Club For Growth Hits Trump For Liberal Record

The conservative D.C. based Club for Growth has apparently seen the recent polls showing Donald Trump leading the GOP field, and grown concerned. Their president just released a statement blasting Trump as a liberal who has supported massive tax hikes.

“Donald Trump for President? You’ve got to be joking,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Donald Trump has advocated for massive tax increases that display a stunning lack of knowledge of how to create jobs.

His love for a socialist-style universal health care system and his alarming obsession with protectionist policies are automatic disqualifiers among free-market conservatives. This publicity stunt will sputter and disappear just as quickly as the ‘The Apprentice’ is losing viewers.”

The press release goes on to quote Trump from his book, The America We Deserve, where he advocates for universal healthcare and a one time tax on the super rich, while also blasting him for his policy on trade with China.

Interestingly, the Club for Growth’s new press person is now Barney Keller – a native of the Massachusetts who worked for Rick Lazio during his failed bid for Governor. You may remember, Lazio and Romney raised money for each other back in 2009. And Lazio also transferred campaign cash to Massachusetts Senate Candidate Scott Brown.

This is not to say Club for Growth is necessarily supporting Romney in 2012. In fact, back in 2007 they gave him a mixed review heading into that Presidential election.

Here And Now

It’s Tax Day (three days later than usual this year)! There will be protests and rallies all over the state – some staged by Tea Partiers, others by pro-millionaire’s tax supporters.

The Donald said he’s a better choice for the GOP than Mitt Romney because he’s 1) richer, and 2) a better businessman.

Trump also referred to LaGuardia Airport as the “third world.”

There’s a major inquiry into the long-standing “curb-level cronyism” of traffic ticket fixing in the NYPD.

Up to 400 officers may be charged in the probe.

The Public Integrity Commission issued subpoenas involving former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s daughter’s job at the SUNY Research Foundation.

Jason Koppel, a top aide to scandal-scarred Sen. Carl Kruger, saw his salary rise 40 percent over the 16-month period ending January 2010 – just as the probe into his boss was heating up. He’s still making $162,442, which is more than any other legislative staffer.

Guilderland Town Board member Warren Redlich, the 2010 Libertarian candidate for governor, says attacks against him during the race are causing him to move to Florida.

Rick Lazio called the practice of using judicial ballot lines as a dumping ground for candidates who party leaders want off their ballot lines a “charade.” (He should know, considering it happened to him in 2010).

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s conservatism applies to more than just fiscal policy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo for vice president in 2012?! Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown Jr. thinks so.

State lawmakers have introduced bills to give free or reduced-price travel to 1 million more New Yorkers, but the cash-strapped MTA would like to know who’s going to pay for all that.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Sarah Palin during a Tea Party rally in Madison, Wisconsin: “The 2012 election begins here.”

At a Florida Tea Party rally, Donald Trump said Barack Obama would go down as “the worst president in the history of the United States.”

“Celebrity Apprentice” plans are on hold until Trump decides about 2012.

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi began his prison term in the infirmary.

The TU sees Hevesi’s sentencing as a perfect time to call for reform. (Again).

Ditto, say Alan Chartock, the Times, and the DN.

The Poughkeepsie Journal doesn’t think Hevesi deserves to keep his pension.

Some vintage Hevesi – back when he talked about the need to “play by the rules.”

Donald Trump was once a big financial supporter of the very liberal politics he now professes to despise.

AG Eric Schneiderman is targeting a WNY foreclosure firm at the center of the national “robo-signing” controversy.

New NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is trying to end the “poisonous” debate over all things education.

More >

Corwin: I Would Have Voted ‘Yes’

For five straight days, Erie County Clerk Kahty Hochul has been pressuring her NY-26 GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, to take a position on the GOP budget proposal up for a vote in the House today.

As Hochul called on her opponents to join her in “rejecting any budget that would add burdensome costs onto the backs of America’s seniors, Corwin’s campaign remained mum.” That caused Hochul to accuse her of dodging.

Today, however, Hochul finally got her answer…Or rather, I got it for her, since the Corwin campaign emailed me the following statement late this afternoon.

“As a member of Congress, I would have voted both for this week’s plan to cut $38 billion and for the 2012 House budget resolution passed today because these bills are good initial steps in addressing America’s crippling deficit. ”

“Our country is on the verge of bankruptcy, and our economy, our children’s future, and the security of our seniors are in jeopardy if we choose not to act. Now, it’s time that my opponents say exactly what they would do to address our nation’s burgeoning deficit.”

Today’s GOP budget bill passed with no Democratic support. Fifty-nine Republicans bucked House Speaker John Boehner and voted “no” on the bill that will keep the government running through September, but none of them were from New York.

The assemblywoman’s support of abortion rights was a sticking point for some conservatives during the GOP and Conservative Party candidate selection process.

In spite of that, Corwin spokesman Matthew Harakal says the assemblywoman has said “numerous times” that she would vote to defund Planned Parenthood.

Jack Davis, who is running as an independent, issued a statement yesterday slamming the budget proposals from both the Democrats and the Republicans for failing to address “the real issue: jobs for Americans.”

“I oppose privatizing Medicare and forcing seniors to buy insurance with vouchers.,” Davis continued. “This would throw millions of senior citizens into poverty or worse, and it fails to lower health care costs.”

“Instead of cutting Medicare and Social Security, we can save money by cutting foreign aid and foreign military commitments, from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, to Germany, Japan and Italy. We must end corporate welfare and tax giveaways that allow companies like GE to pay no taxes at all.”

Davis also voiced opposition to a Korean trade agreement and what he called a “NAFTA-style” deal with Columbia, both of which he believes will cost the country additional jobs.

Extras

Former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi at his sentencing this morning: “I am truly sorry for my illegal conduct. First and foremost I want to apologize to the people of New York State who put their faith and confidence in me to serve them honorably. I violated their trust.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Ed Koch’s “enemies” of reform robos: Meh.

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, waffle-maker extraordinaire, keeps a very strict diet.

Arizona is on the verge of a birther law that might run afoul of the constitution.

The state court system could be laying off up to 500 people.

State and local officials are lobbying to keep Oneida County’s prison open.

The governor approved Lake Placid Ironman-related legislation.

Condi will make a “30 Rock” cameo.

Donald Trump said Barack Obama has been a “horrible president.”

…That’s not what he told NY1 back in 2008.

A PPP pol found Trump beating the entire GOP field by nine points.

Trump will be on “State of the Union” this weekend.

President Obama is confident most people believe he was born in Hawaii and doesn’t have “horns”.

Another NYS official vegetable poll.

First quarter fundraising numbers for the House freshment are trickling in.

LG Bob Duffy sworn in his replacement, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards.

NTSB: Tour Bus Didn’t Hit Tractor Trailer

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into the tour bus accident that killed 15 people in the north Bronx last month, finding that the bus wasn’t struck by a tractor trailer before overturning.

Driver Ophadell Williams had claimed the bus was clipped by a tractor trailer prior to the accident. It was later discovered Williams’ license was revoked for speeding.

From the report:

The motorcoach driver stated that a truck-tractor semitrailer encroached into his lane, striking his vehicle. A truck driver subsequently identified himself as a witness to the accident. NTSB investigators interviewed the truck driver and conducted a focused examination of the combination vehicle, including taking dimensional measurements of the truck-tractor and semitrailer. No evidence was found that would correspond to a potential area of contact between the bus and the combination vehicle.

The accident resulted in a crackdown on tour bus operations across the state. Department of Transportation officials announced Thursday that 1,286 buses had been stopped in surprise inspections. In total, 124 drivers were cited and 96 buses were taken off the road.

Here’s the NTSB report:
New York Preliminary Report 041411

Political Recycling

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel was in full-throated campaign mode during an appearance on ABC News’ “Topline” earlier today, smacking around Republicans who voted in favor of the 2012 budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan.

The proposal passed without any Democratic support and sets up the next big battle between Congress and the White House.

Israel, a Long Island Democrat, accused Republicans who pledged in 2010 to protect Medicare of “hypocrisy”, adding: “We’re going to hold them accountable for that hypocrisy.” Asked to come up with a hypothetical 2012 campaign ad the DCCC might run against a targeted Republican member, Israel replied:

“Well, all we have to do is use the ads the Republicans ran against Democrats. They ran these ads saying: I’m going to come to Washington and protect Medicare. And we’re going to remind the American people.”

“They lied about us. All we have to do is tell the truth about them. And the truth is in today’s vote to terminate the guaranteed Medicare benefit. And if we tell the truth, we’ll win the House back.”

Cuomo’s Women Host ‘Women For Cuomo’ Fundraiser

Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be ramping up his fundraising efforts again.

A reader forwarded this invitation to a “Women for Cuomo” luncheon on May 6 at the Waldorf Astoria. (That’s a Friday, incidentally, and the Legislature is not scheduled to be in session). Tickets start at $250 a head for “guests” and run to $25,000 for chairs.

Headlining this event are all the Cuomo women – that includes the governor’s mother, former First Lady Matilda Cuomo; his three sisters, Maria, Madeline and Margaret; his sister-in-law, Cristina (married to brother, Chris) and his live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee.

Lee has eschewed the first girlfriend role, generally declining to make any comments about politics while also doing things like traveling the state to raise awareness about hunger and hosting what was billed as the world’s largest bake sale in Grand Central Station.

Lee recently hired a consultant, Risa Heller (former spokeswoman to Sen. Chuck Schumer and ex-Gov. David Paterson), to assist with her state-related PR.

Cuomo hasn’t held a big fundraiser in a while. The last reported event was a $15,000-a-head do at the Top of the Rock in Manhattan on Feb 17 to help raise cash for the budget battle that ended up not really materializing.

Cuomo said back in November that he would use the roughly $4 million left over from his 2010 gubernatorial campaign to do battle against the so-called “special interests” during the budget fight.

But then the Committee to Save NY stepped in, raising $10 million to pay for a pro-Cuomo ad campaign.

The committee didn’t spend nearly as much as it expected to, thanks to SEIU 1199 and the GNYHA staying out of the budget war. REBNY’s Steve Spinola recently told me the committee has about half its cash left over and plans to use it to run ads in support of the tax cap and mandate relief.

There’s a number of other interesting names on the host committee here, including Joyce Brown (wife of former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall), NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Catherine Giuliani (a lobbyist and cousin of/former aide to the former NYC mayor), former state Party Chairwoman Judith Hope, Ivanka Trump, and Joni Yoswein (also a lobbyist).

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Fuschillo: Enlist Private Sector To Speed Up Projects

Languishing road and bridge projects could be sped up with help from a bill that would increase private sector participation, Long Island Republican Sen. Charles Fuschillo said today.

In a statement, Fuschillo said he was introducing legislation that would increase private-public partnerships by giving state agencies more flexibility in entering into contracts for road, bridge and tunnel projects. The proposal is meant to help a cash-strapped state with a sagging infrastructure get costly projects off the ground, he said.

“New York’s transportation infrastructure is at a crossroads,” Fuschillo said. “With a severely underfunded DOT capital plan and massive outstanding projects like the Tappan-Zee Bridge replacement, it is time for New York to explore effective and innovative ways to fund our transportation system.”

“Public-private partnerships are a proven tool we need to deliver vital projects on-time and under-budget.”

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River connecting Rockland and Westchester counties, was one of the first stops Gov. Andrew Cuomo made immediately after his election, saying the state has to do more to update its infrastructure.

The cost of replacing the aging bridge is estimated at $16 million billion.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was cool to the idea of public-private partnerships in January, saying that while they could be put to a good use, the programs need vigilant oversight.

Senate GOP Digs In On Rent Control

ICYMI: Appearing on CapTon last night, Sen. George Maziarz threw additional cold water on the suggestion that his conference might be willing to link the property tax cap Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking with extension of the rent control laws in hopes of getting the Assembly Democrats on board.

“I wouldn’t see Senator Skelos linking it to rent control,” Maziarz, a WNY Republican, told me.

“…I can tell you: We are pretty firm on rent control. I am pretty firm on rent control. I’m not in favor of extending rent control. I never say I’m going to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a bill before I have read it. But, I’m not in favor of rent control.”

Ironically, Maziarz had just come from a bill signing ceremony in North Tonawanda at which the governor put pen to paper on Recharge New York and spoke of the bipartisan effort that went into getting it passed as part of the budget earlier this month.

Maziarz noted that the final budget deal included very little in the way of non-germane policy riders – including, much to the chagrin of both business interests, the Assembly Democrats and housing advocates, both rent control and the tax cap.

According to the senator, it was Cuomo himself who pushed to include the Recharge New York program in the budget – even going so far as to personally involve himself in negotiations.