COMMON SENSE: Week of April 12

One day, President Obama is looking at a rebounding economy and enhanced prospects of being re-elected. The next day, new numbers come out, showing that the economy produced far fewer jobs than expected and is a drag on him in November.

In many ways, elections are more about how people perceive things than economic forecasts and monthly data from the Labor Department. More Americans draw their view of the economy when they pull up to the pump than when they hear a talking head on MSN or Fox give an analysis of jobs reports.

In many ways, President Reagan set the standard for the political view on all things economic when in 1980 running against President Carter he asked the question to all Americans, “Are you better off today then you were four years ago?”

New York City, after several years of big job losses in the finance, banking and insurance industries, has for the past two years seen stabilization and even some growth. Many parts of Florida, on the other hand, are virtual barren wastelands for anyone looking for a job. Housing prices have not yet stabilized and abandonments are common. And not surprisingly, Floridians often have a different view of the national election when compared to New Yorkers.

With 24-hour news cycles and the Internet playing such a big role in blasting us with constant information, it is easy to become deaf to what is being said. With around $2 billion expected to be spent by the presidential candidates between now and November, informed decisions beyond campaign rhetoric and perception will require some effort on the voter’s part.

President Obama runs the risk of .losing on all counts. At the moment, the numbers seem to have turned sour and many Americans continue to question the supposed turn-around. And the normal drone that anything can happen as a result of the election being still many months away is beginning to be lost to the reality that the conventions are around the corner, with Election Day just about six months down the road.

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Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, a strong proponent of Port Authority reforms designed to reduce its operating expenses and produce cash that will hopefully help keep tolls down, received credit from the venerable Crain’s New York Business for being an early advocate for the sale of some assets.

Last year, in a letter, writings and public statements, the Republican-Conservative assemblymember who represents Bay Ridge and parts of Staten Island called upon the Port Authority to return to its original mission of being a transportation agency, and in doing so to consider selling assets that no longer reflected its core mission and/or were not profitable.

Last week, the Executive Director of the Port Authority, Pat Foye, agreed and announced the leasing of an energy-producing plant in Newark and plans to look at the leasing and sale of several other Port Authority assets.

If the Port Authority sheds all the items it is reviewing, it will reduce its operating costs by many millions of dollars and receive the influx of money from the sales and/or long term leases. This should go exclusively into one thing – keeping the tolls on its bridges and tunnels from rising again.

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