Items tagged with 'state legislature'
An extension of Albany's residential parking permit system is one of the issues circulating in the state legislature's end-of-session flurry.
A bill authorizing a two-year extension of the program passed in the state Assembly, where it was sponsored by Patricia Fahy and John McDonald, earlier this week by a 128-7 vote.
It's yet to come up for a vote in the state Senate, where it's sponsored by Neil Breslin. Evan Schneider, a senior aide to Breslin, told AOA today they anticipate it passing the chamber on one of the three remaining session days next week. He said it was typical for this sort of legislation to get left until the end of session.
It's been more than two years since a local campaign started to get "ride sharing" services such as Uber and Lyft to come to the Capital Region. And, as it turned out, a big obstacle to those services operating here and in other non-NYC parts of the state is the way New York's laws are configured.
But now the state legislature is on the verge of removing that obstacle. Probably. Maybe.
Here's the situation -- and a glimpse at one possible related future.
Some things around this area seem like permanent features: The Hudson River, the Helderberg Escarpment, Hugh Farley representing the Schenectady area in the state Senate.
The 83-year-old Farley was first elected to the state Senate in 1976 and has won re-election two years at a time ever since. But Tuesday he announced that he will not be running for re-election this fall. From his statement:
The love of my life, Sharon, my wife of 57 years, is now dealing with several health issues and it is my desire and responsibility to spend more time with her and my family.
I have loved my Senate career and feel I have served with honor and integrity. I accomplished more than I ever could have dreamed. ...
Service to individual citizens has always been of paramount importance to me. Over the years I have been able to assist thousands of individuals, families and businesses who have reached out to my office in a time of need. I have enjoyed making a real difference for real people.
I am grateful to my constituents who for 20 elections and 2 primaries have expressed their support and confidence in me and given me massive pluralities. I am grateful to the people on my staff who serve my constituents so well, and make me look good, day after day.
I am most grateful to my family for their sacrifices and support for me all these years.
Farley also cited many piece of legislation he was involved with, including his early support of hospice services and frequent support of library legislation.
Tuesday -- May 5 -- was the birthday of Nellie Bly, one of the most important and colorful figures in the history of American journalism.
In 1887 Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane, became famous for pulling off an audacious undercover story in which she got herself checked into a New York asylum for the mentally ill and reported on the conditions. She'd later stoke her fame by racing around the world in less than 80 days.
If Nellie Bly was around today -- even the actual 19th century Nellie Bly, transported in a time machine -- she'd probably have her own online media startup and would be killing the competition. Vice, Vox, Buzzfeed, bow down before the original queen.
One of Bly's articles for the New York World brought to her to Albany in 1888. And the story will have a familiar ring to it: she came here to buy some state legislators.
Here's the rundown of allegations made against Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, today by the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara.
If you've been following state politics over the last few years, all of it will sound sadly familiar.
Cue the Bharara corruption-in-state government soundbite: "By now, two things should be abundantly clear. First, public corruption is a deep-seated problem in New York State. It is a problem in both chambers; it is a problem on both sides of the aisle. And second, we are deadly serious about tackling that problem."
Cue the Skelos statement: "I am innocent of the charges leveled against me. I am not saying I am just not guilty, I am saying that I am innocent. I fully expect to be exonerated by a public jury trial."
The short story: The feds allege that Dean Skelos used his position in state government to set up, and sustain, a job and payments to his son in an arrangement involving a real estate developer and a company that made wastewater filtering tech.
The juiciest bits are in the complaint itself, including this section that must have had the federal investigators snorting with laughter:
On March 28, 2015, ADAM SKELOS placed an intercepted call to DEAN SKELOS (AS4.182), who relayed he was in Albany seeking to finalize the State budget. ADAM SKELOS complained that his father could not give him "real advice" concerning issues with the Environmental Technology Company because "you can't talk normally because its like fucking Preet Bharara is listening to every fucking phone call. It's just fucking frustrating." DEAN SKELOS replied, "It is."
Officials from the taxi-app company Lyft were in Albany recently to meet with city officials.
Matthew Peter, chief of staff for Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan, told us this week that representatives from Lyft had been in for a meeting "about two weeks ago." Peter described the meeting as a "very generic introduction" and said Lyft was currently in the process of introducing itself to cities. He said the Sheehan administration is looking into the topic and doesn't have a position on it.
"We're talking to cities across the state to see if there's a need for increasing safe and affordable transportation options," Lyft spokesperson Chelsea Wilson said to AOA this week when we asked about the meeting. "And we've heard that people want options like Lyft."
Lyft -- and competitors such as Uber -- have become key players in the taxi ride market in many cities around the country, all while pushing against what the companies say is outdated regulation and critics charge they're using unfair advantages.
In New York State it is against the law to allow a dog in a restaurant -- even (technically) on an outdoor patio. But a bill sponsored by Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) would open the door for dogs to legally be in outdoor eating areas.
The bill includes a bunch of qualifications for allowing dogs in these areas -- here are just a few:
A bill introduced in the state Assembly this week by Karl Brabenac (R-Warwick):
S 90. STATE SOIL. BLACK DIRT SHALL BE THE OFFICIAL SOIL OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND THE BLACK DIRT REGION LOCATED IN SOUTHERN ORANGE COUNTY SHALL BE THE OFFICIAL HOME OF THE MOST FERTILE SOIL IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK.
Can you really legislate that something is "the most fertile"?
"With other soils, you're lucky if you have 10 percent organic matter," said Maire Ullrich, an Orange County agricultural extension agent. "In the Black Dirt, we have 30 to 50 percent and sometimes up to 90 percent organic matter. It's basically a giant bowl of compost."
About 12,000 years ago, when glaciers receded from what is now lower New York State, they left behind pockets of low-lying bogland that built up deep layers of decayed plant matter. It wasn't until the early 1900s that German, Polish and Dutch immigrants to Orange County drained the bogs with a network of ditches, revealing a sulfur- and nitrogen-rich black soil that in some places is 30 feet deep. In summertime satellite photographs of lower New York State, it's visible as a smear of blacks and browns at the bottom edge of the emerald-green Catskills.
The soil is excellent for growing onions and potatoes -- and it apparently imparts interesting and strong flavors to the vegetables.
BUT HERE'S THE STUNNING TWIST YOU DIDN'T SEE COMING:
As you have no doubt heard incessantly today, Sheldon Silver -- the loooongtime speaker of the state Assembly, one of the most powerful politicians in New York -- was arrested by the feds today on corruption charges. Silver said Thursday afternoon that he's "confident that when all the answers are aired I will be vindicated." [State of Politics]
So what exactly are the feds accusing Silver of having done?
Here it is, broken down in a quick-scan format.
Huge state politics news: Sheldon Silver has been arrested by the feds on corruption charges -- he turned himself in to the FBI Thursday morning in New York City, according to the New York Times.
NYT first reported back in December that Silver was under investigation by the feds, and reported Wednesday night that the Speaker of the state Assembly would be arrested. From NYT:
The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.
The federal inquiry, led by the United States Attorney for the Southern District, focused on payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes.
While it is legal for lawmakers to hold outside jobs, investigators said Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings with the state.
In the past, Mr. Silver has been criticized for his outside law practice, a lucrative career that supplements the $121,000 he earns as speaker.
In 2013, Mr. Silver earned at least $650,000 in legal income, including work for the personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, according to his most recent financial disclosure filing.
But what he does to earn that income has long been a mystery in Albany, and Mr. Silver has refused to provide details about his work.
Silver's attorneys issued a statement Thursday morning: "We're disappointed that the prosecutors have chosen to proceed with these meritless criminal charges." [WSJ]
As recently as two weeks ago Silver, in typical Sheldon Silver fashion, calmly no-commented the news that he was under investigation. [NYDN]
Silver, who represents a section of lower Manhattan, has been speaker for just short of forever (well, 1994), the second longest tenure in New York history. He is one of "The Three Men in a Room" of state government. And he's demonstrated a remarkable ability during that time to ride out the waves and scandals (of which there have been many) in the legislature. Here's a NY Mag article from a few years back that looked at Silver's ability to persist.
More than 30 New York state legislators have faced ethical or criminal charges since 2000, according to list kept by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Some history: Over at State of Politics, Liz Benjamin looks at what happened the last time an Assembly speaker was arrested, in 1990.
photo: Nyer42 via Wikipedia
The Daily Show took up the state Senate's recent debate over yogurt becoming the official state snack of New York. (Really.) Or, as Jon Stewart described it: "This was maybe the best 40 minutes any legislative chamber anywhere in the country has ever spent."
Unfortunately, we're still at a loss as to whether frozen yogurt qualifies -- an important question given the impending summer weather. According to the Ranzerhofer Principle of Yogurt Inclusiveness, we think the answer is yes. But ultimately it could be a question for the courts.
Earlier on AOA: On state animals, vegetables and whatnot
As you know, this year's State of the State speech was Wednesday. There will be all sorts of coverage dissecting for the next few days. This isn't that. This is just a few quick-scan highlights.
And here they are...
+ The legislature passed 650 bills in both chambers. That's up a bit from last year, but it's not out of step with the long downward trend that's been going on since the average number peaked during the administration of Nelson Rockefeller -- during which an average of 1,356.20 were passed.
+ More than half of bills passed in the Senate did so with not a single nay vote. In the Assembly, 42 percent did so.
+ Almost half of all the bills passed by the Assembly were passed during the last week of the session. In the Senate, 36 percent were passed in the final week.
+ Andrew Cuomo got a lot of criticism for issuing "message of necessity" to speed along passage of the NY SAFE Act. He ended up using tactic on just two other bills during the session. That is a very low number compared to the annual average since 1995: 70.4 (and that includes just five during the previous session).
+ Teaming up: Three local legislators were among the leaders in the highest percentage of bills introduced with a same-as bill in the other chamber -- Pat Fahy (100%, 15 bills), Cecelia Tkaczyk (96%, 25 bills), Kathy Marchione (87.5%, 32 bills).
+ Neil Breslin led the legislature in the number of resolutions adopted: 304 -- 37 more than the next person.
+ In both chambers the top 10 rankings for members who voted "no" on bills are dominated by party members not in the majority -- except for one: state Senator Greg Ball, a Republican, who topped state Senate chart.
+ The leading vote misser: Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr, who missed 74 percent of all votes.
+ Votes recorded as absent/no vote taken by local legislators:
Senate: Marchione (5), Breslin (1), Farley (1), , Tkaczyk (0)
Assembly: Jordan (123), McLaughlin (55), McDonald (35), Santabarbara (10), Steck (2), Fahy (0), Lopez (0), Tedisco (0)
+ Senator Liz Krueger (D) was by far the leader in number of words spoken in floor debates in the chamber at 40,064 words -- 13,658 more than the next person, Tom Libbous (R). Libbous got most the laughs (according to the official record) -- 38.
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.
Democrat Cecelia Tkaczyk has won the election for state Senate 46th over Republican George Amedore (unofficially). More than two months after election day. After absentee ballot counts. After court challenges. After a counting of challenged ballots. By 19 votes (or so). [TU CapCon]
Tkacyzk had trailed Amedore by 35 votes, but she gained the advantage after 90 additional ballots were opened and counted in Ulster County Friday morning. [YNN] [Daily Freeman]
Said Tkaczyk in a statement: "It is an incredible privilege to have been selected by the people of the 46th District to serve as their State Senator. No one believed our campaign had a chance in a district hand-carved by Republicans, and yet the power of good ideas and a strong campaign proved itself."
Said Amedore to the Business Review after the count: "I just know one thing: This has got to stop. ... The election happened in November. It's mid-January. Let's get this behind us and just move on." [Biz Review]
The state Senate 46th covers a large chunk of western Albany County, and much of Schenectady County, Montgomery County, Greene County, and Ulster County (pdf map).
This result is notable for a few reasons:
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.
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]
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.
A large majority of New Yorkers support raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, according to the Siena poll out today. Of the people polled, support for the increase ran 78-17. The group registering the lowest support for the increase was Republicans -- and even among that group, 58 percent support it.
A few other interesting bits from today's poll:
+ One of Andrew Cuomo's strategies since becoming governor has appeared to be finding ways to allow the legislature to look good (while still doing what he wants it to do). It seems to be working: the number of people saying they have a "favorable" opinion of the Assembly and Senate are at "highest ever" levels* -- in the upper 40s.
+ The Occupy Wall Street movement registered its lowest favorability so far -- 38/52 favorable/unfavorable. The Tea Party's favorable/unfavorable: 38/58.
+ If the presidential election was now: Obama 57 | Romney 37.
+ The percent of people who said "don't know" or have "no opinion" of Kirsten Gillibrand is 25 percent -- the same as it was back in January 2011. We suspect this is roughly the same percentage of people who would feel open about admitting they don't follow politics or government at all. Chuck Schumer's don't know/no opinion: 9. See also: Chuck who?
+ KG still easily beats any of the potential Republicans in a hypothetical matchup for the US Senate.
+ The percent of people who agreed that New York State is on the "right track": 55 percent, a "highest ever" level.
* "Trends reflect questions asked at least twice since the first Siena College Poll in February 2005."
+ Require convicted animal abusers "undergo a psychiatric evaluation and treatment as warranted"
+ Place the names of people convicted under Buster's Law on a statewide registry
+ Prohibit anyone convicted under Buster's Law from owning a companion animal (ie, a pet), unless a psychiatric evaluation concludes "clearly and convincingly that such person is of sound mind and possess the capacity and ability to properly care for such animal"
Said Tedisco in a press release:
"Pet owners have a responsibility to raise animals in a safe, sanitary and humane environment and only take in animals they can reasonably care for. Animal hoarding is a sickness and anyone who would engage in this disturbing behavior may have a mental illness and needs to be treated before they harm more animals or hurt people. Animal hoarding also impacts neighborhoods by causing dirty and unsanitary conditions where disease and infestations can spread."
The proposed legislation sounds reasonable. There are always the details, though: who pays for the psych evaluations, would rescue orgs be required to check the registry before adopting out animals, and the prohibition against abusers owning pets would probably be difficult to enforce. But in this most recent cat hoarding case -- and many other cases -- it does sound like the people really do need some sort of psychiatric help.
photo: Jim Tedisco Facebook
A project called the "State Integrity Investigation" has released report cards for each state's "corruption risk." And, surprise (not really), New York State scored poorly.
The project is a collaboration between The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. The scores were determined by journalists in each state based on a set of 330 question (apparently not among the questions: "Are bills passed by sleep-deprived legislators in the middle of the night?). In New York, the journalist was the Gotham Gazette's David King.
New Jersey was the top-ranked state (87%, B+), Georgia was the lowest (49%, F).
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...
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...
The Daily Show takes on the state Senate's choice of issues to address.
And because we know you're hanging on every development in this state vegetable drama, contrary to that new report in the clip, only the Senate has voted in favor of corn. The grain (yes, not actually a vegetable) is backed by Republicans in the Democratic majority Assembly.
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.
Several hundred people rallied outside the state Capitol Tuesday afternoon for a last minute push for marriage equality. The rally included speeches by families, clergy, gay rights activists, union reps and legislators.
Jim Alesi, the first Republican in the state Senate to publicly declare he'd be voting for the Marriage Equality Act, was one of the first people to stand up and speak at the rally. "I'm a Republican," Alesi joked with the crowd. "I was born that way."
The Republican senator said he lost a lot of friends when he decided to vote in favor of marriage equality. "I think I have some new friends," he told the crowd, which cheered in response.
Alesi said that at one point he was anguishing over the vote, but not anymore. "Passing marriage equality is the most important thing I can do, I think, in my 20-year history as a legislator."
"My name begins with A," he told the crowd, noting he's the first Republican called during votes in the Senate. "I am proud to be a Republican. And I will also be proud to be the first Republican to vote for marriage equality in this state."
After the jump, a look at the rest of the rally...
Roy McDonald's now-famous line about his switch on same-sex marriage -- "Well, f--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing." -- has made him a small-scale viral star online.
On Buzzfeed, a site that "tracks the web's obsessions in real time," the post about McDonald's line has racked up more than 82,000 likes on Facebook. (It also earned him the "badass" and "win" badges.) Searches on Google for "Roy McDonald" shot up to a level almost 20 times the average rate after his comments started spreading (that's relative, of course, we doubt there was mass googling of him before this). And, in a sentence we never thought we'd type, there was a story about Roy McDonald on TMZ (11k FB likes).
Comments praising McDonald's switch have been showing up on his Facebook page's wall at a healthy clip. His page is promoting his position on the issue, with a profile pic that says he's "standing up for your equal rights." He also a "Stand with Roy" petition. And he's asking for campaign contributions ("a little bit will go a long way towards silencing the critics").
Also: The column by the Post-Star editor Ken Tingley about McDonald's switch is worth reading.
New York Now has edited together a handful of clips from speeches in the Assembly yesterday ahead of the vote on the Marriage Equality Act. Some of the speeches are passionate and thoughtful.
How local Assembly members voted yesterday:
Yes: Canestrari, McEneny, Reilly
No: Amedore, Jordan, Tedisco, McLaughlin
Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders are expected to officially announce a collection ethics reforms today. In a late Friday press conference about the deal, Cuomo called the proposals "tough and aggressive."
Advocates of legislative ethics reform can take pride in being part of a long tradition. Nothing is new under the sun -- and even less is new in the New York State legislature.
This electronic billboard message is now showing along I-787, just north of the Central Warehouse. Bombers owner Matt Baumgartner bought the billboard to reach one person: state Senator Roy McDonald. The Republican, who represents Rensselaer County and much of Saratoga County, is publicly "undecided" on legalizing same-sex marriage.
We emailed with Matt, who's gay and has been an outspoken proponent of marriage equality, this afternoon about why he chose a billboard to reach McDonald.
Michael DenDekker, a state Assemblyman from Queens, has introduced legislation that would require registration and license plates for personal bicycles (he's also introduced a separate bill for commercial bicycles that would require insurance coverage).
Registration would cost $25 for the first year, and $5 each year after.
Gothamist talked with DenDekker about the bills yesterday. From the interview:
I had various constituents contact me concerning bicyclists in the Woodside/Jackson Heights area that don't obey the traffic rules, that are driving down streets the wrong way, driving on sidewalks and actually being very reckless. And their concern is that when they do this there is no way to report them because there is no way to identify the bicyclists, per se, so that has been the reason for it. It's just natural now that we're investing so many resources into making this the new mode of transportation, which I'm all for, we're just going to need to regulate and register the bicycles so we know who everybody is who is sharing the road with us.
(Don't miss his thoughts on cameras for bike lanes.)
Under the "justification" section of DenDekker's bill, the Assemblyman argues that bike usage on streets has risen steeply (citing stats from two decades ago), and "... it is essential that the state of New York be able to identify the bicycle riders. The issuance of license plates will ensure personal protection for cases such as bicycle theft or bicycle accidents, to name a few."
A few municipalities around the country have tried mandatory bike registration laws -- with what appears to be limited success. Long Beach, California recently dropped its longstanding law, in part because of criticism after a bunch of cyclists were ticketed last fall during a critical mass ride.
Snarked Jim Tedisco today on his blog:
In the annals of bad bills, here's a real winner: a new bill from Assemblyman Michael DenDekker requiring license plates for bicycles. Really?!!!? Are 10 year-olds now going to have to stand in line at the DMV to get a license plate for their bike? If you have training wheels on your bike do you have to have a learner's permit? What's next: targeting big wheels, tricycles and skate boards?
DenDekker's bills have been referred to committee. We're guessing they'll be parked there for some time, perhaps permanently.
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...
The Siena poll out today reports that Andrew Cuomo's favorability is at 70 percent -- it's highest point since June 2009. And when respondents were asked who they trusted to do the right thing -- Cuomo or the legislature -- the governor was picked 68-17.
Also possibly of interest: 50 percent or more of respondents in every ideological group had Cuomo pegged as "moderate."
The poll also asked people about race relations in New York State: "As we look to next week's commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, how would you describe the state of race relations in New York State? Would you say they are excellent, good, fair, or poor?"
Overall, 55 percent respondents said race relations were excellent or good. 43 percent said they were fair or poor.
Among white respondents the split was 60/40. Among African-Americans it was 36/63.
Much like a drunk and caffeinated college student, Four Loko is the story that just won't quit. State assemblyman Felix Ortiz arranged with the NBC affiliate in NYC to record him while he drank 2.5 cans of Four Loko.
The assemblyman was also monitored by a doctor. At 60 minutes into the experience, the station noted "we have to stop filming as Ortiz begins vomiting." (Also, the restorative powers of pizza are mentioned.)
Despite his (impressive? daring? bizarre?) performance in this case, Ortiz's legislative resume reads a bit like Assemblyman Buzzkill. He's sponsored legislation that includes the infamous "no salt for restaurant meals" bill, a requirement for skiers to wear helmets and a bill that would added a $10 surcharge to "sexually oriented businesses."
Earlier on AOA: We also tried Four Loko, though not to the same degree as the assemblyman
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]
Carl Paladino beat Rick Lazio in the Republican primary for governor -- and it wasn't even close. He was ahead by a 2-1 margin when the AP called the race last night. [AP] [NYDN]
Embedded above is a clip from Paladino's post-primary speech, posted by State of Politics (here's part two). Here's transcript clip:
They say I'm too blunt. Well I am, and I don't apologize for it.
They say I'm an angry man. And that's true! We're all angry - not just because we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We're angry about paying the highest income taxes and property taxes in the nation and getting less and less for it. We're angry about our incompetent, dysfunctional government that pays no attention to the desires of the people. We're angry about the cesspool of corruption and conflicts of interest and self-dealing that's the Albany of today.
But here's what my critics, what they don't quite understand: I know there is a way to bring opportunity and economic growth back to new york state. And you're coming with me and we're going to do it. And I believe we can.
We're New Yorkers and we're Americans - we can do anything we set our minds to. Those who say that New York's brightest days are behind us - those who say our our state is so broken it can't be fixed - those that say nothing can be done to rebuild New York - they're dead wrong!
You see, I believe our brightest days are ahead of us.
A Siena poll from mid-August had Paladino trailing Andrew Cuomo by a wide margin in a hypothetical general election match-up for governor. That poll also reported that Lazio was leading Paladino for the nomination.
Earlier on AOA: Who is Carl Paladino?
Other notable primary results
+ Former Congressman Joe DioGuardi won the Republican primary for US Senate and will face Kirsten Gillibrand. Jay Townsend won the other Republican primary for US Senate and will face Chuck Schumer. [NYT] [AP]
+ Incumbent Neil Breslin fought off a challenge from Luke Martland in the Democratic primary for the 46th state Senate seat (the district that covers Albany County). He'll face Republican Bob Domenici, and Michael Carey -- who's running on an independent line. [TU] [TU Local Politics]
+ State senate majority leader Pedro Espada was defeated by Gustavo Rivera in the Democratic primary for the 33rd state Senate seat (the Bronx). Rivera is a former Kirsten Gillibrand staffer. Though, as one voter told NYT: "The best thing about him is that his last name isn't Espada." [NYDN] [NYT]
After the Daily News mentioned that the state Senate Democratic campaign committee spent $26,000 in Albany restaurants over six months, we were curious about where these politicians were eating.
So we looked it up in the campaign finance disclosure reports. The lists -- for the campaign committees for both parties and chambers -- are after the jump.
Not every street within the proposed area would be subject to residential parking permits
Via Bob Conner comes word that a bill allowing residential parking permits near the Empire State Plaza is moving through the legislature again.
Among the bill's provisions:
+ The City of Albany would be allowed to "pilot a residential parking permit system with a two year sunset" within a 3/4 mile radius of the ESP.
+ No more than 2,750 spaces would be allowed in the permitted area.
+ Permit parking would not be allowed on streets where adjacent properties are zoned "commercial, office [and]/or retail use."
(The full text of the bill's provisions is after the jump.)
One possible hitch:
the Assembly version of the bill differs from the Senate version in the size of the allowed area for permits -- 3/4 mile vs. 1 mile. Bob reports that CSEA dropped its opposition to the bill because of the reduced radius. Update: Albany common councilman Richard Conti stopped by in the comments to note the Senate bill is identical to the Assembly bill and includes the 3/4 mile radius (it appears the Open Senate entry for the bill hasn't been completely updated, yet).
Jerry Jennings told AOA last October that he wants permit parking -- and would pursue it if the legislature allowed it.
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.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced this afternoon it's opening all of the state parks -- including Thacher and the other parks that had been closed -- for this weekend. From the release:
[Commissioner Carol] Ash said staff will immediately reopen gates to parking lots and unlock the facilities to make them available for normal day-use activities, including picnicking, hiking, cycling and fishing. Other amenities will become available over the next few days as workers who have been reassigned return to their regular work sites and normal levels of seasonal park workers and lifeguards are hired.
WNYT reported earlier this afternoon that the closed signs at Thacher Park are already down and the grass is being mowed.
Just this afternoon (in fact, just within the last hour), the state Senate voted 32-27 in favor of a bill that provides funding for the parks (the Assembly passed a similar bill last night). [State of Politics]
Update: Senate minority leader Dean Skelos criticized the measure as "a classic bait and switch scam that promises open parks and delivers a mess of millions of dollars in new taxes and fees on businesses and reduces environmental protection funds." [Skelos statement]
photo: Kathie Dello
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.
New York Now has posted a condensed version of today's public state leaders meeting about the budget. (You might say it's a package of "highlights," but somehow that word doesn't seem appropriate for New York State politics.)
The meeting kind of reminded us of a really uncomfortable family dinner where a few of the people argue over some longstanding grudge while everyone else stares at their plates and contemplates the mashed potatoes.
Oh, and David Paterson would like Scottie to beam him up.
It should all be good material for Ira Glass.
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
From the "who ever thought we might need a law for that" file: a state senator from Central New York has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to possess "embalming fluid with either the intent to use such embalming fluid or knowledge that some other person intends to use such embalming fluid for purposes of human ingestion or inhalation."
Yep, that would by people who are not dead.
Rob sent along a handful of photos from the bit anti-furlough rally at the Capitol today. The giant inflatable rat made an appearance.
The Troy Record reports there were estimated to be about 3,500 in the crowd. Kaitlyn Ross reports Jack McEneny told the crowd that Assembly is trying to take the furlough measure out of the emergency budget extender. But Erin Billups reports that Ron Canestrari says that's not legally possible.
photo: 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.
David Paterson announced that he will include furloughs for state workers in the next emergency budget extender. From the release:
"I have repeatedly called upon the State public employee unions to work with me to achieve critical workforce savings. Because unions have not accepted any proposals to achieve necessary savings, I am left with no other choice but to move forward with this plan. I do not take this action lightly, but it is necessary given the unions' unwillingness to make any sacrifices and I will do whatever is necessary to protect New York's finances."
The Paterson admin says agency heads will be given the discretion to schedule "one furlough day for each of their employees during the week of May 17." Positions in "essential" fields such as health and safety won't be included. Management/confidential employees also won't be subject to the furlough because their annual raises were canceled.
The furloughs are being framed as a cost-saving measure by the administration, but it's likely Paterson is using them to squeeze the legislature. By tacking the furloughs on to the budget extender, he's forcing the legislature to pick between the furloughs (which will irk the powerful state worker unions extraordinarily) and shutting the down government. Or, of course, there's option three: passing a budget.
Paterson is also floating an early retirement incentive. Details 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
A bill that would legalize medical marijuana in New York State made it out of another state Senate committee yesterday (Neil Breslin was among the "ayes").
Earlier this week a Siena poll reported that 50 percent of respondents said they "support" legalizing the use of medical marijuana in New York State. In a Q poll of New Yorkers last month, 71 percent of respondents said it was a "good idea" to allow adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.
Thomas Duane, the sponsor of the state Senate version of the bill, told NYDN that medical marijuana is "the right thing to do" -- and the state could generate about $15 million in licensing fees. Medical marijuana is listed as a revenue item in the budget resolution the Senate passed (on a party line vote) this week.
The bill does not propose outright legalization of pot. We did some hazy math last year that suggested doing so could generate something like $230 million for the state in revenue.
Fifteen states currently allow medical marijuana in some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
photo: Flickr user Caveman 92223
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.
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.
The Quinnipiac Poll out today reports that 71 percent of New York voters favor the legalization of medical marijuana. The poll reported strong support across pretty much every demographic group -- Republicans supported it the least, at 55-41.
Also from the Q Poll: New Yorker voters oppose the proposed tax on sugared sodas 57-40 (the poll described this measure as a "fat tax" or "obesity tax"). That makes sense -- after smoking all that pot for, you know, medicinal purposes, you have to wash down the cheesy poofs with something. (We joke -- but there is evidence that compounds in marijuana have therapeutic value.)
The poll did not ask people about outright legalization of pot. We did some hazy math last year that suggested doing so could generate something like $230 million for the state in revenue.
As it happens, there's already a bill in the legislature that would legalize medical marijuana. Fifteen states currently allow medical marijuana in some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Earlier on AOA: MMA legalization smacked in poll
photo: Flickr user Caveman 92223
Schenectady man accused of torturing dogs, soda tax falling flat, proposal for prayer before common council meetings, family raises $1 million for research
A Schenectady man has been charged with felony animal cruelty after police say he killed two dogs and burned another. Thomas Hendricks is also accused of assaulting his wife -- and police say the alleged violence against the dogs was the an attempt to hurt his wife. Hendricks has denied the allegations. [WTEN] [TU] [Fox23] [CapNews9]
During his state of the city speech last night Saratoga Springs mayor Scott Johnson criticized the "dysfunctional" state legislature for stripping the city of $4 million in VLT money. He said the city would fight new plans to keep the racino open 24/7. Johnson also said that paid parking downtown would start in May. And floated the idea of sharing services with surrounding municipalities. [CapNews9] [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Saratogian]
The woman who died after apparently jumping from the Berkshire Spur overpass on the Hudson this week was an Albany High School teacher. The interim Albany schools superintendent says the woman was "an excellent teacher." She had been teaching math in the district since 1984. [Troy Record] [TU] [WNYT]
Suspended Schenectady cop arrested again, Cuomo to declare in March?, man arrested for 65th time, local pilot flies supply missions to Haiti
Suspended Schenectady police officer John Lewis has been arrested. Again. It's his sixth arrest in the last two years. In this most recent case, he's accused of causing a car accident in the Ellis Hospital parking lot after he allegedly left the emergency department drunk. The SPD first tried to fire Lewis in 1998 for allegedly using a racial slur. The department's waiting for a decision on its most recent attempt to terminate him. [WNYT] [Daily Gazette $] [TU] [Fox23] [CBS6]
A "source close to [Andrew] Cuomo" tells the Daily News that Andrew Cuomo will officially announce he's running for governor in March. David Paterson's campaign manager says "it's clear Mr. Cuomo is running for governor." [NYDN] [NYDN]
David Paterson is apparently going to try again to get the state worker unions to give up their raises this year. [TU]
Colonie assemblyman -- and outspoken MMA critic -- Bob Reilly says he's willing to support a compromise bill that would legalize ultimate fighting in the state if certain restrictions were placed on the sport. [TU]
Police say home invasions linked to drugs and gambling, Cuomo could wait until April, a familiar robbery attempt
The Albany Police Department said yesterday that the shooting of two men in a Pine Hills apartment last week appears to be connected to sales of pot. The APD said there have been 23 reported "home invasions" in the city over the last year and "illegal activity such as drug sales or gambling." [APD]
The Schenectady County DA is backing efforts to keep emails related to the Steven Raucci case from being made public. [Daily Gazette $]
Both houses of the state legislature passed a package of ethics reforms -- and shortly thereafter, David Paterson vowed to veto the bill. The governor says the package doesn't go far enough. [NYT] [Daily Politics] [TU]
Chilly reaction to Paterson budget, shooting near school in Troy, mop protests at Bruno fundraiser, prof accused of growing pot
David Paterson's proposed budget doesn't seem to have gone over well with state legislators, some of whom are already vowing to make significant changes the proposed cuts in education and health care spending. Local elected officials also seemed cool to the budget plan. School district officials also weren't happy. Andrew Cuomo: good start, let's see it actually happen. And the conservative-leaning Empire Center said Paterson's budget didn't cut enough. One person who did seem enthusiastic: SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher (the Paterson plan would give SUNY more control over its tuition rates). [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Daily Politics] [Post-Star] [CapNews9]
The state legislature didn't vote yesterday on a plan to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The legislature had been bouncing the plan around because of a deadline yesterday afternoon to file for federal education money. [TU] [NYT]
Troy police say a man was shot in the back yesterday afternoon in North Central, just a block from a school. (map). A witness said he saw two men run from the scene and drive off. [TU] [CapNews9] [Troy Record]
The woman who was driving over the Dunn Memorial Bridge in 2005 when a section dropped two feet has settled with the state Department of Transportation for more than $100k, according to her attorney. The lawyer says her client has suffered from PTSD because of the experience. [TU] [Fox23]
Paterson to propose budget today, questions about APD chief salary, protest planned for Bruno fundraiser, the "conscious" candy machine
David Paterson is scheduled to release his 2010-2011 budget proposal today.
Last night's special session of the legislature didn't include action on the proposal to increase the state's cap on the number of charter schools (though senators did find time to squabble over parliamentary procedure). The state has until 4:30 today to file its application for $700 million in federal funding -- and removal of the charter school cap is seen as a key part of that application. [AP/Post-Star] [TU] [Fox23] [TU]
As Albany searches for a new police chief, the question has come up: does the job pay enough? [TU]
Two men shot in Pine Hills, legislators propose new ethics oversight, alleged horse slasher pleads guilty, struck Saratoga pedestrians ticketed
Albany police say two men were shot on Ontario Street near St. Rose yesterday evening (map). They say how the shooting went down was unclear. The two men's injuries were not considered life threatening. St. Rose security said the campus was locked down temporarily while police searched for suspects. [CBS6] [TU] [CapNews9] [ASP]
The Troy police overtime was almost double the amount budgeted for last year. The city's highest paid employee last year was a police sergeant who made $140,738.10 -- almost half of that overtime. [Troy Record] [TU]
State legislative leaders introduced a package of ethics reforms that would create new watchdogs for the legislature, the executive branch and lobbyists. David Paterson said the plan isn't enough because it doesn't require legislators to disclose their outside business clients. A "top aide" said the governor won't sign the bill in its current form. [TU] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
Documents filed by Andrew Cuomo's office in state supreme court allege that Pedro Espada may have violated tax, election, labor law -- and committed fraud, too -- as head of a Bronx health care group. Espada called the investigation by the AG a "witch hunt driven by his political ambitions." [NYT] [TU]
Legislature is back, concern for natural childbirth program, possible challenger for Tedisco or Farley, Luna found
The legislature is back in session today. Among the topics that may -- or may not -- come up: lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, which would open the way for $700 million in federal education aid. [CapNews9] [TU]
The bankruptcy attorney for Sandy Horowitz says the Troy landlord intends to keep all his buildings in the city. Horowitz owes the city more than $600k in taxes on his properties, which include the Cannon Building. [TU]
The St. Peter's/Northeast Health/Seton Health merger has prompted questions about the future of Seton's natural childbirth program. [TU]
The Loudonville rabbi accused of inappropriately touching two boys has pleaded guilty to child endangerment. He admitted to a judge that he had inappropriate physical contact with the boys and told one of them to lie about the incident. As part of the plea deal, he could get 60 days in jail and three years of probation. [TU] [CapNews9] [WTEN]
Delmar house burns to ground after explosions, DA says city worker chased down alleged mugger, gun buyback out of money, mansion a bargain?
An explosion badly burned a teenager in Delmar and burned his house to the ground on Saturday (map). Firefighters say they heard two explosions after arriving at the scene. Neighbors say they could feel the explosions. Bethlehem police say they're investigating the possibility that rocket fuel was involved in the explosion. The teen was taken to a burn unit in Westchester County -- an EMT says the teen lost a hand in the explosion. A web site has been set up to help organize aid for the family. [TU] [Fox23] [Troy Record] [WNYT] [TU] [CapNews9] [CBS6]
David Paterson says New York would be "punished" under the health care reform bill moving through Congress. [Daily Politics]
The jurors in the Joe Bruno trial say the experience convinced them that the state needs stronger ethics laws. [TU]
Saratoga Springs' outgoing public safety commissioner is calling for the city attorney to resign after the attorney allegedly threw a folder full of resignation notices at the head of the public works commissioner. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]
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...
Day six in Bruno trial, marriage equality vote protest, details in Colonie soldier's death, residents weigh in on APD chief, Albany in-flight
Day six of deliberations is underway in the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Yesterday jurors heard a three hour read-back of testimony from former Senate attorney and current judge Francis T. Collins. Collins testified early in November that he had sparse information on Bruno's outside business dealings when he was asked to give an ethical opinion about them. The jury has reached a verdict on two counts, but is still considering six counts. Bruno was optimistic enough about his own situation yesterday to comment on someone else's problems. [TU] [News9]
About 150 people showed up last night to protest the senates vote against gay marriage. Eight Democrats joined all the Senate Republicans in voting against the Marriage Equality Act this week. Governor Paterson is a strong proponent of marriage equality, but there's some question as to how involved he was in lobbying Senators to pass the act. Paterson's sagging popularity may be the reason same-sex marriage advocates did not seek his support for a final push. [AOA] [NYT]
The debate over how to close the NYS budget gap continues. Governor Paterson claims the legislature's efforts to close the gap this week don't go far enough. Paterson continues to claim he'll cut spending further, saying "I'm going to do it even without their permission, and if they want to take me to court, they can sue me, but I will not let this state run out of money on my watch." [WXXI via DailyPolitics]
Former State comptroller Alan Hevesi may have accepted bribes from a California investment banker who pleaded guilty in Andrew Cuomo's Pension Fraud investigation. Hevesi is believed to have taken 75 thousand dollars in luxury vacations for himself and his family while he was in office. Also named in the investment banker's confession -- former "Mod Squad" actress Peggy Lipton. [NYP]
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...
Paterson proposes unilateral authority cut budget, Troy residents irked by parking ticket sweep, reward grows for info about duct-taped dog
David Paterson introduced his own deficit reduction bill yesterday -- and said during a webcast that if the legislature wouldn't make cuts, they should give him the temporary authority to do it unilaterally. That second proposal didn't go over well with the legislature. One assemblyman said, "What's next, martial law?" And others, including Neil Breslin, questioned the constitutionality of the arrangement (though apparently some think it might fly). Ron Canestrari praised Paterson's attempt to move the budget ball. Paterson's speech did appear to make some progress -- in further uniting the state Senate against him. The legislature won't be back in session until next week. [NYO] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [NYT] [Daily Politics] [NYO] [TU] [AP/Troy Record] [Daily Politics] [Fox23]
One thing that was apparent from testimony in the Bruno trial: his second office was the golf course. [NYT]
Legislature back for another try at budget fix, demand up at food banks, local venture capitalists criticized for not taking enough risks, the weekend in crime
The state legislature is scheduled to be back in town today for another special budget session. David Paterson continued to sound the alarm about the budget gap, warning of "furloughs, layoffs, borrowing, downgraded credit ratings" and a range of delayed payments (including to state workers). He also has continued to blame the legislature -- especially the state Senate -- being in "denial" about the problem. It seems the legislature's not a huge fan of him, either. [CapNews9] [Daily Politics] [NYDN] [NY Post]
Summations in the Joe Bruno trial are expected to start today. On Friday, Jared Abbruzzese, a longtime Bruno friend and business associate, testified that he had hired Bruno has a consultant for the senator's contacts and "aura." He said the $80k he paid Bruno for a horse was payment to settle a "a moral obligation" for canceled consulting contracts. And Abbruzzese also said Bruno introduced him to Donald Trump, who -- in Abbruzzese's words -- "walked over me." Even though Abbruzzese was the prosecution's last witness, he may have been most helpful to the defense. It was also announced on Friday that Bruno will not be testifying in his own defense. [TU] [TU] [Fox23] [NYDN] [NYT] [TU] [Troy Record]
Kirsten Gillibrand has been calling state senators in an effort to get "yes" votes for the same-sex marriage bill. [Daily Politics]
Legislature goes home with no budget deal, state worker buyout extended, all sorts of rumors about Rudy, student accused of lighting firecrackers in school cafeteria
The state legislature has gone home -- and there's no deal to fix the budget gap. David Paterson said he and the state Senate are still stuck on proposed cuts for health care and education funding. Some senators are floating a plan that would "spin up" money for this year's budget, which is apparently just another way of saying borrowing from next year's budget. It looks like the legislature will be back on Monday. [NYO] [TU] [Daily Politics] [Susan Arbetter] [NYO]
The Paterson Administration is extending the $20,000 state worker buyout. [TU]
Joe Bruno Trial: A Senate aide testified yesterday that Bruno allocated "member items" (you know, pork) to other senators based on political considerations (this was apparently something akin to actually acknowledging the elephant in the room). NYT has strung together bits of info from the trial that it argues provide "vivid and sometimes captivating detail how easily official duties and private business can overlap for lawmakers in Albany." [TU] [NYT]
One side effect of the Bruno trial: the Senate is apparently now short on computers. [NYO]
The Albany Convention Center Authority released plans and renderings for the facility this morning. [TU]
Movement at the Capitol, executives said they didn't know why they were paying Bruno, woman charged for not getting treatment for her dog, school district denies Whalen's appeal
There was movement on legislation at the Capitol yesterday -- just not on the deficit reduction plan. The Assembly passed -- and the Senate apparently is about to -- a bill that reforms the hundreds of quasi-independent state authorities (such as the Thruway Authority). Richard Brodsky, the assemblyman behind the bill, says the authorities have been "rogue institutions" that resembled "Soviet-style bureaucracies" and called the the bill "the most fundamental reform of Albany in decades." [TU] [NYT] [NYO] [NYDN]
And in a display that the Capitol can move quickly, the Senate passed and David Paterson signed a bill called "Leandra's Law" yesterday (the Assembly passed it on Tuesday) that makes it a felony drive drunk with a child in the car. The law also requires that anyone convicted of DWI to have an interlock device installed in their car. The new rules have been described as the toughest DWI law in the country. [NYT] [CNN] [CapNews9] [Wikipedia] [CBS News]
Not present for the last two days of the special session: Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr, who says he's been in the Bronx distributing turkeys. [NYO]
Joe Bruno Trial Day 12: Prosecutors focused on hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees that a series of telecommunications companies paid Bruno -- even though executives for those companies apparently didn't know why they were paying the senator. It also came to light that Bruno helped steer $500k in state grants to a Troy firm connected to two longtime friends/associates, one of whom apparently had a deal with the company to get paid stock in return for helping to score the money (he says Bruno's consulting wasn't connected to the money). A former attorney for the state Senate also testified that he had a "CYA" file to keep notes of his dealings with Bruno regarding ethics issues. And Judge Gary Sharpe scold of the day: "Let the record show the witness made a disgusted glance." [NYT] [NYDN] [TU] [Troy Record] [TU] [Fox23]
Legislature back today, Tonko and Murphy split on health care vote, the weekend in stabbings, police chase half-naked suspect through Watervliet
The legislature is back this week for at least a few days. Today's schedule includes a joint session this afternoon in which David Paterson will speak about the state budget gap (whatever size it may be). A special session is schedule tomorrow to take up measures to address the gap -- and, maybe for the state Senate to vote on the same-sex marriage bill. [Fox23] [TU] [NYDN] [Daily Politics]
The two local House members split on the health care reform vote his past weekend. Paul Tonko voted "yes" -- in a statement he said the bill will provide coverage to 22,000 people in his district. Scott Murphy voted "no" -- in a statement, he said the bill didn't do enough to curb costs. Murphy was one of 39 Democrats to vote against the bill -- and one of three from New York. [TU] [Paul Tonko] [Scott Murphy] [NYT] [Daily Politics]
The Army has called the death of Colonie solider Amy Seyboth Tirador "a non-combat related incident" in Iraq. But her family says the staff sergeant was shot in the back of the head -- though beyond that, they say the military hasn't given them any more details. [Fort Lewis press release] [CBS6] [Fox23]
Week two of the Joe Bruno trial begins today. On a Friday Leonard Fassler, a longtime associate of Bruno, testified that the senator set up meetings with government officials, including then-Governor Pataki, for companies which were paying him consulting fees. Fassler said the consulting fees were paid to Bruno because he helped Fassler become a "better executive." [CBS6] [TU] [Troy Record]