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Citizens Union

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Mark Dunlea of Hunger Action says the success of the new so-called power-sharing agreement in the State Senate will be based on whether they can pass a minimum wage hike without "weakening" the bill.

 "An early test for this power sharing agreement will be whether the bill that Senator Klein has already introduced to raise the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour plus indexing is the one that the Senate passes. Or whether they decide to weaken it before allowing it to be voted upon (e.g., dropping indexing, lowering the $8.50 target)," noted Mark Dunlea.

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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.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a new free shuttle service dubbed the H train will begin providing service to residents of the hard-hit Rockaway Penninsula at 4 a.m. tomorrow.

“The A train tracks from Howard Beach to the Rockaways were almost completely destroyed by the storm, and replacing them is a tremendous undertaking,” Cuomo said in a statement. “While that work continues, this new shuttle service will help improve travel for people in the Rockaways who are still recovering from Sandy’s effects.”

According to Cuomo's office, the cars that make up the new service were trucked to the Rockaways after the A train tracks were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. 

“MTA New York City Transit has responded with unprecedented creativity to restore subway service to Rockaway customers,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “This partial restoration of service is an important step for the Rockaways, but our work won’t be done until the A train is fully restored.”

The Rockaways are still in need of basic relief aid like shelter, food and heat.

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Voters across the city were faced multiple hour waits to cast their ballots, broken machines, missing pens, missing ballots and a great deal of misinformation. Some voters waited on line for over three hours. Valerie Vazquez spokeswoman for the NYC BOE issued this statement in response to questions from Gotham Gazette about the BOE's performance: 

The Board of Elections of the City of New York faced many challenges this election year, particularly in the wake of last week’s Hurricane Sandy. Due to damage from the storm, we had to combine or move several poll sites throughout all five boroughs. Late yesterday, one day before the election, Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order that allowed voters displaced by the hurricane to vote via affidavit ballot. Additionally, this was also the first time that many voters used the new voting machines we introduced two years ago. All presented challenges to this election and we worked diligently to communicate these changes to New York voters and our poll workers, many of those without electricity. We know that some voters experienced long lines here in New York -- much like voters across the United States -- as is common with high voter turnout associated with a presidential election. We would like to thank both the State and City offices for all their help with preparations for Election Day, the poll site workers for their hard work, and the voters for their patience.

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In "A Daily Show Tribute to Institutional Competance" John Stewart highlighted the fast reaction, bipartisanship and quirks of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Stewart sends out a special love note to Bloomberg's sign language interpreter Lydia Callis. This video could in fact brighten up your Sandy-tainted week.

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Today's Lead Stories...

Partial Transit Restored, Free Rides


Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a traffic emergency for today and Friday making mass transit free for those using the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's busses and trains. "The service in many cases is limited, the service in many cases will be crowded," Cuomo said at a late night press conference in the city. The move came afterimmense gridlock Wednesday. City busses were jammed with commuters and gas lines stretched for over half a mile. Commuters who wish to drive into the city will have to car pool. The entire transportation infrastructure has yet to be restored with flooding still impeding some routes but partial service has been restored. Check out the MTA's post-storm stubway map




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Editor's Note: This post has been updated with statements from the city's Board of Elections.

"Election day will be on Tuesday, that is not going to change," John Conklin, spokesman for the New York State Board of Election, said earlier today.

He said county boards across the state are currently assessing the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to polling places and trying to determine what alternate arrangements need to be made to make sure everyone who wants to vote can.

"The local boards impacted by the storm are assessing damage to the polling places right now," Conklin said. "We have been in meetings with the governor's office and local boards to work on these assessments. We have to see if power still remains at the polling site, if they remain accessible to the public, the board and the machines. We also need to make sure the sites are safe. Once that is done, we will check on alternate polling sites and make sure they have tents, generators and whatever else they need."

Conklin said he hopes that all polling sites will have power, but he admitted, "Some might not." In that case, paper ballots will be made available for voters. The ballots will be put in a lock box and then scanned at county BOE headquarters.

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Here is an update from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Metropolitan Transportation Authority restorations that will start tomorrow morning: 

 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced when limited subway, Metro North, and LIRR service will resume.

The following is an up-to-date service status list of the MTA operating agencies including New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and Bridges and Tunnels.

NYCT SUBWAY SERVICE:
EFFECTIVE TOMORROW MORNING PRIOR TO RUSH HOUR

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Today's Lead Stories...

Frankenstorm


Forecasters are expecting "Frankenstorm" will hit the East Coast early next week. The storm earned the title because it appears hurricane Sandy will combine with a winter storm to create dangerous weather for New York CIty and surrounding areas. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office urged New Yorkers to prepare for the storm yesterday saying that even though the storm's path is unclear New Yorkers could see: "heavy rain, high winds, flooding, tornadoes, coastal surges, and widespread power outages." Cuomo has put state agencies on alert. 




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The Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional today by a Federal Appeals Court in Manhattan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo who successfully championed the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York issued this statement:

In June 2011, New York State inspired the rest of the nation by becoming the largest state to achieve marriage equality. Today’s ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit provides further momentum for national progress on this important civil rights issue. What we did here in New York can only be the beginning, and we must continue to work together until all Americans are free to marry whom they love and are entitled to all of the rights and benefits of marriage equally, regardless of sexual orientation."

Cuomo congratulates Sen. Tom Duane on the floor of the Senate after the passage of same-sex marriage legislation. Photo courtesy of The Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

 

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You can add one more issue to the pile of things Gov. Andrew Cuomo might get from the legislature in return for agreeing to legislative payraises. Today Cuomo told Fred Dicker of the New York Post that the making the legislature subject to freedom of information laws may be part of a deal for legislative pay raises. Earlier this week Cuomo said he wouldn't consider signing off on payraises until the legislature handles, "the people's business." 

That "business" according to Cuomo at the time included hiking the minimum wage and decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. However, other issues have also been mentioned for a post-election special session, including campaign finance reform. Cuomo discussed why the public might have seen the Assembly's sexual harassment settlement with Assemblyman Vito Lopez's accusers as "secret" and brought up the the FOIL process. Cuomo said:

"If there's no foil you wouldn't get these agreements unless they're voluntarily disclosed so that's a reform agenda I'm saying that we can take up."

Cuomo and his office have had an interesting relationship with FOIL, just ask the Times Union. Cuomo's office has battled with the Times Union over access to his records as AG pertaining to the Troopergate scandal. 

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview today that he will stump for President Barack Obama in other states. Cuomo has been rather low key when it comes to the presidential election and that may be because his intentions regarding 2016 are under the focus of much discussion. 

“They’ve asked me to do surrogate work in other states, I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” Cuomo said. But added: 

I’m very aware of that for the simple reason that it hurts me as governor,” he said. “If you politicize me, you cast aspersion on my motivations and intent, you suggest I have my own political agenda for doing things, you’re going to hurt my capacity and ability to serve as governor. I just won’t allow that to happen.

Photo provided by the Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

 

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"The second debate was clearly a decisive victory for President Obama. He demonstrated he has an effective record as commander in chief, presented a real plan for moving America's economy forward, and provided a stark contrast to Mitt Romney's endorsement of the same failed ideas that led us into this fiscal crisis in the first place. New Yorkers and all Americans were given a clear choice in this debate for our nation's future and the President's performance has made it an easy choice," said Cuomo in a statement. 

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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.

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Sen. Liz Krueger sprung to the defense of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his handling of the review of hydraulic fracturing today after he was criticized in a Bloomberg article by a member of the pro-fracking Joint Landowners Coalition.

Coalition member Brian Conroy said in the story published by The Syracuse Post-Standard:

We’ve given him a long leash and now it does look like politics is coming into play…Either there’s incompetence, where they just can’t handle a complex technical study like this, or the potential of cowardice, where he isn’t being decisive and is floundering with decisions.

Cuomo recently said that the state would conduct a health review of fracking before it moves towards regulating it. Krueger responded in a statement: 

The idea that the Joint Landowners Coalition has Governor Cuomo ‘on a leash’ is offensive to all New Yorkers."

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