Hoping for guv's flexibility on new maps
At the start of his State of the State address last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the Yankees' Derek Jeter was "the last person to have a rookie season like Dean Skelos." The GOP Senate majority leader from Rockville Centre, Democrat Cuomo added, "has been a phenomenon."
Never mind that friends say Skelos, a veteran lawmaker, considers himself a Mets fan. Never mind that he was briefly majority leader in 2008 before Republicans lost control of the chamber for most of a term -- though 2011 was his first working session in the top job, which he'd recouped by a one-vote majority.
The question now is to what last week's cross-partisan schmooze-fest, born of last year's much-touted session, will give way. In the Albany auditorium, where redistricting of New York's state legislative and Congressional districts was on many minds, spectators included Democratic House members Eliot Engel, Jerrold Nadler, Jose Serrano and Carolyn Maloney, all of New York City, as well as Nita Lowey of Westchester and Paul Tonko of the Capital District. Assemb. John J. McEneny (D-Albany), co-chair of the legislative reapportionment task force, said he saw most of them, but "none of them talked shop with me about redistricting."
Proposed maps are due shortly. Cuomo sidestepped this once-in-a-decade subject in his speech, but included it in the related printed message. The words sounded general enough to give no instant hint of whether he may ultimately veto the plan -- as he's committed to do with anything deemed a "gerrymander" -- or whether maps will be worked out without court intervention.
Last year, Cuomo and Skelos agreed, in effect, to keep part of a "millionaire's" tax surcharge both had opposed as long as it came with middle-class tax cuts. Some Republicans -- who went back on their pledges to vote for an "independent" redistricting panel for this year -- seem to hope Cuomo will prove flexible on this issue too, since it's way less visceral to voters than taxes.
BUILD BABY BUILD?: Public executives like construction for the jobs it creates. Cuomo's drive for a massive convention center in Queens seems to fit the rule. Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano saw his bid to rebuild the Coliseum defeated in a referendum. Mayor Michael Bloomberg had his plan for a Manhattan football stadium blocked. But some supporters of the latest Albany proposal say that unlike Mangano's plan, the Queens investment will be private, and that unlike Bloomberg's plan, the site makes sense.