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campaign promise record examined.

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VOL. 3, NO. 15

A final primer on the State Senate races and the issues shaping them.

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Parsing the many futile proposals to fix Medicaid.

Page 15

OCTOBER 25, 2010

What About

BOB? Cuomo’s No. 2 prepares to take the reins of the upstate economy, lean hard on the Legislature— and keep a much lower profile as LG.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

Cuomo’s 2006


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www.nycapitolnews.com

Cuomo’s Record Of Keeping ’06 Promises Has Many Accomplishments, A Few Oversights

THE CAPITOL

BY LAURA NAHMIAS

I

n six books so far, Andrew Cuomo has laid out a policy agenda for his plans should he become the state’s next governor. Four years ago, Cuomo also laid out grand plans during his bid to become attorney general, including some plans so ambitious they seemed to be outside the scope of the office. While most agree he accomplished a lot of what he set out to do, and effectively tackled unanticipated controversies, such as the state’s pension-fund scandal and cases related to the financial crisis, there are a few proposals he attempted that remain unfinished—either to be taken up as governor or left to the next attorney general. To be sure, Cuomo did not cure all that ails New York. There is still work to be done, legislators and advocacy groups say, on civil rights and in ethics reform. Smallerbore initiatives such as the creation of a senior citizens protection unit and a domestic violence task force, simply fell by the wayside, although the attorney general was active both in the protection of the elderly and in pushing for anti-domestic violence legislation. But attorneys general can only do what is within their power, and several of his initiatives would have required legislation at the state or federal level, which he could only encourage and not create, according to former Attorney General Oliver Koppell, now a City Council member from the Bronx. “The attorney general has traditionally had a voice in Albany, and he’s respected, generally speaking—but it’s merely as a voice, no vote, no vote in the Legislature, no control over what the governor does,” he said. “You certainly can’t blame the attorney general if legislation doesn’t pass.” Cuomo’s most ambitious plan was the implementation of ethics reform in Albany, including a ban on honoraria for state officials and legislators, on government lobbying for elected officials three years after leaving office, and on corporate contributions to campaign housekeeping accounts. Only the first was were approved by the Legislature. Early in his term, Eliot Spitzer passed a law requiring disclosure of member items. Cuomo made good on a promise to require accountability and disclosure of conflicts of interest between legislators and the recipients of those grants. He also worked with Blair Horner, who temporarily left his job as legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group to come on staff with the office as the director of Project Sunlight, the database of legislative member items. But he was unable to do some smaller things—such as effectively abolish a fee

the state charges for access to legislative records, Horner said. Reforms Cuomo has been pushing for years, such as a moratorium on contributions to candidates from pharmaceutical companies and disclosure of legislators’ outside incomes, also remain on the todo list. On civil rights, an area in which Cuomo promised to focus his energies in 2006, some critics charge he failed to do enough to address fraudulent lending and foreclosure scams in predominantly minority neighborhoods. Another civil rights advocacy group suggested he might have used his office to address housing segregation throughout the state, instead of just pursuing cases against individual landlords and foreclosure scam artists. Others, such as City Council Member Diana Reyna, said Cuomo had been a stalwart champion for unsung causes such as prosecution of fraudulent immigration legal services clinics. Cuomo promised in 2006 to focus his energies on civil rights discrimination, especially in housing, where he had experience as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Under his guidance, the attorney general’s office brought cases against companies for criminalhistory and gender-expression discrimination, and forced pharmacies to provide information to customers in their native languages, according to a spokesperson from the attorney general’s office. In 2007, he beefed up the staff of the office’s Civil Rights Bureau. Under Spitzer, the office averaged about eight prosecutions on civil rights issues per year. Under Cuomo, the office averaged 16 prosecutions per year, mostly in individual cases against bad landlords and predatory housing lenders. Cuomo made good on a promise to enhance the diversity of the office’s staff—increasing minority and women staffers by 40 percent, according to a spokesman. Some critics contend, though, that diversity in the office remains a pressing issue. Gerson Borrero, an El Diario columnist, recently reported on his website that Cuomo’s senior team lacked any Latino members, and that of 116 regional attorneys, only four were Latino. Two smaller promises he abandoned, for reasons unclear, were the creation of a “senior citizens protection unit” to investigate abuses of Medicare Fraud stemming from changes in law instituted by then-President George W. Bush, and creation of a domestic violence task force. Bill Ferris, a spokesman for the state lobbying arm of the American Association of Retired Persons, said he could not recall the creation of the protection unit, but said the state’s senior advocacy

SCOT WILLIAMS

Plans to create senior protection unit, ethics reform met some obstacles

To be sure, Cuomo did not cure all that ails New York. There is still work to be done, legislators and advocacy groups say, on civil rights and in ethics reform. organizations were thrilled with the work Cuomo had done prosecuting elder abusers and criminal health aides in nursing homes, as well as interstate scams designed to target the elderly. “I would say that we were happy to see the attorney general going after the bad guys the way that he did,” Ferris said. One clear outcome of an analysis into the attorney general’s record is the diligence with which he followed the plan he set out for himself and the care with which his office sought to publicize his efforts. At times, Cuomo took a backseat to the hubbub of sex scandals and resignations and Senate coups, but shortly before he took the office, the format of the press releases coming from the office began to change. Under Spitzer, widely acknowledged as an attention-seeker, press releases had short titles, headlinestyle. Under Cuomo, most releases began with “Attorney General Cuomo announces…” and frequently featured an immediate postmortem on the effects of the announcement’s impact on the state, with words like “sweeping changes” or “racked with fraud,” the semantic styling

of a candidate angling for a higher office. Cuomo also made certain to tie up his loose ends, pushing for the anti-bullying bill he supported four years earlier in conjunction with LGBT advocates and a package of domestic violence reforms he endorsed in the 2006 campaign. “He seems to be a sophisticated enough politician, he would have kept track of all the things he’s said he was going to do, and will have a reasonable explanation of what he tried to do,” Horner said. “And there’s been no scandal, so that makes him a saint.” Many of the reforms too ambitious for his office showed up in his set of policy books for his gubernatorial campaign, in similar language. Cuomo spokesman John Milgrim said the attorney general could not have realistically accomplished everything he set out to do. “He’s still proposing many of the things to happen—there were month-long battles in the Legislature over some of these initiatives,” Milgrim said. “Andrew continues to push for reforms that he thinks are necessary.” lnahmias@nycapitolnews.com


A special 3-part Speakers Series Presented by TD Bank, City Hall & The Capitol November 9:

December:

HOMELESSNESS

HEALTHCARE

January:

Commissioner, Department of Homeless Services

Speakers and date to be announced

Speakers and date to be announced

Seth Diamond

HOUSING

Arnold S. Cohen

President and CEO, The Partnership for the Homeless

Location and Time for all Events TD Bank 317 Madison Avenue(corner of 42nd St) 8:00am Networking Breakfast 8:30am - 9:30am Program email: JChristopher@manhattanmedia.com or call: 212.268.8600


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OctOber 25, 2010

ElsEwhErE

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THE CAPITOL

By Isha Mitra

I

n 1992, Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative called the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment that severely limited the state’s ability to raise taxes or grow government. Under the amendment, state spending can only rise based on a formula calculating the year’s inflation and population growth. In addition, voter approval is required for any tax increase at any level of government. The author of the constitutional amendment, Douglas Bruce, has since become something of a pariah in the state’s politics, most notably for briefly getting elected to the Legislature, then kicking a photographer during the morning prayer on his first day in office. He later became the first Colorado state legislator ever censured by his colleagues. But the law that he wrote is anything but irrelevant, continuing to influence nearly everything done in Colorado government. It has dramatically reduced taxes, while hampering everything from the state’s efforts to improve its higher education institutions to its decaying transportation infrastructure. Now, New York is exploring whether it should follow Colorado’s example. The past two years, Gov. David Paterson has proposed a spending cap for New York in an effort to curb the state’s ever-rising budgets—a plan that has been largely adopted in Andrew Cuomo’s policy platform. On average, New York’s budget has been increasing by 5.9 percent each year, almost double the national inflation rate of 2.9 percent. Cuomo has called for state spending to only be allowed to increase by the average rate of inflation over the past three years. In some ways, that is even more extreme that Colorado’s spending cap, which takes population growth into account in the formula. “This kind of arbitrary and very harsh kind of spending limit is a bad choice,” said Michael Leachman, a senior policy analyst for the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities in Colorado, of the proposal in New York. Leachman’s organization opposes TABOR. For many critics, the biggest problem with TABOR is the so-called “ratchet down effect.” During the recession at the beginning of the decade, for instance, state

spending in Colorado dropped dramatically. But when the economy recovered, spending could only increase by a limited amount, meaning that over the long-term, the spending cap was actually limiting growth to far less than the rate of inflation. In 2005, voters passed Referendum C, which lifted the spending cap temporarily to pre-recession levels. It won the support of many Republicans, including then-Gov. Bill Owens. Another indirect problem of TABOR is conflicting amendments within Colorado’s notoriously amendable state constitution, which have created a number of areas where spending is required to increase, such as K-12 education, as well as areas where there is no required spending such as higher education. Colorado ranks 48th in higher education funding per capita, a steep drop from 1992, the year TABOR was put into place, when the state ranked 34th in the nation. In many ways, the debate over TABOR is really about whether elected officials can be trusted to govern, or if citizens should limit the ability to govern. It is a debate Colorado voters are still having. This year, three amendments are on the ballot that would ban the state from borrowing money, cut property taxes in half and eliminate almost all fees. Despite broad bi-partisan opposition over fears that the measures would cripple state government, local political observers say the amendments stand a decent shot of passage. But despite its perceived harshness, TABOR proponents say it has prepared government for lean times—Colorado’s budget deficit was much less severe than New York’s the past two years. They also argued that TABOR led to a surge in economic growth the past decade, in fields from the natural gas industry to clean energy. “Because of low taxes and a relatively small state government, we had one of the best business-tax climates in the country and attracted business and investment,” said University of Colorado economics Professor Barry Poulson. “New York has basically done everything wrong when it comes to fiscal policy. If they don’t constrain the budget, they might be looking at possible economic collapse.” Direct letters to the editor to editor@nycapitolnews.com.


Working With: • NY City Department of Transportation • NY City Metropolitan Transit Authority • Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority

• NY State Department of Transportation • The Port Authority of NY/NJ • NY State Bridge Authority

Kieran Ahern • President • Dan O’Connell • General Counsel


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OCTOBER 25, 2010

SCALE:

1: SINKING A CONTENDER 2: HURTS 3: NO EFFECT 4: HELPS 5: MAKING A SENATOR

CUOMO’S EFFECT ON THE DEMOCRAT PALADINO’S EFFECT ON THE REPUBLICAN

THE CAPITOL

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KENNETH LAVALLE VS. JENNIFER MAERTZ DISTRICT PALADINO’S EFFECT

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ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 64,925 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 76,272 ACTIVE OTHERS: 16,006

DSCC spokesman Austin Shafran: “Ken Lavalle is a relic of Albany failure, sitting on the sidelines while property taxes rose 550 percent since he took office, and then voting against hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax relief for suburban communities.”

DISTRICT CUOMO’S EFFECT

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

SRCC spokesman Scott Reif“Sen. LaValle, one of the state’s leading experts on Higher Education issues and an advocate for property tax relief, has run a strong campaign and will defeat substitute candidate Jennifer Maertz, who has failed to catch on with voters after the Democrats’ first pick was ruled ineligible to run for the seat.”

BRIAN FOLEY VS. LEE ZELDIN

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ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 58,956 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 58,234 ACTIVE OTHERS: 12,087 LATEST POLL: FOLEY 44% - ZELDIN 43%

Shafran: “While Brian Foley is looking out for the people’s interests, Lee Zeldin wants to privatize social security and reward millionaires and multinational corporations who outsource local jobs with tax breaks.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Foley remains unpopular after casting the deciding vote to enact the job-killing MTA payroll tax, and will be dumped in favor of Zeldin, an Iraq War veteran, fiscal conservative and fresh face who will help bring needed reforms to Albany.”

KEMP HANNON VS. FRANCESCA CARLOW DISTRICT

PALADINO’S EFFECT

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 75,468 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 73,184 ACTIVE OTHERS: 9,027

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Shafran: “For 20 years, Hannon put the special interests over the people’s interests—passing laws allowing HMOs and drug companies to raise premiums and take away health coverage when families got sick in exchange for millions in campaign cash for the GOP.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Sen. Hannon, the long-time chairman of the Senate’s Health Committee and a leader in the fight to reform Medicaid to save taxpayers more of their hard-earned money, is facing Carlow, a political unknown, who defeated top prospect Dave Mejias in a Democrat primary, after he was arrested for stalking and menacing a former girlfriend.”

CRAIG JOHNSON VS. JACK MARTINS DISTRICT CUOMO’S EFFECT

7

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 80,805 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 64,876 ACTIVE OTHERS: 8,800

Shafran: “Craig Johnson is a principled representative who has fought to cap property taxes and root out public corruption, while Jack Martins gave himself a 61-percent taxpayer-funded pay raise, raised taxes seven years in a row, and ran a cement company that was hit with $170,000 in tax liens.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Jack Martins, a leader and local mayor who favors capping property taxes and out-of-control Albany spending, is in a strong position to defeat Sen. Johnson, who has spent two years talking about helping Nassau County, but has joined his New York City leaders in voting against their interests, including enacting the MTA payroll tax and taking away their STAR rebate checks.”

FRANK PADAVAN VS. TONY AVELLA

DISTRICT

PALADINO’S EFFECT

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ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 88,589 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 30,124 ACTIVE OTHERS: 5,745 LATEST POLL: PADAVAN 56% - AVELLA 32%

Shafran: “Tony Avella is a proven reformer who rejected a taxpayer-funded pay raise, while Frank Padavan raised his own salary and voted numerous times to deny women equal protection and opportunities under the law.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Padavan is a fighter who has delivered for Queens and will be re-elected by a sound margin, proving that if you can’t beat Frank Padavan during the 2008 Obama surge, you can’t beat Frank Padavan.”


www.nycapitolnews.com

THE CAPITOL

OCTOBER 25, 2010

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JOE ADDABBO VS. ANTHONY COMO DISTRICT

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CUOMO’S EFFECT

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 75,268 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 27,315 ACTIVE OTHERS: 5,784

Shafran: “In just two years, Joe Addabbo expanded opportunities for small businesses and protected access to mass transit, while Anthony Como overturned term limits and was penalized for illegal campaign contributions in his race for City Council.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Joe Addabo has failed the people of Queens, standing idly by as Albany leaders botched the selection of a vendor to run the VLTs at Aqueduct and prevented jobs from being created in the Queens community, and that’s why voters are looking for someone like Anthony Como, who will work hard for the district’s taxpayers and families.”

ANDREA STEWART-COUSINS VS. LIAM MCLAUGHLIN DISTRICT

CUOMO’S EFFECT

35

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 82,248 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 39,371 ACTIVE OTHERS: 10,401

Shafran: “Andrea Stewart-Cousins is widely popular and highly respected in her district because she has gotten the job done and delivered for the local community. McLaughlin is barely known and scarcely supported, and lacks a record of results or vision for the future.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Andrea Stewart-Cousins has presided over much of the dysfunction in the State Senate and joined her New York City colleagues in shifting aid to New York City, and faces a stiff challenge from Liam McLaughlin, a former Yonkers councilman who understands what it takes to put together a budget and keep property taxes as low as possible.”

SUZI OPPENHEIMER VS. BOB COHEN DISTRICT

CUOMO’S EFFECT

37

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 82,216 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 44,670 ACTIVE OTHERS: 4,435

Shafran: “The choice is clear—Suzi Oppenheimer led the charge on education reforms that won $700 million in funding for our schoolchildren, while Bob Cohen is a slumlord who got rich victimizing children and seniors, and couldn’t keep drug dealers out of his buildings.”

DISTRICT

PALADINO’S EFFECT

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PALADINO’S EFFECT

41

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 64,456 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 62,085 ACTIVE OTHERS: 14,034 LATEST POLL: BALL 45% - KAPLOWITZ 44%

PALADINO’S EFFECT

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “This race will be decided on pocketbook issues, which is bad news for Mike Kaplowitz and good news for Greg Ball, who understands the need to cut taxes and create jobs for Hudson Valley residents and their families.”

STEVE SALAND VS. DIDI BARRETT ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 62,073 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 56,577 ACTIVE OTHERS: 14,581

Shafran: “For 20 years, Saland has fed Albany’s spending addiction, using millions in taxpayer money to decorate his office and send out mail, while spending doubled, property taxes skyrocketed and the state faced record budget deficits.”

DISTRICT

Reif: “Career politician Suzi Oppenheimer faces taxpayer anger after she supported 124 different tax and fee increases, including the MTA payroll tax and the elimination of hundreds of dollars in STAR property tax relief, and is being challenged by Bob Cohen, a successful businessman who will support tax relief for Westchester County families in Albany.”

GREG BALL VS. MIKE KAPLOWITZ

Shafran: “Mike Kaplowitz is a fiscally conservative independent leader, and Greg Ball is the Carl Paladino of the Hudson Valley—with, as GOP spokesman Scott Reif said, ‘a pattern of sexual misconduct towards women.’”

DISTRICT

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

43

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Sen. Saland, who understands the issues important to this district after representing it for decades and raising his family here, will be returned to the State Senate, after a challenge from Didi Barrett, a Beverly Hills High School, Calif., alum who just recently moved into the district from New York City.”

ROY MCDONALD VS. JOANNE YEPSEN ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 57,873 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 70,563 ACTIVE OTHERS: 20,084

Shafran: “While working for a bank that got federal bailout money and never paid it back, McDonald collected $80,000 a year as a legislator and spent $1 million of the taxpayers’ money on his office, and then voted to increases taxes to pay for his spending habits.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Roy McDonald, an independent voice in the Senate who comes from working-class roots, will defeat Joanne Yepsen, who has been caught lying about claims she made in a negative mailer she sent and faces questions about her spotty attendance record at Saratoga County Board of Supervisors meetings.”


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OCTOBER 25, 2010

THE CAPITOL

HUGH FARLEY VS. SUE SAVAGE DISTRICT

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ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 61,241 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 72,485 ACTIVE OTHERS: 14,872 LATEST POLL: FARLEY 55% - SAVAGE 37%

Shafran: “Sue Savage cut costs and created jobs in the Schenectady County Legislature, while “Honolulu Hugh” went on a 34-year spending spree—wasting millions on taxpayer-funded junkets, decorations for his personal office and bulk mail to promote himself.”

DISTRICT

CUOMO’S EFFECT

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Sen. Farley, who has a strong record and a good reputation, will be re-elected as voters reject Sue Savage’s attempts to cast herself as an outsider, despite her husband’s lucrative Albany lobbying interests and a career in government which started with a no-show job and included a six-figure patronage job with the disgraced Spitzer-Paterson administration.”

DARREL AUBERTINE VS. PATTY RITCHIE

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 45,023 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 69,811 ACTIVE OTHERS: 11,079 LATEST POLL: AUBERTINE 45% - RITCHIE 48%

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Shafran: “Darrel Aubertine is an independent leader twice elected to the most Republican district in the state, whereas Patty Ritchie just plays one on TV—claiming to be a fiscal conservative, even though she more than doubled spending and fees as county clerk.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “This solid Republican district will be captured by Republican Patty Ritchie, a leader who stood up to the Albany Democrats and got them to scrap their scheme to force every New York motorist to buy a new license plate they didn’t want or need.”

DAVID VALESKY VS. ANDREW RUSSO

DISTRICT

CUOMO’S EFFECT

49

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 61,324 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 55,423 ACTIVE OTHERS: 11,764 LATEST POLL: VALESKY 50% - RUSSO 40%

Shafran: “Dave Valesky is a true reformer fighting for Central New York, and Andrew Russo is a hypocritical outsider who spent most of his time living in France and New York City, hiding his lack of a voting record and lying about accepting government grants while campaigning against them.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

PALADINO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Instead of standing up for Central New York, Sen. Valesky has voted with his New York City leaders 100 percent of the time and faces the fight of his life from Andrew Russo, a reformer and outsider who will cut taxes, help businesses create jobs and deliver on his promise to reform Albany.”

JAMES ALESI VS. MARY WILMOT DISTRICT

PALADINO’S EFFECT

55

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 68,568 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 66,724 ACTIVE OTHERS: 11,966 LATEST POLL: ALESI 55% - WILMOT 35%

Shafran: “While Mary Wilmot is a fiscally conservative Western New Yorker, Jim Alesi is the perfect example of the career Albany politician who raises taxes, kills jobs and then points fingers at others because he can’t defend his own record of failure.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Jim Alesi, a champion for small businesses in the Legislature who has received the NFIB’s endorsement, has run a solid campaign against Wilmot, who can’t hide from her record of working for the Paterson administration and top Senate Democrats who are under state and federal investigation.”

JACK QUINN VS. TIM KENNEDY DISTRICT

PALADINO’S EFFECT

58

ACTIVE DEMOCRATS: 97,462 ACTIVE REPUBLICANS: 38,299 ACTIVE OTHERS: 13,410 LATEST POLL: QUINN 42% - KENNEDY 39%

Shafran: “Quinn the Third hasn’t done jack for Western New York, except come up with schemes full of empty election-year promises. He’s been in Albany for six years but failed to do anything for the people he represents. Western New Yorkers want a leader who has a history of delivering results, a leader with the work ethic and the energy to reform Albany—that leader is Tim Kennedy.”

WHY WE’RE GOING TO WIN:

CUOMO’S EFFECT

Reif: “Jack Quinn is a popular leader in Erie County who will pick up this seat for Republicans and give Western New York its voice back in Albany, defeating county legislator Tim Kennedy, who has accepted questionable contributions from New York City politicians like Carl Kruger and others with business before the county.”


THE CAPITOL

www.nycapitolnews.com

OCTOBER 25, 2010

9

Peering Into The Post-November Crystal Ball For The Senate

MATT COLLINS

Early hopes, dreams and predictions for post-November begin to take shape

BY CHRIS BRAGG

G

ridlock, power struggles, lawsuits and infighting: for the past two years, these have been hallmarks of the New York State Senate. After November, according to prognosticators on both sides of the aisle, expect more of the same. Of course, the crystal ball will become much clearer once control of the majority is a settled question, but already, hopeful Republicans are beginning to lay out their dream scenarios for 2011, starting with the departure of Democratic members. Republican consultant Tom Doherty singled out State Sen. Jeff Klein, head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, as a likely candidate to leave, if only because he has been such a loyal soldier and done so much to keep them in the majority. “Would he really want to be in the minority after raising so much money for all of these people, and then losing?” Doherty said. Doherty cautioned that Democrats are still less likely to retire than Republicans because demographics work so overwhelmingly in their favor, giving them a better chance at winning back the majority in two years. In a closely divided Senate, a new crop of tea party-backed Republicans such as Lee Zeldin would likely push the conference to the right. And no one knows quite what the famously cohesive Republican conference would do if forced to rely on, say, a State Sen. Greg Ball as its deciding vote. The demographics of the Democratic conference would likely keep John Sampson as the leader regardless of whether they retain the majority, since

the African-American senators loyal to him will continue to make up the bulk of the conference. Plus, the most vulnerable Democrats this year, such as Brian Foley or challenger Tim Kennedy, come from outside that bloc. Observers expect that only serious legal trouble from the AEG scandal could imperil Sampson’s position as conference leader. If Democrats lost power, one possible defector could be State Sen. Carl Kruger, who held a chairmanship for the last few years of Republican rule and owes his Finance Committee gavel to the 2008 Amigos power play he led. A chance to hold onto the Finance Committee could probably pull him loose from the Democrats again, but only if the Republicans have not been left too wary of striking deals with Democrats from the coup. If Democrats retain the majority, Sampson will almost certainly consolidate his power— especially with Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr., losing his re-election bid, and President pro tem Malcolm Smith under a cloud of federal investigation. Having one go-to person in the conference would make it clear to everyone, from conference members to interest groups, who is really calling the shots. “We cannot continue to have a threeheaded monster running the Senate,” said State Sen. Diane Savino. Democratic strategists say even if they only maintain their current 32-30 majority, the departures of coup-instigators Espada and Hiram Monserrate would make their two-vote advantage much stronger. Some predict that the Senate Democrats will continue to reach out to Republicans by granting them more committee chairmanships in an effort to improve bipartisan relations, and give them a pocket of go-to votes from the other

side of the aisle when needed. But GOP strategist Susan Del Percio said that with all the different factions remaining, the Democratic conference will continue to be a disjointed mess for the foreseeable future. “Even if they stay in the majority, they’re still too fractured between city people, Long Island, upstate, ethnic groups, females, males and other different breaks in the conference,” she said. Naturally, Democrats are also predicting an exodus of aging Republican members if they keep the chamber. Prime candidates include Owen Johnson, Kenneth LaValle and Hugh Farley (assuming he wins his heated race this year), as well as possibly some younger members with higher ambitions, like Charles Fuschillo and John Flanagan. The departures would spur a series of special elections that could give the Democrats a chance to increase their majority in districts with registration advantages that have tipped their way in recent years. The map would look even more favorable in 2012, with gerrymandered Republican districts drawn more favorably for Democrats, even if that work is done by a nonpartisan commission. Doug Forand, a Democratic strategist, also predicted that if the Republicans fail to win back the majority, Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos would have a difficult time retaining his leadership position, with both Deputy Minority Leader Tom Libous and George Maziarz likely candidates to take on Skelos. “As minority leader, your only job is to win back the majority—that’s the only thing that matters,” Forand said. “I think it would be difficult for him to hold on.” Libous could make an argument that as head of the Senate Republican Campaign

Committee, he played a major role in helping get them elected. Maziarz would be another strong upstate candidate, although he could lose partisan points for accepting the Energy Committee chairmanship from Democrats. Skelos’ position becomes even more tenuous if Frank Padavan, Ball or other Republicans from downstate or the Hudson Valley lose, since these members have traditionally allied with a Long Islandbased bloc that has supported Skelos. Of course, this is all assuming that Skelos would even want to continue being minority leader with redistricting looming—and that Libous or Maziarz would want the job. The housing chair, which has been held by Espada, will be a major prize if the Democrats keep the majority, especially since they have empowered committee chairs to wield greater influence than existed under the Republicans. Tenant activists believe that real estate interests will angle to get someone similarly friendly to the industry into position, especially since the Real Estate Board of New York has been helping Senate Democrats this cycle after allying with Republicans for years. Given the push by State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr. to have a Hispanic member appointed to the positions vacated by Espada, REBNY could push for an ally like Martin Dilan to get the Housing chairmanship, predicted Mike McKee, executive director of Tenants PAC. McKee said he was already sounding the alarm with Sampson’s staff trying to prevent such an appointment. Dilan’s close relationship with embattled Assembly Housing Chair Vito Lopez could also hurt that cause. There is also another possibility, and the most chaotic scenario: a 31-31 tie. If Bob Duffy is the lieutenant governor, he would likely be able to throw the leadership of the Senate to the Democrats under the 2009 appellate court decision Skelos v. Paterson, which held that the lieutenant governor has the power to break a deadlock on a vote “not involving the passage of a bill, and … including the determination of election contests, senate rules, the choice of its officers, including the temporary president.” Both parties would have reason to contest the court decision under that scenario, and litigation would be likely. Under this scenario, even some Republican strategists hope for the presence of Andrew Cuomo in the executive chamber, if only to prevent further chaos. “A strong Andrew Cuomo governorship would be very important,” Doherty said. “Someone with real leadership and a strong fiscal plan could win a lot of support from the Republican conference.” cbragg@nycapitolnews.com


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THE CAPITOL

What About

BOB? Cuomo’s No. 2 prepares to take the reins of the upstate economy, lean hard on the Legislature— and keep a much lower profile as LG it slip from his grasp just as quickly. In Irondequoit, the optics are perfect. Press aides advise reporters and curious on-lookers to clear off the sidewalk so the cameras can get the money shot of Cuomo and Duffy strolling side by side—the portrait of Democratic harmony. Their destination: the front yard of retired teacher Marie Ferenchak, whose red sweater complements the red door of her tidy two-story home. The topic: Cuomo’s plan to rein in out-of-control taxes. The sign on the podium: “Property Tax Cap.” Duffy talks up Cuomo’s “courage” to stick to those issues voters in New York care about the most: taxes, jobs and reform. Cuomo returns the favor, calling Duffy “the greatest mayor in the state of New York.” In choosing Duffy as his No. 2, Cuomo sought to convey a different message than Eliot Spitzer, who, in choosing Paterson, tried to bolster his minority base and make inroads with legislators as he frantically tried to squash Tom Suozzi. Duffy is an executive with experience managing New York’s second largest regional economy, but no experience legislating and virtually zero profile outside Western New York. A six-foot-five former police chief with a master’s in public administration, Duffy is meant to project the image

that if something catastrophic were to happen to Cuomo, everything would be just fine. But for all Duffy’s strengths, his experience dealing with the Legislature—especially one as prickly and prone to gridlock as New York’s—is still largely unknown. With the narrow partisan margin in the State Senate likely to remain after this election—some are even beginning to talk about a 31-31 split—the future LG’s responsibility as a tie-breaker in that chamber will be even more vital in the difficult months to come. Why anyone should care how Duffy wields the office of lieutenant governor—a largely ceremonial role that has frustrated some enough to quit, and bored others enough to slip into near catatonia—should be fairly obvious. For a quick reminder, see Alex Gibney’s riveting documentary Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. For another, see news clips of Paterson’s admitted involvement in an aide’s domestic abuse case. Or watch a recent episode of CNN’s Parker/Spitzer. If, by the time you read this, it is still on the air. In Irondequoit, the crowd of neighbors gushed appropriately over the two dashing Democrats. He is unarguably the most popular politician in the region, scoring an almost 80-percent approval rating in the most recent poll.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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hen Nelson Rockefeller resigned to become vice president in 1974, what was the name of his lieutenant governor who replaced him? “Aw, I know that.” It is early October and two men are standing on a leafy bucolic street in Irondequoit, a town a few miles north of Rochester, quizzing each other in obscure New York political history. “Was his name Malcolm?” It was. After Rockefeller left Albany to become Gerald Ford’s vice president, his LG Malcolm Wilson assumed the top spot, only to lose it months later to Democrat Hugh Carey. Walking down the sidewalk toward the two men (and dozens of others gathered for a press event that October afternoon) comes another politician who would be lieutenant governor: Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, with his running mate, Andrew Cuomo. Duffy is about to assume an office few gave much thought to until two years ago, when David Paterson became the first LG since Wilson to inherit the governor’s mansion, and, like Wilson, let

By ANDREW J. HAWKINS


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“Look at that,” one woman cooed to her daughter. “Daddy shook the mayor’s hand!” But not everyone was so starry-eyed in Duffy’s presence. “Duffy’s not going to have a say. Shelly Silver’s the one who calls the shots,” fumed Robert Ament, a local resident and lifelong Democrat who said he read on the Internet that the two candidates were planning an event in his neighborhood. “Guess what Duffy’s going to do when he goes to Albany? Nothing.”

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ot all the resistance to Duffy’s selection, though, should be taken quite so seriously. A couple days after Irondequoit, Duffy is downstate to meet with the Manhattan Democrats. He gives a short speech and answers questions for legislators like Keith Wright, Jonathan Bing and others, many of whom, two weeks before the election, were meeting Duffy for the first time. The mayor also runs into someone who knows a few things about being Andrew Cuomo’s running mate. “Can I go on the record about how much I do not like Andrew’s lieutenant governor choice this time?” jokes Charlie King, executive director of the New York State Democratic Party. Duffy, sitting at a long conference table, chuckles goodnaturedly. King was Cuomo’s LG pick in 2002, when the two ran against Carl McCall and Dennis Mehiel in the Democratic primary, a racial reverse of the ticket that ultimately pushed Cuomo out of the race and out of state politics. What a difference eight years make. This time, Cuomo is choosing regional balance over racial balance. After the attorney general announced his running mate in late May, one of the more remarkable things was the muted response, aside from the flare-ups over the lack of diversity he represented in the statewide Democratic ticket. Republicans tried pushing the issue of Duffy of being a double-dipper, collecting a state salary and pension at the same time. The campaign noted that Duffy took steps to hold down the size of his pension and has rejected several salary increases. The story fizzled. Since then, Duffy has remained largely out of sight, emerging occasionally via press release or at well-choreographed events to denounce GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino’s latest flap or to boost one of Cuomo’s signature policies. Though these or his spinning for Cuomo after the gubernatorial debate are about as substantive a campaign he has run to be the state’s second-highest official, Duffy has vowed that once in government, he will not to be a “ribbon-cutter,” but an equal partner in the Cuomo administration. He will be the governor’s “personal representative to drive economic development initiatives that affect Upstate New York,” according to one of Cuomo’s many policy books. As Cuomo sees it, Duffy will be his liaison to 10 regional economic development councils he intends to create that will be “empowered to cut through the Albany bureaucracy so we can get things done,” the candidate’s policy proposal states. But beyond those broad pronouncements, specifics about Duffy’s precise role in the Cuomo administration are in short supply. To hear Duffy tell it, he never wanted the job in the first place. “I spent the first 10 minutes telling him all the reasons why I probably shouldn’t do it,” Duffy said of his first conversation with Cuomo about joining the ticket. “Then he explained his views of the role and why he thought I should do it. And he hooked me.” Relentlessly on message—in May, he preemptively apologized to Rochester-area reporters if his elevation to statewide candidate made him seem aloof or inaccessible— Duffy delivers passionate, if rambling, answers to questions about himself and his hopes for his new role as LG. Even Paterson, when offered the spot by Spitzer, specifically re-


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quested a portfolio that included MWBE and stem-cell policy to guarantee that he would have something to do on the job. But Duffy also avoids specifics, sticking to the prepared Cuomo script: jobs, taxes, a more responsible government. Given the chance, Duffy will filibuster an entire interview. He is prone to whimsical, rose-tinted pronouncements on state politics, and can sometimes slip into self-effacing, “aw-shucks” descriptions of himself, as if he were just a cop and a family man who got lucky and ended up second in line to the governor’s mansion. “I do not have a big ego,” he said. “I do not need to be out front. I’m just as happy to serve behind the scenes as I would be being out front, like in my current position as mayor.” At another point, he describes being “at peace with this decision” to be Cuomo’s running mate, as if serving as LG were some kind of terminal disease. He is also someone who is wary of Albany and its entrenched political interests, and does not shy away from firing back at his political enemies with a wellaimed barb. For example, Duffy said he laughed when he heard Paladino wanted to bring a baseball bat to Albany. “I said that, knowing Albany as I do, he’ll be going back to Buffalo to have the bat removed,” he said. Not that Duffy gets warm fuzzy feelings when he thinks about the state capital. He recalled a Sunday trip to Albany, several years ago, to lobby for the repeal of a piece of legislation that was harmful to his city. The capitol was practically deserted when Duffy arrived on the second floor. He expected a respectful reception from the staff of the governor at the time—though he refused to specify which one. The one he received still troubles him today. “I could hear the frustration and anger emanating from around the corner. In the end, I heard them say, ‘Tell him he has three minutes, and three minutes only,’” Duffy said. “I’m a mayor. I represent over 200,000 people in upstate New York. This man had a difficult time giving me three minutes, where if I stepped outside my car tomorrow morning at my office, and I stop by someone who is homeless, I’d give them far more time than that.” Cuomo likes to say that he knows the job of lieutenant governor well from when his father had the job, and how Duffy fills the position will be entirely up to him. Under George Pataki, Betsey McCaughey Ross worked on Medicare and education. Mary Donohue took on small businesses and school violence. Stan Lundine attacked housing and technology. Richard Ravitch, the current LG, took a stab at fixing the budget, fixing Medicaid and fixing the state’s rotting infrastructure. For the most part, he ended up shouting into the wind. Do not expect any boat-rocking from

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Duffy, though. Whatever Cuomo says, goes. And if there are any disagreements, no one will be the wiser. “If I disagreed with the governor on an issue, only two people would know about that. That would be me and the governor,” he said. “When the door opened, we would be one team.”

Duffy describes being “at peace with this decision” to be Cuomo’s running mate, as if serving as LG were some kind of terminal disease.

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hen Cuomo first picked Duffy as his running mate, he praised the Rochester mayor for standing up to the public-sector unions. “He’s not a rollover,” Cuomo said. “Guess what? We’re going to be tangling with the publicemployee unions going forward.” For as many fans as he has in the Rochester business community—and he has many—Duffy is regarded with some skepticism in labor, public-employee and education circles, mainly for his secondterm push to take control of the Rochester public school system. Adam Urbanski, president of the

Rochester Teachers Association, said that while he has great respect for Duffy, the mayor’s quest is nothing short of a power grab. “I was born and raised in a communist country,” Urbanski said. “I know the potential ramifications of putting all the power in the hands of very few.” In announcing mayoral control, Duffy boldly declared it was the hill he was “prepared to die on.” Gaining mayoral control of schools would have given Duffy sway over $1.2 billion in school contracts, something Urbanski said would allow him to steer the more lucrative projects to his friends in the city’s business community. But Duffy’s likely and imminent departure from Rochester has brought the debate to a halt. “There was concern here immediately when Bob Duffy announced this was the hill he chose to die on,” Urbanski said. “Apparently, he now chose another hill, and it has a lot more to do with Albany than Rochester.” Duffy said he continues to support mayoral control, but stopped short of saying whether he would continue to champion the issue if elected LG. He has also clashed with the Rochester police and firefighter unions when he called for reforms to labor laws he said favored public employees and padded their pensions at the expense of the city’s economic stability. Rochester police and firefighters have been working for the last two years without a contract. Duffy’s push for mayoral control, coupled with Cuomo’s crusade to cap property taxes—another issue strongly opposed by the state teachers union—is causing some anxiety among traditional Democratic allies, and spurring some officials to urge the two candidates to find a solution before this becomes a 2011 version of Spitzer’s first-term tangle with 1199.

THE CAPITOL “One could understand why those who are educational advocates and leaders would be somewhat concerned about any leader that had an agenda that would adversely affect education,” said State Sen. Bill Perkins, a Harlem Democrat who opposes Duffy’s effort to win mayoral control. “If you can head it off, if you can resolve this beforehand, it would make for better relations later.” More so than dealing with the unions, though, Duffy’s new role is likely to demand that he immerse himself in the murky world of the State Senate, where up is down and democracy is half diplomacy, half psychiatry. Duffy had Monroe County Democrats like Assembly members David Gantt and Joe Morelle carrying his water with the mayoral control push. But the region’s two Republican senators, Jim Alesi and Joe Robach, never got on board, saying they felt left out of the process. “The only meetings I’ve had with the mayor, who has been a good friend and a good partner in government, has been one meeting where in 25 minutes he did all the talking,” Alesi told a reporter from Channel 13 last March. When asked about Duffy’s prospects as an LG, Alesi declined comment. Robach, perhaps in the hopes of building alliances, took the high road. “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Bob Duffy since high school and we’ve developed a very good relationship over the years,” Robach said in a statement issued by a spokesperson. “Bob is a very dedicated individual, and I know that whatever the future may hold for either of us, that we’ll continue to have a great relationship and will continue to work together to best serve the people of Rochester.” In response to a question about the possibility of a split Senate, Greg Edwards, the Chautauqua county executive running as Paladino’s LG, said right away that the only scenario he envisions after the election is a commanding Republican majority in the chamber. Duffy’s reaction was much different. “If I were elected, and I was the lieutenant governor, and I was called upon to break a tie, whether it be a controversial piece of legislation or not, I would look forward to that,” he said. “I’ve never shied away from making tough decisions. But I have very strong beliefs in government and what we should be doing. I would relish that opportunity if it were to come up.” Duffy, who was a Republican until switching parties in 1994, may run into some problems, though—especially with New York City’s bloc of liberal legislators, many of whom remain in the dark about the Rochester mayor and his politics. “If you’re an independent Democrat, you’ll love Bob Duffy,” said one Democrat who has worked closely with Duffy in Rochester and knows the capital. “But you’re going to see, when he gets to Albany, the New York City folk won’t like him at all.”


THE CAPITOL Duffy, like most politicians, rejects labels like “career politician” in favor of more focus-group-friendly ones like “non-partisan.” Indeed, after his first election as mayor in 2006, Duffy set out to model himself on Michael Bloomberg. He launched a 311 call system, revoked city-funded cars and cell phones for some government administrators and moved to abolish the city’s dysfunctional Board of Education through pursuing mayoral control. Duffy was not always so openly ambitious. William Johnson, Jr., the mayor of Rochester from 1994 to 2005, said many in Rochester felt jilted that Duffy was leaving his post so soon after being reelected. “I’m a little more sanguine about this than most folks,” he said. “I’ve heard a number of people express disappointment with the mayor, that he appears to be running out on the job.” Johnson, who appointed Duffy police chief in 1998, recalled a time when Duffy ignored calls from the city’s political leaders to run for Monroe County sheriff. “The red carpet was ready to be rolled out for him,” he said. “He did not succumb at all to any of our blandishments.” Eight years later, a very different Duffy stands before voters as Cuomo’s running mate, Johnson said—a skilled political operator who has exceeded his and everyone else’s expectations. “From a man who fervently disavowed any interest in a political career, he has adapted very well,” Johnson said. “I don’t really doubt he can go to Albany and use the same skills and adapt fast. The question is, whether or nor Albany will be ready for him.”

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t the Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual fall dinner in midtown Manhattan, the flashbulbs were popping like strobe lights as Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Bloomberg posed politely with prominent members of the LGBT community. Standing off to the side was Duffy, dressed in a dark suit and sky-blue tie, waiting patiently for his turn in front of the cameras. But as soon as Parker and Bloomberg left, the mob of photographers evaporated. Nonetheless, Duffy, his wife and two daughters posed gamely in front of the ESPA backdrop. One person took a quick photo. Another snapped a picture on his Blackberry. This is about as much attention as Duffy tends to get, especially downstate. He knows he remains unknown to a large segment of the population, but sees the opportunity to introduce himself as a crucial one, especially to minority and ethnic communities that may view him as just another white Catholic on a ballot brimming with white Catholics. “They don’t know me,” he said. “But they have to get to know me.”

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Greg Edwards, Unexpected Second, Takes His Shots At Cuomo—And The Future The sign outside the Westchester County Republican dinner in early October displayed headshots of all the party’s statewide candidates this year: Carl Paladino for governor, Harry Wilson for comptroller, Dan Donovan for attorney general, Greg Edwards for lieutenant governor. Only the photo identified as that of Greg Edwards was actually Bruce Blakeman, a Republican candidate for Senate who had since ended his campaign. It was easy to see how they could get them confused. Both are tall, handsome Republicans with square jaws and friendly smiles. But even among allies and like-minded party members, Edwards, the Chautauqua County executive, is struggling to make a name for himself. And as Carl Paladino’s popularity continues to plummet in the wake of controversial statements he made about, well, everyone, Edwards is left with the unenviable task of answering for the man whose name will appear alongside his on this year’s ballot. Not to mention the fact that Edwards was supposed to be running not with Paladino, but with Rick Lazio, the former Long Island congressman whom Paladino trounced in the primary by over 20 points. Since the primary, Edwards says he has adapted to his new running mate’s more unfiltered approach. “Carl speaks his mind,” Edwards said while sitting on the state Republican Party’s “Take Back NY” campaign bus one recent afternoon. “And he speaks in metaphors.” He earned his right on the ballot, having fended off a primary challenge from Paladino’s preferred LG, ex-New York City Council Minority Leader Tom Ognibene. “I’m honored that 205,000 people found me somewhere on that ballot,” he said. “It was humbling and encouraging.” He refuses to speak a single negative word about his former running mate, instead praising Lazio’s integrity. He did note, though, that the electorate was clearly hungry for a much bigger change. “Lazio had integrity, but the landscape didn’t suit that,” he said. “They saw Paladino as the right guy for the right time.” Edwards has played the dutiful No. 2 to Paladino, attacking Cuomo when the campaign allows him the opportunity. At times he has been forced to repair relationships that Paladino has damaged with his slash-and-burn campaign style. But with Paladino and campaign spokesman Michael Caputo so free-wheeling with their own criticisms of the Democratic frontrunner—blasting everything from his manhood to his family life—Edwards has been left with little more to do than travel around the state, stump for other Republican candidates and, perhaps, wait for this all to blow over. On a sunny October afternoon in Carmel, N.Y., a white school bus pulled up in front of the campaign headquarters of congressional candidate Nan Hayworth. A small crowd cheered as Hayworth, Edwards and state GOP chairman Ed Cox stepped out on the bus’s rear platform to wave and make short speeches. Afterward, Edwards, huddled up with a couple of veterans, explained why he thought Paladino was the right candidate to run against Cuomo. “He says exactly what he’s thinking,” he said. “That’s why he scares people so much. The best thing Carl Paladino has going for him is an informed voter.” Inside the campaign headquarters, Hayworth, an ophthalmologist running against two-term Congressman John Hall, said Edwards was the perfect complement to Paladino’s gruff image. And his presence on the GOP ticket is vital considering the scandal that forced Eliot Spitzer out of office. “The lieutenant governor’s role is crucial,” Hayworth said. “He’s a heartbeat or a pair of socks away from the governorship.” But Edwards is unlikely to get even that close after this year’s election, with Cuomo continuing to poll far ahead of Paladino for weeks now. Political observers are unclear where Edwards will end up after this campaign cycle, though several seemed doubtful that he would enjoy the kind of popularity that other prominent Republican running mates have enjoyed, like Sarah Palin. But there are less luminous options: Scott Vanderhoef, the Rockland County executive who was John Faso’s partner in being creamed last time around, is now running for the State Senate seat Tom Morahan held until he died in July. “I don’t think this race will define him one way or the other,” said Thomas Doherty, a GOP political consultant. “When Paladino gets trounced, they’re not going to look to the lieutenant governor and say, ‘Boy, he really killed that ticket.’ His future has yet to be determined.” —AJH

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Cuomo’s pick of Duffy did not go unnoticed in minority communities across the state. Charles Barron, an AfricanAmerican member of the New York City Council, said he was so incensed by the attorney general’s choice of running mate that he decided to enter the race for governor himself under the banner of the Freedom Party. “Robert Duffy is bad news,” Barron said. “And he’s an insult to the black and Latino elected officials of this state, who are far more qualified than he.” Duffy’s schedule for the past month seems to quietly reflect this concern. Duffy spent October in part making stops at black Baptist churches in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, taking meetings with Hispanic business leaders in Western New York, and making appearances at New York’s premiere LGBT event in Manhattan. But while his schedule reflects an effort to shore up the party’s base of minority and ethnic voters, Duffy said he would hope New Yorkers will see past his skin color when they enter the ballot box. “I understand a reaction that somebody would have, especially for someone that might not know me,” Duffy said. “Diversity is very important. Andrew said that. And he has said repeatedly, ‘If I’m elected, you will see my support of that.’” Duffy had a more pointed response to Barron. “I know that Mr. Barron does not know me, does not know my community,” he said. “If he knew Rochester, the demographic make-up of Rochester, and the support I’ve had in my career across all lines in Rochester… people don’t look at the color of my skin in Rochester and make a judgment.” Albany, of course, is a very different place than Rochester, where racial politics still play a significant role. And after the election, with Republicans in a good position to retake the Senate, there are other fault lines that could become more pronounced too. How Duffy will factor into that new dynamic remains to be seen. Will he fade into the background, allowing Cuomo and legislative leaders to take the lead in the coming session? Or will he make the most of his role as an ambassador to upstate business and economic development interests? After all, the powers and responsibilities of the office he seeks are very clearly defined, and even easier to sum up. “He’s a governor-in-waiting,” said Peter Galie, a Canisius College professor who has studied the lieutenant governor position in New York. “He’s a person who breaks ties in the Senate on procedural, organizational and budgetary matters.” Beyond that, Galie said Duffy will have to improvise. “There’s not much for him to do,” Galie said. “Everything else is up to the creative judgment of these two individuals—the governor and his lieutenant.” ahawkins@nycapitolnews.com


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Resignations From Currently Powerless Investment Committee Become Flashpoint In Comptroller’s Race Wilson says mismanagement and disconnectedness define DiNapoli’s pension advisors BY CHRIS BRAGG

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n the months leading up to the 2008 financial meltdown, Jeff Halis kept hammering the same point in meetings of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s pension fund investment advisory committee. Halis, the president of Tyndall Management and a member of the committee, was pressing the idea to DiNapoli—and his staff—that the comptroller’s office should be willing to pay more in order to hire topflight talent to manage the $130 billion pension fund, according to several people present in committee meetings. He suggested DiNapoli use a small portion of the $50 million annually spent on outside fund managers to help attract high-level financial experts that he believed the office was having trouble hiring. As the financial market collapsed in October of that year—with the pension fund taking a $40 billion hit—Halis again pressed the point to Raudline Etienne, the pension fund’s chief investment officer at a lunch meeting. Etienne responded that Halis’ repeated requests were upsetting the morale of the current staff. Halis promptly submitted his resignation, believing that DiNapoli was unwilling to hire anyone at a higher salary because it might generate negative headlines. Critics say the incident is indicative of the approach DiNapoli has taken towards soliciting advice from his investment advisory committee, an eightmember board of investment professionals that advises the comptroller on the pension fund. His Republican opponent, former hedge fund manager Harry Wilson, has highlighted what he says is DiNapoli’s disengagement from the board, charging in their only debate that two people left the committee because of dissatisfaction with the comptroller. But others say that DiNapoli has made significant progress in strengthening the committee. Alan Hevesi never attended their quarterly meetings when he was comptroller, for instance, while DiNapoli is a regular presence, both at

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Under DiNapoli, the screening of money managers is often done by outside consultants, which DiNapoli said is a superior approach since these consultants are independent and have time to do the job. He said part-time, unpaid committee members simply cannot provide all the expertise necessary. But Wilson would empower the committee to reject or accept any money

the public meetings and the executive sessions that follow. Safeguards against influence-peddling have been strengthened. A year ago, DiNapoli appointed the first chair in the committee’s history, Wale Adeosun, in an effort to strengthen the committee. “There’s a real strategic plan and vision, and this committee is being run more professionally than it has ever been run,” said Adeosun, who is the treasurer and chief investment officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “You have to give Tom DiNapoli credit for that.” In an initial interview following a late October press conference at City Hall in Manhattan, DiNapoli said he did not know what Wilson was referring to when he charged that two people had left the advisory committee over dissatisfaction with him. “I have no idea,” DiNapoli said. “There’s a lot of things where I don’t know what he’s talking about. That’s one of them.” The next day, when The Capitol presented him with detailed questions about his refusal to raise employee salaries, DiNapoli gave more information. When Hevesi resigned, all but a few members of the board also left, and DiNapoli said that that he was disinclined to take the advice from Hevesi holdovers, including Halis, because of the taint left from his predecessor’s administration. In 2008, DiNapoli said he was planning on removing Halis from the board before he quit because he was appointed by Hevisi and because of his “less than helpful” behavior during board meetings. “I suspect he might have gotten wind that I was going to remove him because of that,” DiNapoli said. “It might have been a little bit embarrassing for him. Fortunately, he resigned before I had to do that.” DiNapoli dismissed the concerns Halis had raised about increasing staff pay, arguing that the comptroller’s office was paying enough to attract and keep top talent—especially since the financial collapse limited job opportunities. “In the face of the current situation, where much of the talk is about stream-

lining, it did not seem to me the time for people who are getting six-figure salaries to get salary increases,” DiNapoli said. But one current board member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the frozen salaries had a major impact in trying to fulfill DiNapoli’s longstated desire to hire a risk management advisor for the fund, which was finally done several months ago. The process

took almost two years. The current board member also charged that the morale of both board members and the comptroller’s staff had been diminished because Etienne, the chief investment officer, rarely took their advice. According to the board member, and confirmed by a legislator, DiNapoli at one point nearly relieved Etienne of her duties but backtracked due to pressure from the Legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. (Etienne is black.) DiNapoli called that account a “total fabrication.” “She helped guide our investment strategy during the most difficult economic landscape that anybody’s had to manage through, and she’s done an outstanding job,” he said. For all of the drama surrounding it, the committee currently has no formal powers. That could change soon—Wilson says he would significantly strengthen the committee’s role. “I would have a very different approach,” he said. “I think the role would be very robust and active in advising the comptroller on key decisions.”

managers before Wilson ever got to consider approving them. “It creates an ethical barrier so that the investment committee can weigh in on decision-making before it gets to the comptroller,” Wilson said. Wilson also says less active fund managers would be needed anyway, since he would seek to lower risk within the state’s pension portfolio. DiNapoli’s committee, meanwhile, is composed of people from a variety of investment backgrounds, from endowments to the financial world. When Wilson says he would appoint high-level retired “investment professionals” to his advisory board, DiNapoli says that what Wilson really means is that he would appoint people who devastated the pension fund in the first place. “You go back a few years ago, one of the names that might have been suggested for a board under what Mr. Wilson is proposing would be Bernie Madoff,” he said. “The notion of being a trustee is different than making a quick buck in a short-term game that typifies this crowd.” cbragg@nycapitolnews.com

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Tom DiNapoli’s Republican opponent, former hedge fund manager Harry Wilson, has highlighted what he says is DiNapoli’s disengagement from the board, charging in their only debate that two people left the board because of dissatisfaction with the comptroller.

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Amid All The Medicaid Reform Plans, Not One Prescription For Success Seen

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espite the best intentions of Albany legislators, substantive reform of the state’s unsustainably large Medicaid system seems unlikely to happen next year because of wide divergence among legislators and health care officials over what reform should look like. Medicaid is expanding at an unsustainable cost to the state, with enrollment ballooning from 2.8 million to 4.8 million people over the past decade, and costs expected to top $52 billion in this fiscal year. The program takes up a third of the state’s budget, and will pose more of an obstacle in the next fiscal year, when a temporary increase in federal matching funds expires, leaving New York with a multibillion-dollar hole to fill and few meaty state-sponsored programs left to cut. “The state is facing a mammoth deficit, they’ll have a deficit this year as big as the one next year, and if you don’t touch Medicaid, you’ve eliminated a third of the budget from possible cuts,” said Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, who authored a widely praised report calling for the program’s overhaul. And so the election-year flood of overhaul plans from gubernatorial candidates, potential senators and sitting lawmakers, all with their plans that analysts agree are, for one reason or another, completely unviable. “You’re talking about a byzantine system,” Ravitch said. Pundits and health care officials have already written off as implausible the plan proposed by Carl Paladino, who has said he would slash $20 billion from the program. The amount he plans to cut is more than the state currently provides for the program, and would threaten the “health and safety of millions of New Yorkers,” if enacted, wrote Gov. David Paterson in a statement he issued condemning the proposal. But the Cuomo plan could be just as much of a non-starter, say many health union leaders, state lawmakers and health policy experts. As outlined in his “New NY Agenda,” Cuomo’s five-point plan appears more modest, though the three pages he devoted to the problem mentions no dollar amounts. Several of his proposals rely entirely on changes at the federal level, over which he and the Legislature will have no control. Cuomo also may be hampered by his strong relationship with the state’s largest health care union, 1199 SEIU. In 2006, Cuomo won the race for attorney general

with broad-based support from the union, which has staunchly opposed any spending cuts, and still does, according to SEIU 1199 political director Tom Finnegan. The union was also instrumental in stopping ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s Medicaid reform plan in 2007. The Greater New York Hospital Association declined to comment on either Cuomo or Paladino’s plans, but did comment on a portion of a plan written by Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch that makes multiple recommendations, including one that mirrors one of Cuomo’s: removing the power to set reimbursement rates for health care providers from the Legislature and handing it over to an independent body, either a Medicaid Inspector General, in the Ravitch report, or a panel appointed by the governor in the Cuomo plan. “That recommendation takes ability away from the Legislature and puts it under one person,” said Brian Conway, spokesperson for the Greater New York Hospital Association. He said unilateral control over rate-setting was tantamount to tyranny. “It just needs to be checked and balanced. There’s nothing evil about the legislative process,” he said. Finnegan agreed, adding that neither proposal made clear why rate-setting power needed to be taken away from the Legislature. The union said they were willing to work with Cuomo, but remained opposed to any spending cuts. Both groups insist that efficiencies can be found in Medicaid fraud audits and in measures taken to reduce the overall costs of health care, from the sugar-sweetened beverage tax they lobbied for last year to medical malpractice law reforms. The former is opposed by the beverage lobby, and the latter faces stiff opposition from the state’s trial lawyers, making any substantive changes to those policies fraught with complications. There is little indication the Legislature would be ready to give up rate-setting power even if the governor has the political will to take on Medicaid spending. At a panel to discuss the budget last month in Manhattan, Ravitch asked State Sen. Liz Krueger whether she would be willing to cede the power. Krueger deferred. “I’m only one senator, so I don’t know how to answer that,” she said. But Krueger’s colleague, Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Duane, has indicated the Legislature needs to keep some sort of oversight. How comprehensive an oversight that would be and whether there would be DAN SMITH

BY LAURA NAHMIAS

veto power as part of the oversight would be important factors in his support of such a measure, Duane said. On the other side of the aisle, State Sen. Kemp Hannon, the Long Island Republican who has chaired two Medicaid Reform Task Forces and chaired the Health Committee under Republican control, said changing the rate-setting process seemed unnecessary. Instead, Hannon said he would advocate limiting eligibility categories as a way to achieve savings. “Just in the last year, we have made several expansions to Medicaid,” Hannon said. “In a time when you have money, those might have been justified. In the past two years, we have expanded in the state. We have to look at that.” Despite the disagreement about which route to take to reform, Hannon said the need for a massive Medicaid overhaul is more pressing than ever. But Duane said the best solution would not be cuts, but to find a way to educate taxpayers about the necessity of raising taxes to pay for the program’s costs. “Do we really want to impoverish middle-class people by forcing them to pay a tremendous amount of income and assets toward long-term care for loved ones?” he said of a cost-cutting proposal that would require spouses to contribute assets to nursing-home costs. “Or we could decide together that it’s worth all of us paying a little bit more so that more New Yorkers have access to high-quality care without being impoverished.” The Cuomo administration has made much of an exponential increase in the state’s ability to collect on Medicaid fraud investigations, from about $50 million in

OCTOBER 25, 2010

15

2006 to more than $500 million last year, according to a release from the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. But other lawmakers say fraud collections make little difference in the state’s overall spending. Collections on fraud cases have totaled just 1 percent of the total state and federal expenditure on Medicaid this year—some $50 billion. The problem with reforming the program is the program itself, which has grown from a small safety net for the state’s poorest individuals to an expansive catch-all that covers one in four New Yorkers, who will be loath to cut their own benefits, said Daniel Birnbaum of the United Hospital Fund’s Medicaid Institute, an organization studying the state’s Medicaid System. “There is a health care growth problem in this country,” Birnbaum said, adding that the state program’s growth was slow compared to the growth of health care costs nationwide, about 5.7 percent in New York over the last decade compared to 6.9 percent nationwide. The lack of specific cuts addressed in the Cuomo plan left one political insider to speculate the governor would rather sacrifice other parts of the budget than address the thorny issue of decreasing spending and risk jeopardizing the goodwill of 1199. “There’s a line you don’t cross, and Cuomo will make changes to health care at the expense of the state’s education budget,” the insider said. If there are to be changes, they will have to come from the next governor, said Ravitch, who released his own Medicaid plan in the hopes of providing the grounds for a new debate. But in an interview several weeks after the plan was released, Ravitch stuck to his characteristic weariness when asked about the plausibility of reform in next year’s legislative session. “It’s really going to be up to the next governor to decide what he’s going to push and isn’t going to push,” Ravitch said. “I’ve not heard from either of the candidates, and I have no idea what their level of interest is.” Three years ago, before he was named lieutenant governor, Ravitch watched his plan to save the transit system get ignored, and saw the same thing happen to his budget salvation proposal earlier this year. Citing the disruptive cuts the Legislature passed this year, Ravitch is sounding yet another alarm about the devastating consequences of doing nothing. “The governor could do some things, but most of those things require legislative action,” Ravitch said. “Part of my purpose in issuing that report was, as much, to educate people. I’ve been astounded in the last year, how few people you would think would understand something about Medicaid don’t understand anything at all.” lnahmias@nycapitolnews.com


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OCTOBER 25, 2010

ISSUE FORUM

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THE CAPITOL

INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSTRUCTION

Infrastructure Revitalization Essential To New York’s Economic Vibrancy BY LT. GOV. RICHARD RAVITCH

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he maintenance and revitalization of New York’s infrastructure is essential not only to preserve a high quality of life for New Yorkers but to ensure the state’s future global competitiveness and economic vibrancy. Yet New York lacks a coherent long-range blueprint for meeting its infrastructure needs. For example, New York’s commitment to its transportation capital needs is grossly inadequate. The State Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost $170 billion over the next 20 years to provide adequate funding for maintenance and upgrades to its systems, but a proposal to commit the equivalent of only half that amount over the next five years was rejected last year. DOT should be spending nearly $9 billion annually on core system projects, but in the next two years will be able to spend less than $1.5 billion per year. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects needs of a similar magnitude, but its current

five-year capital program is fully funded only in its first two years; in the final three years there is a projected $10 billion gap. True, infrastructure spending faces particular challenges today. The recession, the State fiscal crisis and uncertainties about federal funding have constrained the resources available for

investment in physical assets. There is political pressure to spend limited public dollars on health care and education. The long incubation period for infrastructure projects makes them less attractive to politicians, who will likely be out of office before the projects are completed. However, it is when economic circumstances are bad that government should increase infrastructure spending. The great works of public infrastructure from which we benefit today are the legacy of investments made by past politicians and civic leaders, often at great financial and political cost. The leaders who financed construction of the New York City subway system out of real estate tax revenues had the vision to understand that this decision was crucial to the city’s growth. Those who built the Thruway, the original Buffalo Peace Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester understood that those projects would deliver dividends for generations. Similarly, New York is now in need of strategic building programs that will create near-term jobs and broader economic

benefits in the long run. The cost of moving goods in this region will remain an impediment to our economic growth and competitiveness if the State does not adequately maintain and upgrade its transportation networks. Therefore, despite current fiscal challenges, New York should advance an infrastructure blueprint that includes concrete proposals for funding a multi-year statewide transportation capital program. These are times of cutbacks in all government programs. But anyone who lived through the 1970s knows that New York will suffer in the long term if it fails to make investments now. The risk of backsliding into a vicious cycle of disinvestment appears greater today than at any time in the past three decades. New York’s leaders need the foresight and political will to resist this backsliding and create a new infrastructure plan that is sensitive to present fiscal realities but cognizant of our future needs. Richard Ravitch is the lieutenant governor of New York State.

Building Infrastructure Creates Jobs, Prepares For Future BY REP. JOHN HALL

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merica has always been a nation of innovators and builders. As colonists, we developed a postal service, and as a young nation, we built an elaborate network of railroads and telecommunications. We pushed further and built a national highway system to move goods and services. In modern times, we have invested in broadband and other technology to connect us with the world. It’s not enough to live off the infrastructure that is already in place. We are pioneers, and must continue to not only improve our existing infrastructure, but also build upon what has already been created. By doing so, we can create jobs and improve our quality of life by making our roads and bridges safer, reducing time wasted in traffic, using less oil and purifying our air and water. Unfortunately, the previous adminis-

tration slashed funding for crucial infrastructure projects by nearly $1 billion. This Congress has worked hard to restore some of this funding, but given the drastic decline, we have a long way to go. In my Hudson Valley district, many communities are grappling with water quality problems. Many pipelines and water treatment facilities, more than 100 years old, are in desperate need of repair. The sharp decline of federal funding has not eliminated the need to deal with the problem. Instead, the burden has been transferred to local taxpayers and utility customers. The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, of which I am a member, recently passed a new Water Resources and Development Act that will fund important water infrastructure projects across the country and create jobs, stimulating local and regional economies. As a Member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, one

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of my responsibilities is to help write a long-term reauthorization of the surface transportation law. This bill provides an historic opportunity to create a forwardthinking, sustainable and green transportation policy, including traditional roads, bridges and tunnels, alternative vehicles, light rail and high-speed rail. This bill is an opportunity to create jobs on the scale of the interstate highway

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system while building livable communities and reducing traffic and pollution. The Surface Transportation Reauthorization must contain standards to require and incentivize construction equipment to use the best available technology to reduce particulate pollution. This equipment is used to build our roads, bridges and transit lines, and we need to make sure it does not increase asthma or emphysema among our elderly, our children, or people with respiratory problems. Further, this transportation bill should build links between housing, development and transportation. I will be pushing for provisions to help encourage transitoriented development, as well as expansion of public transportation, so that commuters across the Hudson Valley and New York can have more alternatives to a stressful highway commute. There is no greater moment to invest our time, energy and resources into the next generation of infrastructure. According to a study by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, gross domestic product grows by $1.59 for every dollar spent on infrastructure. Investing in infrastructure improves America’s efficiency and preserves our status as a world leader for generations to come. John Hall, a Democrat representing parts of Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties, is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.


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OctOber 25, 2010

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THE CAPITOL

Infrastructure and constructIon The Housing Trust Fund Model: Building And Preserving The Housing New York Needs ISSUE FORUM

By state sen. liz Krueger

New York can draw on the experience of other states in creating such a fund. There are now 40 states with housing trust funds, and the number of housing trust funds has doubled in the last seven years. Housing trust funds are extremely flexible and can be designed and operated to support many types of housing needs—new construction and preservation, multi-family, senior and specialneeds populations. The model can work in virtually any situation, serving small towns of about 1,000 people as well as in the largest states in the country. In the past two years, stimulus funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was used successfully here in New York for housing. The stimulus provided:

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hroughout New York State, our housing infrastructure is increasingly inadequate. In many upstate and rural communities, existing housing stock is in decay. In New York City, PlaNYC has projected the need for housing for an additional one million people between 2005 and 2030. Both the city and state have been able to utilize federal stimulus funds to help address these needs over the last couple years, but as that source of funding dries up, the need for a comprehensive state housing infrastructure plan is even more necessary. A housing trust fund offers a reliable mechanism for funding such a plan. Housing trust funds are distinct funds established by governments to provide dedicated sources of funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing and increase opportunities for families and individuals to access decent affordable homes. To be successful, housing trust funds need a dedicated stream of funding that cannot be arbitrarily stopped or re-directed away from commitments. While New York State has established a housing trust

fund corporation, the failure to create a dedicated funding mechanism has undermined its effectiveness as a tool for housing infrastructure planning. The reality is that significant housing construction/ preservation efforts are always multiyear, multi-funding source projects. Success cannot be accomplished based on year-to-year shifts in funding or goals.

• $500 million for public housing capital (went directly to the housing authorities); • $252 million for TCAP (tax credits for construction of affordable housing); • $395 million for weatherization (all eligible units are at 60 percent or below the median income level); and • $136 million for Neighborhood Stabilization grants (grants to local communi-

ties and non-profits to purchase and redevelop foreclosed or abandoned homes or other vacant properties, for resale or rental to low-, moderate- and middle-income households). The federal government has also recognized the value of Housing Trust Funds. Congress voted in 2008 to establish a National Housing Trust Fund. That fund has yet to be activated because of the recession, but President Obama has proposed $1 billion in funding for the federal 201011 budget, which could face congressional action after the Nov. 2 election. Creating a State Housing Trust Fund would maximize our ability to use any and all new federal housing funds to invest in our communities. But regardless of what may or may not come down from the federal level, New York State needs to take charge of preserving and expanding its housing infrastructure and adopt the Housing Trust Fund model that has proven so successful elsewhere in the country. Liz Krueger, a Democrat representing parts of Manhattan, is vice chair of the State Senate Finance Committee.

With Eye On Infrastructure, New York’s Development Momentum Is Undeniable By Dennis Mullen

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ov. David Paterson has called for bold investments in state infrastructure and relied on Empire State Development to both retain and bring new business to New York. ESD acknowledged the governor’s mandate and focused our resources on jumpstarting a handful of transformative infrastructure and development projects. The last two years have seen remarkable strides and the momentum is undeniable. There are significant projects statewide that exemplify our goal of combining large-scale redevelopment projects that create immediate jobs with infrastructure improvements that serve as enduring economic engines for our state. GlobalFoundries’ semiconductor wafer fabrication facility in Saratoga County is one of the most significant projects for New York State in years. The project is anticipated to create roughly 1,400 direct semiconductormanufacturing jobs and 5,000 indirect jobs in the region. In the short term, the facility’s construction will generate 1,600 jobs, plus 2,700 construction-related jobs. Another upstate project with widespread reach is the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus which includes the

region’s top clinical research and medical institutions. It supports over 8,000 employees, sees over one million patients annually and continues to grow. The $307 million Global Vascular Institute & Clinical Translational Research Center is under construction on campus and will create additional jobs. Moving downstate, arena construction is underway on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, with the concrete foundation being poured. The Atlantic Yards project also includes enhancements to public transit, namely a state-of-the-art rail storage, cleaning and inspection facility for LIRR and a subway connection on Atlantic Avenue’s south side. Job estimates are upward of 17,000 union construction jobs and up to 8,000 permanent jobs. This progress solidifies a vision that will ultimately bring transportation improvements, an arena, open space, affordable housing and thousands of jobs to Brooklyn. Moving into Manhattan, the 100,000-square-foot expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was completed in June on time and on budget. Upon completion of the renovation, its 80,000 gross square feet of exhibition space will remain in service, complementing existing operations. The expansion and renovation of the Javits

Center will create 9,000 construction and construction-related jobs over the fourand-a-half-year construction period. North of 125th Street on Manhattan’s west side is the future 17-acre site of Columbia University’s Manhattanville campus. This $6.3 billion project will be one of the largest moving forward this year, resulting in 14,000 construction jobs over 25 years and 6,000 university positions. The expansion of one of New York’s oldest educational institutions will enhance the vitality of both the University and its neighboring West Harlem community, while meeting the long-term needs of its residents.

October marks the 100th Anniversary of construction commencement at New York Penn Station, which is why I am excited to publicize that after years of planning, negotiations and community outreach, New York State is embarking upon Phase 1 of the Moynihan Station project. This enormous infrastructure project will expand the busiest train station in the country, creating thousands of construction jobs in the process. It will also improve passenger safety and security for the more than 550,000 people that pass through Penn Station on a daily basis. With the first phase officially underway, we can move forward with Phase 2 planning to transform the Farley Federal Post Office Building into a grand rail gateway into New York City. Each of these projects signifies a victory for New York State in its own right, spurring job creation and ensuring the best possible return on our investment. But together, they represent a sound economic strategy; an efficient, productive and competitive economic development climate in New York State; and a better New York for future generations. Dennis Mullen is chairman and CEO of the Empire State Development Corporation.


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THE CAPITOL

OctOber 25, 2010

Senate Face-Off

Blue Jay

Place your bets: the epic pre-redistricting battle for the State Senate is coming to a close. The Democrats have voter registration, a two-seat lead and a financial advantage on their side. The Republicans have the tea party, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, and a slew of entrenched incumbents that they can count on. State Sen. Jeff Klein, the chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and Deputy Minority Leader Tom Libous, chair of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, sounded off on last-minute strategy, the Paladino effect, and how they would do things different going forward in the majority. What follows are edited transcripts:

Tom Libous The Capitol: What is this election about, in your mind? Tom Libous: It’s pretty simple: it’s about taxes, spending and jobs. If you look at the record of the Senate Democrats, practically every question you ask me, I’ll be repeating myself—because that’s what’s resonating with voters. They’re not happy with the last two years, the taxes, the spending in government, and we lost, I think, some 285,000 jobs over the last couple years. That’s resonating in every district. It’s resonating in Manhattan, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and especially upstate, where people are out of work and over-taxed—so our message is pretty simple, it’s taxes, spending and jobs, and we want to change it. TC: What are the specific problems with the other party’s record? TL: First off, look what they did. They increased spending by billions of dollars, and then they increased taxes. They did a bunch of pork barrel projects. It was reckless spending, as simple as that. The public is tired of their reckless spending and their increase in taxes, everything they did in their budgets. TC: How will the governor’s race play into State Senate races? TL: I think right now it’s going to help us, because if you listen to Andrew Cuomo’s message, he’s very supportive of the Senate Republicans. He wants to cut taxes, he wants to cut spending, he wants to create jobs. That’s something that Democrats in the Senate did not do for two years; we’re willing to work with him and get it done. If it’s a foregone conclusion that Andrew Cuomo becomes governor, and I say we welcome that, in the sense that he’s going to do what we want to do principally—and that’s cut taxes and spending and create jobs—I don’t think it’s going to hurt us. I think when a Democratic candidate who’s popular has the same message as the Senate Republicans, I think that’s a positive thing and that will help to restore balance in state government.

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TC: How do you motivate your base? TL: The federal issues are motivating our voters. Even in New York State, when you mention the name Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, it gets people angry, they start focusing. I think what’s going to help us, if you look at some of these congressional races, Republicans for the first time in a long time are in play. There’s even a rumor that the infamous Maurice Hinchey is in trouble. So I think federal races are going to help us regain the Senate majority. If you look at the [Matt] Doheny race overlaying Patty Richie, all over the state, Greg Ball down in Westchester with [Nan] Hayworth, if you look at the congressional races, how the Senate districts lay over them or under them, it’s only positive for us. TC: How does your party intend to correct the problems of the past, especially if the margin continues to be narrow? TL: First off, I think we will have another chance at a majority. I’m confident, I believe we will get the majority back. Our conference recognizes that this is a different time in government, we have to govern differently. We have to do things where we’ve really got to cut taxes, do initiatives to create jobs. People are really hurting throughout the state, but particularly upstate. I think you’ll see a different Republican majority that is principled and willing to make those hard decisions, whether it’s reducing spending as Cuomo wants, or cutting taxes as he wants to create jobs.

Forth

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Jeff Klein

The Capitol: What is this election about, in your mind? Jeff Klein: I think this is the future of New York State. This is our ability when we maintained the majority to do the things we set out to do—create jobs, lower property taxes, eliminate government waste—and I think that at the end of the day, with Andrew Cuomo as our next governor, we are going to be a very willing and functional partner in allowing the two of us to achieve those things. I think the Senate Democrats have been very clear in the two years we have been in the majority. We passed a property tax cut twice, which unfortunately the Assembly didn’t take up. We also passed a “Power For Jobs” bill. We passed a green jobs bill. We attempted to rehabilitate Enterprise Zones—these are the things that we need to do moving forward. I think that the agenda that Attorney General Cuomo has laid out is a very ambitious one. I think the way that he’s going to be able to achieve that is to maintain a Democratic majority in the State Senate. TC: What are the specific problems with the other party’s record? JK: They failed to create jobs. They failed to reduce property taxes, and they let our budget grow out of control. And they did absolutely nothing to eliminate government waste. And they turn around now, blaming us for all of the problems in the state of New York. The way they dealt with job growth was to reward big businesses by giving them millions and millions of dollars of tax breaks. Once they got those tax breaks, they downsized, shipped off jobs overseas or out of states. We need to follow a much clearer path of giving small businesses the help they need in the form of a $2,500 tax break. And ensuring that when they grow jobs, those jobs are made in New York State, or they lose their tax break. TC: How will the governor’s race play into State Senate races? JK: Andrew Cuomo is the standard bearer of the Democratic Party in this election. He’s going to make sure that we not only keep the majority, but expand the majority. The numbers that Andrew Cuomo is racking up all over the state show that Paladino’s campaign is tanking. I think what we are going to see over the weeks ahead is the Republican incumbents and Senate candidates running away from Paladino like they should have done two months earlier—but unfortunately they embraced him and are stuck with him. Cuomo is increasing his reach in districts all over the state. I don’t see where Paladino helps the Republicans in one district. I think Andrew Cuomo is going to win in a landslide upstate, downstate and the suburbs. TC: How do you motivate your base? JK: We’ve run very localized races talking about our incumbents, talking about how great our challengers are compared to the Republican incumbents, and we are going to continue to do the same. And getting back to the Cuomo example, I think the enthusiasm gap is going to be solved by Carl Paladino himself. I think the prospect of having someone like Carl Paladino as governor of New York State is going to be frightening to people, both Democrats, Republicans—and blanks. I think the Republicans will stay home and the Democrats and blanks will vote enthusiastically for Andrew Cuomo. TC: How does your party intend to correct the problems of the past, especially if the margin continues to be narrow? JK: I have a very clear prediction. I think it’s going to come true. And the voters of New York State are going to benefit. We are going to expand our majority, we’re heading into reapportionment—I supported independent redistricting—and we are going to grow our majority. I think what you are going to see is Republicans who have been there a long time, if they make it out of this election cycle and are victorious, are going to leave— which means special elections before even the next election, which we’ll win. And when the dust settles, the Republicans will realize that they have to join us and govern in a bipartisan fashion. So we won’t have partisan bickering, pointing fingers back and forth. We won’t have individual members who can hold up a conference for their own personal means. And finally, we’ll be able to get down to the business of governing and do what the voters of New York State send us to do: solve the problems of the day. —Chris Bragg cbragg@nycapitolnews.com


UFA ad in The Capitol 10-18-10_new layout 10/21/10 12:11 PM Page 1

Second Hand Smoke Kills Mayor Bloomberg and the city council want to ban smoking in public spaces in the City of New York because second hand smoke kills thousands every year. “When you breathe second hand tobacco smoke, you are inhaling a bouquet of arsenic, vinyl, chloride, cyanide, ammonia, benzene, and other toxins and carcinogens that threaten your long term health. ” — Mayor Michael Bloomberg “There is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke, not inside, not outside, not anywhere. Second hand smoke causes cancer. It is a class A carcinogen, it is a killer.”

— Don Distasio, CEO Eastern Division, American Cancer Society

NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTERS AGREE “The truth is that New York City Firefighters inhale more toxic smoke at one fire than the average citizen’s exposure to a lifetime of second hand smoke.This is just another reminder that New York City Firefighters have the most dangerous job in America.”

— Steve Cassidy, UFA President

Photo credit First on Scene Photos

For more information visit: Uniformed Firefighters Association

www.UFANYC.ORG

The October 25, 2010 Issue of The Capitol  

The October 25, 2010 Issue of The Capitol. The Capitol is a monthly publication, targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and...

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