NYC Schools are currently run by the Mayor. Mayoral control could expire if the state legislature doesn't act.

Republicans Toy with de Blasio Over Mayoral Control

Mayoral control of New York City schools is set to expire, threatening to plunge the school system into chaos, unless the state legislature passes a law extending the program.

However, the Senate GOP threatens to continue mayoral control only if NYC allows more charter schools. They are also pushing to include a tax cut for rich New York City residents and a tax credit for private schools, too. Meanwhile their IDC allies offered another bill tinkering around the edges by letting neighborhood education councils choose superintendents.

Read more

Andrew Cuomo at the New York Fights Back rally. Is he using it to lay the groundwork to run for President?

Cuomo Takes on Republicans (or at least some of them)

Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a campaign to go after Republicans. Standing beside House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cuomo declared that New York would fight back to take back Congress district-by-district.

Yet this “New York Fights Back” is an interesting campaign.

Why now?

For one, Cuomo has not previously expressed much interest in Congress. In 2011, his first year as Governor, he promised to veto gerrymandered districts; instead he settled for a half-measure that won’t take effect until 2022. When the State Senate and Assembly deadlocked over how to gerrymander the districts, he allowed a court to draw the Congressional lines for New York without offering any input. In 2014, former Rep. Steve Israel (Long Island), then-chair of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, panned Cuomo’s efforts in an interview with the New York Times: “We had conversations several months ago with the governor’s staff about helping to organize and coordinate a campaign and I didn’t see the fruition to those conversations.”

Read more

Does Adriano Espaillat still stand with Marisol Alcantara?

Congressional Democrats to IDC: Rejoin the Party

The ongoing feud about control of the state Senate took another turn last week.

Remind me: what’s going on?

Even though there are 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the Senate, Republicans control the body because nine of the Democrats support the Republican leadership. Eight of the nine are members of the Independent Democratic Conference and they’ve been under pressure recently because of the Senate lulu payroll scandal–three of them were paid for leadership positions they didn’t hold. Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, the ninth defector, said that he’d rejoin the Democratic Party if they did, too.

Read more

IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Leader John Flanagan could be in trouble because of the Senate lulu scandal.

Why the Senate Lulu Scandal Might Be Trouble for Everyone

Right now, the top news in the New York politics is the story of the State Senate’s lulu payments, the extra money that legislators in leadership positions earn. A New York Times investigation discovered that seven Senators (three Independent Democrats and four Republicans) earned lulus for positions they did not hold. While the legal fallout is unclear, the consequences will reverberate throughout New York politics.

Thanks to his coalition with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, Republican Leader John Flanagan (Long Island) leads the Senate even though there are 32 Democrats and only 31 Republicans. To maintain support, he arranged for seven Republican and Independent Democratic Conference members to earn larger lulus by paying committee vice-chairs as if they chaired the committees. This continued a practice of his predecessor, Dean Skelos (since convicted for corruption). Flanagan must have figured no one would notice.

Read more

Senate lulu payments are stoking controversy. Are they legal?

Who in the Senate Broke the Law?

Last week, we mentioned that the Independent Democrats in the State Senate are earning more money thanks to their alliance giving Republicans control. Turns out, there’s a lot more to the story of the Senate lulu payments.

Catch me up:

Even though there is a 32-31 majority of Democrats in the State Senate, nine of those Democrats support the Republican leadership, giving them control of the chamber. Those nine Democrats (eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference or the IDC and Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder) got leadership positions as the chairs or vice-chairs of committees.

Read more

Senate Intrigue: The IDC Gets Paid

The State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference is reaping the rewards of their alliance with Republicans. Eight of the nine Democratic Senators who have given Republicans control of the Senate earned extra stipends meant for committee chairs, even though some of them don’t actually chair a committee. For Brooklyn Sen. Jesse Hamilton, that meant an extra $5,500 after he joined the IDC. It pays to have friends in high places.

Bill de Blasio earning the endorsement of the Hotel Trades Council union. Photo credit: Monica Klein.

Why the Hotel Trades Council Endorsing de Blasio is Important

The Hotel Trades Council, the union representing hotel workers around New York City, is surprisingly powerful. It’s one of the smaller unions, with under 35,000 members, but that belies its importance. The HTC is powerful because it commands one of the most powerful political operations of any union. That makes its endorsement especially useful so Mayor Bill de Blasio is surely happy to receive it.

Who are the members of the Hotel Trades Council?

As the union for hotel workers, HTC counts 32,000 members. They work in over 300 unionized hotels, motels, casinos, and other connected businesses including parking garages and spas, according to the union. HTC formed during the Great Depression as a merger between 15 different unions, so that hotel owners couldn’t play the individual unions off one another. That worked incredibly well over the years to the point where they represent about 75% of the hotel industry in New York City.

Read more

Andrew Cuomo wants to be President. He's going for that promotion.

Going for That Promotion

A couple weeks ago, we observed that Gov. Cuomo is laying the groundwork to run for President. Now, the NYTimes reports that he’s been reaching out to Florida donors.

But maybe he shouldn’t run for re-election? The Daily News‘ Ken Lovett suggests  Gov. Cuomo should focus on his Presidential campaign rather than run for re-election next year. A governor running for President will face criticism and run the risk of problems at home dragging him down, so maybe Cuomo should just give up the Governor’s Mansion? Fat chance he’ll take that advice.

Read more

Andrew Cuomo wants to be President. He's going for that promotion.

Is Andrew Cuomo Running for President? (Yes)

Want to understand what Andrew Cuomo is doing? It’s simple–he’s running for President. The only way to interpret his actions is to see them in that light.

His father, Mario Cuomo, infamously left two planes waiting at the airport, all ready to fly him to New Hampshire to announce his campaign. But he vacillated, earning the nickname “Hamlet on the Hudson”, before finally deciding not to run. Andrew Cuomo has made it clear that he will not face the same charge and all indications point to him going for it and running for President.

Read more

Steve Pigeon is in trouble for a donation he got for Gov. Cuomo.

Another Week, Another Pol on Trial: This Time, Buffalo’s Steve Pigeon

Another politician is facing the heat–Buffalo operative Steve Pigeon. The former Buffalo Democratic leader is charged with running a PAC to illegally fund county legislative races.

Steve Pigeon became a famed operative, known for his shadowy involvement in campaigns and lobbyists. One of the first backers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he first ran for Governor in 2002, Pigeon became a key player in Western New York for Cuomo. He also worked on Bill Clinton’s Presidential campaign and numerous state and local campaigns. But his most important and controversial work was for Buffalo billionaire Tom Golisano, the founder of Paychex and former owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.

Read more