Joe Bruno Calls Foul on Paterson for Following His Own LeadBruno and Albany Republicans are protesting Paterson’s command that state agencies recognize out-of-state gay marriages, claiming it circumvents the Legislature. But didn’t Bruno already decline a chance for the State Senate to vote on the issue?
OMG, Is Joe Bruno Going to Be Our Next Governor?By now, four days into Governor David Paterson’s reign, one thing is clear: He never thought he was actually going to be governor. The loosey-goosey (and juicy!) way he’s blended his personal and professional affairs don’t reflect the kind of care and caution that most people who expect close scrutiny would have used. If this goes on, will Joe Bruno use it to his advantage?
Joe Bruno Remarkably Restrained in Press ConferenceJoe Bruno held a press conference just now, and it was well played. Despite the fact that Eliot Spitzer has basically been up until now his mortal enemy, he didn’t rub it in that he was totally right when he told New York earlier this month that the governor was “two-faced. He does not tell the truth.” Rather, wearing an expression of weary “I-don’t-have-time-for-this-perv” resignation, he discussed the possible transition of David Paterson (with whom he has a “great relationship”) into the position of governor and went out of his way to make the point that just because someone decided to defy Lord and country by sleeping with hookers doesn’t mean that everyone else was going to stop doing their jobs. “There is no pleasure in what is going on in this state,” he said. “This is a distraction of proportions we have never experienced. As for Eliot Spitzer, my heart goes out to his wife and his family. He must deal with his problems in his own way.”
Related: How Eliot Spitzer Finally Got Joe Bruno on the Ropes [NYM]
Reacting to Eliot’s Mess
Eliot Spitzer is still holed up in his apartment in New York, where he and his wife, Silda, have been conferring with advisers since last night. He’s weighing his options, and deciding whether to resign. Meanwhile, on the outside, the politicians and the media have descended into exactly the kind of feeding frenzy you would expect:
• The Post reports that State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno held back from reveling in his great rival’s fall: “I feel very badly for the governor’s wife, for his children,” he said. “The important thing for the people of New York State is that people in office do the right thing.”
• According to CNN, Republican state senators and assemblymen (and some Democrats) are aggressively calling for his resignation. So is the Republican Governors Association.
• If Spitzer doesn’t resign before a deadline set by state Republicans, they’ve vowed to begin impeachment proceedings, reports WCBS.
Bruno Unimpressed by Dem State-Senate WinAfter the election of Democrat Darrel Aubertine to the State Senate on Wednesday, lines are already being drawn for a battle royal for control of the body in November. Aubertine won in the 48th District, a territory that has been represented by Republicans for the past 100 years. This reduces the GOP stranglehold on Albany to just one seat, which Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno proclaims the party will maintain. “We lost that battle, but we are going to win the war,” Bruno said, according to the Post. The way the Albany Times-Union sees it, the extremely contentious State Senate race this fall will come down to two tactics: fear and frustration.
Democrats will remind voters decades of Republican rule in the Senate have done little to avert the state’s rising taxes and sluggish economy. That’s the frustration part.
Republicans who backed Barclay have already started warning that, should they lose their majority, New York would be under the control of just one political party, the Democrats. That’s the fear part.
Democrats positioning themselves as a change from a stagnant GOP regime, and Republicans playing upon voters’ fears to get them to the ballot box? There really is only one story in politics, huh?
State of the Senate in Play [Albany Times-Union]
Related: Driving the Steamroller [NYM]
Is Joe Bruno Shaking in His Wingtips Today?Though we haven’t been hearing about it as much lately, it turns out the heat is not off Joe Bruno. The FBI has been investigating the State Senate majority leader’s outside business interests for nearly two years now, and today we learn that they’ve widened their inquiry. Several subpoenas were issued to pension funds linked to unions in Bruno’s Albany-area district last week. Six local unions have many millions invested with a Connecticut firm, Wright Investors’ Service, which employs Bruno for services that they have yet to explain to authorities. The connections were revealed in December by the Times, after which Bruno and the firm quickly severed their relationship. But the FBI’s inquiry into union records show that Bruno is far from being off the hook.
The Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin also reports that the probe is going to weaken the union’s traditional support of the powerful state senator. Despite public support for Bruno, one labor leader told Benjamin, “The conventional strategy of many building trades and public sector unions is about to end They’ve made their bets on Bruno, but it’s all unraveling.” As the State Senate heads into a battle for control this fall, this could mean big things. Bruno and the state GOP were also banking on a Giuliani national candidacy to rally New York’s Republican base to the voting booths in November. Even though Governor Spitzer has been muzzling himself lately, we’re betting that these days behind his hand, he’s chucking quietly.
Investigation into Bruno Broadens [NYT]
Albany unions support Joe Bruno despite chill of FBI subpoenas [NYDN]
Lies and the Lying Arabs Who Tell ThemMEDIA
• The New Republic pulled back on its long-embattled “Baghdad Diarist” series, admitting they could no longer stand behind the author, an army private serving in Iraq. Meanwhile, The National Review suffered its own Middle Eastern credibility scandal and struck back in a novel way: “As one of our sources put it: ‘The Arab tendency to lie and exaggerate about enemies is alive and well among pro-American Lebanese Christians as much as it is with the likes of Hamas.’” Yikes. [NYT Mixed Media/Portfolio]
• Big layoffs ahead at NBC News? “There are going to be firings very soon — everybody is terrified,” according to a “former network insider,” who claims tens of millions in cuts will happen in the next two weeks. [Jossip]
• New NBC programming honcho Ben Silverman is looking to clear up a conflict of interest and cash in on his old production company, which Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter to Rupe, is buying for around $200 million. Not bad for a guy who built his career on stealing foreign shows like The Office and Ugly Betty and then repackaging them for the U.S.[NYP]
Joe Bruno’s Side Gigs: What, No Waste Management?Over the weekend, 20,000 words were unleashed on the American reading public eager to catch up with Eliot Spitzer. Both competing profiles, in Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, painted a portrait of a governor diminished by, among other things, a hubristic tussle with Joe Bruno, the State Senate majority leader. So, how’s Bruno doing?
Spitzer to Split Up Control of New York’s Three Racing TracksAs one of the many controversy-spurning agenda items Eliot Spitzer has to deal with, we hear some progress being made in the ongoing discussions with Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno over Bruno’s pet issue: the future of the New York horse-racing industry. One source involved in the private talks tells us that the tentative plan is to split up control of each of New York’s three horse-racing tracks: Saratoga, Belmont, and Aqueduct. The New York Racing Association (which faces an expiration date at the end of this year) will get to keep control of the track in Saratoga, and thus stay alive. This would help the Spitzer administration avoid a potentially lengthy lawsuit.
Eliot Spitzer’s ‘Die Hard’ ComplexFor the past few weeks, we’ve been hearing what everybody else in Albany thinks of Eliot Spitzer’s political moves. His efforts to undermine Joe Bruno by catching him misusing state helicopters or not paying all of his taxes are “dirty tricks” and “smear tactics.” But what is the governor thinking about all of this? “Obviously, things haven’t worked out precisely as I had planned,” says Spitzer. Well, not Spitzer actually, but New York Sun reporter Jacob Gershman, who pens an essay today from the governor’s point of view. When we saw the headline, we were expecting something fun and funny, but Gershman’s essay turns out to be a sober, well-thought-out analysis of what Spitzer’s probably thinking. So logical, in fact, that we’re surprised by the end to realize the simplicity of the problem Spitzer’s made up for himself.
If Joe Bruno Closes His Eyes, It’s Like Eliot Spitzer Isn’t Even ThereJoe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer ran into each other yesterday at a memorial service for firefighters in Albany. It was the first time they had seen each other since their fight over the summer, and as you can see, Bruno acted really grown up about it. Honestly. Even Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz had more class when they ran into each other at the Kids Choice Awards, and that was an awkward situation.
Cuomo Barking Up All the Wrong Trees
Is Andrew Cuomo already falling victim to his own hubris? The attorney general earned some serious integrity points when he went after Spitzer for the governor’s alleged misuse of state troopers in pursuing Joe Bruno. Now, with two of Spitzer’s top aides out and the State Senate GOP increasingly subpoena-happy, the case is beginning to seem like self-admiring nitpicking on Cuomo’s part. Glenn Valle, the counsel to the state-police chief and current hot-seat occupant Preston Felton, is calling parts of the A.G.’s original report “very misleading or outright wrong.” Even worse, this largely petty skirmish — what are we going to do, impeach Spitzer? Jail Bruno? Publicly hang Darren Dopp and call it a day? — is paralyzing Albany in exactly the ways the administration swore it wouldn’t. But Cuomo isn’t done yet.
Joe Bruno, Eliot Spitzer Ruin It for Everybody
• One actual result of Troopergate (Brunogate? Spitzergate?): The State Ethics Commission passed a new rule preventing officials from using state aircraft unless the primary purpose of their trip is state business and requiring reimbursement for those parts that are not. [NYT]
Std Clr of Clsg Dors, Pls
• In the wake of the Great Subway Flood, city-council members are demanding that the MTA spend some $300 million to provide cell service on subway platforms — so that the transit agency can send riders jumbled, unintelligible text messages in the event of delays. [Metro NY]
Death at NYU
• The daughter of two prominent NYU professors was discovered dead in a university-owned apartment in Washington Square Village. If it’s a homicide, expect it on Law & Order when the new season starts. [amNY]
Mr. Ethics, Meet the Ethics Board
• The newest chapter in the fast-developing Spitzer scandal: The State Ethics Commission, which definitely has subpoena power, has joined the State Senate in requesting the documents from the Bruno investigation. Not looking good. [amNY]
Today in Albany: Spitzer’s on Defense, Bruno’s on Offense, and the ‘Post’ Hates Everyone
The latest news from Albany finds the principals in the Spitzer-Bruno-Cuomo battle defining and refining their positions. Last night, the governor finally abandoned what New York’s Steve Fishman called his “silly business-as-usual tactic” and deigned to hand-feed his side of the story to the Daily News. New York’s Hometown Paper reports today that Joe Bruno’s constant requests to use state aircraft were well known in Albany even before Day One; they became “almost a punch line” after Spitzer inauguration, when, the governor says, people would “just roll their eyes.” Still, Spitzer didn’t know his own top aides were scheming to expose Bruno, he told the News — and even if he did, the State Senate doesn’t have subpoena power over the executive branch anyway. You may notice that these three statements clash with each other slightly, but, hey, he’s new at this weaseling-out-of-tight-spots thing. He’ll get better.
• With the Spitzer camp circling the wagons, it’s Joe Bruno’s hour, and he’s taking full advantage of it: The State Senate leader called for multiple investigations into the administration, vowing, “This is not going to go away.” [NYP]
Steve Fishman: Spitzer’s Finally Fighting Back, But Is He Eliot Reagan?Governor Spitzer finally abandoned his silly business-as-usual tactic today, giving up the “I’m going to get back to doing the people’s business” that invariably means something is amiss. The Republican-led State Senate had suggested that it might act like a real legislative body, one with oversight responsibilities and subpoena powers, and investigate whether the governor knew that a top aide was tracking Senate leader Joe Bruno’s use of state vehicles. And Spitzer finally broke his silence on the burgeoning scandal to warn the senator that, in effect, the senators shouldn’t punch above their weight. Never one to be outlawyered, the governor has apparently been reading up on the state constitution, and he charged in a statement that New York’s Senate does not have the constitutional authority to investigate the executive branch. In other words, he seemed to say that he won’t cooperate with any investigation and will instead invoke an Empire State version executive privilege. Whether the potential drama of a constitutional showdown will, in fact, entice the Republican Senate remains to be seen.
Steamroller Stalled: Could You See It Coming?In a nutshell: In an effort to score political points by claiming his nemesis, Joe Bruno, was inappropriately using state resources (aircraft, cars, troopers) to travel to political events, Eliot Spitzer, or at least people working for Eliot Spitzer, inappropriately used state resources (the state police) to carry out their oppo research. A.G. Andrew Cuomo released a report yesterday saying so, and saying, incidentally, that Bruno hadn’t actually done anything wrong. Spitzer indefinitely suspended one aide, transferred another out of the governor’s office, and denied any knowledge of what they were up to; Republicans are skeptical he was really so oblivious. So much for being the White Knight, eh?
In last week’s New York, Steve Fishman profiled the governor and examined his (many) feuds with other state officials, most notably Bruno. There’s lots of fun foreshadowing.
And on Day 204, Everything Changed Back
• Governor Spitzer has dismissed one top aide and suspended another for (a) essentially spying on Joe Bruno and (b) concocting a cover-up for it. But what did Spitzer know, and when did he know it? [NYT]
• In the meantime, Bruno’s vacation is ruined anyway: The Legislature has agreed to reconvene on Thursday to begin discussing a “compromise” on congestion pricing. [NYDN]
• The so-called YouTube debate on CNN last night wasn’t just an exercise in cross-branding; it delivered some full-on madness, including a talking snowman grilling Hillary Clinton on climate change and a Second Amendment question from a man holding a gun. [NYP]
• Eighteen years after pleading guilty to sex crimes — and then denying his guilt, and then having a movie made about him — convicted child molester Jesse Friedman may be vindicated. A new hearing will introduce evidence that police may have tampered with a young accuser. [amNY]
• And, Newt Gingrich says Mike Bloomberg’s “entire basis of survival is paying $91 a vote” in 2005. Remind us what Newt Gingrich’s basis for survival is again? [NYS]
Congestion Pricing: It’s a Deal!
As Geoffrey Gray warned us earlier, there’s now a deal for congestion pricing. From City Room, the Times’s metro blog:
“We have a deal,” Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, just told reporters in Albany. “Like any deal, like any arrangement, its [sic] subject to the definitive word ending up on paper. As we speak, we are drafting paper, press release, with the governor’s office, with the Assembly.”
Asked if the deal would still qualify for a grant of $500 million in federal financing, Mr. Bruno said: “We are told if we get this there today, we will be one of the nine considered.”
Just think: Some time in the not-too-distant future, you’ll have the privilege of paying to drive on exploding streets. Fun!
Deal Is at Hand in Congestion Pricing [City Room/NYT]
Earlier: Congestion-Pricing Lives! Is City Hall Close to Announcing a Deal?
Congestion Pricing, ‘Times’ Reporter: Both Still in PurgatoryToday is the deadline for Albany to get a congestion-pricing deal done, as Mayor Bloomberg has consistently said, and at 5:30 p.m. there’s still no legislation. But something still could — indeed, still well might — come together before midnight, which seems about right for our dysfunctional state capital. At City Room, the Times’ local-politics blog, statehouse reporter Nick Confessore has been chronicling a day spent trailing officials like Bloomberg and Joe Bruno hoping, usually in vain, for a comment:
The meeting was closed to reporters, who camped outside a locked conference room door, pressing their ears — and tape recorders — to the glass in the hopes of catching an earful of congestion-pricing gossip. (Such is the exciting life of the Albany statehouse reporter.)
We’ll remind you that Confessore made A1 a mere four weeks ago with his lament, “In Albany, Life Has Seeped Out of the Night Life.” Poor guy.
Day of Decision Comes for Congestion Pricing [City Room/NYT]