Albany Beat — September column

Trump Receives NY Conservative Nod

The New York State Conservative Party, with 160,000 enrolled members across the state, gave Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a boost with an endorsement from a majority of the conservatives gathered at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square this month. Some of the party’s committee members abstained from supporting Trump.

New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told The Jewish Press, “[Trump]’s a strong supporter of Israel, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He was the grand marshal of the Israel Day parade. Unlike President Obama he wouldn’t be chastising [Israel Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with the suggestions that Donald Trump has flip-flop positions,” Long continued. “Trump has always been against illegal immigration. The message may come across a little differently but he talks policy and we’re beginning to understand his true and exact position on these issues and they are consistent. His policy is consistent with his rhetoric. He clearly is enunciating a conservative agenda. Taxation, immigration, jobs are all conservative views Trump holds. He understands we’re losing jobs to Mexico, to the Far East. He gets elected, that’s going to end.”

“There’s no hope other than if I become president,” Trump told the enthusiastic crowd upon accepting the endorsement. “We’re going to bring jobs back to New York. We have to bring back our businesses. We can’t let our remaining businesses go. If they go and they make a product and they want to move and send the product back over our borders and yet fire all our people and not pay taxes and they think they’re going to send that over the border and there’s not going to be consequences? Not gonna happen.”

Trump had this message for employers who move manufacturing jobs to other countries (as in fact he himself has): “Every time you make your product and you think you’re going to send it over, you’re going to pay a 35 percent tax every single time. We’re going to bring our businesses back.”

Not everyone at the state convention was enamored with Trump. Nachman Mostofsky, a voting member of the Conservative Party, is one of several party members who disagreed with the Trump endorsement.

“He’s not a conservative,” said Mostofsky, a member of the Brooklyn Conservative Committee. “We’re a political party. We have a platform to advance conservatism. He’s not a conservative. He shouldn’t have our party line. My problem is his need to start a tariff war. We should not be rubber-stamping the Republican party’s choice.”

Another party member not enamored with Trump is Ross Brady, the treasurer of the Brooklyn Conservative Committee. His concern about Trump is that “he has no guiding principles whatsoever.”

Brady abstained from the Trump endorsement but supported Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence. Brady says he is still going to vote for the Trump-Pence ticket in November because “they are the lesser of two evils.”

Jewish Presence Dwindling In State Legislature

Earlier this month New Yorkers went to the polls to cast their ballots in several primary battles. Due to a lack of opposition in November or lopsided enrollment numbers in these district races, many of those primary results in effect determined the final results in November.

There will be at least 15 new faces in the 150-member state Assembly next year (with five other Assemblymembers who came into office earlier this year and will be serving out their first full term), making it a 13 percent turnover rate in the lower house in one year.

Five of the newly filled 20 Assembly seats (or 25 percent) have flipped from being held by Jewish lawmakers to non-Jewish lawmakers. This leaves only 18 members (12 percent) who identify as Jewish. All are Democrats.

In the State Senate there will be six new faces next year with another three running for their first full term, having been picked by party leaders to fill out the term of an incumbent bounced from office. There are nine lawmakers (14 percent) who identify as being Jewish in the 63-member upper house. There are two contested races with one Jewish candidate vying for an open Senate seat in a Republican stronghold. There is only one Jewish Republican in the Senate but Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park) caucuses with the Republicans. There are nine senators who identify as Jewish. After November, there could be a tenth.

There are three Senate districts and 27 Assembly districts that have no Jewish footprint.

Felder Proud Of Diss From Environmental Activists

The Environmental Advocates lobby group releases a legislative scorecard each year that rates whether elected officials voted “correctly” on bills the group deems as important. This year the Environmental Planning Lobby’s scorecard showed the environmental voting record of State Senator Simcha Felder (D – Boro Park) improved from 44 percent to 57 percent over the past year.

Even with his improved score, however, the environmental group bestowed its infamous Oil Slick award on Felder, who graciously and proudly accepted it.

What was all the tzimmis (fuss) about? A bill sponsored by Felder and supported by members on both sides of the aisle in both houses would establish a prohibition on the imposition of any tax, fee, or local charge on carryout merchandise bags.

There were eight cosponsors to this measure. One senator, Diane Savino, received a lower overall score than Felder. Another, Andrew Lanza, received the same overall score as Felder and four cosponsors received overall scores of 82 or greater. This shows that even those considered friends of the environmental lobby group went against the wishes of the environmentalists.

Felder was given the Oil Slick award because the bill “would have blocked communities statewide from taking action to reduce needless plastic bag waste, which is costing local taxpayers as it damages wastewater systems, pollutes waterways, and gets landfilled,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of EPL/Environmental Advocates.

Felder countered the environmentalists’ position with a public health argument:

“If customers do begin to provide their own carryout bags, as those who support this tax or fee intend, such reusable bags will undoubtedly present a serious public health issue. For such reusable bags often present the risk of bringing into the store a contaminate of food-based disease, bacteria or other illness, which can cause serious cross-contamination or infection for both the customer, or other customers, or store employees. Issues such as salmonella, or other bacteria or viruses, which escape from food previously carried in the reusable bag, or which are being spread from the exposure to customer’s own home environment, can be easily spread from exposure to the reusable bag.

“To bring such source of contaminates or disease back into the store is both ill advised and dangerous. Accordingly, unless the reusable bag has been completely cleaned and disinfected, which is a practice few consumers with such reusable bags follow, this practice is one that could well cause serious harm and disease to all the people exposed to the bag.”

Felder went on the attack after he was given the Oil Slick award, criticizing the greenies for wishing “to add yet another regressive tax to New Yorkers in the guise of helping the environment.”

In a prepared text Felder wrote: “I am pleased to accept this award. And I do so on behalf of all New Yorkers who care about the environment as much as anyone else.”

Marc Gronich

About the Author: Marc Gronich is news director of Statewide News Service. He also operates the website JBizTechValley.com. He has been covering government and politics since 1981. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press.