August 2006 Archives

August 31, 2006

Score one for Suozzi (Updated)

Tom Suozzi has won the endorsement of the Amsterdam News, the Harlem-based newspaper catering to the city's black community. Here is the Times Union's description of the endorsement, which criticizes Eliot Spitzer for overweening ambition.
Spitzer spokeswoman Christine Anderson said, "Eliot has certainly had a reputation and record as attorney general as someone who has done quite a bit for the African American community, and who plans, whether it be education or health care, to help that community as governor."
In the face of Spitzer's gazillion endorsements to date, Suozzi has said he doesn't need them, but we suspect he'll take some pleasure in this one.

Michael Rothfeld
Text of the endorsement is on the next page.

Continue reading "Score one for Suozzi (Updated)" »

Chuck, Eliot and the Milk Tent (Updated)

In a sign of thawing in the acrimonious relationship between Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Charles Schumer, the two are planning to meet up later today at the state fair in Syracuse, and pose for some pictures together.
Christine Anderson, Spitzer's spokeswoman, said she thought they would be walking around the milk tent.
"I wouldn't interpret it as anything other than two elected officials who are at the fair on the same day," she said.
The two hyper-ambitious politicians, both of whom are said to aspire to be the first Jewish president, butted heads over this year's governor's race. Eliot angered Chuck by trying to line up early endorsements a couple of years ago in an attempt to beat the senator to the punch. Chuck then reportedly encouraged Tom Suozzi in his run against Spitzer.
Of course, Spitzer's apparent imminent election as governor could be one reason the two are playing nice-nice.

Michael Rothfeld
Update: They are scheduled to meet up at 2:45 at the Dairy Products Building, Anderson reported.

August 30, 2006

Caucus Chatter

Deputy Presiding Officer Vivian Viloria-Fisher did not show up at two Democratic caucus meetings and the Setauket lawmaker doesn’t plan to attend any in the near future, said her aide.
"She is a very, very busy lady," said the aide, Ginny Suhr.
Sources said, however, that Viloria-Fisher told Democratic lawmakers she was upset that things she said in private caucus meetings - such as accusing Presiding Officer William Lindsay of being a sexist - were being leaked.

Chau Lam

Disappearing Act

The Smithtown Messenger apologized last week for misleading readers by removing Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy from a front-page photograph on Aug. 17.
The retraction in the Aug. 24 edition was a bit cheeky, however.
Under a headline that read, "Now You See Him…" the weekly newspaper published the unaltered photo showing Levy flanked by Legis. Lynne Nowick (R-St. James) and Knox School Board chairwoman Jennifer Lawrence during a news conference at the school. An accompanying paragraph reads, "To facilitate the headline graphics, the cover photo from last week’s edition omitted the image of County Executive Steve Levy, although Levy appeared in the same photo (shown above) with the story. The Messenger regrets any inconvenience experienced by those readers who understand the image to be an actual depiction from the press event."
The correction came after officials in Levy’s office complained to the Messenger.
The photo was taken by county employee Henry Mangles....

James T. Madore

Continue reading "Disappearing Act" »

August 29, 2006

Ethical Problems? Check the Internet!

Question: You are the executive director of the New York State Ethics Commission, and find yourself confronted with a difficult and politically thorny problem involving the man likely to become the state's next governor, thus gaining effective control of your agency. What do you do?
Answer: If you are Karl Sleight, the current executive director, look for help on the Internet! At least that is what Sleight did in researching whether Attorney General Eliot Spitzer can sit on the board of his family's charitable trust. The commission on Monday ruled that he can remain on the board.
Here is an excerpt and the link to Sleight's July 25 posting on the Web site of the Council of Government Ethics Laws, in which he, under the title, "Government regulators serving on entities regulated by their agency," not so subtly describes Spitzer's situation, although changing him to a woman. Wondering how Eliot felt about that.

Michael Rothfeld

Continue reading "Ethical Problems? Check the Internet!" »

The non-Elephant, Not in the Room

Last night's non-debate upstate had its own special tone. Predictably, Spitzer was the pinata in absentia.

August 28, 2006

Airing Soon

Official voting in Jacobs' bird contest, by the way, will begin once it begins appearing on the county Web site and is expected to go on for about a month, said legislative officials. (See previous posting).

Sid Cassese

Bird Watching

Never let it be said that the leadership of the much-maligned Nassau legislature is ignoring business.
Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs is due to stand shoulder-to-shoulder at 11 a.m. Tuesday with local bird enthusiasts and experts to announce a countywide contest to select Nassau’s “first official bird.”
“Who will it be?” queries Jacobs’ office in a news release. “The Tree Swallow? Osprey? Or the American Oystercatcher? ... Why should American Idol judges have all the fun?”
Since it’s the Nassau legislature, other suggestions may come to mind.
What about the Lame Duck? The Hard-Charging Cuckoo? The Flying Plaque? The Right-Winged Sparrow? The Blue-State Flak Catcher?
The event is scheduled for the Garden City Bird Sanctuary on Tanners Pond Road.

Integrity's Intent

The Integrity Party reported this morning that it had submitted about 7,000 signatures on candidate petitions to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. The signatures are in support of Assembly candidate Dan Panico, GOP incumbent county clerk Judy Pascale and county comptroller candidate Robert Olson, who also is a member of the Integrity Party.
The petitions have been challenged but Darren Johnson, the party’s chief organizer, said each candidate had amassed well over the 1,500 signatures needed. Thursday is the final day for filing specific objections to petition signatures.

James T. Madore

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August 27, 2006

Naked Ambition

Which action by a power player represented the most fevered lunge for self-promotion?
1. Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana’s president, saying a share of the proceeds from a $20 million Inter-American Development Bank loan could pay for hiring Bernard Kerik, the scandal-tagged former NYC police commissioner, to consult that nation on crimefighting — a claim later contested by critics and officials.
2. House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) brandishing a Congressional report pegging the cost of the U.S. Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill at $127 billion as proof of the measure’s “staggering burden on American taxpayers.”
3. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, under fire for his city’s Easy-going pace in cleaning up from Hurricane Katrina, saying “You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed and it’s five years later.”

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August 25, 2006

A Live Ringer

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-Northport), who is flooding cable channels with campaign ads, is using a ringer in some of his man-in-the-street interviews — former Brookhaven Republican boss Walter Hazlitt.
Robert Carropoli said on Flanagan's behalf there was no intention to fool anyone. “These are people who live in the district, offered to help and we interviewed them on their feeling about Sen. Flanagan,” he said. He said Hazlitt, a Stony Brook resident, like others “basically said whatever was on his mind.”
Not your typical man in the street, Hazlitt was GOP chairmnan of Suffolk's largest town from 1983 until 1991...

Rick Brand

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Sancho... Pancho... Or Suozzo?

If communication is an art, this exchange between veteran NBC reporter Gabe Pressman and governor candidate Tom Suozzi might belong to the Wrong Impressionist school.
They were discussing the "Tom Quixote" idea. The whole pre-taped interview is due to air Sunday on Ch. 4 at 6:30 a.m.
Pressman: “...Don Quixote’s quest was considered an impossible dream.”
Suozzi: “You have to dream the impossible dream. I’m not going to sing that for you, all right Gabe? But unless you want to be Sancho — is it Sancho or Pancho?”
Pressman: “Pancho Villa.”
Suozzi: “Pancho Villa. So I’ll fight. I’ll keep on fighting...”
Both men were struggling to remember Sancho Panza — the fictional Don Quixote’s fictional follower created by Cervantes. Pancho Villa was that real-life general in the Mexican Revolution in the early part of the 20th Century.

He Can Mail It, Cuz He's Mailed It

Arriving, or recently arrived, in a mailbox near you:
The latest slick color brochure from the Suozzi camp blasts Spitzer on education, using a pretty foul-looking black-and-white likeness of the front-running candidate to punctuate the point.
The slogan is a corollary of "I can do it because I've done it."
"Eliot Spitzer has had 8 years to fix and fund our schools," it says. "He hasn't done it. He won't do it."
Suozzi derides Spitzer's legal defense of the famous, perpetual CFE case, cites Spitzer's ambiguity on how much he'd commit to fix the court-decreed funding gap, and quotes the Village Voice on the CFE case by way of concluding: "Eliot Spitzer's Priorities Aren't Our Priorities."

August 24, 2006

And Just in Time for Labor Day...

Spin Cycle apologizes for the slightly premature report in June that Assemb. Brian McLaughlin, a Flushing Democrat, had stepped aside as head of the city’s Central Labor Council amid reports of his possible involvement in municipal bid-rigging now under investigation.
McLaughlin’s paid leave of absence does not start until Sept. 1st, the labor group says in its latest announcement.

Bill Murphy

Pols and the War Dead

Does anyone find the government’s position inconsistent on how it handles the deaths of U.S. service members in Iraq and Afghanistan?
The federal government does not allow the media to photograph the caskets as they are brought back to American soil.
Yet, Gov. George Pataki, who is running for president, is attending wakes in Queens and Brooklyn tonight for slain soldiers, and both are listed on his official public schecule that is distributed to the media.
And Pataki is not the only pol who does it.

Bill Murphy

Fiscal Woes in Glen Cove

The City of Glen Cove's cash concerns are coming to the forefront as Mayor Ralph Suozzi calls in state auditors and looks to other state sources for help.
For more, see the story by Bill Murphy on the Newsday Web site.

August 23, 2006

CNN's Take

CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program broadcast live Tuesday night a report on immigration, from outside the Suffolk County legislature’s building in Hauppauge. Dobbs himself, an ardent foe of illegal immigration, was away, leaving the anchor chair to substitute Kitty Pilgrim.
The report consisted of a taped segment with interviews of County Executive Steve Levy touting his bill to require government contractors to certify that their workers are eligible to work in the United States, followed by criticism....

James T. Madore

Continue reading "CNN's Take" »

Binder's Return

After an eight-month absence, Allan Binder returned to the Suffolk County Legislature Tuesday night – albeit very briefly.
Binder, a Republican from Huntington, served in the body from 1990 through 2005. Facing term limits, he ran unsuccessfully for Huntington Town supervisor and now is involved in several businesses including lobbying.

James T. Madore

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Still on Stage

Bernie Kerik's business efforts in Guyana, as noted by Newsday reporter Bryan Virasami, continue to keep the former commish in the spotlight after his prosecution and ethical breaches and questions about the implications for his mentor Rudy Giuliani.
And, as law-enforcement blogger Len Levitt recently points out, Kerik is working to raise support for his friend Jeanine Pirro, the GOP candidate for state attorney general.

Night Moves

After listening to seven hours of testimony on immigration, a recreational shooting range and housing discrimination, the Suffolk County Legislature only had time to take up a few agenda items before adjourning at midnight.
Here are the key resolutions adopted before the bewitching hour – all passed unanimously:
* County Executive Steve Levy’s veto of a 4 percent increase in the 2007 budget for Suffolk County Community College was over-ridden as expected with no discussion.
* A new two-year contract for sheriff’s deputies.
* A contract for an advertising campaign aimed at increasing the number of minorities in the police department.
* Two referendum proposals that could change the way Suffolk manages taxpayer funds advanced toward the November ballot. One measure would give county lawmakers more discretion over funds that may result from an end-of-year cash surplus. The other would close a legal loophole in a bid to help rein in the county's long-term debt.
Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) announced shortly after midnight that the legislature would hold a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 5 in Hauppauge to finish consideration of the many bills on its agenda and to wrap up several public hearings.

James T. Madore

August 22, 2006

No Help Needed?

The Democratic primary for governor is a blah affair -- especially when measured by the amount of financial interest from other Democratic politicians so far.
The Web site of the city’s Campaign Finance Board shows one donation during the first six months of this year to the campaigns of either Eliot Spitzer or Thomas Suozzi - and that’s out of more than 200 campaign committees for candidates who filed for mayor, comptroller, public advocate and City Council.
The sole contribution listed in CFB records was $250 from City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who wrote a check in March for a ticket to a Spitzer event.

Bill Murphy

Continue reading "No Help Needed?" »

August 21, 2006

Suspension for Denenberg

Nassau Legis. Dave Denenberg, who dropped his candidacy for Congress in May citing health reasons, has gotten bad news on the professional front.
His law license has been suspended for three months by a state appellate court because of his admission that he falsely claimed to have witnessed signatures on election petitions.
Glimpse the rest of the story by Newsday's Celeste Hadrick by clicking the "continue" button just below.

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King n' the Hill

Symbiosis defined: “The living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms.”
Political symbiosis defined: Liberal Democrat Hillary Clinton and Conservative Republican Peter King attending the same events, supporting the same causes, laughing at the same jokes — and defending Clinton from Republican attacks.
Yes, the last one really happened. On Tuesday, reporters were told by Clinton’s camp that she would be available the next day to respond to an attack ad by one of her would-be Republican foes, John Spencer, who suggested she helped Osama Bin Laden by opposing federal wiretaps that were not court-authorized.
The media waited dutifully until Clinton emerged Wednesday afternoon from a 9/11-related event in SoHo where she had appeared with King - one of the many initiatives the two have worked on together....

Bill Murphy

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August 20, 2006

Naked Ambition

Which was the most fevered lunge for self-promotion by a power player?
1. Tom Suozzi’s claim that his campaign for governor is already helping win the fight to reform government.
2. U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ statement that the warantless-wiretapping program will continue “to ensure that America is safer.”
3. Yankee boss George Steinbrenner telling those celebrating the groundbreaking of the new Bronx stadium, “...we’re happy to do it for you people.”

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August 19, 2006

Some Negatives

Tom Suozzi's latest mailing, knocking Eliot Spitzer, goes with the Nassau executive's latest slap at the front-runner over education.
What are the chances of these two getting together on an endorsement when this is over?

August 18, 2006

The Fine Points

Queens City Council candidate Marlene Tapper was the target of the heaviest fine meted out last week by the city’s Campaign Finance Board as it started to close the books on the 2005 elections.
Tapper, who lost to incumbent Hiram Monserrate in the Democratic primary in Jackson Heights, was fined $12,100 for having an over-the limit contribution, failing to file a number of reports on time, and other violations.
The second largest fine was against John Ruiz, a loser in a six-person race in a Harlem district. He was fined $9,780 for a variety of infractions, including the improper use of a money from a state political committee under his control.
In all, the board assessed fines against 13 City Council campaigns, but perhaps the most unusual was against Democratic Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who was re-elected in an Upper West Side district noted for its ultra-liberal voters.
Brewer, who has never met a good-government proposal she didn’t like, was hit with a mid-sized fine of $1,363 for four separate violations, including two late filings of financial reports.

Bill Murphy

Pointed Remarks

The verbal fisticuffs between Suffolk County Legis. Edward P. Romaine and Ben Zwirn, a top aide to County Executive Steve Levy, continued at Thursday’s legislative committee meetings.
This time, Zwirn, a Democrat, accused Romaine (R-Center Moriches) of recklessly proposing to spend money the county doesn’t have.
Romaine shot back that Levy is pushing legislation that would benefit his campaign contributors. Romaine also complained that “Ben is taking a pencil and keeps stabbing it into my eye.”
Before the exchage could continue, Ways and Means Committee chairman Legis. Louis D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) interrupted, saying "Let’s stay on the topic!” – which happened to be Suffolk’s disposal of property taken for back taxes.

James T. Madore

August 17, 2006

That AG Race in Prime Time

The debate among Democratic primary candidates for attorney general commences at 7 p.m. Sponsored by NY1 Cable News in the city, it is available at the station's Web site.
Please pardon our earlier screwup. Despite word it would be broadcast live on News12 Long Island, it is not.
The debate comes on the heels of last night's scatter-site town hall-style forum featuring the four candidates as well as GOP nominee Jeanine Pirro.
This is a hot statewide scramble, of course, and the direct confrontation tonight, which is the real show, should spark serious crossfire, especially between leading rivals Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green.

August 16, 2006

Mandy’s Mini Movie

Hillary Clinton's first campaign ad is out. Curiously, it fails to link John Spencer with Osama Bin Laden.
Actually, it’s an unrelentingly positive 60-second spot by Mandy Grunwald very similar to the mini-epic Grunwald produced for the state Democratic convention a couple of months back. The ad, which runs on upstate cable, is basically a pastiche of person-on-the-street interviews with earthy types who used to think Hillary was a ritzy carpetbagger but now think she’s a real New Yorker. Whatever that is.

Glenn Thrush

Back Again

Although Kim Devlin stepped down as manager for Tom Suozzi’s lackluster campaign for governor last month, she’s talking these days for the candidate.
When the campaign was asked for a response to Newsday’s story that the Nassau County executive had been out of his county office 123 of the past 156 work days while Democratic rival Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was gone 13 days in the same period, Devlin called back.
In vintage Devlin-ese, she said, “If Eliot Spitzer has been in the office as much as he says he has, then he could have done a much better job of going after Medicaid fraud and our broken government in Albany.”

Celeste Hadrick

August 15, 2006

Dueling Tax Bills

Democratic State Senate candidate David Ochoa has proposed replacing the county property tax with an income tax. But one of the most prominent Democrats in the Senate district says that the neophyte candidate should concentrate on school property taxes, which make up the bulk of the tax bill.
Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said he has not seen Ochoa's proposal. But he noted that county property taxes make up only about 20 percent of the tax bill, and school taxes two-thirds of the total.
“It’s like going into the doctor’s office for a broken arm and having your leg cut off,” said Lindsay, who backs Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip), one of Ochoa’s primary opponents.

Rick Brand

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The Osama Ad

So, GOP Senate candidate John Spencer has rolled out his ad accusing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of aiding Osama by opposing NSA wiretaps.
The ad, which pretty blatantly distorts Clinton’s position (She voted "no" on a party-line test vote of the USA Patriot Act and voted "yes’ when privacy safeguards were inserted) seems to have been hastily thrown together. Fascist, for example, is spelled "facist."
Spencer reportedly spent a mere $25,000 to broadcast it briefly in the city's northern burbs, but the target audience was just as likely Fox News and the right-wing talk-show types who have seized on it as "news."
So why did he bother? One possible take:....
Glenn Thrush

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Suffolk in the Silent Picture Era

Good-government types and insomniacs who tuned into Monday’s 5 a.m. airing of a Suffolk County legislative committee meeting may be forgiven for thinking the legislators had gone mute.
Zabby, the public-access advocate, called this morning to say a technical mishap at Cablevision Systems Corp. caused the show to air without sound. It will be rebroadcast at 7 a.m. Thursday on Channel 20 in the Hauppauge and Brookhaven cable systems.
Zabby said this isn’t the first time that her tapes have aired minus sound but she didn’t seemed discouraged. In fact, she said she plans to be taping this week’s legislative committee meetings for broadcast.

James T. Madore

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Pins Next Time for Pirro

It wasn’t as bad as the missing page from her declaration speech for U.S. Senate, but Jeanine Pirro’s campaign for state attorney general suffered a minor glitch yesterday.
As she was making a point about how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency isn’t enforcing the Clean Air Act, the blue-and-white sign bearing her name fell from the podium to the ground. An aide quickly retrieved it.
The tape apparently had lost some of its adhesive power. Try tacks or pins next time, a campaign wag was heard to say.
Still, the Pirro camp did select a beautiful place for the news conference – dozens of sailboats moored in Huntington Harbor, which made for great visuals.

James T. Madore

August 14, 2006

A Certain Logic

Here’s a Republican-inspired argument: If our accountant is good enough for the City of Glen Cove and Tom Suozzi, he should be good enough for the Village of Hempstead.
That concept was put forward by Trustee Don Ryan, a registered Republican, as he argued last week that the Village of Hempstead should keep its long-time outside accounting firm, Bloom & Co. a locally based firm.
“When then-Mayor Tom Suozzi took over in Glen Cove (in 2002) he kept them on as the CPA’s there. They are still the Village of Glen Cove’s CPA’s,” Ryan said at a board meeting Thursday night.
Ryan’s argument did not carry the day. Village Mayor Wayne Hall, who is close to Suozzi — the Nassau County executive and candidate for governor — persuaded the Board of Trustees to hire Callahan & Nawrocki, a Melville firm.

Bill Murphy

Pols v. MSM

Campaign against Hillary Clinton foundering? Blame the news media.
Throughout last week’s withering, barb-filled debate between GOP Senate candidates KT McFarland and John Spencer, Spencer had choice words for both Clinton and McFarland. But sometimes it seemed his greatest contempt was reserved for the press.
On charges he’d used ethnic slurs: “My friends in the media want to spin things and take tapes and cut them, that’s what I have to live with, and as a conservative Republican, that’s the way it goes.”
On whether it’s wrong for Clinton to have presidential aspirations: “I wish the liberal media would go after her and put the question.”
But the “liberal media” apparently holds no succor for Clinton’s Democratic anti-war challenger, Jonathan Tasini, who paused several times in a recent City Hall steps news conference to lambast the news media ....

Melanie Lefkowitz

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August 13, 2006

Naked Ambition

Which was the most fevered lunge for self-promotion by a power player? Cast your vote at
1. Mark Green, attorney general candidate, launching a “comparison campaign” with rival Andrew Cuomo.
2. Cuomo touting his record as U.S. Housing secretary despite instances of fraud and mismanagement in his agency’s 203(k) Home Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program.
3. Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, having his office issue a press release headlined: “BP MARKOWITZ HAILS BROOKLYN DEBUT OF WORLD’S SMELLIEST FLOWER.”

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August 12, 2006

Eliot's Further Fund Fest

With a month left to Primary Day, the Democratic front-runner for governor, Eliot Spitzer, has nearly eight times more money in his campaign treasury than rival Thomas Suozzi, the Nassau County executive.
Spitzer, the state attorney general, had $14 million as of Monday, said his spokeswoman. Suozzi had $1.8 million, according to a finance report that he filed Friday with the state Board of Elections.
The candidates’ fundraising was equally lopsided from July 12 to Aug. 7, with Spitzer raising $1.1 million and Suozzi $128,975. The gap in spending was narrower; Spitzer’s bills totaled $3.5 million for the period while Suozzi’s were $1.1 million.
The race is much tighter among the Democrats who are fighting to succeed Spitzer as attorney general.

James T. Madore

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August 11, 2006

No Close Encounter for Clintons

Turns out Hillary and Bill aren’t bunking with Steven Spielberg this weekend during her fundraising tour of the Hamptons.
The former first lady, a house guest at Steven Spielberg’s Georgica Pond estate during recent trips, is reportedly staying at the $9.4 million East Hampton house owned by Manhattan financier Terry Meehan.
The 58-year-old Meehan, a longtime Clinton backer and schoolmate of Bill’s at Georgetown, won’t be there to greet the former first couple: He’s out of town and is lending the 6.4-acre spread, according to a source familiar with the plans.

Glenn Thrush

Schumer Vacation Update

Stranded in London by the Heathrow terror bottleneck, vacationing Sen. Chuck Schumer has decided to ditch the Amsterdam leg of his vacation and tour galleries in the British capital through the weekend.
On Sunday he goes to Paris, where he will no doubt find it impossible to get good Chinese take-out.

Glenn Thrush

In the Shadows

Now the summer primary races recede further into the background as terrorism and war command the spotlight. Still, the underdog candidates are struggling for a hearing. Mark Green, for example, stepped up the rhetorical prosecution of his case against rival Andrew Cuomo's record as U.S. housing secretary in the Clinton administration while Jonathan Tasini expanded his criticism of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton to blast her support of NAFTA as having sacrificed big numbers of U.S. manufacturing jobs while agitating for a debate against her.

August 10, 2006

Judgment Call

New York Urban League President and CEO Darwin Davis and former Buffalo Assemblyman Arthur Eve today urged Governor George Pataki to reappoint Judge George Bundy Smith to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest.
Bundy Smith, nominated by the previous administration, is the only African-American on the seven-member court.

Continue reading "Judgment Call" »

Chuck's Stuck

Sen. Charles Schumer, passing through Heathrow with his wife and daughters for an Amsterdam connecting flight, is apparently stuck in London and looking for his luggage after the terror busts.

End of LI As We Know It

Who is more of an East Ender?
That seemed to be the question raised in the Suffolk County Legislature late Tuesday by Legis. Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Ben Zwirn, a top aide to County Executive Steve Levy.
Romaine and Zwirn were arguing over whether sufficient federal grant money was going to fight crime in the East End towns when Romaine said, “this issue is going to be raised again and again, when you think the county ends at Brookhaven.”
Zwirn, an East Hampton resident and former North Hempstead supervisor, responded, “We don’t count you as part of the East End. You aren’t part of Peconic,” he added, referring to the name some East End residents want to use for a breakaway county.

James T. Madore

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August 9, 2006

Tasini Lamenting Lamont?

If you were expecting Jonathan Tasini, Hillary’s anti-war opponent in the Dem primary, to uncork the bubbly over Ned Lamont’s Excellent Connecticut Adventure, guess again.
Tasini is happy that pro-war Goliath Lieberman got knocked out but bummed out that it took a super-rich guy like Lamont to do the job.
"I think its great that Ned defeated Lieberman," said Tasini, taking a deep here-it-comes breath. "But it reflects one of the worst aspects of our political system: That you have to be rich to win election in this country."

Glenn Thrush

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A Queens Tale

Having the support of the party boss is helpful in so many ways. Consider the re-election campaign of City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last year.
Faced with a challenge to his nominating petitions — rare for an incumbent — he got the help of Frank Bolz III, a law partner of the late county boss, Thomas Manton.
The city’s Campaign Finance Board wondered why Bolz billed Avella for only $190. “This appears to be an insufficient amount for an extensive ballot challenge,” the board staff concluded.
The Avella campaign said....

Bill Murphy

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Wider Meanings

The debate and furious spin is now well under way about just what the Lieberman defeat in Connecticut means for upcoming primaries and elections elsewhere.
Obviously, there's New York's own Senate primary, Clinton v. Tasini to consider.
Locally, there's even discussion, serious or not, of impact on the King-Mejias Congressional race.

August 8, 2006

Friction in the Room

Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-East Setauket) on Monday accused Presiding Officer William Lindsay, in private, of being a sexist after he voted against a proposal to close a trap-and-skeet shooting range, according to several legislators at a Democratic caucus meeting.
Fisher reportedly said Lindsay wouldn’t have tabled the bill, sponsored by Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley), had it been put forth by one of the male legislators.
As Fisher walked out of the meeting, several aides standing in the hallways told a reporter they heard Fisher say: "He’s an arrogant son of a -----."
One aide wasn’t sure whether Fisher said "arrogant" or "sexist".
Fisher denied uttering any vulgarities.

Chau Lam

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August 7, 2006

Barraga Gets Best Ballot Spot

Veteran Republican town board member Pamela Greene may have handed in more primary petitions, but Suffolk her rival Legis. Thomas Barraga got the number one ballot spot for the Sept. 12 primary for Islip town supervisor.
The primary ballot positions were chosen by lot yesterday at the Suffolk Board of Elections iin Yaphank.
In the other key Islip race, Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip) got the number one position in the three-way Democratic State Senate primary in the third district.

Rick Brand

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Not Ready for Their Closeups?

Maybe the reason Suffolk County lawmakers aren't enthusiastic about televising their meetings is they lack the wardrobe for the small screen.
One GOP legislator confessed last week to being embarrassed by a member of the town board who appears to wear the same suit to every session broadcast on public access.
The issue of televising the legislature has resurfaced because Zabby, the quirky public-access advocate, taped several committee meetings last week for airing on Ch. 20 (Hauppauge and Brookhaven cable systems) starting at 5 a.m. Mondays, 4 a.m. Wednesdays and 6 a.m. Thursdays. But she’s pushing for county-funded cameras in the auditoriums in Hauppauge and Riverhead.

James T. Madore

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Zanzi Hits The Airwaves -- Lightly

Republican congressional contender Italo Zanzi, a vice president of Major League Baseball, has launched his first ad blitz with a smallish $2,600 buy on local radio, touting himself as a "true political outsider" who will take a "firm no-nonsense approach on immigration."
Zanzi's buy started last Tuesday and is running on seven local radio stations including WALK, WRIV and WLNG, most of them on the East End. In the 60-second spot, Zanzi promised to bring "real leadership to real people," maintaining that "things have gone from bad to worse in Washington" and "high taxes are driving many of our familes away and the illegal immigration problem is deteriorating our quality of life."

Rick Brand

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Democratic Divide

Question: Will the frosty relationship between U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and AG Eliot Spitzer, as described in Newsday today, matter to the future of the state?

Follow the Money (Some of It)

Another of those surprising campaign contributions has surfaced. A long-time friend and business associate of Democrat David Ochoa, running for state Senate, donated money to Ochoa's opponent.
For the full story, see the second item in today's Newsday SpinCycle page offerings.

Fee Fight Followup

Attorney Fred Brewington is finally getting paid by the county for representing Democratic Legislators Roger Corbin and Lisanne Altmann in their unsuccessful fight to depose Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs earlier this year.
Bypassing the legislature, County Attorney Lorna Goodman has agreed to settle a lawsuit Brewington filed for after a delay in paying his fees of about $39,000. Brewington will receive $48,225 — which includes the cost of filing the suit.
While contracts for more than $25,000 need legislative approval, the county attorney may settle lawsuits up to $100,000 on her own authority.
That leaves Attorney Steven Schlesinger,...
— Celeste Hadrick

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August 6, 2006

Naked Ambition

Which represents the most fevered lunge for self-promotion by a power player:

1. U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) announcing that he will retire if his parfy fails to win the majority in the House in November?
2. U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) trying to use challenger Ned Lamont's personal wealth as an issue in Tuesday's primary?
3. Lamont touting support from Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson?

Click here to vote

August 4, 2006

Clinton v. Rumsfeld

So, the big political news is Hillary calling on Rumsfeld to resign.

According to this account of yesterday's doings, she told Rumsfeld: "Under your leadership, there have been numerous errors in judgment that have led us to where we are."

Now, we know this all has to do with the junior senator's Courage and Leadership, and nothing to do with the bashing Joe Lieberman is getting from fellow Dems in Connecticut for voting -- along with Hillary -- to give the Bush administration a blank check to go to war with Iraq if they wanted, and not pushing hard enough to get the troops out.

But still, when you think about it, couldn't you say the same thing to Hillary that she said to Rummy?

UPDATE: The Times has a good Saturday piece on how Hillary actually didn't realize the blank check was a blank check, and how the Rumsfeld gambit fits into her ongoing effort to pretend she has some intelligible position on Iraq without actually taking one.

Those Who Disclose...

The following dispatch comes from the Associated Press in Albany:
The state Ethics Commission has posted online the ethics disclosure forms of most candidates for statewide office.
But several candidates didn’t agree to have the legally required financial forms a click away from voters.
They are: David Paterson, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor and a state senator; Mark Green, a Democratic candidate for attorney general and former New York City public advocate; Charlie King, a Democratic candidate for attorney general and former Clinton administration housing official; Alan Hevesi, the incumbent Democratic state comptroller; and his Republican challenger, Christopher Callaghan of Saratoga County.

Continue reading "Those Who Disclose..." »

Doubling Doubts

A Newsday story today questions Andrew Cuomo's repeated claims in the AG race that he doubled fair housing enforcement actions at HUD and dramatically expanded anti-discrimination efforts.

Quote from critic Shanna Smith of the National Fair Housing Alliance: "He promotes himself as the enforcement king of fair housing. But it's my opinion that he's a failure at enforcement."

Cuomo makes the doubling claim here and here.

The National Council on Disability says the claim is phony in this 2001 report, Chapter III C4. The Citizens Commission on Civil Rights calls the claim "false" in this report from 2002.

But Cuomo spokesperson Wendy Katz says Bush's HUD vouches for its accuracy, citing a couple of brief mentions of the claim in a long HUD report.....

UPDATE: Today, one of the authors of the National Council on Disability report tells us Cuomo's campaign is off-base in suggesting that Bush's HUD somehow questioned the conclusion that Cuomo's "doubling" claim was phony.

It never did any such thing, said co-author Michael Allen, a fair-housing lawyer.

“The doubling claim was mostly p.r. spin at the time it was made and it's a pale version of that now," says Allen. "No one ever came back and challenged our findings. I don't begrudge Andrew Cuomo wanting to make a claim about what he did as HUD secretary, but I don't think the facts bear him out."

Strictly Professional

Louis D’Amaro and Christine Malafi are married and have two children.
But spectators at two committee meetings of the Suffolk County Legislature this week would not have known from the couple’s behavior.
Legis. D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) repeatedly referred to his wife by her professional title, “the county attorney.” And when Legis. Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) asked pointed questions of Malafi about the awarding of a contract to a law firm for workers compensation cases, D’Amaro didn’t raise his voice, though other Democrats on the ways and means committee did.
In fact, as committee chairman, D’Amaro helped arrange for Malafi to appear to answer Romaine’s questions.
For her part, Malafi referred to her husband as “Legislator D’Amaro” or “Legislator.”
So much for Republican assertions last year that D’Amaro, a freshman legislator, wouldn’t be independent because of his wife’s county job. D’Amaro defeated Dennis Garetano, who ran on the Independence and GOP lines, 53 percent to 43 percent.

James T. Madore

August 3, 2006

Just Perfect

By quoting a New York magazine profile way out of context, as calling him "the perfect candidate for governor," the Suozzi campaign has managed to turn his first major mailing into a moderate fiasco. Of course, last night it was opponent Spitzer who ran afoul of the truth by trying to pass off a back-to-back TV appearance planned for Aug. 30 by the two Democratic rivals as another "debate."

Reforming Campaign Finance

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is preparing “a comprehensive” plan for campaign finance reform, which he hopes to soon send to the county legislature, a top aide says.
Ben Zwirn, Levy’s legislative lobbyist, told the ways and means committee this morning that the executive was working on a “comprehensive bill,” his second since taking office. An earlier resolution was defeated by the then-Republican dominated legislature.
Zwirn’s revelation came as the six-person committee debated a bill from Legis. Jay Schneiderman (R-Montauk) that would limit contributions to $500 per year from businesses with county contracts valued at more than $10,000 a year.

James T. Madore

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Seizing a Hot Topic

Timing is everything in politics, and few Suffolk County legislators are as quick as Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) to capitalize on a popular issue for legislation, with the possible exception of Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor).
As Long Islanders sweated through another day of record temperatures, Romaine on Wednesday introduced a resolution to waive parking fees at all four county beaches on oppressively hot days as defined by the National Weather Service. New York State has waived its fees at Jones Beach and elsewhere during the current heat wave.
“On days like today, everyone needs a little relief,” said Romaine, whose car broke down on the Long Island Expressway the day before, leaving him sweating.
“Those who do not have access to air conditioning may have no other choice than to head to the shore. It’s important that monetary issues do not prevent that from happening,” he added.
But the earliest the legislature could vote on Romaine’s bill is Aug. 22 – when hopefully the area’s temperatures will at least begin to drop.

James T. Madore

August 2, 2006

Tasini's Complaint and Comparing Underdogs

Jonathan Tasini, who petitioned his way onto the Democratic primary ballot against U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, today is blasting NY1 News for declining to grant him a debate invitation, because he hasn't raised enough campaign money to meet the cable news organization's qualifications.
"What's fascinating," Tasini says, "is how at least in this race, money is not a good barometer for support among voters. In two polls... I am polling higher than Tom Suozzi who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, runs the second-largest county in the state and has spent $6.2 million. Tom Suozzi is polling at only 10 percent."
NY1 hosted and broadcast last week's debate between Suozzi and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. A poll commissioned by the station indicated that the televised contest didn't help Suozzi gain traction.

Continue reading "Tasini's Complaint and Comparing Underdogs" »

Advising Eliot

Noting Spitzer's almost-an-incumbent status, the New York Observer examines the Democrat's well-known policy advisors.

August 1, 2006

Ah, Memories

Former U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato was on NY1 News Tuesday evening making dire predictions for the candidacy of John Faso and talking about a need to rebuild the GOP in the state.
D'Amato's promotion of Spitzer is reminiscent of that mutual non-aggression pact the GOP Senator had for so many years with the last Democratic governor, Mario Cuomo.

Cuomo $$ Beef

State GOP complains to the Board of Elections that Andrew Cuomo isn't reporting all his expenses and all his contributions, courtesy of the T-U and the Daily News.

But Cuomo aide Wendy Katz says they're all wet -- some of the missing pieces are in Schedule N of the July filing

Mejias on the Move

More than 200 people cheered on Nassau Legis. David Mejias (D-North Massapequa) as he kicked off his congressional campaign in his hometown headquarters against seven-term incumbent Peter King (R-Seaford).
“I believe in the American dream,” Mejias told his supporters Saturday. “I have lived it, and I want to reclaim it for all Americans. [President] George Bush and Peter King are taking this country in the wrong direction . . .”
Mejias, the son of immigrant parents from Cuba and Ecuador, quoted King as saying he “thanks God every night that George Bush is president,” and added that King has forgotten where he came from.
But King, reached in Washington, said Mejias is misstating the facts. “When I talked about thanking God for the president, I was quoting former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat,” he said.
King also called Mejias “ridiculous” for thinking he feared him. “The people in the 3rd district support my position against illegal immigration and against amnesty. Mejias is out of touch with the people.”

Sid Cassese

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