Saturday, June 26, 2010

State of Politics Blog

It is reassuring in these difficult and turbulent times to know Liz is working on the weekend, keeping a watchful eye on our diligent if somewhat mercurial lawmakers.....
Seems the leadership doesn't like the Governor pushing them around and Senator Sampson and Speaker Silver want to leave their imprint on the 2010 spending plan.
While the Governor's pushing is in many ways a good thing, Mr. Paterson's extender ultimatum misses key revenues outlined in his original proposal and engages in dangerous de facto borrowing against the pension fund.
I know Mr. Sampson was working today with his caucus and the Legislature is drafting its own bills for consideration on Monday. Either way, its time to git'er done!
State of Politics Blog

Paterson Pension Scheme is Nutty

Comptroller candidate Harry Wilson is right on this one.....The Paterson proposal to allow the state and local governments to pay some of this years pension contributions over time is just a bad idea happening to a bad system.
Its in essence borrowing...something the Governor said he would not do.
And the assumption that the pension fund portfolio will earn an "industry standard' of 8% a year is crazy.
We don't need a defined benefit system in today's world....we can't afford all the six figures pensions and if were are going to have all that, we cannot afford all these rosy assumptions. It is actuarily unsound....And as a component of the Governor's "or else" budget on Monday, it's wrong.
The problem is pension contribution rates are soaring...especially for localities because so many of their employees are in the lucrative 20 year and your out plans for police and fire. If the law says they are to be paid be it...find the economies needed to meet those obligations.
We cannot again just kick the can down the road.
Pension option sparks attack - Capitol Confidential

Cuomo Rallies Citizen Army

I missed the pep talk...I was waiting on hold at 10 this morning for the conference call to hear about Andrew Cuomo's "citizen army" and then I had to participate in another army-like event....The groundbreaking for the latest Habitat for Humanity house being built in the City of Watertown....Those folks who volunteer labor and materials to build these houses are an Army for Good in our community...
As for the phone call, I would have liked to hear what was said, but fortunately our friends at Capital Tonight summed it up for me.
There is so little mystery in the race for Governor, it is hard to get engaged in the dialogue....I am following the current Governor's fight over the budget and hoping some of what I would like to see is enacted.
As for whether there is any chance Rick Lazio meats Mr. Cuomo...The answer is no..I don't even think for sure Lazio can beat Carl Paladino in the GOP primary.
Cuomo Rallies Citizen Army

Governor's Plan Shrewdly Calculated to Pass

Among the dumber fiscal moves in the Governor's proposed budget is to amortize current year contributions to the state retirement system...
This just makes worse the inherent long term issues with this program by intentionally underfunding the pension plan this year. However this will create the illusion of less spending this year...Kind of like the borrowing Mr. Paterson says he is not doing.
The end of the clothing exemption on October 1st is a tax hike but by phrasing it as ending an exemption its not a political third rail.
Nobody cares about liquor store owners, or lottery agents who came up short in the budget.
Although the Governor's plan does include a "medallion" feature for liquor store owners that would allow them to sell their rights to wine to a grocery or drug store prior to the wine in stores effective date. That would allow some to cash out of the business, as a Wegmans or Pricechopper would pony up for the right to start selling sooner.
The proposed property tax cap is likely an illusion but it sounds good to suburban voters, and the omission of taxes on soda and hospitals will placate the obese and those who treat them.
The governor also found an extra $200 million in revenue and pledged an estimated $250 million in cuts to operations.
There are no proposals or series of proposals that affect enough people to sink the bill...

Governor's Ultimatum Budget Will Leave Lawmakers in a Sheep-like Mode

Governor Paterson's 'take it or leave it' extender bill will be the budget unless Legislative leaders craft an acceptable alternative this weekend...Don't look for that to happen and that means the sales tax exemption on clothing sales is gone.....Liquor stores get a kick in pants as wine goes into regular stores....The health care lobby and the soda industry win as proposed taxes are dropped.....and a property tax cap is put in place for local governments.
By voting for the Governor's ultimatum, lawmakers will be able to say they had to do it to avoid a horrible....horrible I tell you....shutdown of state operations on Tuesday.
While the end is in sight, there are enough groups happy with the terms to avoid political consequences...The clothing exemption isn't that tangible an increase in taxes and the property tax cap will have an appeal in suburban counties.
The fact that a handful of disgruntled booze merchants vote against incumbents will not affect the reelection prospects of any of the 32 Democratic senators who will be required to vote for this final act in the budget drama of 2010.
Megna: Extender has property tax cap, no sugar tax, yes WIGS - Capitol Confidential

Palin's Defense Fund Deemed Illegal...Monies to be Returned

Politics is often a full employment program for lawyers, and so it was in the wake of Sarah Palin's national run for office. A long series of ethics complains were filed and under AK's strict ethics law, the cost of defending against them was a personal expense....Suddenly public office was a bankrupting experience to the tune of $600,000 in lawyer bills for a middle class woman serving in the Governor's mansion. A legal defense fund was set up based on the advice of numerous lawyers and folks contributed to help what was later determined to be a gross abuse of ethics laws used as a bludgeon against a political foe.
This is not uncommon. As we sit today, local candidates for office like State Senate have a stable of party lawyers ready to challenge petitions and in this kind of exercise in democracy, anyone without legal resources will soon find out there is no such thing as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
Even Palin's fund was the subject of an ethics complaint and this week's long delayed ruling says the fund in the context of holding office was illegal and the monies will be returned.
There are few things as frightening as facing civil legal action without the means to defend yourself, but it happens and those who felt an affinity for the then-Governor's plight gladly sent donations to the independently administered fund.
As life turned out, Ms. Palin had enough of all this and left office. She went on to earn considerable sums in today's world of politician as celebrity. Alls well that ends well.
But if she hadn't chosen that route and had chosen to stay in office, it would have been a long road to insolvency as complaints mounted and billable hours piled up. (One complaint was she wore an Arctic Cat jacket to a snowmobile race)
While in office , some people do indeed do things wrong or things perceived as wrong...Joe Bruno, Bill Clinton, you name it....If in a post political world, you can cash out on celebrity as Palin and Clinton have done, it's all OK.
Palin to refund most of defense fund money: Former Gov. Sarah Palin

Friday, June 25, 2010

Governor To Legislature: I Am Prepared to Move Ahead Without You

Governor Paterson continues to impress in terms of his willingness to play chicken with Sheldon Silver and Senator Sampson. The Governor is in NYC and says he is not going to hang around the capitol just to watch another deadline come and go.....Instead he will present his final budget extender with all the changes he wants and force the Legislature to vote up or down....with down meaning a shutdown...
Some people like Speaker Silver are good at wearing you down with endless meetings...But Governor Paterson is not biting and Silver and Sampson headed to the City today to meet on the Governor's turf...
I am enjoying the brinksmanship, even though I know the end result is more taxes.
State of Politics Blog

Madam Davis works the Capitol - Capitol Confidential

Who says there are no alternatives to Cuomo and Lazio ?....There is Carl Paladino...the mad as Hell Buffalonian....There's the NYC Councilman running for governor to set up a party to endorse only black people...and there is Manhattan Madame Kristin Davis who was in Albany today with political advisor Roger Stone to launch her bid to get on the November ballot.
She helped set up the girls for Governor Spitzer, so she has executive experience !
Madam Davis works the Capitol - Capitol Confidential

How Albany Makes Sure It Gets Every Dollar Possible

Many years ago, John Moore and I were taping an interview with a senior official in local government known for swagger , and without any prompting the subject of the interview said to us...
"People ask why I date young girls....I do it because I can.."
Well, today retailers got their retroactive tax form from the state so that not only will new purchases of cigarettes be more heavily taxed, but all butts in inventory on July 1st have to be taxed retroactively.
Why does the state tax retroactively ?.....because it can......

Paterson: More NY taxes, fees coming » Breaking News » Press-Republican

Monday's budget showdown vote will pit the Governor against the Legislature's willingness to shutdown state operations...No contest..
They are trying to work out some compromises but the 32 Senate Dems will have to be kept on the reservation and that means upstate Dems like our own Darrel Aubertine can and should use every opportunity to exert their leverage.
In an example of Albany-speak, Sheldon Silver says dropping the exemption on sales tax for clothing is not an increase, but merely a suspension of what was a temporary thing in the first place...However getting rid of that exemption is at least a broad based increase compared to the 'hammer one industry' approach used on cigarettes.
Still on the table is wine in the supermarkets...No matter how you feel about it, a lot of small business people have been on the bubble for months wondering whether this bill will pass and threaten their survival.
And of course the sugar tax is still out their as well.....There are various little niche fees and other revenues being considered.
I am convinced it will be resolved by Mondays extender deadline...We are now on the 13th extender...That has to be lucky.
Paterson: More NY taxes, fees coming » Breaking News » Press-Republican

Fear and Loathing in the 122nd ?

The 122nd Assembly race will be very interesting...I waded through a lengthy manifesto put out today by Ken Blankenbush...It's called True North and the text is on Jude's site...Among the points is a proposed suspending of Miranda rights for terror suspects in NY.....Can an Assemblyman do that ?
To be honest it looked like boilerplate from the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee....Nobody has that many talking points.
On the other side, Democrat Brian McGrath is holding an official kickoff on Saturday in Lowville....Headlining his speakers list is labor boss and hubby of the current Assemblyman, Ron McDougall....
Hope there are no Weekly Standard Reporters in Lewis County that day.
Ron's presence is the clearest evidence of what has long been obvious and that is Assemblywoman Scozzafava supports the Democrat.
That's no surprise...Scozzafava is steamed at the GOP over her Congressional race from Hell last year. Remember,she sat in that booth at Jumbo's Diner three days before the election, breaking bread with June O'Neill and Rep. Steve Israel, and then promptly dropped her bid; endorsed Democrat Bill Owens and rode the once mighty GOP line to a meager 5% showing.
She would have run this year, had Blankenbush not and she can still deliver votes especially in Gouverneur. She can also be a key adviser on issues in Albany.
To have been a fly on the wall in Jumbo's....betcha lots of possibilities and opportunities were discussed...All the code words that shrewd pros like June and Israel would use.
There will be some payback in this race and the one time Congressional frontrunner from last year has some scores to settle.
This will be a fun race to watch...Each candidate has his own strengths and vulnerablilities.....And this district has never been seriously contested..It will be this year.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Status Quo is Doing Fine, Thank You

Electing fresh faces and throwing out entrenched incumbents sounds like a good idea till the rubber meets the road...Long time Rep. Carolyn Maloney would seem a good candidate for extinction in her tony Upper East Side seat and she has an attractive, younger, bright and seemingly well funded opponent named Reshma Saujani taking her on in the Democratic primary.
Even though Saujani has a $369,000 war chest and that's impressive for a newcomer...Maloney has five times that and a poll shows the incumbent up 75% to 7%....
For all the talk of change, incumbency still reigns and there will not be nearly as much change this year as some people think.
Maloney V. Saujani: The Drill-Down - UPDATED

Carl Clarifies: Gov’s Office ‘No Place For Drug Abusers’

When you are mad as Hell and planning to take a baseball bat to the State Legislature, it's understandable you might have to explain yourself once in a while...So it is with businessman Carl Paladino who told the WDT yesterday that Governor Paterson is a drug addict...a reference to his previous admissions of cocaine use when he was younger.
Once the video was posted, statewide media latched on to it and by today it was a big deal and the Paladino campaign for Governor was in clarification mode...
Mr. Paladino is going to step on toes this year as he says what he believes without the filter of a professional politician....
I don't know why he is attacking the lame duck governor who is actually trying to reign in spending...But the issue of prior drug use is an issue since for so many years, so many people were locked up for what is now called experimenting as a youth.
Carl Paladino will make the race for governor interesting....He brings to politics the same candor that Dunk brings to retailing.
Carl Clarifies: Gov’s Office ‘No Place For Drug Abusers’

Butt Scavengers Evade New York's Taxes

At $10 a pack the remants of a good smoke discarded in public ash trays will be even more valuable...
I have written about this before but in the context of this week's $1.60 a pack hike in cigarette taxes, an incident this morning caught my eye...
While mopping, I noticed the top of a head passing the side window on the way to the side entrance to Fort Pearl....I went out to see what was up and it was a girl...I would say 14 nervously standing there.......
I ask her what's up and she said she was "just" gathering cigarette butts for her mom....The butts were in the outdoor ash trays attached to the building at each entrance. Unlike butts in the trash or on the ground these are in a sand tray and "unspoiled."
I told the young lady this was a bad thing to do and she informed me that they burn them so its not dirty...I gathered the half dozen butts in the ash tray and told her not to do it here again.
One would suppose the Albany response to this sad incident would be to reprimand me for not cleaning out the ashtrays more often...Let's draft a law and a press release !
It is really a function of price....The hopelessly addicted.....who are likely to be low income resort to such things...Others probably steal...The better off either pay, quit, or find a source outside the system of taxation.
New Yorkers adapt....

Tax Hikes Coming

Governor Paterson says some tax hikes will be coming when the final incarnation of a budget is passed by Monday. The Governor says the 13th extender bill will include the remaining items the Governor wants and that may include getting rid of a sales tax exemption on clothing....That would be a broad based tax instead of trying to raise money on narrow portions of the economy.
As a citizen, I look at all this and just don't see where all these Draconian cuts are that are being talked about...Yes there is a reduction in aid to localities but every government that has been operating is still operating...That is certainly true locally, where there has been some needed belt tightening but nothing drastic in terms overall service....
Sales tax is a huge cash cow as we know locally... In Jefferson County, most of the cost of local government comes from sales tax....not the much talked about property tax....Excempting certain products has never made sense to me, so if they are going to do taxes (which they are) the more broad based is better......Getting rid of these "press release" exemptions on certain products will likely be invisible to voters. Isn't that the goal in an election year ?.
As we sit today, most lawmakers are from safe districts so none of this matters to them, but in a closely divided Senate there are a handful of lawmakers who are on the bubble...They need to put an end to this and accepting whatever the Governor wants may be short term pain, but getting this done and getting home is a priority...
Tax hikes on horizon : Home: The Buffalo News

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WDT: Paladino to Wield Baseball Bat in Albany

Times scribe Jude Seymour ventured into Harley Heaven tonight to see Buffalo businessman and gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino....Mr. Paladino made what we think is his first NNY visit and I was unable to go....Sounds like this guy is mad as Hell....If he does get an independent line on the ballot, he could easily win the 50,000 votes needed to get a line on the ballot for four years.....As for his other plan to beat Rick Lazio in the GOP primary.....that will be tough, but given the ambivalence towards Mr. Lazio in the party, anything is possible.
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

CNN's risky balancing act - Keach Hagey -

Our hooker-crazy ex Governor Eliot Spitzer is getting his own show on CNN starting this fall....Journalist Kathleen Parker will join the defrocked governor in the 8pm time slot to talk about the issues of our day....This is a great country !
CNN's risky balancing act - Keach Hagey -

HIGHTIMES.COM > Will New York Become the 15th Medical Marijuana State?

Among the issues being debated in Albany is medical marijuana....I thought the Legislature was already smoking it !
HIGHTIMES.COM > Will New York Become the 15th Medical Marijuana State?

Indys Back Sheriff Burns

The Jefferson County Independence Party tonight endorsed Sheriff John Burns and Judge Peter Schwerzmann for the offices of Sheriff and County Surrogate Court Judge.
In a meeting at Fort Pearl, the party's executive committee also reaffirmed their support for Congressional candidate Matt Doheny and Senator Darrel Aubertine.
The formal authorizations for those races come from the NYS Indy Party and so far only Doheny has been backed at that level.
Candidates must still gather and file petitions. It is understood both candidates in the 122 AD are gathering petitions and at least one candidate in the 118th....
None of those candidates were present tonight.

Rod Blagojevich wanted to be U.N. ambassador - Andy Barr -

Blago must think getting the U.N. gig is like being appointed Jefferson County Trails Coordinator. While I think the defrocked Illinois governor could handle any Third World thugs, he probably wasn't being reasonable expecting that job in exchange for the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. For that favor you get a mid level deputy secretary job that nobody will pay attention to.
I do like Blago because he is the epitome of Chicago politics and I hope he gets acquitted because he is being set up to protect the White House. This special prosecutor is a grand stander.
Rod Blagojevich wanted to be U.N. ambassador - Andy Barr -


Word is a quake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale rumbled thru NNY and SE Ontario...Didn't feel a thing.

Q Poll: NYers Dislike Of Govt Reaches All-Time High

With over 80% of NYS residents saying they dislike their state government, its no wonder nobody cared if there was a shutdown....This poll shows its gotten to the point where the only ones in favor of the status quo are the ones working in it.
Q Poll: NYers Dislike Of Govt Reaches All-Time High

WDT: A-Bay Demonstrates a Need to Meddle

There is something in the DNA of people in government that wants to regulate, even when it appears there is no advantage to doing so. So it is in Alexandra Bay where the village suddenly wants sandwich board signs off the sidewalks....
The Bay is a tourist town and businesses look for ways to communicate their message to consumers. Sandwich signs are an easy, convenient and effective way to tell visitors what is available. Signs have been used in this manner for centuries. Now somebody has it in their head these signs are ugly or undesirable.
Here in Watertown, we had a recent run-in where a bull was deemed signage and thus illegal (sensible heads at the ZBA prevailed on that one) and things like decorative banners are or are not signs depending on whether the word mattress is on them.
Businesses in business districts will always seek ways to communicate to customers...And the sign industry always has new gadgets to help out....
Simple sandwich boards are a uniform way fo allow buisness to thrive......The Bay is a village where people go to be pitched to buy things....Lay off the signs and do not seek to ban them at the height of the summer season.
Watertown Daily Times Alex Bay to enforce sign law

A Symbol for the Frustrations of His Supporters

I was talking to a couple of operatives tonight about, among other things, the Congressional race...we were trying to assess the possible Doheny-Hoffman GOP primary.
While Doheny was described as smart, approachable and enegetic, it was harder to list Mr. Hoffman's appeal.
One operative, I will call her Taffy to protect her privacy, summed up the sparse and inarticulate campaingn of Doug Hoffman. Taffy described Hoffman as an "ideal" to his Tea Party supporters even though he is not a great speaker.
That means Mr. Hoffman is an empty vessel into which Tea Partiers will deposit what they want.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Barring a Petitiion Snafu By Hoffman It Will Be a 3-Way Race

Republicans are like the general fighting that last war....I read Jude's piece about Matt Doheny pledging to be a good sport if he loses the GOP primary...He says he will not run on the Indy line alone.
First of all, you never concede the possibility of defeat and you don't aggravate the members of the party that just endorsed you.
Mr. Doheny is on Line C through November, period...and Doug Hoffman presumably will be on Line D. Since neither is an attorney who can get off the ballot by taking a Supreme Court nomination, they are stuck there.
Last year the GOP had it bowels in an uproar over the insurrection against Diedre Scozzafava....There is this push to get everybody to agree to fall on their sword after the primary. I don't see it happening. ...
I am not a Republican so I don't feel the need to stay with whomever the party of Abe Lincoln and Don Coon decides on. Even if they plead with me not to I will still vote for Matt if for no other reason than he is a City taxpayer.
Besides, these guys do not like each other or respect each other...There will be no Kumbaya moment in September.
This will be a 3-way race in November...Hoffman sure isn't backing down...He drew 46% on the D line last year.
All the money spent on the primary will ensure everybody knows everybody and even without post primary spending the names on line C or D will draw.
So the correct response to Jude's inquiries is....
"I intend to be elected Congressman on November question"
(which is why I said in a previous post Doheny needs a big Republican win to effectively neuter Hoffman)

Paterson says budget will be done by Monday - one way or the other!

Governor Paterson will force the budget issue Monday by putting the rest of his proposals in extender #13, thus allowing lawmakers to choose between a shutdown and a quick end to the budget impasse on the Governor's terms. That's a good out for the Legislature and I bet they take it.
Paterson says budget will be done by Monday - one way or the other!

BN: WNY Senate Hopeful Shuns Third Parties, Pledges their Demise

Here's a candidate not playing the increasingly scrutinized third party game allowed in New York politics....This Democrat doesn't want the backing of the Conservative , Independence or Working Families party and is running on a platform of ending fusion voting in NY.....The practice of cross-endorsing major party candidates only exists in three states including us.
Fusion voting and the Wilson/Pakula Act serve to concentrate the awarding of the line to a very small group...There are seldom primaries and seldom does the third party offer an alternative beyond the major party candidates. This concentration of power produces predictable results.
This story in the Buffalo News makes me wonder whether our own State Senator might pursue the same route...Darrel Aubertine has already blown off the WFP and is only being told he has a chance at a primary in the Indy Party...but conventional wisdom suggests that promise is like Lucy pulling the football on Charlie Brown....
If Aubertine runs and wins on one party line, he will fly in the face of convention.....Being unconventional is not common in Albany.
Coppola shuns minor lines in State Senate bid : Southern Suburbs : The Buffalo News

WDT: Mohawks vow to oppose state's effort to collect tax

Will NYS get out the jack boots and raid these Indian reservations and put an end to the sale of untaxed cigarettes ?....They would if you or I were doing it, but rest assured the effort will be focused on the user and not the pusher...Motorists leaving a reservation will be harassed in an effort to dissuade the public from patronizing the Indians....The Post Office will be pressured to halt the delivery of said products...The effort will be to make the reservation stores die on the vine....except perhaps for the more well-heeled tribes like at Turning Stone who have enough political weight and money to buy peace.
There will be no direct confrontation because the government doesn't have the muscle or stomach for what could happen. Tribes do have the cash to protect their interests in court but the little stores do not and they will be targeted first.
One tactic to get around the tax may be a recent purchase of a cigarette rolling plant in Western New York....It is likely Indian-produced butts will be exempt anyway.
Watertown Daily Times Mohawks vow to oppose state's effort to collect tax

Silver: Deadline? What Deadline?

Last week I took him at face value...Speaker Silver saying a budget would be passed by today at the latest....Didn't happen...If he can't control events, who can ?
Silver: Deadline? What Deadline?

The Moral Dilemma When the State Confiscates Too Much

Here's a topic for the ethicists and philosophers.....Is is a mortal or a venial sin to avoid New York's huge tax on cigarettes by buying from an Indian Reservation or having an out-of -state friend or relative slip a few cartons in the mail to you. It's the same question many ask when they have their friend at Fort Drum pick them up some booze at the Class 6 store to save a few bucks.
No, seriously, is it your moral duty as a citizen to pay every tax levied no matter how egregious and rapacious ? Is it organized crime when those Indians or others sell cigarettes without the taxes or is government organized crime for increasingly preying on the hopelessly addicted and often low income users of tobacco ?
With taxes reaching the point where massive bootlegging may occur, and lawmakers oblivious to their tacit funding of criminal and terrorist it this the time for civil disobedience....?
Or is any flouting of the laws of New York a sin for which a couple of Our Fathers and a Hail Mary do not provide absolution ?
And would you turn in your neighbor if their Uncle Bubba down South was mailing them Marlboros ? These are questions you will have to answer as New York State Government crosses the line on taxation of this pernicious yet legal product.
A state buttlegging crackdown is all for show--Editorial -

Dueling Scribes Cover the Same Meeting...Haven't Seen That Since The Bob Strom Era

Its good to see another print reporter covering City Council...not that I have any quarrel with the WDT, as their reporter wrote a good piece on last nights meeting....I just think the competition is good...I remember the days when TV50 and TV 7 competed and even the most encrusted and entrenched in the business admit competition is a good thing.
The Newzjunky scribe has broken some stories of late and that means the long standing policy of sitting on stories and using them as fillers later in the week may end......
As one with a modicum of new judgement left over from media days, I often wonder why a good story is passed over and just put in a couple of days later...Of course, the reason is that for those getting their news from one source, old news is still fresh.
A lot of times with TV news, the reporters are sent to a meeting with a question to ask and that's their story regardless of what actually happens...I often wonder if City Hall caught fire during the meeting, if some would still want to interview me about resolution #6.
Radio news which was once vibrant is seriously lacking these days.
The Internet is changing how we get news...Let's hope it can provide credible competition so that the consumer benefits from sharper and more timely reporting.
Newzjunky - City Council Delays Choice for Lachenauer Fountain Paint Design

Albany Preys on Addiction in a Shallow Money Grab

Piece by piece a state budget is being enacted as Governor Paterson leads the Legislature towards a budget of his liking....But yesterday lawmakers passed their twelfth extender that included a whopping $1.60 a pack hike in cigarette taxes.
One who disagreed with that was Assemblywoman Addie Russell who said the tax hike does little to address the deficit and even less to help the real victims...the addicted smokers whom Big Government is shaking down. While its true the Assemblywoman had the ability to vote no because there are enough Democrats in the Assembly she could be allowed off the reservation, voting against a big tax hike is good politics. Her statement did lay bare how shallow the tax hike is.
Maybe those commercials excoriating Big Tobacco can now focus on Big Government which now makes far more off this sad addiction than any corporation.
Governor Paterson Announces Passage of Two Key Budget Bills

Monday, June 21, 2010

Council Highlights

City Council asked the public to take a peek at the proposed designs for the Lachenauer Plaza Fountain.....The 45 year old sculpture was recently painted and an arts group offered to paint a design on it and solicited proposals....
Council will have to decide but first requested all 18 submissions get a public viewing before a decision is made.
Its an interesting project and we want to make a great choice.
Lawmakers also grappled with a hard to understand directive from the Comptroller on administering the retirement program as it relates to elected or appointed officials. The plan is supposed to eliminate abuse but it really just creates a bunch of paperwork.
Council also changed the method of computing water and sewer bills by eliminating a fourth tier for high volume. The revised system will help maintain constant rates for residential users...
Council also approved repairs to the Fairgrounds Arena roof and concession stand.
And a contract was approved for the three IBEW workers in the City Electric Department.

WDT: Armey's Army on the Right Flank Rallies for Hoffman

So former House Majority Leader Dick Armey is again supporting Doug Hoffman for Congress...He did last year and came to Watertown and proceeded to get into an ugly editorial board exchange with the publisher of the WDT....An exchange that launched a series of negative stories for the Conservative candidate who had toppled Times favorite Diedre Scozzafava.
The support from national groups does underscore the fact the Hoffman-Matt Doheny GOP race is based on a split in the GOP between social issue conservatives and moderate, Rockefeller-style Republicans.
The support of Armey and others also serves to validate Mr. Hoffman as a legitimate candidate...Local Republican poobahs are behind Doheny, but Hoffman doesn't seem that interested in them..instead depending on his own pitchfork brigade who don't get interviewed by the media but may still vote.
No matter how the Republican primary turns out, I don't see any 'coming together'....Those days are long past and this fight will go on to November.
Watertown Daily Times Local News, Sports, Features, and Community Information for Jefferson County, St. Lawrence County, and Lewis County in Northern New York

Indy Party And Cuomo Part Ways On ‘I And R’

This is not about issues....It's about sufficient votes to retain the "C" line on the ballot and about having access to the new governor when he is in office...You cannot influence any issue without access. Initiative and referendum place more power in the people's hand than the party's or the leadership would ever want. I would expect no NY politician...particularly a Democrat to ever support I &R....
Besides the minor parties in NY are about a second or third line on the ballot which gives the impression of being a consensus candidate between diverse groups......I
Indy Party And Cuomo Part Ways On ‘I And R’

Ravitch And Gov To Meet

That's reassuring....The Lieutenant hand picked by the Governor needs a special occasion to talk to the boss....Good grief !
Ravitch And Gov To Meet

Tobacco on legislators' agenda -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

Retail prices for cigarettes will hit $10 on July 1st as a result of the latest budget extender that will pass today....It is the 12th extender and Governor Paterson is adding items he wants in each extender as an incremental way to adopt a budget. To avoid the dreaded "shutdown" Democrats will have to vote in lockstep in the Senate for the tax increase.
There is a cognitive disconnect in the tobacco issue....We are told this tax will solve the budget woes yet the most optimistic estimate has the tax producing $400 million while the stated shortfall is $9.2 BILLION.....
Fact is you cannot satisfy New York's spending addiction on one relatively small revenue source.....Oh, I am sorry...I have spoken heresy.
Tobacco on legislators' agenda -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Third Party Nods for Other Races Up in the Air as July Dawns

The Independence Party of NY nomination for Congress did, as expected, go to Matt Doheny and his campaign is working on getting the thousand or so signatures on petitions.
There is no word on nominations for the local Senate or Assembly races.
Until recently, the state party's leadership was in tight as a tick with the former GOP Senate majority....Now it's a 32-30 Democratic Senate and its a little tougher to know who to cast your lot with.
Jefferson County's Indy committee is the only constituted one in the district and its members are behind Senator Darrel Aubertine. That hasn't mattered in the past and in 2008 there was a nasty fight which led to a change in party rules to strip local committees of control in multi-county races.
This year one would expect the annoiting of Patty Ritchie but there is indecision in high places and both candidates have been told to get petitions done and a decision will be made in July....That decision could include a primary but I doubt it as that leaves the winner in debt to the voters and not the party leaders. The whole purpose of the Wilson/Pakula law was to ensure the line is controllable and not subject to the vagueries of an election.
The Ritchie campaign, aided by Senate GOP notaries, is working on that and I think Mr. Aubertine is too. Getting the number needed is not easy...Getting two non duplicating sets is even tougher.
As for the Assembly races, it seems Russell and McGrath had em locked up but an unrelated dispute with Democrats in the Rochester area leaves the issue up in the air. I am told now the matter is resolved.

Let the Mayor Take a Bow in all the Self Congratulating in the Maple City

What is it about success having a thousand fathers and failure being an orphan ?
One of those likely crowing about the apparent continued operation of both state prisons in Ogdensburg is Mayor Bill Nelson...He did lead a community outrage brigade and bus trip to Albany and made the state officials lap furiously at the boot of the Maple City....One Member of Assembly vowed she could not vote for a state budget if it included cutting the prison....and Senator Darrel Aubertine made it clear this week he is credit-taker in chief for the prison's inclusion in the state budget....
'Saving jobs' is always a good political mantra and when its couched in terms of the community getting screwed, nobody looks at the facts....Like maybe it should be closed...Nope, its a pivotal issue politically and the O-burg political and media establishment is in overdrive over it.
So it stays open and that's a win for the Mayor who helped make it the kind of issue Aubertine and Russell would do anything to make go away.
Mayor Nelson won reelection three years ago by a scant five votes in a three candidate field. Whether its good public policy to keep the jail open, it is apparent the Mayor deserves to get credit for representing his folks...In the end that is his job and he did it.
Next year I predict he will win by ten votes.
Watertown Daily Times Prison Budget Victory Happy Father's Day Jarrett Family Big Loss BDC'S Focus Is Massena Time To Find Consensus

Politically Popular Butt Tax Likely to Highlight Final Budget

So what will tomorrow bring ? A new budget ? Higher taxes ? All of the above ?
Speaker Silver has promised the Governor will have a spending plan to sign by Monday or Tuesday. There is certainly no reason to think he doesn't know what he is talking I assume there will be one.
Besides these lawmakers want to get those paychecks dating back to April 1 and they want to get home for some campaign clambakes, golf tournaments and relaxation before the slightly more challenging fall election cycle.
After all, of the 212 Members of Assembly and Senators, five or ten may actually be defeated...These are dangerous times for incumbents !
Since lawmakers are fixated on cigarettes, that tax hike will pass...So will an attempt to collect from Indian Thruway blockade by those pesky native Americans near Buffalo and this governor will back down like those before him...Too afraid of a Wounded Knee incident.
I don't see wine in supermarkets this year, but as long as we have that ultimate fighting, we will be fine.
If another extender is passed instead of a budget, I think the political consequences could increase for our 212 friends in the Capital. You could see up to a dozen lose their seats !

State OK's Sale of 192 Proof Liquor

Many merchants and bar owners will likely not take on Spirytus as a product because it is not a spirit used for enjoyment but is instead a loaded gun that will result in abuse and alcohol poisoning.
Spirytus is 192 proof (96% alcohol) ok'd for sale by the NYS Liquor Authority. Most liquors are 80 to 100 proof, with the traditional high end product being Bacardi's 151 rum. A product named Everclear is higher but in this area had only been available on federal installations.
This is a case of just because you can, it doesn't mean you should.
The problem with this product is it promotes the notion of getting hammered really fast...That's not consistent with the use of alcohol as a social experience.
It also readily burns which at my age is not particularly appealing but to a 20 year old partying at home outside of any supervision, flaming shots are a rite of passage, until someone spills the drink on someone else who is suddenly on fire.....
There is an odd irony to this product....The state that says fixed price, all you can drink specials are illegal, runs out and approves the sale of 192 proof liquor for sale.
While the approval is laudable on libertarian grounds, it is outside the limits that reasonable people in the industry think is appropriate.