POLITICAL ARENA

Line lobbying

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Rep. Eliot Engel spent $40,000 on a lobbyist to help him maintain his district lines. But was it money well spent?

Mr. Engel agreed to pay former Republican state Sen. Nick Spano’s Empire Strategic Planning firm $60,000 for work lasting from May 2011 through April 2012, according to a document posted on Capital Tonight

But that was before Mr. Spano pleaded guilty to a felony for not paying enough state and federal taxes in early February. Mr. Engel promptly fired him. But his office refused to comment on exactly what Mr. Spano did for $40,000 — the amount he was paid prior to being fired — and whether it was money well spent. 

It’s common for legislators to hire lobbyists to influence the right people to help them get the district lines they like.

Since Mr. Spano is a Republican, it seems Mr. Engel hired him to help with the GOP’s district line proposal which, it turns out, doesn’t help him at all. 

The GOP’s proposal has Mr. Engel’s District 17 losing all of Riverdale south of West 239th Street.

Although it’s hard to see down to the block on the GOP’s proposal, it appears as if they also drew Mr. Engel’s Bronx district office  — located on Johnson Avenue — right out of his district. His apartment in the Blackstone was spared and was drawn into his district by a block. 

The GOP submitted this proposal to Judge Roann L. Mann, who was appointed to draw the lines by Monday, March 12. The Assembly Democrats also submitted a proposal which has Mr. Engel’s district keeping all of Riverdale, but losing much of Kingsbridge.


Pension reform

 

There’s been a lot of talk lately about reforming the state pension system and state Sen. Jeff Klein is getting in on the action.

According to the newest report by Mr. Klein’s Independent Democratic Conference, the state is spending way too much on Wall Street firms that manage the State Pension Fund.

From fiscal year 2007 to 2011, the cost of managing the pension fund increased from $162 million to $425 million, while the pension funds themselves fell more than 4 percent in the rough economy, according to the IDC’s report.

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