Days of Our Legislature
Bits from the Siena poll released today:
+ When asked about how they view state politics, 52 percent of respondents said they were "distrustful, even cynical."
+ About 1/3 of respondents said it was either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that their own state Senator or Assembly member could be arrested for corruption.
+ Percent who said they support: term limits, 82 percent; limiting candidates to one party line, 55 percent; a full-time legislature with no outside jobs, 54 percent. (If that were a Jeopardy clue, the correct response would be: "What are three things unlikely to happen with the New York State legislature?")
+ Andrew Cuomo's "favorable" number was 62 percent (it was 77 percent two years ago). And 16 percent of respondents said he was doing a "poor" job, the highest level so far. Fifty-three percent said they'd vote to re-elect him as things stand now.
+ On supporting full casinos in the state: 49 percent support, 44 percent oppose.
+ On whether to approve hydrofracking: 40 percent support, 45 percent oppose.
crosstabs | poll was conducted April 14-18 | margin of error: +/- 3.4
For the second time this week, federal prosecutors announced bribery and corruption charges against a state legislator. This time it was state Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, a Democrat from the Bronx. From US Attorney Preet Bharara's statement:
As alleged, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was bribed to enact a statutory moratorium to give his co-defendants a local monopoly - a fairly neat trick that offends core principles of both democracy and capitalism, simultaneously, and it is exactly what the defendants managed to do. The allegations illustrate the corruption of an elected representative's core function - a legislator selling legislation.
OK, so how much do you think local monopoly-creating state legislation goes for these days? Here's some help: One of the businessmen allegedly involved in this scheme said the moratorium on the opening of new adult day care centers would cause the value of their own day care centers to "skyrocket." That's gotta be worth a lot. So Stevenson must have really raked in some serious coin for this alleged deal, especially when you consider the risks, right?
The alleged bribe: $10,000.
Yep, that's all it allegedly cost to buy a piece of state legislation that would effectively block competition for what is probably a multi-million dollar business. Just 10 grand. That's not even enough to buy a new sub-compact car.
Which leads us to wonder: Why haven't we been buying state legislation all along?! Who knew it was so cheap?! It's practically a steal! Do you get a discount if you buy in bulk? If we order it via Amazon Prime, can we have it delivered the next day (in session only)?
The fact that there is corruption in state government is already frustrating, irksome, and sad -- it's even more so when we find we're all being sold out at such a discount.
A spot in the mayoral primary
Earlier this week, state Senator Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, was charged with being part of scheme to bribe three Republican city officials to let him on their party's primary ballot for mayor of New York City. The alleged price (bribe) for that: about $100,000 paid by an intermediary -- and help getting $500k from the state for a road project.
Two weeks ago was the State of the State address (the talk), this week: the budget proposal (the walk). The budget is a big deal for the state, because it's the Cuomo administration putting its money (actually, all our money) where its mouth is.
Like last year, this year's budget presentation didn't include the dire pronouncements about gloom and doom that had been so common in previous years. As Andrew Cuomo said at Tuesday's presentation, "It's not supposed to be traumatic." He even called this year's budget proposal "simple and straightforward." (Those are always in the eye of the budget beholder -- we are talking about a plan to spend $130something billion here.)
So let's get to it...
The state Assembly passed -- and Andrew Cuomo signed (video) -- the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act Tuesday afternoon. The state Senate passed the gun legislation late Monday night. The law takes effect immediately, though many provisions in it don't start right away.
The law is notable for a few reasons. New York now has the strictest assault rifle ban in the nation. And, from a symbolic and political perspective, New York becomes the first state to pass new gun control legislation after the Newtown shootings.
A quick overview of what's included in the law is after the jump, as well as a rundown of how Capital Region legislators voted.
There will be all kinds of coverage of Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address everywhere over the next few days. But for right now, here's a quick, scannable overview of this afternoon's speech -- enough to get you through a conversation today -- you'll find it after the jump.
Spoilers: "innovation hot spots," upstate New York, casinos, equality, and gun control.
With Andrew Cuomo supplying a carefully choreographed order to the executive branch of New York State government, it's good to know that we can continue to count on the state Senate to provide the political drama we've come to expect from the Capitol.
The latest turn in the ongoing drama: Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference -- a group of four (now five) breakaway Democrats -- announced today that they've formed a coalition to grab control of the chamber.
From the press release:
Under the unprecedented agreement, the Independent Democratic Conference will be formally recognized as a third, permanent Senate conference. Senator [Jeff] Klein and Senator [Dean] Skelos will assume the roles of Conference Leader for their respective conferences and will administer joint and equal authority over (1) the daily senate agenda (a/k/a the "Active List," which lays out which bills will be voted on each day), (2) the state budget, (3) appointments to state and local boards, and (4) leadership and committee assignments for their respective conferences. Under the agreement, coalition leaders will need to work together to lead the Senate forward. The new agreement will also provide for a process by which the title of Temporary President will alternate between the two conference leaders every two weeks. Therefore, the role of the temporary president will be constitutionally fulfilled at all times.
What could go wrong? And if we're going to have coalition government, maybe the Senate should make like Parliament, with Question Time for the Temporary President and yelling backbenchers. We'd watch that.
The development included extra drama in the form a B plot line involving Democrat Malcolm Smith, who was part of the Senate leadership when it was briefly (and chaotically) under Democratic control. It came out today he's joined the IDC. (We hope there was some sort of dramatic reveal.) [NY Post]
The Quinnipiac Poll out today reports that Andrew Cuomo's approval rating has hit 71 percent -- the highest level for a New York governor as measured by the Q poll since George Pataki hit 81 percent shortly after 9/11.
Cuomo's approval mark hit a high mark of 77 percent in the Siena poll in February. The polling over the last few months prompted a Washington Post writer to declare Cuomo "most popular governor in the country" back in April.
Of course, if you've followed New York politics for any length of time, the next natural thought is: there's no where to go now but down.
A few other bits from the Q poll:
+ 78 percent of respondents supported some sort of raise in the state's minimum wage.
+ Respondents supported making teacher evaluations public 56-40.
+ Respondents support "the creation of Las Vegas-type casinos" 56-33 -- but support for changing the state constitution to do so is 49-42.
Members of both the state Senate and Assembly are pushing legislation that aims to crack down on cyberbullying and other online nastiness by requiring a commenter's actual name and contact info be associated with a comment.
From the text of the "Internet Protection Act":
"A web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate. All web site administrators shall have a contact number or e-mail address posted for such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted."
The bill's Senate sponsor -- Tom O'Mara, a Republican from the southern tier -- has framed the bill as anti-cyberbullying measure: "Victims of anonymous cyberbullies need protection. We're hopeful that this legislation can be helpful to the overall effort to deter and prevent anonymous criminals from hiding behind modern technology and using the Internet to bully, defame and harass their victims." [NY Senate]
But other sponsors also see the legislation as a way to crack down on anonymous criticism of businesses and politicians.
Update: Andrew Cuomo says he'll veto the new lines, which probably means negotiations and adjustments. [AP/WSJ]
The task force in charge of drawing new districts for the state Senate and Assembly released its slate of proposed maps this week. As this is New York State politics, there was much criticism. And we'll get to some of that in a bit.
The Capital Region could potentially end up being affected by a lot by the proposed new district lines. Most significantly, the task force is proposing to add a new Senate district that would cover the southwest corner of the area. But there are also shifts in the city of Albany, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and Troy.
Reading about all this, we found it kind of hard to keep all the old and new maps straight. So we've we've put together before-and-after versions of the Capital Region's legislative districts -- the current districts side by side with the proposed new lines.
Citizens of the Capital Region, meet what could be your new gerrymanders...
Updated Tuesday at 6:30 pm.
Andrew Cuomo and his administration presented their proposed 2012-2013 budget this afternoon. The budget is a big deal for the state, because it's the Cuomo administration putting its money (actually, all our money) where its mouth is.
This year's presentation was less dramatic than last year -- there was no declaration of the state being "functionally bankrupt." Cuomo touted the measures taken in last year's budget for helping to make things easier this year. "We regained the public trust," he said, "That is a great gift and an awesome responsibility. Let's build on it this year, even higher, together." (pause for applause)
So, we watched the address and skimmed through the budget briefing docs so you don't have to. Here's a quick overview of Cuomo's proposed budget...
Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced today that they've reached a deal to restructure the state's income tax.
The Cuomo admin is touting the restructuring as an attempt to "restore fairness to the tax system." Basically, it makes the tax structure more progressive -- that is, the more a person makes, the higher their rate. The admin says 4.4 million New Yorkers will get a tax cut under the new structure.
So, if you're under $300,000 (and more than $40k), you would get a tax cut under this arrangement. Above $300k, your taxes are going up (compared to the rate from a few years back). [NY Post]
As usual, it's little (or a lot) more complicated than that. The bracket breakdown in the press release doesn't really tell the whole story because it doesn't include the temporary personal income surcharge ("millionaire's tax") that's currently in effect -- the TU's Jimmy Vielkind has put together a spreadsheet that makes it a bit more clear.
The Cuomo admin says the new structure generates $1.9 billion in additional revenue for the state -- though that's about $2 billion less than what was generated by the "millionaire's tax", which expires at the end of this month. [NYT] [TU CapCon]
The deal announced today also includes funding for infrastructure projects, support for a constitutional amendment to allow full casino gaming, grants for flood recovery, a few other initiatives.
If you're thinking to yourself: "Wait, did I miss the part where this was all discussed and debated publicly?" The answer is: no, of course not. This is New York.
The state Senate passed the Marriage Equality Act 33-29 Friday night.
Earlier in the evening, the Assembly passed amendments to the bill that included increased protections for religious organizations that choose not to participate in same-sex marriages.
Andrew Cuomo signed the bill shortly before midnight on Friday. It takes effect 30 days after his signature.
Recaps, quotes and pics from the vote after the jump...
That's the question everyone keeps asking. And the legislature seems to be taking forever. Seriously, if the state Senate can vote on whether corn should be the official state vegetable, you'd think they could move this issue along a little faster.
To make it easy to keep track of what's happening, we've created a single-serve site: IsSame-SexMarriageLegalinNY.com.
It gets right to the point.
You can follow it on Twitter: @SSMNewYork.
Of all the criticisms one could make of Andrew Cuomo, this is probably the weirdest (and dirtiest sounding): "public concubinage."
Edward Peters -- self-described as "one of the most widely-known lay [Catholic] canon lawyers in North America" and reportedly an adviser to the Vatican -- wrote earlier this year that Cuomo and First Lady-friend Sandra Lee live in "public concubinage" -- and as a result, Cuomo should not be allowed to receive communion. [NYT] [Canon Law Blog]
And Cuomo did just that at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany after his inauguration -- during a mass led by bishop Howard Hubbard, no less. Peters accused Hubbard of a "dereliction of pastoral duty" for not admonishing Cuomo and Lee "for their objectively and publicly sinful status." And Peters recently told a conservative news site that Cuomo's action "produces grave scandal within the faith community." [NYDN] [CNS]
The Albany diocese released a statement this afternoon about all this in which it basically told Peters to mind his own business (politely). And Cuomo said to reporters today: "For me, I choose to keep my religion and my religious practices private and not discuss it in the political arena." [State of Politics] [TU CapCon]
Not being read up on concubinage -- public or otherwise -- we did a little research. According to Wikipedia (so you know it must be true), it's defined as:
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially-oriented relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status.
Well, there are certainly status differences here. She is more famous than he is. And a lot richer.
Earlier on AOA: Sandra Lee in Vogue
To much fanfare (and powerpoint) Andrew Cuomo presented his proposed state budget yesterday.
During the presentation he described the state as "functionally bankrupt," and remarked that he viewed his dental appointments for root canal as a welcome respite from the budget process. So, that gives you a sense of where the state's at.
We've read a bunch of the details and coverage of the budget so you don't have to. Let's get to it...
There will be much coverage of Andrew Cuomo's first State of the State speech all over the media. But if you're just looking for a quick overview of what he said, or just enough to not have a blank look when someone says, "hey, how about that State of the State? -- here's a quick scan...
New York Now has put together an epic montage covering David Paterson's 34 months in office. It's all in there, from Paterson taking the oath of office and the legislature chanting "David, David, David!" -- to him asking "why me?" It's remarkable to watch his body language change over the course of the montage. He just seems beaten down by the end.
Paterson will also be appearing on New York Now tonight for another exit interview (7:30 pm on WMHT -- and Sunday at 11 pm).
The montage highlights some of the reasons we feel conflicted about David Paterson. On one hand, he was thrown into a job that even he probably never expected to have, sounded the alarm early about the state's fiscal crisis, kept the state solvent, took the initiative to get a lieutenant governor in place (and kept Pedro Espada from possibly being next in line for governor -- *shiver*), made a good pick for US Senator (KG), and basically stuck it to the legislature while it stalled on the budget.
On the other hand (and it's a big hand)... Paterson had a tendency to say one thing one day and something else the next, didn't necessarily surround himself with the best people, turned the selection of a new US Senator into a circus, seemingly ignored the guy he picked to help fix the state's fiscal situation, intervened in a case of alleged domestic violence involving a top aide, his administration tried to score free Yankees tickets, and he just seemed to generally be a scandal magnet. And that doesn't even cover all of it.
So long, Governor Paterson. It wasn't boring.
Mr. Cuomo, 52, snagged a coveted slot in the double issue of People, which surveys the international landscape of bulging pectorals and rippling abdominals. "I was," Mr. Cuomo said in an interview, "slightly surprised initially."
He was not, however, entirely humbled by it. Asked what kind of regimen he had followed to make the cut, Mr. Cuomo responded wryly: "A lot of it's just natural. It's genetic sculpting."
That, he said, and a sparing diet, and twice-weekly sessions on the treadmill.
Mr. Cuomo appeared in the magazine's 50-and-over cohort, alongside Sting, Liam Neeson and Michael Bolton. Asked how he was selected, Liz Sporkin, executive editor of People, did not gush about his physical attributes. "His many years of public service make him sexy," she said.
NYT also had the pleasure (?) of hearing Cuomo's "sexiest-man voice."
photo via Andrew Cuomo Facebook
State IG: public's best interest was of "militant indifference" to state leaders in Aqueduct project
A report out today from the State Inspector General criticizes pretty much all the state leaders involved with the failed AEG bid for the big Aqueduct racino project. The report alleges that leaders ignored vetting, leaked info, took questionable campaign contributions or just didn't try to stop a process they knew to be flawed.
Says state IG Joseph Fish in the press release:
This process was doomed from the start, and at each turn, our state leaders abdicated their public duty, failed to impose ethical restraints and focused on political gain at a cost of millions to New Yorkers ... Unfortunately, and shamefully, consideration of what was in the public's best interest, rather than the political interest of the decision makers, was a matter of militant indifference to them.
The IG's office says it's forwarding the report to federal and local prosecutors, as well as the state Legislative Ethics Commission.
The Aqueduct project has since been won by another investor, Genting New York. Some of the revenue from the deal will be used to prop up horse racing in the state -- including $100 million in improvements at Saratoga Race Course (though it could be 2012 before that happens). [TU CapCon] [Saratogian]
Daniel emailed us this weekend after noticing that Client 9, the documentary about Eliot Spitzer is now available on demand on Time Warner Cable. (It debuts in theaters November 5.) He said he jumped at the chance to watch it.
He was also nice enough to send along a quick recap of the doc, focusing on the parts involving Albany. As he notes: "Some of this might be considered a spoiler about the movie, even though we all know how it ends." Right, the spitzering.
On to Daniel's quick overview...
Paladino: I don't want children "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option"
Speaking in Brooklyn Sunday Carl Paladino said: "... I don't want [children] brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option -- it isn't."
I didn't march in a gay pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that's not the example we should be showing our children -- and certainly not in their schools.
And don't misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live. I just think my children -- and your children -- would be much better off, and much more successful, getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option -- it isn't.
Andrew Cuomo's campaign released a statement in response to Paladino's comments: "Mr. Paladino's statement displays a stunning homophobia and a glaring disregard for basic equality." [NYT]
Paladino was on the Today Show this morning to respond to outrage generated by his Sunday comments. He told Matt Lauer during an interview that he didn't regret his remarks. Here's a clip:
My feelings on homosexuality are unequivocal. I have no problem with it whatsoever. My only reservation is marriage. That's the only reservation I have. I have a lot of homosexuals working in my organization. ...
Young children shouldn't be exposed to this at a young age. They don't understand this. It's a very difficult thing. And exposing them to homosexuality -- especially at a gay pride parade, and I don't know if you've ever been to one, but they wear these little Speedos and they grind against each other, it's just a terrible thing.
Paladino has said he's not a politician. And unlike a politician, he does seem willing to say whatever's on his mind. The problem is... that's what's on his mind.
In a chat with Capital New York today, Azi Paybarah noted that Paladino's propensity to say something stuff like this has actually led to more reporters covering him than Andrew Cuomo recently.
The FiveThirtyEight poling model is currently predicting Cuomo has a 98.9 percent chance of winning the governor's race.
The Siena poll out today reports that Andrew Cuomo leads Carl Paladino 56-32 among likely voters (margin of error +/- 3.9 points). And among independents, Cuomo leads 50-39.
Siena's last poll on the governor's race, in September, reported Cuomo up 57-24 on Paladino (that poll also included the now-dropped out Rick Lazio, and it was of registered voters). So, in some sense Paladino has picked up a bit of ground. But he's bumping up against this political problem:
+ 59 percent of respondents in this new poll say they have an unfavorable opinion of Paladino
+ 61 percent agreed that he's "a loose cannon who doesn't have the temperament to be governor." (Yep, this poll was conducted after the Bolton Landing Brouhaha.)
+ Cuomo also has a wide lead when voters were asked which candidate would do better on a range of issues (except taxes).
FiveThirtyEight's prediction model currently has Cuomo with a 97.8 percent chance of winning (the model doesn't include today's Siena poll).
The story (legend?) of Carl Paladino got even stranger this week when he told the Syracuse Post-Standard that he helped defuse a hostage situation at Syracuse University while he was a law student there in 1970. It's a great story... except for the fact that other people -- and archived press clips -- say it didn't happen (emphasis added):
Here's the video of that altercation between Carl Paladino and the New York Post's Fred Dicker yesterday in Bolton Landing. It was shot by YNN's Kaitlyn Ross with her mobile. [State of Politics]
Dicker was pressing Paldino for evidence to back up the allegation Paladino had made earlier, in an interview with Politico, that Andrew Cuomo had had an affair back when he was married to Kerry Kennedy. Paladino tells Dicker that he does have evidence and "you'll get it at the appropriate time." Paladino then accuses Dicker of working for Cuomo. And then he tells Dicker, "If you send another goon to my daughter's house, I'll take you out." (Paladino's campaign alleged the Post had sent photographers after Paladino's 10-year-old daughter -- the child from his affair.)
Probably the best line from the schoolyard fight came from Paladino campaign manager Michael Caputo, to Dicker: "You're off the Christmas list!" Dicker now joins Joy Behar on said list. [State of Politics]
The Cuomo campaign's response to Paladino's accusation: "We have not and will not descend into the gutter with Paladino, Caputo and [Roger] Stone. We're not going to start now because the people of New York deserve a better dialogue from their candidates and journalists." [NYDN]
There's better quality video of the spat from CBS6 embedded after the jump.
Rick Lazio announced today that he's dropping out of the race for governor. Even though he had lost the Republican primary, he still had a spot on the Conservative line. [State of Politics YouTube]
Said Lazio: "While my heart beckons me forward, my head tells me that my continued presence on the Conservative line would simply lead to the election Andrew Cuomo..."
Not that Lazio's a fan of Paladino. He went on to criticize both candidates -- and many of the shots were aimed right at Paladino.
I look at the two major party candidates and I see flawed individuals -- flawed in terms of public character, flawed in terms of commitment to ideas and principles that will restore restore growth and pride to our great state ... I 'll be watching very closely to see if either candidate can prove to me -- and to New York -- that they can rise above the empty slogans and the name calling. ...
I strongly believe that Andrew Cuomo can not bring about change. But I remain unconvinced that Carl Paladino will bring the improvement that New Yorkers need, deserve and want.
The people deserve a civil campaign and a vibrant exchange on the challenges real New Yorkers face. They deserve leaders who are good, decent, responsible people who will put citizens first. They deserve real results from public servants who are accountable for what they say, how they say it, what they don't say and what they truly deliver.
As it happens, getting Lazio off the ballot isn't as simple him saying, "Thanks, you've all been wonderful, I'm out" -- and it looks like he'll be nominated for a state Supreme Court judgeship in order to complete the maneuver. [Daily Politics]
Lazio's exit should clear up the polling picture a bit. The polls from last week that included Lazio had him at 8 and 9 percent. That's not much -- but if Cuomo and Paladino are close, it could have made a difference.
The early word on the doc has been positive. Spitzer apparently granted Gibney access without asking for editorial control (something Ashley Dupree reportedly wouldn't do). Joe Bruno appears in the film -- he's featured in the trailer pounding a punching bag and looking like a tough guy.
Client 9 debuts in theaters November 5.
It's remarkable how, more than two years after the spitzering, Eliot Spitzer keeps popping up in the conversation. His new CNN show starts up soon. And he's been very willing to say things that grab attention -- like in this segment on CNN this week quote from this week about Andrew Cuomo, and the matchup with Carl Paladino:
Well, what he needs to do is speak to the public and, of course, the problem that Andrew has is that everybody knows that behind the scenes, he has the dirtiest, nastiest political player out there and that is his reputation from years in Washington.
To which Cuomo responded today in Rochester:
That's saying something from Eliot Spitzer. I think Eliot Spitzer's record of performance and honor speaks for itself.
By the way: NYT reports that David Paterson will appear this weekend on Saturday Night Live
Yesterday Jeff suggested that we poll people on which of the major gubernatorial candidates they would most like to have a beer with. The utterly unscientific results are above (as of about 4:30 pm Thursday). More than 200 people voted.
It looks like a tight race to the bar. And you never know what's going to happen in a race that close. (Will one of the candidates buy? Come on, Carl! You're worth $150 million!)
This could be (probably is) coincidental, but the beer poll results actually match up pretty well with this week's Q Poll that showed Paladino trailing Cuomo, 49-43.
Fine print: This is a completely unscientific poll. Results have been rounded. Margin of error? Depends on how much you drink.
Judith Kaye's independent counsel investigation of David Paterson's involvement with Sherr-Una Booker, the woman who accused Paterson aide David Johnson of domestic violence, released its report today. From the executive summary:
The Independent Counsel finds no evidence that the State Police or the Executive Chamber interfered with the NYPD response to the October 31, 2009 domestic incident. However, evidence revealed errors in the NYPD response to the incident and errors in judgment following the incident by the head of the Governor's State Police protection detail, by Johnson and another close aide to the Governor, and indeed by the Governor himself. There were numerous telephone contacts between the Governor and Booker, some that he initiated even after he became aware of the serious nature of her accusations, and even just after he referred this matter to the [office of the attorney general]. Regardless of any good faith reasons on the part of the Governor for contacts that he initiated, these were errors of judgment.
The report doesn't recommend that Paterson face any charges, but says the evidence "warrants consideration of possible charges against David Johnson." Booker recently said she would ask prosecutors to pursue charges against Johnson.
About those Yankee tickets: the Kaye report says the Paterson administration's alleged attempt to score free Yankees tickets "remains under review."
This week's This American Life featured a long segment about the New York State budget. During the setup for the piece, host Ira Glass says: "For those of you who live far from New York, you need to understand a few things about just how terribly run New York State is." And then he runs through all the scandals and drama (that part runs longer than many regular radio segments).
That all leads to the appointment of Richard Ravitch, whom Glass describes as the "hero of our story." Says Ravitch at one point, when asked if he felt like he was going to into a "madhouse" after being appointed to Lt. Governor (at Peter Luger):
Yes. But I'm also... this sounds terribly pompous, forgive me... but I have a kind of romance with the whole idea of government and public service. So, at the same time I knew I was going into a madhouse, I also, it was a matter of pride that perhaps I could be helpful and there was nothing more useful I could do with my life.
Ravitch later says: "I didn't know how serious the problem was. I didn't realize the state had been faking balanced budgets for so many years."
The piece includes a bunch of people from around the Capitol, including David Paterson, state budget director Bob Megna (and his non-state-funded stress balls), Ruben Diaz, public radio correspondent Karen Dewitt, YNN's Erin Billups, the singing of Jay Gallagher and NYSNYS's Kyle Hughes.
The piece is a good overview of how the state got into so much budget trouble. It's not a hopeful picture.
The show is available as a free download this week. It's also available for streaming.
photo: Paterson admin media images
Appearing on the Capitol Pressroom today, David Paterson said he's considering state worker layoffs this year:
... what bothers me is, it's gnawing me, I don't think I should be setting up a layoff plan for the next governor to do. I think if you're going to layoffs, you do them yourself. And so I'm really considering altering [the layoff plan for next year] and starting the layoffs sooner... [in] 2010.
We need $250 million in workforce reductions and we have not come close to that. That's why we tried to do the furloughs, the court told us we couldn't do it. That's why we tried to get five days extra lag pay in negotiation, and the workers wouldn't do it. And so I think our hand is forced here.
Paterson said his administration is "still calculating" how many layoffs might be involved -- the number of early retirees would play a role in the number.
I don't want to lay people off ... This is just the unfortunate situation that I turned up in going back to a little over two years ago when I became governor that it's the worst economic times in the state's history and I've had to do things that go against what I have felt in my heart, the same way those Republican senators had to vote against how they feel about the extenders. But what I'm doing and what I think they're doing and other are doing here at the Capitol is we're trying to adjust to a crisis.
If Paterson tries to layoff state workers, the public employee unions will almost certainly sue because of the no-layoffs agreement they have with him.
Also: The state Senate passed a bill today that would institute a "Question Time with the Prime Minister" style session between the governor and the legislature each month. We'd watch that. [TU Cap Con]
Yep, the Capitol Pressroom advertises on AOA. That's where the the governor said it.
file photo via Paterson press images
A few bits from the Siena Poll out today:
+ Sixty-five percent of respondents said they're against David Paterson's plan to lay off 10,000 state workers at the start of next year. A majority of every demographic opposes the layoffs (the closest split: 53 percent of men oppose).
+ When asked if they would like to see their current state senator re-elected, or have someone else get the spot, 50 percent of respondents said "someone else." (Tough talk, New York. Let's see how that turns out in November.)
+ Andrew Cuomo's favorability is down to 59 percent -- but he still crushes the rest of the field.
+ People still seem unsure about Kirsten Gillibrand (40 percent say they'd prefer "someone else" vs. 34 percent who say they'd like to see her elected) -- but check out the don't know/no opinions for her three potential Republican challengers: David Malpass (81), Bruce Blakeman (80), Joe DioGuardi (75).
+ Chuck Schumer's favorability is at 54 percent -- its lowest point ever.
The margin of error was +/- 3.4 percent. Here's a breakdown of the full results.
Updated Friday at 3:09
Federal judge Lawrence Kahn today granted a preliminary injunction against the state worker furloughs and the withholding of the four percent pay raises. The Paterson administration was also blocked from including the furloughs and pay freeze in a future emergency budget extenders.
From the decision (the plaintiffs are the state worker unions and the defendants are the Paterson administration):
Plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that the permanent 20% loss in salary and wages that the furlough plan effects constitutes irreparable harm and that irreparable harm flows from Defendants' failure to pay the contracted-for increases in salaries and wages, which were negotiated years prior to the challenged extender bill, and upon wihch the affected employees have surely relied.
The unions had argued the furloughs and withheld raises violated the Contract Clause of the US Constitution. Among the evidence cited by the judge that the unions have a good case on that account is the state Senate's resolution criticizing the furloughs. From the decision:
To uphold self-interested impairments of contractual rights from suit under the Contract Clause, the Court must see that the impairments are reasonable and necessary, as established by real and demonstrable consideration of needs and alternatives. Instead, the Court observes both a complete repudiation by the Senate of such a judgment and an argument by Defendants that fails to show sufficient consideration and analysis of the kind required by the Contract Clause.
(The Senate grudgingly passed the budget extender that included the furloughs because not doing so would have shut down the government. Neil Breslin was one of the senators who proposed the resolution.)
In a statement, David Paterson says he's "disappointed" by the decision:
Today's ruling was determined in part by evidence submitted by the Legislature in opposition to the extraordinary action I took in proposing furloughs and withholding pay increases. However, both houses of the Legislature agree with my assertion that New York's public employee unions must contribute, along with all other New Yorkers, to solving this extraordinary fiscal crisis. This agreement is reflected in each of its individual budget resolutions, which count $250 million or more in workforce savings in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Said CSEA's president in a statement: "Today's decision is a victory for the rule of law in New York and should make it clear that no governor can run roughshod over people's rights." Said the president of PEF in a statement: "It is in the best interest of state taxpayers the governor accepts the court's ruling and avoids wasting more time and money needlessly appealing this decision."
The judge's decision is embedded after the jump.
Andrew Cuomo has publicly declared that he's running for governor (finally).
Here are a bunch of the quick scan highlights from the coverage, including bits about Cuomo's plan, his apparent cold shoulder toward Sheldon Silver, being an insider-outsider-upsidedownsider and Sandra Lee.
A federal judge has granted a restraining order against the state worker furloughs.
WTEN has posted a copy of the order. Among the orders:
- It temporarily blocks the Paterson administration from furloughing state employees
- It also blocks the admin from including another furlough measure in upcoming budget extenders.
- And, if we're reading it correctly (if), it also blocks the administration from holding back the four percent raises that are part of the union contracts.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for later this month.
Also: Jack McEneny apparently led some sort of sit-in this afternoon outside Paterson's office to protest inaction on the budget. [State of Politics]
Update: The temporary restraining order is embedded after the jump.
photo from anti-furlough rally earlier this week: Rob Gierthy
A federal judge sentenced Joe Bruno to two years in prison on corruption charges yesterday.
Here are a bunch of the quick scan highlights from the coverage -- including bits about the "vintage" Bruno speech, the judge, the sentence and the reaction.
The federal judge in the Joe Bruno case has sentenced the former state Senate majority leader to two years in prison -- and three years of post-release supervision. He's also been ordered to pay $280,000 in restitution.
He'll be allowed to stay out on bail until the Supreme Court of the United States rules on its theft of honest services cases. If SCOTUS rules against the theft of honest services laws, Bruno will go free.
During his statement in court before the sentence was announced, the TU reports Bruno said: "In my heart and in my mind, I did nothing wrong ... nothing!"
After the sentencing, he told the media outside the court house: "I'm proud of my public service and I don't believe I have anything to apologize for." He added that he's praying the Supreme Court will strike down the theft of honest services law. (State of Politics has posted a video clip of Bruno's comments.)
You can follow tweets about the Bruno sentence through this search.
More post-sentencing photos after the jump.
So, why not legislating?
The state attorney general's office announced today that it's filed suit against state Senator Pedro Espada for "looting the Bronx based not-for-profit where Espada serves as President and CEO."
Said Andrew Cuomo in a statement: "Taxpayer money was given to this not-for-profit to provide healthcare services to underprivileged patients, but our investigation has found the funds flowed into the pockets of Senator Espada and his supporters."
Among the many allegations: Soundview, Espada's health care not-for-profit, paid for "more than 200 meals totaling more than $20,000 from two sushi restaurants that regularly received orders from Espada's wife and delivered to the Espada home in Mamaroneck."
image: NY Senate
As you might have heard, state assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) has proposed a bill that would ban restaurants from using salt in the preparation of food.
That hasn't exactly gone over well. A quick spin around the table for reaction after the jump.
Also: a scan of Ortiz's other fun-filled legislation.
The Siena poll out today reports that 54 percent of respondents said they agree that "What's going on in Albany makes me embarrassed to call myself a New Yorker."
SRI also reports that 55 percent of those polled said they think David Paterson should serve out his term. That reverses a recent slide for Paterson across a handful of polls:
March 2: Marist reports 66 percent say Paterson should stay stay
March 3: Quinnipiac reports 61 percent say stay
March 5: Quinnipiac reports 46 percent say stay
March 8: Siena reports 55 percent say stay
Not that people are warming back up to David Paterson. This most recent Siena poll reports that Paterson's unfavorable rating is at its highest point (67 percent).
Here's the full listing of the poll results.
We've read (too) much of the reaction to David Paterson's decision to exit the race for the governor.
Here are a bunch of the quick-scan highlights -- about lame duck status, Paterson's work habits, calls for resignation, the budget, Andrew Cuomo and... yet another SNL skit.
Updated at 1:44 pm
The Paterson administration officially released its proposed 2010-2011 state budget today. David Paterson called the state's financial picture "lugubrious" and said his proposal was "a budget of necessity." He also criticized past budgets: "We can no longer afford this spending addiction."
A (relatively) quick scan of the proposed budget is after the jump. It includes items about a soda tax, wine in supermarkets, speed cameras, The Egg and ultimate fighting.
"Sources" tell NYDN that David Paterson will include a measure legalizing ultimate fighting in his proposed budget plan later this month.
Reps from the Ultimate Fighting Championship have been lobbying for legalization in NY the last few years -- and apparently Paterson sees this as a way to generate revenue. A Bronx assemblyman floated the same idea earlier this year.
Colonie assemblyman Bob Reilly has been one of the most outspoken critics of legalizing MMA. That prompted a UK paper to wonder if Reilly was "the most hated man in MMA."
photo: Flickr user Lee Brimelow
You could spend half an hour listening to David Paterson's State of the State speech from today... or you could skim through this quick scan version.
So reports the Siena poll out today.
When asked if they were "pleased" or "disappointed" by the state Senate's rejection of the same-sex marriage vote, 47 percent of respondents said they were disappointed (41 percent said they were pleased).
The poll also asked people whether they would like to change the current system in which state legislators can have outside jobs (perhaps this question was prompted by the Joe Bruno trial). Sixty-three percent of respondents said they favored "changing the system" (31 percent said they favored keeping the same).
Of those people who said they wanted to change the system, 43 percent said they wanted legislators to "publicly disclose the size and source of their outside income." Twenty-six percent said they'd like to see legislators prohibited from having other jobs -- with no pay increase. And 23 percent say they'd like to see legislators prohibited from outside jobs -- but with a pay raise.
Here are the results broken down by demographic categories.
We've sifted through the coverage of Joe Bruno's conviction on federal corruption charges.
Here are a bunch of the quick-scan highlights...
The jury in the Joe Bruno case has found him guilty on two counts, not guilty on five and they're stuck on one of the counts. [@WNYT]
Here's a list of the counts. [CBS6]
Those counts both involve Loudonville businessman Jared Abbruzzese:
- Count 4 alleged that Bruno, as "part of the scheme and artifice to defraud" the public of his honest services, took $200,000 from two Abbruzzese companies for "consulting." (indictment page 23)
- Count 8 alleged that Bruno, through his Mountain View Farm, sold a virtually worthless horse to Abbruzzese for $80,000 -- prosecutors argued the sale was compensation for a canceled consulting contract between Bruno and an another telecommunications company with which Abbruzzese was involved. (indictment page 24)
Abbruzzese testified during the trial -- under an immunity agreement -- that he had brought in Bruno for the state senator's contacts and "aura." He admitted to buying the horse from Bruno in order to settle a "moral obligation" regarding the canceled consulting contract. (He also said that Bruno introduced him to Donald Trump.) [TU] [Troy Record] [NYDN]
NYDN reports that Bruno left the federal courthouse in downtown Albany "looking pale and shaken" -- and told reporters "I think it's far from over." [NYDN]
Page Six Mag had a piece this past weekend on the relationship between Andrew Cuomo and his ladyfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee. Apparently it's all rides on the Harley, watching Ice Road Truckers on the couch and eating lasagna made with canned tomato soup.
Cuomo and Lee haven't said much publicly about their relationship. But it does come up. Lee recently said on a talk show that she would cook in the Governor's Mansion (and bring "great garnishes"). She's said Cuomo is "the most amazing person I've ever met in every way" and referred to his kids as her "weekend daughters."
And the two do sometimes appear together at events together. From Anthony Bourdain's blog post about his encounter with Lee and Cuomo at the Julie & Julia premiere:
Updated Thursday at 5:30 pm
We've sifted through the coverage of yesterday state Senate vote on the same-sex marriage bill. Here are a bunch of the quick-scan highlights, including details of a protest planned for tonight...
Updated Friday morning
The Paterson Administration says the plan would cut $5 billion over the next two years (including $3 billion this year).
David Paterson was on Meet The Press yesterday. David Gregory tried to get him to say that the White House told him to not run for governor next year:
Here's another clip. He attributes his negative poll numbers to the difficult circumstances the state has been facing. (Last week he said Andrew Cuomo would have low poll numbers, too, if he were governor now.)
SNL also went back to the Paterson well last week. That Paterson New Jersey joke isn't getting any funnier -- no matter how many times they use it.
The clip is embedded after the jump...
As one of the only Mustached American U.S. governors, Gov. Patterson would have certainly been a fine candidate for the prestigious "Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year" honor, which will be awarded at 'Stache Bash 2009 featuring John Oates on Oct. 30 in St. Louis.
But the Governor's calous, selfish, and ignorant act has done a great disservice to people of Mustached American descent who were willing to support him in his reelection efforts. Now, more than likely, our community will shun him, and in an election year, it was a decision that was clearly made without great thought.
As it happens, "people of Mustached American descent" was the only demographic still supporting David Paterson.
+ People continue to have an unfavorable view of David Paterson (29/59 favorable/unfavorable)
+ People continue to prefer someone else as governor (71 percent)
+ Andrew Cuomo continues to hold a strong lead in the hypothetical gubernatorial race (52-39 over Rudy Giuliani)
+ And people continue to say they don't know enough about Kirsten Gillibrand (47 percent)
Here's something new: the poll has started asking people whether they think the state budget gap can be closed without new taxes or fees. Eighty percent of people said they didn't think that was going to happen.
By the way: Paterson said today that it's looking like the mid-year budget gap will be $3 billion.
New York State now has a lieutenant governor.
The state Court of Appeals (New York's highest court) ruled today that David Paterson did have the authority to appoint Richard Ravitch to the vacant job.
Writes Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in the 4-3 majority decision:
The issue on this appeal is whether the Governor of the State of New York has the authority to fill a vacancy in the office of Lieutenant-Governor by appointment. We now hold that he does.
The decision goes on to argue that the post of lieutenant governor falls under "a catch-all" provision of state law that allows the governor to make appointments for positions that don't otherwise have rules laid out for their replacement (lieutenant governor being one of these jobs).
From the dissent, written by Judge Eugene Pigott:
Under the majority's rationale, the possibility exists that the citizens of this State will one day find themselves governed by a person who has never been subjected to scrutiny by the electorate, and who could in turn appoint his or her own unelected Lieutenant-Governor.
Yes, yesterday's Marist poll shows David Paterson's approval rating at 20%, but apparently there's at least one guy he could take in an election -- Elliot Spitzer.
According to a new Marist poll released today in a hypothetical race between the Luv Gov and the accidental governor, Paterson would beat Spitzer by a 60%-31% margin.
The same poll pits Spitzer in a hypothetical senate race agains Kirstin Gillibrand where she beats him by a margin of 57% - 29%.
In fact 69% of registered voters polled said they didn't think Spitzer should run for any New York office at all. 27% are waiting for his comeback.
CBS has a new show on its schedule called The Good Wife -- but they could have probably called it Silda. Juliana Margulies (of ER fame) plays the lead character, whose politician husband resigns over a sex scandal.
The producers come right out and admit they've been ripping from the headlines -- and that shot from the show (on the right) is basically a recreation of the infamous Spitzer press conference.
Of course, this being TV
Silda's Margulies' character's husband goes to jail, she joins a law firm and touching life lessons are learned. We can only wonder if her husband runs for office again.
And yes, she does slap him when he apologizes.
In the Siena poll release today, 54 percent of respondents said they wish they could throw out all the state legislators and start over. In fact, it sounds like New Yorker are longing for the good old days (which are apparently about the same time as Sterling Cooper's heyday).
From the poll....
It appears that New Yorkers have found something they dislike even more than David Paterson: the state Senate.
The Siena poll out today reports that 74 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion about the state Senate. And 77 percent said that the statement "I'm angry that the Senators wasted more than a month of valuable time accomplishing nothing" best described the way they felt about the Senate mess.
Not surprisingly, Pedro Espada led the pack of disliked senators with a 46-11 unfavorable/favorable split.
The poll also asked whether people would like to see Democrats, Republicans or a coalition control the chamber -- 30 percent said Dems, 17 percent Republicans and 52 percent coalition. (Maybe there's needs to be a "none of the above" option.)
It would be interesting to a see the results of a question that asks people what they think about their individual state senator.
The state Senate Democrats -- now back in power after making a deal with Pedro Espada -- got together for a press conference this afternoon to talk about everything that went down. And we gotta say, some of their comments were almost unbelievable.
So here are eight quotes that made us go "What?! Seriously?!" Just a warning -- these comments may make your head explode.
You're the next contestant on the bizarre reality show that is New York State government. David Paterson just announced that he's appointing Richard Ravitch to the post of lieutenant governor.
Ravitch theoretically will now be able to cast a tie-breaking vote in the frozen state Senate (if quorum ever comes together). The key word is theoretically -- because Paterson's appointment will almost surely set off a flurry of lawsuits. If Ravitch's appointment holds, it would at the very least clear up some of the questions about the gubernatorial line of succession.
So who is this Ravitch guy? A quick primer after the jump.
Earlier this week the LA Times pointed at New York's legislature and essentially said, "At least California's not that bad." And then both NY and CA appeared on Politco's list of worst states to govern.
OK, fine. So let's do this. Which state is the biggest loser?
Pedro Espada -- one of the key players in the state Senate mess -- gets the cover story treatment in the most recent New York Mag.
Espada comes off as quite the multi-faceted character. He's described -- by others, himself, events -- as: a nihilist, scrappy, a fighter, a meticulous dresser, a guy who talks about himself in the third person, Evita-like, a thief, a villain, a score settler, charismatic, a shrewd political tactician, amoral, a self-aggrandizer, an outsider, self-reliant, needy, a contradiction, an opportunist, a scofflaw, and a tool.
The Siena poll out today has some interesting -- if not necessarily surprising -- results.
People are still down on David Paterson (though marginally less so) -- but they've also turned against pretty much everyone else in state government (with one exception).
Reporting that David Paterson is "deeply unpopular" these days is a little bit like reporting "Earth revolves around sun" -- tell us something we don't know.
This new NYT/Cornell/NY1 poll just adds to the already-established story -- the short version of which is: people have very little confidence that David Paterson can lead the state in the right direction.
OK. But here's the story from a perspective we hadn't seen: how does Paterson's (un)popularity compare to that of other governors around the country?
The place to rock with your conspirators
This NYT story about all the recent drama in the state Senate has some great details about the planning of the legislative overthrow -- including a few scenes "on location" around Albany.
After Tom Golisano's now infamous/absurd Blackberry-stained meeting with Malcolm Smith, he began plotting with Republicans. Where?
Mr. Golisano gave up on the Democrats and Mr. Pigeon moved quickly to set up a meeting with three top Senate Republicans. Secrecy was imperative, so they decided to meet at a small Albany rock club, Red Square, an unlikely locale for lawmakers.
"You wouldn't find anybody there that we knew," recalled Senator George D. Maziarz, a Republican from western New York who attended.
And after you've ambushed the majority and taken over the Senate, where do you party?
That night around 9, Mr. Espada, Mr. Monserrate and members of their staffs adjourned to Salsa Latina, a restaurant in Albany, to wind down. Mr. Skelos briefly stopped by to congratulate them. They quietly recounted the day, and began planning for what would happen next.
Where else would they go? Monday is $2.99 margarita day at Salsa Latina.
It looks like Republican have taken back control of the state Senate by getting two Democrats to caucus with them. Dean Skelos was voted majority leader (again) and Bronx Democrat Pedro Espada -- one of the two switchers -- becomes Senate president pro tem (he's also now the person who becomes governor if something happens to David Paterson). [TU] [NYDN] [AOA]
Here's a quick read of the coverage of yesterday's big switch...
It appears the state Senate Republicans are in the process of taking control of the chamber again by getting two Democrats to switch parties. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate appear to be the Dems who flipped, giving the Republicans a 32-30 majority. Dean Skelos will be majority leader again and Espada will become the Senate pro tem.
Republicans sent out a press release this afternoon telling the media to show up for "a historic change in leadership." Then as this was apparently all going down, the video feed from the Senate chamber was cut.
The move apparently caught Democrats -- including now-former majority leader Malcolm Smith -- by surprise.
One of the immediate political consequences of the switch: the same-sex marriage bill now has probably no shot of passage this year.
Update: Malcolm Smith says the flip was "an illegal and unlawful attempt" -- and asserts that he's still majority leader.
Sources cited, in order: Capitol Confidential, Daily Politics, WNYT, Capitol Confidential, NYT
The Siena poll out today reports that the public's perception of David Paterson hasn't gotten any worse -- but it's not really any better, either.
Seventy-one percent of people polled said they still preferred "someone else" as governor in 2010. And people say they still prefer Eliot Spitzer to Paterson (21/11).
In hypothetical 2010 matchups, people say they prefer Andrew Cuomo to David Paterson 70-19 -- and Cuomo over Rudy Giuliani 53-41
A few more tidbits -- about same-sex marriage, Kirsten Gillibrand and tax caps -- after the jump.
After we heard that David Paterson was proposing that restaurants add calorie counts to restaurant menus, we started thinking about other places this sort of information could help.
And, really, what better place to start than the Capitol itself?
(That link will take you to a bigger version.)
The New York State Assembly recently published its list of member items for this budget year. If the phrase "member item" doesn't ring a bell, you might know them by their more common name: pork.
All counted, the Capital Region scored a little more than $1.46 million in Assembly member items this year. The Assembly gave out $85 million total.
We know a bunch of people who read AOA are following the same-sex marriage issue, so we looked up how local Assembly members voted yesterday (the Assembly as a whole passed a bill allowing for same-sex marriage 89-52).
The list -- with a comparison to votes on the 2007 version of the bill -- is after the jump.
SNL used the "people prefer Spitzer to Paterson" poll numbers for a skit on this week's show. It was... uh... well... here it is...
We can only hope the next poll of New Yorkers includes a question about whether these skits are funny.
The New York Senate's web site gets the social media makeover today. "We like to think of this as returning government to the people ... They paid for it. This is citizens first," says the guy who built it.
In theory, this sounds great. We're all for opening up the governmental process to the public. And stuff like RSS feeds for individual Senators (Neil Breslin, for example) and a "plain language initiative" for public data are all encouraging. Thank you. Yes. This is good. More, please.
"No doubt it will be an improvement, but the preview I saw contained photos of public meetings that might leave the unwary with the impression that the Senate is a model of democratic discourse. In fact, on every contentious issue from the budget to the MTA to gay marriage, it is operating under standard Albany rules of closed government."
In the end, the technology is just a tool. Let's hope it's put to good use.
David Paterson has proposed that the state tie its spending increases to the rate of inflation -- and, as his budget people figure it, that would have meant $17 billion less in state spending over the last five years.
OK, but what would the size of the state budget look like if it had been tracking inflation over the last two decades? Hey, look, we already have a chart for that.
Short story: if the budget had been tracking inflation all that time, this year's budget would be almost $47 billion smaller.
Fifty-one percent of New Yorkers would rather have Eliot Spitzer as governor right now than David Paterson, according to Marist poll out today.
In fact, a plurality of voters in every demographic category preferred the Steamroller. Only two categories were even close: NYC suburbs (44/43 Spitzer) and 18-29 (49/46 Spitzer).
Possible backhanded compliment by the populace: 66 percent of respondents in the Marist poll said they thought David Paterson was working hard at his job. But 77 percent said his performance in that job was only fair or poor.
Earlier on AOA: It's all downhill for David Paterson
Newsweek's recent profile of Eliot Spitzer's current state is a whopping 5,295 words. Because we live in the postprint era, we've decided to save you time by boiling the entire article down into a haiku:
Not really a normal guy
As much as he tries
Just when you thought that David Paterson couldn't get any more unpopular -- he has. According to a Siena poll out today, Paterson's favorable/unfavorable numbers hit 27/63. That's the lowest point so far.
A few more notes -- including one about New Yorkers' support of same-sex marriage -- after the jump.
It's official: Eliot Spitzer is back.
After making a few steps into the public spotlight over the last six months, the former Guv is now making the rounds to apologize -- and comment on Wall Street's turmoil.
Could a return to public service be in his future?
This year's almost $132 billion state budget has provoked quite a few, uh, passionate reactions.
Here's the condensed version of what people are saying...
We were a little taken a back when we saw Monday morning that this year's total state budget is shaping up to be almost $132 billion. All we'd been hearing about was how there was no money -- and yet this year's budget is almost 9 percent bigger than last year's.
As it happens, we shouldn't have been surprised. At all. New York's total budget has been on this path since the late 1990s. Almost any budget is going to grow over time because of inflation. But even when you consider inflation, New York's total budget has been skyrocketing.
We've put together an annotated chart comparing the growth of the total budget to the track of inflation. It's kind of shocking laid out like that.
Discussion, notes and caveats after the jump.
Poor David Paterson can't catch a break these days. The economy's tanking, his poll numbers just keep on dropping-- and now this. Boston's alt weekly newspaper, The Phoenix, has named New York's accidental governor to its list of the 100 Unsexiest Men of 2009.
The Phoenix doesn't define sexy the same way as, say, People Magazine. Their "most unsexy" list is made up of what they call "the 100 most karmically bankrupt men on the planet."
Where did NY's governor land on the list? And who is he keeping company with?
The former Guv will be talking about Wall Street regulation and his own uh, downturn, this Sunday on CNN at 1pm.
In the interview, which was conducted by Fareed Zakaria, Spitzer reportedly says:
"I have flaws as we all do, arguably. I failed in a very important way in my personal life. And I have paid a price for that."
The news that Eliot Spitzer had been caught in a prostitution sting went public a year ago today.
It almost seems like it's been even longer than that -- so much has happened since then. After a year, who's up? Who's down? We've put together a scorecard.
An interview with David Paterson appears in this month's issue of Runner's World. And it includes a pic of the Gov -- in running shorts -- with his foot up on his desk. (And you thought his poll numbers were low before this.)
From the interview:
It's difficult to find the time to run because we travel back and forth to Albany a lot. And I'm unable to read my speeches so I have to memorize them which takes time. These days I might get out [for a run] every couple of weeks. That's why I like some of these local races, because they're projects. If I see it as part of my work, I'm a lot more disciplined.
Paterson ran in the Utica Boilermaker last year. And he ran in the 1999 NYC Marathon (he talks in the interview about being hospitalized after that race).
The New York Post has a bigger version of the pic -- if you dare.
photo: Runner's World
The Siena poll out today reports that David Paterson's favorable/unfavorable is now at 40-47. And it's been all downhill since the peak he hit at Thanksgiving of last year (chart above).
The poll also asked people about a hypothetical primary between Paterson and Andrew Cuomo. According to the poll, Paterson would go down hard in the matchup, 53-27 -- which lines up with the result a Q Poll got last week.
Update Wednesday morning! Check out Sebastien's interpretation of the graph after the jump!
It seems like all of sudden everyone hates David Paterson. So, how'd this happen?
Well, like most overnight stories (of success or failure), it sounds like this one has been building for some time. From a story in yesterday's NYT (emphasis ours):
Not long after David A. Paterson became governor, he gathered his senior staff at a mountainside estate 30 miles from the capital to shape an agenda for his fledgling administration.
A former executive from the Dale Carnegie Institute was brought in, and gave the bewildered senior advisers promotional T-shirts and copies of his book, which featured advice like "Don't let your BlackBerry become a CrackBerry."
But the real surprise, said several people who attended, came when Mr. Paterson spoke on the second day. He seemed unfocused, even rambling, in a brief appearance, offering few clues about what he wanted to do as governor and leaving many staff members confused and frustrated.
We'd actually be OK with a few crackberry-addled staffers if it meant getting the state on the right track. If anything, crackberry addiction sounds more plausible than "late-filing syndrome."
Oh, yeah, one more thing: Paterson did give staffers the OK to go after Caroline Kennedy.
Updated Monday at 11:15 pm
What, you haven't been closely following every exciting turn in the special election to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's former House seat?
Worry not. We've sort of been paying attention so you don't have to.
Here's the quick rundown on where things are at in the race between Republican Jim Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy for the 20th Congressional District.
As we mentioned in Morning Blend today, things haven't exactly been going David Paterson's way lately.
Somehow he's managed to piss off liberals (for picking Gillibrand), conservatives (for trying to tax porn), state worker unions (for giving his staff pay raises), and blind people in wheel chairs (for proposing to cut healthcare spending).
And now Andrew Cuomo is lapping him in a hypothetical 2010 Democratic primary for governor. A Quinnipiac poll out this week reports that registered Democrats prefer Cuomo more than 2-1 over Paterson in such a match-up. Ouch. (A Siena poll had them basically tied in such a race back in January.)
The Q Poll also had some bad news for Kirsten Gillibrand.
Registered Dems in the poll said they preferred anti-gun Rep. Carolyn McCarthy to KG 34-24. That said, "don't know" was leading the pack at 39 percent.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Speculate on 2010? Sure, why not.
There's a NYT story today about all the perks Republicans apparently enjoyed as the state Senate majority for the last 40something years.
There are lots of juicy tidbits in it. Some of them will just make you do a double- or triple-take as a taxpayer, whatever party you're aligned with:
Check out this video Liz Benjamin took of Kirsten Gillibrand talking about her position on same-sex marriage. (KG was responding to a story in the NYT that Malcolm Smith said same-sex marriage didn't have the votes to become law in NY this year.)
1) We can't help it, but the phrase "Dicker interview" makes us laugh a little bit too much.
2) At the risk of outing ourselves as C-SPAN watchers, it's interesting to see a politician's full answer to a question like this.
Gillibrand! Tonko! Whoever's the next KG! We want our CongressTube!
Earlier on AOA:
+ Jimmy Tedisco does bad things to Frank on YouTube
There are a bunch of interesting tidbits in a NYT piece today about Kirsten Gillibrand. Among them is Jim Tedisco's apparent admiration for her ability to, well, tell people what they want to hear:
On Sunday, Ms. Gillibrand said she no longer favored branding immigrant-friendly cities such as New York as "sanctuary cities" and denying them federal tax benefits. On Monday, she no longer favored deputizing police officers as immigration officers.
"It's not so much of changing my view as broadening," Ms. Gillibrand said.
Perhaps, although James Tedisco, a Republican assemblyman who is running for her old congressional seat, complimented her: "She's very good at listening and regurgitating it back at you intelligently," he said.
Admiration swells in his voice. "That's the mark of a good politician and a fine public servant," he said.
The Democrats picked have picked Scott Murphy to take on Jim Tedisco in the special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the House. So, who is this guy?
Here's a really quick backgrounder.
It seems that "playing against type" is working for Andrew Cuomo. Or, at least, it's working for the public.
A Siena poll reports that Cuomo and David Paterson are pretty much even in a hypothetical 2010 Democratic primary for governor (35-33 in favor of Paterson). And Cuomo's favorable rating is actually higher now than Paterson's (64-60).
And when you throw Rudy Giuliani into the mix, things get even more interesting.
We read all the coverage about Kirsten Gillibrand's appointment to the Senate so you don't have to.
And there certainly has been plenty of it.
Today has become Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Halloween, Purim, St. Patrick's Day, Fourth of July and Boxing Day all rolled into one for the political junkies and media in New York State.
Not only has Kirsten Gillibrand been appointed to the Senate, but Joe Bruno has been indicted.
The eight count indictment alleges that Bruno used his influence as state Senate majority leader to score $3.2 million in consulting fees from private clients. (The TU has posted a copy of the indictment.)
Uncle Joe was arraigned this afternoon -- he pleaded not guilty -- and was defiant, saying he's been "a target of a get Joe Bruno campaign."
If convicted, Bruno could get 20 years in prison.
In other news, officials from nearby federal penitentiaries said they're excited about their chances of landing a multi-billion dollar chip fab facility.
It's official. David Paterson has publicly announced that he is appointing Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat.
And we're now reminded of the line uttered by Alec Baldwin's character in State and Main after he flips the station wagon he's driving: "So, that happened."
Updated at 9:15 pm: This TU article contains the best evidence we've seen that Paterson will name Gillibrand on Friday.
After supposed front-runner Caroline Kennedy dropped out last night because of (a tax problem?, a nanny problem?, a public speaking problem?, a who-knows-what problem?), the media has picked a new front runner. And it's Kirsten Gillibrand.
As you can probably imagine, that has people scrambling.
Update Thursday morning: Kennedy officially announced early this morning that's she's out.
That's the word going around Wednesday evening. So, what happened?
Well, the depends on who you're reading. The New York Times says Kennedy bowed out of the non-race to replace Hillary Clinton because she's concerned about the health of her uncle, Ted Kennedy (he had a seizure yesterday during the inaugural festivities.) NYT also reports that Kennedy believed the seat to be hers if she wanted it.
But the New York Post is reporting that Caroline found out she was not going to get the seat and then decided to drop out.
The New York Daily News? It's reporting there's confusion over what exactly has happened.
And NBC (David Gregory, specifically) is reporting that Caroline has NOT dropped out.
By the way, Hillary Clinton was confirmed by the full Senate today for Secretary of State. She resigned her Senate seat right after -- which now clears the way for David Paterson to name her replacement. He's said the choice should be public this weekend.
The full US Senate is expected to confirm Hillary Clinton next week for Secretary of State, which means David Paterson will probably announce her replacement shortly thereafter.
So who's the best bet to get the job? Well, it appears the (conventional) wisdom of crowds points toward... well, it points a couple of directions.
On the latest episode of Top Senator: David Paterson refrains from getting his gut involved, Maureen Dowd says "thank God," and candidates answer questions about their kids' Facebook accounts.
The action at the capitol Wednesday included not just David Paterson's State of the State speech, but also the start of the new legislative session.
Establishes a bi-county commission in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk to study the feasibility of establishing the state of Long Island.
Our only question about this: can they take Staten Island with them?
Hey, this is a time for courage, action and hope.
Sure, David Paterson spent 60 hours memorizing today's State of the State speech. But who else has that kind of time? Here's a quick paraphrase/recap of Paterson's speech...
We're not excited about the prospect of a tax on digital music sales, either -- but Jimmy, why you gotta go and do that to Frank?!?
That is, of course, Jim Tedisco. He's put up a site to campaign against David Paterson's proposal to tax sales of music downloads in New York State.
Maybe we need a tax on karaoke instead.
The end of 2008 is almost here. And, of course, that means year-end top 10 lists. As it happens, our one-time governor made it onto a few of those this year.
OK, it was actually more than a few.
One of the criticisms about Caroline Kennedy's bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat has been that she doesn't have a record of votes or public statements on a number of issues for people to examine.
Well, that changed a bit over the weekend. In a weird arrangement, Kennedy's staff answered written questions from Politico and NYT. Her -- or their -- answers were relatively short -- and we've boiled them down even more.
All the buzz and speculation about who will get Hillary Clinton's Senate seat seems to be getting to David Paterson. The Gov said yesterday, "[F]rankly, this is a serious issue, which I think is starting to be treated as some sort of reality TV show. No, this is reality of life."
Hey, wait a minute. Turning this into a reality TV show might not be such a bad idea...
The big buzz right now is that Caroline Kennedy could be in line to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.
David Paterson says the daughter of JFK has talked to him about the seat, but he called the conversation "informational" and said Kennedy didn't outright express an interest in the job -- though he did indicate she's "thinking about it." (He also used the situation for some humor at a dinner this past weekend.)
The former Gov has a new job -- as a columnist. Really.
Alas, it's not a how-to column. Slate has hired Spitzer to write twice a month -- in a column called "The Best Policy" -- about government, regulation and finance.
Said the online mag's editor-in-chief of Spitzer to NYT: "He's such a fluent talker, and intelligent and interesting on these issues. He also has a natural instinct to try to be provocative, whereas most former politicians have a tendency not to want to annoy anybody." It seems Slate didn't have try to very hard to convince Spitzer to do it.
The first column was posted last night. It kind of reads like a wonkier version of Tom Friedman.
And the tag at the end: "Eliot Spitzer is the former governor of the state of New York."
No, really, it's true. He says so in today's New York Times.
OK, what he actually said was:
"I feel like technology is a place that governments at all levels are going to have to look at for relief, to create efficiencies that they want and need, to create the service that people demand these days, to be responsive and to do it in a cost-effective way."
"[The press] can have some fun with that, but I've always really been kind of on the leading edge of being open."
Of course, this is the guy who fought to keep member items (you know, pork) secret. Now that he's pitching computer systems for Latham-based CMA Consulting -- hey, open databases for everyone!
A few other tidbits about what else Bruno's up to these days, after the jump.
Ashley Dupre -- of Eliot Spitzer "Kristen" infamy -- was on 20/20 Friday night. She talked with Diane Sawyer about a bunch of stuff: her life growing up, how she got into the business, her dog.
But we're guessing you're interested in the bits about the former governor (we were). Here they are:
New York Now has put together a highlight reel from yesterday's bizarre leaders meeting at the Capitol (though "lowlight" might actually be the better word).
Watch as David Paterson talks about auditory hallucinations, Sheldon Silver steams as Jimmy Tedisco tries to lecture him, and Malcolm Smith gives Dean Skelos the hand.
You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wonder how our state government became an episode of the Jerry Spring Show.
The folks at New York Now promise more clips and analysis on this week's show, which airs Friday at 7:30 pm on WMHT (it also repeats Sunday 11 am and 11 pm).
David Paterson unveiled his plan for cutting $2 billion from the current state budget today. He says this plan will cut $2 billion from this year's budget and $3.2 billion from next year's (in which a $12.5 billion gap has already been projected).
We've put together a quick rundown of the cuts/savings. It includes some possibly bad news for Saratoga.
When the feds announced they wouldn't be prosecuting Eliot Spitzer for his involvement with prostitutes, headline writers in newsrooms all over the world probably couldn't contain themselves. Can't. Not. Make. Cheesy. Pun.
"Spitzer Gets Off, Prosecutorially Speaking" -- Gawker
"Spitzer Gets Off! No Charges for Fallen Gov" -- Village Voice
"WHAT A RELIEF! SPITZ GETS OFF" -- New York Post
"Eliot Spitzer gets off too easily" -- Kansas City Star
"Luv Gov Gets Off" -- NBC Bay Area
"Eliot Spitzer gets off free" -- Daylife
"Spitz' Criminal Charges Get Swallowed" -- TMZ
Next week's NY Mag has a long article about David Paterson (that's him, really close up, on the cover.) There are a lots of juicy tidbits in the piece: about his favorite Albany hangout, his dance moves, his dating life and why, as a kid, he hit another kid in the face with a lunchbox.
Here are some of the highlights:
In making his "I'm outta here" announcement, Joe Bruno reportedly said he's not looking to kick back and "play with horses." So what's his plan? According to the TU, Bruno is considering a job with CMA Consulting Services, a firm based in Latham.
So, what do they do? We poked around a bit to find out.
We've sifted, sorted and relentlessly refreshed Google News so you don't have to. It's like knowing what's up with the Joe Bruno story without even trying. Another round of bite-sized facts, bits of analysis, and quotes after the jump.
(Earlier on AOA: Speed reading the coverage of Joe Bruno)
updated 3:21 pm
We've read the Joe Bruno coverage, so you don't you have to. Many bite-sized facts, bits of analysis, and quotes after the jump.
So, when David Paterson had to go to the hospital earlier this week, we thought "Oh wow, if something happens to him, that means Joe Bruno is governor." But then we thought, "Wait, what if something then happens to Joe Bruno? Then what?"
So we asked Bennett Liebman, the Executive Director of Albany Law School's Center for Government and Law to set us straight. Here's how it works...
NY Mag has a story this week about how Eliot Spitzer let Darren Dopp, one of his former top aides, get thrown under the bus -- and then watch as the bus stopped, backed up, and ran over Dopp a few more times. Among the juicy details:
+ After agreeing to take the fall for "Troopergate" -- the plan to "get" Joe Bruno by leaking records of his state aircraft use -- Dopp learned about his suspension not from Spitzer or adminstration officials, but from blogs.
+ When Dopp told Spitzer that Bruno would be "torqued" if the records of his aircraft use were released, Spitzered reportedly told Dopp to "Shove it up [Bruno's] ass with a red-hot poker."
+ During his investigation of Troopergate, Albany County DA David Soares reportedly told Dopp that he'd met murderers with more honor than some of the people on Spitzer's staff.
+ Spitzer, who apparently is famously anti-therapy, is now seeing a therapist.
After watching our esteemed state legislature squabble and whine itself toward another year's budget, we couldn't help thinking that perhaps our leaders had forgotten some fundamental life lessons. You know, nothing especially profound -- just the kind of stuff that any five-year-old would know.
So, here are a few kindergarten lessons that legislators and other elected officials might want to review before their next ride on the budget merry-go-round:
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter reports that there's some talk within the Democrat Party that Hillary Clinton could drop out of the presidential race to become... Governor of New York:
In the event that Paterson had to resign, the New York State Constitution calls for a gubernatorial election this November. Clinton would be the favorite in that contest if she were interested. Were a politically wounded Paterson to serve out Spitzer's term, which ends in 2010, Clinton would no doubt be a strong potential candidate to succeed him.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Governor Hillary?
Sure, you could actually take the time to read -- or listen to (video link) -- David Paterson's speech from yesterday. But why read when you can scan? Here's the text of the speech broken down into the 75 words that appeared with the greatest frequency. Think of it a little like that refrigerator magnet poetry -- just arrange the words into some sort of plausible order to make it sound like you actually know what's going on. For example:
Co-worker: Hey, how about Paterson's speech?
You: Yeah. Wow. He really focused on working to serve people going forward... and, um, New York.
So, yes, there are limits. Use with care...
We're Spitzered out, so... on to the next guy! We've sifted through the growing mountain of David Paterson coverage to pick out the essential and the interesting. Among the details this time around: the unusual past of Paterson's top adviser, questions about conflicts of interest, lobbying by the Obama campaign, and hugs for Jimmy Tedisco.
Sure, the story of Eliot Spitzer spitzering himself is tragic, but no self-respecting journalist would just leave it at that. Simple "tragedy" is never enough... it has to be some kind of tragedy. And, of course, the two go-to categories for tragedy are Shakespearean and Greek.
Both have gotten a fair share of use this week. Maureen Dowd can always be counted on for a Shakespeare reference, but she wasn't alone. As for the Greek treatment, USA Today has helpfully compiled examples.
OK, but which is it? If you're going to take the time to sound like a cultural elite, you might as well be right. So we checked with an expert.
OK, here we go again. We've picked through piles of the coverage of Spitzer spitzering himself to pull out facts and details so you don't have to.
+ Yes, he really is legally blind. He lost his vision due to an infection in his childhood. One eye is totally blind and the other has 20/400 vision. He can see enough to read for short periods of time, though.
+ He comes from a politically-connected family in Harlem (though he grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island). His dad, Basile Paterson, was in the state senate and later became NY's Secretary of State. David held the same senate seat as his dad before becoming lieutenant governor.
+ He went to Columbia, and then Hofstra law -- but he never passed the bar. He ran out of time in his first and only attempt with someone reading the questions to him and then writing down his answers. (He later worked to change the rules to make the test more accommodating of people with visual impairments.) Paterson apparently intended to re-take the test, but he won a special election for state senate before it ever happened.
Four more after the jump, including where he picked up tips on how to deal with Joe Bruno...
Updated Wednesday at 11:59 AM
So, he's done. We've read through the piles of coverage about it so you don't have to... many new bite-sized facts and details from Wednesday's coverage after the jump.
Updated Tuesday at 4:04 PM
We've read through the piles of coverage so you don't have to... many bite-sized facts and details after the jump.
spitz · er
- To unexpectedly -- and spectacularly -- destroy your career in a single act so obviously wrong that having someone tell you "you should know better" would be blatantly redundant: Bob was on track to make regional manager until he spitzered himself
- An act as described in the logs of a federal investigation in which [REDACTED BECAUSE THIS IS A FAMILY WEBSITE]
The governor released his budget proposal today and the conversation around this kind of stuff tends to be a little, um, dense. Thankfully, Susan Arbetter has a "Budget to English" guide. Here's a clip:
"We will be cutting expected growth in health care spending"
"healthcare spending will increase, I just wanted to use the most circuitous way of saying it to confuse people who are only sort of paying attention".
Sure, you could actually read Eliot Spitzer's State of the State speech. But why read when you can scan? Here's the text of the speech broken down into the 75 words that appeared with the greatest frequency. Think of it a little like that refrigerator magnet poetry -- just arrange the words into some sort of plausible order to make it sound like you actually know what's going on. For example:
Co-worker: Hey, how about that State of the State?
You: Oh, yeah, Spitzer really talked a lot about health and education... and, um, New York.
OK, so there are limits. Use with care: