Mo' Money Mo' Problems
“That’s politics in New York,” the New York Post‘s cover blared in stark black-and-white ink this morning. “It’s all about the f–king money.”
The quote, allegedly made from Councilman Dan Halloran to a cooperating witness, was revealed yesterday as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed charges not only against Mr. Halloran, but State Sen. Malcolm Smith and a small slew of other political figures in what Mr. Bharara called “a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”
Specifically, Mr. Halloran is accused of “essentially quarterbacking” a scheme to secure Republican establishment support for Mr. Smith’s mayoral bid. Mr. Smith, a Democrat, would need the blessing of three of the five county Republican organizations to run on the GOP line, and he allegedly arranged for cash bribes in his attempt to do so. But, looking more broadly, the strange scandal also shines light on these county organizations and their few remaining powers in city politics.
Earlier this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s Human Resources Administration unveiled a new, rather direct ad campaign to discourage teen pregnancy featuring children citing blunt statistics about teen parents. “Honestly mom, chances are he won’t stay with you,” a baby in one ad declares, while another reads, “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.” The campaign, which is paired with an shame-themed choose-your-own-adventure text experience, understandably gained attention and sparked controversy.
Though City Hall seemed eager to make a splash with the in-your-face ads, other local politicians have condemned the campaign.
In his State of the City address today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a plan to ban styrofoam in stores and restaurants citing a lack of biodegradability and high recycling costs that he called “terrible for the environment” and “terrible for taxpayers.” State Senator Liz Krueger responded to the mayor’s speech by jumping on his ban-wagon and taking it one step further–calling on the Legislature to ban styrofoam statewide.
“In his State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he will prioritize banning styrofoam food containers in New York City,” Ms. Krueger said. “This would be a great step forward for our city, both for the environment and public health – but we shouldn’t just stop at the city limits.”
The State Senate passed a bill yesterday banning “yield spread premiums,” which are payments given to mortgage brokers or lenders for directing borrowers to more expensive loans. The bill was sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, who described yield spread premiums as a “predatory practice” that contributed to the foreclosure crisis.
“Yield spread premiums have created perverse incentives, driving irresponsible, dangerous activity in the mortgage market,” Ms. Krueger said. “It’s a predatory practice, and it’s passed time we banned it–permanently.”
The Politicker recently noticed some amusing campaign committee spending, including former Rep. Eric Massa, who resigned under male-groping allegations, using his non-existent campaign to pay his wife, and a former state senator who’s spending campaign money despite the tiny fact he’s been deceased since 2005.
Now at least one State Senator is renewing her call for Albany to end spending by so-called “ghost campaigns” belonging to retired or deceased elected officials by passing a bill requiring inactive campaign committees to give their cash to charity, the state’s general fund, the State University of New York, another committee, or back to the original contributors.
“Everyone knows our campaign finance laws need an overhaul, but this issue is particularly obvious and the solution should be a matter of bipartisan agreement,” Senator Liz Krueger said in a statement.
Back in December, New York Post columnist Cindy Adams said State Senator Liz Krueger was “raising funds for a mayoral run,” but Ms. Krueger says she’s not prepping a City Hall bid.
“I have no idea where that came from,” Ms. Krueger told The Politicker. “I know Cindy Adams mentioned in her column that she had heard a rumor I was running for mayor. I have had no fundraiser for running for mayor. I have not announced im running for mayor.”
The Democrats in the New York State are placing a special emphasis on issues pertaining to women as they attempt to retake the majority, insiders have suggested. “Women’s issues, from reproductive health and rights in the workplace, are something that we’ll be focusing on,” a source familiar with the Senate Democrats’ efforts said. “One thing that’s been made clear is that people who live in Democratic districts that vote for Republican Senators, don’t have a clue how conservative these guys are…on social issues.”
Congress is poised to narrowly avert another shutdown.
Senator Liz Krueger discussed the possibility of a Republican coup in the state senate.
Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t think people in wheelchairs are capable of taking cabs.
Charlie Rangel said he isn’t retiring any time soon.
State Senator Liz Krueger said she has some concerns about Governor Cuomo’s new tax plan.
Occupy Wall Street protesters launched an effort to take over foreclosed homes.
Apparently, Hydrofracking makes Hulk mad. Mark Ruffalo, who’s set to play the famous green superhero strongman in the “Avengers” movie due out next May, was among the celebrities and politicians who turned out to show their opposition to the controversial natural gas drilling technique today. Mr. Ruffalo appeared along with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, actress Debra Winger, State Senator Daniel Squadron and others at an anti-fracking press conference ahead of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s hearing to review regulations for hydrofracking, which is popular shorthand for hydraulic fracturing.