Schneiderman’s Cheering Section

AG Eric Schneiderman’s performance during his first months on the job – particularly his tough stance on hydrofracking – has drawn praise from two supporters of his erstwhile 2010 general election opponent, Republican Staten Island DA Dan Donovan.

At about the 2:49-minute mark in the second half of last night’s “Wise Guys” segment on “Inside City Hall,” former NYC Mayor Ed Koch explained he abandoned his fellow Democrat largely because he felt there should be balance in Albany, adding:

“But that’s water under the bridge, so to speak, and no I hope that Eric proceeds with the vim and vigor that he has, and he has an enormous amount of energy and intellect. So I expect big things.

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, who tried to woo Donovan into the 2006 AG’s race (without success) and backed him “very vigorously” last year, echoed Koch’s sentiment.

“I think Schneiderman so far has done an excellent job,” he said. “This thing with the federal government…Don’t leave states and our local EPAs in a position not to know. My gosh, get the body of authority of scientific experience involved in here.”

“And so he’s right to do this. And I applaud him. Very bold. Very bold. I applaud him because it’s not a Democrat going after a Republican or vice versa. He’s saying: He guys. We’re the same party, but, you know, this is an important issue.”

The third Wise Guy, former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, was a Schneiderman supporter in 2010 and joked that he’s now glad he and his fellow commentators are in agreement.

McCall also said he believes the AG is trying to strike out into “new territory” and get out from under the successful legacies of his predecessors – Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer. “Eric has got to find a new area, and the environment is certainly an important one…This is going to be a very good issue for him,” he added.

IDC Offers SAGE Suggestions

A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally announced his picks to lead a commission that would reduce the size of state government, the Independent Democratic Conference wrote a letter reminding the panel of its own bureaucracy-busting suggestions.

In the letter sent to commission co-chairman Paul Francis and Antonio Perez, Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx, Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Carlucci of Clarkstown, Rockland County and David Valesky of Oneida, remind them of past proposals.

These include cracking down on overtime, reviving an office within the Office of General Services that would assess risk management and consolidating the state’s “patchwork” inspector general system.

The IDC included copies of its reports, which have been released throughout the year.

From the letter:

Overall, our proposals would save more than $1.1 billion in recurring savings over the next decade. Of that, specific recommendations that would result in at least $500 million in savings fall within the SAGE Commission’s parameters.

Idc Sage Letter

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.

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