By Alec Hamilton
Saying “we welcome immigration.” Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order today mandating that state documents be translated into six languages – Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Creole, in an effort to expand communication to New York’s immigrant communities. The executive order directs twenty-seven state agencies which provide direct services to the public to provide free interpretation of official forms and translation services.
The Buffalo News quotes Conservative Party chairman Michael Long as saying “by doing this, we continue ... the idea that people don't have to learn our language,"
"Why aren't we sending a clear message that it's important to learn English as fast as possible. ... Why does the state or federal government have to do everything for everyone all the time?"
The governor said some of the cost for the program, which could help reach some 2.5 million New Yorkers with limited English, will be paid for by the federal government. The program is due to be phased in slowly over the next year.
Nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis has won the Democratic nomination to New Jersey's 8th Senate district. But wrangling continues over his status as a NJ citizen - Republicans filed a complaint in April, alleging that Lewis is not a resident of the state. The track and field star voted in California in 2009, and they point to four-year state residency requirements.
-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner.
The contentious SUNY budget battle is about to get a lot more messy. The New York State Commission on Public Integrity has found reasonable cause to believe that SUNY paid Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Brunos daughter for a $70,000-a-year job for which she rarely came in, and was not qualified. The Commission on Public Integrity has served a Notice of Reasonable Cause of ethics violations against John J. OConnor, President of the Research Foundation of SUNY in the employment of Susan Bruno as Assistant director in the foundations Federal Relations Unit.
Earlier this month Governor Cuomo had approved allowing the four flagship SUNY campuses to set their own tuition increases, subject to legislative approval. The university system has long fought for the right to set their own tuition rates, and their partial success followed an announcement by the governor of $140 million in grants for the SUNY research campuses for expansion.
Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is throwing his support behind Jane Corwin in the race for New York's 26th Congressional District. The Buffalo businessman issued a fiery letter to media outlets today (it's dated Wednesday Morning!) charging the current Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, with "lying" based on the his supposed endorsement of Barack Obama and, "radical liberal policies like partial birth abortion."
Paladino supports Jane Corwin, another member of the upstate business community, who's family is behind The Talking Phonebook, a company that's credited with bringing more jobs to Western New York.
Corwin does hold a small lead over the competition in the latest Siena poll, with 36 percent of voters supporting her compared to the 31 percent supporting Democrat Kathy Hochul. Jack Davis, who is on the independent and the Tea Party line, has the support of 23 percent of voters. The poll, conducted April 26 -27, includes responses from 484 likely voters with a margin of error of 4.5%. The election is May 24.
Check out the full letter, replete with italics and boldtype here.
Getting a two percent property tax cap passed by the legislature is a major goal for Gov. Cuomo as he settles into the statehouse. He campaigned on it and is pushing the cap once again, this time in a video message. The script aims to shame unnamed legislative leaders. "Many politicians are against the tax cap because it limits their power," Cuomo says, adding that the political establishment is fiercely lobbying against it.
Cuomo says the tax cap is on the side of the taxpayer (but he means property-owner) who have seen property taxes rise 73 percent in the last decade. Critics of the tax say that it will harm school districts and localities who depend on the funds to provide services.
If the taxpayers want to pay more taxes they can, and they can override the cap with a 60% vote. But the cap will put the odds in favor of the taxpayer and they deserve it, because the deck has been stacked against the taxpayers for too long.
The Kentucky Derby, which has its major showdown at Churchill Downs on Saturday, is the prime opportunity for us all to step into the role of Southern gentry for an afternoon. Here's our Top 5 list of cocktails that will make you feel like the mannered class we know you are.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he'd like to get gay marriage passed in the Albany Statehouse by June. He says he's less concerned with when, exactly, and more concerned about 'whether.'
Here's a Capital Tonight video of the presser:
Thirty-eight registered voters from 21 counties all over New Jersey are suing over a legislative district map approved earlier this month, saying it is in violation of the state and federal constitutions, according to a Tea Party press release today.
The plaintiffs, along with the Bayshore Tea Party group, have filed a civil suit against the Democrats on the state's Apportionment Commission, "the 11th Member, Alan Rosenthal, Kim Guadagno, in her official capacity as Secretary of State of New Jersey, Paula Dow, Attorney General and Robert F. Giles, Director of the Division of Elections of the State of New Jersey, in Superior Court, Chancery Division, Ocean County."
The suit alleges that the commission over-packed the southern half of the state and "illegally split Newark and Jersey City from three districts each to two."
New Jersey's redistricting process is especially contentious - as New Jersey is in an election year, and the a primary is slated to be held in June.
Albany's political correspondents have sent out invites to their annual variety show, which lampoons Albany politicians. Our own Karen DeWitt gets double billing as controversial former Schools Commissioner Cathie Black and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the May 8th show, which is titled "A Fistful of Cuomos."
If you're looking for a preview, DeWitt says: "We can't release lyrics until the show, or that would spoil the fun."
The LCA Show, at 111 years, is the longest running show of it's kind in the nation.
It's been around since 1900, "before people had movies, radio or, of course television," DeWitt says. "Back then, people had to make their own fun." Apparently, they still do.
Confirmed rebuttal speakers are Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and what DeWitt is calling "Klavinoluccilesky"- the Senate Independent Democrats- Senators- Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci. She says Governor Cuomo is invited, but not yet confirmed, but most Governors also deliver some kind of rebuttal. We can't wait to see the pictures.
Nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis has encountered some pushback to his early plans to run for New Jersey Senate in the state's Eighth Districts. Republicans filed a complaint late last week, alleging that Lewis is not an NJ resident. The track and field star voted in California in 2009, and they point to four-year state residency requirements.
Lewis' lawyer Bill Tambussi said Monday that the Olympian's primary residence is in Medford, NJ, and that the political residency requirements are both 'unconstitutional and unenforceable.'
"He was raised here, number one; he went to high school here, went to college, had a career, and then moved back in 2005 and bought a condominium," Tambussi said. "He bought his house in 2007."
From a press release this morning, the New Jersey Republican Party has raised nearly $950,000 in the first quarter of 2011. From the press release:
“The out-pouring of support for Governor Christie’s Republican Party is directly related to the Governor's bold reform plans and strong leadership. The financial backing will allow the NJGOP to aggressively compete in races across New Jersey as we fight to elect more Republicans in November.” Sam Raia – Chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party
Senior Campaign Advisor David Axelrod implored African Americans to return to the polls in 2012 to re-elect President Obama. Axe spoke was speaking at the National Action Network convention, a civil rights organization run by Rev. Al Sharpton's civil rights organization. He pointed to a four percent drop in turnout among blacks between 2008 and 2010.
In the State Senate, budget bills were being debated Wednesday afternoon as Democrats and Republicans attempted to point fingers over which party is more responsible for imposing taxes.
Democrats attempted to score political points on the Senate floor, as Senator Liz Kruegger, a Manhattan Democrat, questioned Republicans why they agreed to allow a tax on the state’s millionaires to sunset, when they allowed an MTA payroll tax that effects small businesses to stand.
“There was a decision to continue the MTA tax and end the tax for millionaires,” said Krueger.
Senate Finance Committee Chair John DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, says the GOP is not rejecting the millionaires tax, but simply allowing it to expire at the end of the year as scheduled.
“This budget is silent on the millionaire’s tax,” said DeFrancisco.
Senate Leader Dean Skelos rose to defend the GOP’s position, pointing out that it was the Democrats who approved a millionaire’s tax with an expiration date, but permitted the MTA payroll tax on businesses small and large to continue in perpetuity.
Hundreds of New Yorkers are expected at the state Capitol Wednesday to protest the approval of a state budget that cuts schools by $1.2 billion dollars, makes reductions to public colleges and universities and tuition assistance programs and rejects a tax on millionaires.
The groups say they plan to hold an all night camp out at the Capitol, and have scheduled demonstrations outside Governor Cuomo’s office, as well as the Senate and Assembly chambers. Speaker Sheldon Silver says he’s not concerned about the potential disruptions.
“We’ll have people who are interested in our proceedings, we’re open to the public, that’s always been our tradition.”
Silver says if anyone behaves inappropriately, then the state police will “manage” it.
Earlier this month, disabled rights advocates stationed themselves in the chamber, chanting loudly. Assembly members applauded the protesters, then, continued their business as usual.
Lawmakers expect to be passing budget bills while the demonstrations take place.
The Assembly and Senate printed some of the less controversial budget bills Tuesday, including transportation, economic development and the environment, but had yet to finalize all of the health and education legislation. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says it will be another day before lawmakers find out exactly how $270 million dollars in school aid restorations will be distributed, and he says there are still some “loose ends” in the Medicaid budget.
Legislative leaders say they are still on track for an on time, or even an early, state budget.
-- Karen DeWitt
No New Taxes: Cuomo and lawmakers reach a NY State budget deal, agreeing on a two percent cut in spending and no new taxes. (NY Daily)
Bloomberg Boos: Bloomberg says the tenative budget deal shortchanges New York City.(WNYC)
Bronx Fame: Bronx native and two-time presidential candida, Ellen McCormack dies at age 84. (NY Daily)
9/11 Ad?: Ad agency pulls a controversial ad featuring NY firefighter after revealing the firefighter was not at Ground Zero. (NY Post)
Schumer for Safety: Sen. Chuck Schumer calls for a safety audit of the Long Island Expressway. (NY Post)
Busy Gibson: Rep. Chris Gibson claims he’s just too focused on serving his constituents to think about who they might be in two years. (Capitol Confidential)
Better Late Than Never: Former Rep. Scott Murphy wasn't one of the top congressional spenders after all; non-partisan watchdog group fesses up. (Capitol Confidential)
We're hearing from our friends at the Daily News that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver just cancelled their 1pm joint budget conference committee meeting. Could this mean a deal has been reached? Either that, or we'll wait for reports of a terrible brouhaha...
It's New York's census day - the Census Bureau is set to release data for New York State today at 2pm. Where did we grow, where did we shrink and who's likely to be lobbying legislative colleagues to hang to a district?
Check back here for an interactive maps later this afternoon.
The New York Times' City Roomnabbed a copy of something called the Executive Budget 3-Way Comparison Matrix, which gives a rare peek into the final budgeting wrangling currently taking place in Albany between Gov. Mario Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos (and their aides, we presume).
The 31-page memo highlights in fascinating detail where each of those three parties stands on issues yet to be resolved, such as the environment, proposed, tuition raises and "member items" - also known as earmarks. (Don't worry, both legislators agree that they should stay).
Below, courtesy of the New York Times, is the downloadable, embeddable document.
If you've ever had a burning question for Rep. Anthony Weiner, and you happen to be sitting by a computer, today's your day, according to the Gothamist.
To celebrate the one-year-anniversary of the passage of "Obamacare," the NYC Congressman is taking YOUR questions on Twitter, Facebook, Daily Kos and Reddit, where he's already been asked about farm subsidies, reforming marijuana laws and healthcare reform. He'll jump on there at 5:30 to answer.
If you need a "Wed. with Weiner" fix before that, he tweeted the following:
Ill be here to answer questions today at 2:30 eastern. I'll be wearing a tie. #butnosocks