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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.
â€śWe have a legislative agenda that has not been passed, which is the priority for me,â€ť Cuomo said today at a graduation of the newest class of State Troopers. â€śIf there is an opportunity for the Legislature to act, Iâ€™m going to be looking for them to act on the peopleâ€™s agenda. I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. Iâ€™m interested in a peopleâ€™s agenda and thatâ€™s what the session would be about. â€ś
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: â€śJust being able to walk around with 10 joints in each ear and it would only be a violation â€” I think thatâ€™s wrong,â€ť
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.
The National Organization for Women and Common Cause New York rallied today to call for a broader investigation into the "culture of sexual harassment in Albany."
The groups outlined a list of expectations for the Joint Commission on Public Ethic's investigation into the Assembly's handling of the Assemblyman Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal.
"JCOPE has an opportunity to prove itself by conducting a real investigation which reveals how pervasive the problem is, whether other instances of sexual harassment were properly addressed as well as bringing forth the full facts of who knew what and when they knew it. A hurried report which fails to address the full scope of the Assembly, and Mr. Lopez's, wrong doing is unacceptable," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, in a statement.
Its unclear at the moment how far JCOPE's investigation will go into the sexual harassment scandal, but a spokesman for the commission told the Wall Street Journal that the probe would be thorough.
â€ťAs with any investigation undertaken by the Joint Commission, the evidence is followed wherever it may lead," spokesman John Milgrim said.
Today's Lead Stories...
Council Hearing on Policing
The City Council held a 6-hour hearing on police tactics yesterday that focused on stop-and-frisk. Four bills were mainly at issue. One bill would require officers to identify themselves and provide their name and rank during stops. Another bill would require officers to inform suspects of their right to refuse a search. Another bill would establish an Office of the Inspector General to oversee the police department. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly were not present at the hearing and they oppose the measures. Bloomberg's council Michael Best argued that the council does not have the legal authority to legislate police tactics. Council Speaker Christine Quinn declined to say whether she supports the package of legislation.
In the Press...
Republican Councilman Daniel Halloran criticized his competitor in the race for the 6th Congressional District after raising money during an event hosted by Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.
Standing outside City Hall earlier today, Halloran said he "can't imagine" what Democratic opponent Grace Meng was thinking.
"Yesterday she was out trying to get money from New Yorkers on the 9/11 holiday," he told the Gazette. "I'm absolutely disgusted as someone who lost a cousin on that day."
A spokesman for Meng's campaign said that the candidate "spent the day commemorating the tragic events of September 11th with various organizations throughout the city."
"Indeed, one of those events was a lunch with Speaker Silver where Grace had the opportunity to share her remembrances with community leaders," spokesman Austin Finan said in a statement emailed to the Gazette. "To be clear, it was not a fundraiser. It was a meet and greet lunch. If individuals in attendance chose to contribute to Grace Meng's campaign, that was their prerogative."
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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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.
More stories in the press:
Number of children in city's homeless shelters hits 19,000
Feds ready to recognize 9/11 cancer link
Ex-speaker spared $400,000 in lobbying fines
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he asked Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign from office last week amid the sexual harassment scandal.
Everyone involved in the settlement between the Assembly and Assemblyman Vito Lopez's accusers are now facing major scrutiny. The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had to sign off on the sexual harassment settlement and as such they are also under the lens. In a statement just released by Schneiderman's office the AG says he is cooperating with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics: