April 24, 2012
Start Today: Chris Quinn, not Chris Quinn and Fresh Direct.

Chris Kreider celebrates after scoring his first NHL goal. The goal would end up being the game winner against the Ottawa Senators, sending the playoff series to Game 7. (Photo Credit: blueshirtsunited.com)

Back to it, then.

Let’s go Rangers!

March 28, 2012
Start Today: The budget, lobbyists and prisons.

Dear hearts, we had a rough start.

  • We got ourselves a budget, folks. The $132.5 billion budget marks two straight years of on-time budgets — a rarity in Albany — and the first time in decades that spending will decrease for two straight years.
  • The lobbying industry is-a-boomin’. And the number one spender is a group that supports the governor’s agenda, according to the Times Union and the Times.
  • The governor’s “close to home” initiative is about to start taking effect, gradually migrating downstate about 400 city youth serving sentences upstate.
  • City Limits magazine (donate!) reports that solitary confinement is on the rise at Rikers Island.
  • The MTA will pay $599 million and receive 300 new cars.

March 27, 2012
Start Today: the budget, hoodies and ACA-watch 2012.

Morning! Lots of news today.

March 22, 2012
Andrew Cuomo: the not-so-transparent governor.

Check out this piece, from the Albany Times-Union’s  Jimmy Vielkind:

Fifteen months after leaving the Department of Law, Cuomo has sent almost nothing to the State Archives, designated by state law as the final resting place for every attorney general’s papers.

The state Education Department, which oversees the archives, has inexplicably delayed the Times Union’s request to review what three people familiar with the matter said are 10 boxes of records, or about a dozen cubic feet. 

As you may recall, much of Cuomo’s 2010 campaign for governor focused on a broken Albany, one that needed transparency and reform. No back-room deals, no typical Albany politics. He’d even make his schedule public. Transparency, transparency, transparency.

Fast-forward to the year 2012. Governor Cuomo has made a habit of using “messages of necessity,” which are used to bypass a mandatory three-day transparency period on legislation. This is not uncommon for New York governors, but for a guy who came in to office on a wave of anti-Albany sentiment, it’s interesting to see him work late-night deals on same-sex marriage, gambling, redistricting, public pensions and a DNA database without passing out from the sheer irony.

And here’s his public schedule for today, March 22, 2012: he’s “in Albany.” Other days, he’s “in the New York City area.” When he releases his past schedules, there are even more head-scratchers. Where was he the day same-sex marriage passed? Oh, you know. On the phone, probably.

Transparency!

12:39pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZUWrxvIOKWdx
Filed under: Andrew Cuomo 
March 19, 2012
Start Today: Back in New York.

Sorry for the sporadic posting last week. As I mentioned, I was out of town due to a family emergency. While I was gone, Sunshine Week came and went, and Governor Cuomo (as is his wont) marked the occasion by jamming through legislation.

Anyway, I’m back on a full schedule now. And here’s a roundup for you:

March 12, 2012
Redistricting: politics, not policy.

Last month, in a meeting with the editorial board of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Andrew Cuomo was asked about his hard-line stance of vetoing overly-political congressional maps.

In the interview, Cuomo said he would push for a three-pronged approach: if it made the districts more fair, if it included the passage of a constitutional amendment to improve the process within the next ten years and if it passed a reform law in the case an amendment failed, he would not veto the lines.

A spokesman walked back this position the next day, but many who were closely monitoring the process noted that this looked like a departure from the governor’s stated position. Here’s what I wrote at the time:

Again, this has all the appearance of a policy shift. Lawmakers aren’t super excited to give up their redistricting powers because they would no longer have the ability to keep their seats and the seats of their colleagues safe. Cuomo, who has come out strongly for reform, simply doesn’t see this as a winner anymore. Capital Tonight reported on a recent Quinnipiac poll, which shows that not only do voters not consider redistricting a big deal; they don’t even know what it is.

So Cuomo’s changing the conversation to better serve his image. And when the lines finally do go through he can frame it as a victory for reform.

Today, Politicker’s Colin Campbell has a bit of news on redistricting, with this quote from Cuomo criticizing the magistrate:

“First of all, the magistrate’s lines were remarkably like the lines that she was given. I’d bet you that they were 98% the same,” he contended. “So it’s not like the court is going to start with a blank piece of paper and rewrite the lines. The lines were tweaked by the magistrate, but they were basically the Assembly and the Senate lines for the Congress.”

Campbell notes, as does Empire’s Colby Hamilton, that this is completely untrue. At best, Cuomo confused the Senate and Assembly maps with the maps offered up by open-government organization Common Cause; at worst, it’s a cynical attempt to again change the conversation. 

Here’s a theoretical: after Cuomo dismisses the magistrate’s maps as too similar to the legislature’s, the Senate and Assembly offer up new maps, alongside, oh, say, the amendment that Cuomo asked for, which they did today. Cuomo, claiming reform, signs both.

That looks pretty good for Cuomo, doesn’t it? A judge was brought in, as was promised; he proves he wants “real reform” by calling out the magistrate as well as the legislature; and in the end he can point to an outcome — possibly today’s announced amendment — and say “look what I did,” whether there’s any substantial reform or not.

I’m not even sure the amendment has to be any good. The one released by the Senate this morning certainly doesn’t appear to be. At least, not by Cuomo’s own standards. In the Democrat and Chronicle meeting last month he called for the proposed amendment to focus on “independent” redistricting; this amendment would take appointees from both parties — much like the current system — and add in two “registered independents.” And while they do take great pains to refer to the group as “an independent redistricting commission” on each reference, that doesn’t necessarily make it so: the final say ultimately goes to the legislature.

Maybe Cuomo will reject this amendment. Maybe he won’t. Maybe the next legislative maps — which are finished, but for whatever reason have yet to be released — will be more fair. Maybe not. But whatever happens, look for Cuomo to spin it in his favor.

As he’s shown in the past, it’s what he’s good at.

March 6, 2012
Start Today: Redistricting, better contraceptives and CityTime.

March 5, 2012
Start Today: John Liu in NY Mag, Cuomo and redistricting.

http://nymag.com/news/features/john-liu-2012-3/

(Photo Credit: Pari Dukovic for New York Magazine)

(Here’s the title reference.)

February 22, 2012
Cuomo: ‘We have to gauge what is the best solution.’

AP Photo

Colin Campbell points to this 14-minute audio clip from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, in which the Governor talks to the editorial board about redistricting. It’s the same interview in which he appeared to back off from his hardline veto stance last week.

On the ultimately rejected independent panel:

“I just lost, is what happened,” he said. “It’s not that they didn’t hear me and not that I didn’t advocate. It’s just that they rejected my suggestion.”

On the legislature’s role:

"First, remember, by law – by the constitution, actually – the legislature basically is the legal authority to draw the lines. People say well we don’t think they should, but they do now, according to the law in the constitution."

On what he thinks is the best solution: 

"I don’t think the legislature should draw the lines. They say, ‘well then change the constitution!’ And I say I think we should. I think we should have a constitutional amendment and change it. In the meantime, whatever lines you draw, even though you have a legal authority, they still have to meet certain legal parameters, and I don’t think these lines meet those parameters, so I’m going to veto these lines."

“I’m old enough to have seen this movie a couple times. And we’re going to see it again in ten years. So I’m like, let’s stop the madness, and let’s actually make a change, so it doesn’t happen again.”

On whether his three requirements mark a departure from his position to veto any lines not drawn by an independent panel:

"The elections are normally in September. A federal judge moved the election up to June. So, you now have an entirely abbreviated campaign schedule. And you want to talk about an infringement on Democracy and incumbent protection– how can anybody run for Congress? You don’t even know what the lines are."

"I think we have to gauge what is the best solution now, and time is getting short."

Again, this has all the appearance of a policy shift. Lawmakers aren’t super excited to give up their redistricting powers because they would no longer have the ability to keep their seats and the seats of their colleagues safe. Cuomo, who has come out strongly for reform, simply doesn’t see this as a winner anymore. Capital Tonight reported on a recent Quinnipiac poll, which shows that not only do voters not consider redistricting a big deal; they don’t even know what it is.

So Cuomo’s changing the conversation to better serve his image. And when the lines finally do go through he can frame it as a victory for reform.

February 14, 2012
"But this is an essential management alignment of back office overhead, and rather than detailing people, actually assigning people, meaning you have to move the money that goes with those people."

— Andrew Cuomo, out-talking a room of reporters in regard to language in the budget that allows him to move money between agencies without legislative approval. (Read more, and see the video, at Capital Confidential.)

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Filed under: andrew cuomo albany 
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