And the fun continues…

Shock and awe.  That has to be what the reeling ex-Mjaority Leader Malcolm Smith is feeling right now.  And it just keeps piling on..

From the latest news reports, Smith has lost it all, even if the Democrats somehow regain control of NY’s Senate chamber.  The latest indictaes that even if the Democrats retake control, Smith will be ousted from any and all leadership positions.  Even the efforts of The One’s political team are sacraficing Smith in a counter-coup bid.  The problem with this is that if the Dems do regain control, then who will be elevated to the vaunted leadership positions?

That’s the question for the Democrats.  If not Smith, then who?  Carl Kruger and Tom Stachowski are two options, but the rumor mill, from many sources, seems to point to them flipping sides to join Espada and Monserratte.  But I would venture that if Smith is sacraficed, then these two would “remain in the fold,”   especially if they are offered the top two slots as President of the Senate and Majority Leader.  However, given their generally more conservative leanings, I doubt they will be acceptable to the City-crats.  Reuben Diaz sr could be the wild card in all this.  He’s stated that he won’t switch sides, but will he support a counter-coup  if Smith is involved?  Diaz was one of the “gang of four” who threatened Smith to back the GOP back in January.

Then there’s our accidnetal governor, David Patterson.  He’s losing ground at every turn.  The latest polls show him to be the least popular governor in the nation.  That’s pretty impressive given his predecessor’s antics, and the ancilliary hubub concerning former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.  Patterson is being put to the test here, and is failing each and every time.  Is it any wonder that AG Andrew Cuomo has not weighed in on this business?  Not really, as the weaker Patterson is, the easier his time to get the gubenatorial nomination will be.  Provided Patterson decides to run that is.

But it gets worse for the “reform agenda” Democrats.  NYPIRG, the NY Public Interest Group, a noted left leaning organization, has come out in favor of the GOP’s coup. “We believe, on first cut (the new rules) are another step in the right direction,” said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner.  Ouch.  That one goes straight to the Democratic agenda.

Oh for sure some have come out vocally against this move, beyond the politicians that is.  A few hundred gathered at the Capital to voice their displeasure.  A survey of those involved, from watching the news coverage, shows the usual lunatic leftist, and a fine selection of various special interest groups who stand to have thier own agendas side lined by the loss of their political allies.

I fully expect this to end by Friday.  I doubt any serious legal action will happen, more so as AG Cuomo seems to be trying very hard to stay out of teh fray.  Going so far as to ignore Smith’s “extortion and influence peddling” charges against Espada and Monserratte.  No matter what the DNC robocalls are encouraging those involved to report to Cuomo.

Ah, NY politics.  Gotta love it.

Some reading links:

Fred Dicker (NY Post)

NY Post Coverage

Capital News 9

Joe Bruno on the events


More fun and games in Albany

Poor, poor, Malcolm Smith.  He’s had the power in the Senate for less than six months, and now it appears he has already lost it.

Local news reports are indicating that two “rebel” Democrats have opted to side with the GOP to take the leadership positions away from Smith and his control.  Pedro Espada and Hirum Monserratte have apparently, and publicly, decided to caucus with the GOP to form a new power bloc.  While both Espada and Monserratte have declared that they are not switching parties, you can bet your last dollar that Smith, and the NY Democratic party will visit a world of political hurt on those two come election time.

So now we have Malcolm Smith (D) and Dean Skelos (R) both claiming to be Senate Majority Leader.  We also have the supposed election of Espada to be President of the Senate.  Now the wrangling begins, not only in the eyes of the public, through the media, but through the courts.  Guranteed it will happen.  Smith is claiming to anyone who will listen, that this “palace coup” was illegal, and took place while the Senate was out of session.  However, there appears to be questions as to if the session was actually gaveled closed, or if Smith just thought so when he left the chambers, or was merely informed that was the case.  Details I’m sure will continue to emerge as this bit of political theater goes on.

David Patterson, our esteemed governor, has also weighed in on the matter.  However, he failed to really make any sort of impact.  We all know he’s close friends and allies with Malcolm Smith, and thus has a vested interest in seeing Smith remain on top in the Senate.  If anything, he has only added to the rudderless confusion surrounding the state of affairs in the NYS Legislature.  Can’t wait to see what Prince Silver has to say when he chimes in, probably today.

I’d like to thank all those NY’ers who voted these prats into office.  You get what you pay for folks, enjoy it!

NY Politics, more of the same old same old

Well, it’s been an interesting 2009 so far here in the Empire State.  From the usual budget shenanigans, to the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to Joe Bruno’s “indictment” to David Patterson struggling for his political life.  And it’s only February!  So, where to start?

Oh, might as well go in order, so it’s the “budget” fiasco du jour.  Again, I’m somewhat wondering where to start.  Do I begin with Patterson’s “austerity plan,” or the back room dealings that have gone on between the all Democratic “leadership,”  or the ever worsening revenue shortfall predictions?  Feh.  Ok, let’s look at the budget revenue short falls.  What was once a $4billion short fall has grown to about $10billion.  Sure, it’s no where near California, but it’s still a huge change.  The whys of this all depend on who you talk or listen to.  It’s everything from the unstable stock market, to the lack of CEO bonuses (yes, that is an important revenue stream for NYS), to the middle and “upper” classes fleeing the state (due to property, income, business taxes, utility costs), to businesses fleeing the state, and everything in between.  So what does our Legislative “leaders” want to do?  Why exacerbate the problem of course by increasing taxes across the board, plus new fees and taxes.  What has been causing a steady decline in the state’s population over the past 30 years is the “remedy” Sheldon Silver and Malcolm Smith want to use to raise revenues.  The problem with this is that it’s a short term solution.  Yes, they can “close the gap” somewhat for a year, maybe two.  But beyond that, it will only serve to force more people, more businesses to relocate out of the State of NY, which then will worsen the already weakened revenue streams.  Even using the supposed cash forthcoming from the “stimulus bill,” it won’t actually solve anything.

David Patterson I think sees this, but is somewhat handcuffed by his party and politics.  He’s been quite vocal about wanting to avoid any “tax increases,” but that applies solely for income taxes.  He’s quite happy to raise taxes on products that are non-politically correct, or maybe nebulous to try and collect (Internet sales).  Patterson has even gone so far as to actually suggest budget cuts, and in very politicized programs.  But he’ll never get it past his “colleagues” in the Legislature and Senate.  Still, it’s better than I could have expected.

However, despite some very public “forward steps,” there has been a bit of a backslide.  To whit, the return to the smoke filled back room deals that characterized many a budget process of the past.  This was supposed to be the “new era” of “open and accountable government” in New York.  Well, that went out the door when Silver, Smith, and Patterson all met behind closed doors, with not even the minority leadership present.  This is a departure from the recent past, where at least the minority party leadership was present.  I’d lay odds that they won’t ever disclose any “member items” either when the time comes, but I doubt anyone would bet against it.

So this is what passes for leadership here in NY.  Lovely isn’t it?  We have David Patterson, the well intentioned, but still accidental governor, Sheldon Silver, the Manhattan Citycrat, beholden to several special interest groups as our Assembly “Leader,” and Malcolm Smith, another Citycrat, with the charisma of a wet paper towel.  The Republican side isn’t much better, at least state wide.  Dean Skelos?  A capable administrator, but that’s as far as it goes, and as far as he ever should have gotten.  Jim Tedisco could be something, but he’s too much of a fighting bull dog to really take the reigns (more on Tedisco below).  This doesn’t even cover the nitwits and whackjobs that comprise the majority of our Congressional delegation.

Speaking of the morass that is Congress, Patterson shocked many a pundit with his appointment of Rep.Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.  With names like Andrew Cuomo and Caroline Kennedy being bandied around, “Gilly” was a long shot to most pundits and commentators.  More so, as other names mentioned had greater “party appeal,” and “fit the national agenda” of the Democrats.  But Patterson, to his credit, went against the grain, and nominated a moderate upstate Democrat to the seat.  How moderate is Gillibrand exactly?  Well, her appointment ticked off several Citycrats who sit in Congress, to the point of where they boycotted her nomination press conference.  Even Chucklehead Schumer looked a bit queasy, but he’s a power player, so he showed and spoke.  A quick note from Gillibrand’s nomination press conference.  Tom DiNapoli (State Comptroller) needs to shut his yap.  He nearly killed the whole event with his prattling.  He just doesn’t know when he’s gone over the edge, and someone needs to gag him before he does.

So, with Gillibrand leaving Congress for the Senate, there will be a special election to fill her seat on March 31st.  The parties have had their individual shake down sessions to determine the candidates.  On the Democratic side, we have Scott Murphy, a “venture capitalist” (with a mediocre at best track record) from Glens Falls.  On the Republican side, Assembly minority leader Jim Tedisco grabbed the nomination.  I haven’t read how Murphy got his nomination, the Democrat’s process was rather arcane, though some sort of weighted format was used.  Tedisco got the GOP nod by securing the support of the Saratoga and Rennselear County GOP parties, the two largest in the district.  By doing so, with the weighted romat used by the GOP, he out gained former minority leader, and gubernatorial candidate John Faso.  FWIW, I was hoping for Faso to get the nod, and take the seat.  It’s not that I don’t like Tedisco, I just thought the State was better served by having him remain Assembly minority leader, and having Faso go to Washington where his personal strengths would be best used.

This all has put Patterson in a difficult political position.  He’s getting plenty of flak from his own party as well as the GOP.  He’s getting beat in Quinnipiac polls in a theoretical primary against Andrew Cuomo, and is neck and neck in a theoretical match up against Rudy Guilliani.  Patterson is getting gruff from Silver and Smith, as well as loud mouth nimrods like Carolyn Maloney (over Gillibrand’s appointment).  Jim Tedisco has been hot on his heels over being excluded from the budget process, and even Dean Skelos has been seen on TV deriding the secretive nature of the triumvirate.  But he’s put the Democrat’s in the position of possibly losing a Congressional seat (the 20th), and perhaps even one of NY’s Senate seats to the GOP.  Tedisco can (and should) win the 20th, which had been held by Gillibrand.  As much appeal as Gillibrand has held in the 20th, I don;t think she can win State wide, between the growling of the NYC contingent, and the persistent rumor that Rep.Peter King (R-LI) will run for the seat.  If King does run, he should beat Gillibrand by a solid, but not spectacular margin in 2010.  He’s well liked in the City, and will have enough Upstate appeal to win.

Meanwhile, the allegations surrounding former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno have taken another twist.  The US Attorney has gotten an indictment on several charges against Bruno.  It is the “culmination”  of all the Spitzer inspired “investigations” when Bruno and Spitzer were at loggerheads.  At best these charges are tenuous.  At worst the spurious.  Even money says that 2/3 of the charges will be dropped, and Bruno gets acquitted of the rest.  If he doesn’t, then I hope the US Attorney turns his attention to all the other members of the NYS Senate and Assembly, as they are all equally guilty of exactly the same “charges.”  But I doubt this will happen, as the charges themselves are so nebulous as to be night impossible to get a conviction on.

Patterson Speaks to the State

In an unusual move, Gov. David Patterson took to the airwaves, asking stations to carry his 5 minute speach on the State’s economy.  Not sure how many stations actually did, my guess is most, as they all have 5pm newscasts now, but I watched it on Capital News 9 here in the Albany area. 

It was a short, and fearful speach.  He was not off base in his assessment though.  Due to declines on Wall Street, and the banking crisis, the State of NY is facing a $5billion shortfall in the budget.  It’s so bad, that the Governor has even contemplated asking the Federal government to help bail the State out.  It has not hit that point just yet.

Instead, Patterson is looking to make some moves here in NY at first.  State agencies will be facing budget cut backs.  While this may not mean immediate layoffs, it will mean hiring freezes, except for critical positions, and reduction through attrition (retirements, resignations).  It also means that the Governor will be recalling the Legislature into session on August 19th for a special session to deal with the budget crisis.  Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos had already planned on recalling the Senate for a session to deal with the Property Tax Cap issue, so it will be up to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to get his ducks in a row and show up.

A lot of these proposals will depend on how they are implemented.  Unfortunately, I think that most cuts will happen in the wrong places for the wrong reasons.  The State unions are extremely powerful, and are very protective of certain positions and agencies.  Some agencies are already at effectively skeleton crew levels, and others which should be prioritized, will suffer cuts that will in the end hurt the State more than it will help.  This is not say that cuts can’t, or shouldnt be made.  But they have to be properly applied.

What happens in August, with the recalled Legislature, should be interesting at the least.  Somehow, I have the nagging suspicion that the Assembly will scuttle any meaningful reforms, or budgetary adjustments.  Any initiative will be watered down to the point of being nothing more than a dog and pony show.  But we shall see.

NY State Police to be Investigated (Small Update)

The fall out from Eliot Spitzer’s brief term as Governor continues unabated.  The latest, as reported by Fred Dicker and the NY Post (HERE), is that Governor David Patterson has asked AG Andrew Cuomo to begin an investigation into the NY State Police, and their involvement not only in Spitzer’s call girl fetish, and the Joe Bruno scandal, but into several other political shennanigans as well. 

According to Dicker (HERE), the AG will be looking into “a rogue element with in the force,” that was used, and acted for “political purposes,” not only by Spitzer, but George Pataki before him.  This “hatchet squad” was supposedly run by Pataki’s former SP Guard Detail commander (and Spitzer friend) Daniel Wiesse.  This group with in the State Police gather information on anyone deemed “dangerous” or was an “enemy” of certain powerful people (John Sweeney).  They would apparently harass, and otherwise make difficulties for those so targeted. 

While it’s been no secret that the State Police have made things diificult for people who make their lives miserable, this is above and beyond that, if proven true.  Now, for all this to be true, it would require a lot of effort, not only at implementing such a scheme, but controlling information regarding it.  It’s Nixonian over tones, with more than a touch of J.Edgar Hoover, seems almost implausible.  Add to this the time frame for how long this has been going on, and it boggles the mind.

I have no doubt that some individuals have acted in a political manner regarding information leaks (show me a government agency on any level where this doesn’t happen), and have certainly taken personal grudges too far.  But this?  This I think is a bit too much, but makes not only for a good story and press, but excites the imagination of many people, more so in an election year.  Next I’m sure the story will involve Black Helicopters, Alien Abductions (Is Dennis Kucinich coming to town?), and the ever popular New World Order.  I’m sure we can work in Majestic 12, the Bildeburgers, and the Council on Foreign Relations as well.

This is not to absolve, or mitigate, or even trivialize what has happened.  But in any and every organization, there are those who will abuse their positions for personal gain (and it does not have to monetary).  But this “Star Chamber” type scheme I personally find to be a bit over the top.  I highly doubt it was ever as well organized as it’s being made out.  Instead, I expect that a few key players, such as Daniel Wiesse, will be the only ones who were full involved.  Others will have been brought in for “one off” type efforts, especially if the “recruit” already had a grudge against the target.  But I don’t believe that there will be this mass conspiracy and rogue operation as has been implied.

This hasn’t hit anywhere else as yet, just at the NY Post, so take it for what it’s worth ATM.  But expect this one to hit the National News circuit real soon.


The Schenectady Gazette has picked up the story HERE

The only thing from the Albany Times-Union is an entry in their Capitol Confidential blog covering Sheldon Silver’s response to Patterson’s request to the Attorney General.  I doubt we’ll see much else from the T-U, as both Rex Smith and Jerry Odato will probably be subpoenaed if not directly investigated as a part of this.

Time for a Special Prosecutor

The depth of the morass that is Eliot Spitzer’s “dirty tricks” scandal keeps getting deeper and deeper.  With reports from various sources (legitimate and not so legitimate) indicating a wider “conspiracy” than just Spitzer’s operatives, and rumors running rife, I think it is now time for AG Andrew Cuomo to appoint a Special Prosecutor, with full powers, to properly, and independently investigate this mess.

The latest, coming mainly from the NY Post and Daily News, has not only Albany County DA David Soares being complicit in a cover up (that went south once Spitzer got caught in the prostitution sting), but that Albany Times Union Editor Rex Smith and reporter Jerry Odato were also complicit in fostering and aiding in the dirty tricks.  This could be, if even 1/10th of what is rampant rumor is true, it could be very damaging to a lot of folks and institutions here in the Albany area.

Even if neither accusation is proved to be true, they still need to be thoroughly investigated.  It has become obvious that the Albany County District Attorney’s office has been compromised in this, and needs to be taken off the case.  The State’s “Public Integrity Commission” also is so compromised as to be a potential “co-conspirator” in a cover up.  Nor can the Senate’s Investigations Committee handle this, as the specter of political pay-back (no matter how well deserved), will taint any and all efforts they make.  The only answer is to get a Special Prosecutor in to wade through it all, and produce a full and comprehensive report on the matter.

It is in the best interests of the State to do this.  As anyone who has watched Albany politics for any length of time knows, stuff like this usually ends up as “back page news,” if it gets reported beyond the initial scandal at all.  This one is worse, in that a major, and previously well respected newspaper, the Times-Union, has been implicated in this scandal.  We need a proper, and full accounting of what transpired, who was involved, to what degree, and when.  We know that Albany politics is dysfunctional, and this is an opportunity to do a little house cleaning, and get rid of some people with more ambition than integrity, and to restore some degree of “trust” in institutions such as the DA’s office, and the local press.

Paterson’s Inauguration

I was going to live blog David Paterson’s inauguration today, but circumstances won’t allow me to.  He’s expected to take the oath of office as Governor today at Noon EDT, in one of the Assembly Chambers.  Be interesting to see if he has more quips like he did in his first press conference following Spitzer’s resignation. Politics on the Hudson has a good summary of Paterson’s best lines from that press conference HERE. I did like the Custer quip.

Those expected to attend, beyond those who are “mandatory,” include Hillary Clinton, who will undoubtedly be trying to look good and chummy with Paterson (who is a Hillary Super Delegate), and Former Governor George Pataki (recovering from intestinal surgery, and against his doctor’s wishes).  Spitzer, needles to say, will not be in attendence.

The Pataki presence is interesting.  When Spitzer was inaugurated, he all but directly insulted Pataki, with Pataki on the podium next to him.  I guess we should have had a hint as to the exact nature of Spitzer’s lack of tact, and “I don’t care” attitude then and what it could possibly lead to.  Pataki coming to this inauguration is obviuosly a slap at Spitzer.  All George is saying is “I had to attend yours, but I’m coming to this one by choice.”

All the hooplah should be done and over with by 1:30 PM EDT today.  Then it will be on to what should be some marathon budget negotiations.