Sunday, December 28, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

City Hall Deals While Albany Burns

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Inside City Hall
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On Monday, after state lawmakers heard the pros and cons of the West Side development proposal, ICH had a debate of its own with two councilmen and two community activists who sounded off over the future of the West Side. [hiband/loband].

Inside The Political Papers

Shortly after Councilmen Weprin and Perkins appeared on ICH, they rushed back to City Hall, where they hammered out the final details of a $$47 billion budget deal with Mayor Bloomberg. The highlights of the agreement are that homeowners are scheduled to get a $$400 tax rebate for the next three years (pending approval in Albany) while couples with children with incomes less than $$35,000 will get a tax credit. In addition, about $$215 million in proposed cuts to social programs will be restored.

While the spin-meisters in the East Wing of City Hall will be busy today saying that Speaker Gifford Miller did well in negotiations because of the earned income tax credit, the bottom line is that Bloomberg really got the upper hand in the budget game this year. The mayor proposed the $$400 tax rebate check. Miller opposed and derided it as a "gimmick." And then Miller's own members went ahead and passed the rebate — forcing the speaker to politely step aside or possibly face an internal revolt. It will be interesting to see if Miller now will take credit for those checks if he runs for mayor next year.

The Times' Jennifer Steinhauer focuses more on the economic implications of the budget, writing of Miller and Bloomberg: “[L]ike the mayors and Council speakers before them, they also appear to have thrown in the towel on the idea of providing structural balance to the city's budget, which each year creaks under growing state and federal mandates, rising pension costs and increased spending for various services.”

The budget agreement in City Hall created a stark contrast with the political inertia in Albany. While there was some movement on lobbying reform, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver threatened to shut down the state government and not pass a bill that would extend the budget through August.

Newsday's Searcey and Metz write: "With one day left in the 2004 legislative session and no budget in sight, a frustrated Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last night made attempts to thwart a gigantic emergency spending bill to carry the state through the beginning of August."

And as Albany lawmakers dithered yesterday, former state Sen. Guy Velella went to the big house for pleading guilty to bribery.

Speaking of the state Senate, The Times' Jonathan Hicks looks at Democrats' plans to take over the Legislature. We believe that if demographic trends in the state continue, it will be virtually impossible for the Senate to remain in Republican hands. But we also believe that through the power of gerrymandering it could easily be at least 10 years before the power shift occurs.

Beyond all the wheeling and dealing (or lack thereof), there was another good political story yesterday: Mayor Bloomberg got into a dustup with an Ohio congressman. The mayor yesterday was scheduled to have a private lunch at his home with Ley and Rep. Tom Reynolds, where the two GOP leaders would meet with about 25 potential donors. But the mayor pulled the welcome mat out from under Bob Ney after he voted against a change in the homeland security funding formula that would have helped New York City. The fight with Ney makes for smart local politics and very interesting photo-ops for the mayor at the Republican National Convention.

While we hosted our West Side debate, the city released its review of the plan, which was unsurprisingly positive.

In the wake of Stephanie Saul's piece on the death of 29 homeless children in the last four years, the City Council said it would hold hearings on the troubling subject.

The Council also is expected to pass a resolution condemning the mayor's policy of holding back failing third graders.

And prosecutors yesterday dropped felony charges against a man accused of threatening to kill Councilman Hiram Monserrate.

In the Daily News' Rush & Malloy gossip column, Andrew Cuomo says he has no interest in returning to Washington.

Page Six last night hung out at Bill Clinton's big book party but didn't dish any good dirt.

Finally, the Daily News' editorial board looks at the mess in Albany, while columnist Richard Schwartz attacks three other men in a room: “I speak of the shadow troika of trial lawyers, unionists and hospital operators who issue orders to the ruling troika of Silver, Bruno and Pataki· But don't blame the shadow troika for promoting their members' interests. Blame Pataki, Silver and Bruno, who cravenly cave in on the troika's every demand.”

We promise not to cave in to any more demands. At least not until tomorrow.

Bob Hardt

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