JUNE 17, 2013
Vol. 2, No. 12
The Shady Ties Between Nassau County Exec Ed Mangano and His Top Deputy’s GOP Club By Nick Powell City & State NY LLC 61 Broadway, Suite 2825 New York, NY 10006
SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT ON UTILITIES PAGE 20
HOW MUCH ARE UNION ENDORSEMENTS WORTH? PAGE 14
Photo: Aaron adler
UPFRONT THE CHALLENGE OF REFORM The Edward Snowden– sality of this observation, it N.S.A. leak story has provoked is sadly true that too often a debate that is fundamental to those who take up the mantle our politics: how best to bring of reform do so because they about reform. The question see it as the means of coming can be boiled down to whether to power themselves. This is it is more effective—and more what I fear is occurring now righteous—to with the Brooklyn seek change by Democratic reform working within movement, where the system or by many of those challenging it who once howled from the outside. for the overthrow Both tacks are of Vito Lopez now fraught with diffihave placidly culty and danger. assimilated into Gover nments, the party under Morgan Pehme and power structhe leadership of EDITOR tures in general, Lopez’s handpicked are set up fundamentally to successor, because they have resist reform, and in almost all been given a toehold in the instances employ every tactic power structure. at their disposal to defeat any For those of us who believe efforts to compel them to in the potential of government address error, incompetence, to be just and good, the notion wrongdoing or corruption of working within the system amid their ranks. comes naturally. Yet the abunAnyone who has ever sought dance of whistleblowers in political reform—or served as recent years who say they only a legislator—is all too familiar went public after being aggreswith the formidable range of sively silenced in their attempts suppression techniques in the to expose misconduct through arsenal of those in control: internal channels speaks to intimidation, demotion, isola- an inherent deficiency in this tion, character assassination approach. and, of course, outright retriOn the other hand, the activbution. ists, goo-goos and, yes, columThen there is illusion, as in nists who demand change are the case of independent redis- hardly any more effective in tricting and the last round of being heard. Since they possess ethics reform in Albany. Often no clout in the halls of governthe best way to kill reform is to ment, there is no reason for allow it to occur in a watered- those who do to listen to them. down form so that those in How, then, given these charge can take credit for immense obstacles, can we cleaning up their act, while bring about reform? Alas, going on performing the same despite all the hours I’ve spent show. banging my head against the Lastly, there is co-option— wall searching for one, I have among the most potent no definitive answer. methods of defanging the resisAll I know is that those who tance. My old boss at the good ask reformers to wait for incregovernment group New York mental change, arguing that Civic, Henry Stern, often makes rocking the boat will set the the point that there are really movement back, are in truth only two parties in politics: the the agents of the status quo. ins and the outs. Their objecReform, above all, requires tives are simple: The ins want courage. If we are lulled to stay in and the outs want to into believing that politics is get in. only the art of the possible, While the idealist in me our government shall never hesitates to accept the univer- achieve its fullest potential.
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AROUND NEW YORK The best items from City & State’s political blog City & State’s political blog is your key source for political and campaign developments in New York. Stay on top of the news with items like these at www.cityandstateny.com.
BROOKLYN The race to succeed Assemblyman Vito Lopez (below) is getting crowded. State Sen. Martin Dilan’s legislative director (and former Marine) Charvey Gonzalez declared his intention to run for the post. “It’s something I’ve always been interested in, in light of what has happened to the seat,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to serve my community after serving my country.” The lifelong Bushwick native said that he has not spoken with Lopez, who resigned last month after a blistering report describing a pattern of sexual harassment. He would not say that Lopez should have stepped down from office. “I’d like to keep this about me,” he said. “This is a fresh start for this district.” Gonzalez will face former City Council candidate Maritza Davila, whom Lopez is backing, and former state Senate candidate Jason Otaño, who ran against Dilan last year. Dilan said he thought Davila would run for City Council again and had nothing negative to say about her. He spoke about Gonzalez’s run to Lopez, who reportedly was not happy. “I don’t think he was pleased about it,” Dilan said. “Vito has his own candidate. I wish the other candidates would drop out and let Charvey run.”
ALBANY One Republican legislator joined Democrats in a rally for the Women’s Equality Agenda on the State Capitol lawn just minutes after
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (below, bottom) unveiled legislation covering abortion rights, equal pay and workplace sexual harassment. Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (below) introduced herself as the reason for the bill’s bipartisan support. “I do think I can get one other [Republican] member to join the bill, but I don’t want to reveal him,” she said at the rally. Duprey explained that she has been fighting for women’s equality since she was elected and she can’t imagine why her female colleagues would vote against it. “There’s been some exaggeration due to the abortion issue, but the governor has made it very clear that the bill will codify abortion rights,” she said. “Everyone should vote for it.” But other Republicans said that Democrats added abortion as a component of the bill to use against them in political ads in the next election cycle. “The public will see right through this bill as nothing more than a bully tactic aimed solely at using domestic violence and pay equity as a political football,” Assemblyman Joe Borelli said.
ALBANY With the legislative session coming to a close, Fair Elections advocates
are stepping up the pressure on the Independent Democratic Conference. The coalition, which includes Facebook founder Chris Hughes, former Rep. Harold Ford Jr., former New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley and many others, fired off a sharply worded letter to IDC Leader Jeff Klein (above) and the other three members, saying their coalition will be remembered for “obstructing good legislation and enabling partisan gridlock above all else.” Under the coalition agreement Klein struck with Senate Republican Co-Leader Dean Skelos (below), both leaders have to agree to bring a bill to the floor. Skelos and his Senate Republican Conference have been vocally opposed to public funding of campaign finance reform, arguing that the New York City system that provides 6-to-1 matching funds encourages more corruption than it prevents. The Republicans also say the state can’t afford to pay for campaigns when it is already strapped for cash.
Publisher Tom Allon email@example.com Editor-in-Chief Morgan Pehme firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Jon Lentz email@example.com Associate Editor Helen Eisenbach Reporters Nick Powell firstname.lastname@example.org, Aaron Short email@example.com Associate Publisher Jim Katocin jkatocin@ cityandstateny.com Director of Marketing Andrew A. Holt firstname.lastname@example.org Business Manager Jasmin Freeman email@example.com Multimedia Director Michael Johnson Art Director Heather Mulcahey Illustrator Lisanne Gagnon Interns Carly Feinman, Mylique Sutton, Justin Yoshimaru CITY AND STATE NY, LLC Chairman Steve Farbman President/CEO Tom Allon
All-Star 2013 2teams_City&State 6/13/13 11:51 AM Page 1
ore f e B r e Ev n a h t ers n n i W ard w A F S N Y N U C More
ore than 20 outstanding CUNY students in 2013 won National Science Foundation awards of $126,000 each for graduate study in the sciences. No other University system in the Northeast won more.
1-800-CUNY-YES cuny.edu/allstars CITY&STATE
www.cityandstateny.com | june 17, 2013
UPFRONT THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE ’S FIRST READ EMAIL “If John and Malcolm would talk, oh my God. They flip [Sampson] and you’ll need a special election to elect a whole new damn Senate.” —Former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, on whether her indicted former Senate colleagues Malcolm Smith and John Sampson might give up more legislators to investigators, via the New York Daily News
a pit o
The road to Albany can be a long one. Fortunately, lawmakers have a lengthy list of rock, classical, country and hip-hop albums they listen to on the way to the Capitol to pump themselves up before session. Which legislator would you want to jam with—and can you tell which song or album matches each lawmaker? Welcome to the Jungle Guns N’ Roses
BY THE NUMBERS
WOMEN’S EQUALITY ACT Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a “Women’s Equality Act” in his State of the State address in January. With the legislative session wrapping up, he’s pushing to get it across the finish line.
10 Number of points in the legislation
9 Number of points that Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos could support
42,113 Average full-time annual pay for a woman in New York, in dollars
Bocelli (album) Andrea Bocelli
50,388 Average full-time annual pay for a man in New York, in dollars
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
Gold on the Ceiling The Black Keys
8,275 Gender gap in pay for male and female New Yorkers, in dollars
75 Black Cadillac (album) Rosanne Cash
Senator Liz Krueger
Share of all sexual harassment claims filed by women in New York, as a percentage
70 Share of children living with single mothers who are in poverty, as a percentage
Senator Mike Gianaris
Wake Up and Freedom Rage Against the Machine
3 Number of daughters Cuomo has
159 Days since Cuomo called for the legislation
Who Let The Dogs Out Baha Men
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Assemblyman Kieran Lalor
Days since Cuomo introduced the legislation:
4 Lalor: Baha Men; Gianaris: Rage Against the Machine; Skelos: Bocelli; Krueger: Cash; Malliotakis: Guns N’ Roses; Brindisi: The Black Keys
Majority Coalition Leader Dean Skelos
13 Days remaining in the session
Do you still use a typewriter? Funeral directors in NYS have no choice. SUPPORT A NYS
Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS)
FACT:More than 147,000 deaths occur each year in New York State.
But for those outside of NYC, funeral directors must use a typewriter and carbon paper to fill out each and every certificate of death. They then take this official state record by car first to get signed and then filed. This “paper chase” raises costs for our rural, urban and suburban funeral homes and needlessly wastes a licensed funeral director’s time – time that could and should be spent taking care of the needs of families who have just lost a loved one.
Why is the Empire State so behind the times?
43 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia all have electronic death registration systems or are developing them. It’s time for New York State to do better.
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www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 17, 2013
CAPITOL The Capitol Pressroom’s host, Susan Arbetter, recaps recent highlights of her one-hour public radio show, broadcast live from the State Capitol. Arbetter is the news and public affairs director for WCNY in Syracuse.
LCA Show p wa s govern rogram from the day s when F or
he curtain flutters. On cue, the Albany Times Union’s Casey Seiler bounds onto the stage at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. He’s wearing a fake comb-over, a straitjacket and a smile that reeks of lasciviousness and mania. The band begins playing something familiar. The tune is courtesy of Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca”; the lyrics are courtesy of Vito Lopez: He’s into curvy interns, top aides and little girls/We’ve got a sinking feeling this guy will make you hurl… Seiler—“I went all Method on Vito”— is performing to a crowd of over 300 of Albany’s most powerful elected officials, lobbyists, staffers and others who can afford the $300-a-plate ticket price. This year both Senate Majority Co-Chairmen, Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, were in the house. State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins was in attendance too; she and state Sen. Lee Zeldin presented this year’s “rebuttals”—the postshow opportunity for lawmakers to respond to the LCA.
Cuomo’s top lieutenants Howard Glaser and Larry Schwartz were at this year’s event as well, along with a gaggle of the governor’s press aides, all wearing oversize stickers declaring membership in either “Team Howard: Elitists Rule” or “Team Larry: Bullies Deliver.” Like many of the reporters on stage, Seiler is a frustrated former musical theater geek. He relished his turn as Lopez—and received huge laughs for his effort. The annual LCA Show is a once-a-year opportunity to breed the natural snarkiness found in newsrooms everywhere with the inner ham many reporters harbor but keep hidden. The resulting spawn is a thing to behold: He’ll make you rub his hands because he says he feels cold/He’ll make you dress up sexy cause he’s so horny and old…
Castro, Huntley. What an embarrassment to democracy. Yet satirizing these alleged no-goodniks is a catharsis. It’s an opportunity to grok, sympathize, understand and mind-meld with the perpetrators of scandal we cover every day. Think of the LCA show as a seasonal rite of passage, like Samhain. Or freshmen moveout day. Or a colonoscopy. This year marked the 113th time that reporters in Albany lambasted the state’s elected officials. According to unofficial LCA historian Kyle Hughes of NYSNYS.com, it’s the longest running satire show of its kind in the nation. As I was rummaging through the LCA archives, I found a printed dinner menu from a show circa 1911 featuring such or LCA show gag writers (former culinary enigmas as “Roast and current reporters who cover Squab Guinea Sur Canape au LCA program from the Pataki era state politics in Albany), 2013 Cresson” and a “Couronne of offered a bumper crop Sweetbreads,” as well as coffee the IDC, other reporters, Preet Bharara of material. Between and cigarettes. And booze. 2013’s menu may not have included a and Hillary Clinton, as well as the offiFebruary and May we witnessed Perps on couronne of anything, but booze we had. cials now in custody. And Assemblyman At the turn of the last century, these Steven Katz, who was said to have been Parade. More than once I shows were stag affairs held either on caught with a brand of pot known as heard stunned reporters barges down by the Hudson River or at “Taconic chronic.” Former reporter Terry O’Brien, who whisper, “The jokes hotels. This year’s event unfolded on a almost write them- rainy Tuesday night on the stage at the played Assembly Minority Leader Brian Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Kolb, sang to Tom Jones’ “What’s New selves!” Smith, Boyland, where former Senate Majority Leader Pussycat”: Who’s high, Steve Katz?/You’re high, Sampson, Stevenson, Joseph Bruno once rode onto the stage astride a live horse, Steve Katz!/Steven Katz, Steve Katz/You’ve Katz, Lopez, and where Gov. David got ganga/And lots of colleagues/To smoke Paterson entertained us with you/So grab your bong and some with a series of backflips. water to fill it up with/Steven Katz, Steven It was also on this Katz. According to Hughes, “back in the stage that the most scathing jokes have day” the shows were considered off-thebeen made (and raun- record; that’s no longer possible, thanks chiest songs sung) at to technology. At the same time, the the expense of the show’s rebuttal guests have gotten quite state’s most powerful ambitious, using film, video, music, officials. This year the animation and graphics. Both of this m ra g ro LCA spread the love, year’s rebuttals, by Sens. Stewart-Cousins p f LCA Show Close-up o taunting Gov. Cuomo, and Zeldin, included short films as well lyrics legislative leaders, as live bits. The cover of the “Escape from New NY” program
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
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COV E R STO RY
Executive’ s The Shady Ties Between Nassau County Exec Ed Mangano and His Top Deputy’s GOP Club
tanding at a podium in a garish banquet hall at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Long Island, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is giving a speech in acceptance of an “Achievement in Crisis Communication” award for his handling of Superstorm Sandy. Mangano is equal parts charismatic and self-assured; his boyish smile is a magnet for the cameras, and traces of a Long Island accent give him a comforting authenticity as not just another politician in a suit but “one of the guys.” As he details the importance of “having a plan” to tackle unexpected natural disasters, it is 8
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
By Nick Powell
clear he excels at these sort of events—more at ease playing the role of the glad-handing, schmoozing public official than policy wonk. “He’s very visible. He’s all over,” said former Assemblyman Jerry Kremer, who represented parts of Nassau County. “He doesn’t miss an opportunity to project his image.” It’s campaign season in Nassau County, and the county executive seat is up for grabs. Democrats hope to win it back from Mangano, a Republican, after losing it to him in a stunning upset by a razor-thin margin in 2009. Back then Mangano was a relatively unknown county legislator given virtually no
Photo: Aaron adler
COV E R STO RY chance of toppling the prominent two-term incumbent, Thomas Suozzi, whose attention was already focused past his re-election bid and on to higher office. According to Nassau County political observers, at the time Mangano was seen as “the last guy in the room” who could win, and dismissed as an empty suit with no real credentials or public policy to hang his hat on. A Siena College poll taken just weeks before the election found that only 32 percent of voters would cast a ballot for him if the election were held that day, compared with 54 percent for Suozzi. But as the Democrats learned on Election Day, those numbers did not reflect a countywide anti-incumbent sentiment, anger at Nassau’s mounting fiscal crisis and Mangano’s compelling personal narrative—putting himself through college by working as a high school janitor. After a lengthy recount Mangano prevailed, winning by a mere 386 votes out of the over 230,000 ballots cast. As leader of the county over the past three and a half years, Mangano has received mixed reviews. After inheriting a nearly $133 million deficit from his predecessor, Mangano immediately set out to streamline the county government, slashing a large number of county jobs, especially managerial positions. At the same time, though, he cut energy and property taxes, putting the county into a position where it had to balance its budget with “one-shot” borrowing. As a result, in 2011 the Nassau Interim Finance Authority voted unanimously to take over control of the county’s finances, citing the deficits the county was running. “How much of [Nassau’s fiscal situation] you can ascribe only to the economy, how much of it was Suozzi not paying attention the last year or two and how much Mangano can blame Suozzi for the economy, it’s a very difficult thing to separate,” said a source knowledgeable about Nassau County politics who asked to remain nameless so as not to antagonize the county executive. “Mangano did take some steps to rein in spending. The workforce is smaller, but he had to eat the young by pushing off expenses, and by negotiating contracts that have big payouts down the road.” Yet as his “Crisis Communication” award demonstrates, Mangano was widely praised for his steady hand in guiding the county through the immense challenges and destruction of Superstorm Sandy, and it is safe to say that his fortitude amid that trying time remains fresh in the minds of voters. His approval rating, at 45 percent before Sandy, improved to 51 percent in January, the high mark of his tenure. But while the narrative of Mangano as the calm at the center of the storm is compelling as a campaign optic, recent revelations indicate that Mangano may have exploited Sandy for his own ends. In the wake of the storm, various contractors and subcontractors who contributed heavily to Mangano’s campaign account received lucrative contracts from the county for performing such jobs as debris removal and general cleanup. Moreover, in addition to donating to Mangano, some of these contractors gave significant sums of money to a small political club in the hamlet of Hicksville—the Hicksville Republican Club—run by Mangano’s chief deputy county executive, Rob Walker. According to numerous documents and campaign finance records, the Hicksville club appears to have served as a proxy fundraising vehicle for Mangano’s campaign. Wealthy donors, including individuals who have relationships with or are employed by Nassau County, and companies that contract with the county, have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Republican club since Mangano and Walker took office. This money subsequently appears to have been spent on several
lavish fundraising and campaign events, including for a $200,000 luxury suite at MetLife Stadium and high-end golf outings at destination courses like Myrtle Beach.
OPPOSITION RESEARCH Eager to avoid a repeat of his party’s 2009 debacle, Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs last summer commissioned his staff to begin opposition research of Mangano. Among the areas he directed them to probe were the county’s GOP political clubs. Republicans control 70 different clubs in Nassau, and Jacobs had a hunch that if his team examined the campaign filings for every single one of them, they might be able to uncover a vulnerability to exploit in the coming election year. “When we pulled all of the clubs, we noticed 69 of them had normal traffic, if you will. They bring in $7,000, $12,000, $19,000, and they spend about the same,” Jacobs said. “The Hicksville Republican Club caught our attention, and we began looking back. The average [amount of total annual contributions the club received] over 10 years, in and out, was $29,000 a year. In the year that Mangano became county executive, it jumped to $111,000, which was way out of line with everything else. The following year, which was last year, it jumped to [over $300,000]. That was extraordinary, so of course the question was ‘What the hell is going on in Hicksville?’ ” Political clubs have long been a staple of Nassau County’s various towns and villages. Primarily they are utilized as vehicles for raising money and building up support for a party. Those clubs that are registered as political committees—Hicksville is registered as a constituted county committee—fall under the purview of the state Board of Elections when it comes to fundraising and spending practices. Sources familiar with these clubs say they typically don’t raise more than between $5,000 and $10,000 a year, and rarely have an actual physical headquarters. The Hicksville Republican Club, for instance, meets at a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post on the second Friday of every month. “It’s something that I’ve only seen in Nassau, but a lot of elected officials who may also be party leaders, who are very associated with a particular community, will tend to use clubs as a fundraising mechanism,” Kremer said. The Hicksville club has been led by Chief Deputy County Executive Walker, a former assemblyman, since 1999. After averaging over $29,227 per year in total annual contributions from 2006 to 2010—the year Mangano and Walker took office—the club’s contributions grew to $111,835 in 2011. Last year contributions to the club more than tripled, to $363,255, including over $6,000 from companies that had received contracts from the county for Sandy cleanup. Concurrently, expenditures reported by the Hicksville committee also rose dramatically. Between 2006 and 2010 the club reported a combined total of $120,546 in campaign-related expenditures, but that number shot up to $109,710 in 2011 alone. The following year that amount more than tripled, to $349,093. Among the committee’s outlays, as the Daily News first reported last August, was a $204,000 payment in 2012 to MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, for a luxury suite used for two separate Mangano fundraisers. “I’m amazed they spent 200 grand on a skybox. I’m blown away by that,” said a Republican campaign strategist who requested anonymity so as not to hurt his business. “I can’t think of a single other political candidate or entity other than a national party paying for a skybox for
Changing the Conversation about Our Energy Future By John Kelly
This month, Academy Award-nominated documentarian Robert Stone’s latest environmental film, Pandora’s Promise, opened nationally following extensive acclaim at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Stone’s film is about some of the globe’s most esteemed scientists and environmental crusaders who have changed course on their perception about nuclear energy because of dire concerns over climate change. Stone attempts to demystify this largely misunderstood energy source with scientific evidence and expert commentary. The film documents our daily exposure to radiation from a variety of sources. Flying in an airplane or spending the day at Grand Central Station will expose you to more radiation than what you would receive from visiting a nuclear power plant. I recently had a CAT scan which was necessary to diagnose a medical problem and I am glad it was available, but I received more radiation exposure from that CAT scan than I received in forty years of working in the nuclear industry. Although, I am intimately familiar with many of the facts presented in the film, I appreciated the film’s effort to contrast the emotional, fear-based claims of anti-nuclear activists with simple logic and documented facts. For example, Stone shows his viewers how all of the used nuclear fuel generated in the U.S. over the last 50-plus years could fit in 10-foot-high barrels covering a single football field and compares it to the amount of coal pollution that has been expelled into the air for more than a century. Stone then takes us one step further to show us a future where nuclear fuel is recycled to the point that the total waste for the entire lifetime of a family of four can fit into a coffee cup. Unless the energy of the future is clean and non-CO2 emitting, the risk of worsening the global climate change is almost certain. Pandora’s Promise rightfully questions the phobia about nuclear energy and shines a spotlight on the fact that the most effective zero-emission solution to combating climate change already exists. I certainly hope that the film impacts the current energy dialogue, because there is simply too much on the line not to pay attention. John Kelly is a certified health physicist and retired as Director of Licensing for Entergy Nuclear Northeast. He worked in the nuclear industry for 40 years, including years at Indian Point and other nuclear plants in the Northeast.
S P E C I A L
S P O N S O R E D
S E C T I O N
The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) is a diverse group of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders working together for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity solutions that foster prosperity and jobs for the Empire State. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 17, 2013
COV E R STO RY
HICKSVILLE REPUBLICAN CLUB
FRIENDS OF MANGANO
brother JOHN MaNGANO
DEPUTY CHIEF COUNTY EXECUTIVE
NASSAU COUNTY GOVERNMENT
COUNTY EMPLOYEES FRANK INTAGLIATA
CAROLYN SHAH Moehringer
Donors to Friends of Ed Mangano and Hicksville Republican Club
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Donors to Hicksville Republican Club
the Hicksville committee paid for any of that season’s Jets or Giants games—two preseason games and eight regular season games were included in the price. Mangano’s 2012 campaign filings show three separate payments to MetLife Stadium, however: $16,800 for “consulting,” and two other payments, for $2,550 and $960, listed as “fundraisers.” Neither Mangano nor Walker returned any of several phone and email requests for comment on this story. Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Friends of Ed Mangano and for the Nassau County Executive’s office, did respond, saying the events held at Giants Stadium were reported as an in-kind contribution from the Hicksville committee to the Mangano campaign. Nevin pointed to what appears as an un-itemized $48,000 contribution from an entity labeled “Anonymous,” as proof of the Mangano campaign’s payment for the luxury suite. Jacobs finds this explanation dubious. “They had three different fundraisers using that box. There are 10 games at the stadium, two preseason, eight regular season games, there were concerts and other events that the box was available for,
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something. That’s a lot of money.” An email invitation sent by Friends of Ed Mangano, Mangano’s campaign committee, which Walker also heads, invited individuals to the stadium for “the chance to pilot one of your automotive dreams,” in this case a Ferrari F430 or a Lamborghini Gallardo; a specially designed autocross track allowed attendees of the event to race the cars around the stadium. The cost to attend the event, according to the invitation, was $1,000 per person, and donors were instructed to make out their contributions to Mangano’s campaign committee. The Hicksville committee also sponsored a fundraiser at MetLife Stadium last September, in that instance for three nights of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concerts. The invitation, sent by Walker from his campaign email address, offered 20 tickets for each night at $1,100 per person, a price that included food, drinks and limo transportation to the venue. Again, the invitation instructed attendees to make their checks payable to the Mangano campaign. It is unclear whether Mangano’s campaign used the luxury suite for which
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in addition,” Jacobs said. “Who sat in the box the rest of the time? Was it empty?”
A LEGAL GRAY AREA The Hicksville committee also listed separate American Express payments of $2,206 and $1,792 in 2012 for a Myrtle Beach golf fundraiser for the Mangano campaign. Yet the invitation for the fundraiser, sent by Walker on behalf of Friends of Ed Mangano, states that donations of $1,895 per individual covered round-trip airfare to Myrtle Beach, three nights at a hotel, and food and beverage costs for several meals. The remaining cost of the fundraiser is not listed on either Mangano’s or Hicksville’s filings, which would seem to indicate expenditures missing from their respective disclosure reports. Another questionable Hicksville disbursement is $30,000 in total payments from April 2012 to July 10, 2012 to a business called KKL Associates for what is listed as “consulting” on the committee’s expenditure report. According to the New York Department of State, KKL Associates was not a registered business until July 11,
2012, meaning that the payments were being made to a company that did not yet exist. The address listed for the business in the committee’s filing, 404 Jerusalem Ave. in Hicksville, is an apartment complex where Walker’s former special assistant, Kristen DiCerbo, lives. City & State called a number listed for DiCerbo, but received no response. Further complicating matters is whether Hicksville’s status as a political committee precludes the club from spending such large amounts. According to the state Board of Elections, the Hicksville Republican Committee is registered as a “constituted county committee,” meaning that it can accept up to $102,300 in individual contributions and spend unlimited amounts on a Republican Party candidate. According to state campaign finance law, any monies that political committees expend toward a given campaign must be reported by that campaign. However, Jacobs filed a complaint with the Board of Elections, which includes a cause of action stating that the Hicksville club is neither a “constituted committee” nor “a political committee specifically authorized by Mangano to aid or take part
COV E R STO RY in Mangano’s campaign.” Jacobs claims that the Hicksville club should be considered a duly constituted subcommittee of a county committee, which would place restrictions on what percentage of the contributions received could be used toward expenses related to funding a campaign, limiting the expenditure to not more than one cent per registered voter within the district where the committee is located. As this law applies to the hamlet of Hicksville—where there are over 28,000 registered voters— the maximum amount of money that could be spent would therefore be roughly $280, significantly less than the amount disbursed by the Hicksville committee. In response to an inquiry about the legal status of Hicksville’s committee, attorney John Ryan, of Ryan, Brennan & Donnelly LLP, who represents Mangano and Walker, wrote that the Hicksville Republican Club and the Hicksville Republican Committee are “two separate and distinct entities” and that the committee is a Republican Party committee “comprised of those Election Districts within the Assembly Districts of the unincorporated area of Hicksville in the Town of Oyster Bay, New York.” Whatever its status, questions arise as to whether the committee’s expenditures are legal. Henry Berger, a prominent state election lawyer, said that if the Hicksville club is indeed raising and spending money on behalf of Mangano, it could be considered a violation of state law. “If [Mangano is] using [the Hicksville committee] as a proxy to raise contributions that are then used to raise more money for him, it’s essentially a sham transaction,” said Berger. “If [the Hicksville committee is] making expenditures at these levels, accepting contributions for the purpose of raising money for Mangano and then making the expenditures to raise the money, it’s engaging in multiple violations of the law.” Jacobs’ complaint also details Hicksville’s campaign finance irregularities, along with a list of $110,000 in un-itemized expenses and $70,000 in corporate contributions that exceeded the $5,000 annual limit to which corporations are restricted by law. Responding to this complaint, Ryan, on behalf of Mangano and Walker, disputes nearly every allegation made in relation to Friends of Ed Mangano and the Hicksville club’s campaign finance disclosure reports, with the sole exception being what he explains as a typographical error in the date of two payments made from the Hicksville committee to KKL Associates. Ryan also denies that the Hicksville committee made any contributions to the campaign through the various fundraisers the club held, including the events at MetLife Stadium and Myrtle Beach. Ryan also claims that every dollar that the Mangano campaign accepted over the corporate contribution limit has been refunded to the respective companies—an adjustment that he asserts will be reflected in Friends of Mangano’s next filing. When reached by phone, a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections declined to comment on the complaint filed by Jacobs and the response from Mangano and Walker, on the grounds that the complaint is currently under review.
FRIENDS OF MANGANO The common thread tying together the Hicksville Republican Club and Mangano’s campaign is Rob Walker. How did a relatively unknown former lawmaker rise to his current position of power in Nassau County?
One could say he came full circle. One summer, before his political career got off the ground, Walker interned for Mangano in the county Legislature. The son of longtime Nassau County politician Rose Marie Walker, who took over Mangano’s seat in the county Legislature after he became county executive, Rob later became an assistant to Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, where he was director of traffic survey and constituent services. After, Walker served for three years as deputy parks commissioner for Oyster Bay before running for the Assembly in a 2005 special election, which he won. Walker’s tenure as the assemblyman representing Oyster Bay was of little note, though his lack of accomplishments can be attributed to his being a Republican in the Democrat-dominated Assembly, rather than being a reflection on Walker’s chops as a legislator. In 2008 Walker left the Assembly to run Mangano’s campaign. When Mangano pulled off his unexpected victory over Suozzi, Walker was suddenly in a prime position to play a pivotal role in running Nassau County. “Ed had never managed anything. He was not town supervisor or mayor, and some felt [Mangano] should’ve brought in somebody who had done that,” said an expert in Nassau County politics who asked not to be identified so as not to offend the county executive. “Rob was an assemblyman; you don’t manage anything as an assemblyman.” Multiple sources with knowledge of the inner working of county politics contend that the power dynamic between Mangano and Walker is this: Mangano is the figurehead for the county, the public official who attends the ribbon cuttings and public events, while Walker pulls the strings behind the scenes. As Mangano’s co-pilot and top deputy, Walker appears to be utilizing his network of connections to wealthy and connected donors to fill the Hicksville Republican Club’s coffers. Many of the people who have contributed to the club include individuals who have had long-standing relationships with Nassau County, some of whom are employed by the county or who have been contracted by it to provide various services. In April 2012, Aly and Keith Lizza—vice president and general manager, respectively, of Carlo Lizza & Sons Paving—contributed a total of $90,000 to the Hicksville committee. Their company later received $4 million in contracts from the county to assist in tree removal and other miscellaneous post-Sandy work. The single largest donation to the club in 2012 was $50,000 from James Hagedorn, the CEO of Scott’s Miracle-Gro and a board member, along with Walker, of the Friends of Sands Point Preserve, which manages the property. In a report by Newsday in September 2012, Hagedorn indicated he was aware that Hicksville planned to use his contribution to help purchase the luxury box at Giants Stadium, saying he thought it was a smart way to “build financial horsepower.” Other large contributions to the committee include $10,000 from former MTA and Port Authority board member David Mack, currently the assistant Nassau police commissioner, and $25,000 from Donald Codignotto, whose brother, Robert, is also an assistant police commissioner with the county. The committee also received $10,000 from Joanne Smith, a secretary and treasurer of Standard Valuation Services who is married to its president, Matthew Smith. Standard Valuation Services is a property appraisal company that has been contracted several times by Nassau County since 2010, the year Mangano took office. Frank Intagliata, an employee with the county Office
Ratepayers Shorted by New “Straw Proposal” By William I Jacobs The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), in its continued effort to fast-track its plan to replace Indian Point, recently issued a revised breakdown of how the nearly $1 billion dollar price tag will be repaid and which ratepayers will be responsible for shouldering the cost. This “Straw Proposal” attempts to reconcile the concerns of upstate ratepayers over who would pay for the projects developed as part of the PSC’s contingency plan by placing the entire cost burden on downstate New Yorkers. Rather than dividing the contingency plan’s costs amongst all New York ratepayers (which is admittedly unfair to utility customers who won’t receive any benefits from the projects), the Straw Proposal puts geographic limits on who will share the burden. Under the new plan, the impact on ratepayers in the Westchester and New York City region will be more than twice the initial estimate. To add insult to injury, the new filing still doesn’t clarify whether ratepayers will be responsible for funding the plan’s “transmission solution projects” even if they are never completed. In all likelihood Indian Point will continue to operate, as it should, rendering most of these projects unnecessary. Yet the Straw Proposal provides no guarantee that ratepayers won’t be asked to reimburse developers for the cost of unfinished projects. The PSC’s plan also fails to disclose the cost difference to ratepayers between “load zone deficiencies” and “load zone violations” which would result from an insufficient amount of power to replace the 2067 megawatts (MW) produced by Indian Point. The proposed cost models will likely force residents of one zone to pick up the tab for ratepayers in a different zone because they assign a similar per-megawatt price for either the power itself or energy delivery. Despite the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission giving Indian Point high marks once again in its annual review of the plant’s safety and operations, the PSC is pushing this plan ahead with New York ratepayers’ checkbook in hand, ready to spend at least $811 million – a very conservative initial estimate for a plan of this magnitude. Indian Point’s virtually emissions-free electricity supplies nearly one-third of New York City’s power each day, and would be very difficult and costly to replace. The PSC’s urgency to expedite an Indian Point contingency plan regardless of its impact on the economy, ratepayers, and the environment is reckless. As the expression goes, “The Devil is in the Details,” and once again the bureaucrats in Albany are mandating that taxpayers provide them with a blank check and complete authority over critical New York energy policy decisions that will impact our state for decades to come. William I Jacobs has 30 years of experience in finance, corporate development, strategy and other areas of administration. He specializes in financial technology, payments, insurance, collections, energy and capital markets. S P E C I A L
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Office of Purchasing, contributed $4,000, while Michael Sposato, the acting Nassau County sheriff, contributed $3,500 to the Hicksville club. With the exception of Mack and Codignotto, none of these donors returned phone calls from City & State. When asked about the nature of his relationship with the committee and his reason for his contribution, Codignotto responded, “No comment.” Mack, who now runs a real estate company based in New Jersey, said that his contribution wasn’t solicited by Mangano or Walker, and that “there was a cause involved,” though one he could not recall. “It has nothing to do with [Mangano’s] campaign, not at all,” Mack said. “I wasn’t solicited for it. I heard they were raising money. You can see I give a lot of money to a lot of different friends. They were shocked and thanked me very much, and that’s it. I hope Mangano wins.” These donors were not the only ones with problematic ties to Mangano. An Associated Press report found that Friends of Ed Mangano received $144,000 in donations from Sandy contractors in the weeks after they were hired by Nassau County. Many of the companies that gave to Mangano’s campaign also contributed $6,000 to the Hicksville committee, and some of these companies’ high-ranking employees have close familial relations with county officials. For instance, Dejana Industries, a sanitation firm, gave $12,575 to Mangano’s campaign, and a subsidiary, Dejana Truck and Equipment Company, gave $550 to the Hicksville committee. Mangano’s brother, John Mangano Jr., is the director of business development and municipal sales director for Dejana Industries. Dejana was one of the county’s Sandy contractors, receiving $36,288 for a “fuel truck rental.” Among the other contractors that contributed to the Hicksville club was Nelson & Pope Engineers, a surveying and engineering firm that previously employed Walker as a project manager and currently employs Walker’s wife, Elizabeth, as an administrative assistant. On September 12 of last year, Nelson & Pope made separate contributions of $425 and $700 to the Hicksville club. The firm also contributed $5,895 to Friends of Ed Mangano from 2010 to 2012. After Sandy hit in late October, Nelson & Pope received a $400,000 contract to assist in tree and debris removal at various sites throughout the county. Grace Industries, a company that services roads and highways, donated $1,000 to Hicksville and $13,000 to Mangano, while the company’s chairman, William Haugland, also made a $2,612 in-kind contribution that was not itemized in Mangano’s filings. Grace Industries received two contracts for Sandy cleanup totaling $8 million. John and Anthony Gulino, owners of surveying and engineering company Laser
Industries, gave a $13,000 in-kind contribution to Mangano, as well as $1,000 to the Hicksville club. Laser Industries received up to $6 million in contracts for Sandy work, according to the Associated Press. Yet another company, 192 Branch Interior Services, gave only $150 to the Hicksville committee but $5,000 to Friends of Ed Mangano. The company was awarded a $1 million contract to assist in the removal and disposal of water from various sites in the county. No one from these companies responded to requests for comment. Lastly, between 2011 and 2012 CSM Engineering contributed $5,375 to Friends of Ed Mangano, and $600 to the Hicksville committee in 2012. The firm is owned by Carolyn Shah Moehringer, sister of Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, the commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Public Works, the body responsible for procuring contracts for the design, construction, repair, maintenance and cleaning of all the streets and bridges in the county. CSM was one of the companies to receive an emergency contract for tree and debris removal after Sandy, in the amount of $250,000. In response to an inquiry from City & State, Shah-Gavnoudias wrote in a statement that recovering from Sandy “was the chief factor in securing all contracts necessary to restoring functionality and safety to Nassau County.” She should have recused herself in procuring the contract for CSM, she added. “In retrospect, while I recused myself from the technical selection committee I regret any impression created by the signing of a procedural routing slip and Comptroller Approval Form for CSM Engineering,” read Shah-Gavnoudias’ statement.
A HISTORY OF PATRONAGE The apparent rewarding of family members and associates of county officials with patronage jobs and county contracts has been endemic to Nassau County dating back to the reign of former county Republican leader Joseph Margiotta. Famous for rewarding loyalty by recommending party supporters for political patronage jobs on municipal payrolls, Margiotta served as a mentor to such successful Nassau Republicans as former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and current state Senate Majority Coalition Leader Dean Skelos. Multiple sources with knowledge of Nassau County politics maintain that D’Amato enjoys a good relationship with Mangano. Campaign finance disclosure reports show that D’Amato contributed $2,500 to Mangano’s campaign in 2011. According to a Newsday report, wellknown Republican Party supporter Robert McBride, the vice president of D’Amato’s lobbying firm, Park Strategies, held a fund-
COV E R STO RY culture that pervades the Board of Elections, where an even number of Democrats and Republicans controls the board, and consensus is needed to initiate even the most mundane campaign finance investigation. Another problem is the lack of any enforcement infrastructure to pursue these cases. Yet even when provided with the resources to pursue violations, the agency has not followed through in hiring the manpower necessary to effectively probe them. “[The Board of Elections has] been offered the money CHIEF DEPUTY COUNTY EXECUTIVE ROB to improve their WALKER infrastructure in the past and never taken it,” said NYPIRG’s research coordinator, raiser for Mangano at his home in Hicksville in 2011. Later that year Veolia Trans- Bill Mahoney. “In 2007, for example, Gov. portation, a company represented by Spitzer gave them the money to hire 18 Park Strategies, won a large contract from new enforcement staff, and they didn’t the county to run Long Island Bus. Veolia bother hiring a single person, and Gov. subsequently donated $4,790 to Manga- Paterson took the money [back] a couple of years later.” no’s campaign in 2012. Mahoney added that the result of the In April 2013, a report from the Joint Commission on Public Ethics named Park agency’s passivity in pursuing campaign Strategies the highest-grossing lobbying finance violations is that local candidates feel empowered to reach out to the firm on Long Island. wealthiest donors possible, even if those donors happen to conduct business with UNDER THE RADAR that candidate. “It’s certainly common practice among state politicians. It’s very easy for While perhaps not as headlinegrabbing as the public corruption scan- a county executive to raise huge sums of dals that have recently ensnared New money; it’s also easy for opponents to do York state and city lawmakers, campaign so as well,” Mahoney said. “They’ll actufinance violations continue to be a recur- ally be incentivized to reach out to people who can give them five-figure checks in ring epidemic. A recent study conducted by the New many cases. Often the people that have York Public Interest Group found that in that money and are willing to do so are the last two years over 100,000 campaign the people who have contracts before the finance violations went undetected. county.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his ongoing Candidates, political committees and corporations sometimes blatantly flout effort to “clean up” the state, recently these laws. The state Board of Elections introduced a campaign finance bill that is tasked with enforcement but is widely would limit a club or committee like considered toothless in its ability to curb Hicksville from spending exorbitant amounts on a single candidate. The bill and punish abuse. In fact, in the NYPIRG report, a $25,000 would impose a $5,000 limit on transfers corporate contribution to Friends or money spent by political party commitof Ed Mangano from Bolla Manage- tees on behalf of candidates. Unfortunately for Mangano’s oppoment Corp. was cited as an example of a campaign finance violation that should nents in the county executive race, the large have normally prompted an immediate amounts of money given to Mangano and response from the state Board of Elec- the Hicksville club have already been spent. By the time the bill passes, Mangano could tions, but instead went undetected. Part of the problem with enforcing be well on his way to a second term as county campaign finance laws is the partisan executive.
Proposed Bill Would Steal Workers’ Tips
By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
hen customers at a restaurant get their check at the end of the night, and see a “service charge” listed on the bill, most assume that this is a gratuity that is going to their server. And when someone pays an additional “service charge” on their bill for a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, they generally assume the same thing — that this is money that is going towards rewarding waiters, bartenders, and the rest of the service crew who have helped make it a memorable event.
But too often in New York’s catering and banquet industry, those so-called “service charges” have been going straight into the bosses’ pockets. It’s not only deceptive, it’s morally wrong for employers to steal their workers’ tips with a bait and switch. And, since 1999, it’s been illegal. According to Section 196-D of New York State labor law, it’s illegal for employers in the hospitality industry to retain gratuities for service workers. And, contracts must contain clear language explaining service charges and how they are used. When employers keep “service charges” for themselves without clearly telling customers they will do so, they are breaking the law. That’s why there are a number of current class action lawsuits in the state of New York against these employers. Workers are trying to reclaim these stolen tips, which potentially add up to a staggering sum. It’s unclear the total amount that has been pickpocketed from workers, but with catering companies routinely adding an additional 20 percent in “service charges” to the final bill, it could run into the tens of millions. This is money that could be going to help working men and women in the service industry build better lives, and it’s money that was spent by customers duped into paying through a classic confidence scam. Greedy caterers have for years been padding their profits by playing on customers’ conscience and desire to do the right thing. But as these workers try to reclaim the tips that consumers were tricked into giving to their employers, another equally cynical ploy is playing out in the legislative arena. State Senator Jack Martins and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder have introduced a bill that would amend Section 196-D to retroactively shield restaurants and caterers from any liability for failing to pay workers gratuities they are owed. The bill is unconscionable, as it would remove all recourse from aggrieved workers. It would protect employers even in the most blatant cases of stolen tips, and reward facilities that have outright lied to customers about where those tacked on charges were going. Restaurants and caterers have known since 1999 that they would be liable for damages resulting from stolen tips and misrepresented charges. And the law has been unconditionally clear since 2008, when a widely publicized court of appeals ruling backing the law was handed down in another service industry case. Yet, many in the industry have ignored the warnings and continually violated the law anyway, damaging the lives of working people. Countless students, single mothers, pensioners and young families — who comprise the majority of the workers in these industries — have been hurt. Dismissing these workers’ right for recourse with the stroke of a pen will be a grave injustice, and it will undermine worker protections statewide. Employers in New York need to take labor law seriously, and bills like this will only prevent that from happening.
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Labor’s Big Lift
What’s a union’s support for a mayoral candidate actually worth? Not always what you’d think. By Nathaniel Herz and Beth Morrissey, THE NEW YORK WORLD many candidates for mayor are likely he gathering on the steps of City to opt in to the city’s public financing Hall sounded like a cross between program, which sharply limits spending. But even backing from the most a prayer meeting and a pep rally. Members of District Council 37, one of powerful groups—like the United Federathe city’s largest public employee unions, tion of Teachers, which has yet to endorse called out “Preach!” when their leaders a candidate—will be no guarantee of a took the microphone, then chanted the win. Observers cited the race for mayor in name of their favored candidate, New York City Comptroller John Liu, after he 2001, when the teachers’ union endorsed accepted the union’s endorsement for three candidates in the primary, runoff and general elections, none of whom won mayor. But the press conference last month their contests. “When Mike Mulgrew says, ‘We was not just a demonstration of enthusiasm. It was also about making a promise make mayors,’ well, bullshit,” said Doug Muzzio, a political analyst and professor of material support. “We look forward to putting DC 37’s at Baruch College’s School of Public mighty army of volunteers into the field Affairs, referring to the UFT’s president. to help elect New York City Comptroller “It’s simply not true.” A UFT spokesman declined to address John Liu as New York City’s next mayor,” said Lillian Roberts, the group’s execu- Muzzio’s statement and passed along an tive director, backed by dozens of union article in which Mulgrew said that the union’s clout was “for others” to assess. members clad in green T-shirts. Political strategists and union sources Liu too recognized the power of the union’s ground troops. ”I know that with admit that it is almost impossible to tell this army of green, we are going to win just how much of an impact labor groups will have on the election. But they highthis election,” he said. In New York City, the support of a lighted four ways in which union support union can make or break a political can help tip the scales. They can deliver campaign. But not all endorsements votes from their own ranks; organize their are created equal, and divining the true members to turn out their neighbors and value of union backing in this fall’s hotly friends to the polls; lend their brand to a contested mayoral election is more spec- candidate’s campaign; and pony up hard cash for super-PAC-style ad campaigns. ulation than science. New Yorkers can be sure that unions Two groups with identical numbers of members can differ widely in their will be flexing each of these political capacity to mobilize their members. By muscles this summer, using whatever reputation DC 37 is notoriously disorga- resources are at their disposal. nized, and its political operation pales in comparison with that of 1199 SEIU, VOTES which claims 200,000 healthcare workers in the city and Long Island. Local 1199 has In a city of eight million people, unions endorsed Liu rival Bill de Blasio, the city’s with tens or even hundreds of thousands public advocate, in the mayoral race. of members can give candidates a direct And while the city’s rank-and-file boost at the ballot box. But just because police group, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent a union’s leadership decides to back a Association, is similar in size to the local candidate doesn’t mean that its members grocery store workers union, the cops’ will fall into line behind them. endorsement is far more valuable among “The question is: How much can voters who care about a candidate’s they actually deliver of their own vote?” stance on public safety. Muzzio said. “I don’t think there’s good The city is home to hundreds of data.” unions: public and private, construction Larger unions offer greater potential, and service, skilled and nonskilled trades. but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Each has its own interest in the outcome The UFT, with its claimed 200,000 of the mayoral race—and unlike in some members, is a potent endorsement. On past campaigns, the labor movement the other hand, two more of the city’s is fragmented, thus far having failed to largest groups—1199 SEIU’s healthcoalesce behind one candidate. care workers and SEIU 32 BJ’s buildings The lack of consensus puts a premium employees—have plenty of bodies, but on support from individual unions with many of them can’t vote, since they’re not robust political arms. And that backing United States citizens. How many? Not will mean even more in a race where even the unions themselves can say what
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their exact membership makeup is and how it will translate into votes. “We’ve been reasonably aggressive in registration, but we don’t know what percentage of our members are citizens,” said Norman Adler, a lobbyist and consultant working with 32 BJ. The police and firefighters, by contrast, likely have more eligible voters. But many of them live in the suburbs, so they can’t cast city ballots either. Turnout also will depend on the stake that union members feel they have in the election. Municipal workers, for example, have a bigger incentive to vote because they’re choosing their boss for the next four years—one who will decide how generous their new contracts will be. Private-sector workers can be motivated by good contracts and pay raises delivered by top union brass, which make their members more inclined to vote for candidates endorsed by their leaders, experts said. That’s been the case for the city’s Hotel and Motel Trades Council, said Scott Levenson, a union consultant and founder of the Advance Group. Though the council only has 30,000 members, its endorsement “gives you bang for your buck,” Levenson said. Union organizers said they are constantly trying to motivate volunteer work by highlighting potential financial returns to members. If a certain candidate appears more likely to promote real estate development, for example, that makes it much easier to get construction workers behind them. “I do this all the time … draw a direct correlation between political action and job creation,” said Mike McGuire, the political director for the Mason Tenders’ District Council. ”Your members, they have to see that.”
ORGANIZING The unions’ backing for their chosen candidates goes beyond votes. Many, especially larger groups, have employees specifically dedicated to strategizing and lining up volunteers to hand out fliers and make phone calls when election season rolls around. “They can afford to have big staffs thinking of nothing else, all year long, other than how to organize around election time,” said Bill O’Reilly, a Republican political consultant. The gold standard of these operations is 1199 SEIU’s, organized by Kevin Finnegan, a political strategist who has
worked with Harvey Milk and Hillary Clinton. At least half of 1199’s members contribute $5 to $10 monthly on top of their union dues to the group’s political action committee—money that will help pay for mailers and phone calls in the mayoral and other races. The union has endorsed Bill de Blasio for mayor, and will put its members to work rallying votes—mostly from their families, neighbors and church groups, since the city’s campaign finance rules largely limit unions to communicating with their own members. Other muscular organizers include the Mason Tenders’ District Council, which says it represents some 15,000 construction workers, the hotel workers, 32 BJ SEIU and the teachers’ union. DC 37 plans to tap its members to drum up support for Liu. It will also rally retirees, of which it claims to have 50,000. According to Audrey Iszard, executive vice president of the DC 37 Retirees Association, campaigning can be a family affair that can involve even those who are too young to vote. “The children will give you a button and say, ‘You’ve got to vote, because I want my mom to have a job,’ ” she said. Still, despite its large ranks, DC 37 is widely viewed as lacking the juice to mobilize members en masse. The group is a coalition of various smaller local unions, which “have a tendency to go off on their own” in defiance of leadership, Adler said. “They’re a mess,” he added. Roberts did not address a question put to her at the Liu rally about the state of the union’s campaign organizing efforts. A spokesperson for DC 37 did not respond to inquiries.
CACHET If you’re a candidate, a labor endorsement is typically good for at least a press conference. But after those first-day headlines, some union brands have staying power that can be valuable for a mayoral hopeful to tout as the campaign plays out. Foremost among these are the law enforcement unions, including police and firefighters, whose endorsements candidates can use to bolster their credibility with city dwellers concerned about public safety. “If that issue is important to them, then the endorsement of those unions signals something to those voters,” said Muzzio. A coalition of 18 such groups voted last
POLITICS week to endorse Democrat Bill Thompson. However, some of the most influential, like the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, have yet to back a candidate. In the past, the law enforcement mantle has meant a lot to candidates: In 1993, the PBA helped topple David Dinkins by endorsing his opponent in the Democratic primary, then supporting Rudolph Giuliani in the general election. “The PBA was instrumental, rightly or wrongly, in labeling David Dinkins as weak on public safety,” said Levenson. As crime has declined, those endorsements have come to mean less, but strategists say they’re still significant. The teachers’ support can help too. Levenson, whose firm has worked for the union, said that the UFT’s endorsement could be considered more influential than The New York Times’. But others said that the UFT’s backing could be a mixed bag, given the fierce fights over education playing out through the mayoral race. “Having the teachers helps in some quarters and hurts in others,” Adler said. “There’s a lot of people out there who are mad at the teachers.” Sometimes the brand-name recognition comes not with the unions themselves but with their colorful and media-savvy bosses. Prime examples include the corrections officers’ Norman Seabrook, and the retail workers’ Stuart Appelbaum, who was already issuing press releases touting Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s credentials nearly a year before the official announcement of her mayoral campaign. Through a string of press releases and public statements, Appelbaum has pumped up Quinn’s liberal credentials, giving her cover on the compromise she brokered on paid-sick-leave legislation. He’s also gone on the attack to blast Quinn’s Democratic rivals, calling Bill de Blasio’s suggestion that she had watered down the legislation to please business allies “stupefying.”
INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES Independent expenditures are the wild card in elections, an unpredictable element that could, under the right circumstances, sway key voters. It remains to be seen if the flood of outside dollars that deluged state and federal elections last year will also descend on the New York City mayoral race. But one outside group with substantial labor backing is already spending money to influence local voters. New York City Is Not For Sale has launched a campaign against Quinn. So far the effort, which includes two television ads, fliers and a website, has been largely funded by Communications Workers Local 1180, a union claiming to represent more than 8,000 members. After the ads launched, the union endorsed John Liu. According to filings with the New York
City Campaign Finance Board, the union contributed just over a half million dollars to the effort, while two political activists each contributed $200,000. CWA Local 1180 also funded an attack ad campaign against Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the 2009 elections. That salvo was launched a few weeks before the election, while the effort against Quinn began much earlier—about four months before the primary. “Our concern this time was that there was momentum building in the primary,” said Arthur Cheliotes, president of CWA Local 1180. “You can win the primary, and it’s done.” After the TV ads aired, the Quinn campaign asked Time Warner cable to pull them from the air on the grounds that they made false claims. But that’s not stopping Cheliotes. He said the group has received a new infusion of cash from supporters, and that it plans to spend a total of $1.5 million—an amount he contends is significant enough to influence the election. “I think if you can strike a chord, if you understand what people are feeling, and [they] need to have it affirmed, then it doesn’t take much,” he said. The decision to air television ads this early in the election cycle can also be costeffective. “If you’re going to put money on an independent expenditure, the price point increases as you get closer to primary day, because you’re competing with more people on the airwaves,” said Levenson, whose Advance Group was hired by New York City is Not For Sale. “One of the reasons we launched our independent expenditure early is because we recognized that there was a bit of a vacuum on the political airwaves.” But the timing of campaign ads is not an exact science, and opinions are divided about when in an election cycle outside funding can make the greatest impact. According to 1199 SEIU’s Finnegan, it would take about $1 million a week to significantly affect the mayoral race through television spots—a sum he says other unions are more likely to spend if they turn out to be united in their endorsements. But just because they can make major investments in ad buys or send mailers to nonmembers doesn’t mean more unions will do so this year. Such moves could make an impact in the September primary, but according to 32 BJ’s consultant Adler, if unions are going to “slip into their swimsuit and jump into the pool,” they want to be sure that it’s worth the price. And that’s not clear yet, given that many of the Democratic candidates have similar—and often vague—positions on key issues, he said. “A lot of the unions I talk to don’t know which way to go. Most feel none of these guys, if they get elected, will really harm them,” Adler said. “And that’s the threshold question.”
Labor’s Leading Influencers Some of the unions to watch this year in the race for mayor of New York City District Council 37 (DC 37) Occupation: Municipal employees Claimed membership: 121,000 Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 94,159 Political spending (2009): $2,443,016 Political spending (2012): $2,215,427 Special campaign superpower: Puts kids, retirees to work Endorsement 2013: John Liu
Local 1199 Service Employees International Union Occupation: Healthcare workers Claimed membership: 200,000 (New York City and Long Island) Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 347,073 (includes members outside New York City and Long Island) Political spending (2009): $15,759,242 Political spending (2012): $13,031,548 Special campaign superpower: Huge volunteer strike force Endorsement 2013: Bill de Blasio
Communications Workers of America Local 1180 Occupation: Administrators Claimed membership: 8,000+ Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 7,475 Political spending (2009): $212,655 Political spending (2012): $286,806 Special campaign superpower: Fiery attack ads Endorsement 2013: John Liu
New York Hotel Trades Council Occupation: Housekeepers, concierges, kitchen staff Claimed membership: 30,000 Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 30,072 Political spending (2009): $355,981 Political spending (2012): $248,520 Special campaign superpower: Members motivated to preserve $60,000 salaries Endorsement 2013: No endorsement yet
Local 32 BJ Service Employees International Union Occupation: Janitors, building maintenance workers, security guards Claimed membership: 70,000 (New York City area) Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 114,585 (in the Northeast) Political spending (2009): $5,679,510 Political spending (2012): $9,753,301 Special campaign superpower: Tech-savvy Endorsement 2013: No endorsement yet
Retail Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU) Occupation: Supermarket and retail workers Claimed membership: 45,000 (New York City area) Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 61,985 (national) Political spending (2009): $341,394 Political spending (2012): $386,394 Special campaign superpower: Loudmouthed executive Endorsement 2013: Christine Quinn
United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Occupation: Teachers, school nurses Claimed membership: 200,000+ Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: 182,834 Political spending (2009): $2,621,057 Political spending (2012): $3,359,519 Special campaign superpower: Piles of cash … if they decide to spend it Endorsement 2013: No endorsement yet
Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Occupation: Rank-and-file police officers Claimed membership: 23,000 Membership reported to U.S. Labor Dept.: n/a Political spending (2009): N/A Political spending (2012): N/A Special campaign superpower: Valuable brand name Endorsement 2013: No endorsement yet
www.thenewyorkworld.com www.cityandstateny.com | june 17, 2013
New York’s 10-year capital plan has something for almost everyone By Aaron Short
up with the economic growth strategies ofeach region across the state. Last month the task force released its report detailing recommendations for maintaining transportation, power and development authorities, and investing in new projects. Cuomo seemed pleased with the report. “Today, the task force has released a visionary road map on how we will leverage state resources to improve infrastructure in all corners of New York, save
money for taxpayers, and compete in the global economy,” he said in a statement. “This is a plan that will put New Yorkers to work and accelerate economic development over the next decade.” Planning experts often tout that infrastructure investments are among the smartest a state can make. Building and upgrading roads, bridges and power lines creates jobs and prevents more expensive refurbishments in the future—and public works investments
yield a nearly two-to-one return, some experts say. If the state does not end up having to bail out financially unstable municipalities or suffer from a dwindling pool of tax revenue, it could have more than $174 billion to play with for capital projects, according to state budget forecasts. With this figure in mind, the NY Works Task Force and the State Division of the Budget made three key recommendations in its report: continue with its Regional
f you’ve ever commuted to work, turned on a light switch or flushed a toilet, you know how important infrastructure is to your daily life. New York’s building blocks—its roads, bridges and rails, electrical wires, water mains and sewer lines—move some 19.5 million residents and many other commuters and visitors, connecting, protecting and sustaining them. Some of the nation’s largest public works projects, including the Erie Canal, the New York State Thruway and Battery Park City have been created by, and generated a massive return on, government investment. But if the state expects to add new jobs, homes and offices over the next decade, it must continue to expand and maintain its decaying infrastructure. In the past, state agencies independently submitted their funding requests for multiyear capital projects and piein-the-sky programs. Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened the New York Works Task Force last year to come up with a way to coordinate capital investments—about $174 billion worth from 47 state agencies and authorities—and match them The crown jewel of the state’s long-term transportation plan is replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
POLITICS Economic Development Councils; increase collaboration among agencies to boost their financial leverage by creating a capital investment fund; and organize capital spending through sectors and regions. The task force also found that the state’s fastest growing industries are the professional and information sectors, the state’s third-largest and fourth-largest sectors, with contributions of $94 billion and $85 billion to its 2011 GDP, respectively. But substantial challenges remain. The state’s rate of discouraged workers leaving the workforce has outpaced that of other states by 38 percent, on average. And declining and aging populations in upstate New York, combined with nearly 210,000 unfilled jobs in the state, can stall future economic growth. Infrastructure investment won’t immediately reverse population trends that have developed over generations, the task force acknowledged, but it can create jobs and spur long-term changes in the state’s regions. That’s the hope of the Cuomo administration, which put the bulk of its Statewide Capital Plan investments, a total of $113.4 billion—or 65 percent of its capital spending—into transportation. About $56 billion of that will go toward the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including funding for station maintenance and the construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway line; and $41.6 billion will go to the Department of Transportation to cover costs such as the construction of a new $971 million Kosciuszko Bridge spanning Brooklyn and Queens. But the crown jewel of the state’s long-term transportation plan is the Thruway Authority’s Tappan Zee Bridge, which includes eight traffic lanes, a new toll plaza and a dedicated bike lane and pedestrian walkway. The task force also recommended a grab bag of transit projects throughout the state, among them the expansion of a wharf on the Rensselaer side of Albany Port; refurbishing the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge; replacing the deck and approach spans under the Thousand Islands Bridge; constructing a new transit center in downtown Rochester; maintaining lochs and reservoirs within the state’s 524-mile canal system; and rehabilitating the Peace Bridge and renovating its surrounding facilities—although this particular project has been met with cross-border challenges from Canada. Besides transportation, the task force recommended allocating $20.9 billion to social services and public health, $17 billion to education, $7.3 billion to energy, $7.1 billion to parks and environmental conservation projects and $4.3 billion to development projects. Those projects include the renovation of Niagara Falls State Park; maintenance and expansion of CUNY and
SUNY educational facilities; improvement of Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills; and construction of housing projects for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Planning for infrastructure projects is a lot easier than getting funding allocated and completing them in a reasonable amount of time, of course. Legislators are well aware that capital projects can take years beyond their projected
times to finish and cost far more than their current estimates. “You need an infrastructure plan to move forward,” state Sen. Marty Golden said. “You need to be able to understand where and what you need and when you’re going to need it and what type of funding you need to build it.” Golden says the 10-year plan looks good, but added that he would like to see a specific calendar for when projects
would be completed, particularly smaller items such as 100-year-old sewer lines and water mains in his Brooklyn district. “They break, they cave in, you shut the street down, you hope nobody gets killed, you shut down the block for three to six to seven months before that block is up and running again,” he said. “They are going to cost a lot of money, more money than what’s probably planned for to deal with infrastructure that’s 100 years of age.”
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9:36 AM17 www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE6/13/13 17, 2013
GAMING THE SYSTEM A Q&A WITH JAMES FEATHERSTONHAUGH As the finish line nears for passing legislation to legalize casino gambling in New York, the New York Gaming Association has raised several concerns about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan and the effect it would have on their members: the nine racetrack casinos already operating in the state. Among the complaints are that new casinos would have to pay a minimum of 25 percent in taxes to the state while the racinos must pay about two thirds of their revenue. In an interview with City & State’s Jon Lentz, New York Gaming Association President James Featherstonhaugh discussed the changes he would like to see. City & State: The New York Gaming Association issued a statement last week expressing some unhappiness with the current casino plan. James Featherstonhaugh: Unhappiness is a harsh word. We read the governor’s plan, and we’re pleased that he’s taken an interest in gaming in New York and how it’s done. We believe that there are some parts of his bill that could and should be improved, chief among them, whoever gets a casino should, in our view, be playing on a level playing field for tax
purposes and other purposes as the other existing racetrack casinos. Some of the racetrack casinos under the governor’s proposal could become a full casino, but whether we do or we don’t, we think there has to be some kind of tax equity or you’ll get just very negative effects, both to the state and to the people who are on the short end of the tax stick. But that’s all fixable, and we also think that if the racetrack casinos are going to be allowed to bid, there are some changes necessary in the bill for them to be allowed to bid and to be able to compete on an equal footing. C&S: What are some of these changes? JF: Right now the bill provides that from the effective date of the law you would be entitled to look back three years and see how much you have done in capital expenditures in the last three years, and you could count that in your bid. Sixtyfive percent of the scoring in the bid is based on economic impacts. So you could count anything you’ve done in the last three years. But anything you’ve done more than three years ago, which would include most of our facilities— because you remember, we all come
on line in 2004, 2005 and 2006, so that’s beyond three years—all of those original expenditures would be disqualified from consideration in the bidding process, whereas a new person coming in would get credit from the first dollar. Same thing on the job front, too. C&S: You mentioned parity with tax rates. Should new casinos have to pay more than 25%, or should the existing racetrack casinos have to pay less? JF: Selfishly, we would like them to go down, but practically, no. I think as a practical matter, to get some kind of a reasonably proportioned tax equity, that rate would have to go up. Otherwise you would hurt education badly. C&S: Wouldn’t the new casinos also bring money to education? JF: Here’s how it works currently. As we sit here today, if somebody walks into one of the current racinos, and they lose a dollar, 47 cents is sent directly to education. Under the proposal, if you walk into one of the new casinos, and you lose a dollar, 20 cents goes to education—less than half. So you have to get the guy you take from the racino to the casino to
gamble two and a half times as much just to break even on that front. And frankly, we don’t think those rates are necessary to attract people. They certainly wouldn’t be necessary to attract current bidders. And we recognize that the rates are not mandated. They are minimum rates, and we’ll see how they come out in the bid. But we think it’s something that needs to be done carefully, or it could have a devastatingly negative effect. Competition is good. We love competition. But competition also has to be fair. If you’re running a boxing tournament, you don’t have heavyweights fighting bantamweights. If you’re playing basketball, you don’t have a high school team playing the Miami Heat. If you want to have real competition, you have to have some equity in how all of the parties are treated. C&S: What else would you like to see changed? JF: There are a bunch of other issues. A lot of them are technical. We hope to work with the governor and the Legislature to get a bill that’s good for everybody—good for the state, good for the taxpayers, good for education and good for our industry. But we’ll see.
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“FOR PEOPLE TO DO WELL, BUSINESS MUST DO WELL” New York needs a Mayor that is pro-business and understands the needs of small business as well as the needs of the Real Estate industry. I am one of you - I feel the pains of small business and the Real Estate industry. Thank you for your support.
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S P OT L I G H T
Power Players Slam Consolidated Edison Bid For Rate Hikes Experts testify utility giant must fix short-circuits in operations from stormproofing to staffing
By Allison Maier, THE New York World
or the first time in three years, Consolidated Edison is asking the state Public Service Commission for permission to charge its 4.4 million customers in New York City and Westchester County higher electrical and gas rates. The utility giant wants to use the additional $400 million to help stormproof its system, through actions such as moving overhead power lines underground and constructing flood barriers around facilities like the East River power plant that was inundated with floodwater during Superstorm Sandy, blacking out much of Manhattan. Critical power transmission facilities lie in flood zones—and Con Edison and the city disagree about what areas are at risk. Con Edison estimates that the average New York City household would see about a $3 increase in its monthly electric bill, from $81.64 to $84.55. A typical gas-heating bill would rise from $187.68 to $190.35. If approved, the new rates would go into effect in January. The commission can decide to grant Con Ed’s request, approve a lower increase or allow no increase at all. As part of a nearly yearlong review, the Public Service Commission is asking New Yorkers what they think of Con Ed’s bid for a rate hike. It has already collected testimony from experts and interested parties, many of whom raised strong objections to the utility’s game plan. Here are some highlights:
1. Con Edison isn’t staffed to ensure that its electrical system is running safely. A cable splicer and a consultant related the perspective of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America, which represents about 8,000 Con Edison employees: “Staffing cuts over the past few years, and some that have occurred since the arrival of Superstorm Sandy, have compromised Con Edison’s ability to ensure safe and reliable service to customers.” The company has cut its full-time workforce nearly 17 percent, relying on contractors—or, in the 20 june 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
case of an emergency like Sandy, workers sent in from other areas when the workload gets heavy—without extensive training or knowledge of the city’s unique electrical system, according to the testimony. The union says the company has adopted a “ ‘run it until it breaks’ mentality, in which ongoing maintenance has been replaced by emergency repairs conducted only when equipment fails.” It now takes the company four to six weeks to replace temporary fixes in the system with permanent repairs—something it used to do within three to five days, according to the testimony. At the time that Sandy hit, the union says, the company’s electric distribution system was already in a weakened state, partly because its workers were still trying to catch up on maintenance work that hadn’t been done at all last summer during the month the company locked out its union employees in the middle of a labor dispute. The union outlined many of these same concerns in a report published a few months after the storm. It told the Public Service Commission that if Con Edison does get a rate increase, it needs to be on the condition that funds go to hiring more (unionized) staff members. Said utility spokesperson Bob McGee in an emailed statement: “Con Edison continually maintains its system to provide the highest levels of safety and reliability and optimizes the use of employees and contractors in order to provide service to customers in the most cost-effective manner.” 2. Con Edison hasn’t done enough with millions it has collected to increase energy efficiency. Con Edison has continued to fall behind on energy reduction targets set by the Public Service Commission, which are funded by special fees customers pay on their bills (look for the line that says “Systems Benefit Charge/Renewable Portfolio Standard”). While Con Edison isn’t alone in its struggle, other utility companies have managed to get close to meeting their targets. Con Edison has only reached 65 percent of its goal, according to testimony from Jackson Morris, director of strategic engagement for the Pace Energy and Climate Center.
“Con Edison has been lagging in its implementation of energy efficiency measures, failing to realize ratepayer savings comparable to those other utilities have captured,” Morris said in his testimony. McGee acknowledges that the utility company has lagged on energy efficiency. “While customer participation has been affected by the slow economy and also by the significant impact of Superstorm Sandy, which diverted both company and customer resources, we are getting back on pace for the annual goal and are working hard to make up ground,” he said. “Con Edison also is continuing to explore innovative marketing strategies, new technologies, and program enhancements to facilitate customer engagement.” 3. Con Edison gets in the way of New York City greenhouse gas reduction. One of the most ambitious parts of the Bloomberg administration’s agenda to reduce New York City’s carbon footprint is Greener, Greater Buildings, which requires owners of big buildings to measure their energy use every year—a step toward making changes to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As an energy company, Con Edison plays a critical role: It collects the data that building owners need in order to comply with the law. But that data can be hard to come by, and to use, for anyone outside the utility. According to testimony from the New York Energy Consumers Council, a group representing large property holders, “three years of experience has uncovered serious deficiencies that warrant change in Con Edison’s processes.” Customers can’t begin requesting the data they need—let alone actually receive it—until mid-February, giving consultants and property owners little time to go through the information and submit it to the city by its May 1 deadline, the consumers’ group testified. Con Ed also uses a different system for tracking customer addresses than the city does, making matching accounts to addresses confounding. “It’s been relatively cumbersome,” said
Michele Soderstrom, an energy engineer for the consulting firm Bright Power. The majority of property owners use consultants like Soderstrom in order to comply with the city’s laws. Industry experts recommend that Con Edison invest in making access easier— ideally by allowing customers to directly upload their energy use data into the city’s Greener, Greater system. Such an automated process already exists for water usage data coming from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Responds Con Edison’s McGee: “The company automated much of the aggregated reporting process this year, with a few early technical difficulties resolved, and all consultants and property owners receiving their data prior to the city’s deadline. Each year Con Edison works to streamline and improve the process of requesting and delivering aggregated consumption data.” 4. Con Edison’s proposed fixes for future storms are inadequate. The Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability—which oversees New York City’s efforts to prepare for the effects of climate change—noted that Con Edison is using decades-old data in planning for its $1 billion effort to prepare for the next storm. FEMA is set to release new flood maps this month. The new 100-year floodplain is 48 percent larger than it was before, according to the testimony, with large expansions in Brooklyn and Queens. That leaves vital power facilities exposed to future storms. Even when informed by the city that the electric substation carrying the heaviest load in the city is at “significant risk” of flooding, a city representative testified, “Con Edison has stated that it has no intent to strengthen that substation in the foreseeable future.” As for the upgrades that Con Edison is asking customers to pay for: They do “not appear to be supported by any substantive analysis.” Utility spokesman McGee responds: “Con Edison’s proposals are a significant step forward toward protecting critical equipment and customers from significant Continued on page 22
EVENT EVENT Thursday, Thursday, Thursday, June 20, 2013 June June 20, 20, 2013 2013 Club 101, 101 Park Club Club 101, 101, 101 101 Park Park Avenue, New York, NY Avenue, New York, Avenue, New York, NY NY 10178 10178 10178 9:45 AM 9:45 9:45 AM AM
PANEL PANEL 2: 2: SHAPING SHAPING THE THE MUNICIPAL MUNICIPAL PANEL 2: SHAPING THE MUNICIPAL LANDSCAPE LANDSCAPE LANDSCAPE Moderator Moderator ModeratorManaging Editor, City & State Jon Jon Lentz, Lentz, Managing Editor, City & State Jon Lentz, Managing Editor, City & State
7:30 - 8:15 AM 7:30 7:30 -- 8:15 8:15 AM AM
REGISTRATION REGISTRATION & & BREAKFAST BREAKFAST REGISTRATION & BREAKFAST
8:15 AM 8:15 8:15 AM AM
OPENING OPENING KEYNOTE KEYNOTE OPENING KEYNOTE
Panelists Panelists Panelists Robert Robert Ward, Ward, Office Office of of State State Comptroller Comptroller Robert Ward, Office of State Comptroller Marc Shaw, Finance Director, Marc Shaw, Finance Director, CUNY CUNY Marc Kaufman, Shaw, Finance Director, CUNY Mark Partner, McKenna Mark Kaufman, Partner, McKenna Long Long & & Mark Kaufman, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP Aldridge, LLP Aldridge, LLP
11:00 AM 11:00 11:00 AM AM
Richard Richard Ravitch, Ravitch, Former Former New New York York State State Richard Ravitch, Former New York State Lieutenant Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Former Former Chairman, Chairman, Lieutenant Governor, FormerAuthority, Chairman, Metropolitan Metropolitan Transportation Transportation Authority, Co-Author Co-Author Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Co-Author of Ravitch-Volcker Report of Ravitch-Volcker Report of Ravitch-Volcker Report
8:45 AM 8:45 8:45 AM AM
PANEL PANEL 1: 1: DISCUSSION DISCUSSION ON ON MUNICIPAL MUNICIPAL BUDGETS BUDGETS PANEL 1: DISCUSSION ON MUNICIPAL BUDGETS Moderator Moderator Moderator Morgan Morgan Pehme, Pehme, Editor Editor in in Chief, Chief, City City & & State State Morgan Pehme, Editor in Chief, City & State Panelists Panelists Panelists Hon. Hon. Stephanie Stephanie Miner, Miner, Mayor, Mayor, City City of of Syracuse Syracuse Hon. Stephanie Miner, Mayor, City of Syracuse Hon. Hon. Mike Mike Hein, Hein, Ulster Ulster County County Executive Executive Hon. Mike Hein,M.Ulster County Executive Hon. Hon. Kathleen Kathleen M. Jimino, Jimino, County County Executive, Executive, Rensselaer Rensselaer Hon. Kathleen M. Jimino, County Executive, Rensselaer County. County. County. Hon. Hon. Marc Marc Poloncarz, Poloncarz, County County Executive, Executive, Erie Erie County County Hon. Marc Poloncarz, County Executive, Erie County
LUNCH LUNCH CONVERSATION CONVERSATION LUNCH CONVERSATION TBA TBA TBA
11:15 AM 11:15 11:15 AM AM
PANEL PANEL 3: 3: INNOVATIVE INNOVATIVE LEGAL LEGAL PANEL 3: INNOVATIVE LEGAL AND PUBLIC POLICY SOLUTIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY SOLUTIONS AND PUBLIC POLICY SOLUTIONS Moderator Moderator Moderator Hon. Hon. Anthony Anthony Williams, Williams, Former Former Mayor Mayor of of Hon. Anthony Williams, Former Mayor of& Washington D.C., Partner, McKenna Washington D.C., Partner, McKenna Long Long & Washington D.C., Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge, Aldridge, LLP LLP Aldridge, LLP Panelists Panelists Panelists E.J. E.J. McMahon, McMahon, Senior Senior Fellow, Fellow, Empire Empire Center Center E.J. McMahon, Senior Fellow, Empire Center Manhattan Institute Manhattan Institute Manhattan Institute Richard Richard Sigal, Sigal, Partner, Partner, McKenna, McKenna, Long Long & & Richard Sigal, Partner, McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP Aldridge, LLP Aldridge, LLP Kevin Kevin Law, Law, President President & & CEO, CEO, Long Long Island Island Kevin Law, President & CEO, Long Island Association Association Association
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S P OT L I G H T
Toothless No More? Cuomo positions state energy regulator to flex its muscle By Jon Lentz argely overlooked in the hoopla over this year’s third straight ontime state budget—which featured a minimum wage hike, middle class tax cuts and education reforms—was another measure that gives more power to the state’s little-noticed energy regulator. The changes, which were recommended after an investigation into the performance of utility companies during Superstorm Sandy, give the Public Service Commission a new toolbox to work with: larger penalties for violations by utilities, more comprehensive reviews and higher standards in preparing for emergencies. So far Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to bolster what he referred to earlier this year as a “toothless tiger” have gotten a mixed response. “The Public Service Commission having more oversight powers is going to make utility companies spend more money to basically play defense, and the real question will become how much does the cost of oversight end up being passed on to
Continued from page 20 storms. Additionally, the company has already made a number of improvements in time for the 2013 hurricane season. At the same time, we must control costs for our customers. With weather changing and violent storms becoming more frequent, we expect our storm-hardening program to evolve for years to come.” 5. People are still pretty mad about how things played out during Sandy. So far the Public Service Commission has only received a handful of public comments related to the rate increase, but the ones that have come in illustrate a general frustration with how Con Edison has conducted itself—especially during and after Superstorm Sandy. A sampling: • “Con Edison left me and other New Yorkers in the dark, without consideration, to be honest, on why it took weeks and weeks to give us straight answers on when help [would] be available.” • “Following Sandy, we were inconvenienced by this utility for almost one week. During that time we did not have electricity, nor were we able to contact the utility using the systems that they had put in place for communication of outages. Furthermore, the information that the utility did provide to us was inaccurate and misleading.” • “I have lost count of emails and
ratepayers as part of overhead? That’s an issue yet to be decided,” said Jerry Kremer, the chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, an industry trade group. “The governor envisioned that the PSC would be a lot more aggressive; he’s now pushing that concept, and there are impacts of this all over the place.” State Sen. George Maziarz said having a stronger, more involved energy regulator could be positive. But at City & State’s State of Our State conference last month, he argued that the Public Service Commission should have to adhere to higher standards in addition to imposing higher standards on utility companies. “I do caution, though, that you have to put some accountability in the PSC on returning of requests or guidance or approvals or disapprovals,” said Maziarz, who chairs the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. “In the Article X bill that we did, the DEC actually has a 12-month window now to approve or disapprove an application for a new generation siting. Without that particular piece
phone calls addressing my fluctuating power problems on my block.” • “The heroes of the Sandy recovery are Con Ed workers, and their fellow utilities workers from other states. The victims of the storm are Con Ed consumers who suffered losses from power outages. The incompetents were the Con Ed administrators, executives who were called out by Gov. Cuomo for their poor performance.” In his testimony on behalf of the New York Energy Consumers Council, former executive director David Bomke agreed with some customers that they should not have to pay for stormproofing efforts that have always been the company’s responsibility. “Con Edison’s failure to prepare adequately for [Superstorm] Sandy cannot be used as a justification for significant and exorbitant rate increases,” he said. Said McGee about the utility’s response during and following Sandy: “We had over a million customers who were without power after Sandy, five times more than what was caused by any other weather event in the company’s history, and we had utility workers come to the aid of our 13,000 employees from all over the country and Canada to help us address this unprecedented disaster. We had all customers restored within two weeks, but unfortunately there were some customers who were unable to accept power from us.”
22 june 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
in there, it would have taken DEC years to do it. The PSC is worse now than the DEC. It can be better.” The changes included in the budget give the Public Service Commission a number of new powers: The threshold for any action qualifying as a violation is lower; larger penalties can be assessed; regular audits can result in stricter terms; and the PSC can revoke an operating certificate if it determines that a utility should not continue to be a service provider in a given territory. Kremer said that the Public Service Commission had long been “nothing more than a rubber stamp for every application that came before it” and that for years nobody wanted to bother with it. “The time has finally come for somebody to take ownership of the PSC, to try to figure out what their role is going to be, especially in assessing storm damage claims of all the utilities,” he said. “But it’s moribund, because the politicians of the time have said, ‘Why do we want to bother with the PSC? It’s another head-
ache. Like LIPA, we thought we got rid of it in ’89 when we got rid of the Long Island Lighting Company, and now you’re bothering us with LIPA again.’ Well, these things rear their head periodically. Now it’s time for the PSC to become a different agency.” Matthew Cordaro, a trustee of the Long Island Power Authority board, said the PSC had been performing adequately, and that the furor over LIPA’s poor performance during Superstorm Sandy unfairly drew attention to the utility regulator—particularly since it had no oversight of LIPA at the time. “You can’t blame the PSC for what happened on Long Island,” Cordaro said. “I think the PSC does a very decent job, and one reason for saying that—look at the Con Ed system. The Con Ed system is one of the most reliable in the United States and the world. So the PSC has done something right in overseeing Con Ed. Now, the rates are probably higher than people would like. But to have that degree of reliability in a service territory as complicated as New York costs money.”
Bracing For The Next Storm By Jon Lentz
There is little disagreement that New York’s electric utilities need to take major steps to prepare for the next major storm— but the unanswered question is how to pay for it. Take Con Edison, for example. The utility company, which covers much of New York City and some surrounding suburbs, submitted a proposed rate increase early this year that would bring in $400 million from customers starting in 2014. The company’s submission to the Public Service Commission also requested permission to spend $1 billion to protect its infrastructure over the next four years, mostly through investments to make the system more water-resistant. But while customers are clamoring for improvements, there is also some resistance to adding to what are already high rates— especially after many customers were left without power for days in the wake of Superstorm Sandy last fall. Kevin Lanahan, Con Edison’s government relations director, said that state and federal regulators have pressured the company to keep costs down, but after Sandy there has also been a push to raise equipment, add submersible systems, construct barriers in flood zones and bury lines in other areas,
among other proposals. “We’re in the unenviable position of always saying, ‘There’s a cost,’ ” Lanahan said at City & State’s State of Our State conference last month. “We’re in this difficult position of stepping into this debate and saying, ‘We’d like to find a middle ground.’ It’s sometimes difficult.” Many policymakers have looked to the federal government to provide funds to protect the state’s utility companies. Lanahan said that Con Edison pushed for federal help too, but that the company’s entreaties were ultimately ignored. Officials at Con Edison, which had $450 million in damage to its system, hoped that federal FEMA money and community block grants would help to mitigate some of the expenses related to the storm and guard against the next event. But key legislation authorizing the funds died in Washington, D.C., and HUD declined to make the money available to utility companies. “This is not our money. This is not to help shareholders,” Lanahan said. “And the guidance that came out related to the funding said the utilities shall not be eligible. Rising rates, reliability and now Sandy costs—it’s a difficult situation.”
S P OT L I G H T
Expert Roundtable Garry Brown
Chairman, Public Service Commission
Chair, State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee
Ranking Member, State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee
Ranking Member, State Assembly Energy Committee
Q: The Public Service Commission is playing a key role with the New York Energy Highway. Where are you in the process? GB: In April the commission took action on several major items highlighted in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Blueprint. The actions will ease transmission congestion, which will help lower downstate electricity prices and support the development of clean energy projects throughout the state; plan for possible major power plant retirements to maintain a reliable power grid; and expand natural gas utility service to homeowners and businesses to lower energy costs. The commission established a first-of-its-kind combined proceeding under Article VII of the Public Service Law for consideration of alternating current transmission projects that meet objectives for congestion relief in the Mohawk/Hudson Valley corridor. ... Easing the current transmission constraints will enhance system reliability and supply diversity, and will provide significant economic and environmental benefits by permitting excess power from upstate sources, including renewable energy facilities, to reach the downstate areas of greatest need and reduce downstate emissions. To help identify the best path forward in this proceeding, the commission solicited statements of intent from prospective project developers. The result was the identification of 16 possible projects suggested by six developers ... The commission is expected to grant certificates and cost recovery to the projects that best meet the commission’s congestion reduction and other public policy goals at the least cost to ratepayers. An Oct. 1 deadline has been set for the initial Article VII applications. Q: What is the status of the Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission project? GB: In April the commission approved the construction and operation of a 1,000-megawatt transmission line stretching 330 miles from the Canadian border to Astoria, Queens, primarily through Lake Champlain and the Hudson River, with some segments on land, primarily in railroad or state highway rights-of-way. While the commission’s decision represents a major step to build the privately funded transmission line, it is not the final step; project developers still need to obtain several federal permits, as well as secure private financing.
Q: The governor’s plan for the Long Island Power Authority is to turn it into a holding company and outsource nearly all of its operations to a private contractor. Will the plan pass? GM: Those discussions are ongoing. The recent hearings demonstrated that there are still concerns on Long Island. Some issues that remain of concern to me are ensuring that the renewable energy programs being run by LIPA are protected, working to keep rates down for Long Islanders, dealing with plants that need to repower on Long Island and making sure that there are protections for the local workforce. I was happy to see that the bill did not depend upon upstate resources or ratepayers in order to solve any of the problems associated with LIPA. I feel fairly confident that we can work through these issues by the end of session. Q: The governor has also called for strengthening the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Will this require legislative involvement? GM: I’m not sure I would call it strengthening, but it certainly is changing RGGI. The governor’s proposal does not require legislation; it can be done through the Public Service Commission, and also the RGGI operating plan. I am very concerned that the lowering of the cap will raise utility rates and have a chilling impact on generating jobs upstate. Q: You have introduced legislation to keep the Public Service Commission from regulating electric car-charging stations. What is its purpose? GM: We acted in the budget on the governor’s “Charge NY” proposal that will eventually lead to the installation of 3,000 charging stations that can serve over 40,000 electric vehicles. The goal of our bill is to provide regulatory surety to a new and growing clean energy industry, [and] that the Public Service Commission will not develop and implement costly and needless regulations. In some states like California, their state public utilities board considered treating these carcharging stations the same as an investorowned utility, and I think that is absolutely the wrong way to go. The free market and competition between those that offer car-charging stations will depress or even eliminate any need to charge for this service and lead to more rapid deployment of this technology.
Q: What is your top priority in terms of energy issues with the legislative session coming to a close? KP: My priority is to continue working to pass bills that innovate in the area of alternative energy such as NY-Sun, and particularly bills that bring more solar, wind, tidal and other types of renewable energy to New York City and the rest of the state. Growing New York’s market share in these areas is not only good business, it is also safeguarding our future. Q: The governor’s plan for the Long Island Power Authority is to turn it into a holding company and outsource nearly all of its operations to a private contractor. Do you think the plan will pass? KP: I have no doubt that some form of the governor’s LIPA bill will become law, although not likely the original draft. [Superstorm] Sandy made it clear that Long Island must not face another major storm without fixing all the weaknesses LIPA displayed as it spectacularly failed the residents of Long Island and the Rockaways. So even though there is a lot of negotiation left to “fix” the governor’s draft, there will be law made on this issue. Q: What is the status of the Solar Jobs Bill? KP: As you know, I am the prime co-sponsor of the bill and have worked diligently to build consensus. At this point, there is still some negotiation going on between the parties, but I am sure a way forward from this impasse is possible, and that we will pass this important bill into law. The reason I believe this bill is important is its implication for nurturing New York’s nascent solar industry. We must in-source the manufacture of alternate energy—it is the key to our state’s future economy and job market. Q: Any thoughts on the New York Independent System Operator’s recently released “Power Trends” report? KP: I have read the report, and I have met several times with the ISO this session, and previously when I chaired the committee. The NYISO trends report is always interesting. This time what stands out most is the need to replace aging base-load plants, and to upgrade our transmission corridors. It is important we do those things, but the process must be managed to limit as much as possible any upward movement of energy costs to consumers.
Q: What is the status of the Solar Jobs Bill? PP: There are similar versions of the proposed act before each house. I don’t support the current Assembly legislation, because it would impose a significant mandated investment ($150 million per year for 10 years) in solar while removing the manufacturing tax credit to expand solar photovoltaic generation systems and energy storage manufacturing. The Senate version provides these tax credits, which I believe are important. State manufacturers should have the ability and opportunity to capitalize on this solar mandate. China controls 80 percent of the global solar manufacturing market. If we are going to mandate such a significant investment in solar, then we should be doing all that we can to encourage its research, development and manufacturing right here in New York State, instead of China. Q: Any thoughts on NYISO’s recent “Power Trends” report? PP: Pages 43 and 44 refer to an issue NYISO has been highlighting for several years, a point I have stressed since being elected: the cumulative impact of federal and state environmental regulations on our state’s electric generating capacity. “More than 31,000 megawatts of generation—over 80% of the installed capacity serving New York State in 2012—are estimated to be affected by the environmental regulations. ... [C]ompliance with these regulations, individually or cumulatively, could require substantial additional capital investment.” The state Department of Environmental Conservation has estimated that just one of these regulations could cost 27 power plants in New York State more than $8.5 billion to comply. What does it mean? If power plant owners determine these costly regulations are not worth the substantial capital investment needed to comply, it could lead to many power plants shutting down or retiring. That, in turn, would remove much-needed electric generating capacity from our state, which could threaten New York’s ability to meet its energy demands. It’s no secret that New York has some of the highest energy costs in the country. If more and more regulations negatively impact our ability to generate a “reliable” and affordable source of power for our businesses, manufacturers and homeowners, then we will certainly find it increasingly difficult to demonstrate that New York is “open for business.” www.cityandstateny.com | june 17, 2013
S P OT L I G H T UTILITIES
THE PLAYERS The City The top official on energy issues in the Bloomberg administration has been Sergej Mahnovski, the mayor’s former top energy policy advisor, who last fall was promoted to director of the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, which oversees the administration’s innovative PlaNYC program. Mahnovski, an expert on smart grid and renewable energy, has continued to coordinate energy policy. The electricity utility covering most of the city is Con Edison, which is headed by CEO Kevin Burke. The State Gov. Andrew Cuomo has put increased focus on energy policy since taking office,
renewing the Article X power plant siting law and launching an effort to revamp the state’s transmission grid. After Superstorm Sandy, he also created an energy czar position, naming Richard Kauffman to the job, and called for greater accountability of state utilities, most notably the Long Island Power Authority. Other key players at the state level include Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown, New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones and state Sen. George Maziarz, who chairs the Energy and Telecommunications Committee.
THE ISSUES Storm Preparedness New York’s electric utilities were widely criticized for their response to Superstorm
“What happened with LIPA during Superstorm Sandy was absolutely devastating. It took a storm that was the worst that we have seen in decades and it made the impact so much greater for the residents of Suffolk County. And you were there with us leading up to the storm, and you made a commitment that you would be with Suffolk County, you would be with Long Island, through to whatever happened, and I believe, governor, that you’re really fulfilling that commitment today in putting forward this restructuring of LIPA, which I think is absolutely essential to our future on Long Island.” —Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, applauding Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month for his privatization plan for the Long Island Power Authority
JUNE 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Sandy and the length of time it took to return power to their customers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo set up a Moreland Commission to investigate the utilities in the wake of the storm, and in this year’s state budget he included several measures aimed at increasing the oversight powers of the Public Service Commission, the state’s utility regulator. The Long Island Power Authority In the wake of Sandy, the governor targeted the Long Island Power Authority, which he wants to largely privatize. The Cuomo administration took aim at the utility’s unusual structure—it is a public utility but already outsources much of its work to a private contractor—as its fundamental flaw. His proposal would main-
tain the structure but scale back LIPA and convert it into a holding company. Amid questions about the plan’s impact on rates, Cuomo has been meeting with lawmakers regarding his plans to reform LIPA, and has offered Long Islanders the opportunity to sound off on the proposal. Champlain Hudson Power Express The Public Service Commission in April approved the Champlain Hudson Power Express, a proposed 1,000-megawatt transmission line that would connect Canada to New York City. The transmission line has drawn criticism from opponents who said any transmission upgrades should benefit in-state power plants. Some have also questioned the
cost estimates for the project and how it would be paid for, though the PSC concluded that costs would decline. Indian Point The governor has long made it clear that he wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant, but even if he is successful it is not likely to happen quickly. The plant, which is within 35 miles of New York City, has been the subject of rancorous debate, with opponents worried about the risk of a meltdown and supporters pointing to its reliable, low-emission power. The governor’s New York Energy Highway initiative, which is aimed at upgrading the state’s transmission system, includes the development of a contingency plan in case the plant needs to be replaced.
POWER TRENDS Amid debates over a transmission line connecting New York City to Canada, the future of the Indian Point nuclear power plant and the pros and cons of repowering versus transmission, the New York Independent System Operator last month published its 2013 “Power Trends” report, an objective take on energy supply and demand in the state. Here’s a look at some of the highlights—by the numbers.
Total generation Total circuit miles of transmission Transmission capability added since 2000 Total demand response (projected, summer 2013) Reliability requirement (summer 2013) Total renewable resource capacity Total existing wind generation Proposed wind generation Percentage of electric energy from renewables in 2012
37,925 megawatts 11,005 miles 1,655 megawatts 1,558 megawatts 41,452 megawatts 6,076 megawatts 1,634 megawatts 2,256 megawatts 22 percent
Total power usage (2012) Total power usage (2011) Total power usage (2010) Forecast peak demand for 2013 Actual peak demand in 2012 Actual peak demand for 2011 Record peak usage (August 2, 2006)
162,842 gigawatt-hours 163,330 gigawatt-hours 163,505 gigawatt-hours 33,279 megawatts 32,439 megawatts 33,865 megawatts 33,939 megawatts
PERSPECTIVES Alexis Grenell
The Gospel Of Anthony Weiner
n the early weeks of his re-entry campaign into public life, Anthony Weiner has asked for something as humble as it is chutzpadik: a second chance. The concept of a second chance is deeply rooted in the religious notion of redemption; a belief that is ingrained in American politics, and encapsulated by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s oft-misquoted line: “I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives.” But of course, the nation’s cultural lore is littered with such stories, and calls to mind another famous adage: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” This is exactly the sweet spot in which Weiner finds himself, his candidacy an intrinsic challenge to voters’ morality, even if this consideration is entirely irrelevant to his qualifications for mayor. But the ballot box is not the confession booth. The issue isn’t whether New Yorkers can forgive Weiner: It’s if they can vote for him. As the candidate has himself acknowledged in a New York Times Magazine profile, the only person who actually needs to forgive him is his wife. Yet every time Weiner opines about a “second chance,” he successfully confuses the issue, and deflects the question back to the voters: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s a savvy rhetorical device that forces voters to examine their own failings, while sidestepping Weiner’s. Communities of color may be particularly sympathetic to this strategy, with 87 percent of blacks and 85 percent of Latinos identifying with one religion or another, according to the Pew Research Center. Although it’s by no means the only indication of how these communities will vote, the fact
Albany’s Female Legislators Must Be The Change
omen in the State Legislature should take inspiration from New York’s junior U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s effort to hold the military accountable for its treatment of women by holding another powerful institution—their own—accountable. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who once disclosed on the floor of the Legislature that she had been sexually assaulted as a teenage volunteer on a political campaign, recently acknowledged more than once witnessing inappropriate behavior by lawmakers— presumably men. While, sadly, this revelation came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Capitol, I was struck by the fact that Paulin didn’t say what she had done to intervene in those instances. There is something horribly wrong with the culture in Albany that a sexual assault survivor would not instinctively upbraid a male colleague who behaved inappropriately toward a female staffer, or any woman for that matter. Albany is a company town. Women put up with cheek kisses and off-color jokes because they don’t want to be perceived as stuck-up or unfriendly. Many believe that if they are troublesome or overly assertive, they will be locked out of advancement or job opportunities, and since Assembly employees work at the pleasure of the Speaker and individual members, they can be fired at will and don’t have the same protections as their counterparts in the private sector. Relationships between consenting adults happen all the time in workplaces across New York and America. (The emphasis is on “consenting”
cannot have escaped Weiner, who kicked off his first official day of campaigning in Harlem, followed by a Sunday visit to a church in Queens where he prostrated himself before the congregation as an “imperfect messenger” who had merely lost his way. The church pastor welcomed Weiner by comparing him to prophets like Moses, Peter and Ezekiel, who were also “unqualified” to lead. And perhaps it’s working, which may be part of why Mr. Weiner is the most popular Democrat among blacks, with 20 percent saying they would vote for him, compared with Bill Thompson’s 13 percent, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll. The scandal-scarred former congressman is also the second-most-popular candidate among Hispanic voters after Christine Quinn, with 14 percent saying they would choose him. However, unlike the prophets of the Old and New Testament who were overwhelmed and resentful of the responsibility heaped on them by God, Weiner is the willing ringleader of his own circus: a false prophet claiming to speak for the middle class while living in a $14,000-amonth rental on Park Avenue South owned by a Clinton donor. Weiner may want a second chance, but his conduct suggests that little has changed. He’s still arrogant, rude and overly impressed with his own intelligence. He’s also unblinkingly ready to accept $1.5 million in public funding for an ill-fated bid, despite his $4.5 million in
the bank and ongoing fundraising efforts. The very fact of his campaign reflects the same self-indulgent lack of discipline he displayed on social media, and speaks directly to his ongoing need for attention and outside validation. It would be a mistake to reduce the scope of Weiner’s narcissism to one “fateful tweet,” as he would put it. That phrasing seems to suggest an external event or “mistake” guided by forces beyond the man himself. To the contrary, the Twitter scandal that felled the famously volatile former congressman was not just a private failing somehow disconnected from the rest of his being. This fact was on full display at a candidate forum hosted by the New Kings Democrats where Weiner got into a shouting match when confronted to account for his candidacy. The canned apologies quickly fell away to reveal Weiner’s true character, as he hurled insults about his critics’ motives and then stormed off into a car where he jokingly suggested running over a reporter. As one attendee at the forum noted: “Character is something that’s hard to find.” Some voters may give Weiner the second chance he so desires, but the qualities to justify that appeal continue to elude him. In the unlikely event that he wins the election, God help us all.
and “adults.”) While it may be a common workplace occurrence, however, Albany is no ordinary workplace. The power dynamic is severely imbalanced. Often, rebuffing advances or a breakup can lead to hostile work environments. Even the perception of an improper relationship, regardless of its veracity, can result in hostility from co-workers. That should never occur. Twenty years ago Gov. Mario Cuomo missed an opportunity to change the culture in Albany. His task force on sexual harassment made 57 recommendations, but only one pertained to the Legislature. The State Senate was lamely urged to “implement a strong policy against sexual harassment, an effective complaint procedure for redress of complaints of sexual harassment and training programs for all members and employees.” The Assembly was simply advised to “continue and expand its training program and monitor the effectiveness of its policy and complaint procedure.” That last recommendation seems to ring especially hollow today. Meanwhile, state colleges and schools were called upon “to determine the nature and extent of sexual harassment in their institutions and to assist in the design of effective policies to prevent and redress it.” The State Education Department was tasked with ensuring “an environment for learning and working that is equitable, supportive, safe and free from sexual harassment.” Constitutional issues aside, I fail to understand why the Legislature wasn’t also tasked with uncovering systemic sexual harassment and ensuring a safer workplace for its
employees. Members need to respect the personal space of women in the Capitol. Women really don’t want to exchange pecks on the cheek. It’s actually unprofessional. I know few guys who kiss or hug male staff or lobbyists. Female legislators are acutely aware of the imbalance of power that women face in the workplace. I’m not suggesting that Paulin or any other member become Django and “burn the mutha down.” They could be Daenerys Targaryen and help women in the Capitol to embrace workplace freedom. (Blocking legislation legalizing mixed martial arts may be a hot poker in the eye of Michael Boxley and his employers, but that’s not going to help protect women in the Legislature.) They should insist on impaneling a confidential bipartisan task force to determine the nature and extent of sexual harassment in the Legislature. Their goal should be the implementation of a plan that ensures a work environment that is equitable, supportive, safe and free from sexual harassment. The fixation on ousting Speaker Silver is more suited to a plot device on House of Cards than a serious approach to resolving an institutional failing. Replacing Shelly with a new Speaker would be tantamount to putting new wine in an old wineskin. I don’t mean any disrespect to those rumored to be in the hunt. But the institutional culture must be changed first. The women of the Assembly must lean forward and be the change.
Alexis Grenell is a Democratic communications strategist based in New York. She handles nonprofit and political clients.
Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin represented the Bronx for eight years. www.cityandstateny.com | june 17, 2013
# W I N N E R SA N D LO S E R S
winners & Losers week of June 3, 2013
Winners duprey 34% paladino 15% schneiderman 21% Yassky 14% KINg 16% Carl Paladino: Keeps Empire Zone tax breaks David Yassky: Taxi plans upheld John King: Imposes teacher evaluation deal
Get your comment in the paper. Tweet us @cityandstateNY
Never mind the wiretaps, the indictments, the groping, the drunk-driving arrests, the resignations, the lawsuits, the toking up, the selling out, the sentencing and the apologies. Focus on Cuomo’s Tax-Free Initiative, women’s rights and casino gaming. If they fail, there are no winners—only losers. Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.
YOUR CHOICE: Janet Duprey: Duprey is the only Republican so far to announce she will support the governor’s Women’s Equality Agenda—all 10 points of it, including the codification of abortion rights—which was an admirable act of courage, regardless of which side of the issue you stand on. Lawmakers and women’s rights advocates praised her, but Duprey brushed it off, saying she has supported women’s rights for years and that she hopes others will join her to pass the bill.
Losers silver 51% Grimm 20% quinn 22% Snyder 2% Rodriguez 5% Christine Quinn: Dummy followers, shady bundlers Robert Rodriguez: DWI arrest for the assemblyman Barry Snyder: Threat of casino expansion near Senecas
YOUR CHOICE: Sheldon Silver: It just keeps getting worse. An email omitted from an ethics report about Vito Lopez revealed more about Silver’s failure to refer sexual harassment complaints to the Assembly Ethics Committee and alleged that Silver had an inappropriate relationship with a top aide. Two former Lopez staffers who claim that Silver failed to report Lopez are suing both men. Another Democratic lawmaker called for Silver’s resignation. And 51 percent of the public agrees.
BEST DISINFECTANT Eric Schneiderman: Even if lawmakers don’t pass any campaign finance reform measures this year, the AG used his power as a regulator of charities to increase transparency by requiring 501(c)(4) groups spending more than $10K on campaigns to detail expenditures and identify donors. With the IRS mired in a scandal over the targeting of conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status, Schneiderman is making sure the public knows what these “charities” are doing.
GRIMM SITUATION Michael Grimm: The congressman was accused of not supporting a bill that would end the sequestration of the 9/11 victims’ compensation fund because he was not invited to a press conference introducing the bill a full three months ago. Grimm, who never hesitates to invoke 9/11 in speeches, defended himself, saying it would be poor policy to pick winners and losers. But even if the allegation is untrue, it provided fodder for his likely Democratic opponent, Domenic Recchia.
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B AC K & F O R T H
The Guardian’s Angle C
urtis Sliwa rose to fame in the 1980s as the founder of the Guardian Angels, the unarmed citizen crime patrol force that now operates in 17 countries and 67 cities around the world. Since the inception of the organization, Sliwa, who is instantly recognizable by his iconic red beret, has been involved in New York State politics as a commentator, agitator and candidate booster. For over two decades he’s been a fixture on conservative talk radio—currently he’s the host of both the morning and evening drive time shows on AM 970. He also appears in a segment every Wednesday on NY1’s Inside City Hall, in which he spars with El Diario columnist Gerson Borrero on the issues du jour. Most recently Sliwa has been in the news as the partner of former City Councilwoman Melinda Katz, the Queens County Democratic Party’s choice for borough president. City & State Editor Morgan Pehme spoke with Sliwa about stopand-frisk, Andrew Cuomo and what Queens can expect if Sliwa winds up the First Gentleman of the borough. The following is an edited transcript.
City &State: You have devoted a good portion of your career to law enforcement and public safety. What is your take on the stop-and-frisk debate? Curtis Sliwa: Stop-and-frisk has been the most effective policy inherited from Giuliani and [former New York City Police Commissioner William] Bratton, [who] used it minimally. It’s excessively used now, because it’s now a numbers game. We have 10,000 less cops. There’s a thousand from that that are assigned to antiterrorism duty—so now, 11,000 less. And yet crime, violent crime, is at a point that it was in 1956 when Dwight Eisenhower was president and playing golf every day … and Mickey Mantle was winning the Triple Crown in the pinstripes. 1956! … The only area that I’ve seen it abused is what I see as so abusive toward all New Yorkers: quotas. Whether it’s tickets, fees, fines, the hidden taxes and stop-and-frisk. There are quotas. And you give a cop a quota, and when he’s running out of time he’s gonna stop anyone. Not even gonna use his street sense, street smarts, to get the guns; he’s just gonna stop. And that’s it; the quotas are the poison in the mix. They must be eliminated. They call ’em “performance guidelines,” “productivity guidelines.” Garbage! It’s quotas. C&S: You have been doing some campaigning for Melinda Katz. Do you feel you have to moderate your opinions on anything so as not to be a liability to her candidacy? CS: I gotta tell you, I’m Queens’ First Dad. Most of the work that I do for Melinda is to watch our two sons at night, because she’s out there like the rest of her adversaries … It’s not easy when you’re running for elective office, particularly in the crowded field she’s in, unlike Eric Adams, who can basically dance into office even though at any moment he’s gonna get indicted and go to the federal hoosegow. So, I’m basically Queens’ First Dad … watching our two sons, and I’m her Maytag … She takes no political advice from me.
She says, “Spare me. We couldn’t be more hopelessly different in our opinions. I’m not interested in your political opinions.” … This ain’t like you get two-for-one— you know, like Hillary and Bill or some of the other political couples … When we have our discussions, man, it’s like ammonia and bleach. But there are events that I’ll go to, and the one thing that I’ll tell them about her—because they know how different I am and I don’t hesitate to say how different I am—she’s a true believer. I’ve supported people, who will remain nameless, I’ve put my body and soul and all my free time on the line to get them elected and they were not true believers. They were fakes, phonies, fraudulent fugazis. And I get so angry thinking about that, because they faked me out and they faked out a lot of other people. She is an absolute true believer. C&S: What should Queens expect if you wind up its First Gentleman? CS: First Gentleman? I’ll be in the outhouse! Not in Queens Borough Hall—the White House. Melinda has already been deputy borough president. She knows Queens. She was born and raised in Queens. I always viewed Queens as being soft. I’m Brooklyn, Bronx. That’s where I really feel the vibe. Queens: soft borough. You know, borough of intellects, kids who would go to [Benjamin] Cardozo [High School], Townsend [Harris High School], brainiac schools. Kids [who] I would view them [like], “You’re from Queens? You’re gonna be my milk money! I got the pin number right on my fist.” Not hardcore at all. That’s the environment she grew up in. So, culturally we couldn’t be any more different. Politically we couldn’t be any more different. And just as she doesn’t ever tell me what to say—I mean, look, some of the people she has to work with, when I get through with them on NY1 or on the radio program, I’m wondering if they’re even ever gonna talk to her again, but she has never asked me to back off. Just as, in this case, I never offer my political opinion, because I know it’s gonna be rejected. C&S: You have been a fierce critic of the governor. What’s your problem with Andrew Cuomo? CS: Andrew “Evil Eyes” Cuomo, King Cuomo the Second, son of Mario “Faccia Brutta” Cuomo … Mario Cuomo was one of the first elected officials to embrace [the Guardian Angels]. He was lieutenant governor at the time … He invited us up to Albany, he gave us awards. It was in direct defiance of Ed Koch, who was our No.1 adversary. So I owed a lot to Mario Cuomo. But just because he patted me so hard on the back I had to go for a chiropractic adjustment did not mean that I didn’t [realize he was] the great vacillator ... The words poured from his lips, but it was never followed by action. … And, remember, his wartime consigliere at the time was Andrew “Evil Eyes” Cuomo. He was playing the role of [Joe] Percoco now … Andrew, I always had a problem [with], because Andrew had this anger management problem. … [N]aturally the coup de grâce was when I showed up at the coronation at the Westchester Hilton. Remember, no competiTo read the full text tion in the primaries. He cleared the field of this interview, … And who showed up as King Cuomo with including Sliwa’s the crown, with the scepter? Me! … [And] take on Anthony Weiner everyone freaked, because I walked right and the rest of the mayoral towards the main floor. And the Troopers field, check out grabbed me and security grabbed me, and cityandstateny.com. what was gonna be the front page of the New York Post? The coronation, the rebirth, the resurrection: He’s back! Andrew Cuomo! … It had a sidebar of me being King Cuomo and, you know, doing my Cuomo-esque things—and, man, let’s face it, whatever hope there was of healing the rift [between us], forget it! I threw gasoline on the fire. … [N]ow anytime I get anywhere near Andrew … all of a sudden [Percoco’s] like Dennis Rodman used to be on defense—all over me. … I can’t even move. … So the blood feuds continue. The political blood feuds continue until the day I die, because one thing about me, just like I am with the Gottis and the Gambinos and organized crime, it is very difficult for me to forgive, it is very difficult for me to forget. And, remember, that’s the same ideology that many of them have, although they’re not as verbal about it.
www.cityandstateny.com | june 17, 2013
A Q&A With Curtis Sliwa
N EW Y ORK S TATE T RIAL L AWYERS A SSOCIATION Protecting New Yorkers Since 1953
March 3, 2013
Many New Yorkers’ lives have been destroyed by medical malpractice, and then…they are victimized a second time by an absurd state law that prevents them from getting justice in the courts.
Victims of medical negligence don’t deserve to lose their rights. New York’s statute of limitations governing medical malpractice is one of the most unjust in the country: 2½ years from the date of the negligent act, even if the victim is unaware it has taken place. Under current law, the victims of a misread test—such as a mammogram, PAP smear or prostate test—or a botched surgical procedure often face fatal consequences. Uncaught or misdiagnosed, a curable disease becomes a symptomfree killer. Treatment is foregone. When the symptoms do appear, the disease may be so advanced that treatment is futile.
The law, however, says no one can be held responsible and victims lose their access to justice. Only a handful of states (AR, ID, ME, MN, SD) are like New York—lacking some rule that says that the clock starts running when the wrongful action is discovered, either specifically to medical negligence or generally to all cases. RIGHT THIS WRONG - SUPPORT THE DATE OF DISCOVERY LAW (A.1056 - WEINSTEIN / S.744 - FUSCHILLO).
It’s Time for a Change. A message from the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Michael E. Jaffe, President 132 Nassau Street New York, NY 10038 Tel: 212-349-5890 www.nystla.org 28
june 17, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
© 2013 NYSTLA