2016-08-17 / Political Page

Trump Slides As Election Day Approaches

Day by day, the end of the 2016 presidential campaign is steadily drawing nearer. Presently, it’s just 84 days to the fateful day – November 8th. It’s crunch time for Donald Trump, the Republican standard-bearer, and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate.

As the parties’ presidential conventions drew to a close in late July, as fate would have it, Clinton gained a narrow lead, according to polls taken in the closely watched “key” states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, Virginia, W. Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan and Florida.

“Win these states,” the experts tell you, “and you win the election.”

Trump clearly had his work cut out for him – the theory being if he cut “crooked Clinton’s” lead in those states he could get back in the ball game. But try as he did, he failed to meet his objective. He may have blown a great opportunity. The “Crooked Clinton” angle wasn’t working, so last weekend he tried another tactic — blaming the “crooked press.”

As it turns out, that wouldn’t work, because Trump has been getting his expected core of coverage. The problem is the awful gaffes, the seemingly innocent tag lines that, more than usually, each open up another can of worms.

Meanwhile, Clinton, who also brought a plentiful share of garbage into the campaign, is cutting her losses by being careful not to commit any miscues that would upset her followers. Clinton wisely sets her campaigning schedule to avoid the press as much as possible, while still getting her message out.

Recently, she also made a good move, dragging along Vice President Joe Biden on a campaign swing that also included his hometown in Pennsylvania, one of the “key” states that Trump thinks he has a lock upon. He’s so sure of it that he boasted one night that he only can lose it if Clinton “steals” it. That’s Trump’s mouth getting him in trouble again.

As for activities in other key states in recent weeks, Clinton made major moves over Trump, widening her lead over her rival to almost 10 percent in a national poll. In statewide polls in other states, such as Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado, Clinton also increased her lead in polls over Trump. In Florida, Clinton appeared in Hispanic areas to bolster her numbers there.

Trump may also have the primary elections replayed in Ohio and Florida. In Ohio, one of his last primary rivals, John Kasich, is the governor, but grudges between Trump and Kasich got carried over and Trump may not get much help from Kasich.

In Florida, another primary rival, Marco Rubio, is the Republican U.S. Senator, and he and Trump ended with a shaky relationship.

Trump and Clinton have two or three debates scheduled before the election, but there’s some discord between them that may cancel them out. Trump is complaining that pro football games are scheduled at the same time as two of the debates.

That’s about it for this week. Now we’ll have to look out for an October surprise from one side or the other. Who knows, maybe one of those cyber attacks will descend on the Democrats once more, embarrassing lots of people.

DEA ENDS MONOPOLY ON MARIJUANA MED RESEARCH: After over a year of urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to change its antiquated policies on medical marijuana, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement on August 11 on the agency’s decision to end the University of Mississippi’s monopoly on medical marijuana research and to allow other universities to apply to grow marijuana for research purposes.

Gillibrand said, “This is an important first step toward helping countless children who suffer from seizures get the medicine they need. It’s past due that we expand opportunities for medical research, and now the DEA needs to take the next step and remove marijuana from Schedule I. It shouldn’t take an act of Congress for the DEA to get past antiquated ideology and make this change, but in the meantime I’ll continue urging my colleagues to pass our bipartisan legislation on behalf of the children and families who are suffering.”

Last Thursday’s announcement comes after Gillibrand (D–NY) led a bipartisan effort urging the DEA to end this monopoly and grant new research licenses. Citing new information she requested from the State Department and documents from HHS, Gillibrand and a bipartisan group of senators and representatives wrote DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg earlier this summer, urging him to make this change and remove barriers to research on medical marijuana.

Gillibrand is the sponsor of the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. Her bill would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug to recognize that it has accepted medical use, and would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies. The bill would also permit VA doctors to prescribe veterans medical marijuana to treat serious injuries and chronic conditions. The legislation would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states; rather, it would respect the states that set their own medical marijuana programs and would prevent federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states.

VAN BRAMER, DOE ANNOUNCE 36 NEW PRE-K SEATS IN LIC: City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and the Department of Education last week announced the addition of 36 Pre-K sets in Hunters Point, which follows Van Bramer’s July 8 announcement of 40 new seats in the neighborhood, bringing the total of additional students who will be able to attend Pre-K in Hunters Point to 76, and eliminating the Pre-K waitlist in Hunters Point.

“I’m very pleased that after much advocacy and pushing from parents and my office, the DOE confirmed that they have found room for an additional 36 children to attend Pre-K in Hunters Point,” said Van Bramer. “Because of our urging, the DOE has added a total of 76 Pre- K seats, eliminating the PS 78 Pre-K waitlist, and ensuring that all of the neighborhood’s children can attend Pre-K close to home. I will continue to push for these seats to be made permanent. Additionally, last year, I helped secure $225 million to build three new schools in Long Island City. I will be a strong advocate to ensure these schools are constructed and opened as quickly as possible so that all of our neighborhood’s children have a place to learn.”

The new classrooms will be located at 5- 14/16 49th Avenue and serve Pre-K students from Hunters Point for the 2016/2017 school year, Van Bramer added.

STRINGER: CITY ECONOMY SLOWS DURING 2ND QUARTER OF 2016: Stringer stated: “The City added 13,400 private-sector jobs, the second smallest increase in six years; the City’s economy grew 1.7%, the slowest rate in two years, but still outpaced the national economy; and In 2015, average real wages grew 3.3 percent for employees in low-wage industries.”

Weak economic indicators, such as falling venture capital investment and disappointing job growth contributed to the first tangible signs of a potential slowdown of the City’s economy during the second quarter of 2016 according to a Quarterly Economy Report released on August 10 by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. The report found that the City’s economy, while continuing to outpace the nation’s, grew an estimated 1.7 percent between April and June of this year – the slowest rate since the end of 2013.

“Our City’s economy is still growing – but in 2016 we’ve gone from a sprint to a jog,” Stringer said. “For the first time in a number of years, several important economic indicators are pointing toward weaker growth. While the residential real estate market remains strong and the wage gap has narrowed, this report confirms that our recovery is no longer gaining steam.”

Released every quarter, the Comptroller’s Quarterly Economic Update examines a broad range of indicators that reflect the City’s current conditions in the national economic context.

Findings include:

The City’s overall economic growth slowed, but still outpaced the nation’s

• Real Gross City Product grew at an estimated annual rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016, the slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2013, but faster than national Gross Domestic Product growth of 1.2 percent.

• The U.S. economy was dragged down by the third consecutive quarter of contractions in business investment amid global economic uncertainties and decreased demand from businesses in the energy sector. Gross private domestic investment fell 9.7 percent, the biggest drop in seven years.

Private-sector job growth dropped significantly, but wages improved

• In the second quarter of 2016, the City added 13,400 private-sector jobs, a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.4 percent – a substantial drop from growth of 4.6 percent in the first quarter. Despite recent trends, the vast majority – 85 percent – of these jobs were in medium-wage industries such as hospitals, and arts, entertainment and recreation.

• Mirroring national increases in consumer spending, local industries like education and health services and leisure and hospitality saw the greatest private-sector job gains.

Wages in low-wage industries improved in 2015

• Reversing a six-year trend, the gap between low-wage, medium-wage, and high-wage earners shrank last year. In 2015, average wages, adjusted for inflation, grew 3.3 percent for low-wage industries, 3.1 percent for mid-wage industries, and fell 0.9 percent for high-wage industries.

• However, since the end of recession in 2009 through 2015, the average wage in low-wage industries is still flat in real terms.

Slower growth in personal income

• Year-over-year, personal income tax revenues fell 5.7 percent in the second quarter of 2016. Personal income taxes withheld from paychecks rose only 0.5 percent during that same time period.

• Estimated tax payments, which reflect trends in taxpayers’ non-wage income, including interest earned, rental income, and capital gains, fell 16 percent compared to quarterly collections from last year. In June alone, estimated taxes were down about 20 percent.

• The average hourly earnings of all private New York City employees fell to $33.48 in the second quarter – the first year-over-year decline in nearly seven years. National average hourly earnings, on the other hand, grew 2.8 percent during the same period, the biggest increase in seven years.

• The slight decline in average city private-sector earnings is in part due to a loss of high-paid jobs. In the second quarter, the number of private-sector city jobs in high-wage industries shrank by 4 percent, equal to the loss of 500 jobs. Professional and business services lost 1,400 jobs, and the financial sector lost 1,100 jobs.

Labor force participation declined

• In the second quarter, unemployment in New York City fell to 5.2 percent, while the U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent.

• The decline in the City’s unemployment rate was due to a contraction of the City’s labor force by 34,200, the biggest quarterly decline on record. A shrinking labor force may signal that the City’s discouraged job seekers are leaving the labor market. However, the decline follows an unprecedented increase of 32,000 in the first quarter of this year.

Venture capital investment fell year over year

Venture capital investment in the New York Metro Area experienced the first second quarter year-over-year decline since 2012. Investment fell to $1.4 billion from $2.4 billion in the second quarter of 2015.

• During this time period, total venture capital investment in the U.S. fell 12.2 percent as investment in Silicon Valley fell 9.6 percent.

Residential real estate remained strong, while commercial leasing showed signs of cooling

• Average housing prices continued to rise on a year-over-year basis, growing 8.4 percent in Manhattan to $2 million; 3.6 percent in Brooklyn to nearly $817,000; and 16.5 percent in Queens to $527,000.

• New commercial leasing in the second quarter of 2016 totaled seven million square feet, 15.6 percent lower than this time last year. The Manhattan office vacancy rate, however, stayed level at 8.8 percent.

“New York City’s economy continues to grow, but has begun to feel the impact of national and global uncertainty,” Stringer said. “My office will keep a close eye on the City and global economies as the year progresses.”

KOO WELCOMES PS 24 EXPANSION: City Councilmember Peter Koo (D–Flushing) stated the following regarding the upcoming expansion of PS 24 Flushing:

“The PS 24 expansion is a welcome addition to our community that will add desperately needed capacity to one of our most overcrowded schools. This expanded school will provide a state of the art cafeteria, rooftop gym, music and dance studio, science lab, art studio, more classrooms for every grade and a new pre-k program. This project has been a long time coming, and I’m very excited that the city is finally seeking to address some of our serious overcrowding and capital infrastructure needs here in Flushing.”

ON KILLING OF IMAM IN QUEENS: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D–Flushing) issued the following statement Monday on the killing of Imam Maulama Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin on August 13 Saturday:

“I am outraged and horrified at the killing of an Imam and his assistant in Queens, and I condemn this despicable act in the strongest possible terms. I ask all Americans to join me in sending thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and all who have been impacted by this heinous crime. We stand ready to assist the Muslim community in Queens and throughout New York with whatever assistance they may require.”

A suspect has been apprehended after his car was identified in a hit-and-run soon after the shooting, sources said.

JUNG FAILS TO FILE FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE WITH JCOPE: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s campaign recently requested the latest ethics filings from the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. According to the Public Officers Law “every…candidate for statewide elected office or for member of the legislature shall file an annual statement of financial disclosure” on or before the 10th day after filing petitions,” which was August 1st. Two years ago, S.J. Jung filed late, adding to his history of noncompliance. In 2009, he was cited by the city for failing to properly report more than $20,000 in campaign spending – funds that were paid for by taxpayers,” according to Stavisky’s campaign.

Stavisky’s campaign is calling for an investigation into his chronic tardiness in filings. They also ask that JCOPE carefully review his filings to ensure its accuracy.

“We requested the latest filings from JCOPE and it seems the most recent filings from S.J. Jung, were from 2013, not 2015. It’s ironic S.J. campaigns on ethics and good government yet can’t follow the law. S.J.’s continued failure to obey the law has once again proven that the people of Queens cannot trust him,” Campaign Manager Veronica Ng said.

STATEMENT BY MARKEY ON CITY PROPOSAL FOR HOMELESS SHELTER IN LOCAL HOTEL: “The proposal to use a Holiday Inn Express hotel in Maspeth to provide temporary space for homeless couples may be a mistake. All of us need to learn more about the plan than we heard from city officials last week. I am concerned about the job placement and counseling services that will be provided to ensure that the shelter is truly ‘temporary’ for residents. I am also concerned about the track record of the proposed provider. We need answers to our questions and I am opposed to moving forward with this plan until we hear them,” Markey (D–Maspeth) stated.

Markey sponsored a bill in the NY State Assembly this year to require adequate community notification and the opportunity for public review of any shelter or supportive housing proposal. The bill, A2553, co-sponsored by many NYC legislators, including Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the state Senate, was not approved by both houses of the Legislature. It would require public review by the local community board before such a project could move forward, mandating a local hearing within 45 days of the announcement of such a project and denying permission for the project to begin until a minimum of 60 days after that hearing.

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