unfazed by the Brown endorsement.
“At the end of the day the decision as to who will be the democratic nominee will be made at the primary and we’re in this to the very end,” Tolbert said.
Brown won the endorsement by the 33-3 vote, but Tolbert is not without his Democratic supporters. Erie County Legislative Chair Betty Jean Grant nominated Tolbert for mayor in Thursday’s Democratic committee meeting.
“I think that Betty Jean recognizes what kind of candidate I will be and I think that’s something she supports. So having her support is something that means an awful lot to me and I’m looking forward to her continued support as we continue through the process this summer,” said Tolbert
Democratic Political Analyst Jack O’Donnell doesn’t expect the endorsement to have much of an impact on the race. O’Donnell believes the move appears to be designed to give Zellner and the party credibility.
“I think he’s under an enormous amount of pressure in his job. Last year after he was elected chairman, Democrats had a really bad year. Congresswoman Hochul lost. The county comptroller lost. Really, it was a bad year for the Erie County Democratic Committee,” O’Donnell said.
Tolbert, meantime, said he’s seeking other endorsements and hinted he may continue this campaign even if Brown wins the Democratic Primary.
“We’re in this until the very end and we plan to compete very strongly during the primary and then let the people decide who they want as their candidate,” Tolbert said.
Republican Sergio Rodriguez has been campaigning for months and welcomed Tolbert to race two weeks ago.
In the end, O’Donnell said the race won’t be decided by endorsements or money.
“First and foremost, everyone inBuffalowho’s a prime voter knows who Byron Brown is. They’re going to make their decision on the last 8 years. Has he done a good job?” O’Donnell asked.
May 23rd - 7:10 pm
President Obama today nominated former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle to be a commissioner for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the White House announced this evening.
Buerkle is a Republican who unseated Democrat Dan Maffei in 2010, only to be unseated by Maffei in a comeback bid in the following election.
Buerkle is an interesting choice for a Democratic administration, given that she was considered one of the more conservative members of the state’s House delegation.
Here’s how the White House gave her bio this evening:
Ann Marie Buerkle served as the U.S. Representative of New York’s 25th Congressional District from 2011 to 2013. During her time in Congress, Ms. Buerkle was selected to serve as a United States Representative to the 66th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations from 2011 to 2012. Previously, Ms. Buerkle was an Assistant Attorney General for the state of New York from 1997 to 2009. Earlier in her career, she practiced law in a private firm from 1994 to 1997. She began her career as a registered nurse at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She received a B.S. from Le Moyne College and a J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law.
May 23rd - 6:05 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed David Arroyo to fill a vacancy on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, a lawyer who has ties to both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer.
Arroyo is the senior vice president for legal affairs at Scripps Networks Interactive (the parent companyof the Food Network).
He previously served on Schneiderman’s attorney general transition team and on a judge screening panel for Schumer.
Before working at Scripps, Arroyo was the chairman was Latino Justice PRLDEF.
“David is highly-respected for his legal acumen and for his service with Latino Justice PRLDEF,” Cuomo said in a statement. “His experience and perspective will be great assets for the Commission as it moves forward with its mission providing guidance, training, and oversight to public officials under the ethics rules of our State. I thank David for his willingness to serve.”
Arroyo replaces the spot on JCOPE held by Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore who resigned earlier this year to focus on her re-election bid.
DiFiore had served on the ethics watchdog as the chairwoman. When she stepp down, Cuomo appointed sitting JCOPE member Daniel Horowitz to lead the commission.
“The Joint Commission welcomes Mr. Arroyo, acknowledges his impressive credentials, and looks forward to working with him as a member of the Commission.”
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.