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Andrew Cuomo

The Empire

New Yorkers support OWS, millionaires' tax

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nearly 60 percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll out this morning say they agree with the protesters in Zuccotti Park, with an equal amount saying they understand what the protesters' views.

“Most New Yorkers, even upstaters and suburban voters, say they get the Wall Street protesters’ message,” Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a statement. “And by two-to-one, voters agree with the complaints about bankers and Wall Streeters."

Voters continue to support a tax on higher-income earners as well, according to the poll. Two-thirds of those polled want to see the tax continue, with 57 percent of Republicans polled supporting the plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he doesn't support the tax and wants it to end at the beginning of next year.

Part of the Governor's arguments--that it will drive wealth out of New York--appears to be rebutted some in the poll. Those earning $100,000 a year or more support extending the tax by 66 percent.

“There’s wide approval for the one specific message that’s being heard Downtown – support for a continued state ‘Millionaire’s Tax,’” Carroll added.

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The Empire

LATFOR meets in Nassau County with many issues still outstanding

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Assemblyman McEneny, left, and Senator Nozzolio, right (Courtesy of the LATFOR Committee.)

This morning the committee in charge of drawing political lines is meeting for the second-to-last time out in Nassau County. LATFOR’s Old Westbury meeting is giving the public another chance to influence the process. But there are major outstanding issues that will certainly be brought up, if not fully addressed:

Prisoner reallocation

As we’ve reported, the Senate Republicans are being accused of dragging their feet in complying with a law that would have tens of thousands of mostly upstate prisoners counted back in mostly downstate districts. Assembly Democrats say they’ve already done the math—all they need is the Senate to approve. And the committee’s Senate Republican co-chair Michael Nozzolio has said his side is reviewing. There’s a chance a major announcement on the issue could come today.

Cuomo’s veto threat

Yesterday the Governor made a number of statements regarding his veto threat. By the end it seemed (mostly) apparent that he remains committed to nixing whatever lines the legislators draw. But the Democratic Assembly co-chair John McEneny has told the governor he should see what the committee comes up with first. The problem, of course, is that there’s a zero-sum game being played with Senate Republicans—if they draw “nonpartisan” lines, most observers see a likely Democratic majority in 2013. There are certainly conversations happening behind the scene. To what degree the Governor is pressuring the Senate Republicans, with whom he has a good working relationship, is unknown. The actions and words of the committee members may give a clue.

Communities of interest

Maybe more than anywhere else in the state, Nassau County is a hotbed of discontent for district lines. The county’s Democratic Party won a huge court victory recently over Republican attempts at drawing them out of the majority. And a sitting lawsuit in Federal court over Voting Rights Act violations could, eventually, mean totally new lines. Civil rights and good government groups will make their final arguments before the committee draws linesin support of districts that take racial and ethnic communities more into account.

In all things redistricting, the key issue is time. With primary dates likely coming sooner, getting lines drawn and approved in time is on the minds of everyone involved. If the Governor remains committed to vetoing lines, the whole process will end up in court with even more uncertainty for, in the Governor’s words, “chaos” in the final product. The degree to which avoiding mayhem creeps into the committee members’ comments will be something to watch for.

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The Empire

Governor Cuomo: 'I will veto the lines'

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

Governor Andrew Cuomo is stating in no uncertain terms that he intends to veto the redistricting lines now being devised by a joint legislative commission. The governor said he will not endorse the new district lines currently being drawn by a joint legislative commission.

“My position is I will veto the lines that are drawn. I believe it should be done by an independent commission," Cuomo said.

The governor acknowledges that a veto would be “chaotic”, and says the legislature should “seriously consider” joining him to create an independent commission.

The governor says he has no plans, though, to call the legislature back before January unless there’s agreement on a structure for the commission. But the governor says time is getting short.

“The clock is ticking," said Cuomo.

The governor also said he doubts the legislature has the votes to override a veto on redistricting.

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Transportation Nation

New York Conducts Long Distance Bus Inspection Crackdown

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Long Distance Bus in Manhattan (Sam Lewis/WNYC)


Governor Cuomo's office says 116 bus drivers and 95 buses have been pulled out of service after a two-week roadside inspection blitz by New York state police.

The inspections occurred in late September and early October.

Most of the violations were found on buses in New York City. Almost a third of all bus inspections in the city since March have resulted in a driver or bus being pulled out of service.

The crackdown comes in the long wake of a fatal accident on a Bronx highway on March 12. A tour bus returning from a Connecticut casino in the early morning flipped and rammed into the base of a highway sign, killing 15 people.

Ophadell Williams, the driver in that accident, has been charged with 15 counts of manslaughter. A report by the state inspector general said Williams had a history of moving violations, gave false names to police who pulled him over and lied on his application for a commercial license.

The Governor's office says the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is now using facial recognition technology to search for drivers who have a valid commercial license in one name and additional license documents in another.

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WNYC News

State Inspectors Crack Down on Tour Buses

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office said 116 bus drivers and 95 buses had been pulled out of service after a two week roadside inspection blitz by New York state police.  

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The Empire

Cuomo invokes "chaos" in redistricting

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Update below.

Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared onthe Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter this morning, where he talked redistricting. Both YNN's State of Politics and the Times-Union Capitol Confidential blogs have write-ups on the conversation.

The topic was undoubtedly spurred by today's polls showing New Yorkers remain convinced some degree of independence is needed in the redistricting process. The Governor admitted that his long-voiced plan to veto the legislature's plan, though, wouldn't necessarily mean better results:

The veto really would inject a certain amount of chaos and uncertainty that really would be in no one’s best interest.

TU's Jimmy Vielkind saw the comments as an acknowledgment that Cuomo's threat might not be as rock solid as it appears:

For months, Cuomo has used the veto threat as a stick while negotiations with the legislature continue: there are now two proposals advanced by good-government groups to reform the redistricting process, both softer than the bill Cuomo delivered to legislators in the winter and which went nowhere. Today, Cuomo’s suggesting his stick, in the Rooseveltian sense, might not be so big.

Nick Reisman at the State of Politics Blog doesn't see the Governor's statements as backing down:

But Cuomo wasn’t walking back his plan to strike down lines drawn by lawmakers, either, or his opposition to boundaries that are political.

The governor, rather, noted the legal nuance is a bit more complicated than simply sending the matter to the courts.

Maybe. But if the Governor's not willing to call back the legislature and he's not psyched about the legal prospect of a veto (sending the lines to the courts), then the only room left is negotiation. And that will mean, at some level, compromise.

Which, in the end, is what will likely happen: the Governor's office will undoubtedly be working on legislators to put something out the Governor can say is fair and nonpartisan, while legislators put together the best maps they can under the circumstances.

UPDATE

David King with Gotham Gazette makes this point about the Governor's comments:

Good government groups seem to be taking the comments in stride. A number of independent redistricting advocates have been saying that a veto could cause chaos thanks to the possibility of the state moving to an earlier primary date. They note that Cuomo’s comments only show that he is in touch with the realities of the situation. The courts have never been exactly anxious to get involved in redistricting.

Since the real issue is whether Senate Republicans are able to draw themselves a majority through this process, the question really is will Cuomo go toe-to-toe over lines drawn by the Senate majority?

King notes, in a post yesterday, that Senate Democrats are worried his relationship with Republicans could keep him from doing just that.

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The Empire

New York voters want independent redistricting: Quinnipiac

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More than three-quarters of New York voters polled in a new Quinnipiac University survey say they want an independent commission, with little to no legislative input, to draw new political lines. According to the poll, 48 percent said they wanted a completely independent commission drawing lines, while 28 percent said one with some legislative input was prefered.

A plurality of those polled--45 percent--said Governor Andrew Cuomo should make good on his promise of vetoing lines drawn by state legislators. Nearly a quarter of respondents weren't sure.

Interestingly support for the veto has been falling from a 49 percent high back in August.

In terms of how lines should be drawn, 53 percent said they want districts to be drawn without taking the incumbent into account. The only group polled that disagreed? African Americans, who, by a plurality of 47 percent, felt lines should be drawn to protect incumbents.

When it comes to drawing districts that take race and ethnicity into account--something we've been writing about--those polled were vehemently against the idea, with 72 percent of respondents saying districts shouldn't be based on racial or ethnic requirements. Among black voters, a majority--50 percent--agreed.

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The Empire

Minority elected officials, unions present united front on millionaires' tax extension

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Councilman Jackson, left, with Assemblyman Camara and other elected officials. (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

A united front of minority politicians and their labor allies held a press conference today to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to keep the “millionaires’ tax” on higher-income earners in place at the end of this year.

“New Yorkers deserve a budget plan of shared sacrifice,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, who chairs the bicameral Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. He said the current tax rate would generate $5 billion in revenues that could be used to offset cuts that disproportionally affect the working class and minority communities.

The Governor has said he wants the taxes to expire at the end of the year. Until recently any discussion of tax increases appeared off the table. But that was before the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Support for keeping taxes on higher-income earners wasn’t just among the protesters on Wall Street, said Councilman Robert Jackson, or among the 72 percent of voters who favor the tax. The co-chair of the city council’s minority caucus said the Governor need only visit his district in Harlem.

“If you don’t believe us, walk through our community and ask the people. They will tell you what is necessary,” he said.

The show of solidarity from African American, Latino and Asian elected officials opened up a new front against the Governor’s support for nixing taxes for the state’s most wealthy—and it could be a bigger one than he’d care to acknowledge.

Call it Andrew Cuomo’s color blind problem. In discussions after the event, the strategy was made clear: If the Governor remains blind to the calls of communities of color—through their elected representatives—he could have a problem that goes beyond a single issue like the millionaires’ tax.

The Governor has enjoyed a close relationship with minority communities over the years. But elected officials from those communities—upset over years now of cuts to social programs at every level, unshakable high unemployment, and attacks on unions that employee many from their neighborhoods—appear less willing to just go along with a governor they see more concerned with protecting his future interests (i.e. 2014 gubernatorial, 2016 presidential) than those of their constituents.

At least, that’s what today’s organizers are hoping Cuomo hears. So far the Governor remains popular across all groups, and community leaders haven’t taken as hard a stance as the elected officials. But if the Governor sticks to his position on the millionaires’ tax, that could all change.

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The Empire

Occupy protests help (re)ignite tax debate

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Karen DeWitt / NY Public Radio

Before it even began, Occupy Albany was imbued with its first agenda item. Press reports last Friday talked about the “millionaires’ tax” as an issue for Occupiers before they'd even shown up. The tax is a big one for left-leaning groups and organized labor who have been pushing for its continuation of on higher-income earners.

Governor Cuomo has said he wants to do away with the tax, but many inside and outside the protests point to recent polls showing the majority of New Yorkers support keeping the revenue stream.

Over the weekend there was more friction between the Governor’s office and the mayor of Albany than between protesters and police. The Governor’s push of Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to evict the curfew-breaking protesters was an indication to some observers that the protests were getting to the governor.

“The coverage of his push to get Occupy Albany shut down shows how close to home that’s hitting,” said one observer close to the issue. “There’s clearly a concern on their part, internally, that it’s going to escalate in a way that makes it difficult for him.”

Are the Occupations, which have now spread throughout the state, enough to get the Governor to change his mind on the continuation of taxes on higher-income earners? People in support of the move certainly hope so.

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The Empire

New York uprising, tax cap edition

Monday, October 24, 2011

As we've been reporting, one of growing issues throughout the state is how local municipalities are faring under the the state's tax cap, specifically under state mandates like Medicaid. Thomas Kaplan of the New York Times today has a piece out about how counties and towns throughout the city are taking things, and the answer is: not well.

The property tax cap was a big piece of Cuomo's successful first legislative session. But now the need for local governments to raise funds is pushing hundreds to override the much-heralded legislation:

The Association of Towns of the State of New York estimated that, based on historical budgeting data, about a third of New York’s 932 towns might also consider overriding the cap. Some towns said they needed faster property-tax increases to pay for important capital projects; others cited a need to finance their share of the rebuilding in the wake of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.

This issue has already created rumblings around the state for something to be done in the next session. Cuomo's office, according to the article, argues that only about 20 percent of localities' budgets could require an override, and that the existence of an override provision shows the law has built in flexibility. But with a 60 percent supermajority threshold, it's entirely possible localities could be facing severe financial issues if the override can't be reached.

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The Empire

Cuomo blasted for same-sex marriage 'anti-American' comments

Monday, October 24, 2011

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

As we reported last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo was handed an award for his work legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. But some of his recent comments regarding opposition to same-sex marriage aren't sitting well with opponents of the law.

Rev. Jason J. McGuir, the executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, sent the letter below to the Governor today, asking for a retraction of comments made at a New York Times event, where he stated: “There is no answer from the opposition. There really isn't. Ultimately, it's, 'I want to discriminate.' And that's anti-New York. It's anti-American."

"To say that those who disagree with your position are 'anti-American' is more than just political
rhetoric, it is a statement that drives us further apart, when the challenges our state faces should be drawing us closer together," McGuir said in his letter.

Later in the letter McGuir cited former Governor Hugh Carey's regret, later in life, for allowing abortions to be covered under Medicaid as a path McGuir hoped the current governor would one day walk.

"It is my prayer that one day you too will come to realize that while supporting gay 'marriage' may have been politically expedient at the time, it was ultimately harmful to the Empire State and her citizenry," McGuir wrote.

Read the letter after the jump.

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The Empire

Hydrofracking deadline likely to be missed

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WNYC has this from New York Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief Karen DeWitt:

A state advisory panel on hydrofracking in New York may not meet its initial November deadline to report on potential fees to charge gas drillers and impacts of the controversial process on the state.

Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York and a member of the Cuomo administration's environmental department’s fracking advisory committee, said he’s been told to expect to attend meetings until the end of January, which could delay the initial November 1 timetable for the committee to report.

Moore said several other state agencies that need to provide input on how to structure potential fees for gas drillers and other impacts were not yet prepared to do so. A meeting that was planned for October 14 was cancelled.

“You have four of the five agencies involved in this that were clearly caught flat-footed,” Moore said.

Read the rest of the article here.

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The Empire

Cuomo officially nominates Joseph Lhota as new MTA chief

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Courtesy of The Madison Square Garden Company

Transportation Nation has a long rundown of the Lhota appointment as head of the MTA, which had been practically a foregone conclusion for weeks now.

"Throughout my career in both the public and private sectors, I have initiated reforms that are performance-based and that cut costs, and I look forward to bringing this same approach to the MTA," Lhota said in a statement from the governor's office. "I thank Governor Cuomo for this exciting opportunity to serve the people of New York."

You can read the governor's statement on the appointment at Transportation Nation. But let's take a look at some of the on-background remarks about the appointment:

Reaction among transit watchers, none of whom would speak on the record to avoid alienating the next chief of the NY MTA, was part puzzlement and part wait-and-see.

“I was a little surprised that Joe Lhota rose to the top of that pool,” said an official from a previous mayoral administration. “He understands inter-governmental relations and he understands the politics but he’s more of a political operative than a manager.”

Both Cuomo and outgoing MTA chairman Jay Walder have said in the past few weeks that the next chair did not need to have a transit background. “I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of mass transit,” Walder said at the NY MTA’s September board meeting. “I don’t know that it’s an absolutely essential quality.”

Lhota fits that profile. His resume shows no transportation posts. But he did manage large governmental agencies in the Giuliani administration and ran the city when the mayor was out of town. Since then, he has navigated the executive suites of the Cablevision Systems Corporation, which owns Madison Square Garden. And Lhota has served as a board member at the City University of New York for the past ten years.  Lhota was one of two board members who did not support withholding an honorary degree from playwright Tony Kushner last May.  The vote to table the degree past last spring’s commencement was much-criticized and later reversed.

...

Sources differed on Lhota’s ability to rise to those challenges. The NY MTA needs someone “who can handle the union relationships, the crisis of money, and Lhota will get it faster than most people,” said one.

But others don’t expect Lhota to be a voice for transportation in the way Jay Walder was.  Walder came from London Transport and is headed for a job running Hong Kong’s transit system.  In his tenure as MTA chief he pushed for several innovative transit measures, including countdown clocks, real time information, and better communication with customers.  But his relationship with the union was toxic, and Walder presided over the MTA’s deepest cuts in more than a generation.

The governor is also appointing two other people to the MTA family:

Cuomo also appointed two women to serve in key transportation posts:  Nuria Fernandez, a former Federal Transit Administration official and Chicago Aviation Commissioner, who resigned under pressure from then Mayor Richard Daily after failing to close a deal with United Airlines.  Fernandez will serve as the the MTA’s CEO, and Karen Rae, who worked in the  Obama Administration on high speed rail, will serve in the Governor’s office as Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

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Transportation Nation

Lhota in as NY MTA Chief

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Joseph Lhota.

(New York, NY -- Andrea Bernstein and Jim O'Grady) Governor Andrew Cuomo has made his second top transit agency choice in as many days, saying he'll nominate former Giuliani aide Joseph Lhota to run the 12-county transportation agency, the nation's largest.   Lhota is executive vice president of Madison Square Garden.

Lhota's appointment as head of the MTA, along with the announcement yesterday that Patrick Foye will lead the Port Authority, means that Cuomo has now chosen two individuals from outside the transportation world to lead key transportation authorities.

"I am pleased to accept the recommendation of the extraordinary search committee and nominate Joe Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the MTA," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers. I thank the members of the MTA Search Advisory Committee for their diligent work and thorough review."

One of the members of that committee, NYU Rudin Center director Mitchell Moss, said Lhota would be able to defend the commuter tax in Albany, which has been under attack from Republican lawmakers. "They’ll know he’s a serious guy, he’s a Republican," Moss said in a telephone interview "The whole culture of transportation will require very different leadership now."  Moss said he expected fewer funds from the federal government, and managing relationships with Albany would become key to keeping the MTA funded.

Lhota served in the Giuliani administration for six years, first as budget director and then as deputy mayor of operations. He also worked as an adviser to Giuliani’s presidential campaign in 2007-2008.  He was one of Giuliani's appointees to the MTA board, from 1999 to 2001. Before his work in the public sector, he was a banker at First Boston.

In a statement, Lhota said:  "Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA every day and they deserve the most efficient and effective service. Throughout my career in both the public and private sectors, I have initiated reforms that are performance-based and that cut costs, and I look forward to bringing this same approach to the MTA. I thank Governor Cuomo for this exciting opportunity to serve the people of New York."

Reaction among transit watchers, none of whom would speak on the record to avoid alienating the next chief of the NY MTA, was part puzzlement and part wait-and-see.

“I was a little surprised that Joe Lhota rose to the top of that pool,” said an official from a previous mayoral administration. “He understands inter-governmental relations and he understands the politics but he’s more of a political operative than a manager.”

Both Cuomo and outgoing MTA chairman Jay Walder have said in the past few weeks that the next chair did not need to have a transit background. “I think it is helpful to have a knowledge of mass transit,” Walder said at the NY MTA’s September board meeting. “I don’t know that it’s an absolutely essential quality.”

Lhota fits that profile. His resume shows no transportation posts. But he did manage large governmental agencies in the Giuliani administration and ran the city when the mayor was out of town. Since then, he has navigated the executive suites of the Cablevision Systems Corporation, which owns Madison Square Garden. And Lhota has served as a board member at the City University of New York for the past ten years.  Lhota was one of two board members who did not support withholding an honorary degree from playwright Tony Kushner last May.  The vote to table the degree past last spring’s commencement was much-criticized and later reversed.

The precipice on which the NY MTA teeters consists of several difficulties: a 2012-2015 capital construction plan with a $10 billion dollar shortfall; a looming contract negotiation with Transport Workers Union Local 100 that, by all signs, will be acrimonious; a threat from a group of state legislators to cut the dedicated revenue stream that is the regional payroll mobility tax, which last year contributed $1.3 billion to authority coffers. That’s about an eighth of the authority’s operating budget.

Sources differed on Lhota’s ability to rise to those challenges. The NY MTA needs someone “who can handle the union relationships, the crisis of money, and Lhota will get it faster than most people,” said one.

But others don't expect Lhota to be a voice for transportation in the way Jay Walder was.  Walder came from London Transport and is headed for a job running Hong Kong's transit system.  In his tenure as MTA chief he pushed for several innovative transit measures, including countdown clocks, real time information, and better communication with customers.  But his relationship with the union was toxic, and Walder presided over the MTA's deepest cuts in more than a generation.

Said Kate Slevin of the advocacy group, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, "We hope Mr. Lhota’s business acumen will help guide the agency towards more sound fiscal footing without compromising service and affordability for the system’s 8.5 million daily riders. We also hope he will continue the innovative service improvements executed by his predecessor, including subway countdown clocks, rapid bus service, and nonstop tolling."

Cuomo also appointed two women to serve in key transportation posts:  Nuria Fernandez, a former Federal Transit Administration official and Chicago Aviation Commissioner, who resigned under pressure from then Mayor Richard Daily after failing to close a deal with United Airlines.  Fernandez will serve as the the MTA's CEO, and Karen Rae, who worked in the  Obama Administration on high speed rail, will serve in the Governor's office as Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Cuomo Expected To Name Lhota as MTA Head; NYC Taxi Medallion Goes for $1 Million

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Patrick Foye is the new head of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, pending board approval. (Link)

Power, politics, and the Prospect Park West bike lane. (Link)

Millions of Americans drive over structurally deficient bridges every day. (Link)

(Photo: Karly Domb Sadof)

NY Governor Cuomo is expected to name Joe Lhota to head the MTA. (Wall Street Journal)

Amtrak is now making Wi-Fi available on other regional trains besides the Acela -- but with a catch: content filters block some legitimate subjects, like gay rights sites. (Greater Greater Washington)

Senator John McCain's proposed amendment to the transportation spending bill was tabled yesterday. (The Hill)

NYC is taking a closer look at the B110 bus, which is privately operated public bus that asks Jewish women to sit in the back. (NY Times)

Million dollar medallions: two NYC taxi cabs medallions were sold for $1 million apiece, the highest recorded sale since the city’s modern livery system began. (NY Times)

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg says a lawsuit demanding that taxicabs be wheelchair-accessible is unrealistic and would inconvenience all passengers. (NY Daily News)

Portugal can't afford to finish building a high-speed rail line originally planned to go between Lisbon and Madrid. (Marketplace)

NJ Transit is partnering with Google over a 'tap and pay' system. (Star-Ledger)

One NYC artist tells the story of the Puerto Rican diaspora through a Schwinn bicycle. (NY Daily News)

A team of engineering and seismic experts said a controversial proposal to build Los Angeles's Westside subway extension under Beverly Hills High School is safer than an alternate route. (Los Angeles Times)

Tweet from Howie Wolf, NYC deputy mayor: New Q poll finds strong support for @MikeBloomberg bike policies -- 72% of NYers support bike share, 58% support bike lanes #bikenyc

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The Empire

Patrick Foye in as new head of the Port Authority

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

  (Courtesy of MTA.info)

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his recommendation to replace Chris Ward, a Paterson appointee, as head of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Transportation Nation has the write up:

Chris Ward’s three and a half year tenure as executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has come to an end.   Patrick Foye,  Cuomo aide and former state Economic Development chief, is in.

...

Cuomo announced the appointment in a press release today: “The Port Authority must meet its potential as a major economic engine that plans for the region and attracts business on an international scale. We must also improve its operations and maximize the value out of every dollar spent so that it is financially responsible and respects the tax and toll payers.”

Foye’s most recent job before that was deputy county executive for economic development for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Foye left that job in January after Mangano decided, against Foye’s advice, to sue a state-appointed control board to prevent it from taking over the county’s finances. The county lost the lawsuit.

Foye, a lawyer who worked with Skadden Arps, is a former downstate chairman for New York’s Empire State Development Corporation. Since May 2010, he has sat on the board of the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In an interview, MTA board member Mitch Pally said Foye has been active in his role as the appointee from Nassau County in Long Island. “He’s delved into operating details of the system, communication issues with commuters and fare structure,” Pally said.

You can read the entire post here.

One more interesting thing in the notice about Foye's appointment was the governor's desire to move the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Moynihan Station project under the purview of the Port Authority. More, hopefully, on this later.

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The Empire

Cuomo receives award at HuffPo's 'Occupy SoHo'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Update: Photo slideshow added at the bottom.

Occupy Wall St protesters outside the awards ceremony (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

It was supposed to be a celebratory evening for Governor Andrew Cuomo. The liberal news site The Huffington Post was presenting the governor with its 2011 "Game Changer of the Year" award for his successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

Magazine cover celebrities and newsmakers lined up for pictures on the carpet at the entrance. Glasses of champagne were handed out to hundreds on hand celebrating the governor and 99 other leaders' work on various social, political and business fronts.

During his remarks, Cuomo spoke out against the death penalty, up for a woman's right to choose, and about the inevitable future of legalized same-sex marriage "from coast to coast."

But the other 99 -- the Occupy Wall Street "99 percent" protesters who'd shown up outside -- had a different set of talking point. The crowd of about 150 was mostly young, grungy and remarkably disciplined. They made up chants decrying the governor's support for hydrofracking and refusal to extend taxes on upper income earners.

After some initial back-and-forth with the police, the protesters agreed to move their picket across the street. They were violating a permit the Huffington Post party organizers had for use of the sidewalk.

Shortly after Cuomo's remarks some mid-level celebrity in sequence and high-heels ran into the middle of the street. A gaggle of dutiful photographers followed, flashes blowing. Traffic was forced to stop for the impromptu photo shoot.

The protesters, dimly lit by the cameras, continued to protest the governor who'd already left out the back.

Check out a photo slideshow of the event after the jump.

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WNYC News

Groups Call on NY to Continue Its Surcharge on Millionaires

Monday, October 17, 2011

A coalition of community groups and labor organizations, calling themselves "99 New York," gathered on the steps of City Hall on Monday to renew a campaign to extend the so-called "millionaires tax" beyond its December expiration date.

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The Empire

PEF executive board approves new deal

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let's try this one more time.

After announcing earlier that a deal had been reached between PEF officials and Governor Cuomo's office, the union's executive board approved the new contract. Now, it's back to the membership who recently rejected the first version of a new contract.

“The Executive Board recognizes the changes we were able to obtain under the revised agreement address many of the concerns of our members,” PEF President Ken Brynien said in a statement. “Today’s vote gives hope to the 3,496 members who face losing their jobs if the contract is not approved. The revised agreement balances the needs of all of our members and I am strongly encouraging our membership to ratify the new agreement to save the jobs of their co-workers while preserving the level of service to taxpayers."

The membership has until November 3 to make its decision.

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The Empire

Cuomo, PEF reach tentative agreement

Monday, October 17, 2011

Governor Cuomo, left, with Lt. Governor Duffy (Courtesy of the Governor's office)

The Public Employees Federation's leadership and Governor Andrew Cuomo's office both announced over the weekend that they'd come to a tentative agreement to avoid layoffs--something 70 percent of New Yorkers support, according to a new Siena Research Institute Poll.

The new four-year (versus original five-year) contract would still freeze raises for three years, and would change how furlough days are reimbursed at the end of the contract.

“The changes we were able to obtain under this revised agreement address many of the concerns raised by our members," PEF President Ken Brynien said in a statement.
“If the agreement is approved by our executive board and ratified by the full membership the jobs of 3,496 members will be saved."

"The Administration has worked very hard with the PEF leadership to make modifications which the leadership believes will address the concerns of the membership." Governor Cuomo said in his own statement. He went on to not that the new contract hadn't changed the math on the state's side--"contract modifications are revenue neutral to the state"--nor the language that would allow the governor to enact layoffs in the future.

"I am confident that my Administration has been more than reasonable and fair, as CSEA's ratification demonstrates. Simply put, the fate of the members is in the union's hands. It's up to them," the governor said.

This should make the 70 percent of New Yorkers who wanted the governor to go back to the negotiating table happy, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll.

“While a plurality of voters would like to see state workforce cuts if spending reductions are used to close next year’s state budget deficit, right now, the vast majority of voters do not want to see 3,500 state employees being handed their pink slips,” Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement.  “Advice to gov: keep speaking and hold back on the stick.”

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