Trump: Now We Can Get To The Real Issues

The Donald is still taking his victory lap.

Developer and reality-show host Donald Trump posted a video on YouTube today again taking credit for having President Obama release the long-form version of his birth certificate. And Trump, who may actually be launching a presidential campaign, said he wants to get to issues like China and OPEC.

“I was thrilled, I could not have been more happy,” Trump said, adding that he’s getting a lot of credit for having the president produce the document.

“Now we can get on with what’s happening with oil, what’s happening with the economy, how OPEC is ripping us off, how China is taking our jobs — the kind of things I want to be taking about,” Trump said, with a JFK bust in the background.

Jumping The Gun In Brooklyn?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to call a special election to fill the vacant seat of his new housing czar, former Assemblyman Darryl Towns, but things are already heating up in Brooklyn’s 54th AD.

rafaelespinal

Blogger/radio host Roberto Perez and The Brooklyn Politics blog have posted a flyer being circulated throughout the district by candidate Rafael Espinal, which urges recipients to “vote Democrat.”

That’s all well and good, execpt for this minor sticking point: The county committee hasn’t yet voted to endorse a candidate.

There’s a bit of a tussle over this seat going on between the Dilan and Towns clans. And now District Leader Lincoln Restler, a young upstart who is part of the reform movement in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, is getting involved, too, sending over this quote:

“Vito Lopez and the Dilans might want to tune out the royal wedding if think they can crown the Democratic nominee and bestow on him a seat in the New York State Assembly. Vito isnt the King of Brooklyn.”

The 54th is just one of four Assembly districts where there are current or pending vacancies. (The others: The 23rd and 27th in Queens, and the 116th in Oneida County. Cuomo has yet to call a special in any of them.

The recent change by the Legislature to special election timelines to accommodate military ballots could complicate things. It’s possible these contests will be held concurrent with the September primary, according to one election law attorney I spoke with recently.

Then again, the Legislature is under pressure from the DOJ to change its primary date to June – a move that is very unpopular with elected officials, but supported by most elections commissioners.

Cuomo: Thousands Of Predators Removed From Social Media Sites

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is touting the anniversary of his three-year old law that sought to stamp out sex offenders from having an online presence.

His e-STOP measure, which passed in 2008 when Cuomo was the attorney general, has so far resulted in the removal of 24,000 links and online profiles of sex offenders, his office said.

The law, also known by its full title as the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act, requires sex offenders to register and keep up-to-date all current email accounts, screen names, and any other Internet identifiers with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The social media sites then delete the accounts.

“Regardless of the office he holds, to us, Andrew Cuomo will always be the Sheriff of Cyberspace. As parents and lawmakers struggle to keep up with the dangers of an ever-expanding digital universe, Governor Cuomo has stepped in, passed an effective law, and kept the spotlight on Internet safety. We applaud his successful efforts to expand provisions of Megan’s Law to the Internet,” Laura A. Ahearn, L.M.S.W, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center said.

The announcement marks yet another issue that Cuomo, three months into his governorship, continues to push from his days as attorney general.

As Storms Continue, Cuomo Activates Emergency Response

As a series of storms continue to pound away at most parts of the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today he would activate the state’s emergency response center to deal with power outages and flooding around New York.

“With severe weather impacting large portions of New York, state government is working proactively with our partners on the local level to ensure the safety of our residents and to make sure we can respond quickly to any storm-related problems,” Cuomo said. “Flooding and dangerous storms are a real threat to people and property. I urge residents in areas where severe weather is occurring to monitor local news broadcasts and heed any emergency orders from local officials.”

Marshaling the state’s emergency response involves:

· State Emergency Management field staff have been deployed to impacted areas
· State Police and the Department of Transportation have enacted their storm plans and are assisting local first responders
· State Police airboats are prepared for rescue operations
· The Office of Fire Prevention and Control’s Swift Water Rescue Team is prepared for rescue operations

The storm that continues to rip through most of upstate has resulted in power outages in most areas, with more than 20,000 households without power. Flooding is also being reported in the North Country and a tornado reportedly touched down in central New York.

Trump Adviser: Birther Issue ‘Appears’ Resolved

ICYMI: GOP consultant Roger Stone, who’s serving as an unofficial adviser to Donald Trump’s non-campaign, told me during a CapTon interview last night that the question of President Obama’s birth seems “resolved” – at least for the moment – after yesterday’s release by the White House of the long-form birth certificate.

Stone reiterated Trump’s call for Obama to release his academic records, but also admitted these sorts of issues aren’t the stuff of a full-blown presidential campaign. He said he expects Trump to have a complete platform if he decides to run.

Starting at about the 1:14 mark, Stone responded thusly to my question about whether the whole birther thing is now settled:

“I don’t think you can predict what Trump is going to say next week. Although clearly he talked today about gasoline prices, about trade with China, about the problem with OPEC.”

“I don’t think that the birther is the raison and d’etre for a presidential campaign. But I have no doubt that if Trump ran for president he’d have a full platform, he’d discuss all of the issues. This appears to me – at least this segment of it – to be resolved.”

“Barack Obama promised us the most transparent administration in history and he hasn’t released his academic records, and I, for one, would be interested in seeing them.

Senate Dems Stage Ethics Forum

After failing in their effort two weeks ago to force the Senate Republicans to hold a public hearing on a package of ethics reform bills, the Senate Democrats are taking matters into their own hands.

The minority is technically not allowed to hold full-fledged public hearings, but the Democrats can put on a “forum,” which is more or less the same thing – minus some officials bells and whistles. The Dem forum will be held this coming Wednesday at noon, or immediately following the conclusion of the session, in Hearing Room A at the LOB.

A full slate of goo-goos is expected to be on hand, including representatives from: The Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union, Citizen Action of NY, Common Cause/NY, the League of Women Voters, and NYPIRG.

To do this, the Dems are citing Senate Rule VII and convening a forum on the following legislation under the jurisdiction of the Investigations and Government Operations Committee:

- Establishing an independent commission on governmental ethics (S31/Squadron).

- Increasing financial and client disclosure requirements (S382/Rivera).

- Stripping elected officials convicted of misusing office of pensions (S2333/Krueger).

- Restricting the personal use of campaign funds (S3053/Krueger).

- Eliminating Pay-to-Play (S1565/Addabbo).

“For Albany to do the people’s business, we must change the way Albany does business,” said Sen. Dan Squadron. “Halfway through the legislative session, we have yet to see any action on the fundamental reforms that almost every Senator has pledged to support.”

“This forum will offer an important public hearing on critical ethics reform. Passage of a real ethics package will lend much-needed transparency and accountability to our state government, helping restore New Yorkers’ trust and allowing us all to better tackle the dire challenges facing our state.”

Marist Poll: Obama’s Handling Of Economy Hits All-Time Low

Today’s McClatchy-Marist poll finds that only four in ten voters approve of how the president is dealing with the country’s economy while nearly six in ten disapprove. (In other words: 40-57, with three percent unsure).

This is the lowest rating on the “handling the economy” question that Obama has received since he took office in January 2009.

Voters were divided, 44-48 with 8 percent unsure, the last time Marist posed this question. The change was caused by a loss of support for the president among his fellow Democrats and independents.

“These economic numbers could spell trouble for President Obama’s re-election prospects,” said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff. “Oddly, though, he still isn’t being faulted for the sluggish economy. Most think it was there waiting for him when he took office.”

Sixty-three percent of poll respondents said they think today’s economic situation is mostly something Obama inherited from the Bush administration, while 30 percent believe it is a result of his own policies. Seven percent are unsure.

That’s similar to Marist’s January numbers. At that time, 63 percent thought the country’s economic conditions were mostly inherited, 25 percent said they were a result of Obama’s policies, and 12 percent were unsure.

Out Of Gas

Gas tax holidays such as those being proposed by Sen. Greg Ball and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in response to the most recent spike at the pump sound really great. I mean, who wouldn’t like a break when prices as fast climbing toward $5 per gallon?

During a Red Room press conference yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t rule out supporting the idea, saying he has to take a look at the numbers. But not everyone is a fan.

In a letter to the two Republican lawmakers, which appears below, Associated General Contractors of New York President and CEO Mike Elmendorf expressed concern over the plan, noting it calls for temporary suspension of the state excise tax, sales tax and Petroleum Business Tax on gas – all of which are used to fund the state’s already insolvent Dedicated Bridge and Highway Trust Fund.

While allowing that his members are also upset over high gas prices, Elmendorf pointed out that the fund is already being raided – to the tune of $700 million a year – for unreleated expenses like snow removal and bus inspections when it is supposed to be dedicated for the state’s crumbling transporation infrastructure.

He also questioned whether temporarily relieving drivers of these taxes would even translate in savings, citing a TU report on how counties’ reduction of local gas taxes back in 2006 failed to impact per gallon prices.

AGC NYS Gas Tax Holiday Response

DiNapoli: NY Recovery A ‘Mixed Bag’

As NY1 reported earlier, the economic recovery is seen as uneven across New York state, according to the state Comptroller’s Office.

However, the Empire State has weathered the recession relatively well compared to other parts of the country that have been devastated by the housing crisis.

“The recession didn’t hit New York as hard as other states,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “But there’s still a lot of pain. Our economic recovery is headed in the right direction, but the road out of recession is still winding and potentially perilous.”

The report, which you can read here, found that home values have risen in the upstate area while they’ve fallen in metro New York City.

The private sector has added jobs, while public sector job posts declined, DiNapoli’s office found. Job losses overall in New York were less severe than in other states and personal income rose 4.1 percent in 2010, second only to New Mexico.

Ithaca, home to Cornell University, led in the way in overall gross product, increasing by 3.3 percent, DiNapoli’s office found. Ithaca leading They were followed by the Mid-Hudson Valley at 3.1  percent,  Buffalo  at  2.9 percent and Rochester and the Utica-Rome regions  at  2.4  percent.

NRCC Ties Owens To Pelosi (Again) In New Ad On Debt

The NRCC is turning up the heat on Rep. Bill Owens will a new TV ad that slams the North Country Democrat for voting “for another Pelosi budget” that will add to the nation’s already staggering debt.

Debt – specifically whether to raise the legal limit or “ceiling” of what the country can borrow – is the next big fight in Washington, D.C. The Republicans are drawing a line in the sand on this one, saying they won’t vote to raise the ceiling unless and until the Democrats and the White House agree to big spending cut.

This is the GOP’s first attack on Owens, and also – I think – the first time it has aired a TV ad in NY since the 2010 election cycle.

The NRCC did release a Web video attacking Democratic NY-26 candidate Kathy Hochul back when she was first tapped to run in the May 24 special election, but I don’t believe it ever went up on the air.

So far, the DCCC has been far more active in New York in playing the groundwork for 2012 than the NRCC. The Democrats have launched a series of radio ads, robocalls and on-line actions against several freshman GOP House members, highlighting their “yes” votes on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan to overhaul Medicare.

The GOP has been trying to link Owens to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for a long time now, dating back to when she was still speaker and the House was under Democratic control. This strategy hasn’t worked so far. Owens has managed to hold onto the seat he won in a 2009 special election, despite the GOP enrollment edge in NY-23.

(Incidentally, Pelosi has figured in the NY-26 race, too. There’s got to be GOP internal polling somewhere that has her negatives very high).

Here’s the script of the NRCC ad, which hits the airwaves today and will be running on cable stations in Watertown and Syracuse for the next three weeks.

(ANNCR): The United States government borrows $4 billion every day. Fourteen trillion dollars in debt on the backs of our grandchildren. And Congressman Bill Owens is making it worse. Bill Owens just voted for another Pelosi budget. More spending. More debt. Borrowed from other nations. Strangling our economy and putting America at the mercy of the Peoples Republic of China. Call Bill Owens. Tell him to stop spending.”

UPDATE: An Owens spokesman tells the WSJ the congressman “voted for the Obama-Boehner budget compromise.” An anonymous Democratic aide said the buy is a scant $5,000 – very small, even for the upstate market.