together now: Albany Democrats, including Assemblyman
McEneny and Mayor Jennings, for Cuomo.
Albany Democrats rush to protect their gubernatorial candidate
from Carl Paladino
Democratic establishment came out in support of gubernatorial
candidate Andrew Cuomo last Thursday at a rally held in downtown
Albany’s Academy Park, speaking directly to comments made
by his opponent, Tea Party-supported Republican nominee Carl
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings was one of the key players in
pulling together the rally, which, according to Jennings,
“was to articulate the frustrations we are all feeling with
the message that Paladino is putting out there.” The group
also included Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Delmar), Albany County
Executive Mike Breslin, Albany County Democratic Chairman
Dan McCoy, Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin,
and assemblymen Bob Reilly (D-Colonie) and Jack McEneny (D-Albany).
Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union reported that although
Jennings and company claimed they organized the event on their
own, an advance man for the Cuomo campaign was present.
During the rally, speakers voiced their displeasure with Paladino’s
now-infamous comments, made in June at the New York Republican
Convention, that he intends to “clean out Albany with a baseball
bat,” and that “Albany is a cesspool, and the swamp must be
Breslin said that Paladino’s comments were upsetting to Albany’s
elected officials and that, collectively, they felt an obligation
to speak out against that kind of conduct.
doesn’t deserve to be a candidate for office in this state,
because I think he is a racist and a bigot,” Breslin said
regarding controversial e-mails allegedly forwarded by Paladino
that were, according to Bob Herbert of the New York Times,
“blatantly hostile to blacks and women.”
Breslin said that he read through some of the e-mails and
the comments made in them. “They’re unacceptable, and they
go to the most negative parts of our society, and they conjure
up a hate and that should be unacceptable, and I think it
is unacceptable to Republicans and Democrats alike.”
There have been huge discrepancies in the recent polling in
the gubernatorial race. The Quinnipiac University poll released
Sept. 22 cited Cuomo as having a 6-point lead over Paladino
(49 to 43 percent); the Siena College poll released the following
day showed a difference of 33 points between the two candidates
(57 to 24 percent).
Breslin remained unconcerned: “There is an anger among certain
fringe voters that would tend to be Republicans, and I think
that base voters would be attracted by Paladino,” he said.
“However, more than that, Moderate Republicans will be turned
off by Paladino.”
Breslin said that Cuomo, who has come under fire in the last
few weeks for ignoring minority and progressive issues, understands
that he has to reach out to constituents with a wide array
of political views.
Jennings fretted that children would take the wrong message
from Paladino. “There’s nothing good coming out of his campaign,”
he said. “I don’t want my kids subjected to the rhetoric,
the anger. What he’s talking about is just so negative, and
I want them to learn that if you work together you can accomplish
things. He’s not doing that. He is being extremely divisive,
he is being extreme in many, many ways, and it has to stop.
All these elected officials have come together and we’re calling
on everyone to get involved, Republicans, Independents, anyone
to say, ‘Enough is enough, Carl. We don’t need this kind of
leader in New York.’ ”
Jennings said that he supports Cuomo because he has been “extremely
capable” as New York’s attorney general. “I saw him when he
ran in Washington, D.C.,” said Jennings. “He was respected
across the globe and, as far as I’m concerned, he should be
our next governor. That’s what these people are here for.”
Jennings added that Cuomo wants to pull all the political
parties together, and that “everyone has to be involved.”
Breslin said that he doesn’t think Cuomo’s campaign will be
affected by any of the surrounding political high jinx and
that Cuomo has only recently become fully involved in the
campaign because “it seems from past races, it only becomes
serious a month before. We’re at that point now, and I expect
Andrew Cuomo to run, as he has in the past, a very aggressive,
professional and honest campaign.”
Cuomo recently told Liz Benjamin of Capital Tonight
in one of the first TV interviews of the race that his campaign
is “all of two weeks old.”
Wants to be Unemployed?
say Gov. David Paterson’s order to layoff 2,000 state workers
David Paterson raised more than a few eyebrows last week when
he sent a memo to state agencies expressing the need to reduce
the state workforce by 2,000 people before next year in order
to meet budget goals. The memo vested agency commissioners
with the power to use layoffs to accomplish that goal—layoffs
that local state employee unions say would be illegal.
The Civil Service Employees Association and Public Employees
Federation both claim to have binding contracts with Paterson
in which he agreed to refrain from using layoffs to reduce
the state workforce until after 2010. The actual language
of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State of New
York and the Civil Service Employee’s Association states that,
in return for the union not opposing other legislation, “there
will be no layoff, or threat of layoff, of CSEA represented
employees for a period up to and including December 31, 2010.”
John V. Currier, of the New York State Governor’s Office of
Employee Relations, and Ross D. Hanna, of CSEA, signed the
Memorandum on July 22, 2009.
While ripples of anger and indignation were immediately palpable
at the state office campus in Albany, union leaders seem less
concerned. According to Stephen Madarasz, director of communications
for CSEA, legal considerations are likely to tie up the governor’s
office into 2011.
trying not to overreact to what he’s saying,” said Madarasz.
“But it has nothing to do with reality. We’re concerned because
of the way the State of New York is being run, but we believe
that we’re on firm legal ground.”
Paterson’s decision to lay off state employees before next
year came after a severance incentive package failed to produce
the $250 million in savings the state had hoped for. The package,
a two-part early-retirement offer aimed at employees in positions
that could remain unfilled and employees already near retirement,
has been the subject of much scrutiny. PEF has claimed that
more than 600 employees in positions that could have been
voluntarily vacated were denied early retirement, and that
guidelines establishing essential positions in departments
such as health and public safety have been too widely drawn.
claims that he needed to cut $250 million from the workforce
and that he’s only reached about 60 percent of that goal,”
said Ken Brynien, president of PEF. “But this is only a half-year’s
savings. If he had offered the package and let these employees
go at the beginning of the year, it seems safe to say that
he would have reached his goal. We’ve heard from no less than
600 employees who claim that they were willing to take the
incentive but were not given the option, so there could be
as many as a thousand people who do not have to be laid off.
These are people who are willing to go.”
Brynien added that he would like to see the figures for funds
spent on contracting and consulting for jobs that could be
done by existing state employees. “It’s all a dark secret
and, even after a law was passed about two years ago, there
is still only about 20 percent of that information available.
The state spends around $2.9 billion a year on outside consulting.
That could pay for 23,000 full-time positions.”
not threatening anything at this point,” Madarasz stressed.
“But we’ll do whatever we have to for our workers.”
Jim Blake, an employee in the Division of Criminal Justice
Services, says that he was offered a severance package in
Summer 2009 and turned it down. When the latest retirement
incentive came up, Blake offered to accept. “I just assumed
that they would let me go and I sent an e-mail with eight
reasons I should go, but I never heard back. No one in my
office was asked if they would like the incentive and at least
20 people I know sent e-mails indicating their interest and
never heard anything back. My department isn’t related to
health or safety. I even know one guy who wanted to take the
early retirement for personal health reasons and was blocked.
My feeling is that this is going on in other departments as
Not everyone feels the same.
think people just don’t like to feel expendable; the general
feeling is that state workers are always the first sacrificial
lamb of bad government,” said an employee who asked to remain
anonymous. “Of course there are cases like that guy who was
getting paid a million dollars a year to do nothing, and there
are a few people who are literally just waiting for retirement
and their pension, but we also have hard workers. In the tax
department, we didn’t have anyone who was denied the early
incentive as far as I know. People were even afraid that they
wouldn’t get it because they were so far down on the list,
but everyone did. I got the feeling that they would have let
even more go. Of course, we’re a revenue-raising department,
so I don’t think that we’re in as much danger as, say, labor,
education or housing if widespread layoffs really occur.”
Calls to Paterson’s office were not returned. Both of the
candidates vying to replace him in January have already stated
intentions to use layoffs as a way to reduce state spending
next year if elected.
loose ends this week-