Tri-State Roundup

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, founder and director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Azi Paybarah, politics reporter for the New York Observer, discusses Governor Cuomo and New York State political dealmaking. Then, John Dankosky, news director at WNPR and host of Where We Live, discusses whether unions and Governor Malloy will be able to agree on a budget. Then, Mike Kelly, columnist at The Record of New Jersey, discusses how the NJN transfer to WNET was allowed by the legislature--and the politics of it.

Gov. Cuomo, the 'Magic Kid'

"He has been more successful than almost anyone can remember a governor being," New York Observer reporter Azi Paybarah said.

Gov. Cuomo was able to check off all three major boxes on his agenda. He used his magic wand to pass ethics reform, same-sex marriage and a property tax cap. He also got through an on-time budget that decreased spending without increasing taxes. For New York State, this kind of success is almost unheard of, and he's already being tossed around as a potential presidential candidate in 2016.

Why has Cuomo been so productive?

One reason is a more professional group of legislators in Albany--the exit of loose canons Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate. Cuomo also made a smart strategic move--he preempted criticism by bringing the very people expected to be his critics to the table, such as the union representing health care workers.

What's the secret to Cuomo's popularity? (70 percent)

I think people like the idea that government is actually functioning. If you can remember so long ago, there was promise of change 'on day one' with Eliot Spitzer who seemed to not even wait until day one before bashing people's heads against the walls, and then you had David Paterson who people liked on a personal level but saw his complete incompetence and at some level, untruthfulness, in dealing with them. There was a sense that no one was really running state government, you had Sheldon Silver, the longest serving legislative leader, who many people considered the most powerful man in Albany, and now, after six months, it's clearly Andrew Cuomo.

Dan Malloy, the 'Troubled Liberal'

Malloy was the anti-Christie in Connecticut who was on the verge of making a deal with public sector unions until it all fell apart on June 24. In what was described as a slap in the face, union members rejected a deal that was supposed to save $1.6 billion in two years and was fundamental to Malloy's budget. As a result, WNPR news director John Dankosky said Malloy is probably going to have to send out layoff notices next week.

It became very clear that while the governor was going to get the majority of votes from union workers, he wasn't going to get enough to pass muster in the very arcane, bizarre world of rules for state employees, meaning that although 57 percent of the workers ratified the deal to save jobs and to cut benefits, essentially a small majority got it overturned. And now the folks who run CBAC, the state employees bargaining coalition, they are shaking their heads and saying we don't know what to do next here.

Dankosky said Malloy is in a tough spot. He's not as progressive as liberals wanted him to be--he's asking for union givebacks and his tax hikes are across the board, not just on the wealthy--and at the same time he's too liberal for Republicans in Connecticut. New Jersey's Gov. Christie criticized Malloy on Tuesday morning, but at the end of the day, Dankosky said Malloy is a Democrat leading a Blue state, a different can of worms than Christie's scenario in Jersey.

Chris Christie, the 'Steamroller'

In an attempt to slap Christie back, the New Jersey legislature almost overturned Christie's plan to sell the state's public television network, NJN, to New York's WNET. Kelly said it was both an attempt to stop the Christie steamroller and a matter of state pride.

There's a whole pride factor here in this goofy little state, you know the "People's Republic of New Jersey," there's a pride factor in not wanting to let go of a Jersey based public television station and turn it over to New York.

The Democratic legislature's attempt didn't work, and the sale will go through, full steam ahead.

Its obvious that Christie has political ambitions. Like Cuomo, he's being talked about as a potential 2016 presidential contender. According to Kelly, Christie's well defined opposition to same-sex marriage is influenced by those ambitions, as well as his steamroller style.

"Christie is going to emerge here as a major major winner, at least in the political scene here in New Jersey, how that translates down the road I don't know."


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Comments [14]

If Andy is so wonderful as Governor - WHY couldn't he do his job as Attorney General - was it his campaign staff?

In 2005 he was informed of a financial fraud scheme practiced by SUNY officials - defrauding students, their financial supporters and the US taxpayers.

At a public forum he claimed "I'm the people's lawyer" and that if anyone had a gripe against NYS officials or employees they should write to him and he (or his staff) would investigate to resolve the complaint.

Well, rather than investigate the bilking of several million dollars of US taxes and NYS students' monies he refused giving as his response 'investigating SUNY would present a conflict of interest' (both being state agencies).

Odd how he responds to student complaints of violations of civil rights and criminal statutes (Titles 18 & 31 USC) with 'conflict of interest' seeing as the AG's website claims the duty to enforce civil rights and criminal statutes.

Odder still is how his written response directly conflicts with his televised deposition (under oath before Congress) seen here on (at 9:30 minutes).

Even ODDER is the response given by a female member of his staff at that public forum "We reserve the right to choose WHICH laws to enforce" (violation of 5th and 14th Amendments as 'arbitrary and capricious enforcement')

Since January 1st 2011 even staff at the NYS OIG has become reticent in performing THEIR duties when receiving criminal complaints against SUNY officials.

During the campaign I'd read much of how Andy is very vindictive. Could this denial of justice, through NYS civil and criminal investigative and law enforcement agencies, be the result of election year promises being made good?

Jun. 28 2011 08:53 PM
Kay from Bergen County

Listening to the coverage of the future of NJ Public Broadcasting, I heard the NJ reporter for WNYC refer to NJ as a "goofy little Sate." My reply is, "please feel free to leave at any time." For the record, there are many of us who do not think we are part of NY and WE LIKE IT THAT WAY!!! No, we're not goofy and if all of NY thinks so then, PLEASE DO US A FAVOR and keep your transplants from the Bronx, Staten Island (i.e., Jersey Shore crew) Brooklyn, etc.... We would be more than happy to have our state back. I know I could actually enjoy the Jersey Shore they way I did as a kid if the New Yorkers stayed home!

Jun. 28 2011 11:30 AM
Jersey Jeff from Rahway, NJ

I've joked for years that if you polled the residents of my suburban community, most of them would respond with "Mike Bloomberg" when asked to name their mayor.
Other than WNBC-TV's Brian Thompson, NYC commercial news stations ignore New Jersey coverage unless there is a shocking crime or a "Jersey Shore" update.
New Jersey newspapers have been shrinking, and now we are losing TV coverage of state events. Does anyone think that with less independent eyes watching them, will Garden State pols feel that they can get away with hijinks more easily?

Jun. 28 2011 11:23 AM
Barbara from NYC

What's with WNYC's fixation on gay marriage? This is an issue that many of us may support but just don't care that much about. Yet it has dominated WNYC coverage in the past weeks. As a longtime member, I had expected that WNYC would stand apart from the mainstream media hysteria about gay marriage and instead devote more coverage to issues with profound implications for the entire society, such as the disastrous 2% property tax cap in NY and Cuomo's many other moves out of the conservative playbook. To my mind, the potential of the the tax cap to accelerate our decline as a state and a nation deserved much more thoughtful analysis and attention that WNYC gave it. Even as I write this Brian has come back to questioning the NJ panelist about gay marriage and is touting today's forum on gay marriage. How about we give gay marriage a rest, let our NY gay friends and neighbors happily and quietly get married like everyone else, and return to the in-depth reporting on key issues that the other 90% of us come to WNYC for?

Jun. 28 2011 10:55 AM
Ashton Barfield from Roosevelt Island

One of the chips that Cuomo has traded to the Republicans is Roosevelt Island's quasi-democracy. He made a stealth political-patronage appointment to the Board of Directors of the Public Benefit Corporation that determines almost everything about how our community is run -- our hyper-local government, if you will. We had established a precedent of community elections to generate resident candidates for the appointments (made by the Governor, approved by the Senate). We're demonstrating tomorrow (Wednesday), 11am-1pm, across from the Governor's midtown office (633 Third, 40-41). Details about everything at COME SUPPORT US! SEND THE PRESS!

Jun. 28 2011 10:52 AM
john from office

Brian is filling his quota for mentioning Gay Marriage for the year. 2nd day in a roll. I can not wait till tomorrow.

Jun. 28 2011 10:45 AM
Leo from Queens

I seem to recall that WNET was located in Newark, NJ? IS this not correct?

Jun. 28 2011 10:45 AM
Andy from Livingston, NJ

Governor Christie's view of a quality public education is jaded by his personal dislike of the NJEA president. It clouds his "vision" - if he actually has a vision. His education advisors have no education experience except in "for profit" schools. The reforms don't address one of the primary causes of the pension disaster, which was the NJ government missing pension payments for YEARS. Who gets screwed? your kid's teacher, the cop on the beat, etc. Furthermore, his confrontational style doesn't help, although it makes Mika Brzezinski and Matt Lauer wet.

To predict the future of New Jersey public broadcasting, just take a look at how often the commercial stations concentrate on NJ. We had an assembly election in NJ a couple of weeks ago. I first heard of it on NY commercial TV the morning of the election.

Jun. 28 2011 10:33 AM
Alfredo from Hartford

This is ABSOLUTELY TYPICAL for CT. A union, or lobbying group will hold up a piece of legislation that would move us forward. Malloy is pragmatic and is doing what needs to be done. Whether you like it or not.

Jun. 28 2011 10:32 AM
Wendy from Nassau

BTW, this goes to show the "shared sacrifice" baloney is just that. hot air. they could care less as long as they can pick your pockets a little more each year.

Jun. 28 2011 10:29 AM

I'm not sure why there is so much praise for Cuomo's use of the property tax rate increase cap. It seems to me that idea was very popular initially in California, but now it is responsible, along with the state government cutting aid to school districts, for a drastic decline in the quality of all education in CA, first in K-12, and now universities, grad schools therein, and even community colleges.

It seems to be more a bridge to the past than a bridge to the future. But, with our "savvy businessmen" shipping jobs overseas for the cheap labor, do we really need an educated workforce? Or, as in feudal times, just a mass of serfs, with a few well-chosen and insecure in their positions well educated professionals?

Why is this such a great idea? Is it because he muscled it through while not looking like a bully as Christie does (almost all the time)?

It seems to me Cuomo represents the Neolib (which is not liberal, but conservative) Corporatist (favoring a lemon socialism in which profits are privatize and losses socialized to protect the wealthy; it is the modern form of corporations and government running things for the benefit of the business side) side of the Democratic Party (and how Democratic really is that side, except for some social issues?).

(Well, I see a caller brought up the property tax implications, and the guest brought up Cuomo's "inner Republican," whch came through loud and clear in his announcement speech when running for governnor.

I wonder what dinner time is like when both Governors Cuomo get together!)

Jun. 28 2011 10:28 AM
Wendy from Nassau

CT proves why you need to take a hard line with public employee unions. You cannot give them an inch and need to put a stake in the ground. The governors need to look after the most important stake holder - the TAXPAYER!

Jun. 28 2011 10:27 AM
steve from NY, NY

As reported (hinted at) by NY Times, there has been a Quid Pro Quo with wealthy republican donors and wall street. They supported gay marriage and he supported their economic agenda. All pre-scripted from his campaign, through the legislative agenda. See:

Jun. 28 2011 10:19 AM
David from West Hempstead

It's hard to see a lot of room between Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie other than style--their legislative agendas are pretty similar.

Jun. 28 2011 10:10 AM

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