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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NYS Senate Pork Power Rankings

Senate Pork power rankings
July 17, 2009 at 3:48 pm by Irene Jay Liu, Capitol Confidential

Early Thursday morning, the Senate approved this year’s member item resolution. There’s already been much written about the pork, but we thought it might be helpful to have a round-up of all things pork in one post.

The member items approved totaled $84,953,600, just under the $85 million appropriated in the 2009-2010 budget.

Of that total, $76,700,000 went to Democrats; $8,253,600 went to Republicans. As a result, given the distribution of the each respective conference, there was a significant loss of pork upstate compared to previous years. (See maps of distribution here.)

The resolution passed is identical to the member item resolution that was going to be put on the floor on June 8, according to Senate Democratic spokesman Travis Proulx.

According to other sources, however, while the majority-minority breakdown stayed the same, there were some changes in allotments to individual senators.

Despite wrangling back and forth over member items since the stalemate ended last Thursday, Republicans and Democrats agreed to go with the original resolution. In exchange, Republicans will be allotted 1/3 of member items next year (the crucial, do-or-die 2010 election that will determine who controls redistricting).

In addition, Democrats agreed to release millions of capital project dollars that were allocated before Republicans lost the majority last November, according to Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif.

As for this year’s allotment of member item dollars, the top recipients were:

1. Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith D $5,700,000.00
2. Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein D $5,000,000.00
3. Deputy President Pro Tempore David Valesky D $4,500,000.00
4. Vice-Finance Chair Liz Krueger D $4,000,000.00
4. Finance Chair Carl Kruger D $4,000,000.00
6. Sen. Bill Stachowski D $4,000,000.00
7. Senate Conference Leader John Sampson D $3,040,000.00

It is worth noting that Stachowski - who faced a surprisingly heated race last fall against Republican Dennis Delano, a local celebrity cold case detective who refused to talk with the press during the campaign - received a significant amount of pork. Stachowski was slated to become Finance Chair, and ran on that platform last November, but was ousted from the position by Kruger, who withheld his support of Smith as majority leader for nearly three months before finally backing him in January.

Smith doled out his $5.7 million share of the pork around the state, often at the request of other senators. Klein sent all of his $5 million into the Bronx and Westchester, areas that he represents.

Other notables:

* Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer received $3 million. One of the longer-serving senators of the Democratic delegation, Oppenheimer’s seat was targeted by the GOP last fall, but without success.
* Turncoat Democrat and now Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada received $2.05 million. A fellow former dissident Democrat, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, received $650,000.
* Two senators from more marginal districts - Sens. Darrel Aubertine and Craig Johnson - each received $1 million.
* Somewhat surprisingly, freshman Democratic Sen. Brian Foley, who fought to win his seat last November against longtime GOP incumbent Caesar Trunzo, received $539,500. Apparently Democrats are not concerned about losing that seat.
* Not surprisingly, the GOP doled out their significantly smaller pot to support their most vulnerable members. Sen. Frank Padavan (who nearly lost to NYC Councilman Jim Gennaro, who has said he will challenge Padavan again in 2010) received the most out of all the Republicans $510k, more than double Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos received. Sens. Joseph Robach and Kemp Hannon, who were targeted by Democrats in heated challenges last fall, each received $400,000.
* In a new development, caucuses divided by geography, race or ethnicity each received separate pots of funding from the Senate majority - Brooklyn. Bronx, Manhattan and Queens delegations each received $250,000. The upstate delegation received $1 million; the suburban caucus received $875k. The conference of Black senators and the Latino senate delegation each received $1 million.
* Most rank-and-file GOP senators each received $250,000, but so did GOP leaders Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos and Deputy Minority Leader Tom Libous. GOP Sen. Betty Little received the least in member items - $183,600.

For more information than you would ever want on member items present and past (well, last year), please see the following spreadsheets, provided by NYPIRG data whiz Bill Mahoney.

Senate Pork 2008-2009-detail

Senate Pork 2009-2010-detail

Senate Pork Side-by-Side Comparison 08/09 and 09/10

For a summary of last year’s Senate pork, click here.

Full power rankings after the jump.

1. Smith D $5,700,000.00
2. Klein D $5,000,000.00
3. Valesky D $4,500,000.00
4. Krueger D $4,000,000.00
4. Kruger D $4,000,000.00
6. Stachowski D $4,000,000.00
7. Sampson D $3,040,000.00
8. Breslin D $3,000,000.00
8. Duane D $3,000,000.00
10. Montgomery D $3,000,000.00
10. Oppenheimer D $3,000,000.00
10. Schneiderman D $3,000,000.00
13. Onorato D $2,974,500.00
14. Espada D $2,050,000.00
15. Diaz D $2,000,000.00
15. Dilan D $2,000,000.00
15. Hassell-Thompson D $2,000,000.00
15. Parker D $2,000,000.00
15. Stavisky D $2,000,000.00
20. Thompson D $1,200,000.00
21. Savino D $1,100,000.00
22. Adams D $1,050,000.00
23. Aubertine D $1,000,000.00
23. Craig Johnson D $1,000,000.00
23. Huntley D $1,000,000.00
23. Perkins D $1,000,000.00
23. Serrano D $1,000,000.00
23. Stewart-Cousins D $1,000,000.00
29. Conference Black Senators D $1,000,000.00
29. Delegation Latin Senators D $1,000,000.00
29. Upstate Senate Delegation D $1,000,000.00
32. Suburban Delegation D $875,000.00
33. Monserrate D $650,000.00
34. Foley D $539,500.00
35. Squadron D $521,000.00
36. Padavan R $510,000.00
37. Addabbo D $500,000.00
38. Griffo R $410,000.00
39. Hannon R $400,000.00
39. Robach R $400,000.00
41. Morahan R $300,000.00
41. Nozzolio R $300,000.00
43. Saland R $250,600.00
44. Alesi R $250,000.00
44. Bonacic R $250,000.00
44. DeFrancisco R $250,000.00
44. Farley R $250,000.00
44. Flanagan R $250,000.00
44. Fuschillo R $250,000.00
44. Golden R $250,000.00
44. Lanza R $250,000.00
44. Larkin R $250,000.00
44. LaValle R $250,000.00
44. Leibell R $250,000.00
44. Libous R $250,000.00
44. Marcellino R $250,000.00
44. Maziarz R $250,000.00
44. McDonald R $250,000.00
44. Owen Johnson R $250,000.00
44. Ranzenhofer R $250,000.00
44. Seward R $250,000.00
44. Skelos R $250,000.00
44. Volker R $250,000.00
44. Winner R $250,000.00
44. Young R $250,000.00
44. Bronx Delegation D $250,000.00
44. Brooklyn Delegation D $250,000.00
44. Manhattan Delegation D $250,000.00
44. Queens Delegation D $250,000.00
70. Little R $183,000.00


1. It’s funny how misused the term pork is now. Pork used to refer just to unassociated monies crammed into a federal bill. For instance, a bill to reform Health Insurance might have $500k to build a bridge in Alaska.

Now it’s used for any money that goes to good causes in the name of an elected official. Pork used to be untraceable. Now it’s actually best referred to as earmarks and you know who put it in there. This is not really pork.

You people in the press are so ready to criticize member items, but ask the kids in some areas how they like their after school program, or the supplemental health care an agency provides. Ask those fire departments how much safer they feel with new turnout equipment. This evil “pork” really helps people and you can’t expect 32 Senators to approve money for a project in one district, but if you bulk all of their projects together, they vote in favor.

It’s disgusting that the member items have been distributed so unevenly over the years. I understand why some of the 10-year incumbents wanted their share, but I hope they had good groups to give it to and took the time like I know Upstate Senators of both parties have over the years, to make sure really good projects get this funding.

Oh, and Soundview Healthcare, I mean, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce does not count as due dilligence on these things.

Comment by Learn Your Terms, It's not Pork — July 17th, 2009 @ 4:14 pm

2. This is outstanding work and journalism - well done. I’ve never seen this on a blog. Awesome!!!

Comment by TheDeadRepublican — July 17th, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

3. I was very glad to see the Upstate Democrats do so well. #3, #6, and #8.

This is a good sign that my worst fears, that a Democratic Majority would ignore Upstate, may have been misplaced.

Please, please, prove me wrong, Democrats. This list is a good start. Now how about finally giving Senator Stachowski the Finance Committee after the 2010 elections, when you’ve picked up enough additional seats that you don’t need to keep C. Kruger happy.

Comment by Albany Exile — July 17th, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

4. Here’s a question. Why are the minority delegations getting ANY money when they are already getting money through their representations on the Geographic caucuses. Does this money only go to blacks and Latinos as opposed to other citizens in the state.

Comment by NY Constitutionalist — July 17th, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

5. This is bull. They should ban member items. Let the groups raise their own funds and not have “special” favors for the pols and thire supporters. I wonder how many relatives/friends are working for the groups getting the money.

Comment by XDOH — July 18th, 2009 @ 8:02 am

Breaking it down: the ‘Gang of Four’
by Irene Jay Liu, November 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm

There’s been a lot of breathless excitement over the “Gang of Four”/ Independent Caucus and its potential impact on Senate majority leadership in the coming weeks/ months, so I thought that it might be useful to take a little time to break down what we know, what is being spun, and the various factors that may determine how this all plays out.

Of course, we’re in Day 2 of the Dems-Senate-majority-elect watch, so this is bound to evolve over time.

What we know:

* The four members of the “Gang of Four”: Sens. Carl Kruger and Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Senators-elect Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr.
* Gov. David Paterson met with the four yesterday, confirmed Independent Caucus spokesman Juda Englemeyer.
* Contrary to a published report yesterday, the four members did not meet with the Senate GOP yesterday. “They did not meet with the GOP. It is wrong,” said Englemeyer 0f the AP’s story.
* As it stands, the Senate count is 32 Democrats, 29 Republicans, and 1 contested seat (which at current vote tally goes to the GOP, though there’s a recount/ paper ballot count ongoing).
* The official vote for majority leader is held by the full Senate. In the past, each conference picks their leader, and the party votes along party lines. Given the slim 32-29 (for now) Democratic majority, the potential of defection or abstention of Democrats in a majority leader vote presents a tantalizing theoretical that has observers (including reporters) all in a tizzy.

Who the members are and the factors that may be motivating them:

Sen. Carl Kruger: The Democratic senator from Brooklyn who caucused with the Senate GOP. He is the only Democrat to have a chairmanship in the Republican-controlled Senate and received more pork than Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith.

He often voted with the Senate Republicans, and must find a place for himself in a Democrat-controlled Senate. As one lobbyist put it, “this is about Carl Kruger seeking absolution for past sins.” Kruger has expressed interest running for Brooklyn borough president.

Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr.: The Democratic senator from the Bronx has been a longtime, outspoken social conservative on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, and gay marriage. This precedes Tuesday’s election and Diaz was always speculated to be one of the more likely people who would consider flipping - it happened after Democrat Darrel Aubertine took a previously Republican senate seat in February.

Putting himself out there and leveraging this “potential flipper” reputation helps to elevate his position on social issues. Horsetrading aside, Democrats have set aside the idea of introducing a gay marriage bill in the short-term. It isn’t clear that they’d be able to pass the legislation, even if it was introduced - a number of Democratic senators from conservative districts on Long Island and upstate might face backlash if they voted in favor. Diaz has also expressed concern over the lack of Latinos in leadership positions in Albany. Diaz’s son, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., may want to run for Bronx borough president someday.

Senator-elect Pedro Espada: The Democratic-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat from the Bronx has had a complicated relationship with Senate Democrats. In 2002, he announced his intentions to switch parties, was lost in a Democratic primary by the aforementioned Diaz, Sr., and the switched and ran and lost as a Republican. Espada then moved to an adjacent Senate district, ran against Efrain Gonazalez, who is under federal indictment for corruption, and won the primary.

Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate: The Queens Democrat primaried and nearly beat former Sen. John Sabini in 2006. He was spared a bloody primary fight this time around when the Queens Democrats (of which Malcolm Smith is a key figure) and Gov. David Paterson delivered the Senate seat on a platter by appointing Sabini as head of state racing and wagering.

Before Sabini was appointed, Monserrate positioned himself as the Latino senator for an increasing Latino district - which was one reason Democrats went to such length to avoid a bruising primary. Monserrate, like Diaz, has expressed his concern for the lack of Latino representation in power. He issued a statement yesterday which said, in part: “We must continue to fight for representation for our diverse communities…our community does not have a single state or citywide elected leader in any legislative body.”

Who can give what:

As it stands, the Democrats have a majority in the Senate. As such, they approve appointments, determine committee chairmanships, the budget, and divvy up member items.

As the minority, Senate Republicans cannot deliver any of those things. They may be able to promise things if they can wrangle a majority through a political maneuver, but the key word is “if.” That’s a big risk, especially when the GOP would need at least two Democrats to flip to elect a GOP Senate Majority Leader.

As governor, Paterson holds significant political clout, as well influence over delivery of goods - jobs, appointments, economic development projects, etc. And he’s a Democrat, so he might be less inclined to do things for someone who defects to the other party.

Read about who benefits, hazards of flipping, and a little history after the jump.

Who benefits in perpetuating the story:

* The “gang”:The members get their names in the paper, their respective agendas out in the press, and can leverage for committee chairmanships, pork, legislation, any number of things. The longer this story is out there, the more leverage they have.
* The Senate GOP: By keeping this narrative alive, the defeated party stays relevant, instead of diminishing into lame-duck status (though they will have a key role to play in the upcoming budget cuts). It also distracts the Senate Democrats as they try to implement a transition, attaches a public perception of “circular firing squad” instability and weakness to the majority-elect, which buys them time and hope as they try to keep their own conference members in line (fending off thoughts of retirement, etc.)
* The press: Because it would be too boring to write about procedural transition and budget cuts. (sarcasm intentional)

The potential hazards of flipping:

* Flipping may come back to bite in 2010: With Democrats in the majority, count on a whole new crop of good, viable candidates clamoring for the Senate. It was a less attractive gig when Democrats were in the minority - now, look for Assembly members and NYC electeds contemplating primaries, or general election challenges (if they switch).
* The Working Families Party would be none-to-pleased to see the hard-fought Democratic majority lost to a flipper and they may very well wield their significant campaign field operation on behalf of one of the aforementioned challengers.

Consider history:

* The cautionary tale of Olga Mendez: The former senator from the Bronx was cozy with Republicans, thinking that it would benefit her district. She switched parties in 2002, and was soundly beaten in the 2004 general election by political upstart Jose Serrano.
* After Democrat Darrel Aubertine won the special election in February, bringing the margin to 32 Republicans to 30 Democrats, there was speculation on both sides that would be party-flipping, but it never materialized on either side. (granted, the sudden resignation of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer certainly changed things) But the difference this time is that any flippers would be going against their own party when it is ascending, rather than defecting from a sinking ship.

Where the “Gang of Four” could matter

* Regardless of what happens with majority leadership, a place were the “gang”, or any block of senators for that matter, could really gain power would be as a block vote on legislation. By voting as a collective, the group could effectively block any legislation that Democrats would want from passing, giving them significant clout with lobbyists and and special interests.


1. once media outlets like this get over their post election hangover and start focusing again on state government, maybe they will start reporting on the real story here. namely that the paterson administration has no control over anything-state agencies in complete chaos, no idea how to deal with the upcoming tsunami of pain due to budget cuts and no allies in the assembly or senate who are willing to take the lead in making tough decisions.

All this senate takeover-”gang of four” baloney is diverting attention from the real story that will begin to unfold in the coming weeks. and when homeowners see the double digit school tax increases likely to come down the pike, this fluff story will all be irrelevant.

Comment by sydney1 — November 6th, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

2. Boy oh boy, this Monserette is a genius: “our community does not have a single state or citywide elected leader in any legislative body.” Maybe because no one has wrong big guy???

I love these guys who whine about NOT being mayor, when they never ran for it.

Comment by Peterburg — November 6th, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

3. …no one has RUN…

Comment by Peterburg — November 6th, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

4. Patterson will not let anyone flip parties except for Malcom Smith. Mean Dean is out of a job!!

Comment by joe from france — November 6th, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

5. Ms. Liu: An outstanding bit of reporting. Thank you. This is the kind of information we (those unfortunates who are really into this stuff for personal and/or professional reasons)are looking for and can’t readily find on our own. Too much reporting is biased and based on info that is available to anyone who is interested enough to find it. We can see for ourselves what is a reasonable interpretation of that info and what is clearly the result of an agenda. That’s why newspaper’s are hemorrhaging readership. This is an example of what is much more difficult for us to do for ourselves. I have my own info and opinion but all day long I wanted to find someone who knows even more than I do and ask what they think - something that feels inside and goes far beyond what one reads in the articles you linked this morning. Thanks again.

Comment by scorpio33 — November 6th, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

6. Excellent reporting.

If any of these NYC Hispanic guys conspire to return the Senate majority to suburban/upstate Republicans, they will suffer the Olga Mendez treatment.

Mean Dean can’t protect them from that, just as Boss Bruno couldn’t protect Mendez.

Comment by devtob — November 6th, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

7. To come this far and to allow such pettiness to rise at the very moment of victory? Unacceptable! this is about all the Democrats of NYS, not just the Latino ones! I hope that, and im confident that our political leadership can surmont this issue, But to resort to political blackmail when there is clearly no need to is appalling! What goes around comes around and i hope that is A lesson my lation brothers dont have to learn the hard way! UNITY DEMOCRATS UNITY!!!

Comment by nyrehd — November 7th, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

8. We need some primary challenges, push them out if they don’t represent and support the DEMS.

Comment by XDOH — November 13th, 2008 @ 4:21 am

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