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History Lesson

"All couples should enjoy what my wife and I have enjoyed for 20 years. It's a civil right,"  MALCOLM SMITH

So there you have it; the Holy Trinity of Civil Rights: "The Emancipation Proclamation", "The Voting Rights Act", and "The Bear Mountain Compact".



Survey Says?

We're not really sure what this NYU Law/DL21C survey will eventually say; but do know that we - Room Eight - have been included therein.

So,  you know, take it - and ... ummm ... say some nice things, or not.  Really, it's all about you.

Click here to take it. 



LunchBox: Oh So Happy Ending

On LunchBox today, host Adam Green on: Peter Kalikow, Malcolm Smith, Tom Duane, Scott Vanderhoef, David Paterson, Denny Hastert and more...



A Few More Health Care Notes

When Eliot Spitzer provided a one-word “yes” answer to the question of whether he would bring about universal health care, I can only hope that he meant he would do so someday as President, not as Governor.  After all, providing health care for every severely ill person in the United States without health insurance would be a big burden on the New York State tax dollar, perhaps leaving no money for anything else.  And as a result of a Supreme Court decision in the wake of welfare reform, which held that any benefit offered to state residents must also be offered to everyone else, that is exactly what would happen.  Anecdotal evidence suggests this happens, to an extent, already.  Still, while I believe a universal health care financing system must, and should, be implemented on the federal level, there are some things a New York State Governor could do to bring it about.



Slaying the Mythical Beasts: The Legend of Phillips, Roper and O’Hara

How does a columnist rise to the occasion of the combined Hevesi/Pirro fiascos? Mere commentary, no matter how sarcastic, seems unequal to the task. The absurdity of the election deserved an absurdist response, and I started to spin wild fantasies which, although no weirder than the day’s headlines, just didn’t fit into my normal modus operandi. As such, I decided to do an “Adam Green” type column, which started to take upon a life of its own; an item about Al Pirro’s driving segued into a joke about the driving of a former top Pirro aide related to the Brooklyn DA , but before, as planned, the Kevin Hynes jokes segued into a sequence  about Al Pirro driving Hevesi’s wife, they took an unexpected detour, streaming gently into some absurdity about his dad, Charlie Joe; to wit:     



Prediction: No GOP Nomination For Rudy Giuliani

In spite of current exploratory tours through parts of the country where he appears to be popular, Rudy Giuliani will never be the Republican  Presidential candidate.

Why?  The former Mayor has too many skeletons in his closet.

And particularly in view of the post-Congressman Foley fall-out, the Conservative and  Evangelical wing of the Republican Party will be vetting candidates with rigid back-ground tests for flaws that could further undermine the Republican platform of Family Values. Going forward,  Republican candidates for office will have to be squeaky-clean.  And Rudy happens to be more Squeaky than Clean.



LunchBox: GOP, Yeah You Know Me!

On LunchBox today, host Adam Green on: Kirk Fordham, former Rep Mark Foley, Rep Thomas Reynolds, Rep John Dennis Hastert, Rep Nancy Pelosi, the GOP, Urban Elephants, Chris Callaghan, Alan Hevesi and much much more...



Life Imitates Art

“A secret memo today unveiled a plan by Senate Republican Leader Joe Bruno to hold his position even in the event the Democrats achieved a majority by enlisting the vote of Democratic turncoats. Democrats foiled the plot when, upon uncovering the list of turncoats, they elected them to all to leadership positions. Eliot Spitzer promised to ensure the plan’s success by making sure that no resources of any kind be committed to electing any new Senate Democrats, who might foil the plan’s implementation by insisting on a new vote. Assembly Democrats, speaking off the record, insisted that the only foolproof method of ensuring the plan’s success was to defeat as many Senate Democratic candidates as possible, "the smaller their conference, the fewer the number of potential turncoats, and the less likelihood they'd be needed to turn tail". Speaker Silver solemnly pledged to continue his longstanding efforts to that end.  “Anything for the sake of the Party”, said Silver aide Judy Rapfogel”  



The Final Nail?

NY Post (Fred Dicker): PIRRO STEERED D.A. CONTRACT TO KERIK
SHE 'WORKED FOR FAVORS' AS AIDE FRETTED OVER ETHICS

While she was Westchester district attorney, Jeanine Pirro steered a no-bid contract to Bernard Kerik and Rudy Giuliani's security firm, rebuffing protests about the arrangement, The Post has learned. The 2004 contract was ordered despite Pirro being warned by a lawyer in the DA's Office that it might be illegal or unethical to award a contract in that way. It also came in the face of protests over the cost of the deal by the private company that had to pay Kerik and Giuliani, a source close to the case told The Post...



JOE DOUEK MUST RESIGN!

Every once in a while a columnist gets a crazy idea and just can’t help himself. Yesterday, in just such a moment, I unloaded on Borough President Marty Markowitz’s representative on the City’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA), Joseph Douek. At the behest of the Mayor, in a blatant act of political hog-slopping, the IDA had approved a $12.5 million refinancing plan for the All Stars Project, a "non-profit" group controlled by cult leaders Fred Newman and Leonora Fulani, which specializes in staging anti-Semitic performance pieces and indoctrinating young recruits to the cult. Despite overwhelming evidence of the sleaziness of the deal and the evil of its beneficiaries, Markowitz, who brags about his fealty to the Mayor, had Douek, an Orthodox Jew from the Sephardic community, abstain. I wrote a piece criticizing Doeuk and it got a response which clearly had come from a source close to him. Picking up the ball, I then wrote a piece  calling upon Douek to resign. The piece implied that pressure could be brought to serve that end. 



Kinky Friedman sells salsa; why not Mayor Bloomberg?

Greetings from Texas! I was strolling through a supermarket here and came across "Kinky Friedman's Private Stock--Politically Correct Salsa & Dip." (www.KinkysPrivateStock.com)

Kinky Friedman is, as some of you may know, running for Governor of Texas.

Why don't New York politicians do food items? Where is our Pataki Punch? Sheldon Silver's (Matzoh Ball) Soup? Christine Quinn Cookies? 

More to the point, why doesn't Mayor Bloomberg produce food items?

Kinky Friedman can do it. Paul Newman can do it. Why can't Mayor Bloomberg?



What I Would Do About State Education Funding

This essay will talk about state school funding and the Campaign for Equity Lawsuit.  But before I describe what I would consider a fair system, after a root-and-branch reform, let me give you the bottom line.  Under New York State’s Reverse Robin Hood system, New York City’s share of front door and back door (STAR, son of STAR, anything else they come up with) state education funding is not only less than its share of the state’s public school children but also its residents’ state income tax payments.  This must end.  Argue all you want about whether educational resources should be redistributed to poor children; it is an outrage that for 30 years they have been redistributed away from poor children.  And the level of public school spending, staffing and pay in the rest of New York State is far too high, which is unfair to local taxpayers, to New York City’s schools which get outbid for qualified staff, and to New York City taxpayers who are increasingly expected to accept an even lower share of state education funding to pay for it.  The practice of giving more state school aid, under STAR and similar programs, to those who spend the most must end.  The fact that spending in the rest of the state is so high, that New York City’s children have been sacrificed to pay for it, is what no one is willing to say.  I’m saying it, and demanding that it stop.



FYI: Texas' City Council salaries are much lower than NYC's

"Austin officials want review of outside posts, $45,000 salaries" is on the front page of Wednesday's Austin American-Statesman (statesman.com). It stuck me that this is less than half of what NYC city council members make ($90,000, before lulus), even before the proposed $20,000+ increase.

From a box on pg. A7, "How Austin City Council pay compares":

AUSTIN

Mayor: $52,998

Council member: $45,011

Benefits: health care; no retirement plan

TRAVIS COUNTY

County judge: $100,644

Commissioner: $83,716

Benefits: health care and retirement plan



Pants on Fire?

"When Brooklyn and Queens got together, we saw that we can work together for the common good of both counties. We were able to achieve something very special, and that was the election of the speaker of the City Council. And it was then that we saw not only the integrity of your chair, but of how well he worked with other people. And I think that we will be able to share that together when Senator Paterson becomes lieutenant governor on selecting a leader to state senate. I think we'll see Brooklyn and Queens working together again."

- Michael Reich, Executive Secretary Queens Democratic Party at the 2006 Brooklyn Democratic Dinner (6/26/06)

Let’s be charitable, and remember that he was then speaking on behalf of a different County Leader; as they say Out West, “Dead Men Seal No Deals”.

SECOND THOUGHTS: MALCOLM IN THE MUDDLE

I’m embarrassed to admit that Malcolm Smith’s election as Senate Democratic Leader took me by surprise. I never saw it coming, but in my defense I’ll that neither did the Brooklyn Democratic Leader. If I known a denunciation of the race was imminent, I certainly would have expressed some thought, which doubtless would have been proven wrong.

Like many, at the beginning I thought that the numbers made a black leader likely, but Carl Andrews ran for Congress, Byron Brown went back to Buffalo, and Smith, the only other member black member of the conference considered politically formidable, had just fathered an illegitimate child, with rumors of more revelations to come. I guess he was just one lucky bastard.

I did, however, catch that the winner was not going to be David Paterson’s Deputy, Eric Schneiderman, as attested to by these posts from threads on the Politicker:  

There's a perception, that I've shared, that Democrats have basically written off their hopes of retaking the State Senate this year, and aren't raising much money for the effort.

But a source tells me that some top Democratic fundraisers gathered at Bill Samuels's Manhattan apartment Monday evening to talk about the senate campaigns with Spitzer, Paterson, and Eric Schneiderman.

i think the seante dems are rope-a-doping. they have more money now than ever. and the senate r's have much less than have had in recent years. with eliott/hillary at the top, bush in the tanks a lot of D voters will turnout and a lot R's will stay home. if they can't do it now then they probably won't get the house till 2010/2012.what *might* happen is they pick up 2 seats. morahan dies/retires. a D wins the special leaving a 1 seat margin. then i'd bet a moderate R (robach, balboni, maybe fuschillo or spano) flip in exchange for a big chairmanship (finance).

Posted by: santos | June 9, 2006
Santos: nice analysis, except that if Schniederman is the leader, the flipping is likely to go the other way.
Posted by: Gatemouth | June 9, 2006

the senate dems don't want spano or balboni. if klein or dilan take over, progressives might as well give up on the senate. the two of them are sleezy enough for 10 people. eric or liz krueger should take over, take the majority and then get rid of all the dead weight (and there's a lot of it) in their conference.

Posted by: anon | June 10, 2006

The contempt shown in your post for the members of the Senate Democratic Conference, even if deserved, is emblematic of why Schniederman is is so disliked by its membership. It is not the function of a leader to get rid of the dead weight in his conference (as opposed to damage controlling it, which is a leaders' function); the leader works for the members, not the other way around.

While folks like us do not consider servicing the needs of the Conference membership to be the highest priority a leader should be striving to achieve, the members of those conferences generally feel otherwise, and they are the ones who get to vote. People like Dilan, Klein and Connor all understand this. Schneiderman may understand it, but he gives off the impression that he doesn't care.

In choosing among the candidates, the Party's best possible hope is to find the candidate who both understands the prirorities of the conference, but also has the ability to transcend them (as opposed to ignoring them, which won't work). Whatever his flaws in achieving the goal of a majority, Connor clearly had achieving a majority as his primary goal (there are worse crimes than to overreach); whether Dilan and/or Klein share this ambition, or merely want to be king of the smaller pond is a good question, and one we can only hope the Conference's membership keeps in mind.

Posted by: Gatemouth on June 10, 2006

Gatemouth -- Schneiderman HAS worked for his conference, as Deputy Minority Leader he helped get Klein, Savino, Serano, and Valeski elected. The leaders race will not be the 2000 presidential campaign, where members vote according to who they'd want to have a beer with. They will need to figure out who can lead Dems to take the Senate so they will become Majority Senators and Committee Chairs. Schneiderman will need to address this perception of arrogance, but he is clearly the most qualified for the job. 

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2006

You may be correct in your assertion that the members will not be using who they'd rather have a drink with as the basis for their vote; I think that, in the case of at least some of the members, you may not be correct. But, even if you are right about this, you are still dead wrong. The members see their leader primarilly as a service provider; they want a leader whose first priority is to work for them. Eric just doesn't summon up the image of "Member Services with a Smile".

Schniederman can address "this perception of his arrogance" all he wants, but the results are likely to be disappointing; last week my dog tried to address the "perception that he is a canine"; his sincerity at first seemed overwhelming, but, in the end, he still chased the cat.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

of course the leader represents the conference but that doesn't mean the leader should do nothing but kiss up to his or her members. the leader is responsible to strengthen the entire conference and make everyone more effective. effective legislative leaders on all levels of government listen to their members but also expect things from them. part of the problem with the senate democrats right now is you have about 10% of the members doing all the work...the rest of them are too lazy or self-centered to really wwork for the good of the people or the good of the people of new york. of the people running for minority leader only right now, only eric is smart enough to really turn things around up there.

Posted by: anon | June 11, 2006  

Do you think you are helping Schniederman? Your comments reek of contempt for the people who will be doing the voting, and the only question is whether Klein, Connor or Dilan is first to email them out to the rest of the conference to illustrate exactly how Eric feels about them, and eaxactly how Eric's staff occupies themsleves on their days off.

Posted by: Gatemouth | June 11, 2006

Remember, the "real" Democratic leader of the Senate has always been Eric Schneiderman, with help from Liz Krueger.

They are the only two who have the brains and the political savvy in the entire conference.

When Eric is leader, Liz and he will get the job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2006

It may or may not be true, but the more they let their minions keep saying it, the less true it is. No conference elects leaders with that much contempt for its membership.

Posted by: Gatemouth | July 17, 2006 


Drecky Rides Again

This column recognizes its obligation, in the interests of fairness, to provide a forum for those with opposing viewpoints to respond, and, in fact, we are most especially sensitive to allowing those who've been personally attacked to get out their side of the story.

On 9/16/06, I noted that the City had approved a $12.5 million refinancing plan for the All Stars Project, a "non-profit" group controlled by cult leaders Fred Newman and Leonora Fulani, which specializes in staging anti-Semitic theatre of cruelty performance pieces and indoctrinating young recruits to the cult. The NYC Industrial Development Agency (IDA), on which the Mayor controls a majority, voted 6 to 4 to approve the project. I noted that all of Mayor Bloomberg's representatives had voted for it. I also noted that "Doctors" Newman and Fulani were leaders in the Independence Party (IP), which had provided the Mayor crucial support in his initial election, and less crucial support thereafter. I'd previously noted elsewhere that the Newman/Fulani Empire of Evil had, as a result of its political activities, benefited from large charitable contributions, consulting fees, patronage appointments, and public funding, all courtesy of the Mayor (although the Governor and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, among others, have also been guilty), including an effort to allow the cult to provide taxpayer supported, school-based "therapy" to our children.