Repairing the shattered GOP

Errol Louis has a great article in the Daily News about rebuilding the NY GOP in the wake of the latest scandal. Here are some things he suggests:

Cox and Co. should make a big show of sending canvassers to block parties, tenant meetings, churches and parades, and try to double or triple the number of Republicans in the city. They should be talent scouts, looking for local leaders who might want to run for office, and supporting them to the hilt even in hopeless races.

To pay for it all, Cox will need to forge a durable relationship with businesses and individuals who believe in the GOP message and persuade them to contribute to the state party directly, or to accounts jointly audited and administered by county organizations and the central party.

There are plenty such people, not only billionaires. Shop owners tired of taxes and regulations, parents sick of failing schools and concerned about public safety and constantly rising taxes and fees. Even on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, New York can only be better off with a healthy debate over policies and philosophies.

So how about you? How would you “repair the wreckage” and rebuild a once again strong Republican party in New York?

Status Cuomo: I was against taxes, before I was for them, before I raised them, before I told you I didn’t…

“Some taxes go up, yes, and others go down, and the net is, they go down.
That’s why it’s a tax cut.”
-Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mar. 21, 2013

What the…???

You can’t tell me that he believes this nonsense! Governor Cuomo is not a dumb man and he is very politically savvy. So when he spews a line like that, you know he doesn’t believe a word of it.

The Governor has a history, and a strong one at that, of opposing tax increases and securing his moniker as a fiscal conservative. But don’t take my word for it, read more of what the governor has said on the issue of tax increases:

“For the third consecutive year, we are closing the deficit with no new taxes or fees.”
-Governor Andrew Cuomo, 2013 Budget Address, Jan. 22, 2013

“If it doesn’t sunset, it’s a new tax.”
-Andrew Cuomo during his 2010 election campaign,
claiming that any extension of the so-called
“millionaires” tax would, in fact, be a new tax.

“I understand the semantics argument, I say no new taxes, period.”
-Andrew Cuomo at his 2011 inaugural
on the use of gimmicks to make tax
increases look like tax cuts.

“The old way of solving the problem was continuing to raise taxes on people, and we just can’t do that anymore. The working families of New York cannot afford tax increases. The answer is going to have to be that we’re going to have to reduce government spending,”
-Andrew Cuomo admitting that renewing the
surcharge on top wage earners would amount to a tax hike,
which would violate his campaign pledge not to boost taxes.
(NY POST, Jan. 4, 2011)

“Working families includes higher-income earners. They work, too.” Then noting that his opposition to tax hikes is “across the board.”
-Andrew Cuomo on how Democrats often exclude
higher-income earners when they invoke the phrase
“working families” during tax-policy discussions.
(NY POST, Jan. 4, 2011)

Even his aides have gotten into the act with this little ditty given to Fred Dicker the day before his 2013 State of the State Address:

“The key to the governor’s fiscal success has been ending the years of taxes and gimmicks that got the state in its fiscal mess in the first place. The governor intends to keep that going,” said a source familiar with the planned address.

Pretty obvious, no?

The tax increases in his budget, which he said had no increases when he presented it in January, show more than just an extended tax on top earners. It also includes the extension of the utility tax and a hike in the state’s $7.25-an-hour minimum wage to $9.00. The utility tax will cost average families about $55 per year and some larger corporations upward of $30,000. The increase in minimum wage equates to nothing more than a tax on businesses, especially small businesses who already struggle with New York’s tax noose around their neck. And make no mistake, we all know who the minimum wage increase will get passed on to.

It would appear that the Governor has made a flip-flop of colossal proportion. One of the likes of John Kerry and his votes on the Iraq War or when Bush 41 proclaimed, “read my lips,” but then raised taxes.

What I don’t understand is: if you are going to go against everything you’ve said since you were campaigning in 2010, why not do it with a better rationale then the incredibly weak, “taxes go up, taxes go down” line.

Based on that theory, when Syracuse beat Georgetown in the semi-finals of the Big East Basketball Tournament, Georgetown should have advanced to the finals because they beat Syracuse the two previous times.

The other spin of his budget is the so called incredible benefit to middle class families in the form of a $350 tax rebate. Families earning between $40,000 and $300,000 a year with at least one child are eligible. But don’t go running to your mailbox, the check won’t be there until 2014 or what is also known as – an election year.

I would hope that any New Yorker would be smarter than to fall for this gimmick which is nothing short of a bribe for your silence. $350? That’s won’t even cover the state taxes and fees on your cable and internet bill for the year.

I like to think I know a little something about political strategy and communications, but these maneuvers I just don’t get. I can’t see the end game and I certainly don’t get the sudden uncontrolled message.

What happened to the well disciplined Cuomo?

Are we just seeing the real Cuomo? Is this what happens to a leader when they are not surrounded by people who say anything but yes? Or is this just the inevitable recession of a political figure in New York?

Either way, since December, Cuomo has experienced a 19 point decline in his approval numbers. Now some people will argue that he has only lost support among some people, mostly republicans and mostly upstaters and his numbers are still strong among his base, blah, blah blah…

But hey, “Some poll numbers go up, yes, and others go down, and the net is, they go down. That’s why it’s a decline,” right?

Status Cuomo: Cuomo’s Christie Moment (Looking for triumph in the face of tragedy)

I know exactly what type of morning it was. Gray and overcast, but with the light smell of spring in the air creating an anticipation of warmer months as the remnants of dirty snow melted into the streets. What was supposed to be a normal March day quickly turned tragic as the unthinkable events unfolded within the small Villages of Mohawk and Herkimer. Six people had been shot and the shooter was on the loose.

I grew up in Mohawk, so as the events occurred I could easily visualize all of the locations and people mentioned. I had sat in that barbershop hundreds of times. Including the barber, there were four people there that day, or as it would be said if you were a regular – one in the chair and two waiting. All four were shot, killing two.

Two more were killed in the neighboring Village of Herkimer, less than a mile away.

My thoughts immediately went to my children who live in the Village of Mohawk. Once I confirmed that they were safely in school and at daycare, my thoughts moved to my friend John Seymour, the owner of the barbershop who was shot, but fortunately survived and is recovering. The shooter was eventually cornered in an abandon bar in downtown Herkimer. The bar was formerly owned by a High School friend of mine – I spent more time there than I should admit – but as they described where the suspect might be hiding out, I could close my eyes and clearly see the layout room by room.

My thoughts then traveled to my friends in government in Herkimer County. The entire statewide press corps was about to converge on them. I knew they would be fine, but it was going to be a bit different than dealing with the local media attention they’re use to.

Then came the announcement that Governor Andrew Cuomo was headed to Herkimer County.

At the time, the announcement didn’t appear too uncommon, but as the day unfolded, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, “Why was Cuomo there?” Since then, I have learned this was the same question that many others were asking…

Cuomo spoke at the press conference for only a little more than three minutes. He thanked law enforcement and the elected officials, echoed what the State Police Superintendent said about the day and mentioned that it was a tragic series of events, giving the age old “never thought it could happen here” line. Keep in mind, that at that time, the shooter was still not in custody and there was a large number of law enforcement agents in a stand-off in the middle of Downtown Herkimer.

One reporter even asked the Governor during the presser, “Why are you here?” His answer was weak at best. He said he was in Albany meeting with Legislators and he wanted to make sure that all the resources of the State were available…. Really???

-So if you were in New York City you wouldn’t have made the trip?

-You don’t have the full confidence in your State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico to handle the situation?

-And if you are in Albany meeting with Legislators, why didn’t you ask the representatives from Herkimer County to join you on the trip?

-Why didn’t you fly out to Webster, NY in December when 4 firefighters were shot or fly to Victor for the 11 hour standoff that occurred 1 day before the Herkimer County Shooting?

So for me, like many others I’ve spoken to, there’s only one reason he made the trip…Cuomo was looking for his “Christie Moment.”

If you’ll remember back a few months when President Obama disembarked Marine One in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Sandy, he is met by Governor Christie with a big hug. Like what happened or not, the scene became a moment of unity and bipartisanship; a moment that voters long for when politicians come together for the greater good and leave the party bickering aside.

And in this case, it launched a political giant. Chris Christie’s popularity would soar.

Until that moment, Cuomo was enjoying his time as the most popular Governor in America. In the months that followed, Cuomo would see his approval rating begin a steady decline, mostly over his ill-advised gun control law. At current count, he has seen a 19 point drop in his overall numbers.

Then comes the morning of the shooting that rocked Herkimer County.

Cuomo had to see this as an opportunity for vindication. To see his new gun law in action and show up in person to look into the camera and give the entire state a good old-fashioned “I told you so.”

But what he would find when he landed was even worse than his ill-advised law that he rammed down the throats of New Yorkers – his law is ineffective. Gun violence happens because of bad or unstable people who should either be in jail or need mental health assistance.

The guns used in the Herkimer County shooting are still legal even under Cuomo’s “strictest gun law in the nation.” Sources on the ground and close to the situation in Herkimer have said that the Governor even delayed the press conference until he had confirmation on the type of weapon used by the shooter and the other types of weapons found at the shooters home. Nothing illegal – by anyone’s standards.

And now, Cuomo finds himself in a situation where it is obvious he has just showed up for a public relations stunt and he can’t even take the podium and proclaim the horrors of gun violence. Herkimer County is a very simple place to figure out. People want jobs, low taxes and their guns. Cuomo has provided them with none of the above. And the last thing he needs to do now is try to grandstand during a moment of unprecedented tragedy for this small close knit community.

And worse for Cuomo, as he flew out of Albany almost as hastily as he passed his so called “SAFE Act” looking for his “Christie Moment” – he landed to find that no one cared.