Bill Clinton Supports Marriage Equality In NY

Former President Clinton, who said back in 2009 that he had “changed his mind” about his opposition to gay marriage, has issued a statement in support of the effort to pass a bill that would let same-sex couples legally wed in New York.

“Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ – deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community,” Clinton said.

“That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality.”

“For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.”

Clinton’s statement was released by the Human Rights Campaign, which is leading New Yorkers for Marriage Equality – the coordinated campaign spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that is lobbying the Senate to pass the gay marriage bill before the legislative session ends in June.

The former president is now a NY (specifically, Westchester County) resident. His wife, as you’ll recall, supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but hasn’t been willing to go all the way to backing marriage – even after her husband got on board with that. President Obama also has yet to endorse same-sex marriage, although he seems to be inching ever closer to doing so.

Corwin Ad Attacks Davis

In the wake of last week’s Siena poll that showed the NY-26 race closer than expected with independent candidate Jack Davis netting 23 percent of the vote, Republican frontrunner Jane Corwin has unleashed a radio attack ad against the Buffalo businessman.

POLITICO reported earlier this week that Republicans are growing increasingly nervous that Davis could split the GOP vote with Corwin and provide a path to victory for Democratic Eric County Clerk Kathy Hochul in spite of the district’s Republican enrollment edge.

We’ve seen that happen time and again – most notably in NY-23, where the Conservative/Tea Party candidate Doug Hoffman pushed the more moderate GOP candidate, then-Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, out of the race, but too late for her name to be removed from the ballot.

Scozzafava, who then endorsed her erstwhile Democratic opponent, Bill Owens, gained sufficient votes to deprive Hoffman of a special election victory, and Owens is still sitting in that previously GOP-held seat today.

I believe this is the first time Corwin’s own campaign has slammed Davis. She previously had been focusing her attention on Hochul. The script of the ad, which appears below, echoes the message of a mailer sent out by the state GOP, basically accusing Davis of being a Democrat in GOP clothing.

Davis actually has been criticizing both major parties, accusing both the Democrats and Republicans of being owned by Wall Street while he “cannot be bought.”

(Female announcer, speaking over ominous background music): “Perennial candidate Jack Davis has a past he wants you to forget. After running three times as a Democrat, he now wants us to believe he’s standing up for us. But Jack Davis was the handpicked candidate of Nancy Pelosi and said he was actually proud to help her become speaker.”

“Davis took thousands of dollars from Barack Obama and ultimately endorsed Obama’s campaign for president. And Davis took thousands of dollars from disgraced Congressman Charlie Rangel.”

“And what has Jack Davis’ support for Obama, Pelosi and Rangel given us? Trillions of dollars in new debt, government-run health care, over half a trillion dollars in new taxes and two-and-a-half million lost jobs. So the next time Democrat Jack Davis says he’ll stand up for you, you’ll know that Jack Davis just can’t be trusted.”

(Music becomes upbeat, Corwin speaks): “I’m Jane Corwin, and I approve this message.” (Announcer): “Paid for by Jane Corwin for Congress.”

Here And Now

President Obama will visit Ground Zero today. He’ll lay a wreath in memory of the 9/11 victims and meet with about 50 of their family members. He will also meet FDNY and NYPD members at a local firehouse, but will not make any public comments.

The Obama administration is stressing that this trip is not a “victory lap.”

The White House said the family members who are meeting Obama were chosen in concert with the 9/11 Memorial Foundation staff, but some people are feeling left out.

“He wants to meet with them and share with them this important and significant moment, a bittersweet moment,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

New details emerging on the raid that ended with Osama bin Laden’s death suggest it was extremely one-sided. This differs greatly from the White House’s initial account.

Obama on “60 Minutes”: “Certainly there’s no doubt among Al Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don’t think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see Bin Laden walking on this earth again.”

A NY1/Marist polls finds New Yorkers feel only slightly safer now that bin Laden is dead.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to join the president, as are Mayor Bloomberg, NJ Gov. Chris Christie and former NYC Mayor Rudy GIuliani. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are expected to be there, as are Reps. Jerry Nadler and Pete King.

Former President Bush declined Obama’s invite to attend, in part because his team reportedly feels he’s not getting enough credit for bin Laden’s capture and death.

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has created a computerized guide to help people locate the names of 9/11 victims.

“It is no longer The Pit,” said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward. “President Obama will see…enormous progress.”

The 9/11 families want trials for terror suspects.

US AG Eric Holder said the killing of an unarmed bin Laden was justified as an act of “national self-defense.”

More >

Oneidas: Renounce ‘Geronimo’ Code Name For Bin Laden

Like other American Indian nations today, The Oneida Nation is calling on President Obama to renounce the codename of “Geronimo” used for Sept. 11 architect Osama bin Laden.

From Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter:

All of us continue to mourn for the lives lost on 9-11, and we remember with pride the way our country came together to support one another following that awful day. In the spirit of bringing about that type of unity once again, we must address the use of an American Indian icon’s name, Geronimo, as the code name for Osama bin Laden.

Geronimo was an Apache leader who fought against the U.S. and Mexican governments over territorial expansion. Halbritter called Geronimo “an inspiration and hero to millions of American Indians and non-Indians alike” who shouldn’t be associated with a villain like bin Laden.

It’s unclear how the codename “Geronimo” was developed for the world’s most wanted man. The message “Geronimo EKIA” was sent to the White House from CIA Director Leon Panetta following the confirmation of his death. The real Geronimo was also the subject of an intense manhunt by the U.S. Army, and was captured alive.

Other American Indian officials today also criticized the use of Geronimo, USA Today reported.

Extras

President Obama won’t release the “very graphic” Osama bin Laden photos because he doesn’t want them used as “an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool.”

“That’s not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies…We don’t need to spike the football.”

Sarah Palin accused Obama of “pussy footing” the photo decision.

Rudy Giuliani said if it were up to him, the photos would be released.

In the coming days, Rep. Peter King will urge Giuliani to get into the 2012 race, reasoning: “He’s the only one capable” of carrying a strong anti-terror message.

Reuters purchased post-raid photos, but none of the dead men looks like bin Laden.

The Dalai Lama seems to suggest bin Laden’s killing was justified.

Eighty-six percent of American adults approve of Obama’s decision to kill bin Laden.

Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper didn’t want to talk to CBS6 about why she tops the per diem list.

Mike Tyson on why he loves pigeons: “They’ve been with me when I didn’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. They were also there when I had more money than I could even count.”

The Senate Democrats got no help from the Republicans with their reform forum.

Sen. Mike Gianaris wants more trees in Queens.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo did not return the NYT’s call on why his portrait is still missing from the Capitol’s Hall of Governors.

Mitt Romney has received the support of a New Hampshire power couple that backed Giuliani in 2008.

Bloomberg unveiled an installation by imprisoned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei with mixed emotions.

A clear majority of Q poll respondents say they would “never” vote for Donald Trump.

Former Sen. Antoine Thompson is blogging.

GTL is in jeopardy for New York teens.

AG Eric Schneiderman announced a $90.8 million settlement with UBS.

The AG will be featured at the Long Island Association’s Executive Breakfast on June 7 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. (No link).

The perfect gift for Mom: An end to wage discrimination.

NYC smokers beware.

Make the Road NY has a new action fund and is hiring.

My worst nightmare. (This week, professionally speaking).

Family Research Foundation Starts “Mayday for Marriage” Tour

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo begins his statewide effort to raise support for a tax cap, gay marriage bill and ethics reform the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation is starting a “Mayday for Marriage” RV tour.

The group’s president, the Rev. Jason J. McGuire, a common Capitol presence on session days, released a statement saying Cuomo was right to begin a tour on the issue.

“Governor Cuomo, I think we have finally found some common ground on the issue of ‘gay marriage’. I also believe that this issue should not be decided in the halls of Albany, but that it should be taken to communities across the state. That is why New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation is embarking on a statewide tour to remind the average New Yorker that marriage between one man and one woman matters.”

The tour starts May 6 and will hold events in Buffalo, Rochester, Staten Island, Long Island, and wrap up with a stop at the west Capitol Park in Albany.

Cuomo has said he wants a gay marriage legalization bill by the end of the regular legislative session in June.

It isn’t the first time NYFR has started an RV tour mirroring the governor. They held a “Summer for Marriage” tour in 2010 as Cuomo himself toured the state in a recreational vehicle.

Skelos ‘Pleased’ By Cuomo Tour On Tax Cap

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said in a statement his afternoon that he is “pleased” Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration will hit the road to gain popular support for his tax cap legislation.

I am pleased to learn that Governor Cuomo will soon embark on a statewide tour to call for passage of his property tax cap program bill. The Governor’s leadership on this issue will certainly be welcomed by New
Yorkers who are struggling under the weight of the highest property taxes in the nation.

The Skelos statement did not mention the other two major components of the “People First” tour — an ethics overhaul measure and a legalization of gay marriage.

Skelos and the Senate Republicans have been trying to re-assert themselves as the major supporters of a tax cap after going on the defensive following comments made by Sen. John Flanagan, who said a tax cap may not be feasible until costly mandated spending is gotten under control.

Skelos and other Senate GOP lawmakers have begun to push back against the notion that they aren’t in favor of the cap by staging an online petition drive and accusing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of holding up the bill. Silver has said he introduced his cap, but has not offered major specifics other than to say it includes a 2 percent ceiling.

As for the other two measures — gay marriage and ethics — it’s unclear how those issues will fare in the Senate. The governor is trying to build a coalition of pro-gay marriage groups to apply pressure on lawmakers seen as being on the fence. And Cuomo has threatened to use a Moreland Commission in order to get an ethics bill.

‘Tis The Season

….for fundraising.

Everybody’s doing it – from AG Eric Schneiderman to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (as chronicled by outgoing DN City Hall Bureau Chief Adam Lisberg last weekend), to DACC, as per the invite below.

As you can see, The Plaza is a favorite cash-raising locale – both the AG and the Assembly Democrats are hosting events there this month. Tickets for the DACC event run from $1,000 (for an individual) to $25,000 (for a sponsor table).

Interesting: Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari is still the lone DACC chairman; he used to co-chair the committee with former Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli, who stepped down from the post in 2007 when he successfully sought to replace disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi .

As of mid-January, DACC had a negative balance of $25,979 in its general account and $743,357 in housekeeping.

The Assembly Republicans have had a very good run over the past year and now stand at 51 members to the Democrats’ 99 (no longer a veto-proof majority). The Democrats will soon have four seats to defend in yet-to-be-called special elections, thanks to the departure or imminent departure of Darryl Towns, RoAnn Destito, Nettie Mayersohn and Audrey Pheffer.

May

Aubertine: Gay Marriage Not An Issue For Me

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo begins to deploy his cabinet officials and agency chiefs, they’ll be pushing measures some may be personally opposed to, such as gay marriage legalization.

That includes Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, who, as a Democratic state senator, was one of 38 “no” votes opposing same-sex marriage.

But Aubertine said the issue is “irrelevant” for him now that he heads a department that doesn’t deal directly with the issue.

“My personal stance is irrelevant at this point,” Aubertine said. “It’s a case-by-case basis and the governor certainly supports it.”

Later in the conversation with reporters, Aubertine walked back the “irrelevant” comment saying: “Maybe ‘irrelevant’ isn’t the right word to use. It just doesn’t rise to the level of importance for Agriculture and Markets.”

Aubertine, who represented a district in the North Country, was defeated for re-election last year by GOP Sen. Patty Ritchie.

Tax Cap May Be Too Rigid For Assembly, Cuomo Says

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged today that his proposed cap on local and school property taxes at 2 percent or the rate of inflation may be too “rigid” for some in the Assembly.

“I think it’s fair to say the Assembly believes my proposal is too rigid and their should be more flexibility in it,” he said.

But he also said he still favors his original proposal as a means of controlling the highest property taxes in country.

“I believe the strongest proposal is the proposal we put forward,” Cuomo said. “Now that is different than say — I’m not saying, my idea is the best and therefore I’ll be deaf to any discussion on the proposal. I understand other people may have opinions, the Legislature may have opinions and I’m open to discussing different options.”

The governor’s proposal passed the Senate Jan. 31, but is yet to be taken up in the Assembly. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said on Tuesday that he would introduce his own separate proposal to cap taxes.

Cuomo would not say if he talked to Silver about that specific proposal.

“I have been talking to the speaker about a property tax cap proposal for a year. Those conversations are ongoing.”