Page 1

Clinton falls to the Curse of Dewey, and her 2012 Senate campaign may be in the rough, too.

Gov. David Paterson strikes into unfamiliar territory upstate.

Page 12

Page 2

VOL. 1, NO. 6

Charlie King discusses his new life outside politics and his interest in running again.

Page 35

JUNE 2008


Strategist In his first major interview as AG, Andrew Cuomo makes his opening statement







Silver’s challengers struggle

Doubts abound about

DSCC chairs discuss

with their impossible campaign.

Bloomberg actually running for governor.

their strategy to take the majority in November.

Page 8

Page 14

Page 28

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JUN E 2008


In the Wilderness of Upstate, Paterson Attempts to Forge a Path BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS OR GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), two heads were not necessarily better than one. Paterson’s decision to eliminate the two-chair, Upstate-Downstate structure at the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) sparked an initial blowback from the Upstate business community. Several Upstate legislators also expressed concern, urging the governor to preserve the two-chair system. But Paterson stuck by his decision, arguing that the bifurcated structure had left the agency crippled by internal power struggles. His appointment of former M&T Bank Corp. head Robert Wilmers, a native Manhattanite who currently lives in Buffalo, as the sole chair of ESDC may serve to calm some nerves. Wilmers, who will keep his M&T position and be based in Buffalo, has long championed Upstate issues. He will receive no salary for his ESDC position. As Wilmers awaits State Senate confirmation, Paterson is undertaking a national search for a chief executive to oversee the day to day economic development duties, and two “leaders” to head Upstate and Downstate divisions. The two division heads will report to Wilmers, according to Paterson’s office. Upstate leaders say they have confidence in his commitment to Upstate, but are anxious to see if a revamped ESDC can turn around the Upstate economy. Paterson, apparently sensitive to the thinness of his Upstate credentials, has been traveling around the state recently to pitch his property tax cap legislation. His tour included a stop in Baldwinsville, a town of under 8,000 in Onondaga County.


commitment to improving the faltering Upstate economy, John said. Paterson, a former state senator from Harlem, is still unknown in many parts of the state, she said. “They ask me about Gov. Paterson. They ask do I know him?” John said. “They know that I knew Eliot. They ask what he’s like. They’re just trying to get to know him.” Some Upstate business leaders have already expressed their dissatisfaction with the new governor, calling on him to either reestablish the two-chair system or create a similar position for someone who would report to the chair but still have the authority to hire staff, allocate resources and make development deals. Andrew Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and a member of Unshackle Upstate, a coalition of 70 Upstate business groups and partnerships, said Upstate business leaders are concerned about letting the agency regress back to a one-chair system, where New York City priorities often overshadowed Upstate economic deals. “Upstate New York got the shaft,” said Rudnick. “Past cannot be prologue here. We have to have that enduring structure in place no matter what the top of the organization looks like.” Unshackle Upstate members applauded Paterson for appointing Wilmers as the new chair of ESDC. But how Paterson will respond to other Upstate economic issues remains to be seen, Rudnick said. “The bottom line is it’s too early to tell,” Rudnick said. “It would be unfair to Gov. Paterson and to the issues to express any conclusive feeling at this point.” Several Upstate legislators bemoaned the departure of Dan Gunderson,


Upstate lawmakers applaud ESDC pick, but say jury is still out on new governor

Gov. David Paterson is in somewhat unfamiliar territory Upstate, but is exploring new approaches to economic development in the region. Seward said that Paterson can do much to assuage Upstate anxiety by increasing his own presence around the region. “He should continue to travel Upstate, be visible Upstate, continue to talk Upstate issues and realize that we’ve lagged behind economically and we need some additional time and attention,” Seward said. Though also from New York City, Spitzer had established his credibility with Upstate leaders from making regional revival a centerpiece of his 2006 campaign, and enthusiastically tackling Upstate issues once in office. In addition to creating the two-chair ESDC system and appointing Gunderson to oversee Upstate economic development, Spitzer proposed spending $1 billion to revitalize the Upstate economy in the first-ever State of the Upstate address, delivered in January in Buffalo. But with the Legislature bracing for a worsening economy, that figure has been cut to $700 million. Assembly Member Sam Hoyt (DBuffalo), a frequent ally of Spitzer’s, said that despite the cuts, conversations with Paterson and his senior staff have assured him of the new governor’s commitment to the Upstate economy. “There’s a bit of a risk, a bit of a leap of faith,” Hoyt said, but “I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“We got to see in 14 months a previous governor who talked the talk, but in the end walked the walk,” said Assembly Member Sam Hoyt. “Right now, Gov. Paterson can only talk the talk.” In fact, since becoming governor in mid-March, Paterson has been appearing across the region. “He’s been in Buffalo, he’s been in Batavia, he’s been in Rochester, he’s been in Syracuse,” said Assembly Member Susan John (D-Rochester). “He’s made it very clear that he gets it.” But many Upstate residents are still unsure about the new governor and his

Spitzer’s appointee as Upstate ESDC chair. Gunderson, they said, was a constant and welcome presence Upstate. “We had seen a lot of Dan Gunderson,” said State Sen. James Seward (ROtsego/Herkimer). “He was able to zero in on Upstate projects and Upstate concerns and just in the relatively 14-15 months. I think we in Upstate had grown accustomed to that.”

However, whether Paterson will fulfill the promises laid out by Spitzer is still difficult to predict, he said. “We got to see in 14 months a previous governor who talked the talk, but in the end walked the walk,” Hoyt said. “Right now, Gov. Paterson can only talk the talk.” Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are moving to fill the vacuum and shore up their Upstate support in anticipation of tough fights for seats in their efforts to take the majority in November. Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) recently announced the creation of a special Democratic caucus to concentrate on Upstate issues with State Sens. William Stachowski (Buffalo), Neil Breslin (Albany), David Valesky (Oneida), Antoine Thompson (Niagara Falls/Buffalo) and Darrel Aubertine (Oswego) as members. Thompson said he was pleased by Paterson’s recent move to bring 500 new jobs to Niagara Falls, but cautioned that Upstate concerns could still get lost in the mix as they have in the past. “Upstate folks, I believe, want to know that there’s someone they can turn to to make some decisions and that can deliver on jobs,” he said. Paterson has shown that he is aware of the massive job losses and slow economic growth, Thompson said. That will be important, he predicted. “But,” he added, “it’s early.”

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JUN E 2008

New Energy Committee Chairs Discover the Power of Cooperation Instead of Article X, the ‘Maziarz-Cahill Bill,’ and a hope for better results overall BY CARL WINFIELD MEMBER KEVIN Cahill (D-Ulster/Duchess), a playful man in his early 50s, seems to light up when talking about getting more energy from the sun. Since being named Paul Tonko’s replacement as chair of the Assembly Energy Committee in February, Cahill has secured a $6.5 million dollar grant for the state’s Solar Energy Consortium to attract solar energy producers to the state, and he has supported the construction of Long Island Power Authority’s new 50megawatt solar power facility. Closer to home, has led an effort to install solar panels throughout his district. But Cahill is no radical environmentalist. His goal has been to find new technologies that will provide as much energy as possible to this power-hungry state. “The population of New York is growing,” Cahill said. “And we will not be able to rely on the aging power plants we have now to generate enough electricity for us. Our future is in renewable energy sources.” For the most part, State Sen. George Maziarz (R-Niagara/Orleans) agrees, describing their shared commitment to creating energy options for all New Yorkers, whether Upstate or Downstate, and on both sides of the political divide. Also new to the job of energy chair—he was appointed in March, replacing State Sen. James Wright, who left for Mercury Public Affairs—Maziarz has also brought a fresh vision to energy legislation in the state, as well as to cooperation across the aisles and between the chambers. At this critical moment in energy policy on both the national level and in New York, both energy committee chairs are new to the jobs, and Tonko, whom then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) named head of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), has resigned to run for Congress. Gov. David Paterson (D) has not named a replacement. But for Cahill and Maziarz, their newness on the job provides a necessary fresh take on energy policy. From building gigantic wind turbines to converting air into power or his current efforts to promote the use of switchgrass as part of a corn ethanol-based biofuel, they have cast a wide net for new energy solutions. Their newness has also opened up the potential for cooperation. When Tonko and Wright were chairs, there was deep animosity between the legislators and their staffs, to the point that organizers of some events had to be told to schedule their appearances far enough apart that there would be no chance they would cross paths.





They have an amiable and collaborative relationship, Maziarz explained. “I have great respect for Kevin,” he said. “His commitment to the people of this state is admirable, and it is my pleasure to work with him as a colleague.” Both support Article X, the power plant siting law which expired more than five years ago. They agree the fast-track legislation is crucial to making the state attractive to power plant developers looking to build new facilities. Both supported legislation to reinstate the siting law. But, since its failure, the two have introduced a new siting law that bears both of their names. “People would dismiss Article X as soon as they heard the name,” Maziarz said. “So, Kevin and I changed it to the ‘Maziarz-Cahill Bill’ with the belief that it would pass on its own merits.” They did not fight over the order of their names on the new version, Maziarz said.

“It’s an important bill and a good one,” Maziarz said. “No matter what it’s called.” Their siting bill has yet to be formally introduced. But, Cahill said, while he is optimistic about its chances, he and Maziarz are both mindful that their efforts will need to encompass much more than a new power plant siting law in the struggle to meet New York’s energy needs. A grant program for developers to build green buildings is one possibility he suggests. Expanding the state’s definition of an alternative energy production facility to include those that use fuel cells or hydroelectric power is another. “We are not going to use less power as more people come to live in the state,” Cahill said. “We need to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to diverse power options whether they are from natural resources, existing power plants or a combination of the two.” Direct letters to the editor to

Legislation Promoting Biofuels Blooms BY CARL WINFIELD







than $4 per gallon in New York, and there is no sign that prices will go down. But Assembly Member Kevin Cahill (DUlster/Duchess) and Sen. George Maziarz (R-Niagara/Orleans), chairs of their respective chambers’ energy committees, believe that New Yorkers can use biofuels, like switchgrass, to offset the price of fossil fuels. But while academics agree with the idea, they caution that practical reality may get in the way. “You can get power from biofuels like switchgrass,” said Jordan Morris, air and energy associate for the Environmental Advocates of New York, “but the technology needed to do that is years in the future.” Ethanol produced from corn is the oldest and most commonly known biofuel in America. It is also among the most expensive. At more than $500 per ton of fertilizer and record gasoline prices, converting more than 2.3 million bushels into 6.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel last year, as calculated by the National Corn Growers Association, cost farmers billions of dollars in input costs. By comparison, switchgrass requires little or no fertilizer, already covers more than 40 percent of northern New York and provides more than twice the energy than that produced by corn,

when the costs of gasoline and fertilizer are part of the equation. “Everybody thinks of corn when you talk about biofuels,” said Larry Walker, a Cornell University economist who is currently examining the impact of switchgrass and other biofuels on the state’s energy policy. “But if you look at the amount of energy per cost, you get a higher ratio for cellulosic ethanol, like switchgrass, than you do for corn.” Biofuels produced from switchgrass may be cheaper than that produced from corn, and due to the ability to grow in nitrogen-poor soil, would have less of an impact on the amount of corn needed for food. But scientists are still wrangling with the logistics of how to make switchgrass into an energy source that is at least as viable as ethanol. Some have even begun to pull back from promoting the potential of switchgrass as a clean energy source. Cahill and Maziarz, both of whom are exploring various energy options for New York, remain confident that fuel produced from switchgrass will ultimately become a part of the state’s increasingly diverse portfolio of energy sources. Rather than wait for scientists to reach final conclusions on how best to utilize grasses for fuel, some legislators have already begun to move forward with biofuel legislation in hopes that a fostered market will drive scientists to speedier and more certain results.

Maziarz recently introduced a bill that would give producers a 40-cent tax credit for each New York-produced gallon of cellulosic ethanol, or ethanol produced from the stalks and stems of plants. Assembly Member Marc Alessi (DSuffolk) has introduced a series of bills that would make the use of biofuels standard for school buses and state vehicles, as well as encourage a greater use of biofuels among farmers and homeowners. And recently, the Senate passed a bill that would give a 25 percent tax credit to consumers and producers who build and maintain their own biodiesel and ethanol storage facilities. Meanwhile, Gov. David Paterson (D) and other legislators have remained convinced that clean energy alternatives, such as solar power and cellulosic ethanol, are necessary to produce new jobs and increase tax revenues as well as address the residents’ growing need for power. Maziarz, though, defended the idea of moving forward on bills expanding the use of biofuels in New York, despite the lagging conversion technology. “Biodiesel fuels, like switchgrass, represent a clean, cheap and plentiful source of energy for the state,” said Maziarz. “That is where the future is headed.” Direct letters to the editor to


J U N E 2008


Leading the Charge for More Power Plants at IPPNY Gavin Donohue says New York must weigh environmental concerns against cost BY SAL GENTILE DONOHUE CAN REMEMBER the days spent at his family’s summer home in the Adirondacks as a child. He can also remember the environmental degradation wrought there by unregulated greenhouse gas emissions: water pollution, acid rain. And yet, even then, he claimed he saw the need to generate power. “The reality is that energy policy and environmental policy are inextricably linked together,” he said. “The biggest thing we’re seeing is that we have a lack of balance.” As worldwide market turbulence propels energy prices ever upward, sending the cost of oil into the ether and stoking fears of another gas crunch, a debate has erupted over whether to build more power plants or develop alternative sources of energy. Donohue, president & CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY), a consortium of energy companies in the state, is in no doubt about the answer. “New York State is in desperate need



in the coming years for more capacity,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re not proceeding with unbalanced or out-ofbalance environmental regulation.” Donohue sees overly burdensome environmental regulation as perhaps his greatest obstacle. He foresees a situation in the coming years in which energy companies abandon the state in droves, taking jobs and tax revenues with them, all the while charging New Yorkers to deliver power from out of state. “I represent a whole bunch of companies that have a willingness and desire to invest in New York State,” he said. “We want to be part of the solution.” The solution, however, is something he and a number of environmental groups have tussled over for years. Green issues have generated genuine political momentum, especially in New York. Many environmental supporters have tagged power companies, such as those Donohue represents, as chronic polluters. That is a toxic label, with the threat of global warming becoming ever more real in people’s minds. Donohue says the companies IPPNY represents support renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, but do not


“New York State is in desperate need in the coming years for more capacity,” IPPNY President Gavin Donohue. believe those options can bring down the cost of energy by themselves. Sometimes, he says, those supporting environmental protections do so without a full enough appreciation for how these may ultimately register on the power bills of New Yorkers. “There are some out there that have no idea of the impact these environmental regulations have on the consumer,” he said. So though environmental conservation

is important, he believes that this is not the most important factor for most people. “I think what consumers are paying for energy these days is probably even more important,” he said. Donohue claimed environmental regulation, meant to cap greenhouse gas emissions and spur climate-friendly innovation, has so far stifled economic development in the state. “We need to build more generators, we need to build more transmission,” he said, naming his two greatest priorities. “It’s the legs of the stools.” An advocate of a renewed Article X, he believes New York should be putting up more plants, including nuclear ones. But even a surge in local power plant development will not halt the energy crisis, he said, given its roots in global instability and a worldwide economic downturn. “It’s going to take more than New York to step up,” he said. “We don’t have the federal leadership, and we haven’t had it for some time.” As for New York, Donohue said the battle with those he sees as overzealous environmentalists continues. “All we’ve done in the last five years is lay on one environmental regulation after another,” he said. “It sends a real chilling message to developers.”

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By Committee


JUN E 2008

Charting a New Crop for State Charters



Banks Committee has waned as financial institutions have elected to be regulated by federal law. But in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the committee has resurged, considering far-reaching lending legislation. The rising home foreclosures have highlighted the tension in Albany between the desire to protect the consumer, often championed by Democrats, and the desire to moderate the regulation of state banks, generally defended by Republicans. Committee Chair Darryl Towns (DBrooklyn) is trying to strike a balance between the two interests. Members try to avoid “getting caught up in ‘pro-consumer’ versus ‘pro-institution’ debates,” he said. The 31-member committee meets at least once per month for about 30 minutes, considering eight to 10 bills each time, Towns said. State chartered banks, the mortgage industry, money transmitters, check cashers, and finance companies are within its purview. National banking issues, like credit cards, are not. In part because bank companies have grown to include branches in other states and countries, they have put themselves under federal, instead of state, regulations. Once they receive their federal charters, the banks no longer pay regula-

tory fees to the state. The state Banking Department reported in December 2006 that revenue had dropped by 30 percent on account of the bank exodus. The question being debated in Albany is how to contain the foreclosure crisis in the state, which has affected more than 50,000 homes, without chasing more lending institutions from New York. A package of bills addressing rising foreclosures in the state, known as the Responsible Lending Act, supported by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (DManhattan) and introduced by Towns, was reported out of the committee in January and passed the Assembly May 7. A bill backed by Gov. David Paterson (D) was introduced in April and is before the committee now. A companion bill to Paterson’s is currently in the Senate Banks Committee, but the New York Bankers Association opposes a number of its provisions, and its future is uncertain. Committee Member Rory Lancman (D-Queens) said the future of the package for this session was unclear. “It is possible a rework of the subprime package with negotiations with the Senate would come through the committee,” he said. “But the Senate may not be interested in this kind of legislation.” The GOP’s ranking committee member, Andrew Raia (R-Suffolk), supported Towns’ sub-prime bill, but was wary of over-regulation of banks.

Darryl Towns wants legislation, which would help bring more revenue to the state and restore the Assembly Banks Committee influence along the way. “Obviously, the sub-prime mortgage crisis is the top priority. In the district I represent on Long Island there are high property values and high taxes but not necessarily high income,” he said. “They are house

rich and not necessarily cash rich.” But Raia insisted any new laws must be fair to local institutions. “We need to ensure in New York State’s zeal to correct some of these problems that we don’t unfairly put statechartered banks at a disadvantage to federally chartered banks,” he said. One of Towns’ goals since becoming chair in 2006 was to craft legislation encouraging banks to return to the state charter. Toward that end, he introduced legislation to allow local municipalities to deposit funds in savings banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. Currently, funds have to be deposited in a commercial bank. The legislation was reported by the committee in April over the opposition of Raia and other Republicans, and was passed by the Assembly in May. A companion bill is in the Senate. Another option Towns is considering would be to cut or reduce the mortgage recording tax paid by state chartered banks. The tax is not paid by federally chartered banks. “How do we create a balanced environment so some federally chartered entity would take a second look at the state?” Towns said. “If we can move just one, I think we can get others to follow.” Direct letters to the editor to

Stavisky to Face First Republican Challenger of Her Career Democrats unworried, but Peter Koo claims to have shaken complacency in district BY ADAM PINCUS STATE SEN. TOBY Ann Stavisky (D-Queens) is set to face her first Republican challenger this November since first being elected nearly nine years ago. GOP pharmacist and businessman Peter Koo said he has shaken her out of complacency and forced her to become more involved in the community. “The current senator is more or less out of touch with the average New Yorker,” he said. “Now that she is facing competition, she is coming out. In a way, it is good for the communities.” He is mounting his uphill challenge in the heavily Democratic 16th Senate District covering the northwestern Queens neighborhoods of Flushing, Bay Terrace, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park and Elmhurst. Koo, who has the backing of the Queens Republican Party, said he would be willing to spend up to $500,000 of his own fortune made through his chain of



five pharmacies in the Flushing area. On top of that, he claimed to have raised about $150,000 in contributions. His campaign has registered with the state Board of Elections, but did not file before the latest deadline in January. As of the January filing, Stavisky had $158,000 on hand. Stavisky, the first woman from Queens to serve in the State Senate, was elected in 1999 to fill the vacancy created by the death of her husband, Leonard Stavisky, who had held the seat since 1966. She is supported by the Queens and state Democratic parties. She has had no Republican challengers in any of her general elections, although there have been several smaller party candidates, whom she beat handily. The district has about four times as many registered Democrats as Republicans, according to the state Board of Elections. Koo hopes to put together a winning coalition of Republicans, new immigrants and local business owners using a campaign emphasizing cutting red tape

for smaller companies. Stavisky declined to be interviewed for an article about the campaign, but spokesman Joe Reubens rejected the idea that she was out of touch. “Sen. Stavisky has maintained an active and energetic presence in the district,” he said, where she has an office, hosts events and handles constituent issues. Doug Forand, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said the organization was not concerned with the GOP challenge. “Although we take nothing for granted, this is a race we are not worried about at all,” he said. “The fact is this is a Democratic district and she is the Democrat with deep roots. They can spend a million or two million, but she will be re-elected in November.” Oliver Tan, Koo’s campaign manager, said Democrats would be willing to cross over and support her. “We don’t believe people will just vote along party line. This year with the Democratic primary, people have shown

they want to vote their principles,” he said. Koo, 52, was born in China, and moved to the United States in 1971. He opened the first of his Starside Drugs pharmacies in 1991. He is the president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association and a board member of Community Board 7 and the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District. Both candidates have indicated an openness to debates. Queens College political science professor Michael Krasner said the advantages of her name recognition and years of representing the district would be hard to beat, even with a heavy financial investment. “Money does a lot, as Bloomberg’s example demonstrates, but Bloomberg only beat Mark Green narrowly,” he explained, referring to the 2001 New York City mayor’s race. “And Green gave him an enormous amount of help.” Direct letters to the editor to

Congratulations to JOHN MATTESON Associate Professor of English John Jay College of Criminal Justice The City University of New York

Winner of 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Biography “Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father”

The Newest Member of CUNY’s Literary Faculty Winners Circle




Mike Wallace

Edwin G. Burrows

Tina Howe

1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Brooklyn College

1999 Pulitzer Prize for History John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Graduate Center

1999 Pulitzer Prize for History Brooklyn College

1984 and 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist Hunter College

Meena Alexander

Blanche Wiesen Cook

Kimiko Hahn

Gregory L. Rabassa

2008 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry Hunter College, CUNY Graduate Center

1992 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Graduate Center

2008 PEN/Voelcker Award for 2006 National Medal of Arts Poetry, 2007 Shelley Memorial Queens College, Award/Poetry Society of America CUNY Graduate Center Queens College

Jeffery Renard Allen 2000 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction Queens College

Beth Baron 2007 Carnegie Scholar City College CUNY Graduate Center

Nicole Cooley 1995 Walt Whitman Award for Poetry Queens College

Edouard Glissant 2004 Laurea ad Honorem de l’Université de Bologne en Langues et Littératures Étrangères CUNY Graduate Center

Eva Bellin 2006 Carnegie Scholar Hunter College

Emily Braun 2005 National Jewish Book Award Hunter College 1988 and 2001 Booker Prize, 1998 Commonwealth Writers Prize Hunter College

2007 Whiting Writers’ Award College of Staten Island

1996 Bancroft Prize Baruch College, CUNY Graduate Center

David Nasaw

Emily Raboteau

2001 Bancroft Prize, 2007 New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize CUNY Graduate Center

Grace Schulman

Elizabeth Nunez

Isaac Goldemberg

2001 American Book Award Medgar Evers College

2007 P.E.N. Club of Peru Literature Award Hostos Community College

James Oakes

Marilyn Hacker

Peter Carey

David S. Reynolds

Cate Marvin

2004 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature City College, CUNY Graduate Center

2006 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship City College 2002 Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry Baruch College

Charles Simic

2008 Lincoln Prize CUNY Graduate Center

2008 U.S. Poet Laureate Visiting Professor at Baruch College

Gerardo Piña-Rosales

Tom Sleigh

2006 Ayuntamiento and Casino de Lorca Prize Lehman College, CUNY Graduate Center

2008 Kingsley Tufts $100,000 Poetry Award Hunter College

Billy Collins 2001-2003 U.S. Poet Laureate Lehman College



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JUN E 2008


Silver’s Opponents Try to Get Ready for Prime Time Paul Newell and Luke Henry battle speaker and each other in long-shot race BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS I, I’M PAUL NEWELL AND I’M


running for New York State Assembly.” Standing outside the Grand Street subway stop in Chinatown on a sunny May afternoon, Paul Newell’s sales pitch was not generating much response. After a dozen or so people ignored his extended hand and smiling, bespectacled face, his aide, Alex Li, suggested he start with “ni hao,” Mandarin for “hello.” “I’ll give it a shot,” Newell said. The refined pitch helped Newell secure a few signatures for his petition. But that was not the only reason he was on that corner in Chinatown. Shaking hands and handing out campaign flyers, the first-time candidate kept one eye out for his opponent, the man he hoped against all odds to unseat in September. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (DManhattan) was up in Albany. His “community command center,” though, was scheduled to be on the streets for a health care drive, according to flyers taped to several lampposts in the area. “Still looking for the Shelly-mobile, belching black smoke and Darth Vader music,” Newell said, smiling. Silver has dominated state politics for close to three decades and been one of the three men in a room for almost half that time. As speaker, he has funneled millions of dollars in member items to various groups and causes in his district, and as the leader of the Assembly’s supermajority, has a lock on the Democratic establishment. All of which begs the question: How does one actually mount a primary challenge against Shelly Silver? How do two? “I don’t think that running against a 32-year incumbent is easy,” Newell said, sipping coffee at the counter of a diner on Canal Street. “But if I had to pick a year to be a 32-year incumbent, I would not pick 2008.” Silver has not faced a primary challenge in 20 years. This year, he faces two: Newell, a community organizer, and Luke Henry, an attorney, both born in 1974, the year Silver won his first term. Both say they are undaunted by the steep uphill challenges they have decided to mount. By virtue of taking on the speaker, their candidacies have received more attention than their shoestring campaigns could have ever bought. With some claiming that Silver is too popular—or too entrenched—in his district to be ousted, Newell and Henry are struggling to explain to voters why Lower Manhattan needs a new man in Albany. On top of that, with neither ready to pull out, whatever


Paul Newell, collecting signatures for his challenge to Speaker Shelly Silver, understands that his is an uphill battle. anti-Silver votes there are will likely be split between them on primary day. That has nearly every political observer around dismissing their efforts as one of the more lost of lost causes. But pressing his case more on an attack of the system than on the specifics of Silver’s representation of the district, Newell said he bases his argument on explaining to voters that they are losing battles in Albany they should be winning because of the dysfunction Silver helps perpetuate. He cites congestion pricing

assemblyman and a terrible speaker.” Newell has used his indictment of Silver’s leadership of the Assembly to generate more free-flowing donations from far beyond the district, which covers Chinatown, the Financial District, Battery Park and the Lower East Side. “I’m raising money from people in Rochester,” he said. “I’m getting volunteers statewide.” A convention delegate for Barack Obama, Newell is using the Illinois senator’s presidential campaign as a model for trying to win the election by bringing in new supporters. He says he has seen new energy on the streets that gives him confidence. Henry’s strategy, by contrast, is to target longtime supporters of Silver in an effort to flip them to his candidacy. “His friends,” Henry said, sitting on a bench off of Madison Street in Chinatown, “they need to be persuaded.” Henry, an energetic political neophyte (though he did work for Geraldine Ferraro’s 1998 Senate campaign), is seek-

How does one actually mount a primary challenge against Shelly Silver? How do two? and the decline of affordable housing in the district as two egregious examples. Like Henry, Newell bases most of his attack on Silver as speaker, but draws the connection to how he believes this has also harmed district residents in particular. “I don’t think Sheldon Silver is a bad man,” Newell said. “I think he’s a bad

ing to tap into what he calls a new current of anger and frustration at Silver and his Albany colleagues. He points to the New York Times editorial railing against Silver following his decision not to call a vote on congestion pricing. Henry said he decided to take on the speaker, instead of aiming lower for his first race because he was too incensed by the lack of accountability in Albany. “There’s no legislative process in the Assembly,” Henry said. “There’s been piecemeal change, but that’s not real change.” Four months before the primary, the campaign has already taken a darker turn, with the challengers attacking each other, rather than the incumbent. Newell suggested in a New York magazine article that Henry’s old job at the Wilson Elser lobbying firm, which has ties to Silver, may indicate that he is in the race only to split the anti-Silver vote. Henry called the allegations absurd. Rumors aside, Silver’s huge campaign war chest—as of the January filing, he had just under $3 million—also puts his two challengers at an obvious disadvantage. Newell would not release his most recent fundraising figures, but his own January filing showed him with a little over $17,000. Newell said he plans to counter Silver’s cash-rich campaign with a simple message: that Silver may bring in millions to the district and raise millions, but he also cost his voters millions by killing the congestion pricing plan and repealing the commuter tax in 1999. “I’m not going to match Silver’s $3 million,” Newell said, “but I don’t have to.” Henry, who said he is running a “clean money campaign,” will file his first disclosure report in July. He released a lowbudget web video of him standing on the street, asking passers-by to donate $5 each to his campaign. Five people, including his sister, agreed. For all of Silver’s advantages, there have been signs that he may not coast to re-election as easily as he might prefer. Both Henry and Newell have opened campaign offices in Chinatown in recent weeks. Newell was endorsed by BlogPAC, a consortium of liberal bloggers. And while Silver has already been endorsed by all the local political clubs that have weighed in, the votes were far from unanimous. Silver, clearly taking the challenge seriously, has hired a campaign firm and has been polling, fundraising and increasing his visibility in the district. All sides are gearing up for potential petition challenges, with both Newell and Henry retaining lawyers to help them get on the ballot. In the past, Silver has been represented by State Sen. Martin Connor (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn), CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

President Bruce W. Both Announces Building Blocks Project and Releases UFCW Local 1500 Food Policy Principles “The Building Blocks of All Communities are Good Food, Good Jobs, and Good Health. UFCW Local 1500 believes that the Building Blocks Projects Food Policy Principles Seeking Greater Access to Healthy, Affordable Food will Restore to Communities these Important Basic Rights.� 1. Access to healthy affordable food is a human right regardless of location or income and therefore should be one of the most important goals of NYC public policy. 2. Health care advocates both public and private seeking long term solutions to disproportionate rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in low-income communities must consider buying power and access to healthy affordable food. 3. Healthy communities require a variety of purchasing options including: farmers markets, CSA’s, community gardens, urban agriculture, food coops and supermarkets. These entities must work together with city and state officials to insure a balanced range of food sources.

8. Workers employed by markets not meeting their economic responsibility to provide living wage jobs, health benefits, job security, job training and career advancement should be afforded the opportunity to organize and improve their working conditions. 9. A regional approach to food procurement at the private and public level can lower the cost of food, create jobs, ensure food safety, support small farmers and reduce carbon emissions, particularly by government and state agencies. 10. The Federal Food Stamp Program could provide a needed economic stimulus to New York City if it is made accessible to all eligible participants. A unified legislative effort must be implemented to maximize our ability to reform the food stamp program to meet the economic, health, and food access needs of every day New Yorkers.

4. There is a need to use public money to ensure that existing and new responsible food retailers can build profitably in low-income communities while simultaneously providing food at reasonable prices. 11. Partnerships between supermarkets, health and nutrition advocates should be created to fully ensure that communities benefit from 5. All types of public/private partnerships need to be considered to finance increased access. the preservation of existing responsible food retailers and the development of new food retailers responsive to community needs. 12. In conjunction with our effort to expand supermarkets, a citywide education program is needed to promote the three basic tenants that the 6. The policy of the City of New York should encourage the preservation building blocks of all communities are; good food, good jobs, good health. and development of supermarkets in low-income communities by discouraging the eviction of supermarkets, changing the existing land use 13. Partnerships between supermarkets, local food manufacturers, regional laws, implementing economic incentives, reviewing existing regulatory farms, urban agriculture, and farmers markets, will create more local processes, and mainstreaming of the construction procedure. Special jobs and increase the sale of locally produced foods. Investment in infraattention should also be given to any new development that includes structure like the Hunts Point Market and wholesale farmers market will new housing to ensure food access. enhance these partnerships. 7. Responsible food retailers produce entry level and skilled jobs, pay a living wage, provide health benefits, pensions, and the type of financial job security necessary for a community to be economically viable, through creating economic stimulus and buying power in low-income communities that ensures food security and good health.

14. A coalition of groups from hunger advocates, environmental groups, health organizations, labor, industry representatives, city officials and community members should be formed both in conjunction with and separate from existing state and city established councils so as to ensure the long term viability of these food policy principles.

I,_____________________________ of ___________________________________________ (Name) (Organization) Pledge my support to the advancement and implementation of these Food Policy Principles. Please fax this form to 718-217-7316 Attn: Jennifer, or mail it to UFCW Local 1500, 221-10 Jamaica Avenue, Queens Village, NY 11428 Attn: Jennifer or email it to


JUN E 2008



Incensed by the lack of accountability in Albany, Luke Henry opted to run against Silver rather than aim lower for his first race.


an election lawyer who has assisted the speaker in challenging the petitions of his Republican opponents in the past. Connor

is also facing an insurgent primary challenge this year, from former Sen. Charles Schumer (D) aide Daniel Squadron. Jonathan Rosen, Silver’s campaign spokesman, said the emergence of two primary challengers this year did not surprise the speaker too much.

“It takes a great deal to faze him,” Rosen said. Silver is not concentrating on the primary at all, Rosen said. Instead, he is tackling issues such as rent regulation, school overcrowding and others that he no doubt hopes will appeal to the residents of his

district. He has no plans to announce a formal campaign kick-off as of yet, Rosen added, but will be out in the community now that petitioning has gotten under way. “For us, the best campaign is continuing to deliver for the district and the residents of Lower Manhattan,” Rosen said. Newell is not convinced. Out collecting signatures in Chinatown, he threw his hand out to anyone who would shake it, though most admitted they did not live in the district. He gave directions to a few tourists, argued good-naturedly with a homeless man (who said he was a registered Republican) and chatted in fluent Spanish with an older woman walking a small white dog. Finally, a man with a scarred face and an olive green track suit jacket stopped, the first one of the afternoon genuinely interested in Newell’s campaign. “We need to build more housing for regular people,” Newell told him, “not just for billionaires.” “I’ll vote for you,” the man said, signing the petition. “I don’t really like Shelly Silver.” Newell collected his signature, then smiled at the man. “Peace be with you, man,” he said.

Even a “nursing home without walls” needs a strong base of support and a solid foundation for the future… That’s why these statewide health care associations strongly support S.8092 to: UÊEnhance New York’s nationally-recognized Long Term Home Health Care Program (LTHHCP), known as the “nursing home without walls” program; and, UÊIncrease patient access to home care services for thousands of New York’s elderly, disabled and medically-fragile children.

HCA, HANYS and NYAHSA all ask Governor Paterson and the State Legislature to pass S.8092 and not pass up this critical opportunity to strengthen the foundation of New York’s long term care program.


Commission Report Delivered, Local Government Reformers Weigh Next Step As state studies changing system, Japan continues studying current system BY JOHN R.D. CELOCK ALBANY PREPARE TO debate reforming the state’s local government structure, local governments in Japan have been looking towards New York as a role model. The Japan Local Government Center, which opened in New York in 1989, has as its mission studying local administration issues and sending best practices to Japan for implementation. Funded by local governments in Japan, the center is the country’s only U.S. research office. Matthew Gillam, a researcher with the center, said local governments in Japan have been trying to change management styles in various issues and bring in best practices from other countries. “Japan has a long tradition of learning from abroad,” Gillam said. “It is a part of the culture, even though they had 150 years of isolation.” Issues researched by the center in recent years have included urban renewal, economic development, emergency management, public-private partnerships, electronic voting, electronic government, tax collection and revenue management. The center does not pick topics to research, but rather receives requests either from individual local



minimum—10 votes out of 15—necessary for a commission consensus. Lundine dissented out of concern that the proposal would upset the unions enough to kill the entire package, he said. Indeed, union leaders have indicated that though they are open to considering other ideas in the package, they intend to work towards the defeat of the health care proposal. Stephen Madarasz, communications director for the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), said the union will be working against the proposal if it goes before the Legislature. Madarasz said the proposal cannot be enacted without significant changes to the Taylor Law, which dictates that health care issues need to be negotiated in contracts and most communities statewide already have this as a part of their public employee contracts. Most local unions have agreed to pay part of their health care costs in order to obtain higher wages or additional vacation time. Madarasz said the union also stands ready to battle another controversial proposal of municipal consolidation in rural areas, particularly amongst villages and towns. Current law allows for a village to be wholly within a town, with village residents paying taxes to, and receiving services from, both governments. The state Conference of Mayors opposes consolidation efforts, which will eliminate some of their members if the state’s 75 smallest villages vote to merge with towns. Legislative approval for all recommendations will be tough. While the two local government committee chairs, Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Essex) and Assembly Member Sam Hoyt (D-Erie) served on the committee, they have different takes on the report. Little, who represents a very rural North Country district, embraces the idea of more regional high schools and county fire departments, but does not find a need to reduce the number of smaller governments. Hoyt, who represents a large chunk of Buffalo and the suburban community of Grand Island, wants to look at the reduction in the number of the over 4,000 local governments in the state. Little and Hoyt anticipate that a number of recommendations will be adopted before the end of the session, with larger issues to be addressed next year. Paterson has already sent a program bill of several recommendations to the Legislature for consideration. Even if the Democrats take the State Senate majority this fall, the chair of the Local Governments Committee is likely to remain a defender of smaller governments. Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Nassau), a commission member and ranking member of the committee, has released a letter dissenting from the commission’s recommendations on government consolidation. Johnson’s Long Island district is dominated by village governments. In the meantime, Hoyt recommended that the Japanese center review the report as they study American local government for a way to improve their structure. “The fact that the previous governor created the commission and the current governor embraced our recommendations shows that we in New York State believe that our local government needs improvement,” he said. “They can learn from our mistakes.” Direct letters to the editor to

Insisting on a mandatory pay-in for health care for municipal employees was the most controversial proposal among commissioners. governments or from the national Communications Ministry, which oversees local affairs in Japan. Given the center’s location, New York State and City have been the main focal points for research, though New Jersey’s local government system has been scrutinized as well. Other states and cities have been studied as well, to a lesser degree. New York has its weaknesses, Gillam said, but the research tries to balance all sides before sending reports back across the Pacific. “We are not always presenting the best case. We will do a representative sample and look at what is better and what is not so good,” he said. “With New York, there are a lot of issues with government. Very often, the Japanese governments are interested in the kinds of ideas rather than the kinds of governments.” The kinds of governments—and the numbers of them—have been the subject of countless reports over the past century, most recently by the local government commission convened by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D). The group’s final report was submitted to Gov. David Paterson (D) at the end of April. The commission’s recommendations range from proposing regionalization of services such as assessment to shared services to the politically controversial, including insisting on a mandatory pay-in for health care for municipal employees. Former Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine (D), the commission’s chair, said the health care package was the most controversial among commissioners, but was deemed necessary in order to address the rising property taxes statewide. The health care proposal passed with the bare

J U N E 2008


Powering New York City’s Growth By Richard T. Anderson

In its 2006 Electricity Outlook report, the New York Building Congress estimated that New York City will require up to 7,000 MW of new electric generating capacity over the next two decades to accommodate growing demand for power from new businesses and residents. That additional capacity would prevent the threat of rolling blackouts, keep rates from soaring and allow for the replacement of older, polluting plants. The long-term outlook is only part of the story. Twice in the past few years, large segments of New York have endured extended periods without electricity. On numerous other occasions, large businesses and property owners voluntarily reduced their electricity usage during periods of high demand to prevent system overload. While the circumstances in each instance were different, collectively, they speak to the City’s vulnerability to potentially devastating power failures. This vulnerability will only intensify in the coming years as greater strain is placed on the power supply and the networks that distribute electricity into homes, businesses, subways, hospitals, schools and other facilities. It is up to New York’s political leadership to focus on a series of critical investments, including electric cables, substations, gas, steam, water and sewer mains, telecommunications cables and towers. The most glaring need is the reauthorization of the Article X power plant siting law. With the long lead time needed for approval, planning and construction of new power plants, the opportunity for building adequate generating facilities is rapidly narrowing. The enactment of legislation needed to streamline the power plant approval process absolutely requires the cooperative efforts of New York’s Governor and legislative leaders. The Building Congress Energy Committee also has called upon government to: • Create stronger incentives to promote energy efficiency, clean on-site generation, peak load management and high performance building design; • Assist in strengthening the region’s electric transmission and distribution infrastructure; and, • Ensure that power producers can obtain financing necessary to build proposed plants once approved. There is not a moment to lose. The time is now to make certain there is enough power to accommodate the City’s planned growth. Richard T. Anderson is President of the New York Building Congress and a member of the Advisory Board of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance. The New York Building Congress is a non-partisan public policy coalition of business, labor, association and governmental organizations representing the design, construction and real estate interests of more than 250,000 individuals.




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



JUN E 2008

Another Victim of the Dewey Curse Will a New Yorker ever get into the White House again? BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS AMERICANS PICKED A NEW Yorker for president, they did not have much of a choice: In 1944, there were not one, but two Empire State politicians at the top of their ticket. The state, apparently, had reached too far. Franklin Roosevelt won that race, but died not long after. His opponent, Thomas Dewey, ran again in 1948, but despite all the indications in his favor and the preprinted headlines declaring his victory, Dewey somehow managed not to defeat Harry Truman. There has not been a successful New Yorker presidential candidate since. Boston had the Curse of the Bambino. Ambitious New York politicians, it seems, have the curse of Tom Dewey. And while there are two new World Series rings at Fenway, there are now three more presidential candidates who did not make it in New York. They are far from alone. New York is tied with Ohio for producing more presidents than any other state. But aside from the two Roosevelts, the long and illustrious list of New York politicians who have sought the presidency over the years does not contain many winners. And aside from the Roosevelts, the winners have been mostly forgettable: Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore, Chester




There was Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, more New Englander than New Yorker (though he spent the better part of his childhood in the Bronx with his family), who seemed set to win the 1968 Democratic nomination before being assassinated the night he won the California primary. Nelson Rockefeller, a popular former governor, failed to sew up enough support for a presidential bid in 1960, 1964 and 1968. Rockefeller did finally go national in 1975, when a newly elevated Gerald Ford picked him as his new vice president. But three years later, Rockefeller was dropped from the re-election ticket. New York Mayor John Lindsay performed well in some of the early caucuses in 1972, but was undone by the city’s failing economic fortune, if not also by the band of protesters from Forest Hills, Queens, who followed the candidate around the country, heckling him. Two New Yorkers have run for vice president since, and both failed: Queens Rep. Geraldine Ferraro was picked by Democratic candidate Walter Mondale in 1984, and former Buffalo Rep. Jack Kemp was picked by Republican Bob Dole in 1996. Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) famously came so close to running in 1992 that he had a plane parked on the Albany tarmac, waiting to bring him to New Hampshire to file papers for the primary. In the end, he blamed a need to haggle over the state budget for his decision not to run. This year, there was less indecision, but just as much disappointment. Giuliani’s Florida-or-nothing gambit

Arthur and Grover Cleveland. And since Dewey, though there have been no shortage of New Yorkers who have tried for president or vice president, there has not been a single winner. But there have been some pretty notable losers. Perhaps this is the legacy of Al Smith, the quintessential New Yorker who enjoyed four terms as governor, lost his 1928 campaign for president against Herbert Hoover. Campaigning as a proud New Yorker—also as the first Catholic nominated by a major party—Smith’s New York accent on the radio struck many Americans as foreign-sounding. His campaign theme song, The Sidewalks of New York, did not have quite the nationwide appeal he might have hoped.

proved fatal. Bloomberg’s prospective independent bid was over-shadowed by the trans-partisan appeals of John McCain and Barack Obama. Clinton came closest than any New Yorker in recent history, but not close enough. With the collapse of her campaign and those of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Ind.)—unless Clinton takes another run—there does not seem to be any potential presidential candidate among the ranks of New York politicians for years to come. At her final campaign night appearance June 3, the realization seemed to elude the several hundred supporters and donors who filed into the Baruch College gymnasium. Bearing signs and defiant smiles, they greeted the senator as if she had arrived on stage with her packed suitcases to move back into the White House. In her speech, she praised New York as one of the greatest states in the country. But the biggest cheer of the night went to the last state to give her a primary victory: South Dakota. But New Yorkers can still have some presidential pride, at least comparatively. Despite that cheer and being home to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota has yet to produce any president. And its only major party nominee, George McGovern, lost in one of history’s biggest presidential landslides to Richard Nixon, who had by then abandoned his home state of California and was living in New York.


J U N E 2008

Energy Key to Construction and Job Opportunities

Weighing the Odds for Clinton 2012—for Senate

By Lenore Janis

To some, larger spotlight made her stronger at home, to others, more vulnerable BY DAN RIVOLI EN.

HILLARY CLINTON’S QUEST TO BECOME president is over. Her quest for a third term in the Senate, however, may only just be beginning. When she returns to her regular workday on Capitol Hill, Clinton will hardly be the only senator nursing the wounds of scuttled presidential ambitions. But after two lopsided wins for a Senate seat that was largely seen as a steppingstone to a presidential run, some say she may have her work cut out for her in convincing New Yorkers—in a primary, a general election, or both—to send her back to Washington, if that is what she seeks to do, in 2012. “Between now and 2012, a case will be made that she should not run for another term,” said labor activist Jonathan Tasini, who lost a primary challenge against Clinton in 2006. The presidential campaign, Tasini said, exposed her shortcomings—her vote for the Iraq War, lobbyist ties, and her hand in President Bill Clinton’s trade agreements—that critics like Tasini had pointed to for years. Tasini is confident that these grievances will lead to someone mounting a primary. Tasini even refused to rule himself out for a repeat primary after receiving phone calls asking him to run. “The base of support for people who want a primary challenge to the incumbent senator in 2012 is much broader and deeper than it was two years ago,” Tasini said. “But there’s still some lack of backbone and willingness to engage in primary challenges.” Senate primary challenges are rare but possible. In 2002, New Hampshire’s GOP was concerned that incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Smith was vulnerable in the general election. Smith, however, had never been wildly popular, and in frustration following an aborted run for the 2000 Republican nomination, had briefly left the Republican Party. That helped propel John Sununu, a popular congressman, into the primary. He won the nomination and the general election. But Clinton remains deeply popular in the state. Not only did she win 57 percent in this year’s presidential primary, but she took a whopping 84 percent in the 2006 primary against Tasini, without ever paying him much attention. Democratic party leaders and average voters, who cleared the way for her first run in 2000, show few signs of dissatisfaction with her being in the Senate. And for the general elections, she went from a large 55-43 win in 2000 to a massive 67-31 win in 2006. John Spencer, the former Yonkers mayor who was the Republican nominee against Clinton in 2006, sees Clinton’s presidential campaign as an opening for a formidable candidate. In 2006, Spencer hammered ANDREW SCHWARTZ



the theme that Clinton was more interested in being president than a senator for New York. However, to exploit that point, the state GOP needs a dramatic makeover, Spencer said. “If they want to act as they have been doing the past decade, act as Democrat-light, then they won’t beat her,” Spencer said. “She’ll have a difficult time if the Republicans coalesce and make a real Republican agenda.” Spencer blamed his and gubernatorial candidate John Faso’s crushing 2006 defeats on the State GOP’s weak leadership, which resulted in a base fractured by primary challenges. That also would have to change, if Republicans hope to give Clinton a real fight, Spencer said. However, Rep. Peter King (R-Nassau/Suffolk) thinks that Republicans will not be able to topple Clinton. The marathon presidential campaign and strong showing in her state’s primary is a good indication that Clinton will be safe in 2012. “It may go against the grain, but it’s made her stronger,” King said. “She’s a person of real substance. People will take her more seriously now than they did before.” Many factors could effect Clinton’s chances over the next four years, King said. A strong showing in New York in the presidential election by Arizona Sen. John McCain could generate the base for future Republican candidates, including some for Senate. King, who has himself expressed interest in running for governor, said that this might ultimately include him. “I’m not thinking about it now,” King said. “But I’m not ruling it out.” An early New York Obama supporter, State Sen. Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) predicted Clinton could cruise to re-election, despite some who feel a rift between Clinton and New York’s black community after the racially-charged South Carolina primary and her comments regarding her base of white Democrats. She will have to rebuild some bridges, Perkins said. “There were feelings created by virtue of how the campaign expressed itself, things she has said,” Perkins said. “She has to recognize some of the comments that were made by her and her husband.” Perkins does not, however, believe that there will be much of a challenge by a black candidate for Clinton in 2012. But the larger question, Perkins said, is whether Clinton wants to stay in the Senate now that her main goal is out of reach. “Maybe,” Perkins said, “this was the prize and it eluded her and she doesn’t want to continue in that capacity.”


Women have been making significant strides and carving their own niche in the male-dominated field of construction over the last few decades. Their contribution continues to impact the industry as they provide the talent and skills needed to enhance the growth of construction. While fewer in number, women in the industry have been actively employed as construction and project managers, engineers, architects, facilities and property managers. Many are also skilled tradeswomen working on construction sites. The number of construction businesses owned by women has increased from less than 1% in the mid-1980s to over 10% today. In 1979 when I started the first woman-owned steel erection firm in the New York Metropolitan area, I was considered a pioneer. Today however, the continued expansion of jobs and career opportunities within the construction industry for women and men alike depends on affordable and dependable electricity. As New York State’s population grows it will need new homes, office buildings, transportation systems, hospitals and schools, all of which require massive amounts of energy. The simple fact is that demand for electricity is and will continue to increase and the excess supply is just not there. The economic repercussions result in high electricity costs and energy shortages, which affect all New Yorkers, putting pressure on businesses and hard-working men and women who are already facing high costs at every turn. To ensure that we have the supply to foster the needed construction projects and jobs of tomorrow, which in turn can potentially offer more opportunities to women in the field of construction, we need to take multiple steps, including retention of existing sources of power generation and renewal of our state’s power plant siting law, Article X. This will lay the foundation for the development of new transmission infrastructure and renewable energy sources throughout the state. According to the long range projections of PlaNYC, tens-of-millions of new square feet of construction are projected in the coming decades to service the needs of the more than one million new downstate residents. This is the very thing needed to further stimulate career opportunities for women in the industry. Let’s make sure we have the clean and affordable energy to support this development and growth. Lenore Janis is president and a co-founder of Professional Women in Construction (PWC,, a nonprofit organization established in 1980. A member of New York AREA, PWC is committed to advancing, entrepreneurial, professional and managerial opportunities for women and other “non-traditional” populations in construction and related industries.




New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including: The Partnership for NY City, Business Council of NY State, NY Building Congress, NYS Restaurant Association, the Teamsters, Carpenters, IBEW and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G


JUN E 2008


Why Not 10

Reasons that Deflate the

Bloomberg-for-Governor Trial Balloon

Here we go again. For two and a half years, from Kevin Sheekey’s first tease the night after Michael Bloomberg (Ind.) won his second term to his February op-ed officially ending his unofficial campaign, the mayor denied that he was running for president. For a few weeks, the idea of the mayor as a vice presidential candidate was floated. To give it extra spice, they whispered that as a former Democrat and former Republican, he could go with either party, a number two for either Barack Obama or John McCain. That did not seem to catch on. So first there were more whispers. Then there was a poll. Supposedly. With two and half years to go before the next state elections, Bloomberg apparently wanted to know more about running for governor. He may be denying the rumors with increasingly strong language, but people just cannot stop talking about the possibility. It seems so obvious. Collapsing cranes and still-rising rents aside, Bloomberg will likely leave office at the end of next year with remarkably high approval ratings. A new mayor will be sworn in the New Year’s Day after next, and with other people now running the show at the company he founded, Bloomberg will be out of a job. He does keep talking about running that foundation. But spending the rest of his life doling out grants and keynoting conferences just may not be enough for a man who has spent two terms setting the agenda of one of the world’s largest cities, and, to an extent, the state and country. Never one to duck the limelight—this is a man who built a media empire bearing his last name and once dated Diana Ross— Bloomberg has clearly grown used to having the cameras trained on his every word and the daily opportunity to tell the world whatever he has to say. In the cold days of January 2010, he may come to miss that. Even at his beach house in Bermuda.

Conveniently, there will be another election a few months later. He will be an energetic and well-cared-for 68. And unless the foundation blows through grants way too quickly, he will still have billions to spend. So, there it is: Bloomberg for Governor. The trial balloon is being pumped full of air. But unlike the presidential campaign, an idea which somehow seemed just crazy enough to work, and which the mayor, knee-deep throughout his second term in national issues, like banning illegal guns and promoting environmental conservation, clearly seemed to be interested in, a run for governor has many more people shaking their heads. An interesting idea, sure, and a tasty bone to gnaw on for the next 18 months, but to many political observers, this one just does not make sense. He could try, everyone seems to agree. A $20-billion fortune leaves no question about that, and his steady standing on top of the polls—he has led the last three Quinnipiac surveys on prospective gubernatorial candidates, hovering at around 30 percent—would give him a strong headstart. He might even be able to win. But would he really want this job, the continuing platform it would give him in public life regardless? The answer, according to many who know him and have watched him as mayor, is no. “It makes no sense,” said Democratic consultant Norman Adler. “But politically, it’s fascinating.”


loomberg is a manager. That was his strength in business, and that has been the root of most of his real successes over the last six years. He identifies problems, he delegates responsibilities, and he looks for measurable results. Data collection is key. New services are conceived and sold as common sense solutions. There are always goals, but when there are grand visions, they tend to take the shape of specific plans rather than



policy initiatives. When, for example, he wanted to restructure the city’s relationship with the environment, he did not just make speeches. He produced PlaNYC, 127 separate initiatives all presented in a glossy, sleekly designed book, complete with colorful charts and graphs. Working on these ideas and then seeing them through is what appeals to him about city government. He has shown significantly less enthusiasm for the other parts of the job—the negotiating, the deal-making, the speeches outlining general policies proposals over which he has little actual control. As mayor, he does not have to do much of that. As governor, he would get to do little else. Looking back on Bloomberg’s first interest in the 2001 mayor’s race, William Cunningham, a former advisor and communications director for Bloomberg who previously worked for Govs. Hugh Carey (D) and Mario Cuomo (D), framed the possible problem. “The job appealed to him because it was a hands-on kind of thing and you can see results fairly quickly,” he said. “The further away you get from the delivery of services to the people, the less results you see. Governors don’t have the immediate impact that mayors have—it’s a function of the job.” However, Cunningham pointed out, Bloomberg made his decision to run for mayor not after an intense investigation of

the job’s official capacities, but because of a conviction that he could do a better job. “He didn’t really look at the city charter in terms of the actual powers,” Cunningham said. “He believed he could make a difference in the city and make the city better.” Noting that he had no inside knowledge of the mayor’s current deliberations or the results of the internal poll, Cunningham said he expects the mayor would run for governor if he comes to a similar conclusion about what he could do as chief executive of the state. “It’s not the title that drives him, it’s not the house, it’s not the plane,” he said. “It’s the challenge.” Rarely a day goes by without Bloomberg making some reference to his frustration with Albany. On matters large and small, he decries the state government’s tendency to move slowly, if at all. And though the mayor has been publicly supportive of Gov. David Paterson (D) since the abrupt change in power in March, some of his aides have privately expressed frustration with what they see as the new governor’s disorganized leadership and bumbling staff. These and more specific policy areas could provide challenges for Bloomberg as governor. Given the structures of state government, he probably would not be able to change much, and certainly not at the pace he has come to expect. That in itself might lure him into a job that many seem to agree is clearly not a great fit for him. Maybe.


First, though, he would need to get elected. Leaving aside his perceived reluctance to challenge New York’s first black governor or the complicated political calculus which might result from a possible musical chairs scenario between Paterson, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Hillary Clinton, Bloomberg would have a bigger problem if he decides to run for governor: He is a man without a party. With a three-way presidential bid potentially on the horizon, he disaffiliated from the GOP last June and sent the Republicans on their way. To run for governor, he would probably need them back. Though the mechanics of mounting an independent run would clearly not be impossible for a man who was ready to spend millions on a nationwide ballot access effort, running outside the GOP would create significant difficulties. As he learned from his 2001 and 2005 races for mayor, having the base of party-line voters from the GOP can be very helpful. New York Republicans are arguably in their worst condition ever, lacking any statewide official or many prospects for one of their own and the State Senate on the brink of turning blue. They may be very happy to see Bloomberg return. State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (RRensselaer) said he is eager to have Bloomberg enter the governor’s race. In fact, Bruno said, he has been pushing the idea on the mayor for years. “I hope he has interest in running for governor—I may have been one of the first to propose that to him way back, before he got re-elected,” Bruno said. Bruno dismissed the idea that the mayor’s renunciation of Republicans would be a problem if he chooses to run. “Personally, I don’t think it would be,” he said, adding, “I don’t believe anybody would think it would be a problem.” With backers like Bruno, his high name recognition, strong favorability ratings and deep pockets to fund his own race and share the wealth with down-ballot candidates, Bloomberg might be able to walk to the nomination. “There is no question that there is drool already coming off the lips of some Republicans around the state, because frankly, the Republican Party is not in good shape,” said Republican consultant Tom Doherty. Nonetheless, if the internal party divisions which marked 2006 resurface in 2010, Bloomberg may be in trouble. That year, a groundswell of activists gave the gubernatorial nod to John Faso over the more centrist William Weld. Bloomberg’s pursuit of the GOP could be undercut by those looking for a more conservative option in an effort to keep the nomination out of Bloomberg’s progressive hands. Former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-Suffolk), who lost the 2000 Senate race to Clinton and has had some discussions with Republican officials about running for governor, could provide that option. However, in an election year without a strong right-wing alternative and when Republicans may be trying to recapture the State Senate or hold on to their majority one more time, Bloomberg may find his path to their nomination clear, so long as his checkbook remains open. His party registration switch regardless, he has remained popular with many in the GOP establishment, largely on the power of his donations, including the $500,000 check he wrote to their State Senate committee in February. When he made a surprise appearance at the New York County Lincoln Day dinner in June, he was warmly received by many. Doherty predicted that the mayor’s positives for the Republicans would probably outweigh any lingering resentment, at least among those in positions of power, if not the grassroots, rank-and-file members. “The vast majority of elected officials and party leaders will run to him as fast as they possibly could,” he said, “and I’m talking about a full-out sprint.” Even with the Republican nomination, Bloomberg might have trouble with the ballot. As New Yorkers are reminded every local election year, no Republican candidate has won statewide without the backing of the Conservative Party since 1974. The last one who did win without the Conservative line, however, was the Bloomberg-esque Sen. Jacob Javits, on his way to a fourth term. His ability to massively self-finance and his strong relationship with the Independence Party could help provide the voters to compensate for lacking the Conservative line. Still, the statistic could spell trouble for a Bloomberg-for-Governor campaign, since, according to party state Chair Michael Long, the mayor would be unlikely to get Conservative support. “He’d be a hard sell,” Long said. “I do not believe he possesses the Conservative Party point of view that would endear the leaders up and down the state.” While insisting that any speculation about the 2010 race is still too early, Long said the Conservative Party’s decision to run its own candidates for mayor against Bloomberg in both 2001 and 2005 was a demonstration of how seriously the party took the ideological divide. Long warned Bloomberg to stay quiet on a preference for president, or to endorse McCain, if he’s serious about running for governor. If he backs Obama, Long said there was little chance the Conservatives would back the mayor in 2010. “It would make it even more difficult,” he said,

J U N E 2008


Diverse Energy Options Can Reduce Financial Burdens By Jerry Connolly

New Yorkers are facing urgent energy challenges that affect our economy. Now is the time for policy makers to guarantee an affordable and dependable energy supply that does not deepen the recession and its effect on the working class. States with lower electricity costs grow faster and create more jobs and unfortunately, New York has some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. Who knows how many jobs these sky-high electricity rates cost us every year? For 5½ years there has been no urgency for a real energy policy, as the Article X power plant siting law expired December 31, 2002. Rather than renewing it, the environmental lobby has blocked any chance to add more power to the grid, holding jobs and economic development hostage. This halts new in-state electricity from being added to the grid, to relieve pressure on supply and prices. Worse, some state officials have gone over-the-top to close down important in-state power generation. This is not in the best interest of our struggling economy. We must reverse this course and keep all of our fuel options on the table — fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro and renewable energy sources. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, New York’s unionized workforce is more important than ever to our economy, growing to represent 25.2 percent or one-in-four working New Yorkers. Yet it is these working New Yorkers we depend upon that are shouldering the extra burden…the extra taxes, the sky-high cost of gasoline ($4.25/gallon), heating oil ($3.66/gallon in futures market), and the resulting surge this is causing in the grocery store. While experts say oil will surpass $200/barrel in 2008, what are our leaders doing to make things better? Some in government are seeking to make matters worse, by trying to close Indian Point, which generates about 30 percent of downstate’s power – all made domestically, locally and free of foreign oil or foreign natural gas. We need that clean, affordable power. It’s about time the workers got a break. Albany needs to stop bending to the powerful environmental lobby and side with the men and women who are the backbone of our state economy. While it may cost too much to fill up the gas tank, the least we can do is afford to keep the lights on at home. Jerry Connolly is retired business manager and secretary treasurer of the Boilermakers-New York and spokesman for the Coalition of Labor for Energy & Jobs. He advises the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council and the New York State AFL-CIO on energy matters. S P E C I A L



To learn more about New York AREA advocacy, educational programs, events, membership or sponsorship opportunities, contact us at 212-683-1203, or visit us at

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Republicans accepting Michael Bloomberg back into the fold as their gubernatorial candidate in 2010 would be a different direction than the activists demanded in 2006, when the more conservative John Faso won the nomination.

as perpetuating. Attacking the status quo in Albany during a gubernatorial campaign, which many expect would have to be a central Bloomberg-for-Governor theme, would not likely help matters. His experience working with the City Council, which he has sometimes seemed to think of as a rubberstamp for his agenda may have spoiled him, according to State Sen. José Serrano (DManhattan/Bronx), who served three years on the Council during Bloomberg’s first term before voters sent him to Albany in 2004. The State Legislature has much more institutional power over what gets done, inning would bring its own contains two chambers with different problems. For starters, a agendas, and includes more than four Governor Bloomberg would times as many legislators as the New have to spend his days in Albany, 160 York City Council with a much wider miles away from all his favorite restauarray of political perspectives. rants and all his favorite social events, a “The Council,” Serrano said, “is a “fate worse than death” which then-Mayor much more manageable group.” Ed Koch (D) famously lamented at the Serrano, who counts himself as a Paterson supporter, warned “I hope he has interest in running for that Bloomberg might be exasgovernor—I may have been one of the perated by the differences between getting bills passed in first to propose that to him way back, Albany compared to getting them before he got re-elected,” said State passed at City Hall. “To be governor, you have to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. have a real ability to form coalitions and get people on board,” Serrano outset of his 1982 gubernatorial campaign. got control of the city public school sys- said. “For the executive, it is a major difComments like that were evidence tem, two signature projects—the West ference. You really cannot compare the that he did not really want to be in that Side Stadium and congestion pricing— legislative experience that you have in have died at the hands of the Legislature. the City Council to the legislative experirace, Koch now says. Though legislators generally find him ence that you have in Albany.” “I did it out of hubris and people who Simply railing against dysfunction engage in elections out of hubris deserve impressive, given his public comments and limited private wooing of them, does not work, according to Serrano. to lose,” he said. “A governor has to understand that But Koch believes Bloomberg’s mov- many of them have the distinct feeling ing from City Hall to the Capitol could be that the mayor actively disdains them that’s how things are in Albany right a more logical transition, and one which and the Albany dysfunction he sees them now,” Serrano said. “The way you get



JUN E 2008

considering the possibility. “I think he would be a non-starter for Conservatives.” Whatever his ballot lines, Bloomberg would still have to campaign. This would have its own problems: New York City, where he has won twice, has a large electorate, but it is not nearly as diverse as the whole state—geographically, demographically, politically or economically. To someone used to living and running in comparatively homogenous New York City, a statewide campaign can be a shock to the system, said Peter Vallone, the former New York City Council speaker and 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee. “You go to Plattsburgh, you’re talking to people with French Canadian accents, for god’s sake. You go to Buffalo, you’re talking to people from Michigan,” he said, reflecting on his own experience. “They have altogether different problems.” Nonetheless, Vallone said he is confident that by spending millions of dollars to buy advertisements to introduce himself to the voters, Bloomberg could pull off a win. His record as an effective champion of the city, however, could pose problems. Over the past six years, he has fought successfully for more money from the state budget, both for mass transit and public schools. With suburban and rural New Yorkers already convinced the state bends too far in support of the city, they may not look kindly on a man with such a clear commitment to the urban agenda. Bloomberg would almost certainly run strong in the city, but if voters outside the five boroughs see him as running for governor simply to deliver for the city, they probably will not be disposed to pull the lever for him on any ballot line. Vallone said he felt the skepticism toward him as a city official when he ran. “You start off with major distrust,” he said.



he believes the mayor should consider. Though the distance between Albany and New York City might also be a turn-off for Bloomberg, Koch said the billionaire mayor’s personal fortune might take care of that problem too. “With his planes, he could go back and forth, so there’s no problem there,” he said. “You spend part of the week in Albany and come home. Nothing wrong with that.” Private plane or not, being governor still means a lot of days in Albany and traveling elsewhere around the state. For a man who values the flexibility of his schedule, this could pose another problem, and another reason why the governor speculation still has a hollow ring to so many. The days he does spend in Albany could be unpleasant themselves. Bloomberg has had a troubled record with state government. Though he has won greater shares of state budgets and

around that is by trying to create a coalition of the willing.” To some, doubts about Bloomberg’s ability to build those alliances with legislators raises a grim prospect about life under a possible Governor Bloomberg: Eliot Spitzer. Also a strong-willed politician on a mission to remake government, Spitzer lit up hopes and dreams across the state with a well-funded gubernatorial campaign. But long before the prostitution scandal, which brought him down, his combative stance toward the Legislature led to the near-total collapse of his agenda. Though those who know Bloomberg well say there are more than enough proven differences in personality and background between the mayor and the former governor to be relatively certain that Bloomberg would not suffer Spitzer’s fate. Nonetheless, watching Spitzer’s crash-and-burn may make him think twice about treading into Albany waters—especially when he thinks seriously about who else will be in the pool. Bloomberg has had enough trouble winning over Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan). If nothing else, the idea of the mayor having to bargain with Silver every day for every agreement is perhaps the strongest reason why most expect he will not run for governor. The prospect of a possible Bloombergbacked Silver coup succeeding is far too low to change that dynamic.


loomberg’s path to being governor is far from clear. But if he wants to continue in public life, a run may be the only way. Though nearly every one of them has tried, New York City mayors have famously stumbled in their attempts to move on to something else in politics, and the only ones who did, DeWitt Clinton and John Hoffman, both got elected governor. Both had had some major successes in Albany—Clinton built the Erie Canal and Hoffman oversaw a period of partisan cooperation unusual for the time. Both were talked about briefly for other things. Then again, Clinton died in office and Hoffman’s career ended in suspicion over a corruption scandal linked to Tammany Hall. Though no one expects Bloomberg to suffer either of these fates, few really expect him to run for governor he really wants to or ultimately will at all. The rumors, many who watch him closely expect are serving a simple purpose, and will be circulated so long as they keep Bloomberg from being thought of as a lame duck. Sheekey, the man believed to be the one fostering the rumors, called the current chatter “natural speculation.” Asked whether he meant natural because people have an interest in seeing the mayor continue in politics or because of Bloomberg’s proven ability to fan the flames effectively, Sheekey kept his answer short: “Equal parts.”

A Company as Diverse as the CityWe Call Home

2007 Honors and Recognition for Verizon •

Top 10 U.S. company for Diversity — DiversityInc magazine

One of 2007's Best Companies for Multicultural Women — Working Mother magazine

Top Ten Company among 60 Business Elite — Hispanic Business magazine

Top Supporter, Historically Black Universities and Colleges

Top 13 Companies for Latinas, Fifth Consecutive Year — Latina Style magazine

A Top American Corporation — Women's Business Enterprise National Council

Diversity isn’t just a concept at Verizon. It’s a way of life. Our commitment to diversity simply is part of what we do every day — from work force development and supplier relationships to economic development, marketing and philanthropy. More than 13,000 Verizon employees — many from around the globe — call this city home. Last year alone, we invested more than $1 billion in their compensation and benefits. And we contributed some $8 million to 278 NYC non-profit organizations in 2007. We’re proud of our achievements and the recognition we’ve received. But we’re most proud of the impact we’re having in our hometown — New York City.


J U N E 2008

In his first major interview as AG, Andrew Cuomo makes his opening statement



For the second time, they ask the reporters to move. This is Andrew Cuomo’s first press conference out on the street that any of his press and security staff can remember, and they are a little overwhelmed. The backdrop of Broadway is perfect for him to tout his latest victory, getting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to stop issuing free EZ-passes to board members, but the setting is more public than anyone has come to expect of him as attorney general. Seeing the crowd of cameras wedged onto the sidewalk, a man in a Knicks jersey and a hot dog in hand jaywalks over to the edge of the scrum. “What happened?” he asks “Cuomo’s giving a speech,” says another bystander. The first one peers through the crowd until he catches sight of the attorney general, head up, hands clasped at the waist. “Oh, it’s Andy!” he shouts, calling out for attention. “Andy!” Cuomo, meanwhile, has his eyes locked on a reporter who has just asked a question. He almost takes the bait for a sound bite blasting MTA officials on the symbolism of raising fares while enjoying free rides themselves. Then, in mid-sentence, he pivots. “Government must maintain the trust for government to do what it intends to do. Do I believe this was a public trust issue?” he says, asking himself a new, lower-key question. “Yes. I believe it was a legal issue and a public trust issue.” He takes a few more questions, and then quickly wraps up the press conference. A couple walks by, looking at the dissipating crowd. “That’s probably, like, a congressman,” the woman says. The man corrects her. “That’s Cuomo,” he says.


THE CAPITOL he attorney general, the one-time gubernatorial candidate, the scion of New York’s very own political dynasty, Cuomo is a genuine political celebrity—if only as the last man standing. Of the state officers voters picked in 2006, Cuomo is the only one still in the position he was elected to hold. Quotable, easily recognizable and a saga unto himself, Cuomo is a media favorite, and he knows it. But since being sworn in as attorney general last year, Cuomo has done something almost no one ever expected him to do: retreat from the spotlight. He spends more of his days wringing deals out of marathon conference calls than at press conferences, where he usually stands to the side while others talk, rather than in front of the microphones. “I don’t think it was a deliberate strategy, except to a point,” he says, explaining, “to the extent you get involved in personality press and personality politics, it actually detracts from the work.” So far, the strategy has been successful. Cuomo enjoys high favorability ratings among Republicans and Democrats alike, across all demographics. His dark days of September 2002, with him quietly dropping out of the gubernatorial primary, seem more than just six years behind him. But the dark days for New York State government are darker than ever, Cuomo says. Reminded of his 2006 campaign line that dysfunction was too weak a word to describe Albany, Cuomo stands by his rhetoric. “You could say it fundamentally hasn’t changed— three men in a room, three men in a room,” he says, comparing the situation then and now, two governors later. “But there was an intervening fact, which was Eliot Spitzer.” The greatest problem with Spitzer’s disastrous first year and the scandal which cut short his second, Cuomo says, is how much further they lowered New Yorkers’ already low opinion of their government. “You don’t trust the government the way you need to trust the government. You don’t believe in the government. You’re disillusioned, with good cause,” he says. “You’ve been personally let down by the leadership of government. I understand that. I don’t disagree with you. You’re right.” Enter Cuomo. Using the powers of his office, he presents himself as the man to redeem government. What the people really need, he says, is a good lawyer. “To the extent that there are issues and problems, I’m going to address them,” he says. “To the extent that there is waste, fraud and abuse, I’m on the case.”


he Spitzer aftermath is especially complex for Cuomo, who not only succeeded Spitzer in the attorney general’s office, but built the closing argument of his 2006 campaign around the “Big Shoes” advertisements, which sought to paint him as the heir to Spitzer’s legacy. The memory of all his supporters holding up the foot-measuring devices brings a smile to his face. No matter all that has happened since, Cuomo says he stands by the ads. “That campaign was, ‘Eliot Spitzer was the epitome of what an attorney general should be.’ And the question was: ‘Who could fill his shoes?’” Cuomo says, reflecting on his term so far. “I’m comfortable with the comparison of this office’s performance period, on any scale.” The tendency to compare Spitzer’s and Cuomo’s approaches to the office is inevitable—or was, at least until Spitzer’s surprise implosion. For a while, because


J U N E 2008

Public Financing Is Good, Cuomo Says, But Self-Imposed Restrictions Are Not n important step in reforming state government, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo believes, is creating stricter campaign finance laws with lower donation caps and taxpayer-supported matching funds. The model, he said, should be the system currently used in elections in New York City. “We desperately need a change in campaign finance laws,” he said, cautioning that whatever new laws are passed need to both protect the First Amendment and prevent the political system from being restricted to rich candidates who can selffinance. He does not, however, believe in the approach put forward by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (D), who in early June issued a press release declaring that he would self-impose $10,000-per-donor limits on his campaign. “The public is expecting reform,” he said in a statement released with the outline of his new limits. “The influence of money in our political system should be addressed legislatively and comprehensively. However, in the absence of new legislation, I’m taking this step to send a message.” Cuomo, who had $1.1 million in the bank as of January and has been fundraising prodigiously for his 2010 campaign, said he would not self-impose limits. “I support public finance,” Cuomo said, but “you can’t have unilateral public finance. You would have to have the other person agree.” Cuomo spent $10 million on his 2006 campaign. He says restrictions are good, but they only work if all candidates agree to them, or are made to agree to them. He called DiNapoli’s approach risky, especially with the prospect of self-financed candidates. “What if someone wakes up one morning and decides he wants to be comptroller?” Cuomo said. “He can spend 10 million dollars.” —EIRD


of his persona and how he approached being governor, Spitzer seemed to somehow occupy both offices at once. There was a new sheriff in town, but the Sheriff of Wall Street had just moved to the second floor. Few believed that the town, or the state, would be big enough for the both of them. And, for reasons no one could have predicted, it was not. Spitzer’s disappearance may be something of a relief for Cuomo, who no longer has to contend with Spitzer for the spotlight, or potentially, for the votes in the 2010 primary. But during those tumultuous 15 months of everything not changing, while Spitzer was the big story, the new and newly headlineadverse attorney general cobbled together a different direction for the office. Campaigning, he said he wanted to be the Sheriff of State Street. Today, he shies away from that rhetoric. “It’s the expression I used on the campaign. Yes, I want to do that. I also want to protect people from consumer frauds—student loans, Dell. I want to fight state fraud—state government fraud, member items. I want to fight local government fraud—school pensions. I want to do civil

“I fundamentally represent the people,” Cuomo says. “If you are defrauding the people, get your own lawyer. I’m with them.”




echnically, the attorney general is the state government’s lawyer. If someone sues New York or a law needs to be defended in the Supreme Court, Cuomo’s office gets the call. Cuomo interprets his role as a bridge between the people and their government, an intermediary elected by the voters to craft the laws to their advantage. Public integrity cases, he says, get at the heart of this job description. “I fundamentally represent the people,” he says. “If you are defrauding the people, get your own lawyer. I’m with them.”



JUN E 2008

rights. I want to do the environment,” he says. “I believe the real success story is hard to communicate because it defies the one-line theory.” Cuomo presses very hard to get this message across. Spitzer’s vigilance toward Wall Street was not a mistake, he says—cases like the one against former New York Stock Exchange chief Richard Grasso are still being pursued by the office—but he believes Spitzer’s method of waging of a single crusade, no matter how significant, is outdated. There is a lot to be done, a lot of attorneys and bureau chiefs to keep busy bringing a lot of cases. They are separate and distinct, hitting a wide and mostly unrelated range of topics. There is, however, a common thread. Unlike Spitzer, who attacked financial crimes he thought people should care about, Cuomo is out to use the attorney general’s office to deal with things already very much on their minds. New Yorkers worry about paying for education, so they care about student loans. They worry about their health, so they care about insurance companies misbehaving. They worry about making ends meet, so they care about consumer fraud. They worry about their children’s safety, so they care about child pornography and abuses of social networking websites. They worry about having safe and solid homes, so they care about the sub-prime mortgage crisis. “Real people, real problems in real time,” Cuomo says. But there are already 62 district attorneys and four United States attorneys, all with the power to bring cases. New York needs him to be more than just another prosecutor, Cuomo says. In his first major effort as attorney general, Cuomo made national headlines by securing 35 settlements with some of the larger universities and student loan companies in America which admitted to giving kickbacks to financial aid officers for referring students. All agreed to a new code of conduct. By the time that he got the Legislature to introduce what came to be known as the Student Lending Accountability, Transparency and Enforcement Act, many of the major players had already adopted its provisions, either voluntarily or as a condition of their settlements, obviating a strong lobbying effort against it in Albany. The bill passed unanimously. A federal version seems clear to coast through Congress. Spitzer’s office prosecuted the financial sector into submission. Cuomo’s office has a different model: identify an industry-wide problem, prosecute enough cases to generate public and internal attention, settle those cases while gathering information to help piece together a new industry standard, then use the results to create legislation institutionalizing the new way of doing business. Whatever the investigation, Cuomo and his attorneys have replicated the student loan approach over and over and over again. “The individual cases we bring are usually part of a larger choreography,” says Benjamin Lawsky, Cuomo’s special assistant and deputy counsel. “We expose the problems and fraud through our cases, and then we seek systemic solutions.”

While not much other legislation has moved in the turmoil of the last 18 months, Cuomo has maneuvered several unanimous votes on the strength of his relationships with Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno. Spitzer often portrayed his focus on the financial sector as being a response to the vacuum left by the federal government’s failure to regulate. Cuomo says his approach to public integrity is filling in a different kind of vacuum, this one created by decades of willful inaction by the state government. Even when there are indictments that can be made under the state’s nebulous laws, just sorting out who has jurisdiction to make them has proven difficult, Cuomo says. And the Albany County district attorney, who clearly does have jurisdiction, the office receives no additional money or staff for pursuing public integrity cases. Cuomo and his attorneys have been surprised to discover so few avenues for prosecuting state government fraud and abuse. There is, Cuomo says, “a structural void.” That is no mistake, according to the attorney general. “I wonder how that happened?” he says. “It didn’t just evolve that way. It was desired by the powers-that-be that there is no police, no monitor.” By simply paying attention and making sure those in and outside of government alike know that they are paying attention, Cuomo says he and his staff have been able to start reshaping a government which, he says, has grown corrupt lackadaisically.

Using the powers of his office, Cuomo presents himself as the man to redeem government.

“‘We were doing this for so long and nobody said anything! We hear that all day long,” he says. “It’s not a legal defense, but it’s speaking to the culture.” Getting involved in the Troopergate investigation was huge in terms of public profile. But just as important in Cuomo’s view was stopping the MTA board members from getting free EZ-passes and stopping local governments contract workers from receiving full-time state benefits. The point was pursuing a zero-tolerance, broken windows strategy on public integrity. After a lifetime in politics, Cuomo believes this is the only way. “Someone’s looking,” he says. “The structural void doesn’t exist anymore.”

uomo first got to Albany more than a quarter century ago. The capital was a pretty political place those days, he says, dismissing the idea that things are more political now. The difference, he says, is that there is less actual governing being done. “Performance is lower,” he says. “The performance of government, that has suffered.” Cuomo, however, has gotten some legislation passed, on overarching issues like student loan and online predators protections to smaller ones, like his bill changing the fees on co-op and condominium plans reviewed by his office.


THE CAPITOL them in the supermarket and says, ‘Hey, I was reading about that case Cuomo’s doing about pension fraud. That’s terrible. What are you doing about that?’” Cuomo says. “That’s how legislation gets passed.” uomo has several photos of his father around the office. In one, which he proudly points to, the former governor is on the basketball court, guarding another player with his hand on the man’s back. “You know what that is? It looks innocent, right? It’s this,” Cuomo says, demonstrating how the stance enables him to move another body around the room. “That’s what that is.” Cuomo laughs at the memory, and at those who look at the picture and see his father as only guarding, not also guiding, the other player. “That,” he says, “was no little push.” There are many things about Andrew which remind people of Mario—his way of talking about government as a vocation and obligation, his tendency to work his staff and himself for longer than normal hours, his voice, which sounds more like his father’s every day. Mario was famous for his hesitancy and indecision, first on running for president in 1988 and again in 1992, then on passing up a nomination to the Supreme Court not once, but twice, in a single week. Whatever else Andrew got from his father, he did not inherit those traits. On the contrary, he leapt into the 2002 gubernatorial race, despite all the conventional wisdom and Democratic establishment aligned against him. Then his campaign imploded, forcing his withdrawal a week before the primary. He was brash and he took hits for opposing Carl McCall, the first major black gubernatorial candidate in New York. When McCall lost, Cuomo got some of the blame. There was little question at the time that his political career was over. His high-profile divorce from Kerry Kennedy, which put him back on the tabloid covers in 2003, seemed like an extra nail in the coffin. His comeback was unlikely and overwhelming. By the morning of Primary Day 2006, there was no question he would be the Democratic candidate for attorney general. By the evening, he had won the nomination with 53 percent of the vote, and with barely having to wage a general election campaign, got more than 60 percent in the general election. But thinking just in terms of the race for governor and attorney general, Cuomo says, is an incomplete portrait of both him and his political career.



He says he has great relationships with the legislative leaders, nurtured during, and perhaps because of, Spitzer’s attempts to undermine them. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a friend. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is a friend. He has tried to remain close with both. To improve public integrity, he will need their help: New York needs authority reform, ethics reform, campaign finance reform, local government consolidation, tax reform and school district reform. These are all beyond the power of the attorney general’s office. But, he says, they are not necessarily beyond the power of Andrew Cuomo. “Bill Clinton—when you wanted to get a piece of legislation passed, you didn’t go to Capitol Hill. You went to the districts. Change comes when people demand change,” he says. “Talk to the people. The politicians will follow.” Whenever he draws the distinction between these two groups, which is often, he refers to himself as one of the people, not the politicians. Cuomo’s office uses a rough calculation of how much time he should spend in each part of the state, whether holding hearings and press conferences or hosting town hall meetings and community forums. Cuomo’s high profile, carefully employed, helps get more coverage for the cases he is pursuing. “Legislators go back to their districts, and they walk through the supermarket. And someone comes up to

J U N E 2008

Choosing Words Carefully, Cuomo Indicates Support for Gay Marriage Order echnically as the attorney general, Andrew Cuomo (D) cannot discuss any case he may need to litigate. Though he has made his views in favor of legalizing gay marriage known over the years, he stops himself from praising, defending or commenting much at all on Gov. David Paterson’s (D) executive order to state agencies demanding they recognize out-of-state same-sex unions. Paterson’s decision followed a ruling by the Court of Appeals that a lesbian couple who had married in Canada must be afforded the same access to shared health benefits, as spouses, by Monroe Community College. “I did a brief on the case which actually established the law, so I support the law,” he says. “This office, I think, was part of the victory.” People inside and outside of New York have threatened lawsuits against Paterson’s order. Cuomo interrupts a question to about whether he would be willing to defend the order. “That’s exactly right,” he says, before an aide interrupts him and points out his legal need to tread carefully a case which the office may soon have to litigate. Cuomo relents. “I can’t compromise the office by making a political statement. You can go back and do a Google search and find out that during the campaign, I favored marriage equality,” he says. “That you can go back and search without me saying anything.” —EIRD


He defers a question on whether he might like to be a multiple-term attorney general, in the tradition of Louis Lefkowitz and Robert Abrams. He will keep running for attorney general so long as he believes he can make a difference in the office “If I don’t feel that way,” he says, “I’ll do something else.” Whatever he runs for, and whenever he does, there will likely be political benefits to putting himself on the frontlines of so many issues near and dear to New Yorkers, and perhaps, by positioning himself as the man who helped restore state government. He knows this. But aside from a passing comment about Republicans fostering an entity apart from the people, Cuomo is very careful to avoid partisan politics. Cuomo went to law school, but aside from a brief stint at the Manhattan district attorney’s office and a few private law firms, never practiced much. Back then, prosecuting seemed a political necessity, an experience for the bio to leave behind as soon as the real ascent of his career began. Once that career was in ruins, prosecuting became a political necessity again. Twenty-five years after getting his JD, he seems to now be thinking about politics like a prosecutor, about elections as cases to be made in a larger effort. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he says. “We tend to teach our young people that success is a constant upward trajectory. That’s normally not the way it happens.”

There are already 62 district attorneys and four United States attorneys, all with the power to bring cases. New York needs him to be more than just another prosecutor, Cuomo says. “Here in New York, people tend to focus on 2002 to 2006. That was four years of my life,” he says, rattling backward through the rest of his résumé, from his eight years in Washington to the homeless housing non-profit he founded in his 20s. “I don’t know that I calibrate it that way.” He is not surprised that people want to know what he will do—he has been around long enough to accept this as a natural part of the game—but he will not discuss his future or possible races for governor, senator or New York City mayor. But he seems pleased that people are talking and he is interested in hearing what they have to say. Asked what he would say to the speculation about him running for another office, he turns the question around. “What would I say? You know what I’d say,” he says, then says nothing more.



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age of issues and challenges that need to be addressed these days. Just consider what the average New Yorker worries about. With gas prices through the roof and food prices following suit, our family budgets are straining like never before. The state economy is in grave condition, with us Upstaters continuing to search for ways to boost local economies as we push against a negative national trend and the downturn on Wall Street. If that was not enough, we are also increasingly concerned—and rightly so—about our individual and societal impact on the environment. And we have not even mentioned individual and family health concerns. While there is no one simple answer to all these complex problems, there is a simple thing each of us can do that will have an impact on our family, our community, our economy and our environment—and that is to buy locally grown food products. There are so many reasons to buy local foods. It supports the local economy and keeps food dollars in our community. It ensures our families are eating fresh, healthy foods. And, as transporta-

tion costs impact food, it can even be more affordable. In addition, there is the environmental benefit. Currently, the average food item travels 1,500 miles before arriving on our dinner tables. Not only does that burn fossil fuel, but these products are coming from states and countries with less rigorous environmental and health standards. Next time you are in your grocer’s fruit aisle, look at where the different apples are grown. Some are from New York and traveled a few hundred miles or less to get to the store. Others are from Washington and traveled about 2,500 miles. Then there are the apples from who knows where, a surprising number of which are actually coming from China, and traveled halfway around the world. That New York Apple sounds better than ever. As the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, buying local is an issue near to my heart and critical to my constituents. That is why I have proposed legislation that would require “food miles” to be printed on meats and produce; why I have worked with growers and producers to move their products into new markets, from local schools to New York City; and why I have helped

bring together farmers, industry leaders, state agency heads and legislators from Upstate and Down to explore new ways to promote New York farm products. Just consider the benefits if more of the 8 million people who call New York City home ate more New York products. When I talk to Upstate farmers about the prospects of selling more of their products to consumers Downstate, many tell me how hard it is to break into those markets. The reasons include the lack of a distribution infrastructure. Yet, when I speak to my Senate colleagues from the New York City area, they tell me their constituents are eager to buy New York grown food and farm products. And the restaurants, corner grocers and green markets that serve these consumers have a strong desire for these products, as well. There are several efforts under way to improve the distribution network and production capabilities, including the planned investment in Upstate agribusiness development. But there is more each of us can do, and it starts with that decision in the grocery aisle. There is no question our families are dealing with many challenges, financially and otherwise. And there is no

simple answer. But together, we can make an impact by simply choosing to buy local products. If we do that, we will not only help the environment, we will improve our health and promote our local economy. David Valesky, a Democrat representing Madison County, is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

New York Agriculture is Fertile with Opportunities BY ASSEMBLY MEMBER WILLIAM MAGEE



New York State is one of the largest and most important, as it generates billions and billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic impact as well as providing a fresh, safe and local supply of food for all New Yorkers whether they live in the rural reaches of Upstate or the bustling city of New York. There is no doubt that the face of agriculture is changing as farms seek to diversify and grow, as farmers look to the growing possibilities of renewable fuels as an alternative crop and as agriculture strives to meet changing markets that are more and more focused on a “locally grown, locally known” food supply. Over the past several years, the Assembly Agriculture Committee has tried to analyze the sectors of agriculture and explore ways to encourage their growth. The most notable is the wine and grape industry which continues to see strong growth. In addition to providing state funding to assist the wine industry with marketing their cadre of merlots, rieslings and chardonnays, the Legislature has also sought to increase their authority by allowing for the interstate shipment of wine so the connois-

seur in another state is able to easily order their favorite case of New York wine. This year we are working on increasing the visibility of our wineries at the New York State Fair by increasing the ability and convenience of fairgoers to enjoy a glass of wine throughout the fair grounds. Likewise, we are also working with local milk and ice cream processors to ensure that they are able to produce and market wine ice cream in this state just as they can in several other states.

There is also a growing movement to assist apple orchards, farmers and agripreneurs with using the goods they grow to produce distilled products like apple vodka or bourbon made from local corn. Prior to Prohibition, distilleries were commonplace in farming communities making New York a major hub in whiskey and grain alcohol production. Looking to increase the viability of small distilleries, legislation has been enacted to create a new Farm Distiller License that would allow farmers who have excess corn, apples or even maple syrup to make them into whiskey, bourbon or vodka. Another great opportunity is the maple industry. The New York maple industry has been growing tremendously for the past several years with New York ranked second in the country in maple syrup production with sales totaling almost $7 million annually. In an effort to assist in their continued growth, the Assembly has provided funding to the New York Maple Association to assist them with marketing their products throughout the state and country. More than that, the Legislature has sought to provide tax relief to maple syrup producers by ensuring that the buildings used in the production of syrup qualify for the 10-year real prop-

erty tax exemption granted to agricultural buildings. More than just production agriculture, the Assembly Agriculture Committee also has purview over issues related to food safety and animal welfare, and they are issues that we take very seriously. The integrity of our food supply has got to remain our top priority in this state especially as we face an increasing number of food imports and a federal government that is increasingly unable to complete inspections of these imports. The same is true of protecting our animals. As recent press stories have shown, we cannot tolerate the proliferation of so-called puppy mills. The Agriculture Committee is taking an active role in analyzing possible legislative proposals that would tighten the regulations on pet dealers and puppy mills. Our farmers are the Pride of New York, so the next time you are in a grocery store ask the produce manager if they are taking the opportunity to purchase New York grown sweet corn or apples, green beans or tomatoes. Locally grown is locally known! William Magee, a Democrat representing Madison, Oneida and Otsego counties, is chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee.


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AGRICULTURE Promoting the Pride of New York





our “Big Apple,” New York is also home to many other apples—over one billion pounds of crisp, tart apples to be exact. That’s because New York State encompasses much more than New York City. We have two states of mind, so to speak. While New York City has some of the world’s most impressive skyscrapers, Upstate New York has some of the most productive and progressive farms anywhere in the United States. In fact, New York has a long and distinguished agricultural heritage that can be traced back to the earliest days of our history and remains a primary component of our state’s economic strength and quality of life. New York farmers are stewards of over a quarter of the state’s total landmass, spanning from the east end of Long Island up to the Canadian border and

west to Niagara Falls. Our diverse terrain, excellent soils, and abundant water supplies make New York State an excellent place for people to farm.

In addition, New York’s 19 million consumers and the millions more that visit our state present the ideal opportunity for our farmers to market their goods. The products our farmers produce are just as diverse as the state itself. In addition to apples, New York is a leading producer of milk and dairy products, sweet corn, cabbage, cherries, green beans, maple syrup and a wide range of numerous other farm fresh products. We also produce some really terrific wines. To help our farmers market their products, the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets has the Pride of New York Program. Created in 1996, the Pride of New York is the state’s promotion program for food and agricultural products grown and processed in New York State. With over 2,000 members that consist of farmers, food processors, retailers and chefs and more using the Pride of New York emblem, consumers can now easily identify New York products in the marketplace, helping to better

link New York farmers with the millions of consumers seeking locally grown products. In addition to helping our farmers market their products, the Department also works diligently to promote a viable agricultural industry, foster good agricultural environmental stewardship, and safeguard the food supply. Our farmers provide fresh, wholesome food for our families. They maintain our working landscapes, they generate economic activity and jobs in our rural communities, and they contribute immensely to the great quality of life we have here in New York State. Take time to visit a farm this summer and see for yourself all that farms provide. Better yet, taste for yourself all that New York State has to offer and you’ll realize why we call our farmers and food producers—the Pride of New York. Patrick Hooker is New York State agriculture commissioner.

A Budget Which Will Lead to Growth in New York Agriculture BY STATE SEN. CATHY YOUNG



from Jamestown to Long Island will reap the benefits of this year’s enacted state budget, thanks to the efforts of the Senate Republican Majority and the State Senate Agriculture Committee. The agriculture portion of the 2008-09 budget included priorities, such as funding for the New York Farm Viability Institute, Center for Dairy Excellence, Cornell Quality Milk Production Services, the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, New York State Apple Growers and Maple Associations, along with Taste New York were funded within the $32 million agriculture budget. Agriculture continues to be New York’s number one industry, and there are many innovative opportunities in agriculture that will revitalize our economy. About 25 percent of the state’s land area, or 7.5 million acres, is covered by 35,000 farms. New York is among America’s major agricultural states, ranking #2 in apples and maple syrup, #3 in dairy, grapes wine and corn silage, #4 in pears, and #5 in floriculture. We have about 2 million acres of idle farmland in our state that we have to get back into production to stimulate growth and prosperity. Our agriculture budget is designed to promote farming. This year’s budget negotiations were as difficult as I have ever been involved with. Despite these challenges, it doesn’t compare to the day-to-day financial struggles that our farmers endure.

It was with that in mind that we fought so hard for programs like the New York Farm Viability Institute, the Center for Dairy Excellence and Cornell Quality Milk Production Services. These organizations provide essential services for dairy farmers and agribusinesses throughout the state. The New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), funded at $4.8 million, works with producers to achieve quality of life for families, neighbors and communities by helping to implement effective business plans, developing and promoting profit-generating production technologies and strengthening New York’s position in local, national and global agricultural markets. The budget included $750,000 for the Center for Dairy Excellence, created in 2007 to facilitate dairy farm profitability and strengthen the industry as a whole. Cornell Quality Milk Production Services will also receive $1.3 million for on-farm diagnostic evaluations and treatment options for dairy operations. These services provide farmers with resources to improve the quality and marketability of their milk. Improving food production in New York is only one part of a multifaceted approach towards improving the agriculture industry in the state. Another vital piece is the promotion of locally grown foods and agri-businesses. Encouraging traditional agri-tourism activities, like winery tours and tastings as well as new approaches in promoting local food and agriculture, are key ingredients in New York’s agricultural resurgence.

I successfully obtained $3 million for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation through matching grant programs that leverage industry dollars as well as marketing and promotion of New York wines and Concord grape juice. New York’s grape and wine products produce more than $6 billion in economic value, including over 30,000 jobs to the New York State. The New York State Apple Growers’ Association received $750,000 for marketing and promotion of New York apple products. The Apple Growers’ Association represents five apple-growing regions of the state, which produces over 3 million apples each year and creates 10,000 agricultural jobs on 694 family apple farms. The New York State Maple Producers Association received $150,000 in the state budget to increase the production of maple syrup and enhance its sale throughout the world. The Association serves maple producers by providing educational programs and promotional assistance for the industry. Funds for agricultural research also were included in the budget. Defending our agricultural assets from invasive species and wildlife continues to be a top priority, which is why we allocated $3 million for these programs. Golden Nematode, Plum Pox Virus eradication, Integrated Pest Management and Phytophthora research are covered. The agriculture industry must have the ability to protect their crops from destruction, and this budget provides the necessary resources for the farming community to

arm themselves against elements inhibiting their success. It is my hope that this year’s budget will stimulate the struggling Upstate economy and improve conditions for our vital agricultural community, which provides needed jobs, revenue and food resources for all of New York State. We must continue to work to taking great steps towards revitalizing the industry and improve the economic atmosphere for all New Yorkers. Cathy Young, a Republican representing Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, is the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.


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Barber Aims to Cut Off Seward’s Time in Senate Caroline town supervisor becomes Democrats’ surprise top second-tier candidate BY JOHN R.D. CELOCK TOWN SUPERVISOR Don Barber’s (D) challenge to State Sen. Jim Seward (ROneonta) is turning into the sleeper race of this year’s cycle. Seward’s first serious opponent in 12 years, Barber is gaining attention statewide with his aggressive challenge in a district previously not on anyone’s radar screen. Barber said he started planning the race two years ago after seeing his children leaving the state for jobs, and watching friends go looking for lower taxes in other states. He has centered his campaign in calling for new ways to address health care, economic development and energy. While concentrating on policy and attacking what he calls Seward’s inaction in 22 years as a senator, Barber has also taken up the Senate Democrats’ pet issue of legislative reform. Barber has been taking aim at Seward’s role as Insurance Committee chair, noting that health care costs have continued to rise under Seward’s watch.



He said that Seward has sided too often with the insurance industry in policy decisions and has not addressed costs. In contrast, Barber cites his own record of creating a Tompkins Countywide municipal employees’ health insurance consortium aimed at reducing costs for local governments. “It will bring all of our municipal employees the chance to be together under one plan,” he said. Also calling on his town record, Barber is putting himself forward as an advocate of alternative energy. Barber said that he negotiated a plan to obtain his town’s entire energy supply via wind power, making Caroline the second town in the state to do so. Seward’s district is a sprawling behemoth of central New York, covering seven counties, from the Hudson River in the east, to the Ithaca suburbs in the west and north to include all of Herkimer County. A predominantly Republican swath, Barber is banking on Sen. Darrel Aubertine’s (DOswego/Jefferson/St. Lawrence) special election win earlier this year in the neighboring North Country district as reason to hope for victory. Republicans outnumber

Democrats by just under 26,000 voters in the district, with almost 40,000 unaffiliated voters. The district is so large that Barber’s seven-county announcement tour took him 14 hours to complete. He blames the size and unusual shape on gerrymandering to protect Seward, something he wants to address in the Senate. He is proposing a nonpartisan system to redraw district lines every decade. Senate Democratic insiders have been impressed with Barber’s candidacy. They have described him as the top second-tier Senate candidate in the state. That buzz has helped him raise roughly $150,000 from 1,350 donors Upstate. He, will make his first Downstate fundraising foray in June at a fundraiser featuring Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) and most of the city’s Democratic Senate delegation. The Manhattan fundraiser recently raised headlines when First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson used state letterhead to invite guests. Barber said he understands his place in the party hierarchy of candidates. “There has not been an all out ‘you’re

our main man, Don,’ but they talk to us once a week,” he said of Smith’s office. Barber is now aiming to raise his profile after the fundraiser and to build on the seven-county network he put in place. He notes he has been using blogs and local newspaper letters to the editor to raise his profile throughout the district. Through a spokesman, Seward declined to comment on Barber’s campaign. His spokesman, in comments similar to other Republican senators, said Seward has not announced a re-election campaign yet and is not focusing on politics until after the session ends at the end of the month. Seward is popular in the district, and has $379,127 in his campaign account. And despite his spokesman’s claim that Seward has yet to make a decision on entering this year’s race, there is contrary evidence: Barber was greeted by pro-Seward demonstrators when he visited Oneonta during his announcement tour. Direct letters to the editor to



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Capitalizing on Differences on Capital News 9 BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS GREENBERG AND ROBERT Bellafiore, regular political commentators on “Capital Tonight,” rarely see eye-to-eye on the issues. Greenberg likes the Yankees and the Rangers, Bellafiore prefers the Mets and the Islanders. Greenberg drinks Pepsi. Bellafiore drinks Coke. Greenberg is a Democrat, while Bellafiore is a Republican. Their clients do not agree with each other either. “His first clients in the private sector were the tenants in rent control,” said Greenberg. “And my first client in the private sector was the landlord in rent control.” But every Tuesday, they join forces for “Take Two,” their segment of political commentary for viewers in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton and Buffalo. Despite their many differences, Greenberg and Bellafiore’s partnership works because they are able to distinguish between their personal and professional lives, they said. “There are two kinds of people in this town. There are those that are true believers. Like, ‘I’m a Democrat, I can’t socialize with a Republican,’” Greenberg said over sandwiches at the Capitol cafeteria. “And then there are the people that



An Annoying Law to Enforce Vives v. City of New York Decided by: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, May 1 Despite some anecdotal evidence to the contrary, it is illegal in the State of New York to intentionally annoy people. Carlos Vives learned this when the NYPD arrested him in 2002 for sending 2002 lieutenant governor candidate Jane Hoffman press clippings warning that Europe would soon unify into a single political and military entity. According to Vives, he sent such statements to Jewish people “with the intent to alarm them about current world events.” Hoffman was apparently alarmed. Although the New York District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case, Vives sued the city and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, alleging his arrest and nine hours in detention under New York’s broad anti-stalking law violated his right to free speech. A federal judge agreed, enjoining the NYPD from enforcing the law, and a jury awarded Vives $3,300 for his troubles. The appeals court held that a policy exists if the city makes a “conscious

recognize there’s what you do and then there’s who you are.” Even in college at SUNY Albany, where they first met, Bellafiore and Greenberg were on rival sides of the dorm where they lived. Greenberg wound his way through various positions in the Assembly, culminating as press secretary for two speakers—Mel Miller (D) and Saul Weprin (D). For nine years, he also served as press secretary for State Comptroller H. Carl McCall (D). He left to work on McCall’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign. Today, he is president of Greenberg Public Relations, with clients including the New York Stock Exchange, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Siena College. Bellafiore, true to form, went in a slightly different direction. He covered state government for the Associated Press and the now-defunct Knickerbocker News for several years. He spent eight years as a senior aide to Gov. George Pataki (R) and worked on the campaigns of Pataki and Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R). He is now a senior partner at Eric Mower and Associates, a marketing and communications firm. “We’re friends first,” Bellafiore said. “We never let our jobs get in the way of anything.” choice” to enforce an unconstitutional law. If the city was free to not enforce the law, it could be held liable. Finding the record on this question unclear, the court vacated the decision and ordered a new trial to examine how the NYPD decides which laws to enforce. The NYPD describes the anti-stalking provision as follows: “John, intending to annoy Ann, sends her anonymous letters in which he calls her fat and ugly. The letters annoy Ann. John has committed Aggravated Harassment.”



Major Court Decisions Impacting New Yorkers This Month The Court noted, “In giving [this example], the Police Department put flesh on the bones of [the statute] and apparently instructed officers they could make arrests for constitutionally protected behavior.” If a jury agrees, Vives will get his $3,300.


Bellafiore and Greenberg miss the collegiality, but say the rancor is good for business

Greenberg and Bellafiore, who met in college, have fun playing up their differences, in conversation and on television. On the contrary, they found a way to capitalize on their ideological differences. Three years ago, they pitched the idea of “Take Two” to Capital Tonight

When a Judge Forgets to Sentence Garner v. New York Department of Correctional Services Decided by: Court of Appeals, April 29 Elliott Garner may have gotten lucky, but sometimes that is all the law demands. Garner pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery in 2000 and received a five-year prison sentence. Jenna’s Law, passed in 1998 by the Legislature, requires that all violent felony offenders serve a period of postrelease supervision when their prison sentences conclude. Although Garner was a violent offender, he was not apprised at his sentencing that he faced a mandatory five-year supervision term, and only learned of the new sentence when the provision was presented as a condition of the agreement he received when released from prison in 2004. He signed the agreement to get out of the prison, but filed a suit challenging the Department of Correctional Services’ addition of the sentence. Both the trial court and lower appellate court denied his petition to eliminate the supervision term. Nonetheless, a unanimous Court of Appeals reversed and removed the sentence. The effect of the case goes well beyond Garner: According to the Legal

host Brian Taffe as a more collegial version of Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby’s old political radio show. “We didn’t want it to be a food fight,” Bellafiore said. “We wanted it to be useful to regular people.” Taffe said he was instantly intrigued by the idea. “What they do is pretty obvious but also increasingly rare,” Taffe said. “There is this great friendship between two people who disagree together more in the world of politics, but who somehow are able to not simply agree to disagree, but sometimes even agree.” The ability to influence each other’s outlook and opinions, Taffe said, is a commodity in political commentary. Greenberg and Bellafiore look back fondly on the days when it was more common for politicians to battle each other over legislation, but still have a drink together at the end of the day. There is an upside, though. The rancor and dysfunction in Albany has made their jobs as political commentators easier. “There’s so much static that I think we, who have the government experience and the experience of watching government from the outside, can help to cut through the static,” Greenberg said. “We can help tune it in and make it clearer.” Aid Society, which represented Garner, he was just one of “thousands of defendants” whose supervision sentence lacked any judicial imprimatur.

The Inexperience Excuse People v. Cabrera Decided by: Court of Appeals, May 1 Three teenagers died and a fourth was critically injured on their way to a swimming hole in Sullivan County when 17-year-old Brett Cabrera’s Mercury Mountaineer lost control and plunged down an embankment in June 2004. Cabrera, who took a 40-mile-per-hour curve at 70 miles per hour, was the only one in the car wearing a seatbelt. Cabrera was convicted on three counts of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to a maximum security prison for up to four years. Cabrera argued that speeding alone and license violations (too many passengers for his license class) were both insufficient to rise to “criminal negligence.” In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals agreed, tossing out his convictions. The dissent noted that the crash rate for teen drivers is four times greater than adults, and the New York Legislature had just this type of behavior in mind when it drafted the criminal negligence statute. But the decision stands. —James McDonald

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JUN E 2008



Three Chairs, One Message, But a Multi-Faceted Effort Savino: In addition, each one of us took a great risk joining the Senate. Now it’s suddenly very sexy to want to run for the New York State Senate because the Democrats are on the verge of taking a majority, and our districts and our seats are becoming more attractive to people, but we ran when very few people wanted to join the Senate. In fact, there were people who told me that I was crazy to leave a job where in some respects I had more political influence than I do right now. But, like Jeff did, I did, and later Antoine did. We believe the only way our state is going to change is we have to change the players in it. Q: How do the mechanics of splitting up the responsibilities work out? How are decisions made and how are disagreements settled? Thompson: I think we just talk. I don’t actually recall anything that in the last year and half that we actually disagree with. I mean, we listen and everyone has their strengths. I know Jeff is excellent at fundraising and I listen and learn from him. Diane is very good. She’s been around and she knows a lot about candidates and stuff like that. And listen and I think it makes it awesome. We have a brilliant concept that the leaders come up with. I think all of us are very humble. We all recognize that we are all elected officials and everyone brings different strengths. alcolm Smith split the responsibilities of chairing the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) among three of his members at the end of 2006, but all three came together at 74 State on May 21 for an On/Off the Record Breakfast sponsored by The Capitol. The topic was simple: “The DSCC and the Year Ahead.” Fundraising cochair State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), recruitment co-chair State Sen. Diane Savino (DBrooklyn/Staten Island) and campaign co-chair State Sen. Antoine Thompson (D-Erie/Niagara) discussed the various issues ahead of them both on the campaign trail and in the Legislature over the months ahead, the effect of likely Democratic primaries, as well as the role both Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson will play as the campaign season unfolds. What follows are selections from the transcript.


Q: What is different about running your own campaigns and putting together an effort on behalf of other candidates? Savino: Previously, we had one person who was in charge of the DSCC. And the decision to expand that to three people was one that was based on the recognition that there’s a lot of talent in our conference and many of us bring our own expertise to this process. As most of you know, in my previous life, I was the political director for one of the city’s largest labor unions and as a result of that experience, I spent a lot of time in other people’s campaigns in primaries and general elections, developing an expertise that I can bring to this particular job. Sen. Thompson has certainly been active in grassroots in the Buffalo region. He understands the campaign process. So, with the recognition that we all have particular talent as well as the rest of our conference because while we may be the titular to the DSCC, the DSCC is all 28, what is it 29 now, of the Democratic Senate. Because we rely a lot on our conference members who have knowledge about their areas, politics in their neighborhoods, how we can develop campaigns to coordinate them with other activities in those areas. That’s how you win. So, we may be the people who sit here, but the DSCC is really the entire Democratic Conference.

Klein: I think a lot of it was baptism by fire. Malcolm Smith came on as Democratic leader and he appointed us within a week. He told us a week later that we have the Craig Johnson race, Mike Balboni’s seat in Nassau County. We were either going to sink or swim. We had to raise a million dollars in three weeks. We had to get the political operation up and running and we succeeded. Q: Are you concerned about the primaries that are on the horizon in several races? Savino: One of the unintended consequences of our success is that earlier, our seats have become so much more attractive even to the Democrats who are facing term limits or suddenly decide, “You know what, I can do that job too.” That’s something we’ll have to deal with, obviously, but our first commitment is with each other… Now, voters will make the determinations in primaries, and primaries are unfortunately, they are almost the equivalent of general elections in some of our districts. And it is a distraction, but at the end of the day, we’re going to support our incumbents who are with us.

Q: Do you think it helps that all three of you are relatively new to the Senate? Klein: I know myself personally, again, I experienced what it’s like to win a seat that’s been held by a Republican for over a hundred years. And there’s something that, I think, you understand. I’m not taking anything away from my other colleagues who had primaries and even tough general elections. But when you see an onslaught of mail coming at you day after day, week after week, and there’s no end in sight because there’s unlimited money on the side of the Republicans, you find a way to fight back, you find a way to get your record out there, and try not to respond always to the negative, as that happens in those campaigns…We’re all very well suited for our specific positions. I don’t know if being new adds something to it, but maybe we’re hungry.

Q: Are there issues where you think the Democrats are in particularly good shape? Klein: I think our conference really leads the way against sub-prime lending. We recognize it as a problem and put forth real solutions to try to help people. Everyone talks about the fact. Are the Senate Democrats ready for prime time? Well, we’re ready to lead. That’s a leadership issue. That’s acknowledging a problem, quite frankly, before presidential candidates recognized it, and certainly our Republican colleagues haven’t recognized it yet. We went forward and put forth a program where we helped thousands of people in modifying their mortgages. I think we understood very early on that the key was to stem the tide of foreclosures, and we’ve done that. The Senate majority just decided to have a hearing for the first time last week. That is an issue. There are other issues. I think this one is an important one not only because it is something important to all of our constituencies, Republican and Democrat, but it’s also an issue where the Democrats in the minority took a leadership position.


Q: How have the politics affected the governing? Thompson: Look at spending like a bag of potato chips. You buy a bag of potato chips 10 years ago. It was 25 cents, right? But there were a whole lot more chips in that bag. Now, chips go up 35 cents but the bag is smaller and you still have fewer chips in the smaller bag. And people look at, “Well, I’m spending more money, services are still limited, my jobs and other bills go up, and I don’t feel better about what I’m paying for.” So, I think that’s the problem that they have. They’re in the majority. Spending is going up. Schools are still struggling. Community people are still leaving the state. College kids and graduates start leaving the state and companies are still leaving. And clearly the various initiatives that they put forward have, some of them have been successful, many have not been successful, and that’s why I think they’re in trouble. The trickle-down economic policies have really not provided relief that people desire in Long Island and Upstate New York.

J U N E 2008

Savino: And, endorsements are great. We all want to be endorsed by everybody. But at the end of the…endorsements by elected officials or any of us really have very little sway with voters. No one’s ever said, “I was going to vote for him until Eliot Spitzer endorsed him.” That’s just not how it really works. Q: It seems like Paterson will not be as active in the Senate races. Will that have an effect? Klein: I don’t agree. I said it earlier. The game plan the Senate Democrats have been following is the game plan developed by the Democratic leader, David Paterson. We have a great relationship with the state party that


propelled us to this point forward. It wasn’t because Eliot Spitzer became governor and decided he was going to decide to champion the cause of the state Senate. He may have done that, and that was one of the decisions that he made that was right. However, the voters discovered us long before anybody else did. That has been what has been moving us forward and continue to move us forward. Thompson: Every leader has his or her own style, and when David was leader, he had his own style. He was collegial with Bruno. He won four to five seats. Under Spitzer, he had his own style of governing. He was in the face. He was still able to win those two seats. We’re in the ninth inning. Bases are loaded. And we’ve got a lot of people sitting on the bench ready for us to hit the ball out of the park. It’s up to us to stay focused on the picture, stay focused on the fall, don’t get caught up in all these distractions: who’s screaming, who’s cheering. We just got to have everybody stay focused on that pitcher and make sure we don’t get too aggressive, too hungry to hit the ball and do what we got to do. We need to knock it out of the park and bring everybody home or we can hit a double. All we need is a double, but we’d like a home run.

“We’re in the ninth inning. Bases are loaded. And we’ve got a lot of people sitting on the bench ready for us to hit the ball out of the park.” —State Sen. Antoine Thompson

Q: Will what happened with Eliot Spitzer hurt Democratic chances? Savino: In 2007 in the Craig Johnson race, there were many people who said, “Well, have Eliot Spitzer be front and center,” many people thought. He just got elected with the highest ranked popularity. Let’s do that. Wasn’t the case. People in local elections vote for the candidate that they know, the candidate they believe speaks to the interests of the community and neighborhood. Klein: Especially when you spend a million dollars on some of these races. They really get an opportunity to know what a candidate stands for.

never existed in the past under Eliot Spitzer and now under David Paterson. So, shifting gears, you know, sort of not taking very much of an interest, quite frankly, in whether or not the Senate Democrats take the majority, that has changed. And, I think it’s going to be just as good, if not better, under David Paterson because of David’s personality. Q: But if he doesn’t campaign as heavily as Eliot Spitzer might have, does that not impact the races at all? Savino: No. Remember, in 2002, we took two seats. In 2004, we took three seats. 2006: we took another seat. So, long before Eliot Spitzer discovered us, the voters were discovering us. Because they were tired of the same old business-as-usual in Albany. That is what has

Q: Do you expect David Paterson to campaign for Senate candidates? Savino: I think David will balance his duties as governor of the State of New York and his political activities as the campaign season goes on. David obviously has limitations that could restrict aggressive campaigning on his part, but he has certainly not signaled that he is less interested in seeing the Senate become less Democratic now than when he was the Democratic leader.

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JUN E 2008

Office Space Watertown and East New York adjust to life without Assembly members BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS


the curtains drawn at former Assembly Member Diane Gordon’s (D-Brooklyn) district office in East New York. The lone office staffer who answered the door said all questions were being referred to the legislative office in Albany. “We don’t handle business here,” he said, before promptly closing and locking the door. Minutes later, a woman in a tan sweat suit entered the office. Both staffers continue to collect a state salary, according to a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (DManhattan), though they refer all calls to Silver’s office. The catch is, they lack a boss, just as the 90,000 residents of East New York will lack a voice in the Assembly until the beginning of next year. Gordon was found guilty of corruption in mid-April, which automatically expelled her from the Assembly. This came after the April 1 special election cut-off, leaving Gov. David Paterson (D) unable to call a vote to replace Gordon before the November election. Roughly 330 miles north, constituents face a similar situation. State Sen. Darrel Aubertine’s (DOswego/Jefferson/St. Lawrence) victory in the well-publicized February special election also left his old Assembly seat open. In the turmoil of Eliot Spitzer’s resignation and Paterson’s transition, no special election was called. The difference is Aubertine’s Senate district includes his old Assembly district, allowing him to continue to meet constituent needs with fewer hassles, an Aubertine aide said. Gordon’s conviction, on the other hand, has left a slight power vacuum in her district, which City Council Member Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) has indicated he is happy to fill. “We have increased our input for constituent services,” Barron said. “And we’ve been talking to other people in the community and to reach out more and to do what they can.” Barron said the transition has been mostly seamless because even before Gordon’s conviction, residents were more inclined to take their questions and concerns to his office rather than hers. “For us, the volume is always what it is, it’s always up,” he said. “We stay open every day and sometimes on the weekends and sometimes late at night, and we’ve been doing that ever since I’ve been in there.”



Where Diane Gordon and Darrel Aubertine once sat in the Assembly, there are now empty spots with generic name plates. With his wife, Inez, now running for Gordon’s former seat, Barron predicted that constituents will continue to come to his office up until January. “People have been coming to us,” he insisted, “not to the congressman, not to the Assembly person.” His district office sits three blocks south of Gordon’s office in East New York. Melinda Perkins, Barron’s district office manager, said that there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of calls and walk-ins since Gordon left office. “The people that were familiar with going there will definitely take the councilman as the second-best,” Perkins said. Over the coming months, Barron also plans to create groups of like-minded constituents to address community issues. “With constituents who come in to get services, it’s not just a matter of feeding them something, it’s teaching them how to go out and get it,” Perkins said. “So they can empower each other.” Community groups in East New York are quickly adapting to life without an

“I don’t think there’s a confusion,” said Key, whose group has offered an array of social services in the neighborhood since 1987. “I’ll handle it myself now.” Up in the North Country, one of Aubertine’s old Assembly district offices in Watertown has been converted into his Senate office. His other former Assembly office, nestled in the Adirondack foothills in a town called Canton, is 60 miles from the senator’s Watertown office. The Canton office will be closed until the Assembly seat is filled in January. The bottom line, said Silver spokesman Dan Weiller, is making sure constituents get the help they need during this transitional period. Calls made to the Canton office are transferred directly to Silver’s office in Albany. “If you call the number, it comes to our central office and we handle the problem from there or figure out how to address it from there,” Weiller said. “The bottom line is ensuring that the constituents of that given Assembly district

“The world doesn’t come to an end when you don’t have an Assembly member,” said Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham. Assembly member. Winchester Key, the president and CEO of the East New York Urban Youth Corps, said he will deal with problems he normally would have referred to Gordon’s office.

THE CAPITOL are able to receive service.” Assembly Member Dede Scozzafava (R-St. Lawrence) said her office has also moved in to assist the Aubertine district. Her office has seen an increase in calls from the vacant district, which she represented parts of before the 2002 redistricting. Scozzafava, who had been mulling a challenge to Aubertine before opting to run for re-election, said she will assist with any local legislation for the district. With Aubertine still able to handle constituents’ queries from the Senate, an aide who works in the Watertown office said the switch from Assembly to Senate has been smooth. “It’s ho-hum I’d say,” the aide said. “It’s really a simple situation.” With his district now significantly larger, Aubertine has more staff and more resources to handle any rise in constituent calls. Assembly members are allotted three staffers for their district offices, while senators, with larger districts and more constituents, are allowed six, as well as greater control over member item funding. As a result, there is excitement in Aubertine’s district office that has energized staffers and eased the burden of the increased workload. “We even have a different brand of phone,” the aide said excitedly. The situations in Oswego and East New York are not particularly unique. Assembly Member Sandra Lee Wirth’s (RErie/Niagara) death from lung cancer in 2006 left her seat empty for several months until then-Gov. George Pataki (R) called for a special election, which was won by Assembly Member Mike Cole (R). That same year, following the resignations of Scott Stringer (D-Manhattan) and Steve Sanders (D-Manhattan), Silver appointed the departed Assembly member’s top aides to temporarily run the offices. Each vacancy is handled on a case-bycase basis, Weiller said. In the North Country, the decision to skip a special election comes as a relief, said Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham (I). Even as candidates begin to come forward for the Assembly seat, Graham said the region was still grappling with campaign fatigue from the intense race between Aubertine and Assembly Member Will Barclay (R-Onondaga/ Oswego). But he said for now, Aubertine’s former Assembly district is doing just fine. “The world doesn’t come to an end when you don’t have an Assembly member,” Graham said. Back at Gordon’s district office in Brooklyn, the glass doors she reportedly had installed as part of the bribe that expelled her from office were glinting in the morning sun. Taped to them was a single sheet of paper, a simple reminder that life goes on after a political scandal. “U.S. Post Office, Please Knock,” it reads. “We’re Here!” —with additional reporting by John Celock


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So Much to Do, Not Enough Time to Do It here is going to be a lot of time for politics this year, but as far as getting bills passed in Albany, there may not be a lot of time left for governing. The regular session is quickly coming to an end, each day drawing us closer to that manic last week of negotiating. The clock does not have to run out on the state government. There is much any and every New Yorker should want to see accomplished before the lights go out in the Senate and Assembly chambers this year. Resolving the judicial pay raise situation, revisiting the funding and structure of state universities, and making at least incremental progress on health care—those would be a good start. Even just beginning real discussions on campaign finance reform and the possibility of Article X renewal would be a major positive step. On top of all that, there are going to be budget gaps to plug. Whether that will take further trimming of expenditures, creating new revenue streams or both, the process will not be easy, nor will it be fast. At this point, there is barely enough time left in the session to make a to-do list, let alone draft and debate bills,


which might make their way to conference committees. And that is exactly why every legislator, from the leadership down to the rank-and-file, should come out strongly in favor of extra session time over the summer. Before the last gavel falls on June 23, there should not be a single member of the Senate or Assembly who has not publicly pledged to return as many times as it takes, for whatever lengths of time necessary, to come up with solutions, this year especially. More time will not guarantee results—other reforms promoting increased debate and discussion are needed as well—but it would undoubtedly be a start. Too many New Yorkers have come to identify their state government with a condition of permanent gridlock, and too many sessions of the Legislature have given them good reason to think this way. If New York printed a “none of the above” option on its ballots, as Nevada does, there are probably a few districts where that choice would outpoll both the Republican and Democrat candidates. Incumbents of both parties should be out to change that public perception. And

the solution is simple: Lift New York from its stasis and start governing. There are 133 days between the scheduled last day of session and Election Day, more than four full months. Half that time in session could make a massive difference for New York. Even one month out of four could do wonders. Sure, that would give legislators less time in their districts to campaign. But it could give them much more to campaign on real laws and results to talk about, rather than empty partisan rhetoric. And it would force their opponents to make more substantive arguments about why to get rid of the incumbents. If the targeted legislators are passing good laws, their challengers will have a much more difficult time pressing their cases. The best politics is good government, according to just about every politician looking for a glib escape from serious talk. Between now and November, there are 18 million New Yorkers who will be looking to Albany to find out if this is true. If not for New York’s sake, then for their own, the members of the Senate and Assembly should make sure they see a Legislature in session.

OP-ED A Prescription for Smarter Prescriptions BY HAROLD SOKOL, MD ealth care currently constitutes over 16 percent of our national gross domestic product. As Americans, it behooves all of us to ensure that every health care dollar is spent prudently. The importance of doing so is particularly amplified in the area of prescription medicine. This concern impacts both the way physicians prescribe medicines and the way pharmacists fill those prescriptions. When cost is the primary issue, the pharmacist may switch the customer from a brand name drug to a generic. Many drugs offer generic equivalents. This gives the patient an opportunity to save money while receiving the same desired effects. For drugs that do not have equivalent generic versions, no substitutions should be made for that original unless a doctor approves. Two drugs can treat the same illness, but those drugs can feature different dyes and other components that may mean the difference between a debilitating side effect and a comfortable, effect-free outcome. There is now legislation being written to compel insurers to cover any FDAapproved drug, authored by Senators Jeffrey Klein, Thomas Duane and John Sabini. This legislation will provide patients much-needed access to some very important drugs, while allowing the


physician the freedom necessary to make the right prescription. This will hopefully reduce the pressure exerted on me to prescribe cheaper drugs from insurers, while cutting down on the time my staff spends researching formulary lists, and appealing to insurance companies over the phone each day. In addition, this legislation will: • Force insurers to cover a more expensive drug prescribed by a doctor, if all other, cheaper drugs recommended by the insurer are tried first. • Prevent insurers from removing critical drugs from their formularies, in most instances, to interrupt a patient’s current treatment regimen. This ensures that a patient can receive coverage for a drug even after it is removed from a formulary list under the same terms that existed before the change. • Require the insurer to submit their reasons for denying coverage of a drug to the New York State Department of Insurance Guidelines. This legislation is important, because it frees me to do what is right for the patient, without constant justification of the cost. It will also benefit AfricanAmericans and Hispanics, who are disproportionately impacted by illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Some of the most effective drug treatments for these conditions are out of reach for these communities because of cost.

Recently, insurance companies have begun “pay-for-performance” programs, where they will offer physicians financial rewards if they meet a certain threshold of generic prescriptions every month. This puts me, the physician, in a difficult spot. Clearly, I have examined my patient and know what drugs should be prescribed, but I am being pressured by an insurer to prescribe something cheaper. Personally, if I am asked to authorize a change in medication for a patient, I would need to have access to that patient’s medical history and examine the patient myself before determining the best prescription to treat the condition. I have been asked to authorize changes in medications for patients of colleagues in the past, and have refused. Had I prescribed a new medicine, like the pharmacy had asked, or authorized the switch, without properly examining that patient, such action could have negatively impacted the patient, and I would never have known about it! How then, can an insurer—who has never examined a patient as I have—make a critical decision about prescription medications for that person without knowing their past medical history? Harold Sokol is president of the Third District Branch of the Medical Society of the State of New York and former president of the Medical Society of the County of Albany.


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Republican Resurrection Through Reform, or Not at All ublic opinion polls reverberate with record levels of dissatisfaction that people have in their elected officials. Public confidence in the efficiency, efficacy and honesty of government is at historic lows. This holds true for those in Washington, as well as in Albany. Similarly, what ails Washington is what ails Albany— out- of-control spending, bureaucratic incompetence, unethical and immoral officials. The cure, or at least an essential element in the cure—in Washington and Albany—is ethics and lobbying reform. While voters may not have much confidence in their elected leaders, they still


care passionately about the issues. They care about economic revival. They care about rising deficits, a sinking dollar, and the prospect of higher and higher taxes. They care about the environment. And they’ve concluded that the current batch of leaders—in Washington and Albany— is unwilling or incapable of solvK.T. McFarland ing these problems. But what makes many voters maddest of all is the overwhelming appearance that their elected leaders in Washington and Albany have sold out to the big-moneyed, special interests who help finance political campaigns. And, as partisan as Washington and Albany seem on most

other issues when it comes to ethics, voters see little difference between Republicans and Democrats. This means both parties are starting from the same place on ethics reform, and whichever one champions it, with deeds as well as words, with policies, prescriptions as well as platitudes, will be seen as the party of change. Ethics reform would not only help restore people’s faith in their government, it is also likely to be good politics. That’s why the New York Republicans should seize this moment, now, when they are a party facing generational change, when they are a party in transi-

The time to play it safe is over.

Now, Time to Fully Legalize Gay Marriage BY ALAN VAN CAPELLE lmost two years after the Court of Appeals stated that marriage equality was “the Legislature’s problem,” it’s now boiled down to just being a problem with the State Senate. Much has changed in the last two years on this issue, not only here in New York but across the country. Licenses are about to start flowing in California to same-sex couples, neighboring states like New Jersey seem poised to legalize marriage for same-sex couples as early as next year and public opinion continues to shift in our direction on whether same-sex couples should have equal access to marriage and the protections and securities it provides to families. New York is like a number of states in the northeast in that a majority of voters favor marriage for same-sex couples (53 percent in favor to just 38 percent against, according to our polling). We also have a governor, an attorney general and a comptroller who support marriage for our families and an Assembly that has approved in a bi-partisan fashion legislation making it so. Other powerful forces in the state have also been moving to affirm their support for same-sex marriage. Labor unions representing over a million working men and woman across the state have passed resolutions supporting marriage equality for their members. Hundreds of clergy and laypeople from mainstream Christian and Jewish congregations have also stepped forward to state their support for marriage for all New Yorkers. Even with all this forward movement, the State Senate continues to be mired in the past when it comes to this important human rights issue, and the result is that


tens of thousands of New York families are prevented from having access to the literally 1,324 rights and responsibilities New York provides to committed couples when they marry. Despite the Senate’s intransigence, however, it has not been successful in totally walling off our families from marriage or muting our desire to obtain the security and legal protection marriage provides so we can protect the ones we love. In 2004, then-Attorney General Eliot

Marriage equality is no longer a question of “if” in New York, it’s only a question of “when.” Spitzer (D) issued a legal opinion saying that New York’s marriage recognition, or comity, law has always treated out-of-state marriages as legal in New York, even if those marriages cannot take place here. So when hundreds of couples went to Canada to get married, government on a variety of levels as well as businesses and labor unions followed the law of New York and said, “Yes, you’re married.” In the instance of Monroe County, which refused to follow the law, a couple with a Canadian marriage license took the county to court, resulting in an appellate court decision unanimously confirming that New York’s marriage recognition law applies equally to same-sex couples. To avoid the lengthy, costly and ultimately wasteful litigation that now looms on the horizon as more and more couples go out of state to get married (or out-of-state couples move to New York) and ask that their marriages be respected, Governor Paterson’s legal counsel advised him to get ahead of the issue by making sure all state

tion, when they are a party in search of principles, to redefine themselves. The New York Republican Party is at its lowest ebb in 70 years. It holds no statewide offices, and has only a handful of good prospects in sight. If the Republican Party hasn’t hit bottom yet, it’s close. Some argue that the Republican Party has had a string of bad luck lately, with a few officials compromised, defeated, under investigation or forced to resign in disgrace. But those are just the outward and visible signs of a party that has lost its way. A strong and healthy Republican Party would not have tolerated those people as leaders. Others cite the need for a better grassroots organization, or tighter party discipline, or better funding, or a more impressive farm team. Yes, all those are necessary to rebuild the party. They’re essential. But they come second, following from good candidates at the top of the ticket who attract support because they champion principles, not just in word but also in deed. Before the New York Republican Party all but disappears as a statewide organization, its new generation of leaders needs to get a new message. New York Republicans should become the party of change, the party of principle, the party of integrity. Republican candidates throughout the state should model themselves on their forebear, Teddy Roosevelt, and insist on the highest ethical and moral standards for themselves and others. They should support John McCain enthusiastically and rebuild the state party around his candidacy. They should take up his calls for budget transparency, campaign finance reform, restrictions on lobbyists and their donations, and an end to member items in the state budget. They should understand that ethics reform doesn’t allow for a lot of middle ground, or compromise. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Republicans tend to be more conservative by nature, not prone to taking big risks, and not in favor of change for change’s sake. But the time to play it safe is over. Safe isn’t working. So, New York Republicans, run some risks; throw open the doors to reform; revive the party of Teddy Roosevelt; find new leaders; chart a new course; reclaim your principles. As Kris Kristofferson once said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”

agencies begin treating these marriages the same way they treat any other marriage. So the governor did. He had an advisory memo sent to state agencies asking them to do what the Department of Civil Service did last year and implement the state’s already existing policy of respecting out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. While it is still unclear how many of the state’s 1,324 marriage rights and responsibilities are wholly under the jurisdiction of executive branch state agencies, as opposed to other arms of state government which may or may not be bound by anything the governor does, we do know what Governor Paterson has done is a big step forward for our families. Ultimately the only way our families will have all the protections the state provides through marriage is for us to be able to get married right here in New York. But so far, the State Senate has chosen to turn on us and the tens of thousands of children that many same-sex couples are raising. Clearly the Senate is out of step on this issue and becoming more so with every passing day. Marriage equality is no longer a question of “if” in New York, it’s only a question of “when.” Whether the current leadership in the Senate chooses to acknowledge the inevitable and do something about it is up to them. Alan Van Capelle is the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

welcomes submissions to the op-ed page. A piece should be maximum 650 words long, accompanied by the name and address of the author, and submitted via email to to be considered.


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New York’s legislative calendar typically runs from January to June, with the Assembly meeting 67 and State Senate 65 days this session, for an average of 66 days between them. That puts the state’s total scheduled meeting days for the current session slightly below the median average for 2007 session time among all states. Oregon’s state government met the most, an average of 172 days between both houses last year, while New Hampshire met the least, spending an average of 24 days in session a year. (Georgia, Minnesota, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington have bienn ial legislatures, so their session day count for 2007 was generally lower.)







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Most state legislatures did not meet for the same number of days in their Assembly and Senate houses, so the numbers to the left represent the average of days for both houses. For a biennial legislature states, the number of total days over both years was averaged together. The average for all 50 states is 78.6 days.



o Wisc


* Averaged over two year session


J U N E 2008


: The Once and Future King harlie King has been an attorney, a politician and a civil rights activist. After retooling following his third attempt for statewide office—he ran for lieutenant governor in 1998 and 2002, and attorney general in 2006—King joined Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network as its interim director. Sitting in his office at the law firm Rosenthal & Herman, P.C., and flanked by an oversized poster of Robert F. Kennedy, King discussed the Sean Bell case, the state of race relations in New York, and whether he ever intends to run for statewide office again. What follows is an edited transcript.


TC: Is that how you view it? CK: That’s how most people view it. The people have definitely spoken. I’ve created a little company that’s sort of eclectic in what it does. I do a lot of work obviously with the National Action Network. But I also do work with Martin Luther King III. Since I have a lot of friends in government now, issues that are problems for folks, sometimes I can help solve those problems. We help with some of the AfricanAmerican electeds learn how to raise money. Because one of the issues that I think is a big impediment for electeds of color who would want to run for office beyond their district is how to raise money. One of the things I happened to do well when I was a candidate for office was raise money. I actually raised more money than anyone other than Andrew [Cuomo] in the attorney general’s race. TC: What are the tips you give? CK: It’s all about developing relationships, get to meet folks. If you did a study, which I did a couple years ago, of the big traditional givers to politics and elected officials, about 90 percent of them never contribute to African-American electeds unless they’re running for a higher office. Which means just the relationship is not there. So one thing is for those elected officials to begin to develop those relationships with people who give. But the other is, it’s all volume. You have to come in and sit in a windowless room being served dry crackers and water through a slot and just make phone calls. TC: You seem to have a lot of different jobs. What sort of title would you use to refer to yourself? CK: My eminence.


The Capitol: What do you do here at the law firm? Charlie King: [gestures to office] This is not a law firm. This is my own little space. What of things I do, after being re-elected a private citizen with a mandate…

also the idea of governing versus running. I think for many years Rev. Sharpton has run to become president of Black America. And as I well know, when you run for office you can say a lot of things that, you get much greater freedom to say and do things when you’re running to gain attention than when you actually win and start to govern.

TC: Do you think of yourself as a consultant? An activist? CK: I’d probably refer to myself as someone who’s still passionate about making a difference, and making a difference in a variety of ways, either being in government or running for office at this time. A lot of people reach out to me for advice on issues, a lot of people in politics. My career has been so eclectic. From a political operative to being in government in the Clinton administration, running a big agency to running for office myself. There’s a lot of experiences that I have that a lot of people just don’t have. TC: How receptive has Andrew Cuomo been to your suggestions? CK: We’re rivals. We’re brothers. Sometimes we love each other. Sometimes we hate each other. Sometimes one of us loves the other and one of us hates the other. It really is like we’re relatives. We’ve known each other long enough where I can prod him and tease him. But by and large I haven’t had to, because he’s been doing great. TC: New York City has been roiled recently by the Sean Bell case. In your view, what is the current state of racial politics? CK: First, Mayor Bloomberg is to be commended for having an open-door policy for discussions on this. I don’t think that he and I agree or he and Rev. Sharpton agree on everything. At least having a dialogue is good. I also think that Rev. Sharpton should be commended. A lot of people fail to recognize the role that he plays in keeping the peace. For example, I said to him, “What effect has the Sean Bell verdict had?” On the steps of the courthouse he said, “This is an unacceptable

verdict. I can’t take it.” People do what they want to do. What kind of violence might of happened then. He works very hard to ensure that everything he does is done in the non-violent tradition of Dr. King, and very few people give him credit for that. Now, having said that, we need to continue to have discussions about this issue. There is a T-shirt that is coming out of the Sean Bell case, which is “We are all Sean Bell” or “I am Sean Bell.” That resonates. A guy like me, lives in the suburbs, I have an Ivy League education, went to private school, but I identify with Sean Bell because I truly believe that that could happen to me.

TC: How does your style jibe with Sharpton’s? CK: It jibes like incredibly well. It’s a very good fit. It’s almost the converse of that. When I get exercised, he knows we really have to…And when he’s kind of quiet and responsible…A good example is before I was working for him, I was helping the witnesses pro bono to facilitate them coming in on the Sean Bell case. And one of my guys got taken off the street on a disorderly conduct charge and was like lost in the system for about 18 hours. And I just reached my breaking point. I had sources telling me where he was, but the Queens DA was getting misinformation from the police department much lower down. So I said, “You know what Rev? I’m going down to the steps of City Hall and I’m just going to call the mayor out right now and say this is absolutely ridiculous.” And he said quietly, “Listen, that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. But do what you want to do.” TC: Would you ever consider running for office again? CK: I might. I was in Andrew Cuomo’s office the other day. I told him I left my tape measure at home so I was not going to measure the drapes. I think that I’m very excited about who we have in office right now at the statewide level. The only offices I would run for would be statewide. We’ve got great people there. I’m committed to making sure they succeed.

“Since I have a lot of friends in government now, issues that are problems for folks, sometimes I can help solve those problems.” TC: If you feel so strongly about these things, why be the interim director at the National Action Network, and not look to make it a permanent position? CK: I felt very strongly about the “interim” piece of that because Rev. Sharpton wanted me to come in, and I wanted to come in to help build the infrastructure of the National Action Network that could grow with the stature that Rev. Sharpton has enjoyed over the last few years. He’s growing in terms of his status exponentially. You got to make sure that you have an infrastructure around you that can absorb that and can strengthen it, so things don’t fall through the cracks and mistakes aren’t made. I think there’s

TC: You have run for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Does running for state comptroller have any appeal to you? CK: First, I think Tom DiNapoli is doing an outstanding job. Sometimes I pretend like I could have done a better job, but I couldn’t. He’s doing everything. He’s doing very, very well. Do I think about it at all? Not really, because I expect these guys to be there forever. But the comptroller job is a really cool job. I would never run for it. But it’s almost like being a governor without a Legislature. You can wake up one day and say, “Let’s buy Chemung County.” As long as the return is good, you could do it, and who’s going to complain? —Andrew J. Hawkins

What you don’t know might hurt you... or worse.

Hundreds of thousands of patients are injured, maimed or killed by medical mistakes. More than 238,000 patients died from preventable medical errors that occurred in hospitals from 2004 to 2006, according to a national study released in April by Health Grades Inc. Even worse, this tragic toll does not include fatalities that occurred in GRFWRU¡VRIÀFHVFOLQLFVVXUJLFDOFHQWHUVDQGRWKHUQRQKRVSLWDO sites. Too many doctors fail to report the dangerous practices they witness. Physicians too often protect their colleagues at the expense of patients. Preventable problems are not corrected. And a deadly epidemic of medical blunders continues to put all New Yorkers at risk. Almost all doctors know better. According to a national survey of 3,500 physicians published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, doctors are nearly unanimously in the belief they should report serious mistakes and wayward colleagues to authorities.

The sad truth: Nearly one in two doctors does not practice what he or she preaches. The survey also found: •

45 percent of physicians knowingly failed to report an impaired or incompetent colleague to authorities during the past three years, and


46 percent knowingly failed to report serious medical errors during the same time frame

How can we trust doctors to stop medical mistakes, if so many RIWKHPFDQQRWÀQGLWLQWKHLUKHDUWVDQGFRQVFLHQFHVWRGRWKH right thing? It is time for the State of New York to take action. The Department of Health must start enforcing the laws and regulations that require doctors, hospitals and others to report serious errors and misconduct. The State Legislature must pass laws to require greater disclosure, transparency and responsibility. Our leaders should act as if this is a matter of life and death – because that’s exactly what it is.

A message from the New York State Trial Lawyers Association Protecting Consumers and Civil Justice Since 1953 132 Nassau Street New York NY 10038 Tel: 212-349-5890

Š 2008 NYSTLA Lagerkvist/Breytman

The June 1, 2008 Issue of The Capitol  
The June 1, 2008 Issue of The Capitol  

The June 1, 2008 Issue of The Capitol. The Capitol is a monthly publication, targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and is...