2011-01-12 / Political Page

Cuomo, Silver In First Policy Scuffle Of New Administration

On January 10, a countermove by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to link the tax cap issue with rent control issues was shot down by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Trade-offs on issues are a way of forcing a person on one side of an issue, in this case Cuomo, to give some ground to the other person’s position so that both can claim a victory. But in this case, the governor spoke decisively, making it clear he wanted no intrusions that might cloud the issue of the tax cap, which Cuomo has made one of the major goals of his administration.

Throughout the campaign last year, and even before it reached its heated stages, Cuomo had established the property tax cap as one of his main objectives to give suburban homeowners some relief from high school taxes.

Silver and the Democratic-led Assembly took a position against it, so it was expected to be an issue where Cuomo and Silver would be at loggerheads. Thus, once all of the ceremonial aspects of greeting the new Cuomo administration were done, the Daily News reported last Sunday that Silver and Assembly Democrats would attempt to link the property tax cap and rent control issues together.

Cuomo had established the property tax cap as one of his main objectives to give suburban homeowners some relief from high school taxes. Silver and the Democratic-led Assembly took position against it, so it was expected to be an issue where Cuomo and Silver would be at loggerheads. Cuomo had established the property tax cap as one of his main objectives to give suburban homeowners some relief from high school taxes. Silver and the Democratic-led Assembly took position against it, so it was expected to be an issue where Cuomo and Silver would be at loggerheads. But on January 10, Cuomo wasted no time in establishing that this was not going to happen. It was carried in all of the major dailies, but was stated most clearly in Newsday. There Cuomo was quoted as follows:

“I think one of the mistakes we’ve made in the past is the legislature tended to take issues and group them together in a negotiating style, rather than analyzing issues and making the best policy on that issue.”

The governor continued: “Rent control is an issue. Property tax is an issue. The [state] budget is a separate issue. Ethics is a separate issue. My approach is going to be to deal with each issue on its own merits, not as part of a package.”

Basically, the governor’s view was presented the same way in the News and Post.

Meanwhile, Silver said, according to Newsday, that rent control is also a very important issue.

“It is not a matter of linking it. I don’t plan to link it,” he stated. “But the concept of rent regulation is the very same, that is, to give people certainty when they are renters, to give them the ability to only pay reasonable increases as they go forward.”

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who backs Cuomo’s position on setting a property tax cap, also agreed that rent control should not be coupled with the tax cap issue.

“That’s not what the public wants,” Skelos stated, “and that would be a bit of a shot at Governor Cuomo, who has indicated that the property tax cap is one of his most important pieces of legislation.”

Cuomo has said he will introduce his own two percent property tax annual increase legislation shortly, and also told reporters he had an open mind about possible rent control law changes.

Before Monday, Silver touched upon the property tax cap when he made remarks before Cuomo delivered his State of the State address. At that time, the Speaker stated, “Just as clearly, we must strive to make our state a more affordable place in which to live, to work, to raise a family, and to own and operate a business. That means working together to cap property taxes.”

AFTER TUCSON, MIKE BLASTS WEAK GUN LAWS: Commenting on the Arizona shooting spree by suspect Jared Lee Loughner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Sunday, “These shootings are just a terrible reminder of the gun violence that happens every single day in our country,” he said at a church in Brooklyn.

Federal authorities traced the purchase of the gun Loughner used in the shooting massacre to a Sportsman’s Warehouse in Tucson. It

was reported Loughner passed an instant background check despite a drug arrest and history of erratic behavior.

RUDY RUNNING AGAIN? Citing political sources, the NY Post reported last Friday that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani may run for president in 2012.

The page 6 article quoted a source saying Giuliani “thinks the Republican race will be populated with far-right candidates like Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and there’s opportunity for a moderate candidate “with a background in national security”.

But the story said Giuliani was confident he had a chance and he was rounding up his top political advisors, although the writer acknowledged that the former mayor had little chance of winning the primary.

SNOW STORM SCARE: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) had one of the funniest lines about Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty’s grading of his workers’ efforts to clean up the piles of snow left behind by the Dec. 26 blizzard.

“Right after the commissioner gave the Sanitation Department an A+ in snow removal, he went out to buy Giants play-off tickets. He’s clearly living in an alternate universe,” Vallone said.

As for last Friday’s expected blizzard that never materialized, Vallone commented:

“There have been as many plows and salt spreaders as there are yellow cabs in Manhattan. This is the response we expected and deserved during the recent (December 26) blizzard. Is it overkill? Yes, but it’s to be expected and it sends a message that the city won’t fail twice.”

Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–Whitestone), who was among the loudest critics of the bungled blizzard cleanup, said of last Friday’s false alarm: “As the snow falls today, all New Yorkers are waiting for one thing to see how the city responds. This snowfall is expected to be light. The mayor has indicated we have 1,900 sanitation workers at the ready. We have no reason to expect difficulties. But we said the same thing on December 26, and we saw a disjointed response, undermined by a slowdown policy ordered by a few supervisors. I call on the city to organize a thorough clean-up, and to remember the outerboroughs and our residential streets. And I call on the handful of supervisors who betrayed the New Yorkers they serve to do their jobs.”

Meanwhile, the City Council’s public hearing held on January 10, is being covered by the Gazette in a separate story elsewhere in this issue.

Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) criticized the hearing for once again leaving the other boroughs out. Meng said there should be public hearings on the storm clean-up foul up in Queens and every other borough.

“The city need to remember that residents from ALL FIVE boroughs experienced massive delays in the clearing of streets and sidewalks following the blizzard,” Meng said.

MALONEY SADDENED BY COLLEAGUE’S SHOOTING: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) released a statement yesterday saying that: “The shooting of Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords and others, at an event in Arizona designed to serve her constituents, marks a sad day in the life of our nation. I am proud to serve with Congressmember Giffords, [and] she is part of a new generation of women leaders in the House and has the brightest future ahead of her in Congress. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims in this tragedy and their families.”

Police in Tucson have arrested Jared Loughner, 22, and charged him with the killing of six people and the wounding of 14 others, including Giffords, outside a supermarket. Giffords was shot in the head and is hospitalized in critical condition.

WEINER WELCOMES HEALTH CARE LAW DEBATE: As promised, House Republicans introduced legislation last week aimed at killing the Obama healthcare program. Upon its submission, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) declared: “Republicans want another debate about healthcare reform? Well, so should Democrats. They beat us in round one with lies and scare tactics [and] we welcome a second shot.”

“Republicans are against a lot of things, but they are for kicking young Americans off their parents’ insurance plans, for reinstating co-payments for preventive measures like cancer screenings, and for denying children coverage based on preexisting conditions. This is a dangerously misguided interpretation of what Americans voted for in November.”

Republicans are virtually assured of passing the bill since they have clear control in the House, but Democrats still control the U.S. Senate and the bill will have little chance of passing the legislation there.

ANOTHER DEM SPLIT IN SENATE: Democrats were so splintered that they couldn’t maintain political control over the state senate, even when they had a majority of its members. Last week they showed consistency, splintering again into two factions now that they are the minority party gain.

This time four of the 30 Democrats in the 2011 senate decided to leave the minority, saying they had lost confidence in Democratic Minority Leader John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat.

The quartet that left to form their own caucus were Senators Jeffrey Klein (The Bronx), Diane Savino (Staten Island), David Carlucci (Rockland County) and David Valesky (Oneida County).

Klein, the leader of the new caucus, stated, “We are Democrats, but we no longer in good conscience support the present Democratic leadership.”

During last years session, Sampson and other Democrats were implicated in investigations of bidding on the Aqueduct Racetrack game racino, siding with a Queens based bidder which was disqualified after being awarded the contract.

Klein, who had headed the Democratic effort in last year’s elections, has said he felt that Sampson’s questionable activities as well as those of others involved in the investigations, were to some degree responsible for Democrats losing their senate seats in the elections.

Following the formation of the new four-senator caucus, Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos (L.I.) said he would name some of the defectors as committee chairpersons to bolster his razor thin majority. However, the four Democratic defectors announced they would support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agenda.

The only Queens member’s name which surfaced during the organization of the Democratic senators was that of Senator Jose Peralta (Corona) who was named the minority whip for the Dems. The bulk of the support behind Sampson, who is black, comes from the several Latino senators from The Bronx and Manhattan.

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