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
While the controversy over Indian Point has thus far centered on the nuclear plant's vulnerability to earthquakes - prompting the NRC to rank it their"top priority in its review of the seismic risk at 27 nuclear plants throughout the country" - WNYC's Bob Hennelly says we're missing the bigger point:
The nuclear plant has been striking out for years in its attempt to get a state water quality permit for its discharge into the Hudson. Without the state water sign off, Indian Point cannot get its 20 year federal renewal.
Indian Point skeptic Andrew Cuomo stopped short of calling for the plant's closureyesterday, but as Attorney General he expressed deep concerns about the plant, and ran on a campaign that advocated shutting it down.
New York State does not have the power to shut down the plant. (Only the federal government can do that, as WNYC's Beth Fertig reports.) But it does have a trick up its sleeve - renewal of the water permit. Read more over at It's A Free Country.
Comes courtesy of none other than former Gov. David Paterson, who despite a mixed legacy at the helm of state politics, did come up with one impressive maneuver that could give Cuomo a needed leg up in negotiations with the Senate and Assembly.
Karen Dewitt has more over at WNYC.
“One normally doesn’t think of earthquakes and New York in the same breath,” said Cuomo. "So that is a matter of concern." (WNYC)
Albany Budget Protest: A group of disabled New Yorkers in wheelchairs briefly shut down the Assembly today, as they protested cuts. (NYTimes)
Know Your Mobsters: Capital New York gives us an introduction to the New York Albanian mob. (Capital New York)
Politicians, Misleading?? The Senate claimed to restore $$$ while cutting it. (Capitol Confidential)
Fashionable Tax Holiday: State lawmakers enacted a sales tax exemption on clothes and footwear under $55 last year, it looks like this will be extended through 2012. (Capitol Confidential)
Paladino Pay Scandal: Carl Paladino lashed out at hometown Buffalo News over story he stiffed campaign staffers for $130K. "Everyone who deserved to be paid was paid," Paladino wrote. (Buffalo News)
Ex-Bloomberg Aide on Trial: John Haggerty, ex-Bloomberg aide accused of stealing $1 million from mayor's 2009 campaign, was ordered to stand trial. (NY Daily News)
Stein Sentenced: Former City Council President Andrew Stein sentenced to community service after he pleaded guilty to charges that he made false statements to the IRS and investigators probing his $2-million-plus tax scam. (NY Post)
From one Reality to Another: Michael Levitis, a campaign donor tied to the charges filed against State Senator Carl Kruger is slated to act in the upcoming Brighton Beach Reality Show that focuses on Russian immigrants. (NY Times)
Bloomberg vs. Guns: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke on Capitol Hill to lobby for a bill being proposed by Representative Carolyn McCarthy that aims to close loopholes permitting convicted criminals, drug abusers and the mentally ill to buy guns without background checks. (NY Times)
State Senator Carl Kruger is the latest New York politician to get wrapped up in a scandal, one that's at least 10 years in the making, according to reports. Kruger is charged with accepting bribes from a host of sources—including real estate developers, hospitals, and even beverage distributors—in return for political favors.
While it's unlikely that government will ever be able to prevent corruption from happening, the popular opinion among Albany's critics is that some officials have been operating with a sense of impunity. The lack of an oversight mechanism might encourage unethical behavior.
"We need a broad disclosure of outside income," said Blair Horner, Legislative Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). "Legislators and staff are part-time employees; many have outside business interests and there's virtually no scrutiny of that."
Horner called the absence of an independent oversight committee a "fatal flaw" in New York government. "No one worries about ever getting caught," he said. "It’s like people driving faster on the thruway if they don’t see speed traps. There are no ethical speed traps in Albany."
Assembly Speaker Nate Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos have both made public statements in support of increased transparency. However, he details of ethics reform legislation—if it will require an oversight committee, how that's to be constituted, what information it will have access to, etc.—are still in flux. Governor Cuomo has put pressure on the legislature to pass an ethics bill, but has not proposed any laws of his own.
State Senator David Carlucci knows what he'd like to see. Carlucci chairs the legislature's Administrative Regulations Review Commission. He said that Albany needs an oversight committee with teeth.
"Lawmakers should have to disclose all outside income, who they work for, and who they're representing, so we can be sure they've got the best interest of the public in mind," Carlucci said.
In order for that to happen, legislators must be held accountable to others beside their peers. "I think with an oversight committee what we have to make sure is that committee not made up of legislature itself," Carlucci said. "We need to make sure its independent, that it shares information with the Governor and the Attorney General and other government agencies, and that it has no special interests in mind."
- Stephen Reader
Senate Dismisses Spending Cuts: The Senate on Wednesday resoundingly dismissed competing plans to impose new spending cuts and fund the government through Sept. 30, forcing top lawmakers and the Obama administration back into negotiations to resolve a budget stalemate. (NYT)
King Not Budging: On the eve of his controversial hearing on homegrown Islamic terrorism, Representative Peter King, Republican of New York and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has vowed in an e-mail to supporters that he will “not back down to the hysteria created by my opponents.’’ (NYT)
Hindus Against Extremism: Indian-American activists join protests in support of Peter King's hearing. (WNYC)
Illinois Abolishes Death Penalty: Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill to make Illinois the 16th state to abolish the death penalty. (CS Monitor)
Broder Passes: David Broder, Washington Post reporter, columnist, and overall "Dean of Political Writers," has died at age 81. (Politico)
NPR Execs Out: After being caught on hidden camera making disparaging remarks about the Tea Party and Republicans, Ron Schiller, a senior fundraiser for NPR, was placed on administrative leave and eventually resigned. CEO Vivian Schiller followed suit. (Associated Press)