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Yesterday Con Edison revealed some of its first improvements to protect its network of equipment against flooding and storms as hurricane season quickly approaches. The planned upgrades are expected to total $1 billion over the next four years. To pay for it, the utility is asking for a rate hike that will amount to $3 a month per customer. Con Ed has been criticized for being understaffed when the storm hit and for handing out bonuses to executives for their handling of it. The utility is also planning to spend $1.2 billion this year on upgrades to prepare for the summer heat. NEW IN GOTHAM GAZETTE: A Culture of Sexual Harassment In Albany? Several lawmakers, longtime Albany political operatives, and former staffers say that there is a “boys' club” atmosphere in the capitol where women are pressured to go along to get along. They blame a failed system of protection for women from unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior from male superiors -- including outdated and sometimes confusing requirements for reporting sexual harassment that fail to provide the kind of safeguards that exist in the corporate world. By David Howard King.
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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is weathering criticism for his handling of recently-resigned Assemblyman Vito Lopez's harassment suit. In response, he's announced plans to create an independent investigator for sexual harassment complaints and mandatory reporting of them. Many are calling for the speaker's resignation, including one Assemblyman who threatened to leave the Democratic conference if he didn't step down. Silver has apologized for authorizing a secret settlement in Lopez's harassment suit, but says resignation is "ridiculous." The scandal may have weakened his bargaining power, but he has a strong grasp on power in the state. Gov. Cuomo has reportedly decided not to call a special election to replace Lopez to keep him from wielding influence over his successor. The governor also says the harassment scandal proves the need for passage of his women's agenda.
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The sexual harassment scandal continues to remain the tops news today. The News reports that it was Assemblyman Vito Lopez who wanted the settlement payment to be kept from the public. Meanwhile, the Post finds sources who say Gov. Cuomo is worried that Assembly Speaker Silver may not survive the scandal. Silver has hired Mayor Bloomberg's former press secretary to help manage the situation. And finally, the fallout from Lopez's diminished stature has affected a number of primary races.
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In response to criticism of its initially limited investigation into the sexual harassment scandal, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics has expanded its probe beyond Assemblyman Vito Lopez to include Assembly Speaker Silver, Attorney General Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli. The decision was made in private as prescribed by law and gleaned from the subjects of the investigation. But board members wanted to publicly counter claims that there were attempts to block certain investigations. Gov. Cuomo has said he is open to some changes in the board and also said he'd form his own commission to probe the matter if the board fails.
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The Joint Commission on Public Ethics may be considering an expansion of their probe into Assemblyman Vito Lopez's sexual harassment suit. Ravi Batra, a member of the commission, quit over the weekend, claiming the board had no independence. He also said good government groups were more concerned with Albany access than real reform. The attorney general and comptroller have been playing down their roles in the settlement. Also, a new accuser - who is also a candidate for State Senate - says she was the victim of sexual harassment when she worked in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
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