What You Should Know
Outspoken State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr. is out with another one of his “What You Should Know” missives, this one addressing the recent spate of New York legislators being arrested, a list that State Senator John Sampson joined yesterday. And Mr. Díaz, in a roundabout way, very strongly suggests there’s a racial component to federal prosecutors’ targets.
“The only thing we do know that is new in these times in New York State, is the Black and Hispanic politicians are the ones being wired and sent out to root out corruption among Black and Hispanic officials,” he said in a statement dismissing alarmist rhetoric to describe the Empire State’s corruption controversies. “I would hate to think that as Black and Hispanic leaders who are elected to represent our communities, that we would be targeted to weed out corruption only in our backyards, and that we would be held to a higher standard than the non-Black and Hispanic leaders.”
As the fiery Rev. Rubén Díaz Sr., a New York State Senator, thundered against same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital, his son, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., was about to do the very opposite. The younger Díaz was joining a wave of politicians who have recently reversed their positions in favor of gay marriage, but his father said he was unswayed by the momentum against him.
“Marriage is sacred. Marriage is an institution established by God and it should stay that way,” he said. “The majority is not always right. 2,000 years ago the majority chose the rabbi and rejected Jesus. Now, the majority are rejecting the Bible and not choosing Jesus. I know my conviction and I know I will not change my view. I could be only one in the whole world and I would not change my view.”
Malcolm in the Middle
That was fast.
Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeffrey Klein effectively booted Senator Malcolm Smith from his breakaway Democratic caucus this afternoon, stripping him of his leadership position and all committee assignments in the wake of charges that he took part in an alleged bribery scheme.
Land of Rand
Earlier this week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul reportedly endorsed a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. And although Mr. Paul disputes that exact phrasing to describe his speech, it was a notable announcement from the Tea Party conservative as the U.S. Congress debates the issue. Indeed, New York’s own Senator Chuck Schumer, part of a bipartisan octet negotiating a comprehensive immigration bill, praised the move last night.
“I think the bottom line is having Rand Paul come out for something not that far away from our group of eight is really helpful,” Mr. Schumer said on Inside City Hall. “After all, he’s the hard right. He’s the Tea Party. And if he can be for it, so can most Republicans. And that gives me a lot of hope we can pass a bill in both the Senate and the House. And the House will be even tougher than the Senate.”
The Huntley Becomes the Hunted
As expected, former Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges today, and now faces a sentence of up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
The charges stem from a Queens non-profit that received government funds–earmarked by Ms. Huntley–to educate parents about the city’s public school system. However, according to federal prosecutors, approximately $87,700 of the cash instead went for her personal use.
Good Will Huntley
A seemingly permanent end to campaign season and some indictments did not keep Lynn Smith, niece of former State Senator Shirley Huntley, from collecting a paycheck.
Right before her Sept. 13th primary loss, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged Ms. Huntley with conspiring to cover up Ms. Smith’s alleged theft of almost $30,000 in taxpayer money through a phony nonprofit. Yet, more than a month after Ms. Huntley’s defeat, campaign records show that Ms. Smith was still paid more than a $1,500.
A battle for Bay Ridge may be shaping up in a City Council race this fall.
John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff and press secretary for GOP State Sen. Marty Golden, told Politicker he’s “strongly considering” challenging Councilman Vinnie Gentile, a Brooklyn Democrat who has represented the area in some capacity since 1996.
This won’t be the first time Mr. Golden and Mr. Gentile have been on opposing teams, however, as then-Councilman Golden won his seat in the State Senate by defeating Mr. Gentile after last decade’s redistricting cycle. Mr. Gentile subsequently won a special election to replace Mr. Golden.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind is not in the least bit pleased about President Barack Obama nominating former Senator Chuck Hagel to be his new Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Hikind, a prominent pol in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community and a Democrat known for breaking with his own party, is incensed over what he feels is Mr. Hagel’s insufficient support for Israel and a controversial comment he once made referring to the “Jewish lobby.”
“Hagel’s policy positions have been anti-Israel and pro-Iranian,” Mr. Hikind declared in a press release blasted out earlier this afternoon that compared Mr. Hagel with Neville Chamberlain, the former British Prime Minister famous for appeasing Adolf Hitler before World War Two.
Newly-elected State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins sidestepped radio host Fred Dicker’s repeated attempts to get her to say whether or not she agreed with State Senator Bill Perkins’ demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo stand up against “the plantation politics of backroom deals.”
Mr. Perkins, a Harlem Democrat, blasted the statement out yesterday, alluding to the power sharing agreement between the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference and Senate Republicans. Democrats were locked out the majority yet again when the IDC agreed to govern with Republican State Sen. Dean Skelos, angering Democrats who believed the Democratic governor of New York should have done more to return them to the majority and were upset by the fact the new Senate majority has just one minority member.
Earlier this week, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was elected to be the next leader of the Senate’s Democratic conference, but, even though Democrats will have a numerical majority in the chamber, a breakaway group of Democrats will place Ms. Stewart-Cousins’ caucus in the minority. Some partisans and activists have criticized New York’s top Democrat, Governor Andrew Cuomo for not intervening in the matter or even expressing support on his party’s behalf, but in a pair of TV appearances last night, Ms. Stewart-Cousins argued attention should instead be focused on his agenda, which “coincidentally” is hers as well.
“I met with the governor today, he wanted to talk to me and I brought colleagues with me,” she said on Inside City Hall. “We did have a good conversation, we had an open discussion. We talked about the state of the state. We talked about his legislative priorities. Coincidentally, many of his priorities are ours as well. There wasn’t a conversation about anger; there was a reality about the fact that Democrats are in a position to, again, to create an agenda and make it happen. I think he wants to make sure it gets done.”