Dec 31st - 10:04 am
Governor Paterson kicked off his final day in office by appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box, and discussing today’s Op-Ed in the Daily News about the looming pension crisis.
Paterson detailed many examples of the changes that other states and cities are making to pensions, in order to keep them sustainable. And he warned that unfunded pension liabilities might be between 2 and 4 trillion dollars, so sacrifices are going to have to be made next year.
“What you might see is a serious downgrade in 2011 of their asset pools, and that would create a major problem. Everybody would suffer if there is a meltdown in pensions,” Paterson said.
“And that puts us in the position of having to make a financial, and also a moral choice. Which is, are we going to hurt taxpayers who would have to write off this debt that they had nothing to do with. Or, are we going to take those people who have provided the broad revenue basis that we all have been able to live, those in retirement, and abandon them.”
Dec 31st - 9:29 am
…This time it’s upstate.
The Utica Observer-Dispatch reports Oneida County Independence Party Chairman John Dote turned himself in yesterday morning in connection with a 29-count indictment that accuses him of stealing cash from hundreds of people who donated to the local party between 2005 and March 2010.
Dote is accused of using nearly $60,000 in political donations to pay for personal expenses including cigarettes, a leather jacket, a mattress and personal hygiene products.
More from the U-D story:
Topping the list of alleged victims is Richard Hanna, a Republican who is due to be sworn in next week as a U.S. congressman.
Hanna was elected in November to the 24th District with an endorsement from the Independence Party. In the indictment, Dote is accused of misusing $11,000 in funds donated by Hanna between 2006 and January 2010.
Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said neither Hanna nor any of the other donors gave money to the local Independence Party with any understanding that Dote would spend the money as he wanted, including buying groceries and paying rent or utility bills.
(Interesting aside: McNamara’s predecessor is Mike Arcuri, the Democrat Hanna defeated in the November election. The party endorsed Hanna this year, despite the fact that it was under investigation at the time).
State Indy Party Chairman Frank MacKay told me back in June that he hadn’t spoken to Dote and had no idea about the mess in Oneida County.
Meanwhile, the downstate case involving Mayor Bloomberg’s $1 million, the state party and indicted GOP consultant John Haggerty continues, since Haggerty has so far refused to cop a plea.
Dec 31st - 9:10 am
Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty took to the airways this morning to reiterate their defenses of the department’s post-blizzard performance, which is now the subject of an investigation by Department of Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.
Bloomberg did call the response “an embarrassment,” but also said the Sanitation Department did its best and should not be criticized. He stressed that if reports of a slowdown prove true, it will not be tolerated.
“I don’t know if it took place; if it did it was a disgrace,” Bloomberg insisted. “…If the laws were broken, (Gill Hearn) will take appropriate action. She is tough. Everybody knows that.”
“This is just a reminder that you can’t break the law. Mother nature is tough enough to deal with. We don’t always make the right decisions. That’s tough enough. But deliberately not doing the job, particularly if you try to use it for political reasons…it’s an outrage and we’re not going to tolerate it.”
Bloomberg was quick to say that Doherty, a 50-year veteran public servant who has held his post through two administrations (Giuliani and Bloomberg), will be doing another three years in his job, adding: “He didn’t have to worry about that.”
Doherty said he’s a “little bit disappointed in some things,” but praised the men and women who worked “a lot of long hours,” saying they had done an “outstanding job” and he’s “proud of them.”
The commissioner said his employees are still working around the clock to clear bus stops, crosswalks and parking meters, which will go back on-line Monday (alternate side parking will remain suspended, however).
Some curtailed garbage pick-up will also resume Monday, according to Doherty, who urged NYC residents to dig out their trash to help things along.
Dec 31st - 8:46 am
Here’s the report of post-blizzard calls and e-mails (mostly complaints, but at least one “thank you”) placed by NYC residents to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s office.
As the NY Times reported this morning, the 33-page report catalogues 933 complaints fielded between 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 27 and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29. It shows:
-39 percent of total complaints came from South Brooklyn.
-69 percent were lodged on Tuesday, when New Yorkers awoke to unplowed streets for the second day in a row.
-18 percent involved abandoned vehicles blocking streets.
“For days, city government failed to provide the most fundamental services,” de Blasio said. “People couldn’t get a human being on the other end of the line at 311.”
“Ambulances and fire trucks couldn’t reach those in need. Hundreds of frustrated and scared New Yorkers turned to our office for help. From what we heard, it’s clear the city needs a new playbook to stay ahead of big storms.”
De Blasio’s report includes a number of recommendations, including increasing the capacity of 311 to handle weather-related emergencies.
Speaking to WOR’s John Gambling this morning, Mayor Bloomberg said the 311 system will be included in the comprehensive review of the city’s response to the storm that his office is undertaking.
The mayor noted New Yorkers were asked not to call 311 or 911 unless there was a true emergency in the wake of the blizzard, but the systems got overloaded anyway.
“Eventually, you get so many calls no system can handle it,” the mayor said. “There was a technological problem with Verizon for a few minutes, but that’s not the real problem.”
“We will take a look at all these decisions. It’s second-guessing, Monday morning quarter-backing, should have, could have, would have, but there’s no reason not to take a look and see: Could we have done something better?”
Dec 31st - 8:08 am
The Cuomo family will return to the executive mansion tonight for the private swearing in of New York’s 56th governor, Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo will take the oath of office at 10 p.m. – two hours before he officially takes over as governor from David Paterson. (Just in time for the 11 o’clock news!)
Not all the nation’s 26 new governors are following Cuomo’s frugal lead with their inauguration ceremonies.
Cuomo is not, however, alone is eschewing full-time executive mansion life.
Albany High students will be performing at Cuomo’s scaled down inauguration at the Capitol tomorrow.
Local restaurants and caterers aren’t pleased with the bare bones celebration Cuomo has planned.
“When you got phone calls from Eliot, he was telling you what to do or he was yelling at you,” said Partnership for NYC President said Kathryn Wylde. “It was either an order or an invective. When you get a phone call from Andrew, sometimes he is so subtle that you hang up wondering what it was really about.”
The Times wants Cuomo to get a move on in introducing an omnibus ethics bill, jettisoning a tax cap and generally cleaning up Albany.
The rise of Andrew Cuomo, in pictures.
Dec 30th - 5:15 pm
Cuomo is taking the oath of office a few hours before Jan. 1st.
Nick Confessore explains Andrew Cuomo’s “art of the phone call.”
The Business Review has 5 things to look for in 2011.
A NYT photographer reflects on the final days of Mario Cuomo’s administration.
The signs have been changed in the Senate chambers.
The Department of Criminal Justice says hate crimes are up, mostly targeting Jews.
Mayor Bloomberg says he doesn’t believe reports that sanitation bosses instructed workers to slack off.
But he says he will investigate to see if they are true.
The Mayor says plows have now hit every city street.
One person defending Bloomberg. Rep. Charles Rangel.
Deputy Mayor taking heat for tweeting that sanitation workers were doing a good job.
President Obama is having so much fun on vacation, he is staying an extra day.
Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy sat down with YNN’s Seth Voorhees for an extended interview where he said, “Hey, I am an old basketball player. I can throw elbows as well as anybody if it comes down to it. But, I prefer not to. That is a last resort.”
Dec 30th - 5:14 pm
Governor Paterson has appointed his counsel, Peter Kiernan, as the chair of the state Law Revision Commission, replacing Robert Pitler.
The job does not require state senate approval. It also is an unpaid position, responsible for examining and considering changes to current laws and reporting back to the legislature annually.
“Peter Kiernan has been an outstanding Counsel and a trusted member of my Administration,” Governor Paterson said. “I am very pleased to appoint him as Chair of the Law Revision Commission.”
Peter J. Kiernan has been Governor Paterson’s Counsel since November 2008.
Dec 30th - 4:41 pm
Governor Paterson has just released another, and likely final, round of pardons. As was expected, all of them are related to immigration issues.
Here they are:
• Khamsay Chanthavilaychit received a pardon for an August 2003 conviction for the Class A misdemeanor of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree, for which he was sentenced to a three-year term of probation. Chanthavilaychit was brought to this county at age two, as a war refugee from Laos, and he has been gainfully employed for the last 16 years. He is currently facing removal after being placed in proceedings when he applied for and was denied naturalization.
• Aqustin Prado was convicted of the misdemeanor offense of seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance in 1993, for which he was sentenced to a conditional discharge and performed five days of community service. In the 17 years since this conviction, he has led a law abiding life, is a home owner, and is married and the father of two young daughters.
• Clint Ramos was convicted of four counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in June 2001, and he was sentenced to five years on probation. At the time of his conviction, Ramos was severely drug addicted, but he has since overcome that addiction and has been a sponsor for more than 10 persons in recovery. Ramos has become an award-winning costume and set designer and is well-known and respected in the New York Theater community. His pardon application has received overwhelming support from numerous members of that community, who describe him as a brilliant and innovative artist as well as an asset of real value to the American theater.
Dec 30th - 2:59 pm
Former Paladino Campaign Manager Michael Caputo has re-emerged to take a shot at Andrew Cuomo. In Italian. He just sent a press release entitled, “Te l’avevo detto”, which means “I told you so.”
He goes on to blast Cuomo for letting another “VIP Democrat” get a walk. Of course, he is referring to Steve Rattner, the former Obama administration car czar who agreed to pay $10 million in fines. Caputo says the fine is “paltry” because it is less than 10 percent of Rattner’s annual income.
And then he sent a link to the ad below, from the Paladino campaign.
Dec 30th - 2:28 pm
Governor David Paterson just announced that he has reached a deal with the Department of Homeland Security to make sure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials focus their attention on illegal aliens who pose the greatest risk to public safety.
Just this morning, on WOR’s “The John Gambling Show”, Paterson talked at length about his research into the issue of immigration as part of the pardon process, and about how he often found that ICE officials were targeting people who were contributing to society, but were being deported for minor offenses that took place decades ago in many cases.
“We have serious problems out there and I was surprised at the amount of energy being spent on these people who aren’t committing crimes,” Paterson told Gambling.”
In the statement, Paterson says advocates for immigration reform brought the matter to his attention. They expressed concern that the old agreement focused too much on minor offenses, which discourages aliens from cooperating with police.
“While I am very concerned with protecting the civil rights of immigrants, I am equally cognizant of the fact that this State is a prime target for terrorism,” Governor Paterson said. “This new agreement balances the homeland security and civil liberties issues that have surrounded the Secure Communities initiative.”
“I continue to believe it is appropriate and important for New York State to share information with the Federal government that could protect us from terrorist attacks. However, advocates have raised valid concerns, which is why I instructed my staff to renegotiate the agreement with the Federal government.”
Paterson signed the agreement earlier this week, on December 28th.