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• The Post, in another damning Spitzer exclusive (it’s almost as if someone well connected in Albany hated the governor!), claims the administration is hiding a trove of private scandal-related e-mails, which Attorney General Cuomo, lacking subpoena power, didn’t get. [NYP]
in other news
All the Governor’s Men: Where Are They Now?Let’s check up on the first crop of heads to have rolled out of Albany in the Spitzer scandal! When the news of the administration’s vendetta against Joe Bruno broke, Spitzer quickly got rid of communications director Darren Dopp and state-police liaison William Howard, suspending Dopp and saying Howard would be “reassigned to a position outside of the governor’s office.” We’ll take the second one first. Has Howard been reassigned? Well, yes, sort of. Turns out Howard was technically “on loan” to the administration to begin with. Today’s Sun finds him comfortably spinning his wheels back at SUNY, where he enjoys a $175,900 salary as the director of something called the Center of Homeland Security Research, Training and Education. But things look bleaker for Dopp, who had no such sinecure to fall back on and has now retained a prominent lawyer. The Times, which is sympathetic to the ex-reporter and all but called him a fall guy in a recent profile, hands today’s lede to Dopp’s lawyer for a few choice words about Cuomo. The Post, however, begs to differ. The headline there is “Disgraced Spitzer Crony Lawyers Up.” Odd: One would think the “Dopp wuz framed” narrative would appeal to them even more.
Albany Poser: What Happened to Howard? [NYS]
Suspended Spitzer Assistant Is Blameless, His Lawyer Says [NYT]
Disgraced Spitzer Crony Lawyers Up [NYP]
the morning line
Eliot Spitzer Has Reached Acceptance
• The Albany County D.A., P. David Soares, announced yesterday that he will review Cuomo’s findings regarding use of state police by the governor’s office. Spitzer, sounding more Zen by the minute: “I welcome it, I accept it.” [amNY]
the morning line
He Wants You to Want Him to Testify
• Spitzer on testifying under oath about his noninvolvement in the Joe Bruno surveillance: “I’m happy to, going to, look forward to it.” Anything else? “I’d love to.” [NYP]
in other news
All Eliot’s Investigations
Today’s Times presents the worst-case scenario for our troubled governor: multiple, separate, concurrent, resource-draining, agenda-stalling investigations. After Attorney General Andrew Cuomo lit the fuse last week, who else may step up to take a crack at Spitzer — for what we must remind you, perhaps a bit defensively, was not a crime, not even a misdemeanor, but simply a kind of unpunishable unpleasantness — and how?
the morning line
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]
early and often
Reformer Spitzer in Hot Water With Reform GroupsThe revelation that reform-minded Governor Eliot Spitzer waited until after his election to disclose that he reimbursed megadonor Richard Fields $110,000 for flights on the gambling mogul’s private jet, among other things, has ethics watchdogs seeing red. “The campaign is doing the public a major disservice,” says Neil Rosenstein, government reform coordinator of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “Given the size of the money involved, and given this is a donor with major business before the state, Spitzer should be disclosing this information in a timely fashion.” A former Donald Trump protege, Fields is a major player in a group looking to take over the state’s lucrative horse tracks. He also wants to build casinos in the Catskills, and he created a stir by giving Spitzer $200,000 in donations through various corporations.
Breaking: Less Than Pure Ethics at the ‘Post’!Conflict of interest alert! The Post’s state editor, Fredric U. Dicker, has been getting paid to make speeches by the New York Bankers Association. Citigroup’s head of wealth management, Todd Thomson, left the firm yesterday, perhaps because he flew his friends around too often on the corporate jet. The Bachelor’s Lorenzo Borghese is dating the show’s runner-up, but he also hit on Tinsley Mortimer’s sister Dabney. Jared Leto got angry and Sienna Miller partied with Diddy and Josh Hartnett at Sundance. Also, Jared Leto was not pleased to hear that fellow Scarlett Johansson pal Justin Timberlake was to perform at a party he was at. Jay McInerney and Anne Hearst celebrated their marriage in Palm Beach with a gaggle of society folk.
in other news
Dr. Spitzer’s Five-Step Plan for a New You
As we mentioned earlier, Governor Spitzer kicked off his term with an impressive display of work ethics, rousing himself early on New Year’s Day to sign five executive orders before 9 a.m. What brave new world, then, did the rest of the bleary state wake up to?
1. Use of state property — cars, computers, phones — for non-official business is explicitly prohibited. (Clear inspiration: Alan Hevesi.) Nepotism in hiring and contracting is banned. (Possible inspiration: Joseph Bruno.) Almost all gifts are off the table, so to speak. And former state employees can’t lobby their former colleagues for two years after leaving the office.
2. State workers can’t contribute to gubernatorial campaigns or their PACs or appear in ads for state-funded initiatives. (Probable inspiration for the latter: George Pataki.)
3. All state agencies and boards must gear up to start broadcasting their sessions over the Internet. Yesss! (Think of the YouTube-able blooper potential.)
4. Judicial screening committees are established for a number of vacant judgeships.
5. And finally, continuity: This order, which was called “ministerial,” simply prolongs the shelf life of some existing orders from Cuomo and Pataki. So, you know, not everything changes.
(In other, somewhat related news, the New York State minimum wage rose yesterday to $7.15 per hour, and the so-called marriage penalty was eliminated on state income taxes.)
Spitzer Is Sworn and Begins Push on Ethics Rules [NYT]
the morning line
First Things First
• Not everything changed on Day One, but — with five executive orders signed before 9 a.m. yesterday — newly minted Governor Eliot Spitzer came as close to making good on the slogan as any politician in recent memory. The big ones concern state workers: restrictions on lobbying and, famously, a near-total ban on gifts. Oh, sure — after Christmas. [NYT]
• The city took all of twelve hours to put the year’s first murder on the books: Brooklyn’s Jonathon Ridley, 26, received a fatal bullet in the back. He was merely the unluckiest of the ten people shot citywide during New Year’s celebrations. [NYDN]
• A belated note to the writer of the Post headline “Leona Lackeys Caught ‘Inn’ Drug Sting”: You can’t really pun on prepositions. Also, duh. [NYP]
• Coney Island’s indefatigable Polar Bear Club made news for the wrong reason after a swimmer knocked his head and almost drowned during the annual fund-raising mass dip. The water, for the record, was 48 degrees, falling well short of polar and more into a cold-shower category. [NYDN]
• And fainting maidens are to blame for subway delays, says the MTA; in fact, overzealous dieters who skip breakfast and proceed to get sick on the train have emerged as — are you ready for this? — the No. 3 cause of late trains. So, by extension, it’s patriarchy’s fault. [amNY]
in other news
Cheating Scandal at Columbia: No Problem!
The Columbia Journalism School has a cheating scandal afoot in — of all places — its ethics class, “Critical Issues in Journalism.” Mighty Jeff Bercovici broke the news on Radar Online yesterday afternoon, and the Times rereported it this morning. All members of the Friday section of the class were required to attend a special meeting today, at which the cheating allegation was discussed and a new essay question was distributed. The e-mail calling the meeting, posted today on the Observer’s Media Mob blog, warned students that administrators “will not register a passing grade in the course for anyone who does not attend.” Which prompted some j-school alumni friends of ours to point out an interesting quirk. The j-school requires 30 credits for graduation, but most students, according to the school’s own propaganda, complete 34 credits or more. Which means it’s entirely possible to fail the class — that is, to be an ethical failure — and to still become a Columbia-certified journalist. Ain’t this a great business?
Ivy J-Schoolers Fail Ethics, Ace Irony [Radar]
Cheating on an Ethics Test? It’s ‘Topic A’ at Columbia [NYT]
Columbia J-School: Exam Do-Over [Media Mob/NYO]