Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pleasant Evening After Disturbing Day Watching AZ Tragedy

Attended a very nice birthday party tonight at the Italian American Club for Sandie Butler, the wife of Councilman Joe Butler Jr.
Then came home to watch my JETS win over Indy Colts on a last second field goal.

An Unspeakable Tragedy in Arizona

Six are confirmed dead including a federal judge, while a Member of Congress from Arizona lies in critical condition after being shot in the head point blank during "Congress on the Corner" constituent meeting at a Safeway store in Tucson.
After initial reports suggesting her demise, doctors announced Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had survived surgery for a single round they say passed through her head.
Just outrageous such a thing could happen.
We pray for her survival and for the souls of those who perished.
The gunman is in custody. He is 22 years old.
BBC News - Profile: Gabrielle Giffords

Tea Party Being Blamed by Left for Giffords Shooting

It would be nice to wait before trying to exploit the horrible tragedy in Tucson, but while TV anchors were getting it wrong on who was dead and who wasn't, the Internet was abuzz over the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.
Because she had a Tea Party opponent in a spirited race for reelection, the narrative is that virulent opposition to ObamaCare fueled the rage that led a man to shoot 19 people including Ms. Giffords.
I don't know what happened but to use this as a metaphor for the health care debate is wrong.
There are a lot of people dead and wounded. Let's worry about them....Although that's not what will happen. This crazy and evil rage will inflame the debate I fear.

NYDN: Is Andy Speaking Loudly and Carrying a Small Stick ?

The question after Governor Cuomo's tough talk,few specifics speech last Wednesday is 'will he take on the issues and interests who will resist change to the end?.
He pandered with the usual rhetoric about the 'special interests' as if they are some disembodied, third party from another planet....
The special interests are the hospital lobby representing Samaritan Medical Center and other local hospitals....they are the New York State United Teachers representing the people handling our most prescious resource, the children......they are the cops and firemen who sure don't want the Taylor Law reformed or repealed......other special interests include municipalities who want more state districts (they are covered under NYSUT).....there are a long list of business and environmental groups...
These 'special interests' are the groups who may represent you, your spouse, your kids, the industry you work in or the community you live in.
All of us are the "special interests.."
Andrew Cuomo talked tough, but his budget actions left something to be desired

WDT: Auditing Official Competence

Perry White raises some interesting points here about the oversight of municipal finances....As local governments have gotten larger and larger, there are more opportunities for sloppy (or worse) record keeping. All of these water and sewer districts make it more vexing.
On the other hand, there is no shortage of audits done. Annual audits, state audits...You would think all the inappropriate practices would have been identified by now and no one could say there was no guidance.
In the end a couple of rules should help.....If you are wondering if its right to do something, it probably isn't...And more disclosure to more people is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with C.Y.A......
I have been in lots of meetings where its been said, "let's keep this out of the paper.." There's a lot of peer (or is it pier) pressure to keep it under wraps or in "executive session".
I am all for more oversight of these authorities that now operate outside even the oversight of an elected body.
Government is bigger and more complex...public participation in the political process has waned....elected officials no matter how diligent can't keep track of it all, and the media doesn't have the resources to keep tabs on dozens of governments, boards and authorities.
That being said, there will always be the periodic audit story to report on....the officials involved will be miffed they were held up to ridicule...and then everyone will forget about it and move on.
Watertown Daily Times Auditing official competence

Liberal Money Man Soros the Principle Owner of Popular Dinosaur Bar-B-Cue

It happened in 2009, but today I saw a Facebook post from a local biker who says she will no longer patronize the Dinosaur Barbecue restaurant in Syracuse after learning that liberal billionaire George Soros is now the principle owner of the eatery.
Since its opening in 1988, the Dinosaur has become a small chain of restaurants and has been named the nation's best barbecue joint. The 70% share now owned by Soros investment company irks conservatives who do not like Mr. Soros bankrolling of far left causes and his role in the election of President Barack Obama.
None of this affects me, as I have never dined there, but if Mr. Soros buys into Pete's Restaurant, I may be forced into a decision.
Investment company of billionaire George Soros relishes big stake in Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

Fans Needed for New York's Other Team

With the Giants and Bills gone from post season play, its time for football fans to take a look at the long maligned JETS.
Tonight "Gang Green" takes to the field in Indianapolis against Peyton Manning and the Colts....Indy is a two and a half point favorite.
The JETS are led by one of the more interesting coaches in Rex Ryan and second year QB Mark Sanchez.
Tune in tonight on NBC and put your Giant disappointment behind you and root the JETS on to victory.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Early On, About One Truck for Every Snowflake in N.Y.C. -

If generals are always fighting the last war, Mayor Bloomberg was fighting the last snowstorm....After getting burned with a paltry response to the Boxing Day Blizzard, the mayor called out the troops today with predictions of a storm that never really happened...And the same MSM that chided him for the last storm, now chided him for over reacting.
Early On, About One Truck for Every Snowflake in N.Y.C. -

Can Cuomo Reinvent Government As We Know It In Under a Month ?

I was a panelist this morning at the Jefferson Leadership Institute local government conference and I found little awareness among these community leaders about all that has official Albany abuzz. The gloom and doom scenarios seemed to have been ignored...or at least dismissed as that much more media puffery.
I told them to pay attention February 3 when the budget comes out and all this Draconian stuff happens.
I personally don't know how the new Governor is going to get an end product out of newly formed committees on medicaid, consolidation and mandate relief.
I supposed the people I talked to this morning will wait for something real to happen...and I don't blame them.
Cuomo forms 3 committees to help reduce state budget Press & Sun-Bulletin

The Maple City's Own Gets a Year in the Pokey

The North Country's link to the Tiger Woods scandal has landed herself in a Florida jail on a DUI rap.....Mindy Lawton....Ogdensburg native and OFA grad had claimed she hooked up with Tiger when the errant golfer brought his wife to the Perkins Restaurant she worked at near the Woods home.
Maple City residents I talked to did remember Mindy,although in photos after the scandal broke, she had glammed up considerably.
Alleged Tiger Woods Mistress Gets Year In Jail - Sports News Story - WKMG Orlando

Senate Democrats face civil war - Times Union

While four members of the Democratic State Senate caucus bolted this week, other new senators are towing the line and pledging loyalty to the party in hopes the Dems can retake control of the body in 2012.
How glad is Darrel Aubertine to be out of this crew ?
Senate Democrats face civil war - Times Union

Bloomberg On the Bubble as Minor Snowstorm Threatens Big Apple

While we continue to enjoy a relatively mild winter, NYC is readying for a few inches....And while that's not that bid a deal, the perceived poor response to the December 26 blizzard has City Hall scurrying to look like its on top of things
Mayor Michael Bloomberg...a media roasted as reports surfaced of Sanitation Department workers sabotaging snow removal in the outer boroughs, leaving street plugged and criticism mounting.
Mayor Bloomberg is in his last term...but is concerned with legacy, which he doesn't want to be the four letter word, SNOW.

Report: WDT Says Its Beaten Back Newzjunky Threat

A story about the local paper on a site called "Who Needs Newspapers ?" quotes the paper's general manager John B. Johnson as saying their web product has beaten back competition from a "local aggregator" (that's the print term for sites that gather and repackage content from various this case its a clear reference to , a site owned and operated by a former Times staffer.
An early dalliance with a pay wall on the WDT website didn't work, and the Times website is now free.
As for me, I read a little of this and a little of that and for my politics I depend on Liz, Celeste and Jimmy.
WNN - Watertown Daily Times - Main Page

Report: Davis Breaks Post Election Silence With Movie Review

While not heard from since her run for governor, former madam Kristin Davis surfaced in the media this week with an op/ed ripping the made for TV movie about Phillip Markoff, the "Craigslist Killer."
Ms. Davis, says the movie unduly painted in a positive light Markoff, who used the on-line site to meet and ultimately kill an acquaintance of Davis named Julissa Brissman.
Davis had argued that those caught up in the sex trade often became victims as the illegality of their acts prevented them from seeking help from the law when stalked or assaulted.
One may see Davis try to expand on a role as an advocate for female victims of violence and abuse. My guess is that one go around in politics may be it for now. Davis did not garner the votes needed to establish her party on the NY ballot, but did make a couple visits to Jefferson County,where she garnered her best % in NY state.
Spitzer's Madam Blasts Craigslist Movie - New York News - La Daily Musto

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Commentors Get Their Digs In at Darrel

I was checking comment sections on a couple blogs and see the GOP intelligencia is out in force taking shots at Darrel Aubertine's nomination to be NYS Secretary of Agriculture.
First there is this amazement that people in politics get political appointments....Duh.....People in the process, who have put themselves forward for public judgment do deserve consideration for these jobs. They are the ones interested enough to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
Who else is going to be involved in all of this ?....the "professionals" like school superintendents or the guy who hands out meds at Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center for the same pay as Governor Cuomo.....Don't think these folks would take the pay cut..
People get involved in campaigns to be part of things when the election is over...Its a career path for many as most people in other careers can't just drop everything to run for Assembly.
People like Mr. Aubertine or Ms. Ritchie are out on the limb doing what they think is best for their community and yes for their family as well.
Most people I am sure congratulate them both on their recent success...Except for the anonymous chattering class emboldened by the ease of the Internet.
Will Darrel Aubertine be a good Ag Commissioner ? Beats me...I don't know anything about past ones. Let's just wish him well.

Cuomo Lauds Aubertine as his Choice for Ag Secretary

The official nomination of Darrel Aubertine came in a release today from the Governor's office...Andrew Cuomo called Mr. Aubertine's experience in agriculture "unparalleled."
For the former Senator defeated just two months ago, it's a fortuitous turn of events that leaves him as a member of the new Governor's cabinet and head of an agency with impact across the state and especially in NNY.
Congratulations to the Commissioner-designate (he requires Senate approval).
Darrel Aubertine did wonders for the Democratic Party in the North Country and took some bullets for the team, including staying loyal to the cause despite the meltdown of Senate leadership that contributed to his defeat.
Good for Darrel and his family. They are after all, 'one of us.'

Aubertine Lands the Big One...Ag Commissioner

The other shoe has former Senator Darrel Aubertine reportedly will be named Commissioner of Agriculture...a choice position for the man who lost to Patty Ritchie last November.
Mr. Aubertine has always been associated with farming, having grown up and worked on his family farm in Cape Vincent.
The Aubertine appointment (not officially announced yet) comes shortly after another ex NNY lawmaker Diedre Scozzafava landed a job in the Department of State.
The commissioner post is a biggie and a strong reward for sticking with the party and taking a bullet for them.
State of Politics Blog

Patty to Liz: Bring It On !

In a sharp reversal from a previously reported position, Senator Patty Richie (R-48th) said on the HOTLINE program today that she would be glad to appear on YNN's Capital Tonight to be interviewed by Albany inquisitor Liz Benjamin.
Senator Ritchie's call to the noon hour talk show was a surprise, since she had been spurning media appearances during and after her successful campaign to oust Senator Darrel Aubertine.
Ms. Ritchie says if Liz calls and asks she will be glad to appear. The WDT had previously reported she declined such an appearance.
Senator Ritchie is now being advised on media matters by former Ogdensburg Journal editor James Reagen.
The Senator has occupied the fourth floor offices her predecessor had in the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown.

O-J: Owens Sees Chance For Teamwork..GOP Sees Blood in the Water

Now that North Country Rep. Bill Owens is in the minority in Congress, will his viability in 2012 be hurt ?. Local GOP operatives think so and cite lists showing NY23 one of the vulnerable districts in the next cycle.
I know, the election was two months ago, but for those on the inside of politics, its a different now ticking on 2012.
For the GOP, it will be a lingering question of whether Doug Hoffman will again seek the nomination. Last years Republican standard bearer, Matt Doheny, is widely thought to be interested in another bite at the apple after his narrow 1% point loss to Mr. Owens.
Mr. Owens voted with his caucus yesterday on GOP rules changes and will likely find it more difficult to be a stand out figure in a House run by newly minted Speaker John Boehner.
The Journal Owens Sees Chance For Teamwork

Silvers Redistricting Overture Pleases Hizzoner....

Note to Mayor Koch....Be careful...Speaker Sheldon Silver's seeming endorsement of an independent redistricting committee seems too good to be true...The leadership of either house has no interest in drawing lines other than to do so in a manner to preserve and expand their grip on power.
Granted, the Assembly probably stays Democratic no matter how the lines are drawn, but Mr. Silver raised eyebrows by saying a deal on redistricting would happen.
Mayor Edward Koch had been conducting a statewide campaign to shame lawmakers into reform.
However, any "independent" commission will surely be packed with people well marinated in the duopoly that rules Albany. Lots of Carl McCall type people billed as distinguised and above the fray but well steeped in the system as we know it.
backed an independent commission to draw legislative district lines.

Cuomo punts on the details of budget cuts -

Meanwhile, one of the professional Albany watchers, Fred Dicker didn't gush so much at the Cuomo speech. The NY Post State Editor noted the address was long on style and painfully short on specifics....What exactly will be cut ?
My thoughts are Mr Cuomo was wise to avoid such talk till the February 3 budget release. He needed to establish a tone and a consensus for change...The specifics will bring the resurgence of Albany as usual..Cuomo knows that and that's why he will drop the larger bombs in three weeks.
Cuomo punts on the details of budget cuts -

WDT: Cuomo's Plan Gets Tentative Thumbs Up From NNY Political Class

The applause line in Andrew Cuomo's speech was about prisons....."an incarceration program is not a jobs program...." Wow, is that against conventional wisdom in NNY. Remember last year's fester over saving the prison in Ogdensburg ?
Reaction to Mr. Cuomo's address was predictable as his emphasis on pro-business, lower tax, budget cutting, streamlining policies dominated the 47 minute address. Typical Democratic issues like same sex marriage were just passing references.
NNY lawmakers were on board, but like all of us are waiting for the specifics in the budget message in three weeks.
Wait till its realized that budget cuts means closing prisons, less school aid and reimbursement reductions to hospitals....Then it will be back to business as usual. Hopefully, Mr. Cuomo's proposed structural changes to government will be the price Albany will pay for getting their school aid restored. We will see.
It would be interesting if these reaction stories went beyond what the politicos say....Do average folks watch these speeches ?....I don't know.
Watertown Daily Times Cuomo's plan offers some good to NNY

Dissident Klein Was Once the Glue That Held His Caucus Together

The man at the center of the new four person non-aligned Democrat caucus in the Senate had been a key figure in holding the fragile party majority together two years ago during the "coup" and during a reported possible defection by Senator Darrel Aubertine.
Senator Jeff Klein now says enough is enough with the leadership of Senator John Sampson who Klein says is only lusting for the day when Dems take control again.
The four person non aligned caucus was announced Wednesday.
I hear that there was a point in 2009 when revulsion at the leadership had prompted Aubertine to ponder a defection to the GOP...Something he had discussed with Republican leader Dean Skelos....When Senator Klein became aware of the move, he interceded to preserve the Democratic majority and convinced Aubertine to stay put.
Now Aubertine is gone and Klein is the one who has had enough, along with three of his colleagues.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Explanation for Dead Birds a Stretch

Does anyone really believe the government explanation of why thousands of birds are falling dead from the skies of the southern United States.....I sure don't buy the fireworks story.
Dead birds falling from sky still mystify experts Greenspace Los Angeles Times

4 N.Y. State Senators Bolt Democratic Conference -

If only this little group had been around three months ago, Darrel Aubertine may have survived...The independent Democratic caucus, was announced to show the disdain for the Democratic Senate leadership....The leadership that served as an anchor on non-NYC candidates....Sen. Valesky of Syracuse survived the Thugocracy and is a part of the new group....So is Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island who came to Watertown last fall, but didn't make a HOTLINE appearance (I don't know why), as I was at Hofstra that day, so she could have had Joe.
Mayor Bloomberg today also called the Dem Senate leadership an embarrassment....They were...and while Sampson and company kept their seats...they cost the marginals their seats...Including Aubertine.
4 N.Y. State Senators Bolt Democratic Conference -

Andy's Ship Metaphor Hits Home

There was a bit of humor used to make a point in the Governor's Address today...When he used PowerPoint to illustrate how the two parties are like ships passing in the night...
By and large the Cuomo speech hit on the broad themes of radical change...Let's see the specifics in the weeks that come...and whether some of the advisors devising the change really talk to people who have some knowledge of whats going on....
So often thats not the case and the lobbyists and Albany intelligencia draft things that just don't make sense....
Nonetheless, count me among the New Yorkers who support Mr. Cuomo's efforts and pray for his success (realizing that "success" is open to interpretation).
State of Politics Blog

Cuomo Calls for Time of National Transition end Economic Recalibration

Most of the applause in this the speech has been perfunctory....
Now its on to "green jobs" and the environment.
"Let's incentivize performance and fund the best."
Called for reform of juvenile justice facilities. Recidivism rates are in the 90 percentile. Current programs don't serve youth but instead bilk taxpayers and merely keep facilities open solely to retain jobs.
That does not justify the burden on the taxpayers.
"Incarceration is not an employment program...don't put people in prison to give some people jobs..."
Mr. Cuomo called for passage of marriage equality but said no more than one sentence before moving on to agriculture.
"We must seize this moment of opportunity."

Cuomo Calls for New Approach

The Governor used humor and graphics to illstrate doing things a different way.
Medicaid, local mandates and state education spending all need to be changed....He especially called for redesigning Medicaid and pointed to a Wisconsin model to cure a program he said "was dysfunction on many, many levels."
He said the former Medicaid director in the Badger State will come to NY.
NY Education is Number 1 in spending and number 34 in results....Mr. Cuomo called for performance results and not just numerical formulas.
Competition works, he said.
"When you just give people cash, without results, you take incentive out of the system."
Mr. Cuomo proposed financial incentives for local governments to become more efficient. Little applause on that.
He called for ethics reform and a cleaning up of Albany.
"Everytime there is another headline..a little trust has bled out..."..."The people of NYS have lost trust in government." Many of those he was speaking to were of course part of those headlines , including Senator minority leader Sampson.
"We will end pay to play and listen to Ed Koch about independent redistricting."
"We need public financing of campaigns."
Mr. Cuomo shifted to social progress he says made the state famous.
He attacked Wall Street corruption and called to state regulation of the industry. He wants a new super consumer agency by merging the state's banking and insurance agencies.

"This is Going to be a Business Friendly State'

The Governor called for ten economic development councils across Upstate chaired by LG Duffy.
"Let's empower the local communities to plan their future and help themselves."
Mr. Cuomo called for a coordinated economic development effort involving the SUNY system.
Mr. Cuomo said the regional councils will compete against one another.
Applause tepid.
As is often done, he had people in the audience he used to illustrate his proposals including an octegenarian from Rochester who couldn't afford property taxes.
Mr. Cuomo called for a property tax cap.
In 1938, a cap was set of 20 Executive Departments....Mr. Cuomo now says sub agencies have proliferated...including task forces and committees...The Governor called for organizing government professionally....
He called for a Commission to set up a reorganization plan for NY's bloated government.
He called for a wage tax hikes and a halt to spending increases.
He called for an end to partisan political theater...."the budget process is like ships passing in the night."

"You can Never Solve a Problem if you Refuse to Acknowledge It"

" This is an unsustainable rate of growth (spending) and it has been for a long time."
The Governor decried taxes 66% above the national average and said Upstate is in particular crisis.
"New Yorkers are voting with their feet. Two million New Yorkers have left in the past decade. We need radical change...a new perspective and we need it now......"
Results not rhetorical solutions....he said.
Mr. Cuomo called for a fundamental relaignment of the State.
"We are going to have to reinvent government....the old way wasn't working anyway"
Mr. Cuomo's call for radical change seems at odds with the Legislature, many of whom were listening to him.

Governor's State of the State....As I Watch It

Governor Cuomo took to the stage after pro forma remarks from the Assembly and Senate leadership...Nothing new in what they had to say....
The Governor tried to start upbeat by shouting "good afternoon, New York" and insisting it's a bright day in New York.
High school students from each of the state's 62 counties joined the Governor on stage as a symbol of the furture of the state.
"This state is at a crossroads...there are two paths" the Governor said as he said the state is going broke and the public has lost trust in its government.
Mr. Cuomo says crisis can be turned to opportunity calling for a transformation of government to make the state progressive once again.
"What we do today will determine the direction of the state for decades to come."
"We need change in Albany," Mr. Cuomo said.
The address is being given to a crowd of 2200 guests.

NY village bans smoking on public sidewalks - State Wire - The Buffalo News

A Long Island village has banned smoking on sidewalks. The time has come to ban the product and stop this piecemeal attempt at prohibition through various local laws.
If the product is that bad, the government needs to stop profiting from it and it should be banned as are other dangerous drugs.
If it is to remain a legal product, then laws like in Great Neck, NY are not necessary.
NY village bans smoking on public sidewalks - State Wire - The Buffalo News

Newzjunky - Fitzpatrick Chosen as Legislature's First Chairwoman

Congratulations to Chair Carolyn Fitzpatrick, the Watertown lawmaker now heading up the Jefferson County Legislature. Ms. Fitzpatrick succeeds Ken Blankenbush, who is now an Assemblyman.
Newzjunky - Fitzpatrick Tapped as Legislature's First Chairwoman

They're In The (Overtime) Money | New York Daily News

Bob Henry must love his job as a treatment assistant at Mid Hudson Psychiatric Facility...In fact he must be crazy about his job....The $62000 a year worker pulled down $106,000 in overtime making Bob the O/T king among state workers. He makes what Governor Cuomo makes after the chief executive took his 5% pay cut....
Couldn't we rest Bob, hire a second treatment assistant and let another family enjoy the benefits of the breadwinner being a state employee ?
They're In The (Overtime) Money New York Daily News

Gov. Cuomo's speech to mix hard choices, optimism -

Here's the AP preview of the Governor's State of the State Address to be heard at 1:30 today on YNN and on the Internet.
Gov. Cuomo's speech to mix hard choices, optimism -

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Got a Lot of Kind Words from an Erroneous Report

Apparently a prominent member of the MSM reported this morning that I had a street named after me. That wasn't the case...Someone had suggested that happen, but City Council (me included) decided the street next to the Fairgrounds ball field would be called Line Drive.
Lots of people congratulated me today on having the street named after me, showing that TV 7 has a big audience.
I appreciate the kind words from many.

13 WHAM-TV Asked to Leave Sandra Lee Event

Oops....the MSM in Rochester was given the heave-ho from a Sandra Lee event...Guess you aren't supposed to ask too many questions....
If you want the notoriety that goes with politics, you need to come up with answers to questions....There are plenty of witty ways to respond to the nosy questions of a press corps fascinated with middle aged people living out of wedlock.
How about "get a life" or "gee, 22 year old reporter from SU, how's your sex life ?"
Just because you are a star on the Food Network does not mean you can't have a little privacy....but Sandra, if the press is crossing the line, just give 'em the stern look, and ask "what's your problem ?" They'll back down....
13WHAM Asked to Leave Sandra Lee Event - Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events -

New Political Scribe Passes Trivia Test

Today I got a call from the local political scribes...Jude called with his new email address, perhaps thinking I will feed him some tid bit.....
This afternoon, the new WDT political reporter Brian Amaral dropped by my office to see what I was all about. He has been at the Times Ogdensburg bureau for six months and will soon move to Watertown to assume his new duties.
I started out acknowledging that Mr. Amaral is a Patriots fan as he is from the Bay State. Then he started in on Rex Ryan so I felt it best not to sour the meeting with JETS hating, so I shifted to something less contentious like politics.
Actually I was impressed at his knowledge of the obscure. He knew all about Barry Goldwater and when I told him I saw Spiro Agnew speak, he knew who he was and even knew he was from Maryland. They don't teach that in schools so he passed the political junky test and should do well in his new post....
Those interested in politics are serious folk and they are spoiled by the prolific writing of people like Liz. Hopefully NNY political hobbyists will be well served by both Mr. Amaral and Mr. Seymour. I will read both their blogs as soon as they are available.

Smooth Sailing for DeDe in Cuomo's Albany

Liz reports former Assemblywoman and failed Congressional candidate Diedre Scozzafava has been appointed to a job as Deputy Secretary for Local Government to the New York Secretary of State.
Ms. Scozzafava had been in the hunt for a job in the Cuomo Administration since she abandoned her Republican bid for Congress just three days before the special election in 2009. At that time she endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens and is widely credited with pushing Mr. Owens across the finish line.
Since then, Ms Scozzafava has backed Democrats for office despite staying a registered Republican through her term which ended Friday. She openly supported Governor Andrew Cuomo last fall.
The former Gouverneur mayor and stock broker now will likely be paid far more than she was getting in the Legislature.
Ms. Scozzafava became a symbol of moderate Republicanism being pushed aside for more strident candidates. Her GOP bid for Congress fell apart when Tea Party favorite Doug Hoffman eclipsed her in the polls and almost won the three way race.
Today's appointment closes the loop on that Halloween meeting in Gouverneur when Scozzafava agreed to endorse Owens at a meeting with Dem State Chair June O'Neill and Rep. Steve Israel of Long Island. Now the recognition of her "talent and courageous stance" has been delivered.
Congrats to DeDe on a masterful navigation of choppy political waters to bring the ship safely to port.
Former Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava has gotten her appointment....A deputy post in the Department of State.

City Council Highlights from First Meeting of 2011

-City Council named a street in the Fairgrounds complex 'Line Drive'.
-Lawmakers agreed to have staff prepare a simpler two-tier water rate system.
-Council is planning to visit Mercy next week.
-Councilman Butler is planning on drafting a noise ordinance for presentation to lawmakers.
-Concessions on City property were discussed.
-A makeover of the Massey St. Stewart's was OK'd.

Cuomo Adds Pataki to His Admirers List

Andrew Cuomo now has two three-term governors singing his praises....Of course his dad likes him...but this morning Gov. George Pataki declared Mr. Cuomo is off to the right start in pledging no new taxes and a freeze on public employee pay.
Governor Cuomo is going to have to do quite a balancing act to retain the support of people like Mr. Pataki as well as the ACORN crowd that endorsed him last fall.
Of course George Pataki was a bit of a spender in his day...Look at his deal with union boss Dennis Rivera....and the legislation that let public employees in tier 4 to skip out on contributions after ten years.
State of Politics Blog

Fitzpatrick to Assume County Leg Chair Tonight

Carolyn Fitzpatrick will get the nod tonight as chair of the Jefferson County Legislature, succeeding Ken Blankenbush, who is now a Member of the NYS Assembly.
Ms. Fitzpatrick represents District 12 in the City of Watertown and has long been involved in state and local government as well as many community activities.
One of her main challenges will be working with the City on the disposition of the Mercy Healthcare facilities due to be decomissioned in two or three years as part of a county-spawned plan for a new nursing home on Washington Street.
We congratulation Ms. Fitzpatrick and look forward to working with her.

Sandra Lee, The First Girlfriend, Raises Awareness About Hunger | Politics on the Hudson

You don't have to be married anymore to assume the mantle of a First Lady. Food Network star and Andy's girlfriend Sandra Lee got lots of attention this week as she spruned talk of her relationship and began a tour of food banks to raise awareness about hunger in America.
Ms. Lee had a hardscrabble upbringing and said she was on welfare and food stamps.
The so called First Girlfriend has so far been a welcome addition to the state's political scene and clearly will be an asset to Mr. Cuomo on both a political and personal level.
New Yorkers are taking a liking to their new girlfriend.
Sandra Lee, The First Girlfriend, Raises Awareness About Hunger Politics on the Hudson

Gov. Cuomo will slash spending by folding centuries-old banking and insurance agencies into a new streamlined department -

Speculation has begun on just what changes Governor Andrew Cuomo will propose in his State of the State Address tomorrow.....But if there are real cuts, the old saw about saving jobs will begin, especially since lawmakers likely have many relatives and friends working in various bloated state agencies.
The Governor will also take a stab at Medicaid reform, but again the power Working Families Party coalition that supported him two months ago will likely rule the roost.
Seldom in recent times will such an address be as closely listened to. The speech airs at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and will be carried on YNN, cable channel 10, as well as on the Internet.
Gov. Cuomo will slash spending by folding centuries-old banking and insurance agencies into a new streamlined department -

Monday, January 3, 2011

Your 2010 Elections, Brought To You By... Special Interest Money: Updated! | New York Daily News

You can get something for nothing...Most of you contributed nothing to candidates, but you still got to enjoy some great campaigns....
The sheer numbers should leave no doubt though about who owns the government.
Your 2010 Elections, Brought To You By... Special Interest Money: Updated! New York Daily News

Skelos Pooh-Poohs Cuomo’s Pay Cut

While the Governor's symbolism in proposing pay cuts in his own office is laudable, the real issue is reform of the systems of government....The Governor is no where near the top paid state employee....There are MTA cops who make more than he does...
The Governor is also well to do and made more so by his well to do girl friend.
Let's start with the Executive Branch leading the way by accepting a defined contribution pension system (enabling legislation would be needed).
Or any employee could just make a donation to the state. It's tax deductable.
Let's get rid of some of those authorities, many of which have executive directors making more than the Governor.
There are lots of big issues, but if the Governor's cut is a prelude to doing that, then its a good thing....If its a PR stunt....Not so good.
Skelos Pooh-Poohs Cuomo’s Pay Cut

Will Lewis County Get Screwed ?

A well placed source in Lewis County tells me the high command in the Fifth Judicial District are considering abandonment of the "gentleman's agreement" that keeps a judge sitting in Lowville....
The six-county district has most its population in Onondaga and Oneida counties and without a deal to protect the seat of retiring Justice McGuire, a well heeled suit from a Syracuse law firm could grab the seat.
Former Lewis DA Michael Young and County Judge Charles Merrill are going to vie for the seat.
Also up this fall is the open seat in Jefferson County now held by Judge Gilbert and one in Oneida County held by Judge Hester. (Former Senator Ray Meier is said to covet that seat)

Gov. Cuomo to push for freeze on state worker salaries and cap on state spending, sources say

A pay freeze and a "cap" on spending will hilight Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address on Wednesday. It will be a speech worth listening to, as New Yorkers wonder whether a $10Billion budget gap can be bridged with no new taxes. The Governor must present his spending plan by February 1st and is supposed to be adopted by April 1.
Gov. Cuomo to push for freeze on state worker salaries and cap on state spending, sources say

GOP Judge Candidates ?

Republicans are said to be looking at Town of Watertown Justice Jim McClusky as the successor to Supreme Court Justice Hugh Gilbert and in Lewis County the GOP candidate is likely former District Attorney Michael Young. In Lewis County, Democratic County Judge Charles Merrill is being speculated about as a candidate for Justice McGuire's seat.
A lots at stake...Not only the 14 year term in office, but also each judge has a clerk who makes about $130K.
A third seat is up this year, but under the agreement is reserved for Oneida County.

Number Two Senate Dem Gives Up Post, Rips Leader Sampson

There is nothing like losing an election and facing minority status to bring out the long knives....State Senator Jeff Klein has resigned his leadership post in the Democratic conference because he now realizes how disgusted he is with the leadership of Sen. John Sampson, who was defacto majority leader the past 18 months.
If his party had held the majority, would Sen. Klein feel this way ?
Klein Gives Up No. 2 post New York Daily News

Who Do I See to Get that Nomination for Judge ?

Part of running for State Supreme Court justice is obtaining the backing of minor parties like the Conservative or Independence.
These endorsements are given out at judicial conventions....delegates are elected from each of the Assembly districts within the Fifth Judicial District.
It's not really an election as only activists circulate nominating petitions, often with the assistance of a candidate for judge who is seeking the "line".
A twist in the Fifth this year as Oneida County Indy Chair John Dote was named last week in a 27 count indictment alleging personal use of donations solicited in exchange for the line. Now its important to realize that what some call a crime, others call politics, so we won't pass judgment here.
But Mr. Dote in recent years was routinely the convenor of Indy judicial conventions. He cut the deals for the nice dinners delegates were treated to from the candidate getting the line. I quit going to these soires a couple years back.
It's unknown who prospective judge candidates will curry favor with now. There are no party organizations in much of the Fifth JD.
Last year the Jefferson County Indy Committee opted to disband, due to declining interest in the party. The party fell from Line C to Line E on the ballot due to it's draw in the gubernatorial race.

Local Lawyers to Seek Judgeships

Word is races for judgeships will be keeping local lawyers busy in 2011...I have mentioned the City Judge race with the pending retirement of Judge James Harberson. Look for assistant Judge Eugene Renzi as the likely successor if he is interested.
In State Supreme Court, a prominent local lawyer tells me two seats of interest are coming open in the Fifth Judicial District which includes Jefferson County, but also extends to Utica and Syracuse.
Under a so-called "gentlemen's agreement" the political establishment in central NY agrees to allow one justice from Jefferson County and one from Lewis County to get elected. Otherwise only lawyers from the more populous CNY counties would win.
I am told this year retirements will open the seats in Jefferson and Lewis and the scramble is on.
While you will hear lawyers say being a judge is a pay is a prestigious job with six figure income, benefits and you don't have to hustle to pay for an office or staff for 14 years. It's a good gig and a newly minted deal in Albany will result in higher judicial pay within a couple years.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dede Scozzafava says she's happy she stood by her principles in 23rd Congressional district race |

Former Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava is hinting she many change parties now that her time in office is over....Ms. Scozzafava became a GOP pariah when she ran for Congress...dropped out of the race and left her own party's line doomed while she supported Democrat and ultimate winner Bill Owens.
Ms. Scozzafava tells the Post Standard a party change is possible, but she held off doing so while still in an office she was elected to as a Republican.
The Gouverneur resident says she has no regrets about the 2009 episode and will take life as it comes....It is widely exepected she will get an appointment to the Cuomo Administration.
Dede Scozzafava says she's happy she stood by her principles in 23rd Congressional district race

Ryan Puts FootGate Behind Him in Leading Gang Green to Big Win

No harm from the foot fetish story involving coach and Mrs Rex Ryan...The JETS rallied from a lackluster month to crush the Buffalo Bills 38-7........Mark Sanchez only ran one offensive series before giving way to two backups who did well.
The JETS finish 11-5 and move on to the playoffs playing the Indianapolis Colts.

Downstate Snobbery

In a NY Post article about various natural calamities, author Richard Horne takes a gratuitous shot at all of us north of Yonkers.
On the subject of the sudden vaporizing of the Universe as we know it, Mr. Horne writes:
"What to look for?: Everything you know disappearing in the blink of an eye...Cold, vacant, nothingness....So kind of like upstate New York."
Lieutenant Governor Duffy will have his hands full defending us against the inate arrogance and antipathy of our downstate friends and media.....We saw it in their villification of Carl Paladino (he helped too), and shots like this one let us know we must keep our guard up.

Dicker: Andy to Go Over the Heads of Albany Crowd to Sell His Plans to the People

Fred Dicker says the new Governor will begin barnstorming the state soon to rally support for his reform proposals....Of course the devil is always in the details, but we should rally behind Andrew Cuomo as he seeks to change NY.
In his inaugural speech, Mr. Cuomo said state government is too large and too rife with self interest and corruption...
While Mr. Cuomo's election has been a done deal for a year now, he has known the annoiting did not equate with business as usual once in office.
Public policy afficionados and the citizenry in general must pay attention in the weeks ahead.
Going to the people is important...Local opinion leaders, news sources and even humble and demonstrably harmless blogs like this one are needed to not be political cheerleaders...but to build support for real reform and make sure the expectations don't fade in the Albany swamp.
Governor Cuomo can count on my support for real proposals to reorder and redefine government as we know it. I look forward to hearing more and commenting here.
Cuomo's speech has broad reach -

Newzjunky - Party Store to Close Next Week

Newzjunky reports the party is over for the Party Store on Factory Street, as owner Jamie Cox plans to consolidate sale of the products from there at his nearby Seaway Sales warehouse on Fairbanks Street. Seaway sells commercial janitorial products and restaurant supplies.
The Party Store has specialized in greeting cards, balloons, party decorations and the like and I have shopped there for years. The building is not owned by Mr. Cox and is the home of the former Watertown Restaurant Supply. There are rumors of a similar type operation locating there as well as speculation of a wholesale food store possibly locating there. Those are just the rumblings on the street.
Hopefully, Seaway Sales will continue to sell balloons, which are always in demand for those of us politicos who consider Election Day a holiday.
Best wishes to the Cox' as they consolidate.
Meanwhile another property in transition may be the former Arsenal Street fire station, which may go back to its former owner, Tim Kelly. The property had been bought by the now deceased principle behind Mercy Health Care, but Tim says he will likely be taking it back. That could affect a parking lot on the corner now leased by the county. The fire station is on prime real estate at the entrance to Downtown and once housed a tire store following the move by smokeeaters to the new main fire house on Massey Street.
Newzjunky - Party Store to Close Next Week