Tag Archives: State Senate

Assembly Speaker Heastie, Bronxite, Must Do the Right Thing on Raise Recommendation

14 Dec

10.14.18 — Most city residents don’t know who their state legislators are. It’s just a fact. I don’t know of a poll in this regard, but I bet a tiny, tiny fraction of us Bronxites know that an assemblyman from the northeast Bronx, Carl Heastie, is the speaker of the Assembly. A pretty important job especially considering that he and his Democratic colleagues could get some critically important legislation passed, now that the state Senate will be led by Democrats on Jan. 1.

So, Heastie has the power to do good. But there’s word that he might, well, do something very bad. A group of current and former city and state comptrollers was given the power to come up with recommendations regarding whether and how to increase state legislators’ pay from $79,500 to $110,000 on Jan. 1 and eventually to $130,000 in 2021. That would be the top pay for state legislators in the country. The critical caveat the comptroller-team put forward was that legislators’ outside income can only be 15 percent of what they earn in the Assembly or state Senate. That’s because so much of the vast corruption in Albany is related to hidden handshake money deals on legislation that is connected with lawmakers’ non-government gigs.  U.S. congressmen/women and  senators in D.C. are prohibited from doing other work while they’re in Congress for this exact reason.

So making $50,500 more than they make right now is a perfect incentive to do the right thing. Right?

Well, it seems many state legislators don’t think so. If the legislature does nothing (something we want for a change!) in terms of the comptrollers’ recommendations, all of the good stuff they proposed will take effect on Jan. 1. But according to a New York Times editorial today, Speaker Heastie is thinking of what the current State Senate majority leader John Flanagan is thinking: staging a vote in both chambers before Jan. 1 to get their big raise but also to keep allowing a ton of outside money to interfere with the critical government jobs voters hired them for.

Speaker Heastie, a Bronxite and like the second or third most powerful person in state government, needs to to do the right thing: vow publicly that he won’t allow a vote to undercut the comptrollers’ excellent and desperately needed small-‘d’, democratic good-government proposal.

If you agree, give Heastie a call at his office and tell him to the let his pay raise go forth the way the comptrollers recommended. So essentially, no more decision making or voting on this. It should be done, which would be good for democracy in our state. His office number is 718-654-6539 and/or email him at Speaker@nyassembly.gov.

-Jordan Moss

22 Days to Go: Biaggi Will Attend Bronx Town Hall Tonight for State Senate Candidates. Will Klein?

22 Aug

With only 3 weeks (+ a day) to go before the critical primary vote on Thurs., Sept. 13 for staten senator, in the 34th Senate District (and others all over the city), the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is hosting a Town Hall tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Monroe College, 2501 Jerome Ave. (near Fordham Road) for Senate candidates interested in representing a few northwest Bronx districts. Alessandra Biaggi will be there. I heard that her opponent, incumbent Jeff Klein has not RSVP’d. Anyone interested in learning where candidates stand on many critical issues — health care, housing, schools, jobs, etc. — are welcome to attend.

Debate on Monday and 35 Days (Just 5 Weeks!) to Go Before Thurs., Sept. 13 Vote in Critical Bronx State Senate Race!

9 Aug

As I already reported, BronxTalk will air a critical debate between State Senator Jeff Klein (incumbent and IDC founder) and progressive, grassroots challenger Alessandra Biaggi on Monday, Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. . If you can, invite some friends and neighbors over, especially those who know little, and want to learn more, about the campaign. And spread the word about the debate to as many friends local voters as you possibly can! If you won’t be home that night you can always watch it on the web, beginning the next day. Of course, there’s a lot more to learn about Biaggi (and Klein) on her website and in my previous posts. Her site is also a great way to get involved and donate to her critical campaign (it affects the entire state!) .

Some other news:  Biaggi got an essential endorsement from the CWA (below) yesterday:

And in a recent tweet, Biaggi linked to a Gotham Gazette article focused on unanswered calls from Cuomo and legislative leaders for sexual harassment hearings. “The silence is alarming,” she wrote. “Albany needs to be better, now. I’ll fight everyday, and sound every alarm, until women are safe at work. This is not normal.”

Biaggi vs. Klein Debate on BronxTalk on Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. (39 Days to Go Before Election on Thurs., Sept. 13)

5 Aug

Just got word from BronxTalk’s veteran host Gary Axelbank that he’ll host a debate between Alessandra Biaggi and Jeff Klein, candidates for State Senate, a week from tomorrow: Monday, Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. It’s on Optimum channel 67 and Fios channel 33. Don’t have those? Well, go to a friend’s house that does have one and invite more friends!   It’s critically important because, as I’ve already written here and here, it’s a local race with impact throughout the Empire State. If you can’t watch it at that time, it’ll be on-line soon thereafter.

42 Days to Go — Taking Down Members of Bronx-Born IDC (Independent Democratic Conference)

2 Aug

8.2.18 – I wrote about Bronx politics and critical local issues for almost 20 years, when I was reporter and editor of the Norwood News (in Community Board 7) and the Bronx News Network. One thing I rarely witnessed were Democratic incumbents (all were Dems except for Guy Velella during my tenure) facing primary challengers with a good shot of winning. During my time on the job, except when corrupt incumbents were defeated or stepped down (State Senator Pedro Espada, Councilman Pedro G. Espada, State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Councilman Larry Seabrook, Nelso Castro, Eric Stevenson, Israel Ruiz, etc., etc.) few if any vets of the City Council, state Assembly, or state Senate, faced significant challengers.

But times have changed. If there’s one thing to be grateful to Trump and his seemingly corrupt victory for, it is this: excellent and energized freshmen progressive candidates are taking it to the streets along with big teams of dedicated volunteers. They are acting on the fact that state and local elections are as – and even more in many cases – critical to democracy and local issues as presidential elections. What happens – or doesn’t happen – locally has a dramatic impact on national politics as well. Even big-shot former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.”

And it is not just local in terms of issues affecting Bronx residents and neighborhoods, but residents and towns of the entire Empire State.

And that’s because of the IDC, a team of eight “Democrats” who sided with Republicans in the State Senate, handed over all of the real power of Democrats to the GOP. That’s blocked every essential bill on critical issues like voting rights, school funding, a Health Care Act, and the DREAM Act from passing in the State Senate and joining forces with the Assembly, vastly controlled by Democrats.

State Senator Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, formed the IDC in 2011. It wouldn’t have existed without him. (Technically, it no longer exists since Cuomo made them shut it down earlier this year, but Klein and his team are being told to pay $1.4  million they received from the Independence Party. Like almost all other IDC incumbents, Klein faces a strong challenge from Alessandra Biaggi, who already has 400 volunteers on her team taking it to the streets, knocking on doors, phone banking, writing post cards, contributing whatever they can. Here’s her recent video.

Bronx Democrats (including me) have moaned and groaned for years that our votes don’t  count for much, particularly in presidential elections. But this is a Democratic primary with epic issues (local, state and national) at stake. Your vote – and participation – matters. Big time.

So learn more and volunteer for Biaggi (or any of the other challengers to IDC incumbents ) right now! There are only six weeks to go! The primary is on Thursday (yes, Thursday!) September 13.

Oh, and if you’d like to learn more about the IDC, check out this excellent, brief video Zephyr Teachout did last year.

 

A Look Back at Jeff Klein from Grade School to Now

6 Feb

City & State profiles Bronx State Senator Jeff Klein, technically a Democrat, but more of a powerful partner with Senate Republicans. Definitely worth a read.