Bloomberg Nixes Presidential Posturing
Attempting to put to rest rumors that he is privately aiming for the highest office in the land, Mayor Michael Bloomberg plainly said that he is not running on Meet The Press this Sunday.
"I'm not gonna run for president," Bloomberg said. "No way, no how."
Again quoting the number of days he has left in his job (which is now at "1100 and whatever number of days it is left to go,"), the mayor said that he would rather focus on solidifying his legacy in New York.
"I want to go out being having a reputation as a very good, maybe the greatest mayor ever," he said.
Democratic Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Died
Diplomat Richard Holbrooke died on Monday due to complications after heart surgery.
Holbrooke is the only person to have served as Assistant Secretary of State in two different regions (Asia and Europe), and helped resolve the Bosnian war by drafting the Dayton Peace Accords.
In the Obama administration and he focused on the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.
It was reported that his last words were "You've got to end this war in Afghanistan." The political significance was played down later as reports said that his statement came as a joke, after his doctor asked if there was anything she could do to relieve Holbrooke's pain.
No Labels Conference Held in New York
Politicians and pundits symbolically moved towards the center on Monday, joining together in song and speech at the launch of a bipartisan organization, No Labels, aiming to stop the hyper-partisanship of political debate.
Headliners at the event included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Gov. Charlie Crist (I- FL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), recently ousted Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), former congressman and current MSNBC commentator Joe Scarborough, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
Bloomberg was there to push his new pet project, electoral reform. He had some discouraging things to say about the prospects of electing a third party candidate as president, which many speculate that he has been considering.
"It's not clear that the average person feels themselves disenfranchised or wants a lot of the things we are advocating," Bloomberg said. "In the end when you have an independent candidate it is the two major parties that get most of the votes."
Campaign season is long over, but New York's congressional delegation are now busy finagling their committee assignments in the House. Freshman Republican Chris Gibson was assigned to Agriculture and Armed Services, and his party peers Nan Hayworth and Michael Grimm were assigned to the House Financial Services Committee last week.
But the real horserace is came over the leadership of the Congressional Oversight Committee after Rep. Ed Towns said that he would not be seeking reelection to the position. Rep. Carolyn Maloney lined up the entire New York delegation and major women's groups, but the job ultimately went to the White House's favorite-- Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
Tax Deal Taken Through
The continuation of the Bush tax cuts sailed through the Senate at 89-19. New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand differed on their votes, though both took to the press to express their discontent with the bill.
"It is unfortunate that Republicans have dictated an ultimatum that we either provide tax breaks for millionaires or else jeopardize our fragile economic recovery," said Schumer, who voted in favor of the bill.
Added Gillibrand: "I'm opposing this deal in its current form because right now we need to focus on the middle class, who are always left behind, not the people at the very top, who are doing just fine in this economy."
The House voted on--and passed-- the bill two days later.
After a career spent baffling state political watcher, The Pedro Espada Show seemed to be nearing an end. The Bronx State Senator pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of embezzling $500,000, money he allegedly spent on Broadway shows, baseball games, and birthday party for a young relative.
The charges against Espada and son come after investigations by the FBI and US Attorney said that the pair were using money from a health care clinic that they run for personal reasons.
After Tuesday's arraignment, Espada seemed hopeful.
"I have mighty faith in the justice system and the people who decide these matters and I look forward to complete vindication of these charges," he said.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo called the case "the most outrageous abuse of public office I have seen."
Political Party Planning
Politicians were getting in the festive spirit this week, with Cuomo, Schneiderman and DiNapoli announcing plans for their inaugurations in January. Governor-elect Cuomo will be sworn in at the Governor's mansion on New Year's Eve, cutting any late night plans short with a staff meeting early New Year's Day and topping the raucous weekend off with a small ceremony in the Governor's reception room at the State Capital. The calm weekend is a clear symbol of his intentions in office.
"This is not a time for the grand and expensive celebrations of the recent past, it is the time to return dignity, integrity, and performance to state government and begin making real progress for the people of this great state. That means we go to work on the very first day with a focus on renewing New Yorkers' faith in government," he said.
After being quietly pressured by Jewish leaders, state comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will both be sworn in on January 1 as required by state law, though they are going to postpone their parties until later in January so as not to conflict with Shabbat.