‘Gay Cousin Michael’ Pressures Senator

YNN caught up with self-described “gay cousin Michael (Libous)”, who wrote an open letter to Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous, questioning his decision to co-sponsor a bill that would cease to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside New York.

“I can only assume that some of your constituents may have persuaded you to vote against gay marriage previously,” Michael Libous wrote on a Binghamton Website.

“But I am perplexed as to why you would LEAD the charge with a bill to suffocate the civil rights of many of your constituents and family members (me) while so many other states are embracing equality. WOW!”

“I remember how our parents – and sitto and jiddo (what we called our Lebanese grandparents) – struggled to overcome the feelings of not being adequate enough, American enough, or educated enough to be successful in Binghamton. And yet they held their heads high, overcoming social prejudice in order to ensure a more level playing field from which their families could grow.”

“These are the experiences that homosexuals have on a daily basis as they struggle to succeed against all odds – the experiences of the freedom riders, Rosa Parks, and the suffragettes. Your bill would deny same-sex couples basic legal rights regarding health care, property, family leave – and even adoption.”

Michael Libous said he holds no “hard feelings whatsoever” for his cousin and called him a “wonderful person”, but also said he felt distressed by the senator’s actions and had to speak out.

CapTon’s Nick Reisman caught up with Senator Libous at the Capitol on Wednesday and confirmed that he and “gay cousin Michael” are indeed related. Libous didn’t want to comment on the record.

Litmus Test For Teamsters?

Perhaps two can play at that game.

ICYMI: Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd suggested during a CapTon interview last night that the Conservative Party might not be the only political player in town when it comes to holding candidates seeking an endorsement accountable on gay marriage.

Floyd appeared Wednesday with fellow labor leaders outside City Hall in Lower Manhattan to proclaim his organization’s support for the coordinated campaign pushing the Senate to allow same-sex couples to legally wed in New York.

I asked him last night if the Teamsters might – just like the Conservatives – establish a marriage litmus test for candidates seeking their nod in future elections. He replied:

“Well, these days when unions are tested, and we’re being tested all over the country, and when we pick an issue and we’re going to say: This is our issue…We are going to put it to a litmus test because people have put us to the litmus test. So we’ve attached ourselves to this issue, and we plan on seeing this through.”

Unlike the Conservative Party, unions don’t control a ballot line that might make a difference in close Senate elections. But they do provide political support – from call banks to canvassing – that is valuable to candidates battling it out in tight campaigns.

Unions are also often, but not always, allied with Democratic candidates in NY, although that wasn’t the case back when Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was in office and forged relationships with top labor leaders – particularly SEIU 1199′s Dennis Rivera.

Here And Now

Happy just-about Memorial Day weekend!

The state is launching a Website to help the public track Medicaid spending.

The teachers union can go ahead and sue over the new evaluation regulations, the governor said.

Sen. Roy McDonald is on the target list for advocates hoping to push gay marriage through the Senate.

Mayor Bloomberg’s big gay marriage speech didn’t address the fact that he wasn’t always in favor of letting same-sex couples wed.

“People are literally taking pictures of their families now and sending it in to their legislators with a letter so they can get a face of what this issue is really about,” said ESPA’s Ross Levi of the ongoing gay marriage lobbying effort.

The mayor spoke across the street from the site where Abraham Lincoln delivered a historic speech on slavery at the college more than 150 years ago.

Details are so far sparse on Rudy Giuliani’s latest trip to NH next week.

“You can’t look at the Republican field and say that there isn’t room,” a former aide to the ex-NYC mayor said.

Rep. Pete King, who floated the latest Giuliani trial balloon, says he might run if his good friend doesn’t.

This week’s City Hall winners & losers.

More >

Extras

Sarah Palin is embarking on a nationwide bus tour.

Mayor Bloomberg’s address on gay marriage was “unusually personal…for a mayor known for dispassionate number crunching and policy analysis,” writes the NYTimes’ Michael Barbaro.

Maybe it’s because his niece is gay.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has so far refused to play the “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” game with his unredacted ethics disclosure.

NY-26, what NY-26? Tim Pawlenty finally buckled down and took a position on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, saying he would into law if he were president.
Assemblyman Pothole.

The 18-year-old daughter of an Indian diplomat is making an odd demand in her lawsuit against the NYPD.

A former Village Voice intern is suing Bloomberg.

The Human Rights Campaign delivered a very early endorsement of President Obama’s re-election bid.

House Speaker John Boehner admitted Medicare played a part – but only a “small part”, mind you – in NY-26.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Medicare won’t be the only issue in 2012.

“I don’t like the guy and every time I get a chance to take a shot at him I do it,” Ken Langone on Eliot Spitzer.

Some gay Buffalonians pressure Sen. Mark Grisanti on gay marriage.

The Putnam County Democratic chairwoman stepped down and is running for a local office.

ROTC is returning to both Yale and Columbia.

Mark Zuckerberg brings eating local to a whole new level.

This picture is most definitely worth 1,000 words.

The Co$T Of A Loss

The team that served as the architects of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s losing NY-26 campaign did not come cheap.

Chris Grant, who took a leave from his job as chief of staff to Erie County Executive Chris Collins to serve as Corwin’s campaign manager, received a $7,281.75 signing bonus from Corwin on March 21.

Grant subsequently was paid $2,235.91 on March 31; $3,291.62 on April 15; and $3,291.62 on April 29. His grant total through the last FEC filing: $16,100.90.

Michael Hook, a Lancaster native now based in Washington, D.C., is Collins’ long-time media consultant. He also worked on Corwin’s campaign, and he was paid a pretty penny to do so.

From March 15 through March 28, Hook was paid $486,026.99 by Corwin’s campaign. From April 4 through May 2 he received. $900,836.13. As the media consultant, Hook was responsible for buying air time, which is why those payments are so large. Still, a percentage of that is his cut.

Hook is now coming under fire by anonymous GOP leaders who are pointing fingers of blame at Collins’ team for mishandling Corwin’s campaign. Consider the following from The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski’s report yesterday:

“‘Too slow,’” complained one GOP figure, perplexed that Hook had started the campaign with ads bashing Hochul rather than Jack Davis, the independent candidate whose presence on the Tea Party line threatened to steal votes from Corwin.”

“But another GOP strategist noted, ‘It’s a Republican district, so why you wouldn’t want to make it a straight [Democrat-Republican] race early on, I’ll never know.’”

“Corwin’s ads finally took aim at Davis in the last month of the campaign, after polls showed him with more than 20 percent of the potential vote.”

“By then, though, it was too late to eviscerate both Davis and Hochul without collateral damage to Corwin, who, polls showed, became less popular as her harshly negative ad campaign wore on.”

A post-special election FEC report is due out soon. At that point, we’ll get a clearer picture of just how much Corwin spent on her campaign. As of May 17, Corwin had invested close to $3 million in her (eventually unsuccessful) effort to win the seat vacated by her fellow Republican, ex-Rep. Chris Lee.

Renters: Senate GOP Foils FOIL Request

The Real Rent Reform Campaign, a coalition of housing advocates in New York City, was denied a freedom of information request calling on Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to reveal any correspondence between his office, Housing Committee Chairwoman Cathy Young and New York City landlords.

“The public has the right to see the smoking gun connecting the landlords’ campaign money to the Republican Senate’s legislative action,” said Mary Tek, campaign manager for the Real Rent Reform campaign. “The same arrogance that allows them
to so brashly engage in pay-to-play politics is now causing them to snub their nose at the public and our need to know what is happening in Albany.”

Rent control laws are due to expire June 15. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has linked the passage of a cap on property taxes outside of New York City to rent control; both measures are supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Skelos has said he supports extending rent control laws, but has been cool to the idea of expanding regulations. The point the rent folks are trying to make is a little moot: The Legislature is exempted from the state’s freedom of information laws.

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Bloomberg: Gay Marriage A Fundamental Right

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving a major, and lengthy, address this afternoon on same-sex marriage at Cooper Union.

According to Bloomberg’s prepared remarks, the mayor’s speech urges the Republican-led state Senate to legalize gay marriage, saying it’s a basic conservative principle that government shouldn’t interfer in peoples’ private lives.

The speech also shades of Bloomberg’s Park51 address given last year, when he came out in favor of the construction of a Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site.

“It is my hope that members of the State Senate majority will recognize that supporting marriage equality is not only consistent with our civic principles – it is consistent with conservative principles. Conservatives believe that government should not intrude into people’s personal lives – and it’s just none of government’s business who you love.”

Bloomberg points out that historic civil-rights addresses from the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas have been delivered at Cooper Union — and that New York has always led on issues of basic freedom.

“No place in the world is more committed to freedom of expression – religious, artistic, political, social, personal – than New York City. And no place in the world is more welcoming of all people, no matter what their ethnicity or orientation. That has always been what sets us apart. In our city, there is no shame in being true to yourself. There is only pride. We take you as you are – and we let you be who you wish to be. That is the essence of New York City.”

And he says that religious objections to gay marriage shouldn’t be imposed on the general public. More >

King: If Rudy’s Out, I’m In

U.S. Rep. Peter King of Long Island said today he would consider runnning for president if his friend former Mayor Rudy Giuliani declines to enter the sparse Republican field.

“If Rudy jumps in, I would support Rudy,” King said. “If not, I’ll see what happens. Stranger things have happened.”

King’s name as a possible presidential contender was floated last week by the Nassau County Republican Party. The Long Islander, who at this point is the most visible Republican holding public office in New York, said he hasn’t ruled out a run.

But he thinks Giuliani, who ran in 2008, was gearing up for 2012.

“As of this moment, he’s very much inclined to run,” King said on Fox News this morning.

King also said Giuliani’s focus would be on the early primary states, a reversal of the failed and much derided late-game strategy of focusing on Florida three years ago.

“He very much wants to run and this time he would focus on New Hampshire,” King added. “It seems that there’s no candidate focusing on what Rudy would bring, which is tough on national security.”

Democrats Keep Beating Medicare Drum

The upset victory in the 26th congressional district gives Democrats a template in future races, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in an interview on MSNBC last night.

Wasserman Schultz looked to Kathy Hochul’s victory over Republican Jane Corwin as a sign that voters were concerned about the GOP proposal in Congress for Medicare, as championed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. She also pointed to a New Hampshire House race and the contest for the mayor of Jackonsville, Fla.

“All of those races turned on Medicare,” she said.

Not mentioned was the impact independent tea party candidate Jack Davis had on the race and whether he siphoned votes away from Corwin. Republicans have charged Democratic scare tactics on Medicare — and the GOP’s ineffective pushback — led to Corwin’s loss as well.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, forced a vote on the Ryan plan Wednesday, which failed 57-40, in order to press their perceived advantage on the issue. Wasserman Shultz said it was likely those votes will be used against Republicans up for re-election in 2012.

“There are a number of seats that are up for election this election cycle. It’s really shocking to me that anyone after yesterday’s outcome would actually vote again to end Medicare as we know it. Seniors and Americans have sent a very strong message and we’re going to make sure that we hold Republican candidates accountable for thier vote.”

Ruben Diaz Will Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is blasting the planned “F*** Ruben Diaz Festival” to be held at a Brooklyn bar on June 11, calling it the continuation of a “vulgar” campaign against his opposition to same-sex marriage.

The “F” in this instance is presumably the word that rhymes with “duck” and one you hear emanating from the CapTon bureau around deadline time.

“I continue to be the target of a vulgar campaign by seething extremists who oppose my defense of New York’s marriage laws,” Diaz said in a statement.

The full title of the event is “F*** Ruben Diaz Gay Erotica Featuring NYC’s Number One Bigot!” The link to the event is here (and, goes without saying, the page includes salty lanuage). The festival is advertised as a writing contest mocking Diaz, with suggested titles like, “‘Ruben Diaz Gives Impassioned Anti-Gay Speech to his Co-Op Board.”

Scribes are charged to: “Imagine a day in the life of the Bronx’s most prominent Pentecostal minister. Is he downtown scoring poppers? Is he rehearsing his latest screed in his bathroom mirror? Is he waking up in a tangle of hard man-bodies after a raging orgy?”

Diaz, one of the most outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage legalization in New York, held a rally for traditional marriage earlier this month the same day as an AIDs awareness rally in New York City, didn’t see the humor.

It is sad to see the disrespect and irreverence that flourishes from those who have no respect for religious leaders here in New York and those who mock us as we serve our communities.

As a Christian and as the President of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, I will continue to defend the teachings of the Bible and oppose homosexual marriage. As a Member of the New York State Senate, I will continue to defend the definition of New York’s marriage laws to be between a man and a woman.