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IN PRAISE OF KATZ Shame. It’s not a char- what happened next. In acter trait in great supply March Katz was pulled over among politicians. Just for speeding, and after the look at Anthony Weiner. police smelled a distinct If I had been in his shorts, odor emanating from his I would have been still car, they found a bag of hiding under a marijuana in the rock right now, assemblyman’s as far away possession. from anyone Not surpriswho could ingly, despite recognize my his tough-onTwitter pics as crime stance, possible. Katz parlayed Perhaps it is his clout as a their egomapolitician to niacal need get the drug Morgan Pehme to be in the charge against EDITOR public eye him dropped that makes politicians like provided he complete a Mark Sanford, David Vitter, token amount of commuand, likely soon, even nity service. He even got John Edwards immune to the speeding ticket reduced the embarrassment that to a parking violation. normal human beings feel, For many politicians the but lo and behold, as soon story would have ended as their scandals blow over there. Having gotten off long enough for them to scot-free, Katz could have claim they’ve had adequate returned to the Legislatime to be penitent, they ture, feigned contrition spring back to their old, and gone right back to cocky selves, as if nothing denouncing people like ever happened. himself. But something Personally, I don’t have funny happened on the an issue with Anthony way to the Capitol: Katz Weiner running for mayor. decided to stop being a If New Yorkers want to elect hypocrite. him, so be it. The purpose Last month he voted of this column is not to to decriminalize small argue that disgraced politi- amounts of marijuana, cians should not be given and then followed up soon a second chance. On the after by supporting the contrary, I wish to write in medical marijuana bill he praise of one. had previously opposed. Upstate Assemblyman And while in a lengthy Steve Katz, the aptly named op-ed in The Journal News veterinarian, was elected last week Katz still never in 2010 on the Republican explicitly admitted to being and Conservative lines. In a pothead, he did reference office, he took a seat on the Cheech and Chong without Assembly’s Alcoholism and calling for their arrest. Drug Abuse Committee, In so doing, unlike most from which he voted of his fellow humiliated against the legalization of elected, Katz has genuinely medical marijuana, and earned forgiveness—not railed against the “illegal because of the sincerity of drug culture and abuse of his apology but because of narcotics.” the substance of his subseWell, anyone familiar quent actions. with the long history of May all our fallen polihypocrisy among elected ticians learn from the officials can likely guess example of Dr. Katz.
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AROUND NEW YORK The best items from City & State’s political blog City & State’s political blog is your key source for political and campaign developments in New York. Stay on top of the news with items like these at www.cityandstateny.com. MANHATTAN The junior U.S. senator from Texas, Ted Cruz (below), was the big draw at the New York State Republican Party dinner at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Delivering a red meat speech for conservatives, Cruz called for abolishing the IRS, heaped praise upon Ronald Reagan, emphasized the need for regulatory reform and pushed for the repeal of both “Obamacare” and the DoddFrank bank regulation legislation. “Talk about a bill where you don’t have to read a word past the title to know that nothing good can come of it,” he said of Dodd-Frank. Embracing the evening’s theme of expanding the GOP’s tent, Cruz, whose father came to America fleeing political persecution in Cuba, struck a populist note in his speech. “I think Republicans are, and should be, the party of the 47 percent,” Cruz said.
BROOKLYN Former legislator Vito Lopez (below) resigned from the Assembly, but his spirit lives on— in the form a sandwich. Bushwick coffee shop Café La Mejor has renamed its double-meat Cuban sandwich after Lopez in honor of his City Council campaign. The $11.50 lunch item contains heaping mounds of pink citrusroasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and grain mustard on toasted Cuban bread. It comes with a pickle, though not the
one Lopez found himself in. Lawmakers in Albany are already distancing themselves from the sandwich. “I’m adverse to eating pork, not for religious reasons but for political considerations,” Assemblyman Joe Lentol (right) said. Assemblyman David Weprin (right), who is part Cuban, declined to try the sandwich because he keeps kosher, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said she “doesn’t eat meat.” Assemblyman Rafael Espinal, who represents parts of Bushwick, said he might give the sandwich a shot “as long as it’s tasty,” but he is “not a big fan” of pork.
MANHATTAN Last week City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (right) added 20,000 followers overnight to the official Twitter account of her mayoral campaign, @Quinn4NY, an astronomical number consid-
ering that only the day before she had around 3,400. A surprising number of those new followers had a total of 0 tweets issued from their accounts and either 0 or 1 followers. Beyond the sudden shared interest in Quinn’s campaign, they had other commonalities. Their Twitter handles were virtually identical, despite their diverse names and photos: for example, Mary DeBoos (@deecohunk 0106), Sergio Andres (@deeco hunk0105), Tiffany Stone (@ deecohunk0104), Quy Sin (@deecohunk0102), Osmany Adrian (@deecohunk0100), Mukhtar Bako (@deecohunk 0099), Nick Afriza (@deecohunk 0098), and so on. A Quinn spokesman, Mike Morey, sent out a tweet indicating the campaign had no involvement: “Attack of the drones @Quinn4NY rec’d 20K dummy fllwers last night. Didn’t ask 4 em, didn’t pay 4 em. In contact w/ Twitter 2 get rid of ’em.” The fake followers have since been axed from her account and Quinn’s Twitter following was back down to 3,978 at press time.
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“My name is Loretta Swindell. I am a NYCHA resident and a proud member of Laborers’ Local 79” Working together the Laborers and the New York City Housing Authority created a career path for Loretta, and hundreds of other NYCHA residents. Today hundreds of NYCHA residents are union Laborers, Carpenters, Bricklayers, Painters and members throughout the building trades. These careers provide good wages, safe working conditions, health insurance, benefits, and dignity and respect on the job. Loretta Swindell - Photographed at Brooklyn Navy Yard Two year member of Laborers Local 79 Proud mother of 5 and grandmother of 10.
THE LABORERS ARE PROUD TO WELCOME LORETTA INTO THEIR RANKS AND RECOGNIZE HER AS A TRAILBLAZER FOR THE HUNDREDS MORE WHO WILL FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS. Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust 266 West 37th St. Suite 1100, New York, NY 10018 Phone: (212) 452-9300 | Fax: (212) 452-9318
“A Partnership Committed to the Future” CITY&STATE
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UPFRONT THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE ’S FIRST READ EMAIL “It’s true, if I’m lucky enough to get your vote and I wind up being mayor, I may have to fight with Gov. Cuomo on certain things, but, honestly, he started it.” —Anthony Weiner, answering a question about lobbying Albany for Campaign for Equity money promised to New York City schools, via City & State
L O T I P CA NING DI
BY THE NUMBERS
DO ME A FAVOR Council Speaker Christine Quinn leads the pack of Democratic mayoral candidates, according to a recent Marist poll, followed by former Rep. Anthony Weiner, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Comptroller John Liu. But with the race fluid, other factors measured in the poll—such as how many voters view a given candidate unfavorably— may impact the final outcome.
N RO AA By
Lawmakers dish on their favorite Albany restaurants. ANGELO’S 677 PRIME EL MARIACHI MEXICAN RESTAURANT
“Whatever the biggest meal is that they can put in front of me.” —State Sen. Tim Kennedy
“It’s one of the best restaurants up here—it’s as good if not better than steakhouses in Manhattan.” —State Sen. Diane Savino
CHRISTINE QUINN Support: 25% Unfavorable: 26%
74 STATE (MARCHÉ)
“It stays open late. That’s the best reason.” —State Sen. Eric Adams
ANTHONY WEINER Support: 19% Unfavorable: 44%
“The sushi is very fresh and the sake is very good.” —Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
BILL DE BLASIO Support: 12% Unfavorable: 19%
JACK’S OYSTER HOUSE
“Usually I like the salmon or the fish dish.” —State Sen. Betty Little CAFÉ CAPRICCIO
“Good Italian food. I love the greens-and-beans. It’s out of this world.” —State Sen. Tom Libous
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
CITY BEER HALL
“I love Belgian beer and being able to drink outside.” —Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino
BILL THOMPSON Support: 11% Unfavorable: 17%
JOHN LIU Support: 8% Unfavorable: 31%
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
DRINKING IN THE MAYORAL RACE W’s patrons sample Quinn, Weiner and union contracts on Staten Island By NICK POWELL The dog days of campaign season are beginning to set in, and the patrons at W’s in Tottenville are already feeling mayoral race fatigue. Christine Quinn? A name with little significance in these parts. Anthony Weiner? An energizing presence in the race but more famous for his infidelities than his accomplishments. John Liu? Bill de Blasio? Practically anonymous in these far reaches of the borough. “We need a candidate, but it’s too early,” said Patrick, a tanned, burly retired firefighter enjoying an evening drink with his wife and some friends. Patrick encapsulates W’s political profile: a former city employee, antiBloomberg, a registered Republican but not beholden to his party. Career politicians like Quinn and Weiner turn him off. Former mayor Ed Koch and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with their gift for gab and endearing personalities, are the standard to which Patrick holds all other politicians. “Chris Christie, I wish he could run,” Patrick said. “He would cut through all the bullshit and just get stuff done.” Alas, Christie seems to be preparing for a more high-stakes election in the coming
years. But what of Weiner, the former congressman suddenly back in the public eye after leaving office in ignominious fashion? Patrick, a resident of Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn, has fond memories of Weiner as his former congressional representative, but not enough that he’ll be casting a ballot for him in September. Patrick’s wife, Gina, on the other hand, would consider holding her nose and voting for Weiner, despite being somewhat repulsed by his checkered past. “Everybody makes mistakes, but he did a lot of good things for Gerritsen Beach,” Gina said. “I’m not a fan of what he did, but I would consider voting for him.” Gina, a retired police officer, is less critical of the leading candidates than her husband, identifying their good qualities alongside their less positive ones. Quinn, she says, is “very liberal” for her taste, and the City Council Speaker’s brash, domineering personality rubs her the wrong way. But on a purely symbolic level, she recognizes what a Quinn victory would mean to her family. “It has nothing to do with her sexual preference—our son is gay,” Gina said. “In that sense, I would love [if Quinn got elected] for him. I would love it for everybody. Everybody should be able to do what they want. Every state should be that way.” Having each worked for the city and been members of large unions, Patrick and Gina did not shy away from a topic getting a lot of attention lately: the glaring
W’S BAR & RESTAURANT
lack of contracts for all of the municipal unions. Patrick said that he believes the relationship between the unions and the city is overly politicized. Not one to buck the company line, he stayed in lockstep with the firefighters’ union in supporting Bloomberg, and eventually received a 4 percent raise before he retired in 2005. Gina, on the other hand, took notice of how the city treated her much larger union, noting that its members had to sit on the sidelines and wait to get a raise after choosing not to support Bloomberg in the 2005 election. She doesn’t foresee the current contract stalemate being resolved swiftly. “[The contracts] are a big bargaining chip. [The city] always wants you to give back something and they won’t give you anything in return,” she said. “Whoever takes over is gonna be screwed because [Bloomberg] screwed them and left them with debt, and now they’re not going to get a contract.” Having overheard the conversation, a friend of Patrick and Gina’s chimed in: “If you’re looking for a story about politics, I got a story for you. I work for the [city Department of Education].” A fast-talking middle-aged woman who declined to be named in this article for fear of losing her job, Patrick and Gina’s friend claimed that the upper manage-
ment at the department tried to muzzle its employees and discourage them from speaking out in favor of the school bus drivers when they went on strike several months ago. “The New York City [Department of Education] is a bunch of politics bullshit,” she said. “During the bus strike, a lot of stuff should have been out there about [DoE employees] backing them, but they wanted us to appear in support of the parents, so we had to keep our mouth shut.” She added that the pressure from “above” in the department is unbearable at times, and the prospect of a new administration is appealing. However, despite her disdain for Bloomberg, the Brooklyn native said she had not yet taken the time to decide which candidate she liked. “I might vote for Weiner,” she said, “I hate when people resign for something that has absolutely nothing to do with their job.” One thing’s for sure: Quinn won’t be getting her vote, but in this case it has nothing to do with Quinn’s third term vote or her alliance with Bloomberg. “I don’t like a woman in charge,” she said. “We’re bitches.”
AARON ADLER (3)
TOTTENVILLE, STATEN ISLAND
(Above) A bartender at W’s pours a drink. (Top right) Jack, a W’s patron, enjoys a drink along with some political barstool banter. (Below right) The view from the end of the bar. 6
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Why are some health insurance companies afraid to tell you what the out-of-network coverage you are paying for actually gives you?
IS IT BECAUSE YOU MAY NOT HAVE ANY MEANINGFUL COVERAGE? What if you need to see a physician specialist that is out of your insurance network? This is NOT the time for you to find out you have limited coverage. Many employers and individuals purchase coverage for care by the physician of their choice, but, in reality, your coverage may be as low as 10-20 percent of the likely actual costs of this care, as reported in the independent, non-profit Fair Health database. Support legislation to assure that health plans tell you what their policies are actually providing you, and that they fairly pay for the benefit you purchase.
Please call your legislators to urge they support S.2551 and A.7813 It is being considered by the NY Legislature NOW! Assembly : (518) 455-4100 Senate: (518) 455-2800 To find out who your legislators are, go to: www.assembly.state.ny.us and www.nysenate.gov and enter your zip code. CITY&STATE
City & State out network.indd 1
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T H E F I V E B O R O U G H B A L LOT
MOTT HAVEN, THE BRONX
MOTT HAVEN TALKS SCHOOLS: LITTLE LOVE FOR MAYOR OR CRITICS Patrons of Camaguey Restaurant hold nuanced views on mayoral control, charter schools and teacher evaluations By MATTHEW J. PERLMAN and NICHOLAS WELLS
he business at Camaguey Restaurant on 138th Street in Mott Haven changes with the weather this time of year. The warmth and sun of Memorial Day means more people are barbecuing down the street in St. Mary’s Park than are coming to sit at the counter. Around the corner on Brook Avenue, a regular Camaguey customer and the owner of a convenience store, Beverly Small, 59, sits behind her register noting the same lull. As the conversation turns to local politics, she strikes a note that is often repeated in Mott Haven—that the issues people face every day are more important than the elected officials representing them. And for many, that means education. “I know a lot of the people around here—I don’t think are very well educated,” Small said, explaining that many of her customers can’t read the lotto tickets
they’ve just bought. She has to tell them if their ticket is for a morning or evening drawing. “Education is such a big deal.” Small also talked about problems with kids coming in and trying to steal, and about the fights outside on the street the week before that prompted her to call the police. “These kids need to be in some programs,” she said. “Most of the parents have no idea what the kids are up to. Kids have to be kids, but this is a little too much.” Not fans of mayoral control Later in the week at Camaguey, the rain is keeping most people in a hurry to get off the streets. Joseph Greenberg, 40, the son of one of the restaurant’s owners, is restocking sodas, doing dishes and cleaning up. As a couple of young kids climb over the chairs and duck between tables, Greenberg talks about the state of education in the Bronx. “You got to realize that the parents of most children here in the borough—the parents—are less educated,” he said. “They’re just trying to pay the bills. To get by. I don’t think there’s a fix for that. It’s too broad of a problem.” But he does see mayoral control of the school system, which Bloomberg instituted in 2002 by dissolving the Board of Educa-
tion, as a big mistake. “I think there should be a separate entity,” he said. “The mayor knows how to make money, but what does he know about how the people are living? What they’re dealing with?” This notion of distance between the public and the politicians who govern them cuts deep for Greenberg. “They’re just not in tune,” he said. Seeking quality alternatives The next day, as Gale Coles waits for her order of mondongo, a savory soup made with tripe, she talks about charter schools in the Bronx. “My children are in charter schools. I don’t trust the public schools,” she said. Her eldest son graduated from the public school system, but that experience led her to send two younger kids to KIPP charter schools, where they are currently enrolled. “I felt the quality of the public schools was not up to par,” she said. “I see the difference with charter schools. At the end of the day, it’s just a better quality education. They have them thinking about college from the first grade.” On the same afternoon a couple of blocks away at Brook Park, volunteer Dawn Cherry, 54, works at weeding a patch of garden, getting it ready for planting this summer. She puts down her hoe to talk.
“Thanks for the break,” she said, wiping away some sweat. Cherry has raised 10 kids in the Bronx, and all but two are now in college or off working in other parts of the country. She used to send her kids to the public schools and was heavily involved with the PTA. But after P.S. 220 on East 140th Street was shut down in 2008, she became disillusioned with the city’s school system. Now she sends one of her kids to St. Jerome, a Catholic school, and the other to a special education program down in Florida for children on the autistic spectrum. Issues in the school system, she says, come from the mayor’s takeover. “The mayoral control surely should end and it should go back to the Board of Ed,” she said. “Teachers should be more involved in the running of schools,” she added, and parents also need to play a role. “Unless you work together as a team, it’s not going to work.” Cherry is ambivalent about the issue of teacher evaluations. She believes they can’t gauge all the factors that contribute to how a student performs. “There’s some value in teacher testing, because if you’re not good you can see it right away. But who’s to say who’s a good teacher? You could be taught by Einstein,” she said—but even so, if you have trouble at home, you’re not going to do well. Back at Camaguey, Alvin Sullivan, 48, talked about some of those troubles over a sweetened espresso. He’s been in out of the penal system for the last 30 years. Growing up in the South Bronx, he said, there was “no place for us kids to go—they did away with the community centers.” He worries that his son, who is 23, will take after him. Sullivan has served time for a variety of drug-related charges, including a three-year stint in the mid-1980s for attempted murder He thinks that people in the South Bronx are more worried about fixing their day-to-day problems than about politics. “The issues at hand are more important than these bigger issues,” he said.
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To follow this series as it unfolds, check back regularly at www.cityandstateny.com and www.citylimits.org, and subscribe to City & State’s morning email, First Read.
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“FOR PEOPLE TO DO WELL, BUSINESS MUST DO WELL” New York needs a Mayor that is pro-business and understands the needs of small business as well as the needs of the Real Estate industry. I am one of you - I feel the pains of small business and the Real Estate industry. Thank you for your support.
JOHN CATSIMATIDIS Candidate for Mayor
www.CATS2013.com @ JohnCats2013
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R I S I N G STA R S
THE NEW YORK STATE
ALBANY’S NEXT GENERATION OF POLITICAL LEADERS
ven if this list were a “400 under 40” list, we would probably still have to omit some worthy candidates. As it is, with just 40 slots, picking this year’s Rising Stars of Albany politics and government was no easy task, given the flood of nominations we received. Politics is not glamorous work. The public does not tend to hold in high esteem those who devote their lives to keeping our democracy vital and our government running smoothly—often reducing these civically minded individuals to
caricatures: bureaucrats, hacks or worse. This characterization is unfair. Our honorees are people who are committed to jobs that often come with meager pay, require little sleep and entail the possibility of not seeing the results of their labor for months, years—or ever. This year’s awardees come from both sides of the aisle and hail from every corner of the state. There are lawmakers, consultants, political operatives, journalists, union officials and advocates representing a host of crucial issues. Everyone on this list could have devoted their
Profiles by JON LENTZ, MORGAN PEHME, NICK POWELL and AARON SHORT
Deputy Press Secretary, Governor’s Office Age: 25
The recent spate of severe storms has been challenging for many New Yorkers. For Olympia Sonnier, they have also reinforced her belief in government. “When Hurricanes Irene and Lee and Sandy hit, it was, ‘How do you shut down the MTA and get it working again?’ ” Sonnier said. “How do you make sure that people get food and blankets? How do you make it so the utilities are held accountable? That entire process—and I’ve been through two of them—was the most eyeopening in seeing how valuable having an 10
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
organized, functioning body was.” On Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign Sonnier learned about writing press releases and advance work. Now she helps prepare major events, like the State of the State address. When Sonnier was an undergraduate at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, one of her political science professors suggested she explore a career in politics. “He said, ‘You’re made for the campaign trail: No sleep, bad food, bad hotels, unpredictable schedules, runs on adrenaline, you’re young’—and he was totally right,” she said. “I loved being on the campaign. Of course, that lifestyle didn’t really stop after we won. We still have that kind of schedule, but the adrenaline is still there, and the excitement and the novelty of it.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would be working in professional sports. I would be a spokeswoman or press person for an NFL or an NBA team, or do a really large event like the Olympics or a World Cup.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Either the same job I have now, or ‘Spokeswoman for (insert NFL or NBA team).’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “For the Knicks to win an NBA title in my lifetime.” —JL
still-burgeoning careers to achieving success in other fields. That instead they chose to contribute their considerable talents to politics and government is reason enough to salute them. And that, in doing so, they have earned the respect of their colleagues, supervisors, opponents and allies is all the more cause to celebrate their achievements. Take a moment to read through the profiles of these exceptional young people. If past is prologue, there is good reason to be eager to see the next chapters for all 40 of these rising stars. PHOTOS by SHANNON DeCELLE
JAMES SKOUFIS Assemblyman Age: 25
James Skoufis is one of the youngest legislators in Albany, but he has found that he gets treated just like everyone else: with respect. “Both parties, the leadership and rank-and-file members, have been incredibly helpful,” he said. “There’s been a tremendous amount of cooperation, and my colleagues have been supportive of my legislation and ideas.” Skoufis is as serious on the floor of the Assembly as he is in the court...of curling. When not pushing bills through his committees, the assemblyman is pushing stones down a sheet of ice at the Ardsley Curling Club in Westchester. Could a gold medal in next year’s Winter Olympics be in his grasp? “I’m in the top 50 percent of curlers in the country, but I’m not good enough to be in the Olympics,” he said. “To be an Olympian you have to be in the top 2 percent.” As good as he is at curling, Skoufis is even better at spinning plastic orbs in table tennis, a sport at which he was once a New York State under-18 cham-
pion, and for which he traveled to China to train. “I don’t think I’ve made [my talents] known here in Albany,” he said. “Once you publish that, I’ll probably get razzed.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Something where I’d be giving back and making a difference in the lives of people around me.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Well, hopefully, people keep voting for me for assemblyman.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “General happiness—that’s what we all strive for, whether it be in our work life or our personal life. For me, I find public service very rewarding.” —AS
R I S I N G STA R S
Oswego County Clerk; Chairman, Oswego County Republican Committee Age: 29
Michael Backus isn’t a rising star up in his native Oswego Couty—he’s already a bona fide star. In 2011, at age 27, Backus was elected chairman of the Oswego County Republican
Committee, making him the youngest GOP chair not just in county history but in the entire history of the state Republican Party. This year Backus was elected Oswego county clerk in a special election to replace the longtime incumbent, who had passed away. Though Backus is their first elected official, his family has always been involved in local politics. His great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all Republican state committeemen. Gov. Thomas Dewey was a regular visitor to his grandfather’s farm. And generations of his relatives have played a significant part as the publishers of the Oswego County Weeklies, a string of newspapers founded in 1861. Dedicated to continuing family tradition, Backus notes that he and his wife, Andrea, a kindergarten teacher, made a “conscious decision as young people” to remain in an area so many others have left in search of greener pastures. “We wanted to be committed to this area,” he said. “We wanted to be part of bringing upstate New York ... back.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’ve always wanted to, at some point in my career, teach, especially at the college level.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I really hope that it says ‘County Clerk.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would like to be able to go travel to a different country and experience their culture, annually.” —MP
Assemblyman Age: 34
In the beginning of last year, Southern California suffered a huge and detrimental loss to the electric reliability grid and air quality when the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, one of the largest in-state suppliers of energy, was shut down for maintenance. Between 2002 and 2011, the facility generated 18% of the total electricity in the Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric ISO zones. Despite the recession and the significant government grants and incentives poured into conservation efforts, California had zero reduction in the demand for electricity, and there was no back-up plan to replace San Onofre’s power without big increases in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. California electric providers were forced to overwork the region’s natural gas power plants and to import energy to meet the needs of millions of households that San Onofre had previously powered. Natural gas generation soared 24 percent, and CO2 emissions soared, too. Meanwhile, July 2012 electricity imports marked a staggering 90% increase from the beginning of 2011. The 12-month closure has already cost San Onofre's owners, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, more than $470 million. The same sort of burdensome costs would hit New York ratepayers if Indian Point closes. Like California, New York should not be increasing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by closing clean sources of base load electricity. In New York City it is estimated that there are 2,290 deaths, 1,580 hospitalizations, 546 asthma related emergency room visits, 1,490 cases of chronic bronchitis and 46,200 asthma attacks annually attributable to power plant pollution.
These are prime reasons why New York State’s nuclear power assets, particularly Indian Point, which provides 30 percent of New York City’s electricity, are critical for New York’s environment, air quality, and energy supply.
Educational issues have always been important to Anthony Brindisi—and this year he’s gotten an education in how state government works. The lesson hasn’t always been pretty, but so far he’s maintaining a high average. “The session has been pretty good this year,” he said. “Certainly there [have] been some distractions with the corruption and sexual harassment cases. [But] overall I think it’s been positive, and we have some good things coming up.” A former school board member, Brindisi ran for a seat in the Assembly to effect change on the state level and to help revitalize his hard-luck hometown of Utica. So far this year he has made friends with legislators who have given him a different perspective on a range of issues. But he usually can’t wait to get home to Utica to spend time with his two children. “When I have free time, usually it involves something with the kids,” he said. “And we love outdoor activities, so any kind of event outdoors we try to take part in.”
By Norris McDonald
Poor air quality has an especially negative impact on communities of color, where many of the older power plants are located. This is especially prevalent in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens where neighborhoods along the East River are dubbed “Asthma Alley.” In 2013, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report gives the Bronx a “D” and Queens an “F” for air quality.
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I think I’d like to be in teaching. I like being in the classroom.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I would hope it would still say ‘Member of the Assembly.’ I enjoy what I’m doing right now, and I
New York Needs to Retain Its Nuclear Energy Assets
The most responsible way to address the public health crisis and improve our air quality is for New York State to promote smart energy policies that will maintain our existing sources of clean power, and plan for new clean power sources while decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels. 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.
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hope that in five years I am able to still be here and gain some seniority.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “The most important thing to me are my two children; I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old. If I could wish for health, happiness and safety for them, that would make me happy.” —AS
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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 www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
R I S I N G STA R S LEV GINSBURG
Director of Government Affairs, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. Age: 38
Lev Ginsburg was raised on an upstate New York dairy farm, but his family made sure he got into a different line of work. His grandparents were Holocaust survivors who came to the United States in 1949, and for them, civic responsibility was almost a religion. “My grandmother
told me if I ever worked with cows in my future, she would have disowned me,” Ginsburg said. His father, a social studies teacher, also influenced his career path. “Long nights in the truck, going back and forth to livestock auctions, he used to quiz me on things like the Roman emperors and the history of Rasputin, so I would say there was some preparedness,” said Ginsburg, who went on to study history in college and worked for several state governors on regulation reform. Now he is taking the lead on
healthcare issues for the Business Council. “These days, healthcare and workers’ comp are probably the single leading cost drivers that our members deal with,” he said. “So what I’ve been doing is concentrating as much as I can on alleviating some of that burden, and certainly now just preimplementation of the majority of the Affordable Care Act; businesses, especially small businesses, don’t understand what’s going on and don’t understand the changing landscape. So I spend a lot of time speaking to businesses about what’s around the turn, what this will
REBECCA MILLER Now Cassidy spends much of his time working on postSandy recovery, as well as longer-term efforts to enhance government efficiency. “The governor’s all about knocking down silos and making state government work as efficiently as possible for the people of the state of New York,” he said. “So I really work to keep the agencies talking to each other and working together to be as efficient as possible on a day-today basis.”
Assistant Director of State Operations, Governor’s Office Age: 26
Michael Cassidy started out in the Cuomo administration at the Office of General Services, but he didn’t stick around long. Howard Glaser, a top aide to the governor, brought Cassidy over to help develop the “NY Works” program, which is aimed at rebuilding the state’s infrastructure—and Cassidy never went back. “I came over and I worked on a project with Howard, and I haven’t left,” said Cassidy, who now sits just outside Glaser’s office.
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “A real interest of mine that started in grad school and stayed with me—I’ve been lucky enough to have it play a role in my job here—is public finance. Finance is at the heart of government operations, and you can’t do anything without money. Whether it’s a parking garage at a community college or the Tappan Zee Bridge, you can’t really do anything without a financing plan.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Survivor, Howard Glaser School of Government Efficiency.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Probably that a major league sports franchise relocates to Albany.” —JL
New Media Coordinator, New York State United Teachers Age: 30
As the youngest staff member working for NYSUT, Rebecca Miller was ideally suited to spearhead the union’s social media presence, which to that point had been nonexistent. Having previously worked in the union president’s office, Miller relished the face-to-face interaction with NYSUT members. Through social media outlets like Facebook, she has found a way to keep up that interaction while also promoting the positive work of NYSUT teachers. “Social media and our Facebook page allowed us to get feedback from [NYSUT members] and see what they wanted from us, what we were doing wrong, what we were doing right, and to push things that are valuable to our mission and let them know we are doing the best that we can,” Miller said. “It ended up being an excellent tool for us to give them instant information.” Miller has also found that social media can serve another purpose— a sort of group therapy interaction to air out the many struggles that NYSUT members are facing. “With everything [members] are going through with highstakes testing and budget cuts, to give
mean for them, what it means for costs.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I think I would either perhaps be a history professor or perhaps return to my roots in agriculture in some fashion.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I’m going to hope, ‘Independently Wealthy Philanthropist.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Just health and happiness for my family.” —JL
them a forum to have a dialogue between members that are in similar situations with budget cuts and staff layoffs, it’s almost been therapeutic for all of us to say, ‘This is happening everywhere and it’s wrong.’ ” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Photography; it’s been a hobby of mine for years.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Probably still in media and Web, in an ever-evolving role.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Time off to go back to school for whatever I wanted, and to not have to worry about money at all.” —NP
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Reliance on Foreign Energy Too Risky a Gamble for New York
Legislative Director and General Counsel, New York State Trial Lawyers Association Age: 35
In a short-lived legal career handling personal injury cases, Richard Thomas was struck by the deaths of clients who had been exposed to asbestos. But he didn’t enjoy the litigation. So he returned to the Trial Lawyers Association, where he had worked before law school. “It’s almost a calling for our members, and that’s one reason I came back to work here,” Thomas said. “Instead of just influencing one case at a time, I could, hopefully, try to help those people who have been injured because of somebody else’s wrongdoing across the board.” His work involves vetting legislation and translating complicated legal issues into easily understandable policy positions. Thomas, who left his native England for New York in 2002, got involved in politics and policy by chance. “When I came to New York, my wife was working for a state senator, and it was the middle of election season, so within a day of arriving in New York I was pounding the streets of the Upper East Side leafleting for a state senator,” he said. “I ended up working on the campaign, and from there I got a taste of politics.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I think lion tamer. I have a degree in zoology that I would like to put to use, and I’ve kind of got used to working with dangerous animals.”
Assemblywoman Age: 27
Nily Rozic distinctly remembers social justice being a primary theme of dinner-table conversations with her family. Yet it wasn’t until she attended New York University that she became active in political campaigns and community service. Rozic became a member of her local community board and sat on the board of her former high school, which eventually led to her working for Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh—in a number of different positions, graduating from scheduler to chief of staff. Under Kavanagh, whom Rozic considers a friend and mentor, she learned how to execute community
By John W. Hyland Today, New York’s first responders are more dependent than ever on sophisticated electronic equipment to help them do their jobs. Onboard computers give detailed information so they can formulate a plan of action while en-route to emergency situations. First responders rely heavily on new technology to administer life-saving first aid to patients, for emergency communications, and much more, and a constant and reliable electric supply is critical for public safety. New York must work to meets those energy needs, and a statewide energy policy that supports domestic power generators is a win for all New Yorkers: it allows us to tap into our own energy resources, maintain and grow jobs within the state, and ensure that electric rates remain stable and affordable for families across New York.
Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I think it would still say ‘Legislative Director.’ Right now I work with probably some of the best trial lawyers in the country that affect pretty much everybody in the state. The work we’re doing is valuable.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I just want more time. I need more time in my day.” —JL
projects and shepherd bills through the legislative process. This gave her the foundational skills necessary for an Assembly run when a seat opened up in her home district. “I ran for various reasons,” Rozic said. “Part of my motivation was because I believe in representing those who are underrepresented in government, whether it’s first-generation Americans, immigrants—there’s definitely a need for more women in government and politics, and young people. I think that I offered a different perspective, a fresh voice, something that really resonated across my district.” Since being elected, Rozic has worked to highlight the basic transit needs of her district, and also plans to introduce some environmental legislation before the legislative session is over. “It’s been very rewarding to work on legislation and projects that bring needed services back to my community and highlight different issues that I care about,” she said. If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d be a matchmaker. I love making connections.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “It will say ‘Assemblywoman for the 25th Assembly District,’ in different languages.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “No traffic on the [Long Island Expressway] ever.” —NP
Unfortunately, recent actions by the New York State Public Service Commission do the opposite. The agency’s approval of the Canadian government-backed Champlain-Hudson Power Express line will export tens of thousands of well-paying, skilled American jobs to Canada and make New York State even more dependent on foreign energy for decades to come. The 333-mile long “extension cord” from Canada to Long Island City, Queens would serve a devastating blow to New York. Besides outsourcing union jobs to a foreign country, it would curtail much needed in-state energy infrastructure investment, undercut support for in-state power generators and take away significant tax revenues and critical sources of economic development from towns, cities and local school districts. Municipalities rely on revenue and employment opportunities from operating power plants in their communities. That means higher local property taxes combined with service cutbacks. As a final slap in the face, this 1,000 MW high-voltage foreign extension cord, which will run roughshod through multiple communities along the route, could require that an American Revolutionary War cemetery and battleground site in Westchester County be dug up. Shame on the Canadian government and business leaders for championing a project that would desecrate iconic pieces of our state and national history. Even greater shame falls into the laps of New York officials for allowing Canada’s government and companies to swindle our great state. Worse yet, Albany’s backroom dealmakers are gleefully handing over New York jobs, economic development, tax revenues and handcuffing our state’s energy and economic future for a misguided project. Prioritizing and giving preferential treatment to Canadian power companies is the wrong move for New York’s energy, economic and political policy. If we are to pull out of these tough economic times and enhance our quality of life for decades to come, we need to invest in New York power, New York families, and New York union jobs. John W. Hyland is the president of the 2,800 plus member Auxiliary Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York. He previously served with NYNEX and Verizon for 33 years as a member of the Communications Workers of America, holding the title of Chief Steward. S P E C I A L
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New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
R I S I N G STA R S SHALYN MORRISON
Legislative Director and Counsel, State & Broadway Age: 30
It was early on in her time as a student at Auburn High School in Skaneateles, N.Y., that Shalyn Morrison caught the political bug—and when she did, she got it bad. “When Hillary Clinton was running for Senate the first time around, she came to Skaneateles … and I made
my friends wait with me for six hours in front of the house she was staying in just so I could get a
picture with her,” Morrison recalled. While in college at SUNY Cortland, she interned for then Sen. Joe Biden, who knew Morrison’s small picturesque hometown well, because it was also where his first wife, Neilia, was from. A New York State history buff, Morrison worked as a tour guide at the home of former Gov. William Seward while pursuing her graduate studies at Albany Law School, which is part of Union University—not coincidentally, Seward’s alma mater
as well. After she received her law degree, she worked first in the nonprofit arena—for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers—and then for state Sen. Daniel Squadron. Morrison’s time in government has proven vital to her current position as legislative director and counsel for the lobbying firm State & Broadway. “Having the experience of working in the Legislature is extremely valuable when you want to lobby, because you understand how things get
Director of Operations, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins Age: 27
During the 2008 presidential campaign, a young senator named Barack Obama transfixed many young voters. One of them, John Tomlin, set out to document what became a historic election. “I studied political science in college,” said Tomlin, who grew up in a family specializing in television production. “My senior project was I created a video blog. I went to early primary states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina—and covered the  presidential primaries. I was out on the campaign trail doing my little blog and got really interested in government and politics and that whole process.”
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
After graduating, Tomlin got a job with state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins. He has held nearly every position in her office, rising to director of operations when she was elected Senate minority leader. Tomlin said he admires Stewart-Cousins’ passion for constituent services and the positive work she has done in Yonkers, specifically helping to get funding in this year’s budget for a key anti–gun violence program for the area. Tomlin also cited his boss’ adeptness at working with her colleagues across the aisle to make the most of her minority leadership. But the ultimate goal is for the Democrats to eventually win back the majority. “[Winning the majority is] a challenge,” he said, “but it’s completely within reach, and I think the conference is going to have to work really hard toward that.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Some sort of television production. I’m one of the only people in my family who has broken out of television.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope it will say that I worked for the majority leader, Andrea StewartCousins.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I’d wish to fly or [for] world peace. However I’m feeling that day.” —NP
Policy Associate, The Nature Conservancy in New York Age: 27
Amanda Lefton eased her way into politics, first registering people to vote while a student at SUNY Albany, then joining political campaigns and eventually working for state lawmakers. And when she left the Legislature, she knew exactly where she wanted to work next—even if she had to wait a couple of years. “I had a two-year lobbying ban,” she said, “and as soon as it was up I immediately applied for a job at the Nature Conservancy, and here I am.” The Long Island native is now focusing on climate-change legislation, though the accomplishment she is most proud of in her current job is passing a bill that has to do with another major environmental threat: invasive species. “For the first time we established that, with certain species, you could not sell or import them, and that was passed last year and signed by the governor,” she said. If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “The only other place I could see myself, other than the Nature Conservancy, is working in the domestic violence field and working directly in communities with
done.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “The dream: part-time history professor, part-time color commentator for the New York Yankees.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope that it says ‘Consigliere for Private Citizen Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “To meet William Seward.” —MP
people on that.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “It will say that I am the director of an organization that deals with every great issue that’s important, from environmental issues, specifically conservation, to domestic violence work to feeding the homeless.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “My selfish answer is I want to be able to read through osmosis. My real answer would be that we would curb climate change and really find ways to protect communities globally from our changing climate and extreme weather events— but then I’d be out of a job if we found all the answers to those problems!” —JL
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R I S I N G STA R S AMY CUTLER
Reporter, News Center, ABC News10 Age: 30
Amy Cutler thought she wanted to be a lawyer while in college—until she had a few internships in New York City, and quickly came to hate all of them. “I didn’t want to get caught up in the bureaucracy,” she said. “There was so much paperwork.” So the Brooklyn native switched gears and took an internship her senior year with WNBC, where she worked
with political reporter Gabe Pressman. A decade later she’s a regular presence in the halls of the State Capitol, at the governor’s press conferences and wherever the day’s drama takes her. Cutler’s favorite stories are human-interest segments, particularly rebuilding efforts in the Albany region in the wake of two hurricanes. “It’s been amazing to see the resilience of the residents in Schoharie and Prattsville,” Cutler said. “One 80-year-old homeowner taught herself how to put
down flooring and did much of her own repair work.” Cutler has enjoyed the benefits of living in Albany, including proximity to great hiking trails in the Catskills and the Adirondack Mountains, and cheaper rent compared with the city. “It’s something I didn’t necessarily grow up doing often,” she said of hiking. “There’s also a lot more diversity and culture up here than one might think.” And the people are nicer upstate—including the reporters. “By and large the reporters up here are all friendly and
Political and Legislative Coordinator, AFSCME New York Age: 32
Legislative Representative, Civil Service Employees Association Age: 30
Joshua Terry was bitten by the political bug in high school, while volunteering for former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign. The experience inspired him to major in political science at SUNY Albany. In his native Syracuse, Terry was also exposed to the influence unions have on middle class families, which led him to intern with the political action arm of CSEA. “Growing up in Syracuse, which is a very pro-union city, you realize that what I had growing up—good healthcare, good schools, my father had a decent paycheck—it was because of the unions that were there,” Terry said. After a brief stint fresh out of college working for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Terry jumped at an opportunity to work once again for CSEA, this time as a staff member. As a legislative representative for the union, which represents state and local government employees, Terry has been on the front lines of several high-profile legislative battles, including the Tier VI pension reform fight in 2012. Despite the fact that union density has been dwindling nationally, Terry is optimistic about the future of labor in New York.
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Before doing lobbying and campaign work for AFSCME—one of the largest trade unions in the country—Courtney Brunelle received a glimpse of the inner workings of the state Democratic Party as a labor liaison. Working for the state party helped inform some of the campaign and field work that Brunelle has done for AFSCME, including being deployed to Ohio in 2012 to be a part of the AFL-CIO’s independent expenditure on behalf of President Barack Obama. “[The state Democratic Party] was a very important training ground for me,” Brunelle said. “The whole time you’re
“I think people are going to start realizing that unions are needed,” he said. “When unions drop off, we see income go down for workers. It’s gonna happen where we’re gonna see an uptick in things that are happening in the labor movement. It’s just a matter of when that’ll happen.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d probably be in government. Maybe not on the policy side; maybe on the operations side.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Hopefully it will say, ‘Wartime Consigliere.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would choose to rid my father of multiple sclerosis—something that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.” —NP
welcoming,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong; we are competitive, but not cutthroat.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Probably a nonprofit or the Peace Corps. Something that would involve traveling.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Investigative Network Reporter.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “World peace.” —AS
in college learning about politics, you have no concept how the internal party structure really works. That was really eye-opening and really helpful for me, to understand how to get the job done, and how do we comply with the laws, like campaign finance and petitioning rules and things like that.” The other half of Brunelle’s job is engaging AFSCME members and affiliates on issues advocacy work and lobbying politicians on the state and local level around specific legislation. This year she was able to witness the inner workings of the state budget process, which she called “underwhelming.” “This was my first year working in Albany during the budget cycle,” she said, “and we will be working closely with all of our affiliates and Gov. Cuomo on binding arbitration and the financial restructuring board he wants to put in place.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I wouldn’t mind being a Blade Runner. I don’t know if it’s available yet, but I’m into that.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Oscar Winner.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would love to have the ability to slow down time.” —NP
If you listen closely, you can hear 47,000 of your co-workers clapping for you. Time Warner Cable is pleased to recognize its own Cathleen Sims DeVito and Capital Tonight’s Maureen McManus as two of City & State’s 40 Under 40 Rising Stars: Albany! Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees!
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
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KIERAN LALOR Assemblyman Age: 37
Forgive Kieran Lalor for thinking Albany isn’t that dysfunctional. A mere 10 years ago, as a Marine in Iraq, he slept in holes in the ground and brandished an automatic rifle. “We were there for the first month when it was a sovereign country led by a crazy dictator,” he said. “Everything we set up we set up ourselves. We took over an agricultural building. That’s where we lived and operated Nasiriyah, where Jessica Lynch was taken captive.” Lalor’s mission quickly changed from invading a country to helping
rebuild its government. “I think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “You know how many terrorists got sucked into Iraq?” Albany is “more developed” than Baghdad, but Lalor is frustrated at the state’s own institutions. “All the good reforms die in committee,” he said. “They don’t even get a floor vote. People who they represent need to know where they are on tough issues.” Still, he relishes the opportunity to be a part of the debate on the state’s pressing issues and still make it home to Fishkill in time for dinner with his family. “I get up at 5:30 a.m. and I make the lunches,” he said. “One daughter likes ravioli and the other likes mac and cheese.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I really liked being a high school social studies teacher. That was a great job. I really liked being a Marine. I’d be happy to go back to that.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Assemblyman from the 105th District.’ But I took an eight-year term limit pledge, so after that it would change.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I’d like to play catcher for the New York Yankees.” —AS
ANDREW GARBARINO Assemblyman Age: 28
Andrew Garbarino knocked on 130,000 doors last summer in order to win his Assembly seat, but he had to get past a Republican screening committee first. “I was definitely a little nervous,” he said. “You’re being judged. They wanted to know if I had the time to campaign, what my priorities were, how much money I could raise. Nobody really knows how much they think they can raise.” The legislative session is not usually as strenuous as the campaign to get there, and Garbarino has mostly argued against legislation, since it is rare for Republican bills to come to the floor in the Democratcontrolled Assembly. He enjoys committee meetings and hanging out with fellow legislators at different restaurants in downtown Albany before stopping at Pinto & Hobbs for
karaoke. “Prime is my new favorite,” he said. “The steaks are the best. They have a Gorgonzola bacon butter they put on top of it.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I probably would own my own business. I’d like to be in the corporate structure. I think I have a business mind, and I think I would be very good at that.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Six months ago I wouldn’t have even have said this! And I have to think ahead five years?” C&S: Everybody is saying they want to stay in the Assembly. “Is everybody else saying ‘Assembly,’ really? I should say ‘governor.’ I guess we’ll go with the Assembly.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Family is very important for me. If I could make sure my nephew, my brothers and sisters were taken care of and my parents were taken care of. I’m not going to say world peace. People would see through that.” —AS
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a capitol star
Wilson Elser congratulates Theresa Russo on being selected as one of New York State’s “Rising Stars.” Congratulations to all the 2013 honorees.
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JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Congratulations to our friend and colleague, Lynelle Bosworth, for being selected as one of City & State’s “40 Under 40,” Albany Rising Stars.
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R I S I N G STA R S ALITHIA RODRIGUEZ-ROLON
Director of New York State Governmental Affairs, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators Age: 38
While working in the welfare division in the state Division of the Budget office under Gov. George Pataki in the early part of her career, Alithia Rodriguez-Rolon witnessed what she called the “frightening” attitudes of her co-workers with regard to the plight of disadvantaged New Yorkers. “As a person who grew up in a housing project—and I knew a lot of kids who wore the same clothes every day to school because they didn’t have anything else—it was really frightening to hear the policymakers’ attitudes toward the people who were receiving [welfare] benefits,” she said. “At that point I said, ‘No, I don’t think working in government is for me. I need to influence policy from the outside.’ ” Pivoting to the
advocacy side of politics, RodriguezRolon has found her comfort zone, helping advance the discussion within the Legislature about the importance of early childhood education in her capacity with CSA. She has also been involved in the debate over a teacher evaluation system for New York City. “The concern is that the state is rolling out this new system with a lot of pieces and parts that are changing at the same time that they’re trying to implement it. We’re trying to alert [the state about] potential problems.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I always wanted to open a community center.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Hopefully it would say the same thing. There’s still so much on education reform that can be implemented.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “The ability to clone myself. So many things come up, and unfortunately the real world doesn’t revolve around the Legislature.” —NP
Executive Director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance Age: 36
Before Tom Stebbins came to Albany, he worked on PBS programs in Boston, and then developed wind farms. “So I kind of have a little bit of a different background than most people in the political game here in Albany and in the city,” he said. On one wind farm project, he had lined up a local lumberjack to clear the way for a meteorological tower. But the $3 million cost for liability insurance was too expensive for the contractor—and couldn’t be lowered. “They sent me back a sheet of paper
that had the requirements of liability insurance in all the states, and New York was at $3 million, and the next highest was $500,000,” Stebbins said. “That’s when I realized that something was wrong in New York.” So when he heard about the executive director opening at the Lawsuit Reform Alliance, he thought it would be a good fit—even if others were skeptical. “They said, ‘Well, you used to build wind farms and work for PBS. You’re as liberal as they come,’ ” Stebbins said. “I said, ‘This doesn’t have to be a right or left issue.’ I think of it very much as a bipartisan issue, especially given how far New York is in terms of the expansion of liability that the trial lawyers have imposed on our state.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d probably be in science and technology.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I’d say ‘Reformer.’ I like to reform and change the way things are, especially in New York where it’s so desperately needed.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “That people of the world could settle their disputes without violence…or lawsuits.” —JL
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R I S I N G STA R S GARY GINSBURG THERESA RUSSO
Partner, Wilson Elser Age: 40
It was in her second year at Albany Law School that Theresa Russo began working at Wilson Elser. After graduation she joined the firm as an associate for a year, before going to work in the state legislative affairs office of Mayor Giuliani’s administration. But the draw of Wilson Elser was too great, and a year later Russo came “back home” to the law firm, and there she has remained ever since— rising from law clerk all the way up to equity partner. In the process Russo has built the film’s burgeoning hospitality practice and helped create its growing liquor licensing and lobby law compliance practice. An experienced lobbyist—and proud of it—Russo
wishes that people better understood her profession. “I definitely think there’s a misunderstanding [about lobbying],” Russo said. “All you want to do is solve your clients’ problems. You start out and you try to negotiate them. If you can’t negotiate them, you litigate them. And if you can’t litigate them, there’s always a law change.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d be in the hospitality industry. I really have enjoyed working with the different hotel and restaurant chains and learning about ... different managers’ life experiences and traveling.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Hopefully the same thing it does today: ‘Partner at Wilson Elser.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “To do volunteer work if I could hit the lottery and have absolutely no financial concerns.” —MP
Director of Government Affairs, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. Age: 38
Gary Ginsburg interned for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, got a post-college job with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, then joined the Gov. David Paterson administration, stayed on under Gov. Andrew Cuomo and eventually landed with the Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. But perhaps his first political role model was a fictional character on the television drama The West Wing. “I really like Toby Ziegler,” Ginsburg said. “I identify with him a little bit,” though for “appearance identification” he’d like to model himself on another actor on the show—Rob Lowe. “But for everything else, I’ll take Toby.” Ginsburg, who graduated from Norwich University, said he also appreciates having had some real-world mentors. He got hooked on politics while interning in Schumer’s Albany office, where he got a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into press events and public appearances. The transition from Paterson to Cuomo, and the contrasts in their communications strategies, was educational as well. “I’ve been incredibly lucky to work for
some of the greatest minds and greatest operations in New York State and the New York political scene,” he said. “Talk about learning at the feet of the masters.” Could all that experience translate into a run for elected office? “I’m under strict orders from my wife to not run for office, but we’ll see if the negotiations are ongoing,” Ginsburg said. If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d like to be a stand-up philosopher.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Let’s swing for the fences. Ideally, ‘Communications Director’ for the majority conference in the state Senate, the Democratic Conference.” If a genie offered gave you one wish, what would you choose? “If I couldn’t be omnipotent, maybe just mind control. Probably make my job a lot easier.” —JL
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
R I S I N G STA R S RON KIM
Assemblyman Age: 34
Ron Kim got interested in public service while studying political science in college. When he interned for then New York City Councilman John Liu, he was inspired to run for elected office himself. “Having seen someone of AsianAmerican descent break through and become the first politician in New York, I felt it was something I could achieve as well,” said Kim, who this year became the first Korean-American in the state Legislature. Well into his first session in Albany, Kim says he is focused on legislation affecting his constituents, such as immigration reform and legal protections for taxi drivers in the wake of the brutal assault of a Queens cabbie on New Year’s Day. “One of the things I’m trying to do is provide more protections for taxi drivers in New York City,” he said. “Unfortunately, as the law states right now, there is not the equal protection for cab drivers that we provide to other public service areas, like bus drivers, sanitation workers and nurses, so one of the things I want to do is change that statute.”
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would most likely be in public service or working for a nonprofit. Preferably for a nonprofit that has some programs I care about, perhaps something to do with after-school programming.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “You know, I hope it’s still ‘New York State Assembly Member.’ You really need to reach a couple cycles in the Legislature to get any kind of policy influence, so hopefully in five years I will have the same business card with some higher-ranking committee status.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I always fantasized about what it would be to play Division I football. I would like to go back and have that Rudy moment.” —JL
Director of Communications, Republican Party of New York State Age: 25
Political writing and communications are David Laska’s passions.“So much of politics is persuasion, and your ability to persuade and to build a concise argument and to deliver that argument can sway an election,” said Laska, who became the state GOP’s communications director in January after spending the two years prior as special assistant to the party’s chairman. “Data is very important, get-out-the-vote is very important, but if those voters aren’t there to go to the polls, you lose.” To improve the state GOP’s communications, Laska has revamped its social media approach and used these platforms to try to
expand the Republican tent—one of the party’s foremost aims after the 2012 elections. An eager writer and commentator, he spins out copious op-eds to shape the party’s message and contributes as an occasional on-air pundit and columnist for the website Fox News Latino. Laska enjoys being the mouthpiece of a heavily outnumbered party. He said that growing up in Westport, Conn., and then going to NYU, he is accustomed to defending his conservative beliefs. “I’m used to my arguments being questioned with a lot of fervor … and that’s been really a blessing,” he said. “It’s forced me to question my own arguments and always have well-researched, solid opinions that I can defend to the best of my ability.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would be doing commentary in the private sector—which, who knows, maybe that’s something that lies ahead for me.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Five-Time City & State 40 Under 40 Honoree.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Mike Bloomberg’s bank account, Al D’Amato’s longevity and Anthony Weiner’s cojones. Is that more than one wish? Too bad.” —MP
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R I S I N G STA R S BETH GARVEY
First Assistant Counsel, State Senate Republicans Age: 31
Gov. Andrew Cuomo often touts his achieving the on-time passage of his first three budgets and successful efforts to make Albany functional. But staffers like Beth Garvey play an important role in coordinating budget bills and legislation so everyone can meet their deadlines. “Most of my day-to-day duties involve making sure that everything is moving through and we’re getting bills coming out of committee and getting
onto the calendar, so we have an orderly flow of legislation for our members to consider,” Garvey said. “I do a lot with the budget, working closely with the Assembly to make sure that the bills are in and printed on time so that we have a timely budget.” Garvey’s fascination with the minutiae of policy issues serves her well in Albany, but when she first enrolled at Albany Law School she wasn’t interested in politics at all. “In fact, when I started working here, a girlfriend of mine already worked in the Legislature, and she said, ‘You
need to figure out who your state senator is, because they’ll ask you in the interview,’ ” Garvey said. “I had to go online to look it up.” Garvey worked in the majority counsel’s office from 2004 until 2009, when she left briefly to become a lobbyist before returning for her second stint in government. “Once you start with the Legislature, nothing else is ever as exciting,” she said. If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d probably be tucked away
in a law firm somewhere doing wills, or trusts and estates, which is what I thought I would be doing when I left law school.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Hopefully it will say the same thing.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “To be in two places at once.” —JL
NATHAALIE N. CAREY Assistant Comptroller, Division of Local Government and School Accountability, Office of the State Comptroller Age: 33
Nathaalie Carey recently read Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, the best-selling clarion call for female empowerment. But Sandberg could just as easily be taking lessons from Carey. At the age of 24 Carey became the youngest budget director in the history of Broome County—as well as the first woman and the first minority to hold that position. In this role, just two years after getting her bachelor’s and a year after receiving her M.P.A., both from Binghamton University, Carey was responsible for managing the county’s $450 million operating budget and $100 million capital budget. If this sounds like a staggering portfolio, as an assistant comptroller over the division of local government and school accountability in Tom DiNapoli’s office, nowadays Carey is responsible for the fiscal oversight of all of the state’s local governments and school districts outside of New York City. A native of Guyana, Carey was 6 when her family moved to Brooklyn. They later moved to Queens, where she attended Jamaica High School. Initially Carey thought she would work in the nonprofit sector, out of a desire to use her business acumen for
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
a good cause, but over her remarkable career she has discovered her calling to work in government. Nearly a decade after beginning her career in public service, Carey has not lost her belief in the good that she can do as a fiscal watchdog. “I’m an eternal optimist,” Carey said. “I tend to look at how I can accomplish things, rather than the challenges that stand in my way.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I probably would be a motivational speaker.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘COO.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would wish to cure all physical and mental ailments across the world.” —MP
Vice President, Park Strategies Age: 36
Joe Rossi has politics in his blood. “At its core, I learned this world at the dinner table with my mom and dad,” said Rossi, whose mother was the town clerk of Cicero, N.Y., and his dad a public servant in the town highway department. Though he stills lives in North Syracuse where he grew up, these days Rossi receives his political tutelage from former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato, ex–Assembly Speaker Mel Miller and the rest of his colleagues at the consulting firm Park Strategies. “Just sitting with the senator for 45 minutes is better than any college program you can go through,” Rossi said.
Along with Miller, Rossi is one of only two Democrats on staff at Park Strategies. He began his career in politics as an organizer for the Working Families Party. Later, he served as the political director of SEIU Local 200 United, and spent two years working in the State Attorney General’s office under Andrew Cuomo. Rossi, who learned from his WFP experience that “if you can do grassroots organizing, you can do anything,” even tried his luck as a candidate, running for the Assembly in 2004. Rossi lost, but his defeat did not persuade him that he should never try again—just that he shouldn’t try anytime soon. Asked what year he could envision being a candidate once again, he immediately zeroed in on a date: “2026. I will be 50, my youngest son will be 20.” He added, “But right now my wife is opposed to it.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “To be honest, I’d probably be a laborer at the town highway department.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Park Strategies.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Long happy life for my family and I.” —MP
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When Jeremy Zellner was elected to chair the Erie County Democratic Committee, he faced a party that has historically consisted of separate, sometimes warring, factions. At 34, Zellner also faced the stigma of being a young man in an older man’s game. In order for the county committee to run smoothly, Zellner knew he would have to work the phones and do some consensus building, so he set out to do just that. “When they voted me in, I called my biggest opponent that day and said, ‘Look, let’s put this thing behind us and start working together,’ ” Zellner said.
CHAD LUPINACCI Assemblyman Age: 34
The legislative session has flown by for Chad Lupinacci, a freshman assemblyman. “What’s very surprising is that time has moved so fast,” Lupinacci said. “We’re always working and already session is almost over.” The Hofstra Law grad taught business law in Farmingdale before he became a “last-minute candidate” for the Assembly when the late James Conte decided he was too ill to seek re-election. So Lupinacci buckled down, knocked on thousands of doors and enlisted the help of his former students and extended family.
“For some people it’s worked—and I really enjoy great relations with people who haven’t been involved in the party for a long time—and for some it hasn’t. At the end of the day we moved forward.” Zellner’s focus now lies in building up some of the county’s Democratic candidates, including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, and preparing his young and energetic staff for what he hopes to be a fruitful election cycle for the party. “I’ve brought on some young professionals who have expertise in their fields,” he said. “I’ve been able to bring in a lot of solid new Democratic talent to get our candidates elected this year.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d love to be a baseball writer.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope it says, ‘Proud father of the future President of the United States.’ My wife, Carrie, and I just had our first baby, Rory, five weeks ago.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “Politically, that we can all work as a Democratic Party to move this community forward, and move this state and country forward.” —NP
“It was great,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of constituents, got to see the problems of the area.” He described this year’s legislative session, in which he has spent many a night eating out with colleagues before going back to his office to do more research, as a productive one so far. With only a few weeks remaining in the session, Lupinacci can be forgiven for looking forward to the next semester of teaching law and statistics classes and blessing a fleet of boats in Cold Spring Harbor. “I’ve never sailed, but hopefully soon,” he said. “That’s one of my goals.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’d probably be teaching full-time, continuing my service on the school board and doing a little private law work that I’ve always done.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Hopefully, ‘Member of the Assembly,’—and hopefully there’s another one that still says ‘Professor.’ I did take a leave of absence this semester.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would say health and happiness for my family.” —AS
R I S I N G STA R S
LYNELLE K. BOSWORTH
Associate, Greenberg Traurig Age: 33
When Lynelle Bosworth first moved to New York to attend Albany Law School, she thought she wanted to be a litigator. But she concluded that the daily dose of acrimony that comes with practicing that area of law was not the right fit for her personality. “I realized that for the most part my interactions were very adversarial. I’m not sure if it has to do with my California roots, but I’m a consensus builder and I like people to be happy, so for me it was kind of like swimming upstream,” Bosworth said. Bosworth instead decided to wade into government, becoming counsel to the Transportation and Corporations Committees of the New York State Assembly. From there she moved on to become associate counsel to the Assembly’s Health Committee. Bosworth picked an auspicious moment to shift her focus to healthcare, finding herself advising the
Assembly Speaker on such key issues as Medicaid and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on the state level. Now an associate at Greenberg Traurig, Bosworth continues to focus on healthcare on behalf of her clients. Despite growing up in a family involved in local government, Bosworth never anticipated working in the arena in which she now excels. “I was always civically minded,” she said. “I just didn’t realize you could be in politics for a career until it hit me in the face.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would be an emergency room doctor. I’m really into health and I like the pace; it’s like the pace of politics, I guess. It’s intense too.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “Renaissance Woman, Esq.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “That the East Coast and West Coast were closer together, so I could visit my family more.” —MP
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R I S I N G STA R S
JENNA MARIE ADAMS
Legislative Counsel, Office of Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh Age: 29
Jenna Adams didn’t realize that she was a natural community activist until she left her home in rural Oregon to go to college in Eugene— and found herself part of a community for the first time. “There just wasn’t the opportunity to get together with groups of likeminded people to make change when your nearest neighbor is 40 miles away,” Adams recalled. After graduating from the University of Oregon and doing some campaign work, Adams moved to New York to attend Brooklyn Law School. There she was drawn to the study of election law and interned with Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who chaired a subcommittee on Election Day operations and voter disenfranchisement. Now Kavanagh’s legislative counsel, Adams is enthusiastic about working on election reform in the state Legislature. It is at the state level that improvements to the system of real significance are most likely to
be made, Adams believes. Though election law is a somewhat arcane specialty that draws relatively few practitioners, she remains captivated by the area. “The procedural aspects of elections can really determine who gets elected, as we have seen in Bush v. Gore, and as we have seen in local races with people getting kicked off the ballot because of petitions,” Adams said. “To have policy makers and legislators be determined by these technicalities I find fascinating.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I probably wouldn’t be living in the United States. I’d probably abscond to Buenos Aires to tango, or something like that.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope to be practicing election law or doing election policy, so it will probably say ‘Attorney.’ “ If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would grant New York City more, better networked bike lanes, like Copenhagen.” —MP
MICHAELLE SOLAGES Assemblywoman Age: 28
Michaelle Solages graduated from Hofstra University in 2007. Six years later she became the first person of Haitian descent to win a seat to the New York State Assembly. Although Solages is approaching the end of her freshman session, she’s still excited about Albany. “To date, session has been a wonderful and interesting experience,” she
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
more productive final stretch,” he said. The rigors of a busy session do not provide a lot of downtime, which he uses to review bills or attend events in his district. But Buchwald is hoping to use the summer to get started on the next milestone of his life—marriage. “I’m recently engaged, so I’m spending most of my free time these days wedding planning with my fiancée,” he said.
DAVID BUCHWALD Assemblyman Age: 34
David Buchwald was working as a tax attorney in Manhattan when he found himself answering to a higher calling: public office. “I felt I had a skill set that, combined with a record of accomplishment at the local level, allowed me to project an optimistic vision for what good government can achieve,” he said. So far he believes the legislative session has contained a number of meaningful accomplishments, including the NY SAFE Act, a minimum wage increase, pay equity legislation and the passage of an on-time budget, as well as three of his own bills. “I’m optimistic that we’ll have an even
said. “I have had the opportunity to deliberate and debate many interesting topics.” Solages ran for office because she wanted to make a difference in the Nassau County community in which she has lived her whole life. “My decision to run was motivated, in part, because members of my community wanted me to represent the district in the ‘People’s House,’ ” she said. So far this session Solages has pushed for legislation to assist individuals impacted by Sandy, held outreach events
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Until a few months ago I was practicing as a tax attorney in midtown Manhattan, a profession I continue to think very highly of and which gives me expertise as a legislator. That’s almost certainly what I would have been doing had I not been successful this past November.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope it continues to say ‘New York State Assemblyman’ representing nine great communities in Westchester County.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I’d wish for more tolerance in the world so we can as mankind look forward to the future with hope and opportunities for the development of good things to come.” —AS
devoted to hurricane relief and gotten her first bill passed, which established crime prevention services for small businesses. “The job of a legislator is always ongoing, and there is a lot more work to do in Albany and the district,” she said. When Solages isn’t serving her constituents, she makes sure her dog, Mikko, gets the attention she deserves. “I really enjoy spending time with Mikko,” she said. “I like to take her to various places throughout the district, including the Valley Stream Dog
Park.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would aspire to be a dean or head librarian of a university or college.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Michaelle Solages, Member of the New York State Assembly, District 22.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would wish for peace and prosperity for all New Yorkers.” —AS
R I S I N G STA R S
General Counsel, The Parkside Group Age: 32
When he was in college, Dan Katz was able to get a taste of his future career path through two internships, one in the court system and the other working for the Assembly. His plan was to learn how the law was applied and then see how the laws were made. His preference for the latter led to an internship in Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz’s office. Working for Dinowitz, Katz felt continually rewarded by helping constituents with their various problems, from signing people up for Medicaid to getting their electricity turned back on. “I really liked the job with Dinowitz],” he said. “It was different dayto-day, wasn’t the exact same numbercrunching kind of monotony. And then I just liked that we were really helping people.” Katz would later earn his law degree, and after a stint in the private sector landed a job working for then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Now, as a lobbyist at the Parkside Group, one of the most powerful consulting and lobbying firms in the state, Katz acts as an advocate for various clients, with
a current focus on civil justice issues. “It’s a very similar [job to working in government] but ... instead of one elected [official], it’s a firm that ties it together.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I’m not sure. I’d be fighting the good fight and trying to make a difference in some other way.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I’m kind of hoping that it will still say ‘Dan Katz.’ I’d hate to see that change.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I’d wish to be able to travel through time.” —NP
State Government Reporter, Gannett Albany Bureau Age: 24
In a few short years, Jon Campbell has become the Albany media’s hydrofracking expert, delivering scoops on one of the most polarizing topics in state politics. He picked up his drill skills working for the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton before a job opened up in Gannett’s Albany bureau. “The guy who was covering fracking for the Press & Sun left to write the book on fracking … so they hired me,” he said. “The fracking stuff just followed me.” The Buffalo native has other impressive skills, too.
CATHLEEN SIMS DEVITO
Vice President, Northeast Government Relations, New York City, Time Warner Cable Age: 32
Like so many of the young bright lights of New York politics, Cathleen Sims DeVito got her start working for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. “[Schumer’s office] is like the farm team for making your way up in politics,” DeVito explained. “I look around at some of the people I
worked with back in ’02 and ’03, and they’re some of the most successful and wellknown people in city politics.” DeVito then landed a job with Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. and ended up staying for seven years, as his chief of staff. In 2011 she become director of government relations at Time Warner Cable. Now a vice president, DeVito oversees the company’s lobbying and government relations as they pertain to all of the city, state and federal officials based out of New York City. “When I came in as the
He plays saxophone and guitar with a local jazz band, and is currently the coach of the Legislative Correspondents Association’s softball team. The squad has gotten off to a slow start, getting pasted by the Governor’s Office and putting a high number of its middle infielders on the disabled list, but Campbell isn’t one to make excuses. “We’re reporters,” he said. “We’re not athletes. That’s how it goes.” Campbell won’t reveal his strategies for turning the team around, save for one crucial ingredient: “Ringers. Lots of ringers,” he said. “We need to get ringers. It’s not looking good so far. I have faith we’ll put one out before the end of the year.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “When I was in high school, I was split between journalism or potentially going to college to be a music teacher—an instrumental music teacher—but ultimately I went with newspaper reporting. Time will tell if that decision worked out.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “I hope it says exactly what it says now: ‘Albany Reporter, Correspondent.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would wish for a lifetime of good health, not only for myself but for the print journalism industry.” —AS
group leader, the government relations practice was pretty dormant—it was answering phone calls about troubles with people’s service—and in the past two years we really partnered with so many elected officials to show them what a good corporate citizen we are,” DeVito said. “We’ve come a long way in two years, and that makes me very happy.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I went to an all-girls Catholic school in Baltimore,
and when I was there I loved it, but I could always see ways that I felt the school could do better and be better in terms of empowering and educating women … and I used to always want to come back and be the principal of my former school.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “My business card is going to say ‘Vice President, Government Relations, New York City’—same thing it says now.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “The ability to see the future.” —MP
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
R I S I N G STA R S JESSICA BASSETT
Senior Associate, SKDKnickerbocker Age: 30
Jessica Bassett was the last person standing in Gov. David Paterson’s press shop. Elevated to acting director of communications in the fall of 2010, she survived to his final day in office, grappling with contentious issues until the end. “Someone had to take press calls on the last day of government,” Bassett explained. Bassett’s rise to become the governor’s top spokesperson was meteoric. Soon after graduating from college, she
got her first job in politics in her native Plattsburgh: deputy North Country regional representative for Gov. Spitzer. After Spitzer resigned, Bassett became an upstate advance person for Paterson, then moved over to the press office. At the close of the Paterson administration, Bassett moved to Syracuse and became Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s regional director in Central New York, but the lure of Albany was too great, and so a year later she returned to join SKDKnickerbocker. Though her father, Bernard, is the town supervisor of
Plattsburgh, Bassett insists she was interested in politics first. “When I first started working in Albany, people who had crossed paths with my dad would say, ‘Oh, you’re getting into your dad’s business,’ ” Bassett recalled. “And I would say, ‘No! This was my thing before it was his. If I wanted to get into my dad’s business I’d be a teacher right now.’ ” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Working in the not-forprofit sector, doing global
JOE BORELLI Assemblyman Age: 30
Deputy Press Secretary, Governor’s Office Age: 24
Gareth Rhodes was studying abroad in China when he realized how much New York politics mattered to him. Every evening at 6 p.m., he would return to his apartment to catch up on the latest news from back home. “I didn’t want to go a day without missing the news,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘If I’m halfway around the hemisphere and I am still addicted to New York State news and the political news here in the U.S., this is what I’m meant to go into.’ ” Rhodes, who interned for Rep. Charles Rangel and in the White House, got his start with the Cuomo team when he was an intern in the state Attorney General’s office. After the Kingston native graduated from City College in 2011, he got a job in the Executive Chamber. “I think what I’ve been most excited to work on myself is a lot of the economic development initiatives,” he said. “I think what the governor has done is he’s identified these niche industries—like the yogurt industry or the craft beer industry and distilleries, the nanotech industry—and seen the potential there.” If you were not working in poli-
JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Growing up on the South Shore of Staten Island, Joe Borelli was always involved in community service, from being active in the Boy Scouts as a child to becoming president of a service club in his high school. These activities eventually led him to the office of New York City Councilman Vincent Ignizio, where as chief of staff Borelli pored over legislation and played a key role in delivering vital services to Ignizio’s constituents. When Assemblyman Lou Tobacco resigned in 2012, Borelli jumped at the chance to represent his home district. “I tried to prove that I have some interesting things to say, and I’d
tics, what would you be doing? “I’ve always been a huge Yankees fan, and I always loved listening to Yankees games on the radio. I think I’d be a Yankee radio announcer broadcasting ‘live from the Lowe’s broadcast booth on the Yankee Network driven by Jeep’—which is what John Sterling always says.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “It’s an exciting time to be a brewer in New York, and I think maybe ‘Brewmaster of F.X. Matt Brewing Company’ in Utica, [which] makes Saranac Ale.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I would wish to be able to live without sleeping.” —JL
health advocacy. I studied abroad in Kenya when I was in college, and I was doing global health policy stuff and AIDS treatment advocacy, and I think that’s where I would be.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘SKDKnickerbocker Albany,’ hopefully.” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I’m always zipping around … and I feel like I’m losing a lot of time in the car, so I would ask the genie either for supersonic speed or teleportation powers.” —MP
introduce some important pieces of legislation, all while still maintaining professional relationships with my colleagues,” Borelli said. When asked if it is more frustrating being a freshman legislator or a member of the minority conference, Borelli replied, “Both.” But he said that he does enjoy certain perks such as the freedom to vote as he pleases and to be a mouthpiece for those who believe “that the New York State government is not necessarily doing the right thing.” Borelli added that he takes pride in representing conservative constituents in the otherwise liberal mecca of New York City. “There still are a bunch of people, mostly in the outer boroughs, that are conservative,” he said. “It’s my goal to at least give them a voice in government, not just for my constituents in Staten Island but for all the people who see the city in the same way that I do.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “A New York City fireman.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Amateur Food Critic, Unpublished Travel Writer.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “The power to heal people.” —NP
R I S I N G STA R S MAUREEN MCMANUS
Producer, Capital Tonight Age: 27
What does a producer do? It’s the second most common question people ask McManus. For the record, she books guests, writes stories, edits interviews and works with the on-air talent to put together Capitol Tonight every evening. “The phrase that my nephews have latched onto is ‘make the news,’ ” she said. “Sometimes we’ll come up
with different play lists to get ourselves motivated for the show … and blast out the hits to get everyone excited.” And the most common question the Syracuse native gets: What is anchor Liz Benjamin really like? “There’s some sort of perception out there that she’s difficult, but she’s incredibly hardworking, smart and dedicated to her job,” McManus said. “She also watches way more cat videos than anyone actually realizes. She gets on the air through a combination of cat videos and vegan snacks.” If McManus had her way,
the show would include more segments on municipal finance issues with her dream guest, former Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch. “When someone offered an interview with Ravitch, I was the only one who thought that was really exciting,” she said. “That’s the level of geekiness that the show can produce.” Instead she sometimes has to handle real celebrities, including Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. “They definitely had the biggest entourage,” she said. “They had a makeup artist and different people worrying about cabs, calling back to the hotel.”
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “Interior designer, because I wish I could do something artistic—but I have no talent, so it would be ideal to put together things that other people made well.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘Executive Producer.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “More patience. I am the worst at waiting.” —AS
STILL RISING ZACH SILBER
Principal, M Public Affairs Age: 25
Zach Silber’s personal mantra has always been “follow your passion.” It was his passion for politics that led him to drop a class while attending George Washington University to carve out time for an internship working for the “Ragin’ Cajun”—national political pundit and former Bill Clinton adviser James Carville—in which he staffed his public events and acted as his personal chauffeur. “If you think parallel parking is tough in Manhattan, try parallel parking with James Carville in the passenger seat. That’s pressure,” Silber said. “[The internship] was an experience that was just a major advantage; getting to watch him in action, it taught me so much about politics at the highest level.” After a stint working for The New York Observer running the business side of the paper’s political websites, Politicker and Politicker NJ, Silber joined M Public Affairs— a consulting company started by Maggie Ryan, a former campaign adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At M, Silber is helping to expand the company’s reach nationwide to cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. He is also focusing on issues surrounding energy, and credits a diverse and talented staff with allowing the company to thrive.
“This firm deals a lot with media and politics, but innovation is also really a part of this firm’s DNA,” he said. “It’s the shared passion among everyone on our team that makes us so successful.” If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing? “I would love to write biographies. I’m fascinated by people, their stories, how they shaped history.” Five years from now, what will it say on your business card? “ ‘M Public Affairs.’ ” If a genie gave you one wish, what would you choose? “I love sailing and running, love being outdoors. If we could skip over winter and just keep it warm and have longer days—that would make me really happy.” —NP
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? CATCHING UP WITH OUR PAST 40 UNDER 40 WINNERS 2012: DEANNA BITETTI Then: Chief of Staff, Assemblyman David Weprin Now: External Affairs Manager for the state Senate Democratic Conference DAVID LOBL Then: Director of Public and Governmental Affairs, Human Care Services Now: Special Assistant for Community Affairs, Governor’s Office
2011: LINDA SUN Then: Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Grace Meng Now: Queens Regional Representative, Governor’s Office GREGORY SMILEY Then: Principal, The Trench Town Now: Regional Representative, Governor’s Office
2010: MICHAEL ELMENDORF Then: State Director, National Federation of Independent Business Now: President and Chief Executive Officer, Associated General Contractors of New York State JULIE RUTTAN Then: Lobbyist, Patricia Lynch Associates Now: Assistant Director of Annual Programs, Albany Medical Center Foundation
2009: HAKEEM JEFFRIES Then: Assemblyman Now: Congressman GREG BALL Then: Assemblyman Now: State Senator
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
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GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS As business grows downtown, upstate flounders By ADAM JANOS “Challenging.” “Cumbersome.” “Hostile.” From the Mohawk Valley to New York City, industry advocates agree: New York State isn’t the friendliest, or easiest, place to do business. The Tax Foundation’s 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index ranked New York as the most hostile business tax structure in the country, and Chief Executive magazine’s poll of top executives rated it 49 out of 50 on its scale of the best states for business. Only California received a worse grade. And yet the private sector in New York is growing. According to the Department of Labor, the New York State economy added 23,800 private sector jobs this April. Since the onset of Cuomo’s administration, the state has added 339,000 jobs in the private sector, and the 1.9 percent growth in private job creation from April 2012 to April 2013 is nearly identical to the 2 percent growth nationwide during the same period. So is the criticism of New York’s business climate fair? According to Nicole Gelinas, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, that “depends what kind of business you’re in—which is not a good sign.”
estern New York’s population is in a free fall. According to the New York Department of Labor, between 2000 and 2010 the state’s five westernmost counties (Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany) all experienced population declines. In Buffalo the population in the past decade shrank from 292,648 to 261,310, a 10.7 percent drop. It was the city’s sixth straight decade of contraction. “People go where there are jobs,” said Heather Briccetti, the president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “If people lose their jobs, they leave. More jobs equals more people equals more revenue, without having to increase taxes.” In areas of steady depopulation, local municipalities rely on property tax increases and energy price hikes to maintain their revenue streams as the burden of funding public services falls on fewer heads. “We have what everyone refers to as the ‘Wall Street Syndrome,’ ” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, a coalition of business organizations. “The New York City folk, they look at things very differently. They see the immense wealth down there, they look at that big bull … and there’s an inherent belief that every business owner and 30 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
person has bottomless pockets, and can afford policy and legislation that they see as harmless.” According to Sampson, that mindset has resulted in a series of measures that are injurious to business, including the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which—if passed—will grant collective bargaining rights to farm laborers; the extension of 18-a, a statewide energy surcharge first passed in 2009; and longstanding labor-friendly statutes, like the Scaffold Law for the construction industry and the Taylor Law regarding collective bargaining. However, Ken Adams, the commissioner of the State Department of Economic Development, said that he believes the labor laws are far less problematic than irresponsible spending. “We’re reining in runaway state spending,” Adams said. “New York was a state that was regarded, until a few years ago, as a fiscal basket case and a very
unpredictable business environment.” The biggest success for the administration in helping upstate businesses, Adams said, was the property tax cap of 2011, which limited increases on property taxes at the local level to 2 percent per year, or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. Nonetheless, the Tax Foundation recently ranked New York’s property taxes as the sixth worst in the country. As for the fiscal unpredictability, Briccetti said that efforts to make the state’s unemployment insurance funds solvent again will help stabilize the market and give businesses more certainty about how much in taxes they will have to pay from one year to the next. Sampson acknowledged that while the state is making progress, “[With upstate businesses], it’s kind of like the Greek character Sisyphus. You’re constantly rolling the boulder up the hill. Over the last few years, we’ve been rolling it up. But we have so much ground to cover.”
BUSINESS RANKINGS NEW YORK HAS OFTEN BEEN PORTRAYED AS A PARTICULARLY UNFRIENDLY PLACE FOR BUSINESSES. THE TAX FOUNDATION RECENTLY RANKED IT THE WORST STATE IN THE COUNTRY FOR ITS BUSINESS TAX CLIMATE, AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE RANKED IT 49 OUT OF 50.
STUDY: NEW YORK’S RANK TAX FOUNDATION
CHIEF EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE
CNBC TOP STATES FOR BUSINESS
FORBES’ BEST STATES FOR BUSINESS
BUSINESS FACILITIES “MOST BUSINESS START-UPS”
In and around New York City, the situation is generally better. “We have replaced all of the private sector jobs that we lost in 2008, which the rest of the country can’t say,” Gelinas said. “We have more private sector jobs in New York than we’ve ever had. All businesses are different, but what all businesses need more than anything else are customers. If you have rich customers, you’ll put up with regulation. So that benefits us. We’re still a wealthy city, we have done much better than the rest of country, and people want to be here because we have money.” Some of the regulatory measures that New York City businesses put up with include limits on construction permitting and the recent paid-sick-leave measure, which passed the City Council with enough votes to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s expected veto. While the paid-sick-leave measure was criticized in some circles for being a stripped-down version of the original proposal, Nancy Ploeger, the president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, sees the legislation as potentially crippling to small businesses in a city already plagued by volumes of regulations and miles of bureaucratic red tape. “On top of [all the state taxes], we have all the city regulations and permits,” she said. “The Department of Health has put in the letter grading system [for restaurants] that they don’t have in the rest of the state. That’s 120 different points that small businesses are evaluated on.” Still, Ploeger sees some signs of improvement, and she says the city’s New Business Acceleration Team, which assigns client managers to small businesses trying to navigate the myriad agencies and regulations, helps entrepreneurs open their doors. She was also quick to praise the streamlining of workers’ compensation as a positive step for small businesses. On the state level, recent economic development programs, like the proposed Tax-Free NY Initiative, are aiming to revitalize local upstate economies, where the 0.5 percent overall job growth over the past year is less than a third of what the country produced (1.6 percent) and barely a quarter of what its downstate neighbors were able to achieve (1.9 percent). However, with taxes still high in the state, a turnaround may not come quickly, and the upstate region may have to shift to new markets to compete with its more tax-friendly neighbors. “We won’t rank well as a state [in regard to] manufacturing and low-cost consumer goods,” Adams said. “Those days are long gone.”
EVENT Thursday, June 20, 2013 Club 101, 101 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10178 9:45 AM PANEL 2: SHAPING THE MUNICIPAL LANDSCAPE Moderator Jon Lentz, Managing Editor, City & State
7:30 - 8:15 AM REGISTRATION & BREAKFAST
8:15 AM OPENING KEYNOTE
Panelists Robert Ward, Office of State Comptroller Marc Shaw, Finance Director, CUNY Mark Kaufman, Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP
Richard Ravitch, Former New York State Lieutenant Governor, Former Chairman, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Co-Author of Ravitch-Volcker Report
LUNCH CONVERSATION TBA
8:45 AM PANEL 1: DISCUSSION ON MUNICIPAL BUDGETS Moderator Morgan Pehme, Editor in Chief, City & State Panelists Hon. Stephanie Miner, Mayor, City of Syracuse Hon. Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive Hon. Kathleen M. Jimino, County Executive, Rensselaer County. Hon. Marc Poloncarz, County Executive, Erie County
PANEL 3: INNOVATIVE LEGAL AND PUBLIC POLICY SOLUTIONS Moderator Hon. Anthony Williams, Former Mayor of Washington D.C., Partner, McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP Panelists E.J. McMahon, Senior Fellow, Empire Center Manhattan Institute Richard Sigal, Partner, McKenna, Long & Aldridge, LLP Kevin Law, President & CEO, Long Island Association
For tickets, please contact Dawn Rubino at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-517-2741. CITY&STATE
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
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BANG FOR THE BUCK
Are the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils having an impact? By ADAM JANOS In late December New York Medical College announced that it was starting the construction of iBio-NYSM, a biotechnology incubator on the college’s campus in Valhalla, N.Y. When it is completed, the incubator is expected to add 140 full-time jobs and 75 part-time jobs to the emerging biotech sector of the mid-Hudson Valley. “This new biotechnology center is an ideal repurposing of a solid facility with a stellar history,” Dr. Alan Kadish, the president of New York Medical College,
said in a statement. “We are thankful to Gov. Cuomo, the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and all of our partners for their support.” The Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council is one of 10 such councils covering the state. Each council— run by 22 to 25 prominent community members from business, local government, higher education, state agencies and labor—weighs in and recommends projects for state funding based on regional
economic development goals in which they want to strategically invest. Cuomo announced the start of the competition’s third year of funding in May. Awards will be granted in December. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who chairs the Regional Economic Development Councils, sees the approach as a fundamental improvement to economic development in the state. “I’ve been in public life for 36 years, and I’ve never seen anything with as
much potential to generate success thus far,” Duffy said. “I go to almost every one of these meetings: Around the state, each council, you have people around the table who have never worked together. It transcends political boundaries and creates synergies that before did not exist.” Business advocates and good-government groups offer more mixed views, from skepticism to cautious optimism. E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think
The iBio-NYSM biotech incubator, a project funded by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council, will be housed on the New York Medical College campus. Construction on the building at 7 Dana Road (above) was started in December. (Source: NYMC/William Taufic) 32 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
BUSINESS tank, derided the REDCs as little more than political posturing. He noted that the council members’ vote for government spending only carries 20 percent weight in the ultimate decision of how capital funds and development money will be spent by the state agencies that the REDCs advise. “It’s hard to escape the feeling that this process is mostly intended to give the governor something to point to as another smashing transformation of something that was previously broken,” McMahon said. “It’s a fairly elaborate rearranging of the deck chairs.” Tammy Gamerman, a senior research associate at the Citizen’s Budget Commission, said that the councils were a positive development, but that more could be done. “The regional councils have set up a great platform for ensuring that economic development in the state is done in a more effective manner,” she said. “But they still only control relatively small fractions of all the economic development activity that we have in the state, and it’ll take a few years to know if their investments have been successful.” According to a recent report by the Alliance for a Greater New York, a coalition of organized labor and community groups, economic development in New York State is riddled with wasteful spending and a lack of oversight. But of the $6.9 billion in total grants and tax breaks the state gave out in 2012, executive director Matt Ryan said that the $409 million distributed through the REDC process represents “a step in the right direction.” “I think one thing that’s very positive are the councils’ criteria for what they’d like to support,” he said. “It creates a system that’s more forward-looking and intentional for how we use public dollars. [However,] you need transparency and money-back guarantees to tip things back in a more equitable direction, if there are problems.” With state economic development incentives, money-back guarantees come in the form of “claw-back options,” where groups that receive money or credits for economic development lose what they were given if they can’t meet job creation and performance benchmarks. Of the $409 million distributed by the REDCs last year, $248 million ($178 million from Empire State Development, $70 million in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits) came with claw-backs. Better coordination between the staterun councils and local Industrial Development Agencies would help improve the efficiency of economic development, Gamerman said. Unlike the REDCs, the local IDAs help provide tax exemptions for businesses operating on a smaller scale than projects like the $14 million Valhalla biotech incubator. The 2013–14 executive budget included a new claw-back clause for IDAs, increasing the regulation of the smaller agencies.
“We’re trying to figure out: Is this a rational approach to economic development?” said David Kidera, the director of the New York State Authorities Budget Office. “I think, conceptually, the goal is to focus the state economic development dollars in a way that maximizes jobs and maximizes spin-off economic development.” Heather Briccetti, the president and
CEO of the Business Council of New York State, thinks just getting the state agencies in the same room is already a big step forward. “With agencies at one table, hopefully you can flag things much sooner and speed things up,” Briccetti said. “Licensing, permitting and the regulatory climate have been very challenging in New York, and there is a lot of room for
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improvement there.” Duffy agrees. “I had frustration with regulations as mayor [of Rochester] trying to develop business,” he said. “This did not happen overnight. [Cuomo] did not create the problem. This was decades of ill-advised decisions. I’ve run marathons before. One foot in front of the other, that’s what he is doing. He’s starting a process, and he’s changing a culture.”
“Special” employees who pay no state income tax?
Really, Gov. Cuomo?
LOCAL 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO DA N N Y D O N O H U E , P R E S I D E N T
8952_Tax Free 7.458x10 CS.indd 1
12:34 PM33 www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 6/5/13 10, 2013
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HOW FREE IS “FREE”? Cuomo pitches “Tax-Free” plan, but some say there will still be costs By WILDER FLEMING
34 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Cuomo and his backers hope their offer—businesses would pay no property, sales or corporate taxes for 10 years and workers would shoulder no income tax for five years, nor on the first $200,000 earned after that—will lure companies into the state and keep promising start-ups from leaving for more business-friendly climes. “We look at this as a ripple effect,” says Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, a pro-business group in favor of the initiative. “These companies are going to come here. Their management team is probably going to relocate here to New York State. They’re going to start to build roots in their communities.” But Sampson said there is a need to help existing businesses as well. And the provision for employees working tax-free has his eyebrows raised. “If that provision went away I don’t think anybody would be overly upset by it,” he said. “Perhaps it’s a gimmick. I don’t think that’s the deciding factor for why a company chooses to come and locate on a SUNY campus.” Cuomo has stipulated that companies coming from within the state will have to prove they are expanding in order to qualify, and certain industries, including retail, law, accounting and real estate, would be ineligible. He maintains the plan will not be a repeat of the now-defunct Empire Zones program, which was criticized when wellconnected businesses secured tax breaks and failed to add jobs as promised. “I’m not sure the Legislature ever really learns a lesson,” said Sampson, who was formerly the upstate director of business outreach for the Empire State Development Corporation. “But I think in this instance the governor and his staff have had the opportunity to understand what happened with the Empire Zones, and that’s why they’ve laid some of the provisions out early, so they really can’t backtrack from them.” Adams said that the Empire Zones were too lax in determining which companies could qualify and were also based too heavily on geography, which he argued was part of their downfall. “Its undoing was companies for which there was really no rationale—law firms, retail—there was no reason they needed to get the benefits or deserved them, but they legally got them,” he said. “We learned a lot of valuable lessons from Empire Zones, chief among them this idea that you need to strictly define eligible companies, not just eligible land.” Other supporters are cautious in their optimism. Kevin Schwab of CenterState CEO, a business leadership organization based in Syracuse, said the governor’s proposal was promising, but he wanted to see more details. “There are competitive concerns that need to be recognized and there need to be safeguards so we don’t run into the same issues of the Empire Zones program,” he said. John Yinger, a professor of public administration and economics at Syracuse University, was less optimistic. He said economic development is a difficult policy area with no easy answers, and that he has found no evidence to suggest that targeted incentives are a reliable tool for boosting the economy. “When you have all this land on or near universities, with only some restrictions on what kind of businesses can get it, you open the door to all kinds of similar shenanigans,” Yinger said. “Public officials like to be able to hand things out. They like to have their name on incentives. They like to have businesses thanking them for tax breaks, regardless of whether they help the state or not.”
BUSINESSES ON THE RISE The governor’s Tax-Free Initiative aims to bring more businesses to upstate New York, since the economic climate is generally more robust downstate. Here’s a snapshot of a handful of companies expanding in the New York City area.
Yext Yext is a leading location software company that lets businesses update and sync their location data everywhere. In 2012 its business more than tripled. The firm currently has 175 employees and is projected to have more than 300 by the end of 2013. At the end of 2012, the company was servicing 100,000 businesses, compared with 30,000 the prior year. Yext projects its subscriber rolls will top one million by the end of 2015.
Interpublic Group Interpublic is a New York-based advertising agency located at 1400 Broadway that is helping to transform the garment district’s image into a hub for hip technology. More than 100 digital agencies and tech start-ups are now based in the garment district.
Juice Press Juice Press, a three-year-old juicing company, sells cold-pressed juices, smoothies and dehydrated snacks. The chain recently opened its seventh location, has three more outposts under construction, and is in negotiations for three additional sites. By the end of 2013 the company anticipates having at least 13 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
LinkedIn LinkedIn, a social network for business professionals, is expanding its office in the Empire State Building. The company moved into the building’s 25th floor in 2012, establishing a corporate office mainly for sales staff.
Whole Foods The popular supermarket has started construction on its first Brooklyn location, expected to open in the summer of 2013 at Third Street and Third Avenue in the Gowanus neighborhood. The store is expected to hire 350 employees when it opens and to have a 20,000 square-foot rooftop greenhouse for growing produce.
(SOURCE: NEW YORK STATE LABOR DEPARTMENT)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to boost the upstate economy by giving qualified companies a 10-year exemption from all taxes has the support of many business leaders and government officials—but some economists are shaking their heads. Cuomo’s “Tax-Free NY” Initiative would benefit start-ups and expanding firms that locate on upstate SUNY campuses, as well as at some private schools, provided their business plans align with the university’s research. It’s the latest in a series of moves geared toward promoting collaboration between the university system and industry to develop innovative technology businesses and keep them here. “New York’s reputation as the high-tax state, the taxcapital state, is a killer when it comes to economic development,” the governor said at SUNY New Paltz in May. “Being at the bottom of the barrel hurts. What do we do about the perception? Change the reality.” New York’s “bottom of the barrel” status was reinforced in the Tax Foundation’s 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index, in which the state was ranked dead last, and the Washington, D.C.-based think tank doesn’t think the governor’s plan will do much to help. Scott Drenkard, a Tax Foundation economist, said the kind of targeted incentives Cuomo is now proposing will only make New York’s tax structure more adverse to business in the end. “What this plan does is move away from time-honored principles of having neutral rates across the board,” Drenkard said. “It picks and chooses winners and losers, and it’s very hard for governments to decide what’s going to be the next big industry within their state. The much better option is letting the market test determine that.” Tax Foundation analysts examine each state’s tax code to determine how well it adheres to the principle of neutrality—broad tax bases, low rates and an absence of loopholes or special favors for some businesses at the expense of others. New York already has a narrow tax base and high rates, Drenkard said, and “Tax-Free NY” would only serve to skew it further. “I think New York is ripe for fundamental tax reform,” he said. “And that means removing distortions, removing credits that go to certain businesses, or preferences generally. You find that incentives are usually very poor in that they don’t generate enough economic growth to justify the tax revenue that they gave away.” Kenneth Adams, a top Cuomo administration official and the president and CEO of Empire State Development, countered that the decentralized nature of the SUNY system’s 64 campuses would make the new initiative a “game changer” that would be “exponentially more powerful” than other economic development efforts. “How do you really scale up a program to drive an innovation economy and attract globally competitive companies and investment from around the country and around the world—how do you do that upstate?” Adams said. “What the governor is doing here is saying, the key is SUNY and the real estate that these schools control.” Adams also disputed the argument that the state would be “picking winners and losers,” saying it makes sense to target technology and innovative-based companies, and that any given company would have to meet strict criteria to qualify. “If we’re picking winners and losers, what we’re betting on, if you want to put it that way, or what we’re picking, are globally competitive technology-driven companies,” he said. “That is a broad array of companies where, as a sector, that’s a winner.”
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2013 STATE BUSINESS TAX CLIMATE INDEX #6 #8
#16 #15 #24
#32 #9 #4
The Tax Foundation ranked all 50 states based on a range of taxes—corporate, sales, income, property, unemployment insurance—and New York came in dead last. Here’s a look at how the other 49 states were ranked.
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
S P OT L I G H T BUSINESS
EXPERT ROUNDTABLE KENNETH ADAMS President and CEO, Empire State Development
Q: What are the benefits of the governor’s Tax-Free NY Initiative? KA: There are several components to Tax-Free NY that will make it a really unique and powerful economic development tool. One is just its scope, on two levels. The amount of space that could be made into these tax-free communities, just starting with the base of 64 SUNY campuses with over 100 million square feet, and fully built out or scaled up … is one way in which it becomes a very powerful tool. The second strength or appeal of it is the ability to bring up 10-year total tax abatements for businesses moving into the zone. In other words, as the governor likes to say, this is taxfree—it really is tax-free. The added benefit that hasn’t been seen before is workers not paying any New York State income tax. When you fold in the income tax exemption, along with the property tax and corporate income tax and sales tax, it’s the total tax-free nature of the proposal that makes it a very powerful tool. Q: Why is this initiative needed? KA: In high-cost states like New York, lowering taxes and tax reduction benefits are disproportionately powerful economic development tools that really do make a difference. There are some folks that may want to dispute this, but in economic development terms in a state like New York, tax breaks matter. They make a very big difference to national and global companies that are looking at sites in which to make investments. The tax climate really matters. The governor’s proposal is so comprehensive and the benefits last for 10 years, so it’s a uniquely powerful tool. It’s particularly powerful in a state like New York, where high taxes have historically been an obstacle to new investment and new job growth. Q: How will this help upstate New York? KA: The tool is uniquely shaped for upstate regions. That’s just because it leverages what is really a very unique nature of the SUNY system, which is its geographic distribution. The way SUNY campuses are located and distributed across the state, we’ve always looked at that, and people have looked at the university system in New York and compared it to other states that are highly centralized, like California or Michigan or Illinois. In other states you have flagship institutions which really lead to a highly centralized system. Historically New York has taken a different path. Basically everyone is within a reasonable distance of a SUNY campus in the state. Leveraging that geographic distribution gives this tool a particular advantage for driving economic development upstate. The last thing I’d say is that because the start-ups would have to be linked to a specialty or a particular technology or academic discipline of a campus, by design this is going to foster technology-driven academic development.
36 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Chair, New York State Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee
Commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business Services
Q: What is your top priority in the final weeks of the 2013 legislative session, in terms of economic development? DV: This session, we have a continued focus on creating a more business-friendly environment in New York State, and I believe we have had some success. As the session winds down, I will be working on passing legislation that furthers this goal, including providing regulatory relief, targeted tax credits and long-term tax reform initiatives that will allow all businesses in the state to flourish. Q: What do you think about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s TaxFree NY initiative? DV: Gov. Cuomo has provided great leadership in this area. His NY Tax-Free Initiative is another economic development tool our state can use to attract and retain new businesses. While we still have to work out the details of the proposal to ensure existing businesses are not put at a disadvantage, I am supportive of this bold new way of thinking, and am hopeful that it will provide a spark to reignite the upstate New York economy. Q: Have the governor’s Regional Economic Development Councils had a significant positive impact in New York? DV: Absolutely. New York’s economy is not “one size fits all”; each region has its own strengths, and the Regional Economic Development Councils allow each to put together a strategy and vision to leverage the best attributes of each. By aligning the state’s economic development activities in a complementary fashion, all regions benefit. The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council in my district has been a top performer in the first two rounds of funding, and the positive effects in the region are already evident. If you stand in downtown Syracuse, you can look up and see cranes in every direction. That is real progress. Q: What impact will the state’s minimum wage hike, which was passed earlier this year and will be phased in over the next few years, have on businesses in the state? DV: One of my priorities during minimum wage negotiations was to mitigate potential negative impacts on businesses. During the budget process, I focused on implementing a phased-in approach to the increase to provide businesses and consumers the opportunity to incrementally adjust to new wage levels. In addition, I pushed for a later effective date to protect seasonal businesses from an increase for which they did not have sufficient time to plan. Q: What other business-oriented legislation have you passed this year? DV: I also advocated for tax relief for businesses along with a wage increase. The budget contained several provisions, including reduced energy and manufacturing taxes, a tax credit for small businesses and farms, and a tax credit for hiring younger workers aimed at many of the seasonal businesses who hire high schoolers and temporary workers.
Q: With the Bloomberg administration’s tenure coming to an end this year, what is your top priority? RW: We have two top priorities. The first is to continue doing all that we can to help neighborhoods and businesses that were impacted by [Superstorm] Sandy get back on their feet. This means working closely with neighborhoods that don’t have local development organizations, and helping connect more businesses to loans and grants. Our second priority is to solidify the programs we have created and strengthened in the past 12 years so the next mayor can build off what Mayor Bloomberg has accomplished—connecting people with jobs, assisting small businesses, strengthening minorityand women-owned businesses, and building a network of neighborhood- and community-based organizations that are improving the quality of life throughout the city. Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time at the helm of the Department of Small Business Services? RW: When the mayor took office in 2002, he created the Department of Small Business Services and developed a demand-driven job placement system that helps businesses grow and matches them with qualified job seekers. Twelve years later we have built seven NYC Business Solutions centers across all five boroughs that have connected more than 2,200 businesses to almost $200 million in financing in the last five years. But we’ve gone beyond financing. Our centers offer quality business courses in partnership with institutions like Kauffman, NYU, Columbia and Fordham. We offer recruitment, pro-bono legal services, help navigating government and much more. We also built a system of 17 Workforce1 Centers and partnered with public libraries and community colleges. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the city went from placing around 500 people a year in jobs to more than 27,000. Workforce1 helped hire 1,800 people for the Barclays Center, nearly 75 percent being Brooklyn residents and about one third NYCHA residents. Q: What other programs have been particularly effective? RW: The mayor hired me because of my experience directing the Union Square Business Improvement District and charged me with reenergizing the BID program in New York City. After creating 23 BIDs (20 located outside Manhattan) and the 24th on the way, we have grown the BID network more than any other administration. These BIDs are creative and making a real difference in New York City’s 300-plus unique and vibrant neighborhoods. In smaller neighborhoods, we developed technical assistance and leadership training programs to help them succeed. And we expanded opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses. We built capacity building programs and increased the number of certified businesses from 700 to more than 3,500 winning more than $3 billion in city contracts. New legislation goes even further by increasing the overall value of program-eligible contracts from $400 million to $2.2 billion.
S P OT L I G H T
THE PLAYERS THE STATE Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it a priority to make New York a more businessfriendly place, starting with his first State of the State address, when he announced his Regional Economic Development Councils and promised the creation of “jobs, jobs, jobs.” His administration’s top economic development official is Kenneth Adams, the commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development and the president and CEO of Empire State Development. Two other industries have been raised as potential drivers of economic development on the state level: hydrofracking and casinos. The governor is the driving force behind a potential legalization of casinos in upstate New York, and Joe Martens, Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, is overseeing the ongoing review of hydrofracking. THE CITY A hallmark of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms in office was a more businesslike approach to governing, which built on his career as an entrepreneur and the founder of Bloomberg LP. His top economic development staffer is Seth Pinsky, who was appointed president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation in 2008. One of the city’s most high-profile projects is the development of a technology campus on Roosevelt Island. THE ISSUES BUSINESS CLIMATE New York is not businessfriendly—at least according to the Tax Foundation, a pro-business think tank. In last fall’s State Business Tax Climate Index, New York came in dead last among all 50 states. Why? While New York State’s corporate taxes are moderate, it has the highest income tax and the sixth highest property taxes. Its income tax collections per person were $2,196 in 2010, higher than any other state. The Cuomo administration has been eager to shed the state’s reputation, launching the Regional Economic Development Councils in
his first year in office and this year proposing his Tax-Free NY Initiative.
rations and provides a disincentive to give raises or hire older workers.
MINIMUM WAGE New York’s minimum wage is seen by many as inadequate to live on. In response, lawmakers passed legislation this year raising it from the current $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour, though that increase will be phased in over a threeyear period. The wage will go up to $8 an hour at the end of 2013, to $8.75 at the end of 2014 and finally to $9 at the end of 2015. By doing so, New York will be joining 19 states, and Washington, D.C, in having a minimum wage that is greater than the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. The legislation also included a tax credit for employers who hire seasonal employees between the ages of 16 and 19 who are still in school. However, some lawmakers are pushing to remove that part of the legislation, which they say benefits large corpo-
UNEMPLOYMENT Unemployment is on the decline, but New York State and New York City are still lagging behind the national average. National unemployment dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.5 percent between April of 2012 and April of 2013, while New York State’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.6 percent to 7.8 percent, and New York City’s declined from 9.4 percent to 8.4 percent. Why is the city’s unemployment rate nearly an entire percentage point higher than the national average? Some experts point to the Bronx. Although the borough’s unemployment dropped from 13.2 percent to 11.5 percent between March of 2012 and 2013, it is still home to many more unemployed citizens than the nation as a whole.
MAYORAL RACE Mayor Michael Bloomberg has worked well with business in New York City, including the powerful real estate industry, while battling against organized labor, including a number of unions whose contracts have not been renewed in years. With insiders predicting that a Democrat is more likely to be taking the reins at City Hall next year, it’s an open question as to how friendly the next administration will be to business interests. The current front-runner, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has positioned herself as a centrist, as has Bill Thompson, the 2009 Democratic nominee for mayor. On the Republican side, both Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis have touted their business experience, the former as an investment banker and a company executive, and the latter as the founder of a successful grocery store chain.
BY THE NUMBERS Unemployment Around the State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development strategy has focused on upstate New York. Here’s a look at preliminary unemployment rates in April from around the state, according to the New York State Labor Department.
A GAR NIA ent O FAL 7 perc BUF 7.
ER EST t H C en RO perc 7.2
SYRACUSE 7.7 percent
OY Y-TR D A ECT HEN ent C S c ANY 6.5 per ALB
ITHACA 4.8 percent
BINGHAMTON 7.8 percent
PUTNAM, ROCKLAND AND WESTCHESTER COUNTIES 6 PERCENT
NEW YORK CITY 7.7 percent
BS BUR U S Y CIT t ORK ercen Y 6p NEW AND SAU NTIES S A N COU t LK 27, www.cityandstateny.com |O MAY 2013 37 en F rc F SU 6 pe
DOES BEING A POLITICIAN MEAN NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY? By AARON SHORT “I’m sorry.” Perhaps the most difficult words for anyone to say. And for people in positions of power, an apology can be a rare occurrence. “It’s difficult for men of power to apologize, very difficult,” political consultant George Arzt said. The infrequency of such admissions from elected officials is why it was so striking when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced last month that he had made a mistake in helping to cover up sexual harassment claims against ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Silver acknowledged that he “allowed the system to be bypassed,” which he called a “failure on my part.” The Speaker and Assembly attorneys negotiated a confidential $103,000 settlement with the two complainants last year instead of referring the matter to an Assembly committee for further investigation. When two more women who worked in Lopez’s office filed sexual harassment complaints, Silver then followed protocol. “I accept the criticism and deeply regret not referring the original complaint to the Assembly’s Ethics and Guidance Committee, and for this I am sorry,” he told reporters at a press conference on May 20. But the apology failed to convince everyone that he accepted responsibility for his actions. Editorial boards called on Silver to resign. So did a cadre of Republican lawmakers. And a Quinnipiac University poll in June found that 51 percent of voters want him to step down. “I think the calls for resignation are appropriate,” Republican consultant Jessica Proud said. “[The apology] struck me as being a little bit hollow. There isn’t a hard and fast rule about when you should, but timing is the key, and the longer you wait before you apologize, people judge you on the sincerity of it.” Assembly Democrats have been more forgiving. Many members of his conference grumbled that the Speaker’s handling of the Lopez case disappointed them, but Silver met privately with female legislators to reiterate his apology and assure them that he would not make the same mistake again. “He made a mistake in judgment, he admits he made a mistake in judgment and he said that he feels bad that he did it,” Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell said. “Do I think the Speaker’s apology is sincere? The answer is yes.” One of the best known political apologies came in 1969, when then New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay made a campaign commercial addressing his administration’s first-term failures. Lindsay was criticized for not plowing the streets in Queens after a blizzard, so he owned up to his error. The public largely forgave him and rewarded him with another term. “That Lindsay thing was so astounding,” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said. “Nobody had seen that kind of thing before.” Since then voters have seen public officials apologize many times over for their mistakes—often for sexual indiscretions. The most famous of these mea culpas is President Clinton’s historic apology for misleading the public about his sexual relationship with a former 38 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
White House intern. Clinton survived impeachment proceedings and kept his job. When news of Eliot Spitzer’s infidelities broke, however, his career didn’t survive the weekend. The former governor apologized to his family and the public in his resignation speech in March 2008. A mere two days into the job Spitzer’s successor, David Paterson, further shocked the public by issuing an apology for his own infidelities. “He did a preemptive apology and it backfired,” Sheinkopf said. “That was not a wise thing to do. From that day forward he was seen as a caricature. He had a great moment of possibility in the wake of the Spitzer scandal, and that was thrown out of the window.” Arzt, who advised Paterson, said the governor was in a “difficult situation.” “Where he was inaugurated on a Monday, coming home on the train, I saw on my BlackBerry that he had stepped all over the speech we had written for him by saying tomorrow he’s holding a press conference on the girlfriend,” he said. “He was afraid [Daily News columnist] Juan Gonzalez was going to come out with a story.” As for the current governor, Andrew Cuomo, he has yet to issue an apology in his two and a half years in office, though he has been on the receiving end of several apologies, such as from Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, who expressed regret for comparing the governor to Hitler. Though New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has admitted to making mistakes on occasion, the instances have been few and far between. When, like Lindsay, Bloomberg’s standing was damaged by a massive snowstorm that buried the city, he acknowledged failures in his administration’s response, but did not ever say outright that he was sorry. He did, however, make a notable apology in regard to his ill-conceived selection of Cathie Black as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. It remains to be seen if the next mayor will be more contrite, though several of the leading candidates have a track record of acknowledging their errors. Council Speaker Christine Quinn apologized to a reporter two years ago after scolding her, and this year Republican candidate Joe Lhota apologized to the Port Authority for referring to its security workers as “mall cops.” Former Rep. Anthony Weiner leads the pack in public apologies after his resignation from Congress for sending lewd photos to female Twitter followers in private messages. Weiner’s entire mayoral campaign may test the limits of public forgiveness. “Weiner apologized to his constituency, he meant it at the time and he keeps bringing up the apology,” Arzt said. “We don’t know if it will be successful. In this climate, the public is less willing to accept apologies.” The barrage of bad boys in the City Council, State Capitol and Congress is testing the public’s patience. Soon the era of the public apology may be coming to an end. “People are getting tired of the way government functions, or doesn’t function,” Sheinkopf said. “If they were happy with apologies, voter turnout would be higher, but they’re not. All this stuff does is reduce voter interest.”
“I’m sorry that I allowed this system to be bypassed … even though I believed I was acting in good faith, [it] was a failure on my part, and now that we know the atrociousness of the misconduct, it only makes the failure more glaring.” —Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver “Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But … at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action … I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that.” —Former President Bill Clinton “I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my—or any—sense of right and wrong. I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better … I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected for myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.” —Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer “My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love, and I am truly sorry.” —Former Rep. Vito Fossella “I accept responsibility for my actions and am truly sorry for my conduct.” —Former State Sen. Carl Kruger “To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I’m deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, and our family, my constituents, my friends, my supporters and my staff … I lied because I was ashamed at what I had done, and I didn’t want to get caught.” —Former Rep. Anthony Weiner
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HAVE A QUESTION FOR JEFF? EMAIL EDITOR@CITYANDSTATENY.COM
DO AS I SAY A political advice column
Candidates have two main probI recently listened to your lems: They often seem to think that interview on NPR and they do not need to be managed, applaud you for your and when they do, they do not comeback after spending time want to spend money for a salary. in a federal institution. I was on Of course, it is full-time work that is my way back to academia when I simply too much to ask of a volunwas arrested while being a practeer. I have spent a lot of time on ticing psychologist for two counts campaigns in general, of fraud. I got 21 and last year in particular. months. I have no Consequently, I have criminal record prior taken the position that I to this and am very will not do any more free concerned about work for politicians—I’ve my future beyond seen that it usually does incarceration. Any not pay off. I do not like thoughts? Right now sitting on the sidelines. I am still in the numb/ Do you have any ideas? By JEFF SMITH embarrassment stage. —C.B., New York City —R.V., A City in Calif. I actually have a chapter in a new book about recovering from crisis. I think the key is to repair and reinvent yourself in a way that stays true to the best of who you are. For instance, if you lose your professional license, could you still offer counseling at a halfway house after you complete your sentence? Or perhaps at a shelter for the homeless or victims of domestic violence? Something that will be therapeutic for you and helpful for others. For me that’s taken many forms, from teaching about the legislative process and addressing elected officials about ethical dilemmas to advocating for educational opportunities inside prison. I won’t lie to you: Prison sucks. But it forced me to pause and reflect and thus gave me an advantage over the Sanfords and Weiners on the road to recovery. It can do that for you, but you must constantly remind yourself that failure is not falling down but staying down. (And if you’re interested in the book, co-authored by a dozen elected officials who each faced crises and came back strong, it’s called The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis, and it’s available on Amazon.)
I want to run campaigns, but getting a job as a manager is quite difficult.
40 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
I totally agree with the paradox you reference regarding candidates and campaign managers. As I’ve said before, candidates who try to run their own campaigns have a fool for a manager. I think you should broaden your search and consider working for an issue campaign instead. There are lots of benefits to that; for instance: (1) no lying awake at night wondering if your candidate will make a campaign-ending faux pas; (2) no screaming candidate calling your cell at 2 a.m. to berate you about a typo in an email you did not write; (3) no frantic middle-of-the-night calls to bail the candidate’s son out of jail. Most important, when you work for an issue campaign, you don’t have to worry if the candidate will actually follow through on the campaign pledge that motivated you to work on his behalf, because an issue never lies. And you don’t have to worry that your candidate’s efforts to follow through will be scuttled by her evil colleagues in the legislature, or wherever. So if you win an issue campaign, you really do win.
Given your experience and your own petition to avoid prison, what’s your take on all these New York pols getting nabbed by the Feds? Should they
be imprisoned or get community service/ probation? —W.L., Brooklyn Each case is unique, so I won’t comment in a blanket way except to say that anyone who stole taxpayer money or took bribes should probably go away. But I’ll reiterate an offer I made on Twitter: 30 minutes of free confidential prison counseling to any indicted area pol, with the proceeds of any additional counseling split between the Correctional Association of New York and the Fortune Society, both of which do excellent work with people who are and have been incarcerated. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a crush on my politics professor. We have actually hung out a couple times outside of class—nothing happened, but we definitely had chemistry. He’s married with a young kid, but I’m pretty sure that he’s just not that into her, if you know what I mean. Any advice? —Conflicted Coed, New York City Not sure how you can tell that your prof is “not that into” his wife based on the fact that they have a new baby, but I’ll grant you that one. If you have a fling with him, you’ll likely wind up ranking somewhere on the scale—to use a familiar rubric—between Ashley Dupré (at least, unlike Client 9, he’s not paying you) and María Belén Chapur (the new Mrs. Mark Sanford-to-be). If an outcome like that sounds appealing to you, and you are prepared for the prospect of (a) your professor leaving his wife for you while parenting a young child; (b) your professor ignoring you after a one-night stand; (c) your fling (or breakup) potentially impacting your grade; d) your professor getting disciplined if anyone finds out (especially if he is your current or future professor or if you are an undergraduate, depending on school policies); and (e) having to keep your affair secret to make sure “d” doesn’t happen, then sure, go for it. Otherwise, stick to unmarried dudes. Politics—and life—show that that’s usually safest.
PERSPECTIVES NICOLE GELINAS
LISTENING TO BIKE-LANE BASHERS
t’s easy to stereotype anti-bike-lane folk as car-dwelling complainers who would rather have a 16-lane expressway where Manhattan is. Ask a critic about her reasoning, though, and you may get a surprising answer. A month ago Lili Fable was dispensing Greek pastries from the Poseidon Bakery on Ninth Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets in Manhattan, chatting with customers. She struggled to talk over the din of Friday night traffic, stalled and honking. “The commissioner with the three names,” she huffed. “She does what she wants.” That would be City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Sadik-Khan’s imprint is visible on this stretch of Hell’s Kitchen. Two years ago it was a five-lane mess, with cars, buses, trucks and bikes all competing for the stretch of road leading to Port Authority and the Lincoln Tunnel. Six pedestrians died between 2005 and 2011. Last year, thanks to Sadik-Khan, Ninth Avenue got a bike lane separated from traffic by landscaped islands as well as by “floating parking spaces” away from the curb. Lower down on Ninth in Chelsea between 16th and 23rd Streets, the city found that serious crashes—with injuries—fell 58 percent after it had made similar changes. But if you’re not an urban planner, the Hell’s Kitchen part of the avenue doesn’t seem calmer. Of course, the fact that the city is burying a giant pipe at the same time and using the middle of the street to do it doesn’t help. Traffic still crawls. Trucks still honk. You’ve still got to worry when crossing—and you have to look both ways before crossing the bike lane.
BRUCE N. GYORY
SCHUMER AND GILLIBRAND: CORNERSTONE OF NEW YORK’S CONGRESSIONAL CLOUT
ever before has New York State been more dependent on its two senators for congressional clout. Yet rarely has our state been better positioned to have its senators deliver. This observation is counterintuitive, as a large state like New York usually gets its influence in Congress from its House delegation. But several factors have reduced New York’s clout in the House. First, New York’s House delegation was at 43 members in the 1960s and 38 in the 1980s, but stands at only 27 members today. Second, New York’s seniority in the House today is possessed— with the exception of Peter King—by Democrats (e.g., José Serrano, Louise Slaughter, Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, Nydia Velázquez, Jerry Nadler and Charlie Rangel). Third, as the median point within the House Republican conference shifted right, New York’s delegation did not seem to have any leadership potential on the GOP side. Compare Peter King’s recent dustup with Speaker John Boehner over Sandy aid with a decade ago, when Republican Tom Reynolds of Western New York seemed on a straight path to leadership and perhaps the speakership. Of course, things can change. If the Democrats take back control of the House in the next decade or beyond, Steve Israel and Hakeem Jeffries could be bounding into vital leadership positions. Israel heads the House Democrats’ political arm, a proven path to leadership. Many think Hakeem
“It’s totally ridiculous,” Fable told me. Fable has had experience with arbitrary government before. Her family has owned Poseidon for 90 years. In the early 1950s her husband’s parents abruptly had to move the business up a few blocks, because the Port Authority wanted the land to build its midtown bus terminal. “They came and put a note on the door,” she said. “The Port Authority would never dare do that today.” To many people who have been around a while, City Hall seems to screw with the streets in a similar manner. That’s something to respect about SadikKhan. Lots of people talk about doing things, and spend years making excuses not to do them. Sadik-Khan does things. Yes, she talks and listens—but you can’t talk and listen to everyone. Decisive action will always make somebody mad. And to a longtime resident, a city that can (seemingly magically) take away a lane of traffic can also magically close off the street entirely—or build highways instead, or a public housing project. Moreover, as a real city kid, Fable doesn’t actually like cars all that much. She knows that her customers largely walk to the store (and she lets customers on bikes bring their bikes in). Fable thinks that the city should have taken away even more street parking in favor of loading spaces, rather than move the parking to the middle of the street. “Why should
people drive in from New Jersey and park?” she said. “If they want to park, they can go to a garage and pay.” As for bikes, Fable notes that when she was a child in the same neighborhood, she could ride her bike. “There wasn’t much traffic at all,” she notes. “It was a fun day for us.” But by the ’60s, traffic was too dangerous. She had to take her children to Central Park. “This was working class back then,” she says. “Working class families took their kids to the park.” Fable has seen the changes to the city firsthand, as families moved out of the city and then traveled back via car. And she knows that things haven’t reversed themselves. She still wouldn’t let a child ride in Ninth Avenue traffic. Much of this is not Sadik-Khan’s fault. Buses clog Ninth Avenue because the Port Authority needs to build a bigger bus terminal. Trucks idle—or speed—because the police department doesn’t adequately enforce no-idling and speeding laws. The mayor tried to get congestion pricing enacted to control all this traffic better—and Albany rejected him. Painting a lane green and erecting cement islands is a start, but it may have been the easier part.
Jeffries of Brooklyn has both the policy chops and personal charisma to legitimately be Speaker material further down the road. But for now, New York needs U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to step into the breach. Schumer forged a strong Jewish and black coalition in his 1998 election to the Senate and has been extending his reach to white Catholic voters in the suburbs and upstate ever since. Schumer was the architect of the Democrats taking back the Senate’s majority in 2006 and holding it, against the odds, in 2010 and 2012. Along the way he collected political chits, which he has invested in legislative achievements. The popular payroll tax reduction, which helped sustain the recovery, was the product of a Chuck Schumer–Orrin Hatch collaboration. Now Schumer is at the helm of a bipartisan group of eight senators spearheading comprehensive immigration reform. If he is successful in this endeavor, he will have bragging rights to leaping into the Senate’s Valhalla: right up there with Robert Wagner’s labor reform and Social Security, LBJ with the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and Hubert Humphrey with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sen. Gillibrand had a rocky start, given all the disappointed Democrats when she was picked to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate, but she has persevered, moderating her posi-
tions on gun control and immigration, while enjoying, as an upstater, strong support across upstate’s disparate regions. Gillibrand won two consecutive elections in 2010 and 2012 by landslide margins. Gillibrand has distinguished herself as a prodigious fundraiser—and not just for herself. She has raised a lot of money, particularly for her party’s female candidates all across the country. As the number of women in the Senate increases from a fifth to over 40 percent of the body, Gillibrand’s influence as a “godmother” inside the Senate will surely grow. Gillibrand has also shown herself adept at getting legislation passed (she led the way on the Zadroga bill and ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”). She is now focused on protecting female soldiers from sexual assault. If Gillibrand adds an economic development issue to her arsenal, she will remain unassailable within New York State. After the 2016 election, one could foresee Hillary Clinton as president, with Kirsten Gillibrand as her go-to senator (reprising Sen. Wagner’s role for FDR) and Chuck Schumer as the majority leader—a first for any New Yorker. If so, we will owe our state’s clout in Congress to our two senators.
Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. The analysis of the poll results is her own, not her employer’s or the pollsters’. @nicolegelinas on Twitter.
Bruce N. Gyory is a political consultant with Corning Place Communications and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany. www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
# W I N N E R SA N D LO S E R S
WINNERS & LOSERS
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Few have been shy when the topic is Anthony Weiner. Even the governor couldn’t help himself, saying it would be a shame if the city voted for him for mayor. Hot dog! A Cuomo-Weiner battle is one we could relish. Here are the rest of your Weiners and Losers. Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.
WEEK OF MAY 27, 2013
WINNERS VAN BRAMER 38% WEINER 28% KATZ 20% REYNOSO 11% LaFRANCE 3% Melinda Katz: Queens Dems endorsement Ron LaFrance Jr.: St. Regis Mohawks make deal with Cuomo Antonio Reynoso: Vito Lopez a weakened Council opponent
WEINER TAKES ALL Anthony Weiner: His campaign video came off as a pandering mess. He’s taking flak from everyone from Sal Albanese to Andrew Cuomo. Still, Weiner’s a winner for dominating the week’s news cycle by announcing his candidacy for mayor. Some believe he can work his lack of political support and endorsements to his advantage by running as an “outsider.” If he can prove his chops on policy, he could become more than just a punch line.
Jimmy Van Bramer: It looks like we’ve found proof of an honest elected official. When the owner of an indoor rock-climbing center in Queens offered Councilman Van Bramer free use of his facility for fundraisers and access to a list of his company’s Facebook friends in exchange for making a stop-work order he had received for doing illegal construction go away, Van Bramer not only refused to accept, he went to the Department of Investigation.
YOUR CHOICE LOPEZ 52% SILVER 35%
LINARES 3% Nelson Castro: Eyeing old seat Inez Dickens: Fending off debt collectors Guillermo Linares: Abusing old parking pass
FAULT LINE Sheldon Silver: Can anyone remember the last time the Speaker apologized for anything? Editorial boards called for him to give up his speakership because he did not refer complaints about Vito Lopez’s behavior to the Assembly Ethics Committee. Silver finally offered an apology to a ravenous press corps, which pressed him on his role in handling Lopez’s sex scandal. Silver announced a new sexual harassment policy, but some legislators still feel he was not punished enough
42 JUNE 10, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Vito Lopez: The release of the JCOPE report cost Lopez his job and perhaps his legacy. He resigned from the Assembly weeks earlier than planned when Shelly strong-armed him out. He may not even run for City Council. Lopez has a pocket of loyal support in Bushwick, but his friends are turning on him. Councilman Steve Levin, his protégé, said Lopez should abandon his Council run, and allies in the state Legislature wish he would go away.
WINNERS SADIK-KHAN 42%
KATZ 12% ZIMPHER 14% Steve Katz: Backs marijuana decriminalization Bernard Kerik: Released from the clink Nancy Zimpher: “Tax-Free NY” helps SUNY
JUMPING SHIP Seth Diamond: With the Bloomberg administration winding down, why not go for a new gig? The commissioner of the NYC Department of Homeless Services did exactly that when he was named the state’s director of storm recovery. As the face of Bloomberg’s controversial policies for the homeless, Diamond has experience weathering criticism that should prepare him well to deal with natural disasters for the Cuomo administration.
Janette SadikKhan: Despite some complaints and clunky-looking bicycles, New York City’s bike-share program launched without a hitch, further bolstering Sadik-Khan’s credentials as one of the more transformative Bloomberg cabinet members. When your biggest problem is yuppies griping over the corporate advertising on the kiosks at the bike stations, you know you’re doing a good job. The program might even save lives by promoting an active lifestyle. Sadik-Khan: Saving lives one bike at a time.
YOUR CHOICE QUINN 40%
WHITE 25% RAJKUMAR 12%
FERTITTA 3% HYNES 20% Lorenzo Fertitta: Silver puts anaconda choke hold on MMA Jenifer Rajkumar: W-Spin a phony nonprofit Charles Hynes: Accused of forcibly detaining witnesses
THE PARKS SIDE Veronica White: When White was appointed parks commissioner for the waning days of the Bloomberg administration, her lack of experience was said to be negligible because of her extensive expertise as a manager. We’re not MBAs, but we’re pretty sure that letting a holiday party degenerate into a “Bada Bing!” club where female employees are pressured into stripping down by their supervisors and pole dancing for crumpled up bills is not in line with cutting-edge management theory.
Christine Quinn: She was once close to runoff-proof poll numbers, but Anthony Weiner has put her “frontrunner” status in flux. Making matters worse, a report placed Quinn at a Vito Lopez fundraiser in April 2012, showing that Quinn was not always so outspoken in her efforts to prevent his Council run. Quinn rode the inevitability express for months, but she’ll have to come up with a way to steal headlines from Weinerfest 2013.
POLE-DANCING ILLUSTRATION: KYLE KLITCH
WEEK OF MAY 20, 2013
B AC K & F O R T H
DEF POLITICS A Q&A WITH RUSSELL SIMMONS
t’s safe to say that Russell Simmons has transcended his status as one of the first true moguls in hip-hop music. A Queens native and founder of the iconic Def Jam Records along with music producer Rick Rubin, Simmons has expanded his brand to include clothing, film, television, advertising and, most notably, philanthropy. In the political arena, Simmons is a renowned advocate for animal rights, and has used his clout and celebrity to help register voters in multiple national elections and to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. City & State reporter Nick Powell spoke with Simmons about the mayoral race, how he became interested in politics and hip-hop’s role in shaping the national dialogue. The following is an edited transcript.
City & State: You recently announced your support for Bill de Blasio in the New York City mayoral race. Can you elaborate on why you chose him? Russell Simmons: The reason I endorsed Bill de Blasio is because he’s always been there when we needed him for issues that affected underserved communities. He was there when he marched with us and we fought against the Rockefeller drug laws. He was there when we talked about education budget cuts. He’s been there on stop-and-frisk and things that are happening now. He’s very vocal on these issues. He’s not quiet. He’s the progressive in the race. I think that we’ve had a very conservative administration on many issues, and the people haven’t gotten a break. Although I like Mayor Bloomberg on many issues, I think that we need a balance, we need a change. I think that [de Blasio will] listen to business. I’m a business guy. He’s not gonna drive business out of New York, but we need a balance. C&S: You also endorsed Reshma Saujani for public advocate. What about her appealed to you, and do you plan on endorsing in any other local races? RS: I don’t know [about endorsing more candidates]. I have to see as they come up. Reshma’s always been a person that inspired me. She’s another one who cares about people. You can guess who I’m gonna endorse just by knowing that I’m an activist for all the underserved and people who don’t have a voice. These [other candidates] hide behind campaigns that were created to mislead the people, and they live behind them; quiet mousy politicians. You have the entire gay community backing a candidate because she’s a woman and she’s gay. For me, I’m a women’s rights activist, I’ve worked very hard for women’s rights. I’m a gay rights activist. Of all the straight men on this planet, I’m as vocal as anyone. They’re fighting for equality. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna bend because someone has these advantages [as a candidate] and wears them like a badge of honor. I’m not gonna support an African-American [Bill Thompson], who I think is a great guy but a politician in every sense of the word. Neither candidate makes me cringe. There are lots of candidates who make me cringe. They’re decent guys and girls, but I see de Blasio as far more progressive and more concerned about the plight of the poor, underserved and even middle class communities. C&S: You mentioned Blasio’s position on stop-and-frisk. Has this policing practice irreparably damaged relations between minority communities and the NYPD? RS: Stop-and-frisk wouldn’t annoy me so much if I didn’t think it really led to the incarceration of people. If you stop-and-frisk every white college kid, it’s likely you’d have a lot of kids in jail for the drugs they have in their pocket. You wouldn’t have a lot of
people in the workforce, and a lot of people’s lives would be destroyed. That’s a big part of stop-and-frisk. The fact is, I used cocaine as a kid, my friends used cocaine as [kids, and] some of them went to jail and their lives were ruined from using drugs. That’s a big issue to me, the fact that the entire fabric of the black community has been destroyed by the war on drugs. If you find a gun that’s illegal, then that’s one thing; but if you find a little bit of cocaine in their pocket, and they get a felony and their life is ruined and they’re dedicated now to a life of crime, back and forth to prison, and they feed the prison industrial complex, that’s a crime itself. This person now becomes educated in criminal behavior. That’s a problem. Of course, there’s also the [racial] profiling, a lot of other things, but I’m really upset by the effect it has on people’s lives. C&S: Was there a moment in your life where you really started to be engaged in politics, either locally or nationally? RS: I don’t think there was a moment. There were transformative moments in my life, getting involved 20 years ago in yoga, reading Scripture, trying to embrace these ideas of presence had a lot to do with my transformation as a person. … With that knowledge, I became more and more concerned about other people and animals and the planet. Realizing this connection is the impetus behind being involved in politics. Politics is necessary; it’s a spiritual pursuit. You have to be engaged in a process. Voting, you’re connected, your vote matters. Isolation is a form of sickness. The more connected you become, the more involved you are in politics. C&S: Do you think there will be a continued involvement of hip-hop artists in politics, beyond electing and re-electing Barack Obama? RS: Jay-Z, Puffy, all the stars of hip-hop went on the road for John Kerry and Al Gore. We worked our ass off for all of them. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network had as many as To read the full text 20,000 people show up of this interview, at venues that Eminem including including hosted, 50 Cent hosted, Simmons’ take on Anthony different artists hosted Weiner and President around the country on Obama’s drug policy, check the subject of voter regis- out cityandstateny.com. tration. There were a lot of rap artists on the road promoting voting in advance of Obama. Maybe the black community didn’t come out as much as the artists that came out, always have come out and will continue to come out. In fact, I think we did more work for Al Gore than we did for [the 2012] campaign. The highlight for the press was when Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige and myself and Beyoncé and Puffy went on the road on one plane, but that was one night, that’s one weekend. We were on the road consistently, and pulling artists from all over the country for the previous four elections. I don’t think that there was a resurgence just because Obama ran. We knew the policies that affected our community.
www.cityandstateny.com | JUNE 10, 2013
“My daddy’s working up there.” Construction workers—and their families—are counting on our state leaders to help them stay safe on the job by protecting New York’s Scaffold Law. According to the most recent federal data available, onthe-job accidents took the lives of 30 New York State construction workers. Compounding the tragedy: devastating accidents like this can be prevented, but too often prevention takes a back seat to corporate profits. When irresponsible contractors cut corners on safety because they know they can get away with it, it’s not just their employees who pay the price. We need to work to make sure New Yorkers are kept safer from construction accidents.
New York State’s Scaffold Law was designed to protect construction workers—and their families—and to keep the public safe. It holds contractors and owners accountable for enforcing work site safety rules and regulations. Unfortunately, some builders, contractors, insurers and other special interests are trying to dodge their responsibilities by pressuring the State Legislature to erode the Scaffold Law. For all of our sakes, state leaders must continue to protect workers and all New Yorkers by keeping the Scaffold Law strong.
Protect worker safety Support the Scaffold Law
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Published on Jun 7, 2013
City & State profiles our 2013 Albany 40 under 40 Rising Stars. City & State also interviews Russell Simmons. Perspectives from Nicole Gel...