A conversation with Albany Times Union political reporter Jimmy Vielkind about the governor's plan to clean up Albany.(1)
Gun-control advocates say there's more political momentum working in their favor now than at any time in recent memory.
Jimmy Vielkind: You'll start to see a change in Cuomo's tune when major, core, New York-based Democratic constituency groups—think 1199—start calling him out.(2)
Koch, who got Cuomo and more than 100 other lawmakers to sign a 2010 pledge promising independent redistricting, said there is still time to put together an independent panel to drawn the lines for the Assembly, State Senate and congress. In a conference call with reporters this morning, Koch even suggested former chief justice Judith Kaye as a person to lead such a panel.
But in Albany this afternoon, Cuomo rejected the idea, saying the courts—who are independent of the legislature—are already drawing maps.
"I don't know that we need more panels right now," Cuomo said.
“If you think I should try to go convince the legislators that it is not in their best interest to draw their own lines, uh, maybe you could convince them of that," Jimmy Vielkind quoted him saying in late January. "I don’t possess those skills. So you’re right: I haven’t spent a lot of time trying to explain to them why this isn’t in their interest."
Jimmy Vielkind gets his hands on some information about a newly drawn 63rd State Senate seat, drawn by Republicans in a creative attempt to hold on to their narrow majority after this year's election.
Jimmy Vielkind: They couldn't play their hand too hard because they need two things from Cuomo that are only tacitly promisable: cover during redistricting, which Cuomo wants to wrest from their hands, and a non-aggression pact in next year's election. I think that's why they didn't go for straight extortion, as they might have in the past.
The squashing of two controversial resolutions at the New York State Democratic Party fall meeting in Albany yesterday was, according to the Times Union's Jimmy Vielkind, a sign of the control Governor Andrew Cuomo has over the party. One of the resolutions opposed hydrofracking, which the governor supports; the supported higher taxes on millionaires, which the governor opposes.
He's huffing and puffing and blowing from his bully pulpit but it's pretty much in the hands of the legislature. If Cuomo does veto the lines, as he's once again threatening to do, then someone can sue, claiming lawmakers are at an impasse, and a federal judge should step in. So we'll see.
Jimmy Vielkind: Well the thing to keep in mind is that Cuomo has a big stick. It's his back-up plan. If negotiations don't go as he pleases, he has said he will convene a commission under the Moreland Act (subpoena power! testimony under oath!) to just look at, you know, the legislature. Think of all the things we would learn if he did that—how much Dean Skelos makes as an attorney, who his clients are, how many hours he works on their behalf to justify his compensation.
Jimmy: New York doesn't even know how it's going to do redistricting, and no matter how it's done, this district is in danger because of the relative population-loss in Western New York. There's lots of talk about a "non-partisan, independent" system to replace the current Battle Royale in which the legislative leaders of the Assembly and Senate carve out their own district lines, and enjoy the ring-kissing of Congressional reps, whose lines they also draw. New York will lose two seats. And based on the current inertia, I'm doubtful that we'll move beyond the current system.
Jimmy: It's tougher this year [for Silver]. His normal tactic is Entish objection to undue haste. But he knows that Cuomo watched David Paterson's little trick of ramming through the substance of his budget in emergency extender bills with interest. And he knows that Cuomo could do the same thing, much earlier than Paterson did. He also knows that he's got a lot of members who are angry and who see no need to cut so drastically when you can add in revenue items, like extending that millionaires tax. So I think the Assembly will effectively buy back some of the pain, so to speak, and take the heat for "raising taxes."
Jimmy: Spitzer campaigned in legislators' districts. Cuomo says he'll be different, because he'll have "the people" do it. Cuomo won't be pushing back, it will be "the people." Cuomo will just help the people see the light instead of the butter. But I'm not really convinced that this will work. It never has before. So I think Cuomo will try to build a base of allies in the Assembly, which would enable him to wage a Cold War against Silver. Remember those days? [ed note: Jimmy was born in 1985.] We never launched the ICBMs, but just happened to take a major interest in slivers of jungle in Asia and workers-rights movements in Poland. Same thing here.