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The IDC today announced that it has $2,835,000 on hand between it's four members and the IDC PAC.

The Independent Democratic Conference had a rough end of session this year with progressive advocates blaming them for the failure of the 10-point women's agenda and campaign finance reform.

Some advocates indicated that they are prepared to primary the group. IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein is known as a prolific fundraiser and has the biggest haul, his colleagues lag behind him but Klein and the PAC could bolster any member should a challenger arise.

The IDC actually tried to win seats for itself in the last election cycle by unseating longtime Albany Sen. Neil Breslin but the effort failed.

Here are the totals from the IDC's press release:

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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.

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.

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"

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

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

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Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said yesterday that she wants the city to control the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which is currently run by the state. "The MTA chair is appointed by the governor. The mayor has a minority of the appointments on the MTA board. The majority of the new members are appointed by the governor and county leaders outside of our city," Quinn said. "This has resulted in an MTA that doesn't respond quickly enough to the needs of New Yorkers and the changing face of our city." Transportation advocates have criticized Quinn's plan. Quinn also said that by 2023 no New Yorker should have a commute of more than an hour in any direction.


Other Stories We're Following

Man Faces Hate Crime Charges in Brooklyn Burning Spree (NY 1)

New Yorkers Brace For Cuts to Unemployment (NY Times)

Cuomo's Re-election Machinery Already at Work (NY Times)

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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.”

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Sen. David Carlucci is "shocked and outraged" over the alleged bribery scheme that his fellow Independent Democratic Conference member Sen. Malcolm Smith was arrested for today, according to a statement from Carlucci's office.

Carlucci represents Spring Valley, New York and a Senator from Spring Valley is mentioned throughout the complaint against Smith. However, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters today that there is no evidence of wrongdoing involving the Senator from Spring Valley.

Here is Carlucci's ful statement:

Like many New Yorkers, I am shocked and outraged over the alleged misconduct undertaken by various public officials at the state, city, and local government. This conduct is reprehensible in its entirety, and public corruption in any form cannot be tolerated at any layer of government. I look forward to hearing the details of this wide-ranging investigation as they begin to unfold. As the United States Attorney had indicated, in no way whatsoever was I, or any member of my staff, involved in the alleged criminal misconduct and subsequent charges filed this morning. On the contrary, these actions speak to a broader, more fundamental reason as to why I ran for office in the first place – to clean up the culture of corruption that pervades our politics.”Three years ago I came to Albany to shake up the status quo and bring change to our State Capital. While we have made great strides since, there clearly remains much more work to be done. I am committed to working to reform our system of government in a way that increases transparency and holds public officials accountable to the people they serve.

IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein has stripped Smith of his chairmanship and committee assignments and issued a statement saying Smith might want to consider resigning.

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Sen. Jeff Klein has stripped Sen. Malcolm Smith of his chairmanship and committees. In a statement just issued by the Independent Democratic Conference Klein implies that Smith should consider resignation. The move comes in response to Smith's arrest earlier today on charges that he tried to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket in the New York City mayoral race:

These are very serious allegations that, if true, constitute a clear betrayal of the public trust. As a result of these charges, I have made the decision to strip Senator Smith of his committee assignments and of his conference leadership position. By participating in the alleged scheme, Senator Smith breached the trust of the Independent Democratic Conference. I trust that the U.S. attorney's office will act expeditiously to resolve this matter and to ensure that justice is served. Finally, given the level of criminality alleged, I believe that Senator Smith should seriously consider whether or not he can continue to effectively serve his constituents."

Smith joined the Independent Democratic Conference late last year. The IDC paired with Senate Republicans just as it seemed Senate Democrats had won back control of the Senate. Smith is the only member of color of the IDC. Placards in front of Smith's office listing his committee assignments were taken down earlier today. Klein seems to hint in his statement that Smith should resign. It isn't clear what it would mean for control of the Senate if Smith resigned or if he is convicted.

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A spokesman for state Sen. Malcolm Smith says the former majority leader will be "vindicated" of charges that he conspired to buy a spot on the Republican Party ballot for mayor in 2013.

Smith was arrested this morning by the FBI on charges that were brought in federal court. (Read the complaint below.)

Smith spokesman Todd Shapiro issued this statement: "The Senator has record of 13 years of dedication, hard work and integrity to the people he serves in Queens.He has provided to the heath, safety and well-being of the almost 20 million residents in New York. He will be vindicated when the all the facts in the case are revealed."

Smith led the Senate Democrats when they initially took control of the Senate in 2008. Smith had to cut deals with a number of senators to get that position. Last year, Smith joined the Independent Senate Democratic Conference, which lacked any minority members at the time. Smith was named chairman of the IDC in February of this year.

The IDC touted its seperation from the ethically challenged Demcoratic conference and the fact that they were ready to succeed where the Democrats had failed. But Smith and IDC Leader Sen. Jeff Klein were both part of the leadership structure of the Senate Democrats when they controlled the Senate. Smith's arrest could alter control of the Senate.

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Being part of the majority coalition in the state Senate pays — at least when it comes to fighting gun violence.

The Aid to Localities budget bill shows that four counties represented by members of the majority coalition are going to share $1 million for the establishment of — or continued operation of — Operation S.N.U.G. programs.

S.N.U.G., which stands for guns spelled backwards (seriously), is an anti-gun initiative started by Sen. Malcolm Smith when he was senate majority leader. Now he is a member of the Independent Senate Democrats, who are power-sharing in the Senate with Republicans. The program is expanding a bit and the $1 million in funding will go to Rockland, Queens, Bronx and Onandaga Couties.

IDC member Sen. David Carlucci represents Rockland County; IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein is from Bronx County; Sen. Dave Valesky is from Onandaga County; and Smith from Queens.

The funding for S.N.U.G. was part of the Senate's one-house budget bill but seems to have expanded in the completed budget.

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Assembly Republicans are expressing their dissaproval with Speaker Sheldon Silver's legislation that will increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour at a hearing this afternoon.

Assemblyman Al Graf just got finished noting that this specific bill has no sponsor in the Senate and that it is basically a one-house bill. "All this amounts to is a nice little press release," Graf said. Democratic Keith Wright is the bill's sponsor in the Assembly.

Silver decided to bring the wage increase to a vote today as negotiations over a minimum wage increase continue between the Senate, Governor and Assembly.

Senate Republicans have acknowledged an increase is likely but they want to pair it with tax cuts.

Meanwhile, the breakaway Independent Senate Democrats support a wage hike as well.

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A member of a dissident faction of Senate Democrats has introduced legislation that would put a a 24-month moratorium on the form of natural gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, pending the outcome of major health studies into the practice.

Sen. David Carlucci, who is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference representing Rockland and Westchester counties, announced Tuesday that he had introduced the bill.

“A quick buck is not worth the long-term debt that our children will have to live with if we get this decision wrong," Carlucci said in a statement. "Rushing to judgment without all of the facts is a recipe for a disaster, particularly involving a hydrofracking process that lacks transparency and accountability, and has appeared to pose significant harmful health effects towards populations surrounding the Marcellus Shale. I cannot in good conscience support any measure that does not first fully evaluate all related scientific data, and that is precisely what we are advocating for here today. Let’s get the facts at our disposal before we launch into unchartered territory.”

Sen. Jeff Klein had similar reservations: "As I've said before, I have serious concerns about the process. These studies will provide the Department of Health with a much clearer sense of whether or not hydrofracking can ever be conducted safely."

A release from Carlucci's office notes that three major studies into hydrofracking are ongoing: One on the impacts on drinking water resources by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; a Geisinger Health System of Pennsylvania study on the health histories of hundreds of thousands of people who live near natural gas wells on the Marcellus Shale that covers parts of New York as well as Pennsylvania; and a study of health impacts led by academic researchers.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to question the relationshiop between the Independent Democratic Conference and Senate Republicans in an interview with Fred Dicker this morning:

If Amedore actually wins then the problem for the Senate Democrats is a mathematics issue. They just lose on the numbers. So the whole IDC thing would become irrelevant. I don’t know what that would do to that arrangement. But, if Amadore wins, none of the consternation and that chatter would amount to anything because the Republicans would have won. Of course they have Simcha Felder, which whatever that situation is. But I don’t know that it’s over. I know the Democrats say they are going to appeal Amedore, so I don’t know.”

I asked Deputy Minority Leader Sen. Mike Gianaris at a press conference today what he made of the governor's comments and his tone was conciliatory:

The agenda they set forth is the agenda we have been talking about for years. Ideologically we are more of a match for them than the Tepublicans who stand in the way, literally, of everyone of those objectives. So it has always made more sense that we would be together at the end of the day, so hopefully we will get there.

Although Gianaris does not have a wonderful relationship with Sen. Jeff Klein, who leads the IDC, Democrats did recently replace Sen. John Sampson with Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Stewart-Cousins is said to have a good relationship with Klein. Gianaris, however, was named minority leader.

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“If Amedore wins, then the whole IDC thing would be irrelevant,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the New York Post's Fred Dicker today.

Cuomo was refering to the breakaway faction of Democrats, the Independent Democratic Conference led by Sen. Jeff Klein, that announced it was joining the Senate Republicans earlier this year to form a bipartisan coalition.

But, as Cuomo noted, if Assembly George Amedore's victory over Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk holds up then the bipartisan coalition might not really amount to much because Demcoratic Sen.- elect Simcha Felder from Brooklyn decided to caucus with Republicans before the IDC made its deal.

There has been quite a lot of fuss made over Cuomo's connection to the power-sharing agreement with some folks, with some accusing the popular governor of orchestrating it himself. Cuomo even issued a "litmus test" to show that he was focused on issues and not party politics. The Senate Democrats have even switched leaders, which some says is ploy to lure the IDC members back into the fold in case their relationship with the Republicans doesn't last.

The IDC has been rather defensive, if not touchy, about their relationship with Republican Senators – especially in the wake of a new focus on gun control legislation.

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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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Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the innocent victims of today’s horrific massacre. We stand with the people of Connecticut during this moment of unspeakable tragedy.

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City Considers Limiting Deportations

Two bills set to be proposed in the City Council today would further limit the city's cooperation with federal programs that seek to deport immigrants. The bills are in response to The Secure Communities Act which mandates fingerprints taken at local jails are compared to a Department of Homeland Security database. Anyone who is deemed an illegal immigrant is then marked to be detained. If the City passes these laws it will strengthen its reputation as immigrant-friendly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo symbolically withdrew New York from the program earlier this year. “What we don’t want is New York City’s agencies having to participate in deporting people who present no risk and in fact may be adding a great deal to the City of New York,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Times yesterday in an interview.




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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.

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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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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.

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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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The New York Post reported this morning that state Sen. Malcolm Smith will join the Independent Democratic Caucus the group that has pledged to help keep Republicans in charge of the chamber.

Smith was Senate Majority Leader in 2009 when Senate Republicans staged a coup with the help of two renegade Democrats, which left the Senate in chaos for weeks.

The Independent Democrats, created and led by Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein, supposedly left the Democratic confernece because of the infighting and absurdity that took place when Smith was "in control" with the Democrats. Smith, however, looks to be setting himself up for a run for New York City mayor on the Republican ticket.

Klein bolted the Democratic conference when Minority Leader John Sampson replaced him as head of the New York Senate Democratic Campaign Committee in 2010. Democrats lost a number of seats under Klein's watch in the 2010 elections. But Klein and his followers got some perks from Republicans in 2011 while rank-and-file Democrats saw their budgets and staffing slashed.

This year, Democrats have picked up at this moment an undetermined amount of seats — likely enough that if all Senate Democrats were on board they would be back in the majority.

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