Piling On Buerkle

The House Majority PAC, one of the Democratic Party’s new independent expenditure operations, has included NY Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle on the list of 10 targeted Republicans who voted “yes” last week on Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget.

The PAC is launching a six-figure radio ad campaign tomorrow that features the sound of pigs snorting and an accusation that the Ryan plan will “end Medicare as we know it,” and “have the wealthiest Americans lining up at the trough” while putting “the squeeze” on middle-class families.

Buerkle is the lone New Yorker being targeted by the PAC and also in the latest round of ads launched yesterday by the DCCC.

The Republicans insisted the buy was so small as to be inconsequential, but it’s worth noting the freshman Central NYer appears to be atop the list of Empire State freshmen on the Democrats’ 2012 hit list.

The House Majority PAC ads are targeting: AZ-01 Paul Gosar; AR-01 Rick Crawford; FL-22 Allen West; MN-08 Chip Cravaack; NH-02 Charlie Bass; NY-25 Ann Marie Buerkle; NV-03 Joe Heck; TX-23 Francisco Canseco; TX-27 Blake Farenthold; and WI-07 Sean Duffy. A sample ad (the one running against Duffy) appears below.

IG: OGS Manager Hung Out In Bars On Worktime (Updated)

Inspector General Ellen Biben today announced criminal charges against an Office of General Services construction manager who would leave work early to hang out in a bar, her office charged.

Biben said Albany resident Gregory Ruth, 53, would routinely leave work early to spend most or all of his afternoon in an area bar, costing the state $5,000 in time. He was arraigned in Albany court today on felony charges of filing a false instrument, third-degree grand larceny and scheming to defraud the government.

In one instance, Ruth spent most of his Dec. 8 workday afternoon in a bar, despite filing a time card that claimed he worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. In another, he filed a time card on Jan. 24 stating he worked from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., when he had also been in a bar, Biben said.

Biben said Ruth’s annual salary is $89,954.

Update: OGS Acting Commissioner Joseph Rabito issued a statement saying Ruth has been suspended without pay:

Mr. Ruth has been suspended without pay pending the resolution of disciplinary and criminal proceedings.  OGS is immediately undertaking an internal investigation into the matter. OGS is committed to being part of a state government New York can be proud of, so the behavior as described, if accurate, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

McClatchy-Marist Poll On Trump vs. Obama

Today’s McClatchy-Marist poll on President Obama’s re-election chances includes a hypothetical head-to-head match-up against the current GOP frontrunner (at least according to a recent PPP poll), Donald Trump.

Obama has a comfortable lead over the New York-based real estate developer, 54-38 with 8 percent undecided.

The strongest GOP contender continues to be Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential hopeful. He’s not statistically tied with Obama, 45-46, with nine percent undecided.

The last time McClatchy-Marist asked this question in January, Obama had a 13-point lead over Romney. At that time, a slim majority – 51 percent – said they would vote for the president while 38 percent thought they would back Romney, with 11 percent undecided.

The president has lost ground among independent voters. Currently a plurality – 45 percent – back Romney while 42 percent support Obama and 13 percent are undecided. Previously, the president held a 10 percentage point lead over Romney.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has been gaining ground against Obama, too. He’s now trailing the president 48-43. In January, it was 50-38.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has more or less stalled in the polls, (perhaps because she’s losing the attention of the right to Trump?). She’s at 56-34 against Obama, which is virtually unchanged from 56-30 in January.

Sliwa Takes A Break For Prostate Surgery

Radio shock jock/NY1 commentator Curtis Sliwa announced today taking a break from the airwaves that could last as long as a month to undergo prostate surgery.

The procedure will take place tomorrow, Sliwa informed reporters via a (rather explicit) statement emailed out shortly before noon.

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Sliwa said he was first diagnosed via a biopsy about a year ago, and opted against surgery at that time even though it was, as he put it, the “only option” for treatment (as opposed to radiation therapy or seeds) because of scarring that took place when he was shot in 1992.

“I instead decided to try a homeopathic and holistic regimen that included everything from vitamin drips to eating raw vegetables,” Sliwa explained. “Unfortunately for me, it did not work.”

“Over the past weekend, my symptoms were such that it was determined that surgery would have to take place tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10:00 AM. I will conduct my broadcast until 8AM and then will be transported to Mount Sinai school of Medicine.”

“Dr. David Samadi will perform the Robotic Radical Prostatectomy. If because of old scarring he is unable to get in and out, a second surgeon will perform the normal extraction of the prostate.”

“The prognosis is that I will be away from the microphones at AM 970 The Apple: minimum time a week, maximum time a month for recovery. The Curtis Sliwa plan though is with catheter in hand, I hope to be back broadcasting by Monday (April 25th).”

“I hear my enemies – The Gambinos – are already taking action on the over/under and point spread of this occurring.”

Sliwa, as you’ll recall, has been one of the few vocal critics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the past year.

He made a splash at the state Democratic Convention last summer as “King Cuomo” – a role he reprised at the state GOP Convention and in a bit of lasagna-inspired street theater that got him arrested.

Gibson: Ryan Is The One Who Changed Positions On Medicare (UPDATED)

Rep. Chris Gibson defended the 2012 spending plan passed by House Republicans last week, saying the plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) would not create a voucher system for Medicare.

In Ryan’s plan, the federal entitlement program would require future enrollees to buy coverage from one of several private plans, which Gibson says is not a “voucher” program because the system itself is still government-run.

“Ryan changed his position,” Gibson said.

I was opposed to vouchers and remain opposed to vouchers because my read of this is we’ll end up with another bailout. If you end up sending checks out to all senior citizens and tell them to fend for themselves, when/if they get swindled then we’re left with a situation where we’re not going to allow that to stay and we’ll end up reissuing new checks. I want to see Medicare stay a government program. I was impressed that Ryan changed his mind on that and embraced the bipartisan approaches of premium support.”

The Kinderhook Republican campaigned against vouchers for Medicare in 2010, but in February said he was open to having a discussion about a voucher-based system, where benefits are capped.

Gibson is holding a number of town hall meetings in his 10-county district, answering questions from constituents about the federal budget. He is also continuing his push for alternative sources of energy including nuclear, even though public support has sharply fallen following the disaster in Japan.

UPDATE: Senior organizations, as well as the DCCC, reject Gibson’s notion that the voucher program and premium support are the same. “That is not insurance, just a very partial subsidy,” said Mike Burgess of the Statewide Senior Action Council.

Share Your Thoughts On Indian Point

Manhattan Democratic state senator Liz Krueger has launched a new online survey asking New Yorkers to share their thoughts on the controversial Indian Point power plant, which is up for license renewal in 2013.

Krueger has been a staunch opponent of the power plant for many years now.

“I have been calling for the closure of Indian Point since 2003, but the devastation seen in Japan has served as a powerful reminder that sometimes the worst case scenario does happen, and we cannot go about our lives pretending it never will,” said Senator Krueger.

“I’ve been very clear on where I stand with Indian Point, as have several other elected leaders, including Governor Cuomo, but now it’s time to hear from the public. I want to know where people stand on this issue.”

This argument has been heating up lately, in the wake of what happened in Japan. We reported on SOP yesterday that Indian Point has released a new ad informing New Yorkers that their plants are earthquake proof.

Here’s Sen. Krueger’s comments on the issue:

Trump Attack Of The Day

The Club for growth is at it again. On Monday, they hit Trump for being a liberal that supported universal healthcare, Tuesday they attacked him for supporting the Supreme Court’s position on eminent domain, and today they are going after the billionaire businessman for his support of President Obama’s decision to bailout the Big 3 car manufacturers back in 2008. (And also taking a veiled shot at Trump’s past business failures.)

“If there’s anyone who should know the value of filing for bankruptcy, it’s Donald Trump. He should have known that the $13.4 billion government bailout of the auto industry just put off the inevitable while putting taxpayers at risk,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola.

“Bailouts and nationalizing whole industries can cripple free markets and has hampered our economic recovery. We need our next President to understand that economic freedom leads to growth and prosperity for all, and that the government should never be in the business of picking winners and losers.”

Like previous days, the Club for Growth has Trump quotes to back up their allegations. Today, they come from a 2008 interview Trump gave to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto.

“No. I think you should have the Big Three. I think, frankly, they should do dip financing. I think the government should stand behind them 100 percent. You cannot lose the auto companies. They’re great. They make wonderful products,” Trump said. “Maybe they’re making too much. Maybe they’re not making too much. I mean, I just brought a Dodge Ram truck from Arrigo Dodge, who’s a member of one of my clubs and great guy.”

Here And Now

It’s the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill and the energy giant is trying to influence Congress with campaign contributions.

Fred Dicker on inmate Alan Hevesi: “(H)e could be any one of the dozens of state officials – including a governor -who in recent years have been linked to, or caught in, serious crimes.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to reorganize and streamline state government for the first time since 1927.

Same-sex marriage advocates have hired consultant Jennifer Cunningham to run a short, intense $1 million campaign in the run-up to another Senate vote and are coordinating with the Cuomo administration to avoid a repeat of 2009.

Mayor Bloomberg established a new campaign committee, but says he’s not running for anything.

The Rev. Al Sharpton was at yesterday’s White House summit on immigration reform.

Facing a massive ticket-fixing scandal, the NYC police officers union says the practice is one of courtesy, not corruption.

The Glens Falls Post-Star agrees with AG Eric Schneiderman on hydrofracking in the Delaware Basin.

Donald Trump claims he offered to build a $100 million ballroom at the White House so the president could stop holding functions on the lawn in tents.

“Donald’s as serious as a heart attack” about running, said GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio, who has been in frequent contact with the developer-turned-reality TV star-turned potential presidential contender.

Trump picked up some new defenders: Carl Paladino and John Catsimatidis.

More >

Extras

The IDC will rebut at the LCA show, as will Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Will the governor attend? No word yet.

President Obama will raise campaign cash at the Waldorf on April 27.

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries wants to establish rules for neighborhood branding. “It’s the Wild West in New York City right now,” he says.

Kathy Hochul has outraised her NY-26 opponents, but they’re outspending her by far.

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked immigration reform at the White House with the president.

It’s an “immigration offensive”, says Ben Smith.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer wants to see proof of Donald Trump’s net worth.

Former Gov. David Paterson will deliver the commencement address at Paul Smith’s.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is staffing up.

AG Eric Schneiderman invested in a musical version of the 1952 Joan Crawford western.

Before there was a Tea Party, there was GOP Yonkers mayoral candidate John Murtagh. (Or so says his first mailer).

Will NYC Council meetings and hearings soon be webcast by enterprising members of the public?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAGE commission include some of his big donors.

Purdue University will pitch the Bloomberg administration tomorrow.

Sen. Mike Gianaris will explain the “deal” on redistricting to DL21C members on April 30 20 – that’s tomorrow, thanks for the correction!

Not good. More here.

Sen. Patricia Ritchie is happy with the state Health Department.

More trouble for the WFP’s Data & Field Services.

Guy Noir, private eye, to Bloomberg’s rescue.

Even Robin Williams can’t catch a break from the NYPD for biking on the sidewalk.

ProPublica won a Pulitzer – a first for an on-line only publication.

Trump’s Monetary Ties To Disgraced Former Pols A Non-Issue In NY

Donald Trump has been getting a lot of heat from the right lately for some past liberal views as well as giving thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates in New York. Moreover, several of those pols (from both parties) who received funds from the real estate mogul are either in jail, facing charges, or forced out politics because of a scandal.

However, that’s one part of The Donald’s past that will likely be easily forgivable because as Bill Mahoney from the New York Pubic Interest Research Group put it, “this is New York State.”

“[Trump] has written checks to dozens of candidates,” said Mahoney.

“If you’re going to write 90 checks like he did, then the odds that at least one of those New York State elected officials hasn’t been convicted of a crime over the past decade are about as good the odds you pick a NCAA tournament bracket perfectly.”

NYPIRG has been lobbying lawmakers in Albany for several years to pass comprehensive ethics reform.