Vol. 1, No. 10
April 16, 2012
Is Mike Long on a collision course with the Republican Party? Page 8
New Yorkâ€™s littlest racetrack casino tries to get in on the action. Page 5
The race for City Hall in 2013 begins in the schools. Page 13
Are hundreds of millions of dollars in homeland-security spending making New York any safer? Page 7
Retiring Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari talks mountain climbing and muttonchops. Page 19
SOME BRIEF SELF-CONGRATULATORY REMARKS Here at City & State, we don’t normally don’t know New York well, but I was drawn to news story, and first place for best news/ toot our own horns. But for this, we’ll make these stories. The subject matter is varied and feature series in our division. The paper as a whole took home several compelling, but that wouldn’t mean much an exception. Two of our reporters, Chris Bragg and without fearless immersion into tangled and other prizes: third place for coverage Laura Nahmias, were recently honored sensitive issues, precision reporting and an of education, third place for in-depth reporting, third place for coverage of local with the New York Press Association’s 2011 accessible, efficient writing style.” Among the stories that earned her the elections and third place for coverage of “Writer of the Year” distinction. Chris took home award was a profile of former Inspector elections/politics. Last but not least, our photo editor, the top prize, and General Ellen Biben, who was recently (and Laura the runner-up, controversially) tapped to run the Joint Andrew Schwartz, was honored in the catebut both are equally Commission on Public Ethics. Anyone gory for feature photos. Congratulations to them all. We couldn’t exceptional in our looking to get up to speed on Biben’s background knew to reach for Laura’s story first. be more proud. eyes. email@example.com Laura also won second place for best On Chris’ award, Andrew J. Hawkins the NYPA judges MANAGING EDITOR wrote: “This is a powerful body of work, consistently Many lobbying groups with the largest spending increases in 2011 were characterized by high-profile (meaning first-timers, while others saw their issues move to the forefront in Albany. high-difficulty) topics, deep and GAMING ASSOCIATION (NY) (27) HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (22) ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS detailed reporting, and sharp writing RUDIN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF GENTING (NYS) (102) COMPANY, INC. (28) REALTORS (NYS) (13) NEW YORK LLC that keeps the reader engaged.” (695) GENTING STRONG ECONOMY That’s only the half of it. Chris won NEW YORK LLC (16) FOR ALL COALITION (29) WALMART RUDIN NATIONAL for his in-depth look at Public Advocate (394) MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION FOR COMPANY, INC. MARRIAGE (18) Bill de Blasio’s push against the Citi(885) zens United court decision, a story of NEW YORKERS COMMITTEE UNITED FOR TO SAVE both local and national import. ImmerMARRIAGE (5) NEW YORK, INC. (1) sive and detailed, Chris’s story wasn’t WALMART your average profile of your average (4) 1199/SEIU & political figure, and it didn’t skimp on GNYHA HEALTH CARE EDUCATION 1199/SEIU & the personality. It was a must-read for PROJECT(3) GNYHA HEALTH CARE EDUCATION anyone interested in the ways money PROJECT(2) influences politics. On Laura’s runner-up award, one judge wrote: “I’m from 3,000 miles away and
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AROUND NEW YORK
The best items from The Notebook, City & State’s political blog City & State’s political blog, The Notebook, 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/thenotebook.
BINGHAMTON Candidates who may have once thought Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous too entrenched and well funded to be defeated are reconsidering, after a witness in federal court testified Libous behaved unethically in procuring a job for his son at a law firm.The most recent candidate to consider challenging Libous is Barrett Esworthy, a 36-year-old college professor, who joins Binghamton mayor Matt Ryan and former public schoolteacher John Orzel as potential Democratic challengers to the 12-term state senator. Esworthy, who teaches history at Tompkins Cortland Community College and has never run for office before, said the reason he wants to run against Libous is simple: “Tom Libous is vulnerable.You’re likely aware of the recent allegations against him,” he said, referencing the recent trial ofYonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi andYonkers Republican Committee Chairman Zehy Jereis. A witness for the prosecution named Anthony Mangone testified during the trial that Libous had traded on his Senate seat to procure a job for his son at Mangone’s law firm. Libous denied any wrongdoing.
The redistricting battle rages on as the defendants in a lawsuit challenging the state’s Senate and Assembly lines were forced to answer amended complaints from the plaintiffs. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has retained counsel from the firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, which now employs ex–Cuomo Secretary Steve Cohen. The attorney named on the case is Cohen’s partner Paul Shechtman, who taught Cohen in law school. Shechtman’s answer to the more than 100 different stipulations in the amended complaints consists of largely declining to answer. There are only a handful of items the governor’s answer admits: The constitution did create a senate, and part of the constitution addresses the senate’s size; Nassau County used to be part of Queens in the 19th century; a constitutional convention did take place in 1894; New York and Brooklyn are “fast growing metropolises”; LATFOR held public hearings in 2001 and holds hearings in general.
BROOKLYN Room 8 blogger Gatemouth recently posted an article putting forth an intriguing conspiracy theory about the four-way Congressional race involving Rep. Nydia Velázquez. And it turns out to actually be true. Gatemouth posited that the candidacy of Dan O’Connor—a political newcomer who is one of the three people running against Velázquez—was being actively propped up by supporters of another candidate, Councilman Erik Martin Dilan. O’Connor, who is white, would be able to steal votes from Velázquez in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. And as evidence that Dilan was secretly supporting O’Connor’s efforts in the area, Gatemouth highlighted the fact that Buddy Scotto—the powerful so-called “Mayor of Carroll Gardens” is one of three people serving on O’Connor’s campaign “advisory board.” Scotto and Velázquez have been at odds for several years over Velázquez’s support for designating the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site—and Scotto is also a close ally of Brooklyn Democratic Leader Vito Lopez, who is backing Dilan. We asked Scotto whether the idea that he was helping O’Connor in order to help Dilan was completely out of left field. “No, of course not,” Scotto said, adding, “I’m hoping for the very best in this mix [of candidates]. … I wish both [O’Connor and the fourth candidate in the race, George Martinez] well against Nydia, and I definitely feel certain they’ll be able to get votes that Dilan would have trouble reaching.The two of them will be able to take quite a few votes.”
APRIL 16, 2012
QUEENS Assemblywoman and congressional candidate Grace Meng’s main campaign consultant, Michael Nussbaum, urged a Jewish state committeeman in Queens to run for the same congressional seat as Meng, Meng’s spokesman confirmed. Michael Tobman, Meng’s spokesman, said that Nussbaum had suggested to Matthew Silverstein that he join the then–three-way Democratic primary in northeast Queens, but insisted that the suggestion was not serious. Silverstein ultimately passed on running for the seat. The revelation comes as a new candidate, 70-year-old Board of Elections employee Jeff Gottlieb, has jumped into the NY-06 race. Assemblyman Rory Lancman’s campaign issued a statement yesterday condemning Gottlieb’s candidacy as a ploy by the Queens Democratic Party to split the Jewish vote in the district. Lancman, who is Jewish, asserts that Gottlieb, who is also Jewish, was only tapped to run for Congress after Silverstein decided to take a pass.
ALL THAT GLISTENS IS NOT GOLD Affordable Housing in the Hands of HPD (Continued from the April 2, 2012 issue of City & State)
Photo by Don Pollard
Anita Clark, a 25-year veteran of the New York City Police Department won an affordable housing lottery, allowing her to purchase her dream home in Brooklyn, NY. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the nation, granted Anita the opportunity to become a first-time homeowner, but her new home was riddled in dangerous structural problems including plumbing issues, an unsafe deck, electrical and fire safety concerns, heating difficulties and a leaky roof, all of which she would be financially responsible for. Anita’s case is indicative of the deep-rooted issues in affordable housing programs in New York City including careless construction, lack of government accountability and a failure to disclose property conditions prior to sale.
Just How Affordable is Affordable Housing? When awarded an affordable housing contract by HPD, the developer performing the work receives the land for free, or at minimal cost. By transferring the land, HPD transfers the accountability for the project from the City to the developer. Once a house like Anita’s is built, the developer receives $280,000 from the homeowner. Additionally, the homeowner is provided a $100,000 mortgage subsidy by the bank, which they must immediately sign over to the developer. If Anita were to sell the house, she would have to repay this subsidy. So just how affordable is Anita Clark’s home after the essential renovations performed by the George to the Rescue team have taken place? According to Richard Weiss, a Local 79 Union official spearheading the project, the repairs would cost a minimum of $40,000 for the plumbing system and $20,000 for the deck alone. The total of the repair work performed by volunteer union members of the Construction and Building Trades Council and the materials required to fix Anita’s home would add up to $250,000 to $300,000.
The Confidential Nature of Public Records New York State law requires that property-sellers of one- to -four-family homes provide potential buyers with a property condition disclosure statement prior to the seller’s acceptance of a purchase offer. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd) According to HPD, all buyers are entitled to receive a “punch list” prior to completing the purchase of their home. This document is provided by the developer and signed off by HPD engineers following the home’s inspection. It lists all outstanding issues that will either be finished by the developer at a later date or be left for the owner to handle. Despite advocating the importance of this document, in many cases the HPD has refused to provide it to homeowners, citing its confidential nature. It would be nearly impossible for an independent inspector to discover a home’s hidden issues after construction has been completed. Without this document, a new owner simply cannot tell the type of situation they are buying into. According to Elly Spicer, Director of the NYC District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College whose instructors and apprentices built the new deck and performed all carpentry work on Anita’s home, this is not a surprise. Even when the NYC District Council of Carpenters has submitted records to HPD, when they requested those same records to be provided as required according to the Freedom of Information Act, HPD insisted that the records were not there. Despite the fact that certified records on projects receiving federal stimulus funds must be kept on file for a minimum of seven years, HPD has consistently failed to provide even the most basic documentation, such as payrolls.
When Beauty is Only Skin Deep Today, in great part due to the work of HPD, the vacant and boarded-up buildings that were once a blight on many of the City’s neighborhoods have been transformed into safe, affordable homes for families. HPD’s housing programs have helped to restore and rebuild housing as well as to improve the quality of life in New York City’s richly diverse communities. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd) In the case of Anita Clark, it was not easy to argue for an improved quality of life as a constant stream of sewage seeped into her bedroom due to the shoddy, backpitched sewage system. This begs the question of her neighbor’s homes constructed by the same developer, Delight Construction Corporation. Of the 25 affordable houses built on Anita’s street, 12 have come out publicly with major construction-related issues. After many years and billions of tax dollars spent, these new homes continue to disfigure the City’s neighborhoods. Despite the noticeable improvement in the appearance of many low-income neighborhoods today, beautiful façades do not make quality homes. These new developments will surely crumble in a few short years of ownership and even the façade will not last long.
Support the Mission Statement, Not the Execution Supporting affordable housing should be a mission for every New Yorker. Investing in housing opportunities for the poor improves lives and reinvigorates communities across the City’s five boroughs. It makes real estate more valuable for everyone. Nowadays, affordable housing has become synonymous with HPD, and that is a dangerous euphemism. NYC labor unions are frequently demonized for opposing HPD, with city officials pitting them against the City’s poor communities. But with semantics, comes a harsh reality: building housing on the cheap helps no one. HPD’s current policies give the pockets of rich developers a silver lining at the expense of tax payers. While these irresponsible developers are making millions, poor families across the City are walking into financial traps and investing in a lifetime of maintenance costs. NYC’s Building Trades unions have spent the last six years campaigning for affordable housing to be built responsibly. These homes should be built by quality contractors and union laborers – carpenters, plumbers and electricians – responsible citizens who are paid fairly and in turn, pay into the City’s tax base. The city’s low-income population should be able to purchase homes that will not put them in a lifetime of horrible debt. The time has come for HPD to listen; the future of New York depends on it. Anita Clark’s home was renovated with volunteer efforts provided by the NYC District Council of Carpenters, Steamfitters’ Local 638, Local 12 Heat and Frost Insulators of Long Island, Greater NY Laborers And Employers Cooperation and Education Fund, Laborers International Union of North America Local # 79 and Local # 731, The Mason Tenders’ District Council of Greater NY and Long Island, District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 9 Finishing Trades Institute of NY, The Association of Contracting Plumbers of the City of NY, Inc., Plumbers Local 1 of NY and the Tile Marble & Terrazzo Bac Local Union 7 of NY.
April 16, 2012
UPFRONT Who else has money in the Unclaimed Funds pile?
Preet Bharara William Boyland Jr.
New York politicos lag in claiming money from unclaimed funds account By LAURA NAHMIAS
Tax season’s over, and for some of us the refunds can’t come soon enough— but for many New York politicos, there’s extra cash sitting in a massive $11 billion pile of orphan money under the auspices of State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s Unclaimed Funds department. The Unclaimed Funds database, which has been in existence since 1985, allows New Yorkers to type in their names and find whether or not they are owed money from dozens of corporations or government entities. There is more than $11 billion in Unclaimed Funds, which date back to 1940, according to the comptroller’s office. The list of New York politicos who are owed money is long and illustrious, and in some cases, notorious. A spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office said notoriety can lead some
individuals to refrain from claiming their due, especially if the money could end up going to potential claimants in lawsuits. “There have been people that have had negative publicity, and in some cases those accounts are part of class action suits—and once the filers claimed, [the money] goes to people from the class action suit,” said Vanessa Lockel, the comptroller’s deputy press secretary. But the funds can also come in handy for lawmakers, or public figures seeking to improve their images. “If you’re concerned,” Lockel said, “we encourage people to consider giving their unclaimed funds to charity.” And although the comptroller’s office is not at liberty to disclose how much individual lawmakers are owed, in most cases the unclaimed amounts are in sums greater than people expect,
Andrew Cuomo Pedro Gautier Espada Kirsten Gillibrand usually at least $25, said the comptroller’s spokeswoman. Ed Koch knew about the site, but wasn’t aware his name was on it. “I didn’t know that,” the former mayor said, when told about his potential unclaimed funds. “Yes, I’m going to claim it, and if I’m lucky, it will be $100,000,” which he said he would put in the bank and give to his relatives. Famous names in the database are a regular thing, said Lockel. “It’s very exciting; Seinfeld is in there!” There is also a DiNapoli in the database, “but it’s not the comptroller,” she said. “We’re not always sure why people won’t claim it, but we encourage people to consider it, and even if they don’t need the money, to think outside the box and consider donating it,” Lockel said, adding that it’s not only humans
Efrain Gonzalez Alan Hevesi Andrew Hevesi Ray Kelly Bernard Kerik Ed Koch Richard Lipsky Brian McLaughlin Al Sharpton Sheldon Silver Nick Spano Eliot Spitzer
who are owed money; it’s also political campaigns, local governments and hospitals. email@example.com
THE FOOTNOTE: A real press release, annotated Sent 2:42 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, from Jeff Gotlieb For Congress ******FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***** Contact: Jay Golub April 10, 2012 Gottlieb’s campaign initially said it would not address the media until after Gottlieb made the ballot, but changed course after two days of controversy.
No mention here of Gottlieb’s current patronage job at the Queens Board of Elections.
His opponent, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, says Gottlieb was planted in the race in order to split the Jewish vote. Gottlieb denies the charge.
Lancman cited the fact that Gottlieb was not an elected official in a statement declaring Gottlieb’s candidacy a sham.
APRIL 16, 2012
Golub’s firm, GSP Consulting, worked on a 2010 State Senate campaign with the firm running Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s congressional campaign, Multi-Media.
ressional Seat to be Vacated by Jeff Gottlieb Announces his Pursuit of 6th Cong Lancman Political Attacks. Congressman Gary Ackerman and Responds to ssive and spirit ed campaign to succeed Jeffrey Gottlieb announced that he will run an aggre 6th Congressional District. Gottlieb has out-going Congressman Gary Ackerman in New York’s as a teacher in schools throughout Queens a long and distinguished career which was started er of the teachers union where he began his County. Jeff taught for 35 years and was a loyal memb career as a dedicated community activist. Club where he reorganized and Jeff became a member of the JFK Regular Democratic political campaign organizations in the city. energized that institution into one of the strongest added him to his staff as a Special Advisor an Noting his talents, City Councilman Morton Povm ement in Forest Hills/Rego Park, Kew on Community Activities. Jeff’s political and civic involv him to the attention of Assemblyman Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills and Briarwood brought ranks and became a top level Assistant Alan Hevesi. Joining Hevesi’s staff where he rose in staff to become Chief of Staff to City si’s who helped formulate policy. Mr. Gottlieb left Heve n Povman retired Jeff continued his cilma Coun When . Councilman Morton Povman for 17 years Gottlieb stated “I consider it an honor to public service with City Councilman Joseph Addabbo the 6th Congressional District. I live in the have an oppor tunity to seek public office to represent d in the district. I am entering this race teere district, I have worked in the district and I have volun er of the Jewish community, I strongly believe to be a true voice of the people. As an active memb interest of many of the voters – especially the that the announced candidates do not represent the moderate voters.” battle, but I couldn’t sit on the sidelines Gottlieb added “I know this race represents an uphill to speak up for my community’s values and the while my community is being over-looked. I intend heart. In time, people will see that my support values that this district holds near and dear to their Assemblyman Lancman’s money and his and the grassroots effort of our community will match ” team. outside-the-communit y special interest campaign who forget that representing the cials offi d electe of Gottlieb continued, “People are tired believes he has become bigger than those people is an honor and responsibility. Rory apparently d be the only Jewish candidate to seek this he seeks to represent Why does he proclaim he shoul my values better represent not only the and office? I will show that my record, my philosophy s who reside in the 6th Congressional.” voter the of ity Jewish voters of this district, but a major www.cityandstateny.com
Gottlieb has eyed runs for office several times before, including an aborted 2001 run for City Council after the Queens Democratic Party tapped a different candidate.
Until recently Gottlieb was organizing the club’s petition drive for Assemblywoman Grace Meng.
Lancman recently hired well-known Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Our Perspective It’s Time to Raise New York’s Minimum Wage By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
here used to be a social compact in this country that if you put in a hard day’s work, you would earn enough to pay the rent, put food on the table, and support your family. But today, low wage workers face an uphill battle for survival, especially in New York. Many people work hard all day, and are still consigned to lives of poverty.
Batavia Downs Casino, located 41 miles outside of Buffalo, is the state’s smallest racetrack casino.
LONG ODDS The state’s smallest racino cites taxpayer profits in argument for expansion By MICHAEL MANDELKERN
n the looming fight for legalized casino gambling, the state’s littlest racetrack casino has the longest odds. Batavia Downs Casino, located 41 miles outside of Buffalo, is the state’s smallest racetrack casino, a fact that could hamper its chances of operating a full-fledged casino in the future. But Batavia’s operators are arguing that as the state’s only taxpayer-owned racino, it ought to get special consideration for one of the seven spots. Western Regional Off-Track Betting, which operates Batavia Downs, is owned by 15 counties in western New York, as well as the cities of Rochester and Buffalo. Each of the state’s nine racetrack casinos diverts about half of its revenue to state education programs, but Batavia Downs is the only one structured so that remaining profits go to local municipalities. “At the end, our money doesn’t go into a business owner’s pocket,” said Michael Nolan, the vice president for administration at Western Regional
Off-Track Betting. “It would be a shame to see an out-of-state owner own a casino and leave a taxpayerowned casino out. That would just be unconscionable.” The state Legislature, which must pass a second resolution next year before residents vote on a constitutional amendment legalizing casino gambling, has not established the criteria to judge bids from the racinos or any of the big out-of-state casino operators, like Las Vegas Sands or Boyd Gaming, that are eyeing New York. Interested bidders can only speculate until some guidelines are set, most likely in mid-2013, prior to the second passage of the gaming legislation. “There are pluses and minuses, and they will all be weighed individually and collectively,” said Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee. “I can’t say anyone’s chances are better than anyone else’s.” Pretlow declined to say what he personally believes is best for the state. He did not deny, however, that
Minimum wage earners in New York who are lucky enough to have full-time jobs bring home about $15,000 a year. And, these working poor are growing in number. Many of them work in retail, which is one of the fastest growing Increasing the sectors of our economy in New York minimum wage is and nationally.
the right thing to do for workers, for businesses, and for our economy in New York.
In January, Speaker Silver introduced a bill to raise the New York State minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, with annual adjustments for inflation. Increasing the minimum wage is the right thing to do for workers, for businesses, and for our economy in New York. It will help tens of thousands of low-wage workers who are struggling every day to provide for themselves and their families. These workers will spend additional income quickly. Their spending will stimulate the economy and boost demand for new goods and services, which will create more jobs.
The same small group of tired voices — big business and their political cronies among them — continues to insist that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs and hurt the economy. But the public knows better. A Quinnipiac University poll released in early April shows that an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers — 78 percent — favor a minimum wage hike in the state. Increasing the minimum wage will raise all of us higher.
Visit us on the web at
APRIL 16, 2012
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the competition could turn into a bidding war. “If you’re talking about an area with a small population and already three or four casinos, their profitability probably won’t be as great as a larger casino in a larger area,” he said. “Until we come up with criteria for those decisions, we won’t know.” Batavia Downs is located within the contested exclusivity zone for the Seneca Nation of Indians’ three casinos. Two other racetrack casinos operate in the area as well. But an emphasis on how a commercial casino would boost western New York’s economy could work in its favor.
and we pay the state every day,” Nolan said. The most crucial economic benefit may not depend upon how much each county and city receives in revenue. David Callard, chairman of the Legislature in Orleans County, one the 15 counties that owns Batavia Downs, is most excited about the prospect of new jobs. “Employment helps, in turn, stimulate the economy,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect a large amount of money being passed down to the counties.” Callard envisions more tourists who will pay for lodging, gas and entertainment. While he recognizes that a casino
“It would be a shame to see an out-of-state owner own a casino and leave a taxpayer-owned casino out. That would just be unconscionable.” As of 2011, Batavia Downs had created 361 jobs and generated $18.2 million in local economic output. The casino has contributed $16.1 million toward state education. In recent weeks Nolan has been rallying Western OTB’s 17 board members to advocate for a full-fledged casino at Batavia Downs, encouraging them to press their case with state lawmakers. “We’ve been economically and socially responsible, been in operation,
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in a densely populated community could be more lucrative, he hopes the state will consider a need basis when picking the lucky seven. “Consideration ought to be given to areas that could benefit from it the most,” he said. “We can’t just talk in terms of just New York City. We’re talking about a whole state.” With additional reporting by Jon Lentz email@example.com
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have developed master’s programs, majors or certificates allowing students to specialize in homeland security. This year alone, the Department of Homewhether or not the grants even work. The system, lawmakers said, has led land Security expects to hire more than to a preventative system of funding that 50,000 new employees, making it the seems difficult to assail. For example, second-largest government employer a nonprofit organization in New York nationally outside of healthcare. meltdown, spending on the program BY LAURA NAHMIAS “Ten years after September 11 we overall has been pared back, except in that wants security grant funding does threw a lot of money at the whole not have to be threatened by a terrorist New York. ne of the fastest-growing “I can tell you from being on the group in order to receive funding—it security problem for fear that if we sectors of government spending in New York is Homeland Homeland Security committee and the just has to demonstrate its symbolic didn’t, something may slip by,” Higgins Security, where federal spending has Intelligence committee, I’m the only value or proximity to other potential acknowledged. “For a free nation, we spend a lot ballooned in the past half-decade from member of Congress who’s on both terror targets. This has led to the federal tens of millions to hundreds of millions committees, and every analysis I’ve seen, government spending money on secu- of money on security. We need to be spending more money on infraof dollars a year. $350,000,000 341,871,859 333,509,075 NEW YORK FEDERAL HOMELAND SECURITY structure, on education, on Since 2007, New York GRANTS FUNDING 2007–2012 research. So, yes, there’s a scientific State’s share of federal funding $300,000,000 265,656,755 industrial complex that’s grown up for homeland security has $250,000,000 GRANTS around 9/11, but the concern that increased by more than SALARIES & WAGES local communities have is finding 630 percent, from $57 million $200,000,000 that balance,” he said. to $426 million in the last fiscal CONTRACTUAL SERVICES Last year the federal governyear. That spending has gone $150,000,000 ment tried to scale back spending largely to grants to increase the $100,000,000 on homeland-security grants. ability of local governments to 72,144,585 In New York plans were made to communicate with one another $50,000,000 restrict grants funding to New in the event of a terror attack. 28,112,533 York City, Westchester and Long But in recent months the $30,000,000 24,079,618 21,766,529 Island, in response to concerns grants system, which has never $25,000,000 18,963,961 $20,000,000 that the state’s level of spending undergone a department13,500,483 $15,000,000 13,796,301 12,367,135 12,998,951 on homeland security had wide audit, has come under $10,000,000 10,244,903 11,345,900 9,798,170 become unsustainable. fire for a lack of oversight, and $0 $57,698,133 $107,665,608 $297,572,090 $406,792,348 $426,067,479 To John Mueller, a political left Congress wondering if the science professor at Ohio State who money is working. 2007–2008 2008–2009 2009–2010 2010–2011 2011–2012 SOURCE: NYS COMPTROLLER has authored several studies on Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis has been convening a series this region is the number one terror rity grants for nonprofit groups like the domestic homeland-security spending, of Homeland Security subcommittee target in the entire country,” said Repub- Step by Step Infant Development Center the spending drawdown is necessary, at hearings to look at whether the grants lican Rep. Pete King. “It’s not even close. in Borough Park, beefing up security at least until the department can produce some risk analysis to justify the funding. are effective. So far the hearings have If there’s a listing of the top 20, top 30 what is essentially a day-care center. “We calculated that the increase in In New York City, where state and centered on a problem fundamental to cities. The difference between New York the department’s existence, namely the and the second region, in terms of terror local officials have successfully foiled 14 spending for domestic security has gone fact that the federal government doesn’t risk, whatever that difference happens terror plots, millions of dollars in federal up by a cumulative total of about a trillion have a way to measure if the grants are to be, that’s greater than the difference grants funding are the backdrop to an dollars since September 11, but no one is between the second region and the 20th.” ongoing discussion of the city’s failed really looking at whether the risk is enough working or not. The nonprofit and urban-area secu- emergency-communications project, to justify the expenditures,” Mueller said. As Center for American Progress He cited a National Academy of fellow Scott Lilly testified during one rity grants are awarded based on a risk an updated 911 dispatch system that is recent hearings, “I have watched [the assessment that until this year was several years and more than $1 billion Sciences study ordered by Congress Department of Homeland Security] calculated in ways not available to the over budget, and that is supposed two years ago that analyzed DHS riskstruggle for more than eight years now. public or standardized, in part because to increase emergency coordina- assessment methods. “They essentially don’t know what tion between first responders. Mayor I must say that I have never witnessed of security risks, lawmakers said. “It’s not an exact science. Things Michael Bloomberg has been ordered they’re doing on terror,” Mueller said, greater chaos in government than in the aren’t scored on a rubric,” said Rep. by a federal judge to release a report adding, “The way they put it in the report early years of this department.” A DHS inspector general audited New Brian Higgins, the ranking member of critical of the program, which he has so was, ‘We couldn’t find any studies that could justify any decision the departYork’s Department of Homeland Secu- the House Committee on Counterter- far refused to do. Federal regulators worry lax oversight ment has ever made.’ ” rity and Emergency Services in 2011, rorism and Intelligence. Higgins acknowledged the country For example, a grantee can apply for could ultimately hurt New York’s secuand found that although the state had a well-functioning grants system, New York $75,000 to put a new security camera and rity projects, in the event funding for needs to find efficiencies in DHS, but argues his district is still at risk of terror “could not demonstrate specific improve- other equipment into its facilities, based homeland security is cut back. For example, the New York City Fire attack and shouldn’t be arbitrarily cut ment and accomplishments” in making on a self-reported likelihood that the the state better prepared for an emergency. organization, a yeshiva or a community Department used federal homeland- off from funding. “Nothing has happened where HomeThe state therefore had no basis to center, might be a potential terror target. security money on a $5.5 million contract determine whether the hundreds of The only safeguard against fraud built into that depended on the availability of future land Security comes in and says, ‘Well, millions of dollars in grants going out the the grant system is the requirement that money from the federal government, you know what, five years ago you were door to fund emergency preparedness grantees file a progress report outlining according to a Homeland Security IG a potential target for terrorist attack, and were in fact doing anything to increase how they spent their funds, but a recent report. If federal funding were not avail- now you aren’t anymore, so you’re off the federal audit found multiple grantees kept able, the city would have to bear the cost list.’ That doesn’t happen,” he said. New York’s emergency preparedness. He was ultimately successful in of the contract. The largest increase in spending poor or nonexistent records. But the state’s outsize spending on getting grants funding for Buffalo reinNew York State’s response to the over the past five years has gone to two grants programs, called the Urban audit outlined the larger problem. It homeland security has also created stated, but admitted that it was difficult Areas Security Initiative and the UASI wasn’t that New York wasn’t complying something of a permanent economy to measure how well the money was Nonprofit Security Grant Program. with federally accepted standards for around homeland security that federal working to thwart attacks. “Without question,” Higgins said, These grants have been awarded in the measuring how much safer the grants officials worry is an unstable source of “you’ll never get credit for what didn’t highest amounts to New York and Wash- funds were making New Yorkers—it was permanent funding. Since Sept. 11 more than 100 colleges happen.” ington, D.C. But in the past two years, as that the entire Department of Homeland firstname.lastname@example.org the country faced the global economic Security lacks a system that measures and universities around the country
Have hundreds of millions spent on homeland security made New York safer?
APRIL 16, 2012
Is Mike Long on a collision course with the Republican Party? By ANDREW J. HAWKINS ANDREW SCHWARTZ
APRIL 16, 2012
here is a gun hanging over Mike Long’s head. It’s old and dusty and says “Duke” on the handle—a John Wayne replica mounted on the wall of Long’s Bay Ridge office, amid a clutter of political posters, certificates and 9/11 memorabilia. In many ways, Long himself is a replica of the Duke: plainspoken, squinty-eyed, conservative to the core. Wayne played a Marine in several movies; Long played one in real life. But what he lacks in movie-star charisma, Long makes up for in political longevity. The New York State Conservative Party celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with Long serving as chairman for almost half that time. He has a lot to celebrate, and a lot to mourn. His party is still one of the most influential and effective third parties in New York. And while the legalization of same-sex marriage last year was a stinging defeat for Long, he knows that Republicans across the state will be clamoring for his endorsement, desperate for that extra ballot line that often ensures enough votes for victory. No Republican has won a statewide race without the Conservative line since 1974. But there are other dangerous objects hanging over Long’s head. Many Republicans, upstate and downstate, are miffed at the crafty Conservative Party chair for selecting what they see as unknown candidates for office. Choosing Manhattan attorney and electoral newbie Wendy Long (no relation) in the Senate race against Kirsten Gillibrand was the last straw for some of these Republicans. To them, this was Mike Long trying to be “the tail wagging the dog,” as one upstate Republican chairman put it. And there have been other examples. Long’s refusal to endorse Rudy Giuliani in any of his races because of his stance on abortion, while also endorsing the pro-choice George Pataki, has led to charges of hypocrisy from ticked-off Republicans. Long also backed John Faso over Bill Weld for governor in 2006. (Eliot Spitzer defeated Faso by one of the widest margin in New York gubernatorial history.) That same year, he backed John Spencer over K.T. McFarland for U.S. Senate, despite what some saw as McFarland’s pristine credentials. And he endorsed ex-Rep. Joseph DioGuardi to face Gillibrand in 2010. (She won by almost 30 points.) His threats to defeat the four State Senate Republicans who voted to legalize same-sex marriage is also a glaring reminder to many Republicans that Long will stand for his own convictions, Republican victories be damned. “We can’t tell another party how to run their process in selecting candidates, no more than the Conservative Party can come to us and tell us who to select, or tell us that our process is wrong,” said Vincent Reda, chair of the Rockland County Republican Party. “Do I agree with their process? No.” “One time, fine. Two times, something’s up,” said one upstate GOP county chair. “Three times, there’s something there that I think is counterproductive to the relationship between the Republican Party and the Conservative Party.” Other Republicans were less cordial. “How long do you want to go around pissing on people’s shoes before someone turns around and says, ‘Hey, f--- you!’?” said one GOP elder, whose allies have been burned by Long in the past.
soon after their meeting he knew he would endorse her for Senate. “The first meeting I had with her.” Too bad for Marc Cenedella, an Internet businessman who at the time was considering his own run against Gillibrand, or Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who had been a declared candidate for over a year. In a private meeting later that month, Cenedella told Long he would be willing to spend $15 million of his own money to challenge Gillibrand, a crucial selling point given Gillibrand’s own fundraising prowess and the pinched pockets of state Republicans. But Long made it clear to Cenedella that his name would not appear on Row C, said Cenedella spokesman Bill O’Reilly. It was Long’s refusal, and not the controversy surrounding a blog under Cenedella’s name with racy posts about sex and drugs, that convinced him to drop out of the race, O’Reilly said. “Marc was ready to put $15 million in the race, but once it became clear he wasn’t getting the Conservative line, the risk/benefit analysis wasn’t worth it,” O’Reilly said. “Business interests also played a factor, but as a political newcomer it only made sense to jump if both lines were achievable. No one told us we couldn’t compete for the Conservative line, but it was obvious the horse had left the barn with someone else riding it. Such is politics.” Long is adamant that everything was done aboveboard. “No, we didn’t tell him to get out of the race or that he wouldn’t get the endorsement,” Long said of Cenedella. “Marc did a good job but, in all honesty, Wendy Long blew the doors open. I didn’t go into the room and say, ‘Hey guys, this is the one.’ She just captured their imagination. I think word got to Marc.” Maragos never even got a meeting with Long. He met with the executive committee in January, but no one-on-one. He sat in the back of the room during the Conservative Party’s March 19 convention in Manhattan, watching politely as Wendy Long, clad in a mint green jacket and skirt, accepted the party’s endorsement. One source close to Maragos said that Mike Long called several upstate Republican chairmen who were leaning toward Maragos and convinced them to back Wendy Long in exchange for Conservative endorsements for local candidates. Maragos declined to comment, saying he was focused on “running a campaign on the issues.” U.S. Rep. Bob Turner’s late entry into the race, after a federal judge penciled his district out of existence, threw Mike Long’s support for the untested Wendy Long into stark focus. Mike Long and Turner were old friends and neighbors. Long originally talked Turner into running in the special election for Anthony Weiner’s suddenly vacant congressional seat. Their children and grandchildren play together. But Turner got into the race too late, Long said. And even though he’s seen by some Republicans as the only real chance to defeat Gillibrand and capture a statewide office this year, Long is doubling down on Wendy. “I feel very bad about that,” Long said. “I don’t feel very comfortable about that. But I do think that Wendy has a stronger set of conservative principles and values and philosophical beliefs than Bob has.” A lot depends of the outcome of the three-way Republican primary in June. If Wendy Long wins, much of the Republican grumbling will likely die down. But if Turner wins, pressure will mount for Mike Long to use
“How long do you want to go around pissing on people’s shoes before someone turns around and says, ‘Hey, f--- you!’?”
n January, when Mike met Wendy, it was political love at first sight. “Immediately,” Mike Long says when asked how
Nuclear Power Helps Reduce Smog and Greenhouse Gases By Norris McDonald
Air quality is an important issue for all New Yorkers. One of the regularly overlooked parts of the air and energy debates in this country is the nuclear sector’s contribution to reducing smog and greenhouse gases. The Indian Point nuclear power plant provides a critical portion of downstate New York’s electricity needs and doesn’t harm air quality. If we’re aiming to improve public health and our air quality, then keeping Indian Point open is significant. Asthma rates are particularly high with children regularly being hospitalized because of severe attacks in a portion of the Bronx and Queens along the East River, dubbed “Asthma Alley.” The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens also happen to be the home of several fossil-fuel burning power plants. The direct connection between asthma rates and these facilities is undeniable. In New York City, it is estimated that there are 2,290 deaths, 1,580 hospitalizations, 546 asthma-related emergency rooms visits, 1,490 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 46,200 asthma attacks yearly attributable to power plant pollution. In the Hudson Valley, Indian Point generates 2,000 megawatts of power every year and services roughly 30% of downstate New York’s needs. Without that power, someone would need to build four large fossil-fuel burning plants – at minimum – to make up for the equivalent lost baseload output. There is no downstate community that would welcome those new plants and any efforts to site a new plant would likely be tied up in protests and litigation for years. It is a fact that burning more fossil fuels will increase sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and particulate pollution in our air. “Green” advocates agree that reducing air toxins, pollutants and greenhouse gases is a desirable goal. Ozone, particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM-10), and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM-2.5) are currently designated as non-attainment contaminants in New York State. Ozone is regulated by its precursors; volatile organic compounds (VOC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the metropolitan region of New York City has consistently failed to meet the clean air standards for smog-causing ozone. Smog is a public health concern because it causes respiratory illness and aggravates asthma. Smog is formed on hot, sunny days, when sunlight causes NOx and VOCs to react and form ozone. Hotter days produce a more volatile smog. Clearly Indian Point's smog and greenhouse gas reducing benefits merit its continued operation. Norris McDonald is the President of the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy, dedicated to protecting the environment, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies and promoting the efficient use of natural resources. S P E C I A L
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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 april 16, 2012
wendy Long’s endorsement by the conservative Party has riled a segment of the state’s republicans.
the procedural maneuver of nominating Wendy Long for a Supreme Court judgeship in order to get her off the Conservative ballot line. Some members of the Conservative Party are already pondering that scenario. “If in fact Wendy Long did not win the Republican primary, I believe that she is honest enough and sincere enough and dedicated enough that she would get off the line,” said Ralph Lorigo, chair of the Erie County Conservative Party. Wendy Long says she’s in it to win, but wouldn’t rule out vacating the ballot line if she lost the GOP primary—which, she emphasized, she has no intention of doing. “If Ronald Reagan were reincarnated from the dead tomorrow, and popped up as a candidate for the United State Senate in New York,” she quipped, “I guess I’d consider stepping aside for Ronald.”
.S. Rep. Peter King remembers the very first Conservative Party rally. “Madison Square Garden, 1962,” King recalled. “It was the night Kennedy spoke on the Cuban Missile Crisis.” In that time of apocalyptic fear, the Conservative Party was born. And they had a steep hill to climb if they were going to be seen as relevant players in
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New York politics. “It was looked upon like the Socialist Workers Party,” King said. “You know when you’d go into vote and you’d see all those weird parties at the bottom [of the
Long’s toehold in New York politics. But that hasn’t stopped some Republicans from openly contemplating revenge. After all, a third party’s survival depends on collecting at least 50,000 votes during
“We’re not perfect. We don’t always select the right candidates. And sometimes we don’t even do the right thing. But that’s what politics are about.” ballot]? That’s the way the Conservative Party was looked at then.” Fifty years later the Conservatives have moved up from the bottom of the ballot to near the top, Row C, right under the Democrats and Republicans. George Pataki, whose endorsement by the Conservatives put him over the top in his race against Gov. Mario Cuomo, says the party remains relevant even as the state gets more Democratic. “It’s quite simple: There are a significant number of people who are essentially conservatives who find it very hard to pull the Republican lever,” Pataki said. With two heavyweight Republicans like King and Pataki, as well as a host of other GOP luminaries who both love and fear Mike Long, it seems far-fetched that anything could happen to undermine
a gubernatorial election. And without a cross-endorsed Republican on both lines, that status could become imperiled. “Two years from now we may decide not to take your line,” said one Republican county chairman. “It would be more than an empty threat.” Another Republican big shot predicted that Long could end up going the way of Ray Harding, the longtime Liberal Party leader who oversaw the demise of his party after Andrew Cuomo, the party’s nominee in 2002, suddenly dropped out of the gubernatorial race. Long is aware of the challenges he faces. He remembers the vitriol thrown at him when he withheld the party’s endorsement from Rudy Giuliani in his race against Mayor David Dinkins in 1993. Some Republicans theorized that
Giuliani wouldn’t genuflect to Long, costing him the nomination. But Long said it was Giuliani’s support for abortion rights that led to his decision. “I can remember people walking along the street, opening the door of my place of business, yelling foul names at me,” Long said. “It got that bad.” “And I understood their point of view,” he continued. “But we also had a set of principles.” If the Conservatives had endorsed Giuliani, who also had the backing of the Liberal Party at the time, Long is convinced that, come the next governor’s race, his party would have lost its credibility, and as a result its ballot line. “We’re not perfect,” he said. “We don’t always select the right candidates. And sometimes we don’t even do the right thing. But that’s what politics are about. It’s judgment calls.” Is he concerned about the security of his ballot line going forward? “Sure, I think about that,” he said. “But if we weren’t here, who would hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire? Who would keep them honest?” email@example.com To read more about the Conservative Party, visit www.cityandstateny.com.
Renegades Of The RighT Some local Conservative leaders buck the party’s platform, especially on same-sex marriage By JOn LenTz
ike Long, the chairman of the New York’s Conservative Party, isn’t the only party official known for his independent streak. Some local party leaders are supporting a few Republican state senators this fall, even though they strayed from the Conservative platform by voting to legalize same-sex marriage. Party officials in Erie County, Westchester County and Staten Island have also endorsed unorthodox candidates in recent years, owing to pragmatism, politics or public feuds. And unlike typical political fights, the disagreements stand out in a party built around fiscal constraint and traditional social values, and formed to enforce ideological purity among leftleaning Republicans. “The Conservative Party was founded on a set of values and principles, and I believe overwhelmingly most of the leaders adhere to that,” Long said. “It is very disappointing when sometimes the elected officials within the party go a different way—or it’s a matter of, I guess you could say, convenience— and select people who don’t necessarily always promote the values of the Conservative Party and the platform of the party.” State Sen. Roy McDonald, one of four Republican senators to vote for same-sex marriage, recently won the backing of Conservatives in Columbia County, which was added to his district through redistricting. But McDonald’s district also includes Saratoga County, where local Conservatives are backing a primary challenger, Kathy Marchione. His district includes most of Rensselaer County, but the Conservative county chairman, William Fiacco, declined to comment on McDonald’s reelection. Since McDonald’s district covers multiple counties—and given the split among them—the endorsement decision falls to Long, who has made opposition to same-sex marriage a litmus test. A decision on endorsing Sen. Stephen Saland will likely come before Long too. The Dutchess County Conservative chair, Patricia Killian, has said that Saland’s future involvement with the party is “null and void.” But in Putnam County, part of which was added to Saland’s district, the Conservative chairman expects the party to support the incumbent despite the same-sex marriage vote. “He may have to come in and explain it to the committee, and maybe they’ll accept it. We’ll see,” James Maxwell said of Saland. “How do I feel? I feel
that most probably he would get the Conservative endorsement. He had a couple of votes that were a little worrisome, but I just don’t know who the other candidates are.” As for the other two lawmakers, the Monroe County Conservative Party chair has said there is no chance Sen. Jim Alesi will get the party’s nod, and Mark Grisanti has already lost the Erie County Conservative line. Dan Weiss, the Niagara County Conservative County chair, came out in support of Grisanti, but redistricting cut out Niagara and put Grisanti entirely in Erie County, leaving the choice to Conservatives there. The Erie County Conservatives, who have a history of backing Democrats, picked Republican-turned-Democrat Charles Swanick over Grisanti, a move that could impact Republican efforts to keep their narrow Senate majority. Long said he hopes Senate Republicans maintain control, but other factors matter more. “I won’t throw out the principles of the party and surrender by supporting the four state senators who voted to destroy traditional marriage,” Long said. “I won’t endorse them. They may still win; I don’t know. I haven’t gone out recruiting candidates, but if candidates rise up against them, and are qualified, we will support the candidates against them.” The Erie County Conservatives’ endorsement of Swanick continues their reputation for backing Democrats and their divergence from the party’s tendency to back Republican candidates or run one of their own. Ralph Lorigo, the local party chairman, provoked a rebuke from Long in 2010 when the two men were squabbling over the party’s choice for governor. Long, who backed Rick Lazio, sent a stern letter to Lorigo criticizing his attempt to get Carl Paladino on the ballot and for supporting three Democrats: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Rep. Brian Higgins, and Tim Kennedy, whom he described as “a taxand-spend liberal who supports gay marriage.” (For Kennedy, the support proved crucial. He was elected to the State Senate by 1,595 votes, bolstered by 4,261 votes on the Conservative line.) Lorigo countered that endorsing Democrats can keep them from drifting further to the left. And while Kennedy also voted for same-sex marriage, Lorigo said he was strong on other issues. “We’ll see what happens this year as to whether we endorse him or not,” Lorigo said. “But the man is 100 percent pro-life. He’s pro-life, he’s pro-gun, he’s fiscally conservative. Now, I don’t have 100 percent; I get that. But I often don’t get 100 percent
“it is very disappointing when sometimes the elected officials within the party go a different way—or it’s a matter of, i guess you could say, convenience—and select people who don’t necessarily always promote the values of the Conservative Party and the platform of the party.”
New Yorkers Need Reliable Power To Do Their Jobs By Patrick Dolan, Jr.
There’s a tremendous need for power in an energy-intensive state like New York. Countless professions, including skilled trades, rely on affordable electricity to do their jobs. Our union – nearly 8,000 members strong and supporting thousands of other jobs – helps construct, modernize, and update New York’s building infrastructure. We service the hearts, lungs, and arteries of buildings by making them more efficient, both economically and environmentally. We are the doctors tending to what’s inside the walls and ceilings of New York City’s buildings. We are also part of the Helmets to Hardhats initiative, which gives veterans returning from active duty an opportunity to join our ranks, learn the trade, and have a career. Veterans, like all of our members, go through a five-year training program that teaches them every aspect of our trade. Whenever landlords and developers want to reinvest in their building stock, our skilled and trained steamfitters are there to do the job. We install state-of-the-art fire suppression systems that keep workers and residents safe in the event of a fire. Our members also modernize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems so that they run efficiently and cleanly. Modern green building initiatives, which are increasing every year in New York State, require a significant amount of man hours from the steamfitting industry. While New York is at the cultural forefront, it is also leading the way in constructing and retrofitting our building stock for the 21st Century. But modernizing buildings to conserve power won’t stem the growth in New York’s energy needs. To meet the challenges of a growing city, we need clean and reliable energy supplies to power jobs and the next generation of LEED-certified high-tech buildings. Anything that disrupts downstate’s electricity supply will inevitably hurt the bottom line of everyone involved in the construction and servicing of New York City’s buildings and will cause a ripple effect throughout our local economy. New Yorkers already have some of the most expensive electricity in the country, and if any generating facilities were to close, our residential and commercial electricity rates would skyrocket. Our most important industries – finance, media, construction, real estate, tech, and others – rely on affordable electricity. Shortsighted moves to close power plants, like Indian Point, or to pass over low-cost in-state power producers in favor of electricity imported from Canada, like the Champlain Hudson Power Express project, would cause tremendous damage to the construction and retrofitting trades and every other industry. Members of our union and other trade unions form the backbone of New York City and its vulnerable middle class. We need reliable power, especially in these uncertain economic times. Patrick Dolan, Jr is the President of the Enterprise Association of Steamfitters Local Union 638.
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with Republican conservatives, either.” Lorigo also cited his support for the more conservative Paladino, and noted that Paladino helped the party retake Row C. “I believe I have all the same values,” Lorigo said. “Just in Erie County, we may handle things differently. We look for conservative Democrats. We’re not afraid of the ‘D’ label.” Long said he has little recourse when local leaders go astray, but sometimes other local party members take matters into their own hands. In Westchester County in 2009, Conservatives backed Democratic County Executive Andy Spano, who lost to Rob Astorino. The following year the party supported Spano’s brother, Assemblyman Mike Spano, a Republican-turned-Democrat, who went on to win reelection. By the end of 2010, fed-up Westchester Conservatives ousted the local leadership. But they have still been at odds, with the party supporting Mike Spano’s successful campaign for mayor of Yonkers last year against the wishes of its leadership. “The party, on a state level, is unified,” said Hugh Fox, the Westchester County party chair. “There are isolated cases, and there will be, and there may even be
Michael Cusick in five straight elections, and threw their support behind 1.35% Michael Ryan, a Democratic lawyer 1.33% ACTIVE CONSERVATIVE PARTY who ran for district attorney last year. VOTER ENROLLMENT BY James Molinaro, the Staten Island .76% 1.35% borough president and a party founder, COUNTY IN NEW YORK has also endorsed U.S. Sen. Chuck 1.39% 0.95% Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He 1.29% is widely seen as having a hand in the 2.26% 1.64% 2.18% party’s affairs there, driven by political 2.07% 1.41% 1.8% 2.57% 1.50% 1.41% considerations and personal grudges. 1.46% 1.66% 2.32% 2.05% Though Molinaro denies it, the party’s 1.86% 2.65% 2.08% 2.04% 3.4% 2.09% 2.19% endorsement of Ryan over Republican 4.67% 2.02% 1.45% 2.13% 1.69% 1.48% 1.6% District Attorney Dan Donovan was 1.5% .69% 1.79% blamed on his grudge against Donovan 2.73% 2.85% 2.49% 2.22% 1.5% 1.44% 1.22% 1.63% over a 2007 court case in which Molina1.27% 1.28% ro’s grandson was jailed. 2.34% Molinaro said that if the party 2% 2.2% simply backed Republicans, it would have no reason to exist. As for backing 1.82% 3.43% Cusick despite his low party rank1.59% 1.94% ings, Molinaro said that there are 4–5% 3–4% 2–3% 1–2% 0–1% 0.48% 0.56% more important considerations. 2.35% 0.18% “You need someone who can 1.06% 1.64% do certain things for you in Albany 0.34% which are very, very important to JOEY CAROLINO Conservatives make up a fraction of the state’s voters, with the lowest concentrations in New Staten Island, and may not be half as York City and the highest in Rensselaer and Schenectady counties. important, or unimportant completely, some in mine from time to time. In any recently endorsed Republican Rep. to the party structure,” Molinaro said. organization you have disagreements, Michael Grimm, but two years ago they “Our function is to do what’s best for but you still come back to the core of backed his Democratic opponent, Rep. that particular county, and it should be decided by the people in that county, why that organization was built or what Michael McMahon. The borough’s Conservatives have who they feel is best.” it was built on.” firstname.lastname@example.org Democratic Assemblyman On Staten Island, Conservatives backed 1%
A CONSERVATIVE HISTORY
A look at the 50-year history of New York’s Conservative Party
ne day in the fall of 1960, a New York lawyer named J. Daniel Mahoney and his brotherin-law, Kieran O’Doherty, met for lunch in the financial district to vent their frustration over the leftward shift of the Republican Party under Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. That day, the two decided the time had come to launch a political party of their own. Over half a century later, the upstart Conservative Party they founded has not only survived but thrived,
growing into a legitimate force in New York politics. Just over 1 percent of the state’s voters are registered Conservatives, but the figures belie the impact of the party, which reached a high point with the election of James Buckley to the U.S. Senate in 1970. Beyond sending registered party members to the State Senate, Assembly and scores of local offices, the party has also had an outsize effect on state policies through its coveted endorsement. Much of the party’s power has come from playing
1962 The Conservative Party gets on the ballot for the first time, running a candidate in an unsuccessful bid for governor but securing enough votes to become an official party. O’Doherty serves as the first state chairman, and Mahoney soon succeeds him.
a pivotal role in close races, where Conservative votes can provide the decisive margin of victory. That’s a result of the state’s unusual Wilson-Pakula law, which allows candidates to run on multiple party lines regardless of party affiliation. Here’s a brief look at the Conservative Party’s 50-year history, from its humble beginnings though its electoral milestones and policy fights. —Jon Lentz email@example.com
1988 1970 James Buckley, William’s brother, is elected to the U.S. Senate on the Conservative Party line, a key turning point and a still-unrivaled achievement for the party.
Michael R. Long takes over as state party chairman, replacing Serphin Maltese, who is elected to the State Senate.
2011 2001 James Molinaro, a registered Conservative, is elected borough president of Staten Island, making him the party’s highest-ranking elected official in the state.
The party loses its fight against legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, with four Conservativebacked lawmakers deciding to vote for legalization. The party has pledged to fight back this fall.
William Buckley, the founder of National Review and an early party backer, takes on Republican John Lindsay in an unsuccessful bid as the Conservative Party candidate for mayor of New York City.
Alfonse D’Amato’s successful primary challenge to Republican Sen. Jacob Javits, a longtime foe of Conservatives, gets an early boost from the third party.
The Conservative Party gets more votes on its line in the presidential election than any other third party in the country.
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1994 The 328,000 votes cast on the Conservative Party line for gubernatorial candidate George Pataki prove critical in his defeat of Gov. Mario Cuomo.
2010 2010 The party regains the state’s third ballot line, Row C, behind the performance of unsuccessful gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino, whom the party endorsed.
S P OT L I G H T : E D U C AT I O N
WHO WANTS TO BE THE NEXT EDUCATION MAYOR? The race for City Hall starts in the classrooms By ANDREW J. HAWKINS
ayor Michael Bloomberg may not be running for reelection next year, but he will undoubtedly be playing a starring role in the race to replace him. The six Democrats expected to run next year are all supportive of the mayor’s efforts to take control of the school system, but differ with Bloomberg on most everything else—whether it’s school closures, co-locations with charter schools, relations with the teachers union or standardized test scores. So if next year’s race is for the right to be the next education mayor, how do the candidates stack up? What are their qualifications, their accomplishments and their thoughts on some of the more controversial policies of the Bloomberg administration? David Bloomfield, a professor of education at CUNY and an expert on education policy in New York, was kind enough to offer his analysis of each candidate’s qualifications. For their part, the Department of Education says that educational outcomes have never been better—and graduation rates and test scores never higher—than under Bloomberg. “Our reforms have shown positive results for our students,” said Chancellor Dennis Walcott in an interview. “I’m a resident of New York City, and I’ll be paying close attention to what [the candidates] have to say.”
BILL DE BLASIO Public Advocate Education: Russell and Peabody elementary schools; Cambridge Rindge & Latin School in Cambridge, Mass.; B.A. from New York University; Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.
TOM ALLON Manhattan Media CEO* Education: Stuyvesant High School; B.A. in history from Cornell University; M.S., Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Qualifications: School-board member, 1999–2001; member of City Council Education Committee, 2002– 2009; Public Advocate, 2009–present.
Qualifications: Taught journalism and American literature at Stuyvesant High School, 1986–87; briefly a member of the United Federation of Teachers.
Accomplishments: Allon says his proudest accomplishment is helping to create two public high schools: Eleanor Roosevelt High School on the East Side and Frank McCourt High School on the West Side. “I worked with elected leaders in each neighborhood, used my consensusbuilding powers, tenacity and political adeptness to get these two schools off the ground,” he says. But as a nonelected official, Allon can claim fewer accomplishments, naturally, than his potential rivals. Education in 2013: Allon sees education as “the most important issue in the 2013 mayoral race. The rest is commentary.” Bloomfield’s analysis: “Allon’s accomplishments, such as they are, disproportionately favor white students—Eleanor Roosevelt student enrollment, for example, is over 60 percent white and less than 20 percent black and Latino. Further, he urgently needs to broaden his scope beyond the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan.” *Allon is CEO of Manhattan Media, which publishes this paper.
Accomplishments: While serving on his local school board, de Blasio helped cap class size at 20 students and redevelop John Jay High School. As a Council member, he supported legislation to improve school playgrounds, make child-care centers more transparent, webcast PTA meetings and keep autistic children with their peers. As public advocate, de Blasio has made the issues of school closures and co-locations with charter schools among his top priorities. He took some credit for helping prevent the closure of P.S. 114 in Canarsie, and helped preserve P.S. 4’s NEST program. Education in 2013: De Blasio says he will likely emphasize parental engagement and a less data-driven environment at Tweed in his pitch to voters next year. “The department’s narrow focus on a rigid notion of accountability based on high-stakes testing is doing kids a massive disservice. Every student deserves a well-rounded education from early child-care straight through to college and career prep,” he says. Bloomfield’s analysis: “De Blasio probably has the most grassroots education experience of any prospective candidate, not only as a public school parent but as a past community school-board member. His challenge will be to move from advocacy, where he has had the luxury of throwing darts at mayoral decisions, to operational authority, where he will have to take action regarding greater rein for his Panel for Educational Policy appointees, hard choices on school closures and co-locations, and applying budgetary discipline to such issues as class size and special education.”
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Mayoral control: Allon supports mayoral control and charter schools, believing they give parents more options and serve as laboratories for education reform. He takes issue with the mayor’s emphasis on test scores and the administration’s turnaround program, where failing schools are closed and reopened as smaller schools. “We have merely shuffled the seats on the Titanic,” Allon says. If elected, he says he would seek to repair the stormy relationship between City Hall and the teachers union.
Mayoral control: De Blasio supports mayoral control, but believes in more parent engagement, though he lacks specifics on what that would look like. “I can say without reservation, as a public school parent, that this administration has shut us out,” he says. “We have got to bring parents to the table and treat them like stakeholders if we hope to make more progress in our schools. Mayoral control shouldn’t mean you go it alone and stop listening.”
Education: P.S. 20; Bronx Science High School; B.A. in molecular physics from SUNY Binghamton.
Education: St. Patrick’s in Glen Cove and Holy Child in Old Westbury; B.A. in urban studies and education, Trinity College.
Qualifications: Member of City Council Education Committee, 2002–2009; City Comptroller, 2009–present.
Qualifications: As speaker, Quinn has had a hand in practically all of the Council’s educational decisions.
Mayoral control: Liu says he supports “mayoral accountability,” not mayoral control as practiced by the Bloomberg administration. He had some of the harshest criticisms of the mayor’s schools agenda of any of the mayoral candidates. “The overarching problem is that this administration has turned our schools into factories that are judged by numerical outputs,” he said.
Mayoral control: Quinn says she supports mayoral control, but would apply it differently if elected mayor. “I would continue my push to go further, and achieve full municipal control of schools by placing legislative authority with the City Council rather than the state Legislature,” she says. Unlike her rivals, Quinn supports the Bloomberg administration’s efforts to break up failing schools into smaller entities, believing they give families better education options. She agrees, though, that parental engagement under the Bloomberg administration has been lacking.
Accomplishments: Liu says all the candidates’ claims of educational accomplishment need to be weighed against the reality of mayoral control. “The Department of Education has essentially near-total control over the schools,” he says. “Anything anyone claims to have done outside the DOE is always going to be somewhat limited.” In the Council Liu says he sought to hold the DOE accountable for bus-route screwups and contract spending. As comptroller, Liu turned auditing the DOE into something of a religion. He says he currently has 10 ongoing audits into DOE spending, a benefit of the reauthorized mayoral-control law of 2009. “The lack of accountability became systemwide, where absence of checks and balances turned the department into an ivory tower,” he says. “They thought they knew better than anybody else.” Education in 2013: With his fundraising operation under a federal investigation, Liu knows his friends in the teachers union may be his only salvation for his mayoral run. “I’m not pandering to teachers or anybody, but my sixth grader spends most of his day with his teachers, and for teachers to have been taken out of equation, that’s just absurd,” he says. He says he would impose an immediate moratorium on charter-school co-locations. Bloomfield’s analysis: “While Liu comes out swinging and he has been aggressive in his auditing power, his self-described impact on the Council and as comptroller has been weak. What, for example, has he done about colocation agreements with charter schools? As mayor, how would he increase checks and balances, and why would this be better for children?”
Accomplishments: Quinn’s education accomplishments include a lot of bigticket items, befitting her position as speaker. Last year she helped secure a deal between the UFT and the Bloomberg administration to avert thousands of teacher layoffs. She says her other top accomplishments include expanding prekindergarten by 1,000 seats, restoring funding for student MetroCards, securing millions of dollars for low-performing schools and creating the antibullying “Respect for All” program. Education in 2013: Providing a quality education to every student “must be the top priority of the next mayor,” Quinn says. “Improving our schools is one of the biggest challenges facing New York City if we want to remain competitive in a global economy.” Quinn, however, will likely face criticism from her opponents about being too close to the mayor and not coming out forcefully enough against the more controversial aspects of his education agenda. Quinn will argue that closeness allowed her to be more effective. Bloomfield’s analysis: “Municipal control of schools would make the Council a 51-member Super Board of Education. This intriguing suggestion, producing hyper-local accountability and political havoc, plays better there than in the Legislature, which must approve. Quinn’s accomplishments are choreographed deals with City Hall, so her close ties to Bloomberg remain her greatest strength and weakness.”
SCOTT STRINGER Manhattan Borough President
Education: Junior High School 52 in Washington Heights; John F. Kennedy High School; B.A., John Jay College.
Former City Comptroller Education: Midwood High School; B.A., Tufts University.
Qualifications: Member of state Assembly’s Education Committee, 1993–2005. Mayoral control: “The greatest educational success—and failure—of the Bloomberg administration has been mayoral control,” Stringer says. He supports centralization and accountability, but argues that mayoral control under the Bloomberg administration has been too divisive. If elected, he says he would be a “strong leader and strong manager” of the city school system. His vision for the makeup of the PEP, for example, is flexible. “If I were a mayor, and I was confident in my policies, I’d like to think I would be able to manage whatever the PEP voting arithmetic would look like,” he says.
Education in 2013: To Stringer, the fact that education will be a driving force behind the 2013 mayoral race is a no-brainer. But at this point Stringer says he’s not interested in differentiating his vision from his potential rivals. “This is not a contest to see who can draw the most distinctions,” he says. “A decade of ideological bickering and constant reorganizations is enough.” Bloomfield’s analysis: “Stringer has a solid record of opposition to many city school policies through the informed voting record of his PEP appointee and hard-charging, well-researched reports. Reaching beyond Manhattan and proving independence from the teachers union remain his greatest challenges in proving to voters that he can manage for instructional improvement, not political points.” APRIL 16, 2012
Mayoral control: Thompson supports mayoral control, but if elected would look to reduce his own power by scaling back the mayor’s control over the Panel for Education Policy. “I don’t know if you need a majority [of seats on the panel],” Thompson says. “I can have one less.” Accomplishments: Thompson said his effort to pass legislation in 1996 that centralized power with the schools chancellor laid the foundation for mayoral control. As comptroller, Thompson raised a stink around the issue of credit recovery, which allowed students to retrieve lost credit from failed classes in order to improve graduation rates, but the practice is still ongoing. And like his fellow candidates, Thompson says he took a particular interest in overcrowding and class size—both of which remain a persistent criticism of the schools under Bloomberg. “I’ll never say I was a good educator, but I’ve worked with good educators,” he says. Education in 2013: With Thompson’s having already run against Bloomberg’s education record once before, look for him to present a more nuanced vision for the schools in the upcoming race. He views his Board of Education service as an asset, not an albatross, and says he plans to roll out a “comprehensive” education plan later this year. “I think I understand the system better than anyone else,” he says. Bloomfield’s analysis: “Thompson’s role at the Board of Ed is largely irrelevant, since national, state, and local conditions have radically changed. As comptroller, he never demonstrated a clear educational vision, nor did he need to. Now, however, he needs to state a clear, powerful agenda to set him apart in achieving his stated goals of lower class size and meaningful high school graduation rates.”
Accomplishments: Like de Blasio, Stringer points to a long list of advocacy and reportage on the issues of school overcrowding and parental engagement as his primary accomplishments in education policy. Stringer says his reports on school overcrowding directly led to the DOE opening two new schools in Manhattan. He created education “war rooms” across the borough to allow teachers, parents and local officials to come together and review enrollment data and brainstorm solutions to overcrowding.
Qualifications: School-board member, 1994–96; President, Board of Education, 1996–2001; City Comptroller, 2002–2009.
S P OT L I G H T : E D U C AT I O N $10,000
SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR EDUCATION $8,652
SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE 2008 2009
NEW YORK CITY
STATEWIDE (from 2002 to 2009, statwide graduation rose from 61% to 74%) PERCENTAGE OF NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS ENROLLING IN CUNY SCHOOLS WHO REQUIRE REMEDIAL COURSES IN FRESHMAN YEAR
DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN
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APRIL 16, 2012
S P OT L I G H T : E D U C AT I O N DENNIS WALCOTT CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Q: It looks like the upcoming city budget will be a lot less contentious than it was last year. Dennis Walcott: As I testified at the City Council meeting, the school budgets will stay flat. And then what I also indicated, and I’ve said this to some of the schools as well, that they’ll have their information out by the middle of May. That gives them proper planning time, and so I think that’s good for the system, in having the appropriate time to plan properly, knowing that your budget, based on what happens with your student population, will stay flat overall. And that allows us to plan properly. Q: So it looks like Albany is set to send around $8 million to New York City for education. Is that going to be enough from the state to meet the city’s obligations? DW: Whatever monies we get, we have to make it work. And so they saw, well, the mayor’s come out with his executive budget. But whatever money we get, we have to work with that to make it work. Q: What’s your take on the debate going on in Albany right now over access to
the teacher-evaluation scores? There are some lawmakers who want to restrict access to that data to just parents. Is that realistic to you? DW: Part of it is—the mayor and I have very consistently been saying this—we believe in transparency; we believe in the information going to all the folks, as far being available to people. And I’ve always said, though, the way that information— people have to look at it as a slice of information, a moment in time of a teacher, not to denigrate teachers solely on that information. Parents and the public should have that information, and we’ve said that all along. So, again, with the debate in Albany, I’m not part of that debate. I don’t know the specifics of that debate. Q: The mayor, in his State of the City address at the beginning of the year, was talking about wanting to introduce a merit-pay system for teachers. Is it still on the table? DW: It’s still definitely on the table, but that’s part of collective bargaining. And then also, the proposal is based on a teacher being for two years rated highly effective. So for that to happen, we have to come to a deal with the union around a citywide evaluation deal. So we’re still pushing on that to make sure we have a citywide evaluation deal. The other part the mayor mentioned in his State of the City is making sure we have a loanforgiveness program for teachers
coming into the system and those teachers who are the highest debt level, and making sure there’s a $25,000 loan-forgiveness program over a five-year period, or $5,000 each year.
or her choice, as far as who the chancellor should be, but right now we still have a lot of time to impact student performance, and our goal is to make sure we utilize that time wisely.
Q: How are the evaluation negotiations going with the union? Are you meeting and talking with them on a constant basis? DW: I would leave open for interpretation the definition of the word constant. Staff talks. Mr. Mulgrew and I talk. So we do talk. So we’ll see what happens. I personally believe it’s a benefit to the system itself. It’s a benefit, definitely, to our teachers, to have a citywide evaluation deal in place. Ideally the goal is to get something done by the start of the school year. So we continue to talk, and we’ll see what happens.
Q: A number of the candidates vying to replace the mayor have disagreed with him on a number of crucial education issues, whether it’s co-locations or school closures. Are you concerned that we’re going to see a reversal of some of the mayor’s policies after his time in office? DW: I can’t worry about what will happen and what I don’t know about. Our goal is to make sure we continue on our focus of improving the system overall, and as a citizen I will be looking to see what candidates who are running for mayor have to say. I’m a resident of New York City, and I’ll be paying close attention to what they have to say. Our reforms have shown positive results for our students. No matter how one looks at it, you see improved graduation rates, you see improved outcomes, more students going into college; so you take a look at the results, you see more choices available to our families for their students, schools that are doing better, still a number of schools that need to be better, and we’re focused on those as well. But no matter how you measure the metric, our outcomes are better than when we started, and we’ll continue working on improving the outcomes for our students.
Q: Any interest in staying on as chancellor for the next administration? DW: My time at DOE will end when the mayor leaves on Dec. 31, 2013. I mean, the next mayor should have his or her own choice as their own chancellor. I’m very clear about that. There’s something very liberating about being in this position right now, because I work for a mayor who is very focused on how we improve outcomes for our students. One of the other things that is very liberating is that we have the ability to make systematic change, and to me that is extremely important for our students. The next mayor will make his
MERRYL TISCH CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK STATE BOARD OF REGENTS
Q: There are a number of school districts struggling to make ends meet. What are your thoughts on that? Merryl Tisch: We’re very concerned about it, obviously. And we are trying to do a number of things within the state aid proposals, like free up a few more dollars, some on construction, some here, some there, to give districts greater flexibility in how they manage the state resources that they get. It’s very worrisome that some of these districts are looking at insolvency and they’re going to have to make some very difficult decisions. One of the decisions that they always make whenever you have an issue of funding is generally they cut out arts programs, they cut out all cultural things, and they cut out after-school. Some districts are threatening to cut out full-day kindergarten. Q: The governor is looking at a competitive grant process for schools to move toward consolidating back-
APRIL 16, 2012
office functions and that sort of thing in order to meet his standards as far as cost efficiency. The Legislature is reluctant to go in that direction. Do you think this is a process that could save school districts a lot of money? MT: I think consolidation of backoffice and transportation services, and all of those things which create efficiencies in markets, would be a wonderful thing. That being said, every time that we have looked at consolidation, the districts involved have pushed back very strenuously. And I think the insolvency of some of the school districts is going to create an environment in which they’ll be willing to look at a consolidation in a much more significant way. Q: Where are things in the implementation of the common core standards? MT: We have a lot of RFPs out to do teacher preparation around common core standards, to do curriculum development around common core standards. But I think if there’s one area we need to focus on, we really need to get the public aware of the benefit of common core. So it’s a challenge for us. How do we commu-
nicate to the public as a large whole why common core would be so significant, a sea change in terms of raising standards for New York State schoolchildren? It’s a communications challenge for us, but we are planning to do something to meet that challenge.
were never intended to be made public, because they were based on one measure. With the help of the city and districts across the state, we’ve come together to produce a multidimensional teacher evaluation system, which is a much more sophisticated
“I think the insolvency of some of the school districts is going to create an environment in which they’ll be willing to look at a consolidation in a much more significant way.” It’s too premature to talk about. The groundwork is being done. Q: So the governor and the Legislature are still debating the issue of teacher evaluations. There’s consternation from the unions about publicizing the data. Do you see an end point where all parties could be satisfied? Mt: I’ve gotten into a little trouble discussing this, as I remember. But I stand by what I believe. I believe the data points that were released by the city were premature. Those numbers
Kenneth LaVaLLe Chairman, State Senate higher eduCation Committee
Q: What are your priorities with the higher education committee with the remaining time left in session? Kenneth LaValle: One of the chief things will be, we’ve been working on legislation to deal with the whole SAT and ACT cheating. The committee will be meeting on April 18 or thereabouts with the College Board and ETS to go through what they are recommending or adopting, for security measures. We want to make sure that those security measures are indeed comprehensible. I’m just looking at them now, and I’m going to make recommendations. I brought them home to read over the break. So that will be very important. There is an issue that deals with SUNY and its foundations, and information should be FOIL-able; we’re working on that. We will be awaiting recommendations on remediation, working with the governor’s office and the Assembly on what we should put into place to deal with the whole issue at the community level, where many community colleges have very, very high numbers of students that need remediation. Q: What is your impression of the budget of the SUNY system? KL: SUNY was in a huge hole, and that process is not going to recover itself
Fiscally Reliable & Socially Responsible
index of teacher performance. So those numbers were not ready to see the light of day. The question is, how do we manage this set of numbers in the evaluation system—and I probably think that until we are sure that the evaluation system is efficient, effective and a reliable measure, in a complicated system it is probably better to carve out an agreement where parents can access information through their schools. I do not believe that publishing a measure that is not proven and that is not roadtested is good public policy.
in one session. Last year we did the SUNY 2020. This year we did the community colleges and the hospitals. It’s put us on a good path. The most critical thing of the SUNY 2020 legislation was maintenance of effort, in which the governor gave a commitment that he would not reduce where we were in terms of faculty and funding. So everyone was kind of held harmless. So that’s just great. Q: The Democrats in the Legislature would like to pass a bill that would provide tuition assistance to students who are illegal immigrants. What is your position on that legislation? KL: First of all, the program is anywhere between $45 million to $65 million. We have yet to meet our commitment to low-income and middle-income students. And when I talk about middle-income, middleincome students here in the region I live in can be $100,000-plus. So we have yet to meet our commitment to those students. We need to be mindful that these students are illegal students. I know Senator Marco Rubio in Florida is looking at a proposal to deal with legal immigrants, and we’ll look at that. But the first order of business needs to be that those residents of New York who are middle-income students and lower-income students, to have their dreams fulfilled. My DREAM Act is for New York State’s students who are lower-income, middleincome students, that they be able to meet their needs.
A WINNING COMBINATION
Reliable Funding For Our Schools Last year our members contributed $667 million in aid for schools. If full gaming is authorized at the nine racetrack casinos they would raise nearly $1.3 billion a year for education – the equivalent of 17,000 teachers.
april 16, 2012
THE POLITICS OF FISCAL CRISES Another Carey approach works: Don’t waste time obsessing about blame due to iscal crises afflicting local prior administrations. Chief executives governments are cascading from must husband their political capitalStockton in California through gaining buy-in: from unions, business Detroit, Syracuse andYonkers, on to Suffolk leaders, the state government and, most on Long Island. The problem is rooted in of all, taxpayers. Blend persistence with simple math with compound patience. In the nick of time, policy implications. The Carey brought a skeptical public’s demand for services, labor leader, Albert Shanker, exacerbated by mandated and a reluctant President costs (e.g., pensions), has Ford, after he’d told New York become unsustainable, given to drop dead, to support New the revenue streams currently York’s recovery plan. available to localities. Bruce Gyory Carey also melded transI will leave the substance parency on process with to public finance experts like Dick Ravitch and Paul Volcker. Here, let’s candor to the public. The combinaaddress the political challenges facing tion built up media pressure, forcing mayors like Stephanie Miner of Syracuse constructive action. Never forget that it’s human nature to at and county executives like Steven Bellone of Suffolk—and how those challenges first deny traumatic news. Yet to surmount could come to the doorsteps of governors. a fiscal crisis, there are no painless options. Study Hugh Carey’s playbook. Peter Chief executives must show the political Goldmark, Carey’s first budget director, skill to wear down this denial reflex. Strive for bipartisanship. Governor advised Suffolk’s Bellone wisely in a recent Newsday column: Make sure you cut Carey was helped by Republican Senate enough to achieve a recurrent balance; Majority Leader Warren Anderson, who compress the pain from employee savings rejected political demagoguery. Anderso that government can regain focus on son’s role was crucial in securing a mix service delivery; and allow the affected of cuts and revenues, the only open path institutions, whether hospitals or police to restoring fiscal equilibrium. Derivatively, Carey persuaded busidepartments, to work out the specific ness to support tax increases and cuts, for they know best where fat lies. By BRUCE GYORY
convinced labor to provide cost savings. Victor Gotbaum from labor and the banker Walter Wriston were statesmen in that time of crisis. Governors shouldn’t leap into action seeking to figuratively replace the local responsibility for crafting a recovery plan. But if multiple de facto bankruptcies hit local governments, gubernatorial leadership must be at the fore. State control boards will be a necessary option if stakeholders don’t rise at the local level to the Gotbaum-Wriston standard. Suffolk had a recent kerfuffle over whether former County Executive Steve Levy had acted inappropriately by hiding the full extent of the thenlooming fiscal crisis. Steve Levy does not deserve a witch hunt, but neither is he entitled to a free pass. Creative solutions must be found when situations arise that are capable of being repeated but evading review. Governor Cuomo should consider appointing a Moreland Act Commission, as Carey did when the UDC collapsed. This Moreland Commission’s purpose should explore several key questions. Does the Martin Act apply to local government bonds? If not, should the Martin Act be amended to apply to securities issued by local governments, enabling the attorney general to proactively investigate breaches?
What is a fair standard for budgetary disclosure when a locality faces fiscal reefs? Should incentives be created for localities to ask for the help of the state’s attorney general and the comptroller to preemptively review bond filings and financial disclosures to local legislatures, avoiding legal and mitigating political liability? A Moreland Act Commission bringing expertise from public finance and securities law could replace political fingerpointing with sturdy benchmarks. Governors like Andrew Cuomo will be tested as localities get hit with fiscal tornadoes. These problems underscore Governor Cuomo’s central thrust that fiscal prudence is a necessity, not a luxury. In facing fiscal crises, governmental leaders must risk hits to their short-term popularity in order to earn the longterm public support needed for transformational change. Lincoln’s model works best. This should be “too vast for malice”; instead, leaders should spark the “better angels” in our polity’s nature. Bruce N. Gyory is a political consultant at Corning Place Communications in Albany and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany. Read more of his columns at www.cityandstateny.com.
ROMNEY’S NY GOP GENDER GAP
s Mitt Romney heads into New recent wave of legislation seeking to restrict York for the upcoming April 24 women’s healthcare choices has driven primary, he faces a widening a wedge between the GOP and American women, RNC chairman gender gap that may derail Reince Priebus blamed the his presidential ambitions. media and Democrats. According to the recent Priebus dug a deeper hole Quinnipiac poll, 59 percent for his party when he compared of New York women approve media coverage of the issue to of President Obama’s job reporting on a supposed “war performance and 60 percent on caterpillars.” favor Obama over Mitt In a moment of candor and Romney. A Siena poll found that Michael Benjamin obvious frustration, Repub58 percent of New York women lican Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward hold an unfavorable view of Romney. That’s not good news for a state quipped that she’d vote for Obama. To say that Republicans have a party wanting to pick up seats in the House, Senate, State Senate, Assembly limited appeal to women is a lot like and county offices. The state GOP is saying Tad’s Steakhouse has a limited pinning its desperate hopes on Wendy appeal to vegans. Moderate Republican women could Long defeating Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. But Romney and the RNC are not advise Romney to try his own “game changer” by selecting a politically helping them appeal to women voters. Romney has accused the Democrats seasoned businesswoman as his running of mischaracterizing Republican views mate—I don’t think Libby Dole quite fits on women’s issues. Despite the fact that the Dick Cheney mold. It just seems that Republican men Obamacare ends sex discrimination in healthcare, Romney promises to “repeal don’t have much luck with their female and replace it.” Mr. “Etch A Sketch” also running mates. Here in New York, pledged that as president he would end former Governor George Pataki had a devilish time with Lt. Governor Betsy funding for Planned Parenthood. And instead of acknowledging that a McCaughey Ross, but he seemed to get
APRIL 16, 2012
along better with Mary Donohue. They could force the party to get
“To say that Republicans have a limited appeal to women is a lot like saying Tad’s Steakhouse has a limited appeal to vegans.” behind Wendy Long, Maggie Brooks, Nan Hayworth and Ann Marie Buerkle, as well to make good on finding a woman to support for NYC mayor in 2013. So what are New York Republicans to do? It seems that state party chairman Ed Cox, a onetime Democrat, Ralph Nader acolyte and Richard Nixon’s son-in-law, could have something to teach Romney. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Title IX, landmark legislation outlawing sex discrimination in higher education and intercollegiate athletics. By signing Title IX into law, President Nixon ushered in an era giving women
unprecedented opportunities, empowerment and financial security for themselves and their families. Today Cox is supporting a man who is not only running away from his own moderate record but would assail the achievements of Nixon as radical and socialistic. New York women should remind the state GOP of President Nixon’s legacy, and that they are not going to see that door closed on this generation of women. What’s Mitt Romney to do? He could do like many closeted out-of-towners before him. He could embrace his true self—his inner feminist—and proclaim that he will not retreat on gender equality. More likely, however, Mitt will unbutton his shirt collar, don a suit coat and step out into the bright lights of a New York stage where he will burn his last bridge to moderate Republicanism. And along with it, the New York State Republican Party. Retired Assemblyman Michael Benjamin represented the Bronx for eight years. Read more of his columns at www.cityandstateny.com.
B AC K & F O R T H
Candidly Canestrari Back and Forth With Ron Canestrari
emocratic Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari announced last week he would not seek reelection this fall, and political gadflies are busy working themselves into a lather wondering who might replace him as the second-mostimportant member of the Assembly. Here, Canestrari talks to City and State about his 23-year career as an Assemblyman, his plans for Nepalese travel and why the State Senate might behave more civilly with a candy jar.
City & state: What will you do now with all your free time? ron Canestrari: I do like to travel. And even though I travel, I want to do even more.
basis formula, some money from the state for their capital program. Cs: Was that immediately satisfying? rC: Oh, yeah. It was a battle. It was “Let’s not spend any more resources, let’s give to the city and the state universities.” But we prevailed, and it’s a good program. It was a very satisfying time for me.
Cs: Anywhere in particular you’re thinking you will go? rC: Yes. I go to Italy every year. Cs: Really? rC: Oh, yes. I’ve already been once. I go all over. I was in southern Italy in February during the president’s break week. My relatives are in the north, and I was with them on occasion too. But I also want to go to Tibet and Nepal and the Canadian Rockies. They’re all on my list. So there are places I want to see, and it’s a great world. Cs: Why Tibet and Nepal? Are you interested in studying religions? rC: Well, the whole culture, really. And I’ve been to Asia before, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, but Tibet and Nepal are so different from the West, it’s just something I want to experience. Cs: How soon will you go? As soon as you leave office? rC: No, I’m hoping without a campaign this year… I want to go to the Canadian Rockies; I hope to do that this summer. If I were campaigning I wouldn’t be able to leave. And then maybe in the fall—again, without a campaign, I can get to Tibet and Nepal. Cs: Was there anything that was a roadto-Damascus moment in your decision to leave? Was it when Assemblyman Jack McEneny decided to leave? Did he have a domino effect on you? rC: Not really. He and I have been talking about this for a while, anyway. We were high school classmates. Cs: I didn’t know that. rC: Oh, yeah. Yep. High school classmates. We were close, and talked politics back then, as a matter of fact. Cs: Was he cool in high school or no? rC: Oh, yeah. It was way back in the 1950s, so it was a whole different thing. Cs: What makes someone cool in the ’50s? Hair gel? rC: That’s right, exactly, it was sideburns… Cs: Did he have sideburns? rC: No, we were in a military high
school, so we couldn’t do that. Cs: You were the mayor of Cohoes for 13 years before you were an Assemblyman. Some people say it’s more fun to be a mayor as opposed to just a legislator, since you can immediately see the results of your work. What do you think? rC: They are totally different experiences. I am fortunate to have been elected to legislative and executive posts. When I got here, it was an adjustment from being mayor, where you made executive decisions, you worked with the City Council, but you had a great deal of discretion and authority as the chief executive. This is more of a consensual, deliberative environment, but I enjoyed the transition and the service, as well. Cs: From your time in the Assembly, are there any particular moments that you think of as the best, or anything you look back on and think about it having been a fun or a wild time? rC: There were some great moments, no question. When the speaker named me majority leader, that was something I never expected. Cs: You’re not from upstate, which apparently is unusual for a majority leader. rC: I’m from upstate, but I’m not representing that district. I’m representing Albany, but you’re right. Some people feel it wasn’t upstate enough. That certainly was the greatest moment. But passing some significant pieces of legislation, that was also satisfying as well. Cs: Any bill in particular that you’re really proud of? rC: Yes. We did, when I was chair of the higher education committee, I shepherded through a new bill, a new program, that would enable private colleges and universities to obtain, on a matching-
Cs: Do you have any particularly terrible memories? rC: No—well, there was one particular period of time when there was a coup to try to depose Speaker Silver. It was years ago. Michael Bragman tried to get a coup against Shelly, and that was a very stressful period of time. We won it, obviously; Shelly stayed. But that wasn’t one of the brighter times of my tenure here. Cs: Was it like the recent Senate coup? Was there a shutting off of the lights? rC: No, nothing like that. It was very high drama, because there was going to be a surprise vote to depose the speaker, and we only had a couple of days to get our act together to make sure it would fail, and it did fail ultimately. Cs: That must have raised your blood pressure. rC: Oh, yeah. I wasn’t the majority leader then, but that certainly was a tough few days. Cs: I think you said that being the Assembly majority leader is like herding cattle, but it seems to me that things in the Assembly are far more civil than they are in the Senate. What is your secret to maintaining civility? You haven’t had any coups recently. rC: Nope. It was a goal of mine to ensure that there be more bipartisanship in the House, our debates would be as polite and less contentious as possible, and I would reach out across the aisle as much as I could to ensure they were informed of what was under way and that we would try to work best cooperatively. The Republican leadership, Brian Kolb, has been very helpful in that regard. Cs: Does the candy jar in the back of the Assembly chamber have anything to do with it? rC: It doesn’t hurt. No, it’s been there a long time. Cs: I think the Senate might do better
with some candy. You should suggest that to them. rC: Yeah, a little incentive might help. Cs: What was the most difficult vote you had to take? I know you switched your position on same-sex marriage at some point. Is there anything you really had to mull over, that kept you up at night? rC: The first vote that I took on, whether to support Medicaid funding for abortion. That was a tough vote, because I’m always pro-choice, but that vote was tough. I’m a Roman Catholic myself; the Catholic influence in the district is strong, but I ended up supporting Medicaid funding of abortion, and I’ve done so every time it’s offered as an amendment. But that was the first time, and it was very difficult for me. Cs: What led you vote the way you did? rC: It was just a realization that women, consistent with their religious belief, must make those decisions, and options should be available that help them make their decision, and that would be their decision, not mine. Cs: You first got to the Assembly in 1989. The Capitol looks a little different at this point. What’s the biggest difference between Albany then and now? rC: There have been changes, certainly. There’s less talk of dysfunction now with this governor in particular than there has been in the past. We are getting more done. More is being accomplished. The atmosphere is much more collegial. There is time to have political battles, but there is also time to get the job done, and that has improved significantly through the years. Cs: Is there any legislation you would like to see passed before the end of your term? rC: There’s more to do, but certainly most of the big contentious issues have been resolved with the budget and, prior to that, with the casino gaming— we did that before we did the budget— and other issues we did that were more divisive or were resolved in the budget. The surcharge on millionaires was enacted last year. But I’d like to see us get through the increased minimum wage that the speaker has advanced. I’d like to see that happen, and that’s going to be a fight, I’m sure. Cs: You’ll have to herd the cattle once again. What advice do you have for your successor? What does it take to be a good Assembly majority leader? rC: I think the most important quality is patience and understanding in dealing with the members, recognizing the pressures they’re under, their different political opinions and trying to work with them to develop consensus. —Laura Nahmias firstname.lastname@example.org april 16, 2012
STATE OF OUR STATE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2012 ALBANY HOTEL Networking Breakfast (8:00 AM – 9:00 AM) SESSION 1 : Health Care and Medicaid (9:00 AM – 10:15 AM) Moderator: SUSAN ARBETTER Hon. RICHARD GOTTFRIED, NYS Assembly Health Committee Chairman Hon. KEMP HANNON, NYS Senate Health Committee Chairman JAMES TALLON, President of United Hospital Fund
SESSION 2 : Energy Exploration, Development and Infrastructure Opportunities (10:30 AM – 11:45 AM) Moderator: LIZ BENJAMIN Hon. GEORGE MAZIARZ, Chair of NYS Senate Energy Committee Hon. KEVIN CAHILL, Chair of the NYS Assembly Energy Committee JACKSON MORRIS, Pace Energy and Climate Center FRANK MURRAY, President and Executive Director of NYSERDA
SESSION 3 : Public-Private Partnerships (12:00 AM – 1:15 PM) Co-Moderator: ADAM SICHKO, The Business Review Co-Moderator: ANDREW HAWKINS, City & State THOMAS MADISON, President of the New York State Thruway Authority KENNETH ADAMS, President of Empire State Development Corporation MICHAEL LIKOSKY, NYU, Directs the Center on Law & Public Finance and is a Senior Fellow at IPK Additional Panelists TBA
Published on Apr 16, 2012
The April 16, 2012 issue of City and State . Targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and issues which shape New York City an...