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Dicker: Occupy Albany Not "Peace and Love Hippies"
October 31st, 2011

It is a safe bet that most of our audience does not get a chance to catch New York Post editor Fred Dicker fulfill his role as “Political Analyst” for Albany’s WRGB CHannel 6 News. And that is a true shame because Dicker has unleashed a number of entertaining tirades against Occupy Albany protesters. Dicker has mentioned the word anarchy and told viewers that Occupy Wall Street people “aren’t peace and love hippies.” *Gasp* He seems distraught as he mentions that the protesters are actually calling on people to “be thrown in jail.”

Dicker initially dismissed Occupy Albany as a bunch of hippies but later decided they were being run by skinny people who may have trust funds. *Double gasp!* His opinion still seems to be evolving.

Having worked for an alt-weekly in Albany for five years and covered plenty of peace protests I feel I am an authority on the many varieties of Albany area hippies and have to say that most of the hippies down at the park during the start of the Occupy Albany protest were peace and love hippies and a bunch of politically active college kids. Many were middle-aged or older, and still regularly attend anti-war rallies. Now after Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded their arrest and Dicker spent so much time ranting about them I have to admit I have lost track of who they all are because there are a lot more of them — thanks to Dicker and Cuomo.
Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 31, 2011, 6:37 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Ethics Commissioner's Firm Did Lobbying Work
October 31st, 2011

This post was updated on the evening of Oct. 31.

A lawyer for Emery, Celli, Brinckerhoff & Abady registered as a lobbyist with the Commission on Public Integrity back in August for representing the Metropolitan Taxi Cab Board of Trade and yet the information is still not available to the public on the commission’s website.

That could just be a bureaucratic delay, but what alarms some watchdogs about the omission is that Richard Emery, who is a partner in the firm whose lawyer represents the cab board, also sits on the Commission for Public Integrity — the semi-defunct group that polices ethics in the state. (For more on the state of ethics regulation in New York, see Is the Long Wait for a New Watchdog Nearing Its End?”.)

“A lawyer of ours registered — she had one meeting with them. We are not sure how long we are going to be in that position,” Emery said. When asked why the information was not available to the public, Emery responded, ” I’m not sure what happened with that. It is probably a function of no one being at the switch.”

*Update* Just got back from dinner to find a message from Emery telling me that other commissioners have firms that do lobbying and asked to “correct the misimpression my blog created.*Update*
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By on October 31, 2011, 4:45 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Closing Public Spaces
October 31st, 2011

(Gotham Gazette parks reporter Anne Schwartz filed this post.)

Last week, Crain’s reported that landlords, taking action in response to Occupy Wall Streets weeks-long occupancy of Zuccotti Park, want the city to revamp its laws covering the citys privately owned public parks to set hours of operation and prohibit large gatherings. Crain’s has a survey asking readers whether they think “private parks” should be allowed to set their own hours. As of today, the 201 people who bothered to respond said yes by a margin of almost two to one.

The business paper, however, did not note that these spaces are actually public places that developers were required to create — and keep open — in return for the right to build taller buildings under city zoning laws. Having already received the financial benefits of the added floor space, the landlords now are seeking to restrict some of the public benefit.

A study conducted in 2001 by Jerold Hayden, a Harvard professor of urban planning and design, with the Department of City Planning and the Municipal Art Society, found that 40 percent of these parks “were and are practically useless, with austere designs, no amenities and little or no direct sunlight. Roughly half of the buildings surveyed had spaces that were illegally closed or otherwise privatized.” (For Gotham Gazette’s report on that study, go here.)

The results still hold today, Kayden wrote in a recent New York Times piece.
Kayden said he welcomes the attention the protesters have called to the city’s privately owned public spaces, but calls for a much broader discussion on how they can contribute meaningfully to city life. “They need a champion, an independent steward or curator who actively promotes their use, not only by assuring that spaces are provided as legally promised but also by encouraging improvements, activities and public educational opportunities,” Kayden said.

By on October 31, 2011, 3:06 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Gotham City,Land Use,Parks | Comments Off on Closing Public Spaces

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DiNapoli to Fundraise With Schneiderman At the Harvard Club
October 26th, 2011

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is gearing up for his reelection campaign in 2014 and he’s kicking off his fundraising with a shindig (cocktail reception) at the Harvard Club in Manhattan on November 21st. If you want to sponsor the event it will set you back $2,500. Co-hosting, will ring up to be $5,000. Full-host status will chomp your checkbook by $10,000 and finally if you want to chair the event that tune will cost you $25,000.

The e-mail promoting the fundraiser notes that Schneiderman and DiNapoli “joined forces” for a partnership “that will allow the state’s chief fiscal officer and its highest ranking law enforcement officer to work collaboratively to investigate and potentially prosecute any corrupt governmental spending.”

Here is the full e-mail

Dear Friends,

We want to remind you to join New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli for a special event on Monday, November 21st, at the Harvard Club in Manhattan from 6:00 to 8:00pm. Toms honored guest will be New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Please click HERE to RSVP online or HERE for more details.

As you know, Tom is focused on improving the lives of all New Yorkers by making sure that government is held accountable and that your taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Together, Tom and Eric have joined forces to form an unprecedented partnership that will allow the state’s chief fiscal officer and its highest ranking law enforcement officer to work collaboratively to investigate and potentially prosecute any corrupt governmental spending.

The time to rebuild is now for Toms campaign efforts. Please join us on November 21st and show your support for the work he is doing. Click HERE to join us! See the details HERE.

Thank you for your support!
DiNapoli 2014

By on October 26, 2011, 10:54 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 5 Comments »

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Kolb In the Dark on Redistricting
October 26th, 2011

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb says he wishes he was in Albany right now. Believe it or not Kolb says he would like to be in the capital city working on a number of issues including mandate relief and pension reform. Most of all, he says he would like to get something sorted out on redistricting.

I asked Kolb if he thought things were moving forward on redistricting. “Yes, they are moving forward but I don’t know where they are going,” Kolb said. “I would like to see something substantive on independent drawing of lines. It was a campaign promise that many of us made.”

Furthermore Kolb says LATFOR has not been completely forthcoming with the Republican minority member of LATFOR Assemblyman Robert Oaks.

“LATFOR has announced that they are going to draw up maps and issue them in November,” said Kolb. “Our member is trying to find out what that means. Where they are going to count prisoners, where they live now or where they come from, and whether the majority is going to draw all the districts or if the minority is going to take care of its own.” Kolb has accused Assembly Democrats of stalling on the issue. Assemblyman Jack McEneny who chairs LATFOR has been an outspoken critic of the pledge to support independent redistricting that was taken by a large number of legislators.

It just so happens that most members of the Democratic Minority believe that Republicans in the Senate Majority are a resisting returning to Albany this year because they do not want to be forced to address independent redistricting when they are back in session. A number of issues stand unresolved. As Kolb points out, a number of upstate communities are crying out for mandate relief. They aren’t likely to get it anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have walked back or clarified statements he made during a radio interview with Susan Arbetter that seemed to bring into question his commitment to vetoing lines drawn by LATFOR.

“My position is I will veto the lines that are drawn, I believe it should be done by an independent commission”, Cuomo told Karen Dewitt.

By on October 26, 2011, 9:22 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 5 Comments »

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Not All Advocates Panicking Over Cuomo's Veto Comments
October 26th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made some comments earlier today about the possible consequences of him vetoing lines drawn up by LATFOR that have sent the blogosphere into a frenzy.

The veto could inject a certain amount of chaos and uncertainty that wouldnt be in anyones best interest, Cuomo said in an interview with Capitol Pressroom host Susan Arbetter. The comments have set off a bit of a blog furor with those who assume that Cuomo is walking back his promise to veto any lines that were drawn by LATFOR.

My vetoing the law isnt a slam dunk either, Cuomo said. Then the court will decide whether the law is a good law or whether I have the right to veto in the first place.

But good government groups seem to be taking the comments in stride. A number of independent redistricting advocates have been saying that a veto could cause chaos thanks to the possibility of the state moving to an earlier primary date. They note that Cuomo’s comments only show that he is in touch with the realities of the situation. The courts have never been exactly anxious to get involved in redistricting.

I wrote about the issue in an article last month:

“In light of this, McEneny questioned whether Cuomo would make good on his veto pledge. “I believe that the primary will be moved up to June. I think vetoing the lines would be irresponsible with that kind of deadline,” said McEneny.. “Are you really going to veto a bill you have never read?”

[Dick] Dadey (Of Citizens Union) believes the opposite. “The governor has been very clear that he will veto lines that are partisan and that LATFOR is not capable of drawing impartial lines.”

Some think he will have no choice. “He has to veto” said Liz Benjamin of the State of Politics blog at a forum on Cuomo last night. “He has no wiggle room.” But Steve Greeenberg, a pollster for the Siena Research Institute, disagreed. “If he decides to sign it because he got x, y or z from the legislature he can sign it,” Greenberg said. “There will be plenty of wiggle room, and he will not pay a serious price.””
However, as I blogged yesterday, a number of anonymous Senate Democrats are concerned that Cuomo has become too cozy with Republicans and feel they could very well lose out when it comes to redistricting if a deal is reached between the majority leaders and Cuomo.

By on October 26, 2011, 2:07 pm
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Thanks Jerry
October 25th, 2011

A number of Democratic legislators have told me that they have told or plan to tell Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings that they think he made the right choice by resisting pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to have Occupy Albany protesters arrested.

A few of these legislators aren’t always particularly friendly with Jennings. It isn’t exactly clear if it was Jennings or the Albany Police Department that made the final call not to make arrests. Nonetheless these Democratic legislators are grateful that no arrests were made.

A number of Senate Democrats are growing nervous about how the redistricting process will turn out for them. Their faith in Cuomo continues to degrade as the governor plays up his relationship with Senate Republicans–publicly praising them while basically ignoring Senate Dems. This could just be a case of hurt pride rather than an indication of a policy stance but still legislators are irked. They

Meanwhile, a large group of legislators and elected officials issued a statement today supporting the millionaires tax–the tax that seems to be the bane of Cuomo’s existence. A number of Democrats have expressed their desire to come out for the millionaires tax but worry about Cuomo’s response. Apparently some of them are no longer concerned. Meanwhile a number of groups plan to march in Albany on Thursday to support the tax.

Here is the release regarding the Democratic coalition that supports the millionaires tax: Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 25, 2011, 5:23 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Hearings on Helping Veterans
October 25th, 2011

The New York State Assembly along with the Senate Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force will be holding a televised town hall meeting tomorrow in conjunction with Time Warner Cable to discuss issues facing returning veterans. The meeting called, “New York Cares About Veterans” will take place from 6 -7:30 p.m..

The discussion, according to the press release, will include issues like the governments preparedness to provide services to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, providing veterans with jobs housing and education opportunities and what kind of help the military offers returning veterans. The Gazette recently took a look at the services provided to veterans by Mayor Michael Bloombergs Office of Veterans Affairs. A a number of city council members were shocked by the lack of services provided by OVA. The following press release contains locations where you can attend the state-wide town hall:

Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 25, 2011, 4:29 pm
In category: Albany,Economy,Eye on Albany,Health,Social Services,Work and Labor | 7 Comments »

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Tent Pressure
October 25th, 2011

It is getting cold out there and the protesters at Occupy Wall Street are starting to notice. So, Bill Lipton of the Working Families Party sent out an e-mail to supporters this morning asking them to put pressure on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to allow tents in Zuccotti Park.

“It was only two weeks ago when cleaning crews threatened to remove the protesters from the park. We stood together, made phone calls, picked up brooms and mops, and turned out by the thousands before dawn on a Friday morning,” writes Lipton. “And we won. We can do it again, if we stand together. If you can’t come down to the park to help pitch a tent, pitch in by signing our emergency petition to Mayor Bloomberg. Tell Mayor Bloomberg to protect free speech and allow the protesters at Zuccotti park to build tents.”

Here is the full appeal

Dear friend,

As winter approaches, tarps and sleeping bags won’t be enough.

Help make sure cold weather doesn’t end the Occupy Wall Street protest.

It got pretty chilly this weekend. Next week will surely be cooler.

The protest which has focused the eyes of the world on corporate greed and economic inequality is free speech in action. But without shelter, the protesters occupying Wall Street down at Zuccotti Park could be frozen out and forced to an early end.

Occupy protests from Boston to Philadelphia to Seattle have been allowed to put up tents to provide shelter and warmth. But down at Wall Street, tents are against the rules. Even the protest’s medical tent was nearly removed before the activists’ impassioned defense saved it.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg: Let the protesters stay — let them set up tents.

After you sign, please forward this email or share on Facebook to spread the message far and wide. The world is watching.

The protest movement that has sprung up over the past month is giving voice to millions of Americans who feel left out or left behind. It’s focusing the political debate across the nation on the corporate greed and economic inequality we so desperately need to address.

The coming winter isn’t the only threat the protest is facing. New York’s real estate and developer lobbyists are pushing hard for new rules that would allow them to shut down Zuccotti Park every night and impose a curfew.

Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t have to love the Occupy Wall Street movement’s message. But he has a duty to protect and uphold the First Amendment rights of the protesters to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard.

The heart and soul of the First Amendment is protecting protest movements like Occupy Wall Street not assuring unlimited corporate spending on elections.

It was only two weeks ago when cleaning crews threatened to remove the protesters from the park. We stood together, made phone calls, picked up brooms and mops, and turned out by the thousands before dawn on a Friday morning.

And we won. We can do it again, if we stand together. If you can’t come down to the park to help pitch a tent, pitch in by signing our emergency petition to Mayor Bloomberg.

Tell Mayor Bloomberg to protect free speech and allow the protesters at Zuccotti park to build tents:

http://action.workingfamiliesparty.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4853

Thanks for spreading the word,

Bill Lipton
Deputy Director, WFP

PS. For information on how to donate donate winter coats, sleeping bags, or other supplies, reply to this email.

By on October 25, 2011, 11:17 am
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Economy,Parks | 4 Comments »

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Fred Dicker's Evolving View of Occupy Albany
October 24th, 2011

In his column this morning NY Post’s Fred Dicker described Occupy Albany protesters as “200 mainly young, hippie-like demonstrators,” but only hours later his view of the group seems to have changed. Dicker, who has acted as a one-man cheer leading squad for Gov. Andrew Cuomo now seems to view the people who are running the group as wealthy “trust-fund baby type people” who are “slender” and “well-dressed.”

The Albany County District Attorney seems less concerned about the protesters and what they look like–he has informed law enforcement officials that he does not plan to prosecute any peaceful protesters –despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to have them arrested for violating a city curfew.

Meanwhile Occupy Albany seems to be emboldened and driven now that Cuomo has taken notice of them and is annoyed by their presence. A rally involving groups that support the millionaires tax is planned for Thursday.

By on October 24, 2011, 1:46 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Economy,Eye on Albany,Governing | Comments Off on Fred Dicker's Evolving View of Occupy Albany

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Occupy Albany Set to Expand
October 24th, 2011

If nothing else reports about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desire to crackdown on Occupy Albany seem to have inspired protesters. Word out of the Occupy Albany camp is that the group expects their ranks to grow significantly with support from across the state now that it is clear that they have the governor’s attention. Furthermore, the group is prepared to “mobilize” in the event of any crackdown. Some Democratic legislators are licking their chops over the prospect of having protesters in their front lawn when the legislature reconvenes next year. Not sure what protesters are going to do about the cold–its getting chilly in Albany.

By on October 24, 2011, 12:17 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Economy,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Soares on Occupy Albany
October 24th, 2011

“For some people who arent familiar with Albany this may seem like some big event,” said Albany County District Attorney David Soares referring to “Occupy Albany.”

“For me, driving by the Capitol and seeing the protests–this is just a Monday– you have protests here all the time. We have people exercising their first amendment rights peacefully. It has been our position not to prosecute them if they are arrested and this time we put it out there that this was our position beforehand,” Soares said responding to reports that his reluctance to prosecute Occupy Albany Protesters stopped the Albany Police Department from bending to pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to arrest protesters for violating a curfew.

“Sure there are some people that come from out of town who want to break things or attack law enforcement as acts of civil disobedience, to get on television but these are not those people,” said Soares.

“The backdrop to this is that on Friday we had three kids shot and you are going to try and tell Chief Krokoff to take his officers off those cases to arrest people who are playing the guitar and eating cider donuts?”

Two fifteen-year-olds and a twenty year old were shot in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood on Friday. Soares says that Albany County does not have the resources to arrest and prosecute people involved in peaceful protest.

Soares says he has had “open lines of communications” with the protest organizers and the police department since before the protests started. He says he has checked in with them about concerns he had about providing proper provisions for the children and elderly present at the protest and that he and the APD continue to monitor the situation. But he says he has not hasn’t been pressured by any official to make arrests.

By on October 24, 2011, 11:11 am
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Economy,Eye on Albany | 18 Comments »

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Is Cuomo Overreacting to Occupy Albany?
October 24th, 2011

So “Occupy Wall Street” finally made its way to Albany–a couple of weeks, or months behind other cities and even foreign countries. It may be a surprise to some but Albany and some surrounding suburbs are a hotbed for progressive activism and yet it still took until last week to get something organized.

It would seem that the late blooming protest might not be of particular concern to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he spends most of his time “in the NYC area with no public schedule,” but according to reports by the Times Union and the NY Post Gov. Andrew Cuomo pressured Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to have protesters arrested. Cuomo is concerned that protests could linger and add momentum to the push to renew the millionaires tax.

Jennings was rumored to be under consideration for a position in the Cuomo administration and at even one point rumored to be a choice for lieutenant governor. Jennings, according to the Times Union directed the police to make arrests but they didn’t. Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who was described by the Post’s Fred Dicker as “leftist-oriented and highly political” (although likely would not be described that way by Albany’s leftists,) reportedly informed Jennings and police officials that he was not interested in using county resources to prosecute peaceful protesters.

So what of it? Well the story made the front page of the Times Union and the Occupy Albany movement suddenly got a bit more legitimate. So why call so much attention to it? Arrests would have likely caused even more of an uproar in the protest-friendly capital. As we have written before team Cuomo has been very quick to mobilize to squash dissent.

One Democratic legislator told me earlier this fall, “We’d love to push the [millionaires] tax. If only Andrew would give us a sign that he wouldn’t cut our heads off if we tried it,” Something tells me Cuomo isn’t looking to give an inch on this issue.

Here is a snippet of an article I wrote about Cuomo back in March:

“Cuomo, who enjoys a 70 percent approval rating, seems quick to scuttle any dissent. For now, he only need rattle his saber to frighten off legislators, who currently have zero political capital, and he has successfully countered the arguments of opposition advocates with editorials in the Post and tongue lashings from Vlasto. Some question, though, whether this can last. They think Cuomo is growing thin skinned and that his “my way or the highway” approach is actually fanning the fires of opposition. Sixteen protesters were arrested at the Capitol late last month, and groups that oppose cuts to education, school aid and services for the poor are stepping up their campaigns and pushing for the governor to keep a tax on the richest New Yorkers, something Cuomo has vowed he will not do.”

Sound familiar?
Here is an interesting snippet from the Times Union article:
“Inside police circles, there was speculation by some officials that the pressure from the governor’s office to enforce the curfew was about political perception. They noted that some critics had questioned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of a similar protest in lower Manhattan that has become an organized fixture, with medical supplies, food and even donated office space supporting the protesters.”

By on October 24, 2011, 9:28 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 10 Comments »

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Former Bloomberg Aide Found Guilty of Larceny
October 21st, 2011

John Haggerty, the political consultant charged with stealing millions from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign, was found guilty of grand larceny in the second degree and his company was found guilty of money laundering in the second degree.

Haggerty avoided the more serious charge of larceny in the first degree. Haggerty was accused of funneling $1.2 million of campaign cash through the Independence Party to strengthen ballot security but instead used $1.1 million of the money to buy a house.

Bloomberg had to testify on the stand and Haggerty’s lawyers claimed Bloomberg lied and that Haggerty was paid for the work he had completed. Haggerty could face 15 years in prison.

The case is seen as a major victory for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance whose office has suffered major public defeats this year.

By on October 21, 2011, 2:01 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Electoral Politics,Governing | 8 Comments »

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EPA to Set Standards For Fracking Waste Removal
October 20th, 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will set standards for disposing of fracking waste water in 2014 after finding that pollutants have been entering waste water due to inadequate treatment of fracking waste. The announcement comes as a boon to environmental groups that oppose fracking.

Environmental Advocates of New York released a statement praising the EPA and insisting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation should heed the warning.

“Environmental Advocates of New York commends the U.S. EPA for announcing plans to set a national standard for the disposal of toxic fracking wastewater. In doing so, the agency recognizes the lack of consistent standards to protect the nation’s waters and wastewater infrastructure from industrial gas drilling. Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation should act now to prohibit New York’s aging sewage plants from accepting wastes these facilities cannot–and were never meant to–treat. Only by prohibiting New York’s sewage plants from accepting fracking wastes can we ensure that our waters and wastewater infrastructure are protected.”

By on October 20, 2011, 4:14 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 2 Comments »

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Sleep Over on Wall Street
October 20th, 2011

Thought Occupy Wall Street had jumped the shark when MTV started trying to cast protesters for the Real World? Well think again, because OWS just got even more main stream in a way that will almost certainly send Fox News anchors into stuttering tirades.

Break out your sleeping bags kids! Parents for Occupy Wall Street is holding a “Family Sleep Over” on Friday at 4 p.m. until 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. A similar event was planned last week but canceled do to the (cancelled) eviction and clean up.

“Occupy Wall Street is a place for everyone, including families. At the Family Sleepover, families and children will find arts and crafts, a childrens music sing along, a pizza party, and a bed time story,” reads a statement released by organizers.

The group has already made the New York Police Department aware of the event and parents will wear shirts to identify themselves as being affiliated with the sleep over.

By on October 20, 2011, 3:13 pm
In category: Economy,Education,Parks | 6 Comments »

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Cuomo Taps Lhota to Chair MTA
October 20th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tapped Joe Lhota to head the Metropolitan Transportation Authority following Jay Walder’s departure. Lhota, a former top Giuliani aide was rumored to be Cuomo’s top pick for months. Lhota is currently the executive vice president for Madison Square Garden Inc..

I am pleased to accept the recommendation of the extraordinary search committee and nominate Joe Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the MTA, Cuomo said in a statement. Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers. I thank the members of the MTA Search Advisory Committee for their diligent work and thorough review.

Transportation advocates warn that Lhota will face a serious budget gap and must keep riders in mind while facing financial challenges.

To succeed, Joseph Lhota must continue Jay Walders commitment to transit riders, said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives in a statement. With the MTA facing a $9.9 billion gap in its capital budget, New Yorkers want an MTA Chair will ensure that elected officials increase the funding needed to maintain the public transit system and prevent further fare hikes and service cuts.

By on October 20, 2011, 2:09 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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Cuomo Taps Foye For Port Authority
October 19th, 2011

The Cuomo Administration has announced a major reorganization plan for the Port Authority and announced the nomination of Patrick J. Foye to head the authority. The reorganization would fold the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Moynihan Station Development Corporation into the agency. Here is the full release from Cuomo’s office:

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has recommended Patrick J. Foye to serve as Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and will nominate James Rubin and Rossana Rosado to the Port Authority Board. Additionally, the Governor is calling for the board to approve the consolidation of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation and Lower Manhattan Development Corporations operations into the Authority. There is no fiscal impact to the Port Authority as a result of these changes.

Mr. Foye’s recommendation is subject to the approval of the PANYNJ Board. Current Executive Director Christopher Ward will remain in his position until the end of October and then serve as an advisor to the Port Authority for a transitional period through the end of the year.

“The Port Authority must meet its potential as a major economic engine that plans for the region and attracts business on an international scale,” Governor Cuomo said. “We must also improve its operations and maximize the value out of every dollar spent so that it is financially responsible and respects the tax and toll payers.”

Pat Foye said “I am honored to be recommended for Executive Director of the Port Authority. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we have begun to re-energize New York’s economy and pave the way for job growth in the state. I thank Governor Cuomo for this opportunity and look forward to working closely with him and the Board of Directors at the Port Authority on maintaining and improving the New York metropolitan region’s vital transportation, infrastructure and economic development assets”.

Governor Cuomo also announced the reorganization of the operations of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation into the Port Authority.

“Too many different agencies doing the same or closely related work makes little sense,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Port Authority is best situated to oversee the development at Moynihan Station and the orderly wind down of the LMDC and these changes will consolidate responsibility within the Authority.”

There is no fiscal impact to the Port Authority from these changes. David Emil will become the Deputy Executive Director of the PANYNJ.

Governor Cuomo also intends to nominate Rossana Rosado and James Rubin to the Board of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Mr. Rubin’s appointment as Senior Advisor for International Competiveness at the Empire State Development Corporation.

“With decades of work in government, finance and the media, James Rubin is a true national leader in international economic affairs,” Governor Cuomo said. “He will bring a knowledgeable and experienced voice to designing a program that enhances New York’s role as the gateway for global commerce, and a center for the international business community.”

“Rossana Rosado has served the people of New York, and particularly our Latino communities, with a dedication and vision,” Governor Cuomo said. “Her 13 years of experience as Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of El Diaro La Prensa have highlighted her ability to communicate effectively with all New Yorkers. These skills will serve the Port Authority well as it continues to improve the lives of New Yorkers and our neighbors.”

James Rubin said, “The Port Authority can and should serve as an engine of international trade for the New York region. The state needs a renewed effort to grow jobs and increase global investment in New York and that will be my project.”

Rossana Rosado said “I am thrilled by the opportunity Governor Cuomo has given me to serve our communities in this new role. The Port Authority can have a positive impact in the lives of our residents, and it will be my pleasure to further the significant benefits that it provides, both now and in the future.”

Mr. Foye is currently the Governor’s Deputy Secretary of Economic Development, a role in which he manages the state’s initiatives for economic recovery, investment, and job creation, and oversees the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). Previously, Mr. Foye was Deputy County Executive for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Mr. Foye has also served as a board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), representing Nassau County. Mr. Foye was one of only two MTA board members who in 2010 voted against fare increases- the third in three years. Prior to working for Nassau County, Mr. Foye was the downstate chief of ESDC for former Governor Eliot Spitzer as well as Vice Chair of the Long Island Power Authority. Mr. Foye was a partner at Skadden Arps and practiced law in New York, Brussels, Budapest, and Moscow and was a senior member of the management team of a S&P 500 REIT for six years. Mr. Foye also served as President and CEO of the United Way of Long Island for three years.

Mr. Rubin is currently President of the Atlantic Partnership. From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Rubin served as Executive Editor of Bloomberg View, the opinion section of Bloomberg News, and adjunct professor of international affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Mr. Rubin served under President Clinton as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief Spokesman for the State Department from 1997 to May 2000. He was also a top policy adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and acted as a special negotiator during the Kosovo war to secure the demobilization of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Mr. Rubin was also a Visiting Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics from 2001-2004; a partner in the Brunswick Group a financial advisory firm from 2001-2004; and in 2002 and 2003, the host of the PBS series Wide Angle, a primetime, weekly international affairs program.

Ms. Rosado has over twenty five years in the New York media industry. Since 1999 she has served as the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of El Diario La Prensa – the nation’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper. She is also the first woman to serve in this position. Prior to joining El Diario in 1995 as Editor-in-Chief, Ms. Rosado was the Vice President for Public Affairs at the Health & Hospitals Corporation for the City of New York and continued to serve there under both the Dinkins and Giuliani administrations. She was also chosen to assist the transition teams for the Bloomberg and Spitzer transitions. From 1988 to 1995, Ms. Rosado was a public affairs programming producer at WPIX, where she became sole producer of daily program “Best Talk in Town.” In 1992, Ms. Rosado won an Emmy for her public service campaign “Care for Kids.” Ms. Rosado first joined El Diario in 1983 as a City Hall Reporter upon graduating from Pace University with a degree in Journalism. She is currently a member of the Pace University Board of Trustees.

Kathryn Wilde, President and CEO of Partnership for New York City said, “Governor Cuomo’s choice of Pat, James and Rossana, demonstrates his administration’s commitment to improving New York’s infrastructure and economic development. Having worked with Pat on a number of projects, I have had the opportunity to witness the experience and knowledge he brings to the table. I am confident that these appointments will help lead the Port Authority into a new era of fiscal responsibility and efficiency. This group’s management skills are exactly what we need to put New York on the path to economic recovery.”

Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York said “On behalf of the affiliated unions of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the 100,000 working men and women we represent, we commend Governor Cuomo for his appointment of Pat Foye to serve as executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We and others in the business community have worked with Pat and are confident that he will bring competent and practical management to The Port Authority’s vital role in maintaining and expanding our regional transportation assets and completing the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. We look forward to continuing to work with Pat to keep critical projects on track and assure that public resources are invested to maximize economic growth and job creation.”

Robert Yaro, President of Regional Plan Association said, “I commend Governor Cuomo on nominating Pat to the Port Authority. He will bring public and private sector experience to the Port Authority, increasing its efficiency and productivity. An agency as complex as the Authority requires experienced managers who will balance the needs of the organization with the fiscal situation in New York. Pat and his team have the necessary credentials to ensure that the Port Authority will become a driving force in New York’s economic development.”

Steve Spinola, President of the Real Estate Board of New York said, “The Governor has made it clear that creating jobs is his top priority. The Port Authority plays an essential role in New York’s economic development and infrastructure, and Governor Cuomo is making sure that it will be able to produce the best results for the people of this state. Pat Foye and the rest of the team are excellent additions to the Authority’s team. Pat’s extensive management experience and keen knowledge of New York’s fiscal make him especially suited for transforming the Port Authority into an economic engine.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, “Today’s nomination of Pat Foye to lead the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey comes at a critical time in New York’s history. There are many important projects throughout the region that can be advanced through strong leadership, and Senate Republicans stand ready to work with Governor Cuomo’s team to promote regional economic development throughout New York. Pat Foye has worked for county executives and Governors, and has decades of public and private sector experience. I wish him great success in this new role.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “The Port Authority is an integral part of the redevelopment of downtown, and I look forward to working with Pat Foye as we continue the progress we have made in rebuilding my lower Manhattan community. Pat has a strong economic development record and I know we will work well together to complete the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.”

By on October 19, 2011, 3:02 pm
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DEC Cancels Fracking Advisory Panel
October 14th, 2011

The Department of Environmental Conservation has cancelled today’s scheduled hydrofracking advisory panel meeting and Environmental Advocates of New York says it knows why. They say Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing the state towards drilling faster than state agencies can prepare.

“Today’s Fracking Advisory Panel meeting was canceled because New York’s Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Public Service Commission and Department of Agriculture and Markets have not completed estimates of the demands that drilling 1,400 new gas wells each year will place on their agencies in terms of staff and resources,” said Environmental Advocates in a statement. “Clearly, state agencies are caught flat-flooted by Governor Cuomo’s rush to drill. We’re less than two months from closing the simultaneous comment periods on the environmental impact statement, regulations and draft permit, and the Governor and New York State’s agencies still don’t know how many tens of millions of dollars this industry will cost the state. This is further evidence that New York is unprepared to provide responsible oversight of fracking and guarantee that our drinking water and communities are protected.”

For more on the debate over fracking check out two recent op-eds written for and against the controversial issue.

By on October 14, 2011, 12:56 pm
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AM Showdown at Zuccotti Park?
October 13th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has informed Occupy Wall Street protesters that he wants them to leave Zuccotti Park so that it can be cleaned tomorrow. Bloomberg says protesters will be allowed back in but must follow a set of rules. Some are concerned the rules are designed to effectively end the protests. Dan Cantor of the Working Families Party wrote supporters today asking them to support protesters and to contact Bloomberg to demand protesters be allowed to stay.

“In theory the protesters will be allowed back in, but there’s a catch — there will be a new set of rules, including no lying down and no sleeping bags,” wrote Cantor. It seems clear to us these rules are designed to end any ongoing occupation of the park.The Occupy Wall Street sanitation committee has begged the administration and anyone in earshot for dumpsters, but the City has ignored them. Instead, officials are using the excuse of cleaning the park as a back-door attempt to get protesters out of the park and put an early end to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Protesters are concerned that Bloomberg’s cleaning could just be a ploy to oust them from the park and so they are trying to gather support from the community to let Bloomberg know that people are watching.”

The WFP is holding a press conference tonight at 6 p.m. at Brown Brother Harriman 140 Broadway at Liberty Plaza to call on Bloomberg to allow the protests to continue. Cantor issued this statement earlier today: Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 13, 2011, 4:31 pm
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