Andrea Stewart-Cousins Tag All blog entries tagged as Andrea Stewart-Cousins http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/latest Thu, 10 Jul 2014 07:02:13 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Who Are the Huntley 9? http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/08/who-are-the-huntley-9- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/08/who-are-the-huntley-9- Sen. Shirley Huntley was having trouble with the FBI so she called up her colleagues and had them over to her house — to wiretap them.

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According to court documents, Huntley was hoping to win favor with prosecutors when it came to her corruption case.

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Today a judge unsealed Huntley's sentencing document unveiling a list of those she helped record for the FBI. They include several sitting Democratic Senators, a couple political consultants and a sitting Council member. Prosecutors have indicated that at least one of the people named on the list is not under investigation.

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So who are these lawmakers and political operatives?

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Lets start with the usual suspects: Sens. John Sampson of Brooklyn and Malcolm Smith of Queens.

Both men at one point headed the Demcoratic conference. Smith became Senate majority leader in 2009 after backroom powerbrokering with Sens. Pedro Espada, Hiram Monserrate, Ruben Diaz and Carl Krueger. When Espada and Monserrate jumped sides to the Republicans (causing the infamous Senate coup that paralyzed Albany for weeks), the pair were lured back to the fold when Sampson was named Democratic Conference leader. When Democrats were returned to the minority in 2010, Sampson replaced Smith.

Last year, Smith joined the Independent Senate Democrats becoming the chair of the conference, seemingly fixing the image problem that they had no minority members. This year Sampson was replaced by Andrea Stewart-Cousins as Minority Leader.

In April, Smith was arrested and indicted in a scheme to bribe his way onto the Republican line for New York City Mayor. Sampson was indicted on Monday on charges including embezzling from escrow accounts he managed as a lawyer to fund his failed run for Brooklyn district attorney.

Then there are the two borough president hopefuls: Sens. Eric Adams of Brooklyn and Jose Peralta of Queens. Adams is running for Brooklyn Borough President while Peralta is running for Queens Borough President.

Adams worked for 22 years as a New York City Police Department office and founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, which advocates for black officers. Adams has been outspoken against racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, and police brutality.

Adams has served on a number of committees through the years and is currently chairing the Committee on Aging despite being a member of the minority conference. He was appointed by the Independent Democratic Conference this year.

Peralta served in the Assembly from 2002 until he won a special election against Monserrate in March of 2010. Peralta has been a major leader on immigrant rights, The Dream Act, and has advocated for gun control and reducing gun violence.

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who represents parts of the Bronx and the city of Mount Vernon in Westchester, was elected to the Senate in 2000. Hassell-Thompson has been very outspoken on the Senate floor and involved in some heated debates. Hassell-Thompson tried to rally support to become minority leader when it was clear Sampson would be replaced but the bid failed.

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery represents parts of Brooklyn and has served in the Senate since 1984. Montgomery has spent time advocated on education and children's issues.

None of the state lawmakers or their representatives immediately responded to Gotham Gazette's requests for comment. However, Peralta's office said a statement was forthcoming.

The two political consultants named on the list are Melvin Lowe and Curtis Taylor.

Lowe is a longtime political operative with links to John Sampson and the Democratic State Senate Committee, as well as the developer of the Atlantic Yards project and Barclays Center. Taylor was Smith's spokesman during the height of the Queens politician's political career a couple years back. Taylor resigned from his post in 2008.

Contact information for Lowe and Taylor couldn't be immediately located.

The only city lawmaker to be named, Councilman Ruben Wills, represents the 28th Council District and was the former chief of staff for Huntley. He told reporters at City Hall today that his attorney assured him he is not the focus of an investigation.

Huntley Wire Document by Nick Reisman

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 08 May 2013 18:56:17 +0000
Who Is NY State Sen. John Sampson? http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/06/who-is-ny-state-sen-john-sampson http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/05/06/who-is-ny-state-sen-john-sampson

Who is state Sen. John Sampson? This morning, everyone knows Sampson as the man who turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to face multiple charges for embezzling money he was in charge of as a lawyer to fund his ill-fated run for Brooklyn District Attorney.

But Samspon has long been a player in Albany, and rumors of corruption have swirled around him for years.

Elected to his seat in 1996, Sampson has worked as an attorney for Alter & Barbaro, Esqs., since 1994. For a while Sampson was the answer for all the Senate Democrats' problems and became one of the most powerful men in Albany.

In 2009, during the Senate coup, the Democratic conference elevated Sampson to conference leader (a position that had previously not existed) in a bid to return Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada to the fold.

Sampson's time as a leader of a majority conference was brief; Democrats lost their majority in 2010.

Sampson later faced scandal relating to bid-rigging at the Aqueduct Casino. Reports and rumorshave swirled around Albany for years about Sampson's involvement in securing Aqueduct Entertainment Group win a lucrative contract to run the Aqueduct Casino. The Inspector General rescinded the bid, alleging favoritism and Genting eventually won the contract.

Sampson promised an investigation into the bidding process in 2010 but the report has still not been made public.

In December 2011, Sampson as Senate Minority Leader named Ravi Batra to serve as his pick on the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Sampson was required to fill out a form disclosing his relationship with Batra. Sampson failed to note that he was "of council" to Batra's law firm. Batra was already known as a controversial figure and his appointment drew the concern of many of Sampson's colleagues.

Late last year, Senate Democrats replaced Sampson as Minority Leader with Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Some saw the move as an effort to put a clean new face on the Democratic Conference in the hope that the Independent Democratic Conference and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would take them more seriously.

Today Sampson was stripped of all his committees and his seniority by Stewart-Cousins.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Mon, 06 May 2013 17:53:00 +0000
Putting Pressure on the Wage Deal http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/03/20/putting-pressure-on-the-wage- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2013/03/20/putting-pressure-on-the-wage- The budget is by no means finished yet but a minimum wage deal that will incrementally increase the wage to $9 an hour by 2016 has been pretty steadily floated by leadership over the past few days. If the idea was floated as a trial balloon than the jury seems to be in with its verdict.

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins issued a statement today asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to remove the minimum wage from the budget:

As details emerge it is clear that the current minimum wage proposal has some serious issues. While increasing the minimum wage to $9.00 is something that the Senate Democrats have long supported, we are disappointed that the current proposal doesn’t reach this level for three years, is not indexed to the rate of inflation and does not raise the wages of certain service workers. The Governor and the Assembly all originally proposed acceptable proposals, unfortunately the Senate Republicans have blocked these efforts. We propose removing this discussion from the budget and we stand ready to provide 27 votes for raising the minimum wage quicker, with indexing and for all low wage workers.”

Sen. Gustavo Rivera told me he supports the move and wants to vote on the bill separately on the floor of the Senate. He says all 27 Senate Democrats would vote for a minimum wage increase of $9 will indexing.

A number of wage advocates have slammed the proposal and are accusing the Independent Senate Democrats of ceding negotiating power to the Senate Republicans who have been traditionally opposed to minimum wage hikes. Advocates rallied today at two IDC offices to protest the fact that tip workers would not benefit from the wage hike.

Now former Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins is weighing in with this statement:

Last year Cuomo killed a minimum wage hike even though public opinion polls demonstrated overwhelming support among voters for it, including Republicans. Then he allowed the Republicans to gerrymander the Senate district lines in order to try to hang on to a majority even though there are two million more enrolled Democrats in the state. When that failed, Senators Klein and Valesky and the other conservative Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference (all also nominated by the corporate Democratic branding operation called the Working Families Party) decided to break off and keep the Republicans in power despite their minority status. Cuomo, as leader of the Democratic Party, did nothing to prevent that maneuver by conservatives.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Wed, 20 Mar 2013 21:17:54 +0000
Andrea Stewart-Cousins Elected Senate Minority Leader http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/18/andrea-stewart-cousins-elected-senate-minority-leader- http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/18/andrea-stewart-cousins-elected-senate-minority-leader- Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the new head of the Senate Democrats. The Westchester Senator was elected by a 19-6 vote over Sen. John Sampson and is the first woman to head a legislative conference in New York State.

"I will work with my colleagues in the Republican and IDC Coalition to ensure that the progressive issues that both the Governor and our conference believe in are advanced. I want to thank Sen. Sampson for all his hard work and his dedication to the Senate Democratic Conference and to the people of New York," Cousins said in a statement.

Sampson took over as the head of the conference from Sen. Malcolm Smith in June 2009 after the Senate Coup. A number of Democrats expressed that they felt the vote would help move the conference forward from the association with the troubled period when the conference was in the majority.

Here are statements from a number of Senate Democrats: “I look forward to working with Leader Stewart Cousins as we move the Democratic Conference forward serving all New Yorkers. The people of New York want a progressive and democratic agenda and that is what the Democratic Conference under the leadership of Senator Stewart Cousins will provide,” stated Senator John Sampson.

Senator Eric Adams said, “New Yorkers deserve a state government that responds to them, not the special interests. That is why I am so pleased that Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will lead our conference and together we will advance the progressive legislative agenda called for by the residents of this great state.”

Senator Joe Addabbo said, “I commend our new Democratic Conference leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for her dedication to the conference and the hard working men and women of New York State. I look forward to working with her to advance the progressive agenda the voters sent us to Albany to achieve.”

Senator Tony Avella said, “The Senate Democratic Conference has been instrumental in the fight for common-sense, progressive legislation. Senator Stewart-Cousins will continue that proud tradition as she leads our conference into the upcoming legislative session.”

Senator Neil Breslin said, “I applaud Senator Stewart-Cousins on becoming the next leader of the Senate Democratic Conference. The people of New York expect progressive leadership from their state representatives, and under Senator Stewart-Cousins, that is exactly what we are going to ensure gets done.”

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for our conference, and will be a powerful voice for good government. The residents of New York State need a leader like Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to represent their interests, and I am honored to serve with her.”

Senator Martin Dilan stated, “I congratulate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and look forward to helping her stand up for the working men and women of New York.”

Senator Adriano Espaillat, said, “Under Conference Leader Stewart-Cousins, Senate Democrats will continue to be a powerful voice for New York’s working families. I look forward to working with Senator Stewart-Cousins to continue to grow the Democratic conference and apply progressive solutions to move our state forward.”

Senator Mike Gianaris said, “I want to give my immense thanks to John Sampson for his leadership and I look forward to working with Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Her historic election will help move our conference forward and help us pass the progressive agenda that we successfully ran on and the people of New York have demanded.”

Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson said, “I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues on this historic occasion in applauding our new Conference Leader, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Senator Stewart-Cousins has been an excellent public servant, and I am confident she will be an exceptional leader for our conference.”

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins has been a voice for the underserved and a champion for working families. Today she earned her place in history by becoming the first female, African-American Minority Leader in New York State history. I look forward to working with her and continuing to move this state in a new direction by championing issues that are important to Western New Yorkers.”

Senator Liz Krueger said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will ensure that New York remains committed to a progressive agenda. She has been a great Senator and I know will be a great Conference Leader.”

Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for the Senate Democratic Conference and I commend her on her new position. I look forward to working with her, and all of my Democratic colleagues to protect the interests of all New Yorkers, not the privileged few.”

Senator Kevin Parker said, “I commend Senator Stewart-Cousins and join with my colleagues in supporting her as our new Conference leader. Under Senator Stewart-Cousins we will continue to be outspoken advocates for those New Yorkers who need a progressive state government the most.”

Senator Jose Peralta said, “I am proud to support Senator Stewart-Cousins as Democratic Conference Leader. This next session will be extremely important and we must work together to ensure the people of New York have a strong voice fighting for them in Albany to increase the minimum wage and enact common sense gun laws.”

Senator Bill Perkins said, “I look forward to working with our new leader, Senator Stewart-Cousins, and all of my colleagues in the State Senate to ensure that New Yorkers receive the effective state government they deserve.”

Senator Gustavo Rivera said, “As someone who helped work to elect Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, I am particularly proud today to join my colleagues in the Democratic conference in selecting Andrea Stewart-Cousins as our new leader. Together, we will fight to advance the progressive agenda New Yorkers so clearly have called by overwhelmingly voting for Democrats this past election.”

Senator Jose Serrano said, “I commend Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and look forward to serving with her as our new Democratic Conference leader. The residents of New York have repeatedly called for progressive leadership, and that is exactly what Senator Stewart-Cousins, and the entire Democratic Conference, will provide.”

Senator Daniel Squadron said “Today we made history, electing the first woman leader of a New York legislative conference. I look forward to working with Senator Stewart-Cousins’ leadership to continue to move forward the progressive foundation that Senator Sampson has built.”

Senator Toby Stavisky said, Senator Stewart-Cousins will be the first female legislative leader in New York State history, and I am honored to serve with her. Senator Stewart-Cousins will be an excellent leader for the Democratic conference and I commend her for her dedication to the conference and residents of New York.”

Senator-Elect Terry Gipson said, “I am eager to get to Albany and fight for my constituents. I am honored to support Senator Stewart-Cousins as Democratic Conference Leader.”

Senator-Elect George Latimer said, “I served with Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins in both the State Legislature and the Westchester County Legislature and I know that she will be a strong voice for Democratic values.”

Senator-Elect Brad Hoylman said, “I look forward to taking my place in the State Senate this January to begin representing the interests of all my constituents. I am proud to be part of an historic first for New York State Government. With Senator Stewart-Cousins as our leader, I am confident that together with my Democratic colleagues we will give New Yorkers the progressive government they deserve. I commend Senator Sampson for laying the groundwork for our conference’s further success.”

Senator Elect Ted O’Brien said, “It is an honor for me to take my place alongside my Democratic Senate colleagues to select Senator Stewart-Cousins as our conference leader. I look forward to serving under her leadership and working to represent my constituents, and all New Yorkers, in the State Senate.”

Senator-Elect James Sanders, Jr. said, “Senator Stewart-Cousins has a distinguished history fighting for those who need state government the most. I look forward to joining the Democratic Conference under her leadership, and together we will continue the struggle to give New Yorkers the government they deserve.”

Senator-Elect Cecilia Tkaczyk said, “As I stand ready to complete the election process and take my place in the State Senate, I look forward to serving with Senator Stewart-Cousins as she leads the Senate Democratic Conference into the next legislative session and beyond.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:24:27 +0000
Senate Democrats to Choose Leader Today http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/17/senate-democrats-to-choose-leader-today http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/the-eye-opener/entry/state/2012/12/17/senate-democrats-to-choose-leader-today State Senate Democrats are expected to take a leadership vote later this afternoon.

A number of sources have said that the situation remains very fluid and have indicated that discussions about who should lead the conference have really heated up over the past week.

We reported last week that some Democrats were excited when Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to chide Republican Sen. Dean Skelos for not publically backing his litmus test. There has also been a lot of talk about voting for a new leader who might entice the breakaway group of Democrats led by Sen. Jeff Klein back into the fold, should there be trouble between them and the Senate Republicans.

However, other Democratic senators insist they will vote for the right person to lead the conference based on their positions and abilities not just someone who could possibly make the IDC happy down the road. Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins is being talked about as a favorite to replace Sampson, and she has a decent relationship with Klein.

We will update you on the situation as it unfolds.

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dking@gothamgazette.com (David Howard King) State Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:51:37 +0000