Dean Skelos Tag All blog entries tagged as Dean Skelos Mon, 14 Jul 2014 07:14:08 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb Savino Blames Squadron For Lack of Action on Gender Expression Legislation *Updated*

Sen. Diane Savino may be getting tired of advocates pressuring her and other members of the Independent Democratic Conference to move progressive peices of legislation through the Senate.

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Savino told advocate Bryan John Ellicott in an exchange on Facebook, that it wasn't her fault that the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act has not come to a vote, instead casting blame for the delay on fellow Democrat state Sen. Daniel Squadron for being too busy running for Public Advocate to tend to his legislation.

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Savino told the Facebook poster : "You already ave my vote, but maybe you should speak to the sponsor of the bill, Dan Squadron. I know he is busy running for another office, but it is his bill and he needs to move it. Legislating does not mean introducing a bill and then doing nothing. I have a full agenda of my bills and I don't leave them to anyone else"

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Savino and her IDC colleagues have faced pressure to move progressive legislation since forming a governing coalition with Senate Republicans last year.

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"We all have to make sure we have the votes. It is part of our job," Savino said.

"Sometimes you get testy when people tell you it is your job to move a bill. It is really busy right now and I have lots of my own legislation to move. Sometimes people react in ways that don't really relfect how they feel," Savino told the Gazette.

Savino told the advocate that Squadron must prove there are enough votes for passage of a bill before it comes up for a vote. "you need to have the votes declared to move it," she said.

There is nothing in the Senate rules that says a bill must be gauraneed passage for it to come to a vote.

Squadron has held a number of events and rallies in support of GENDA and The New York Times editorialized in favor of the legislation today while mentioning Squadron's efforts to pass the bill. Squadron's office declined to comment on Savino's statements.

Savino has been the target of much lobbying on a number of different pieces of legislation because she and her boyfirend Sen. Jeff Klein. are key members of the Independent Democratic Conference and Klein shares the ability to decide which bills come to a vote with Republican Leader Dean Skelos.

Savino says she supports GENDA but that she isn't sure the votes exist to pass the bill this year.

Interestingly enough, Savino is the Senate sponsor of the Sensible Opportunity for Legislative Equality Act that would allow each legislator to bring one bill to a vote in a two-year session regardless of what leaders have to say as long as the bill has made it through committee.

SOLE may seem surprisingly straightforward, or even underwhelming, to those unfamiliar with Albany. But the act isn't any sort of guarantee rank-and-file legislators will get even one of their bills to a vote in two years as legisaltion can be held up in committee.

"It is a very distinct possibility that SOLE could help move legislation like GENDA, in instances like this," Savino said.

Savino says she doesn't think SOLE has a chance of passing the legislature this year but says it will percolate. "Legislating is hard sometimes," said Savino.

Here is the Facebook exchange:

Bryan John Ellicott:

even if you don't live in the district call Diane J. Savino and Jeffrey Klein and make them know how you feel about GENDA...think of all the young people who haven't come out yet because they are scared. Yes, NYC has GENDA like provisions but they aren't enforced.

Diane J. Savino:

You already ave my vote, but maybe you should speak to the sponsor of the bill, Dan Squadron. I know he is busy running for another office, but it is his bill and he needs to move it. Legislating does not mean introducing a bill and then doing nothing. I have a full agenda of my bills and I don't leave them to anyone else.

Bryan John Ellicott:

Diane, you have the ability to move this bill out committee all by yourself and with the other members of the IDC. Daniel Squadron and I we talk often. He can't do that with Skelos or the IDC. You are no longer just the Senator from the Staten Island you gave that up when you broke off from the Dems. You have the chance to make the lives of transgender people and especially transgender youth better. What are you going to say to them when they don't get a vote for pride?Are you prepared for that? Don't say but we have GENDA provisions in NYC because they don't get enforced.

Diane J. Savino:

bryan, i wish thst were true, but it is not. if i had that kind of power i would have passed medical marijuana already. you need to have the votes declared to move it.

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 12 Jun 2013 23:37:41 +0000
Cuomo Unveils Campaign Finance Package At End of Session With seven days left in the state Legislature's session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a package of legislation to overhaul public financing of campaigns.

The package includes a 6-to-1 public matching system, an overhaul to the State Board of Elections and tweaks to laws that the governor says will make it easier to prosecute political corruption.

Even before Cuomo made his announcement today, Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos told reporters he would block any vote on public financing of campaigns.

Cuomo announced the package knowing he didn't have the full Legislature's support and repeated a threat that has become a mantra for him: If the Legislature doesn't act on some kind of reforms, he will invoke a Moreland Commission with broad powers to investigate the Legislature.

When pressed if he was prepared to call for such a commission by the end of session, Cuomo snapped "yes" almost before the question was out of the reporter's mouth.

Earlier, Skelos had repeated a mantra of his own: "You don't govern by threats." Skelos has said he supports the general idea of part of Cuomo's plan — giving the Board of Elections more funding for investigators, for instance, but Skelos does not seem to have the drive Cuomo and other legislative leaders have over reforming Albany.

Cuomo seemed to hold out hope that the Legislature would take a chance on the package.

"We've had an overwhelmingly productive legislative session," Cuomo said when asked if he had faith in the Legislature.

And yet Cuomo's largest legislative pieces — such as the 10-point "Women's Equality Agenda" — face stiff opposition from Senate Republicans.

Advocates pushing for campaign finance reform took to Twitter, encouraging followers to call Independent Democratic Conference head Jeff Klein's office number and ask him to bring the package to a vote.

The IDC and Republicans share power in the Senate, and Klein and Skelos must agree to bring legislation to a vote. Klein has proposed a more sweeping set of reforms than Cuomo's and toured the idea around the state — something Cuomo has not done this year.

]]> (David Howard King) State Tue, 11 Jun 2013 17:12:30 +0000
NY Senator Goes Bill Happy During Slow Session Democratic State Sen. Kevin Parker, of Brooklyn, isn't interested in hearing about a dysfunctional Legislature mired in corruption and inaction. He's been busy introducing bills — lots and lots of bills.

Parker introduced 43 bills on May 16 — the Senate's last day of unlimited bill introduction.

The 43 bills run the gamut of legislative matters:

  • S.5442 would require the state parks commissioner to create a New York Abolition and Civil Rights History Trail.
  • S.5523 would create a pilot program for social impact bonds designed to lower recidivism in juvenile justice programs
  • S.5386 would require creditors to inform debtors that written communications are available in large print.
  • S.5446 would allow same day voter registration and voting.

Last month, Bill Mahoney of The New York Public Interest Research Group estimated that the Legislature is on track to duplicate their performance from last year when they passed the fewest bills two-house bills since 1914.

And Mahoney says that, as of now, the Legislature is still on pace to perform just as badly.

"With eight session days to go in 2012 (the year with the fewest 2-house bills since at least 1914), they had passed 139 bills. With eight session days to go in 2013, they have passed 123," said Mahoney.

Mahoney notes that there is still time for bills to gain passage in a second house as 432 bills gained passage in a second house in eight days last year. "They are, however," said Mahoney, "currently running behind last year's pace."

It seems that a number of major legislative proposals including ethics reform, public financing of campaigns, reform of marijuana possession laws, The DREAM Act, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's women's equality legislation are likely to be jammed up in the Senate for one reason or another.

Members of the Independent Democratic Conference are being lobbied hard by a number of interests since they have publicly supported a number of these issues but have been unable to bring them to a vote. IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein has to agree with Republican leader Sen. Dean Skelos on what comes to the floor for a vote and Skelos vehemently opposes public financing of campaigns and the abortion plank of the women's agenda.

It is likely that Republicans and the IDC will be eager to pass as many other bills as possible to deflect from criticism on failing to act on other major pieces of legislation.

]]> (David Howard King) State Thu, 06 Jun 2013 15:09:45 +0000
Today's Lead: Cuomo to Push Abortion Rights Legislation

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to introduce his "Women's Equality Act" legislation that includes a measure that will change state law to allow abortions after 24 weeks to protect a woman's health. Federal law already allows such abortions but the legislation is likely to set up a major battle in the state senate. Cuomo aides and advocates have identified a number of Senate Republicans who they hope to sway to vote for the legislation.The Assembly will likely pass the legislation with little trouble but Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos has said he is steadfastly opposed. The legislation also includes measures to fight human trafficking, provide equal pay for women and implement stricter punishment for sexual harassment in the work place. The urgency to pass major pieces of legislation during the last month of session has united abortion rights advocates and campaign finance reform groups that are trying to pressure the Senate Independent Democratic Conference to bring the measures to a vote.

Weekend Roundup

After three days of intense meetings and arbitration the New York State education commissioner imposed a teacher evaluation system on New York City schools. New York was the last district in the state to put such a system into place. The plan is unique compared to others in the state because it leaves a large part of implementation of the evaluations up to each school.(The New York Times) The city teacher's union lost out on a push to have representatives on a committee that will implement the plan. (New York Post) The city lost $250 million in state education aid for failing to meet earlier deadlines on an evaluation system. The next mayor could overturn the new system. (Wall Street Journal)

The city saw a surge of gun violence over the weekend as 25 people were shot in 48 hours. Staten Island was the only borough not rocked by gun violence as 12 people were shot in Brooklyn, eight in the Bronx, and four in Queens. One person was shot to death in broad daylight in Manhattan. (The Daily News)

Other Stories We're Following

Anti-Bullying Groups Banned at Bronx Schools Students Call "Nightmare" (DNAinfo)

Bike Share Deals With Glitches (Wall Street Journal)

Bronx Struggles to Escape Its Image (NY Times)

Lessons of 1977: WIll Quinn be The Next Ed Koch or Bella Abzug? (Gotham Gazette)

]]> (David Howard King) The Eye-Opener Mon, 03 Jun 2013 11:58:20 +0000
Cuomo and Republican Comments On Lopez Indicate Stalemate For Rest of Session

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the ugly sexual harassment scandal surrounding Assemblyman Vito Lopez is the perfect example of why legislators need to pass his 10-point women's agenda.

“I think it would be the height of hypocrisy for a body that just recognized the problem up close and personal within their own colleagues and to not take action,” Cuomo told reporters yesterday.

Cuomo has yet to issue a bill encapsulating all 10 points of the agenda, but it is known to include stiffer penalties for sexual harassment; anti-human trafficking measures; pay equality laws; and a more controversial provision that would encode a women's right to an abortion in state health law rather than in the criminal code.

Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters echoed Cuomo's sentiments earlier yesterday. "If anyone should be the poster boy for the women's agenda legislation Vito Lopez is it," Bartoletti said.

Bartoletti wants legislators back in Albany next week ready to pass the women's legislation as well as campaign finance reform. Otherwise she said all they will have from this session is "a legacy of scandal."

But Senate Republicans aren't interested in passing Cuomo's women's agenda or his other priority — public financing of campaigns.

A spokesman for the State Senate Republican's sent Nick Reisman of Capital Tonight a statement slamming Cuomo's comments about the women's agenda and simultaneously slapping down the push for public financing of campaigns.

"Out of one side of his mouth, Andrew Cuomo calls for Vito Lopez’s resignation. Out of the other, he calls for public financing for campaigns," the statement read. "The height of hypocrisy is for Andrew Cuomo to claim to support women’s rights while asking New York’s women to spend their tax dollars on reelecting serial sex abuser Vito Lopez and his enabler Sheldon Silver. If the governor were serious about protecting women, he would join us in calling for Silver to resign as speaker."

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans held a not-so public hearing to bash New York City style public financing of campaigns.

Groups that support public financing of campaigns point to recent cases of corruption and say that public financing would help reduce the influence of money in politics. Senate Republicans say that the public would be forced to finance the campaigns of crooked pols like Lopez.

Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos recently had an op-ed in the Times Union bashing public financing of campaigns. He has also been going out of his way to attack the abortion measure of the women's equality legislation.

Skelos recently issued a statement connecting the women's equality legislation to the murder conviction of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. “Today’s guilty verdict in the Kermit Gosnell trial in Pennsylvania highlights the potential danger in passing the so-called Reproductive Health Act," Skelos wrote.

Many in Albany worry that Senate Republicans want to be in Albany as little as possible for the rest of the year so they don't face pressure from Cuomo to pass ethics reform and other parts of his agenda.

It has been the slowest legislative year in recent record, according to Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Last year, legislators floated through the end of session after passing the budget. It appears the same may happen this year.

]]> (David Howard King) State Fri, 17 May 2013 11:41:48 +0000
Today's Headlines: Scandal Mania vs Legislative Agenda!

Gov. Cuomo yesterday vowed to keep pushing his legislative agenda in face of "scandal mania." He's been using the recent wave of "quote, unquote scandals" to push ethics reform, but still wants movement on his other priorities, such as women’s equality, the creation of a local government panel, and casino gaming. He also blamed the press for letting scandals become all-consuming. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos is using the investigations as a reason to oppose public financing, saying it will put public money into the hands of untrustworthy people. Cuomo yesterday revealed a proposal for one of his priorities, reforming the Long Island Power Authority, calling for a three year rate freeze and a takeover by Public Service Electric & Gas Co. of New Jersey.

Other Stories We're Following

City Board Of Elections Warns Of Mayoral Election Disaster (Daily News)

Advocacy Group Opposed To Flushing Meadows Soccer Arena (Capital)

Bloomberg Defends Queens Soccer Stadium (NY Post)

Liu Campaign Most Aggressive In Courting Muslims (Daily News)

Indian Point Nuclear Plant Draws Mixed Grades (WNYC)

City Seeks Developers to Restore Staten Island Marsh (DNAinfo)

State To Use Federal Grant To Pay For Homes Damaged By Irene and Lee (Albany Times Union)

Quinn Would Double Newsstand Maximum Price To $10 (NY Post)

]]> (Mike Muller) The Eye-Opener Tue, 14 May 2013 13:07:58 +0000
What Happened to Cuomo's Women's Agenda? It has been three months since Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State Address and announced a 10-point plan to address injustices facing women in today's society.

Since then, Cuomo has successfully passed major gun law changes and enacted a state budget.

Supporters of the plan expectthe legislation will resemble the already-proposed Reproductive Health Act that would take abortion out of New York's penal code and make it part of health law. But the wide-ranging proposal was also supposed to deal with human trafficking, pay discrepency and sexual harassment.

Cuomo indicated earlier this week on Susan Arbetter's The Capitol Pressroom radio show that he is in no hurry to introduce precise bill language on the issue.

“Oftentimes they don’t want the bill to come to the floor for a vote because they don’t want to take the position,” Cuomo told Arbetter, adding, “What we need to do is strip away the devil is in the details as just an excuse.”

Despite not introducing actual bill language, Cuomo told Arbetter that legislators are ducking the details. "Legislators sometimes don’t want to take the votes that will clarify: choice, corruption, public finance. Raise your hand! Yay or nay!” Cuomo told Arbetter. “The quote-unquote IDC coalition, they’re either going to end up going to be a facilitator of transparency and progressive politics or an enabler of obfuscation. I think all of this is going to be for the positive.”

Sen. Dean Skelos said Cuomo's act would legalize late-term abortions.

The question seems to be whether, at this late point in the session, how much political capital Cuomo wants to spend on his women's agenda with Albany fixated on ethics reform and anti-corruption measures thanks to a number of recent arrests. Cuomo hasn't made it exaclty clear what he wants from legislators on that either.

But it is likely he will have to expend quite a bit of energy molding legislators to his will on ethics issues.

The National Organization for Women held a press conference in Albany yesterday and pushed for actual legislation. Sen. Diane Savino indicated at the press conference that she was looking for bill language sooner rather than later. "We're waiting for the governor to give us direction," Savino told reporters.

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 24 Apr 2013 20:03:47 +0000
Cuomo Talks Corruption

Following a week littered with indicments and arrests of state legislators and their cronies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the airwaves to talk reform.

Cuomo didn't get into specific fixes today, but floated the targets of possible reform — Wilson Pakula, the enforcement wing of the state Board of Elections and cross-party endorsements. “These are crises, but they’re also opportunities,” Cuomo said. He added that he would want to "pull back the lens and do as much as we can."

RELATED: For a look at Cuomo's previous efforts to fight legislative corruption and what others think can be done to fight it, check out today's stoy: "Can Anything Be Done About Corruption in Albany?"

Cuomo also took time on Susan Arbetter's Capitol Pressroom to address Fred Dicker's latest column in The Post that said Cuomo is plotting to use recent scandals to overthrow Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Cuomo and Dicker used to be two peas in a pod with Cuomo appearing regularly on Dicker's show to float ideas until Dicker began attacking Cuomo for a more liberal agenda.

“I’m a partner to Assembly Speaker Silver, I’m a partner to Dean Skelos and Sen. Klein on the other side. But it is wholly up to the legislative bodies to select a leader,” Cuomo said. “I would never even for a moment try to influence that decision. And, again, in this case I don’t see what the Speaker had to do with any of these purely personal individual acts by two Assembly people.”

]]> (David Howard King) State Mon, 08 Apr 2013 16:09:50 +0000
Today's Lead: Bloomberg Lashes Out at State Legislators

Mayor Michael Bloomberg got personal yesterday with state legislators he blames for failing to enact a speed camera program around schools that he says would stop children from being hit and killed by speeding cars. After the next tragedy Bloomberg suggested: “Why don’t you pick up the phone and call your state senator and ask why they allowed that child to be killed?” Bloomberg named Sens. Martin Golden, Dean Skelos and Simcha Felder as legislators parents should call to complain.“Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child when a child is killed,” Bloomberg said. “It would be useful so that the parents can know exactly who’s to blame.” The speed camera plan was in the Assembly's budget plan but did not make it to the final product. When approached on Sunday during budget votes Golden told the Gazette "I have no idea," when asked why speed cameras weren't part of the budget. He told The New York Times on Wednesday that other areas that use speed cameras have found them "unreliable." Republican spokesman Scott Reif issued a statement saying that, "no one has fought harder or longer" to promote safety in New York City.

Other Stories We're Following

Queens Landlord Accused of Endangering Tenants (NY Times)

Police Chief Appointee Hailed as Bridge Builder (NY Times)

Quinn Denies Being Vindictive (NY Times)

Lhota Doesn't Regret Fight to Remove Art That Offended Him (NY Times)

Plaintiff's Lawyers Say Memo Prove NYPD Stop and Frisk Racially Motivated (NY Post)

Sen. Malcolm Smith Rips NYPD Inspector General (NY Post)

Quinn Calls Herself "Pushy Broad" During Interview (Daily News)

Bloomberg Warm to Quinn but Keeping Mayoral Pick to Himself (Daily News)

Minority Parks Department Workers Get Settlement (Daily News)

State Assembly to Vote on Budget Today (Associated Press)

Does State Budget Favor the Young? (Albany Times Union)

Judge Rejects City's Request to Dismiss Lawsuit to Expedite PCB Removal (NY 1)

]]> (David Howard King) City Thu, 28 Mar 2013 11:59:12 +0000
Bloomberg Blames Skelos, Golden, Felder For Lack of Speed Cameras

As I reported on Monday, a number of issues important to New York City were tossed out of state budget negotiations or barely dealt with including The DREAM Act, SUNY Downstate and speed cameras.

As it turns out, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not too pleased with the Legislature's failure to enact a bill that would allow the city to use up to 40 speed cameras in high-risk areas.

“Frankly, reckless and negligent are some senators blocking our ability to save lives of our kids with speed cameras,” Bloomberg told reporters today.

Bloomberg told reporters to give out the names of three State Senators who he held responsible for blocking the bill to parents who lose children in traffic accidents — Sens. Dean Skelos, Marty Golden and Simcha Felder.

"I have no idea!" Golden responded on Sunday when I asked him what happened to speed cameras in the budget.

Golden read a statement on the floor of the Senate last night before voting on one budget bill where he detailed the damage the budget could do to families and said "I do not consider these budget negotiations over." He then voted for the bill.

Senate Republicans released this statement: “Working with the City, no one has fought harder or longer than Senate Republicans to ensure the safety of New York City children and their families.”

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 27 Mar 2013 19:50:44 +0000
Today's Lead: Stop and Frisk, Cuomo's Football Suite

Recording Suggests Race a Factor in Stop and Frisk

A recording played in federal district court in Manhattan on Thursday suggests that race plays a factor in the city's stop and frisk practices. The tape captures a conversation between a patrol officer and his commanding officer. The commanding officer urges the officer to stop "the right people, at the right time, the right location," to prevent crime. The officer asks what the commander means by "right people" and he responds: "The problem, was what, male blacks and I told you at roll call and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21." The tape was played on the fourth day of trial in a class action lawsuit that includes millions of stop and frisk incidents in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has championed stop and frisk as a method to prevent gun violence and reduce crime. The issue is playing prominently in the race to replace Bloomberg.

Other Stories We're Following

Deal Will Give Cuomo Administration Suite at Bills Stadium (NY Times)

Man Shot By Police in Brownsville Firefight (NY 1)

Skelos Backs Catsimatidis (NY Post)

Albany Offers Incentives to Bring Tonight Show Back to NYC (NY Post)

Suit Challenges NY Gun Law (Daily News)

Biden Visits City Hall (Daily News)

Business Leaders Opposed to Paid Sick Leave Sending Quinn Big Checks(Daily News)

City Construction Spending Hits 4-Year High (Crain's)

Met Museum to Open 7 Days a Week (Crain's)

Cuomo Wants New Teacher Evaluation Deal (Wall Street Journal)

Some Disappointment With Quinn At LGBT Mayoral Forum (Gay City News)

]]> (David Howard King) City Fri, 22 Mar 2013 07:23:59 +0000
Republican Sen. Steve Saland Concedes Sen. Steve Saland of Poughkeepsie conceded his race against Democrat Terry Gipson today. "After learning today the final count of the absentee ballots and affidavits have revealed that the voters have selected Terry Gipson as the State Senator of the 41st Senate District, I respectfully concede in my bid for State Senate and offer my sincere congratulations to Mr. Gipson," Saland wrote in a statement. Saland was tremendously popular in his district and his loss came as a surprise to many.

That leaves one more Senate race outstanding although it will likely have no impact on control of the Senate as Senate Republicans joined with the Independent Democratic Conference in a power-sharing agreement. The 46th ditrict race between Republican Assemblyman George Amedore and Democrat Cecellia Tkaczyk will be decided by a judge.

Saland is one of four Republican Senators who voted for same-sex marriage earlier this year. Saland faced a conservative primary challenger because of that vote. Only one Republican Senator who voted for same-sex marriage will return next year.

Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos issued a statement praising Saland:

I join all New Yorkers in wishing Senator Steve Saland the best as he completes a 32-year career in the State Legislature, the last 22 as a distinguished member of the New York State Senate. Steve is a highly-respected lawmaker and a dear friend.
“This chamber will miss Steve Saland’s clear and steady voice, most notably in the areas of criminal justice and victim’s rights. Steve was the author of more than 350 laws, and he has been a fierce advocate for the victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

Senator Saland was the driving force behind legislation requiring school district employees to be fingerprinted, so that extensive criminal background checks could be done. Just last year, Steve won passage of a landmark domestic violence bill, later signed into law by Governor Cuomo, which included the most significant and far-reaching changes to the State’s domestic violence laws in a decade. There is no doubt that women and children are safer today because Steve Saland never stopped fighting for them.

Steve Saland has been an important and influential voice for the Hudson Valley, and his shoes will be difficult to fill. In addition, he has been a valuable member of the Senate Republican Conference on key issues for more than twenty years. His leadership and his friendship will be sorely missed.”

]]> (David Howard King) City Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:23:37 +0000
Cuomo to Skelos: Check Yourself

Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos told reporters yesterday that his conference hadn't committed to passing any legislation that was part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's litmus test and hadn't made any "decision or agreement" on what legisaltion will come to the floor in this coming session.

Cuomo has said he will support any legislators who support his policy priorities, including a minimum wage hike and campaign finance reform; the Independent Democrats, who created a power sharing agreement with the Senate Republicans, publicly support those measures. Skelos, however, has been evasive and, at times, opposed to the measures. Republicans have to balance the wishes of their party base and their constituencies with their desire to stay in power.

Cuomo took to the airwaves today to tell Skelos to get behind his legislative agenda or fear facing his wrath.

“If that’s true then we’re going to have a problem, and we’re going to have a problem sooner rather than later,” he told Fred Dicker. “If Sen. Skelos is opposed to the agenda of the people of New York State, then I will oppose him."

So far, Cuomo has played hands-off with the power-sharing arrangement in the Senate, even while the deal has been decried by Democrats as excluding minorities and being against the will of the people. But now that issues are involved, Cuomo is involved.

Cuomo talked tough last year during deals that needed Republican support even while his staff were working with the Republican Senate to pass legislation.

At the moment, Cuomo only seems to be reminding Skelos where his bread is buttered and who exactly has the 70 percent approval ratings.

Image of Gov. Andrew Cuomo courtesy of the Governor's Office.

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 12 Dec 2012 19:14:24 +0000
Addabbo: Sandy Recovery Too Important For Political Differences

Senate Republicans and members of the Independent Democrats will gather in Queens today for the first meeting of the Bipartisan Senate Task Force on Hurricane Sandy — and they have invited a couple of members of the Democratic conference as well.

"There isn't any room for poltical differences," said Queens Sen. Joe Addabbo who is a member of the Demcoratic conference. "We have no room for that when there are still 10,000 without power in the Rockaways."

Addabbo will be just one of a number of legislators who have seen their districts ravaged by the storm. From Staten Island to Long Island, the senators who will gather in the Rockaways today represent areas that need immediate attention.

Sens. James Sanders, Dean Skelos, Diane Savino, Andrew Lanza, Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, Martin Golden and Charles Fuschillo have been confirmed for the gathering. The group will tour the Rockaways and then meet with community leaders.

Addabbo says it will be the task force's job to keep the Legisalture connected to the areas and constituents that need the most help.

"We have to have a constant dialogue while listening to the needs of people and we need to feed what we arehearing into that task force," he says. "The people need to understand there is a way of getting in touch with there legislators."

Addabbo says he expects there will be many more taskforce meetings in areas hit hardest by Sandy in the coming months.

Sen. Joe Addabbo at a hearing. Photo from NYS Senate Democrats.

]]> (David Howard King) State Mon, 10 Dec 2012 16:31:56 +0000
Senate Dems Who Failed to Lead in Cuomo's Eyes Are The Ones Back in Control

There is a bit of a logic problem with the op-ed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's published today after it was announced that there would be a power-sharing agreement to run the State Senate.

Cuomo says in the op-ed that "the Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises."

But, as it happens, the people in charge of the Democratic conference when it was in the majority are currently members of the Independent Democratic Conference: Sen. Malcolm Smith was majority leader and Sen. Jeff Klein was deputy majority leader during the two years Cuomo recalls as "squandered."

And the man that the IDC struck a "power sharing" agreement with, Sen. Dean Skelos, helped plan and iniate the coup that paralyzed the chamber in 2009.

Furthermore, even after the Senate coup was resolved and Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate rejoined the Democratic conference fold, Smith retained the Senate presidency and Klein kept his title as deputy majority leader.

In fairness, Smith and Klein both had to contend with the Four Amigos — Sens. Carl Krueger, Ruben Diaz, Espada and Monserrate – and a number of other Democrats who refused to coalesce around certain policy issues and used the tight majority to leverage their votes.

But Klein was also using the situation to boost his power in the conference at the time.

Klein only left the Senate Democrats when he lost his position as head of the Senate Demcoratic Campaign Committee after a disastrous election performance that saw Democrats lose their slim majority.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have issued a statement saying they meet the litmus test that Cuomo issued in his op-ed. Democratic Senate spokesman Mike Murphy issued this statement:

This past session and through recent elections, the Senate Democratic Conference laid out a progressive agenda New Yorkers responded to and have overwhelmingly demanded through their votes on Election Day. The Governor has now presented a similar agenda including many issues the new Republican Coalition has opposed. Senate Democrats will continue to lead the fight on this progressive agenda, and we will hold the Senate Republican Coalition accountable until New Yorkers get the progressive change they deserve.

Sens. Malcolm Smith and Jeff Klein meant with Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Photo from Sen. Smith's Office.

]]> (David Howard King) State Wed, 05 Dec 2012 18:12:12 +0000
Scharff Says Senate Deal Could Be "Just Another Albany Coup"

Senator Klein's decision is a huge gamble - for the IDC and for New Yorkers,"Karyn Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action NY, said in a statement. New Yorkers voted for a progressive agenda, and the IDC is putting that agenda at risk. If the Senate passes Governor Cuomo’s public funding of elections bill, an increase in the minimum wage, and fair funding for our schools, then I’ll give credit where credit is due. If they don’t, then this will be just another Albany coup. Citizen Action's members worked hard to elect Cecilia Tkaczyk and other progressive Democratic candidates because we want a Senate that will pass publicly financed Fair Elections, an increase in the minimum wage and a more progressive tax system to fund our schools. These are issues that Republicans have always blocked. Senator Klein and the rest of the IDC support that agenda, and say this coalition government will allow them to get it done. It’s now their responsibility to use their new found power to deliver these policies to the voters.

]]> (David Howard King) State Tue, 04 Dec 2012 21:28:53 +0000
Cuomo: Hike Minimum Wage Before Legislative Salaries

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to see the state Legislature pass a hike in the minimum wage and legislation that would decriminalize posession of small amounts of marijuana before he will even consider signing on to legisaltive pay raises.

“We have a legislative agenda that has not been passed, which is the priority for me,” Cuomo said today at a graduation of the newest class of State Troopers. “If there is an opportunity for the Legislature to act, I’m going to be looking for them to act on the people’s agenda. I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. I’m interested in a people’s agenda and that’s what the session would be about. “

A special session of the Legislature after the Nov. 6 elections has long been rumored. Legislative pay raises have been a crux of those rumors as well as campaign financing reform and other hot topics. State legislators haven't had a raise since 1999.

Senate Republicans have been steadfastly opposed to a minimum wage hike and the marijuana decrimilization effort. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos called the minimum wage hike "a jobs killer" and made this memorable remark about Cuomo's plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana: “Just being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it would only be a violation — I think that’s wrong,”

Cuomo hasn't exactly been gung-ho on a minimum wage hike up until this point. It has mostly been Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's baby, and Silver is currently a bit hamstrung by the Vito Lopez scandal.

A minimum wage increase has been polling fairly highly with New Yorker's.

Picture of Gov. Andrew Cuomo courtesy of the Governor's Office.

]]> (David Howard King) City Tue, 16 Oct 2012 20:29:45 +0000