Tipping points

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Now that the Empire State has raised the minimum wage to $8 an hour, Governor Cuomo is being accused of dragging his feet when it comes to a minimum wage increase and other labor protections for people who work for tips.

Albany raised minimum to $8 as of last December 31 — it goes to $8.75 at the end of this year and $9 at the end of 2015. However the law doesn’t cover servers.

Cuomo had promised to pass rules applying the minimum to those workers, but according to a coalition of activist groups such as the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, NOW-NYS, and the Urban Justice Center, he hasn’t kept his word.

In a letter dated April 17, they appealed to the governor saying that “workers who feed New Yorkers are still waiting for you to act on your promise to appoint a Wage Board and issue Wage Orders. They and their families cannot afford to wait any longer.”

They’re also backing state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who introduced legislation that would force large chain businesses to pay their workers at least $15 per hour, a proposal not likely to be popular with the campaign check-writing biz class.

Earlier this year, in a change from what passes for high ground in the ethical swamp that is state politics, Cuomo dissolved the Moreland Commission after the Assembly and Senate passed a reform bill (along with yet another on-time budget with no massive tax increase on anybody).

This short-leash panel of ethical watchdogs was drawn from the state’s cadre of District Attorneys and charged with rooting out corruption — apparently without the power to put any heat on either the Governor or the state Legislature. This panel might have been effective if deep-in-the-woods town councils upstate were squandering billions.

But there was push-back to the dissolution of the Moreland Commission after U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara chastised the Gov and asked for the commission’s records.

Two-thirds of poll respondents “preety” much agree that disbanding the commission was bad. Nearly seven in eight feel that corruption — whatever that is — is at least somewhat bad.

One has to wonder whether the Gov is worried that these factors could tip public opinion to the point where he runs the risk of defeating his next opponent (presumably the Westchester County Chief Executive, Republican Rob Astorino) by substantially less than two to one.

Especially since a new Sienna poll shows that Cuomo would be politically wounded if the Working Families Party were to run a “progressive” candidate in November.

Polls have Cuomo holding a 30-point lead, 58-28 over Astorino. But if the WFP gets in the sandbox, his lead is cut in half — he gets 39 percent in a three-way race — assuming the phantom WFP standard bearer gets 24 percent.
Bharara, whose press conference conviction rate hovers around 100 percent, swears that he has no political ambitions, which leaves WFP standing for “Waiting for Prospect.”

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Mayor de Blasio has his own problems keeping his base happy.

Thanks to the Daily News, which has been running articles in favor of horse carriage operators, the people who disagree with Hizzoner’s promise to ban the industry is approaching the percentage of voters who didn’t gallop to the polls last November to vote for anybody.

Having filled the critical job of commissioner of the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, Big Bill now can concentrate on filling the shoes of FDNY commish Sal Cassano. Hizzoner has fed the blaze of speculation since before taking office that he might pick a woman for the job.

FDNY is still under the eye of a federal monitor since Judge Nicholas Garufis (disclosure: we were in the same Sunday school class, way back in the dark days before disco) found hiring practices had a disparate impact on minorities.

Whether this pick is going to please the progressive base, the monitor, or the rank and file remains to be seen.

In the afterglow of Easter, one hopes the New York Times’ focus on the plight of one Queens mother has l-eggs.
Sylvia Saye is raising her 5-year-old daughter, Scarlett, in the same Forest Hills Gardens home where she grew up.

Unfortunately, she is also raising chickens — 10 of them — in an Amish-built hen house in the backyard.

Unfortunately, while it’s legal to raise chickens (but not roosters) in the city, the tony nabe in the center of Queens has what’s called a “restrictive covenant” on its deeds, which prohibit anything farm-like (except maybe barnyard humor) within its confines.

Sylvia says she’s just trying to home-nourish her daughter, and the Times piece quotes neighbors as not having a problem with the birds. Of course, free eggs go a long way to making good neighbors.

But who will champion the chicken-hugging child and her mother if the other party to the covenant goes to court?

Normally we would expect the Don Quixote of the state Senate, Tony Avella, to scramble to their side with eggs-aggerated haste.

Sadly, Avella is already on record as supporting restrictive covenants. He sponsored a bill in the state Senate compelling the city to observe and enforce these private agreements, which only attracted one co-sponsor — Malcolm Smith.

Otherwise, Tony is a “progressive” dream; he hates horse-drawn carriages, foie gras, fracking, and money in politics — and he hasn’t served a single term in office without declaring his candidacy for something else. Could he be the guy for the WFP? Naah.