8:48 am Aug. 28, 20122
Authorized by Speaker Sheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly paid $103,080 in June to settle a sexual harassment case against the powerful assemblyman and Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez.
A pay voucher said the money was for "legal services," which oversimplifies things considerably.
Although the use of some public money to clean up after a powerful legislator is an issue, it's probably not the main problem here—Governor Andrew Cuomo has defended in principle the use of public money for settlements involving state employees, saying it "happens all the time."
Many of the questions now being directed at Silver are instead about why the payment was made secretly—particularly as it involved a member who had been accused of misbehavior before—and whether the legislature can be trusted to investigate something like this on its own.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio hired a new deputy chief of staff, Avi Fink. Fink is best known for running the district office of Rep. Anthony Weiner, and more recently he worked on Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's congressional campaign. Fink will be working on small business outreach and policy development. He tweets at @AviFink.
"Whether or not you like the payroll tax, the state approved it through the magic of democracy."—Nicole Gelinas
11:30 a.m. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a Q&A after he opens an office that is part of the Young Men's Initiative, 198 East 161st St. in the Bronx.
1 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo attends a meeting of the New NY Education Reform Commission at 2608 Main Street in Lake Placid.
Chris Christie's speaking style is "disciplined" but he "manages to seem unscripted." [Kate Zernike]
Christie denied he was offered a job as Mitt Romney's running mate, which wasn't quite what yesterday's front-page Post story actually said. [Carl Campanile, Beth Defalco and S.A. Miller]
The guy who wrote "The Heights" also "ghostwrote" a robocall for Fernando Ferrer's 2005 mayoral campaign that was supposed to feature rapper Fat Joe. [Kate Taylor]
Now, administration officials say they actually will roll out a school lunch program featuring professional chefs. [Al Baker]
An editorial board calls for Assemblyman Vito Lopez to resign and asks for a closer look at the confidential settlement the Assembly reached in an earlier sexual harassment case involving Lopez. [New York Times]
Rep. Yvette Clarke: " I call for the resignation of Assemblymember and County Leader Vito Lopez."
A copy of the "Quick-Pay Voucher" suggesting the New York State Assembly already paid more than $100,000 to settle an earlier sexual harassment case against Lopez. [Glenn Blain, Erin Durkin and Celeste Katz]
The voucher said the money was used for "legal services." [Erik Kriss]
The Joint Committee on Public Ethics should investigate Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's role in Lopez's earlier harassment case. [Daily News]
The $103,080 paid by the Assembly is not the full price of the settlement, since money controlled by Lopez was also used. [Danny Hakim]
"Silver owes New Yorkers a detailed explanation of why he spent public money — in secret — to get Lopez off the hook." [New York Post]
A Silver spokesman said alleged victims can request that sexual harassment cases not be referred to the Assembly's ethics committee. [Jon Campbell]
Lopez denies any wrongdoing. [Jacob Gershman]
State Senator Shirley Huntley could face 12 years in jail. [Selim Algar, Antonio Antenucci and Dan Mangan]
Her lawyer noted she's facing "simple tamper-type charges," not theft. [Jacob Gershman and Will James
The Bronx Democratic County Leader Carl Heastie is "unwavering" in his support for Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, who is the subject of four ongoing investigations. [Sally Goldenberg]
So much for cleaning up Albany. [Bill Hammond]
How to achieve relevance through convention-time apostasy. [Blake Zeff]
Romney says he's "the guy that was able to get health care for all," surprising his television interviewer on Fox. [Reid Pillifant]
Christie refused to let a Post reporter attend his press avail after she co-wrote an inconvenient front-page story about why he didn't become Romney's running mate. [Azi Paybarah]
Christie "doesn't have a big margin of error" in New Jersey, and it won't help if voters think he'd rather be with Romney. [Josh Benson and Steve Kornacki]
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman did what none of his predecessors (including Andrew Cuomo) did, by bringing criminal charges against a sitting lawmaker. [Azi Paybarah]
Cuomo says he doesn't have enough facts to say definitive things about the Lopez affair. [Reid Pillifant]
Former Lopez loyalist Betty-Ann Canizio predicts a massive defeat for him if he runs for re-election as county leader. [Azi Paybarah]
New York State has the longest commutes, "often over obsolete bridges." [Dana Rubinstein]