Crucial North Country Highway To Reopen Today

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning that Route 73 in Essex County will reopen at noon today, months ahead of schedule.

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“Route 73 is a vital highway connecting residents and businesses in the North Country and today’s reopening is an important step in our recovery from Hurricane Irene,” the governor said in a news release.

“Many communities here in Essex County were hit hard by the storm, and we must continue to help towns like Keene recover and rebuild. I want to thank the hardworking men and women for coming together to get this project done for the people of the North Country.”

Gov. Cuomo ordered for an expedited reopening of the state route, which is the main point of access to the Northway for Adirondack communities such as Keene, Lake Placid, and Saranac Lake.

The governor’s office says approximately 150,000 tons of stone were used and construction workers logged a total of 2,700 hours during the project. Equipment used included 27 contractor trucks, additional DOT trucks, 3 excavators, 2 light plants, 2 vibratory rollers, and various tree and debris removal machinery.

Clinton, Cuomo Phone For Weprin

As the special election in the NY-9 comes down to the wire, former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo recorded robocalls for Democrat David Weprin.

The assemblyman, who had once been considered a shoo-in, has been pulling out nearly every stop after an unexpectedly spirited challenge from Republican Bob Turner.

The Cuomo call can be found here and the Clinton call can be found here.

While Cuomo pushes the issue of social service programs at the federal level, Clinton knocks the tea party and says Democrats are best suited for job creation

Here’s Cuomo:

Hello, this is Governor Andrew Cuomo asking you to support David Weprin in tomorrow’s special election for Congress. I’ve known David for many years, and I’ve known him to be a leader who stands up for what’s right.”

“In Congress he’ll stand up for middle class families and he’ll fight to preserve Social Security and Medicare. David will bring jobs to New York and get our economy moving. That’s why he’s also been endorsed by the New York Times. Once again, this is Governor Andrew Cuomo and I’m asking you to support David Weprin for Congress. I hope you will.

And Clinton’s script:

Hello, this is President Bill Clinton. I’m calling to ask you to support David Weprin in today’s special election for Congress.”

“The New York Times endorsed David. They support him for the same reasons I do: because he’ll stand up for the middle class, he’ll support a good program to put Americans back to work, and he’ll oppose the Tea Party plan to destroy Medicare. Again, it’s President Bill Clinton, I’m proud to support David Weprin for Congress and I hope you will too. Thanks.

Both Cuomo and Clinton are very popular with the Democratic base. Expect to see a massive get out the vote effort today and tomorrow from the Weprin campaign.

Liz adds: These are paid for by the Democratic National Committee – yet another sign of the concern down in D.C. about this seat. Also, it will be interesting to see if either Cuomo or Clinton – or heck, maybe both of them – show up to do any in-person events with Weprin at the 11th hour…time is really running out, though.

Here And Now

It’s the day after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – a day filled with reflections, ceremonies, pain and hope – and it’s mostly (with a few exceptions) back to business as usual for NY pols.

Attention now is turning to tomorrow’s NY-9 special election, with panicked Democrats preparing for the possibility of a big loss that will be widely interpreted as a referendum on President Obama.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is back in the North Country today. He’ll make an announcement regarding flood damage at 11 a.m. on the North Side of Closed Route 73 Bridge in St. Hubert’s Hamlet (Town of Keene).

Mayor Bloomberg greets the first members of the public to visit the National September 11th Memorial with Memorial President Joe Daniels and Designers Michael Arad and Peter Walker at 10 a.m. At 1 p.m., he plants a tree in honor of 9/11 with Community Board 1.

A PPP poll shows Bob Turner headed for a “huge upset” over Assemblyman David Weprin in NY-9, with the Queens businessman leading 47-41 – the same 6-point spread as last week’s Siena poll.

Turner is scheduled to hold a “significant” news conference at 2 p.m. at the Forest Hills Long Island Railroad Station in Queens – the same spot he announced his campaign and where TR delivered his “One Hundred Percent American” speech in 1916.

Weprin will campaign at a Queens senior center with NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials at 11 a.m. as part of a last-minute GOTV push into tomorrow’s special election. Rep. Crowley will rally with the assemblyman at his Forest Hills campaign HQ at 12:45 p.m.

Turner’s wife, a former hospice nurse, pushes back against Democratic claims he’ll slash Medicare and Social Security, hurting seniors. “I would never be married to a man who would hurt helpless people.”

GOP pollster John McLaughlin says top Democrats have told him they’re privately rooting for Turner in hopes of sending a “wake-up call” to the president.

Fackcheck.org says the DCCC’s ad slamming Turner is “false.”

A Turner win “would be a real eye-opener,” says NPR’s Ken Rudin, “especially as Obama is gearing up for his re-election campaign and already is hearing grumblings from many in his party base.”

Doug Muzzio washes his hands of NY-9, saying: “The whole thing is a mess. And it’s all because of Anthony Weiner’s bizarre behavior.”

A Democratic operative calls Weprin’s campaign “a perfect storm of horrible.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

The nation and the world paused today to remember a terrible day 10 years ago.

United 93 family members gathered in Shanksville, Pa.

A look at how the Pentagon has changed in the last 10 years.

One of the stolen vans that stoked security fears today was recovered by the NYPD.

The new World Trade Center will be both sacred ground and office space.

The attacks forever altered New York City’s political landscape and culture.

Was the nation a bit jumpy today? Yes, a bit jumpy.

Here’s a heartbreaking photo gallery of today’s Sept. 11 memorial events around the country (fixed).

A sign that the NY-9 special election has gone from rough to nasty? A leaked divorce filing.

Democrats in the NY-9 aren’t impressed with David Weprin.

The national Republican Party is beginning to dip its toe in the NY-9.

The Southern Tier is still underwater and thousands are in shelters.

FEMA claims Irene victims in New York are missing out on aid.

PEF President Ken Brynien is defending the union’s labor agreement with the Cuomo administration in a lengthy audio address.

The Buffalo Common Council race could be seen as a referendum on Mayor Byron Brown.

Is the Cuomo administration trying to fast track hydrofracking?

Prosecutors in the John Haggerty trail want to introduce evidence he had an affair.

The Haggerty case is yet another problem for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Fewer people are living in the Adirondack Park and they’re getting older.

Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota is offering refunds to those who contributed to County Executive Steve Levy.

Dozens of candidates running for office this year would qualify as “double dippers” if elected.

Ambitious politicians are now backing same-sex marriage.

Count Frank Bruni among the city dwellers giving a thumbs up to the aggressive work of bicycle maven Janette Sadik-Khan.

Here’s Paul Simon singing “The Sound of Silence” at the Sept. 11 memorial.

Remembering

Whether you plan to participate in one of the formal memorial events held this weekend to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, or prefer a more private recollection, I hope you take a few moments to recall that day – even though it’s one many might prefer to forget.

I wasn’t living in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. I was in Boston, where one of the planes originated. I remember distinctly the moment I heard about the first plane crashing into the towers and the sheer terror that followed.

Calling home was nearly impossible, as cell service was jammed by everyone rushing to contact a loved one. And then the air space over Boston was closed, leaving the sky eerily empty, but for the buzzing of jets scrambled by the military.

We followed the news on a small, battery-powered radio that we carried as we wandered the city streets aimlessly. We ended up at a bar, where we stayed for much of the afternoon and into the night.

It was a terrible day. I felt guilty for being away from the state I loved, and also for not being in New York City where the news story of a lifetime was unfolding. (Strange breed, reporters).

Subconsciously, I’m sure I decided that day to return home in hopes of getting my old job at the Times Union back (thanks, Rex Smith!), realizing a NYS political reporter was all I really wanted to be.

I was extraordinarily lucky. I didn’t lose anyone in the Twin Towers attacks. But my sense of security was shaken to the core. Ten years later, I am still brought to tears by the stories of quiet heroism, love and loss told by the Ground Zero survivors, first responders and victims’ families.

Everyone will remember tomorrow in their own way. I plan to do this. By 9:03 a.m. – the time the second plane hit the South Tower – I hope to be just finishing (or perhaps even finished, depending on how the adrenaline is running) the bike course and heading into a hard trail run.

I will draw strength by remembering all those people who have endured far more pain that I can even imagine and come out the other side stronger and more determined than before.

I know this may strike you as an unorthodox way to mark such a somber occasion, but pushing myself helps me remember, above all, that I am alive – and damn lucky to be.

So, far all of those who no longer have the luxury of testing physical limits, this one’s for you.

Be well.

- LB

Extras

Even with an unconfirmed terror threat looming, NYC is the “safest place to be,” says Mayor Bloomberg.

State Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged NYers to take extra precautions, but stressed: “You have to go on with your life.”

The FBI/Homeland Security memo on the threat was leaked.

The attack was reportedly personally orchestrated by Osama bin Laden’s successor as part of an effort to avenge the terror lord’s death.

No “Israel effect” showing up in today’s Siena poll of NY-9.

The reason? Perhaps Jewish voters care about more than just Israel?

Another take on why Turner is leading.

The Family Research Council Action PAC says “the only apparent reason” is Weprin’s vote in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

How to win a NY special election, courtesy of WNYC.

Talk about strange political bedfellows: Ex-GOP US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato says lefty AG Eric Schneiderman should be applauded for “standing up to” big banks.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco wants to see sales taxes temporarily suspended on essential items for citizens and businesses impacted by the recent flooding around the state.

Power dressing for women political leaders. It’s not just pantsuits anymore.

The president’s jobs speech, animated.

Obama took his plan on the road to Virginia.

Keeping the president dry is apparently difficult.

Rudy Giuliani isn’t interested in being VP, and he ridiculed Joe Biden for being Obama’s puppet.

Just in case you missed the takeaway from the speech, click here.

NY’s minor parties scored a major victory when the state’s Board of Elections agreed to alter a vote-counting anomaly that the parties argued in a lawsuit was a threat to their very survival.

The latest victim of the hot mic: House Speaker John Boehner.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in an unscientific Rochester Business Journal poll think non-Indian gambling should be legalized.

Bloomberg again defended his decision to exclude clergy members from Sunday’s 9/11 memorial, saying it’s a “civil ceremony” and not a religious event.

Here’s the Q-and-A from Cuomo’s conference call with reporters this afternoon on the state’s response to the latest terror threat:

Turner Sees Himself In Herman Cain

Republican NY-9 candidate Bob Turner declined to pick a favorite from among the 2012 GOP presidential contenders during yesterday’s NY1 debate with Assemblyman David Weprin.

But the Queens businessman apparently had a change of heart after his head-to-head. When asked on his way out of the newsroom by Juan Manuel Benitez which candidate he feels is closest to his ideology, Turner responded:

“That’s a very tough question, but I would think Herman Cain right now. I like him. I like the way he thinks, and he speaks plain and true.”

Make of this what you will.

Holtzman Robos On DCCC’s Dime For ‘Good Friend’ Weprin

Former NYC Comptroller/Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, who was, once upon a time, interested in running in the upcoming NY-9 special election, has recorded a robocall on behalf of the Democrat who landed the party’s nod: Assemblyman David Weprin.

Holtzman, who hails from Brooklyn (unlike Queens native Weprin), was touted by allies as a strong candidate with women and Jews – two key voting blocs. But party leaders were reportedly looking for someone who would be easier to draw out of existence in the next round of redistricting.

This robo was paid for by the DCCC, which just dropped close to $500,000 on air time in NY-9 (and promptly got egg on its face after launching an ad that featured a plane buzzing the NYC skyline just days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks).

Here’s the script of the call, which is scheduled to drop tonight:

“Hello. This is former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman, asking you to support my good friend David Weprin, the New York Times endorsed candidate in the special election for Congress this coming Tuesday, September 13th.”

“David is by far the best candidate in this election. The New York Times supports David for the same reason I do: Because he will stand up to the Tea Party Republicans and is the only candidate who will fight for the middle class and protect Medicare and Social Security.”

“He will protect women’s rights and fight for working families. I’m proud to support the New York Times endorsed candidate David Weprin, and I hope you will, too. Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and authorized by Weprin for Congress.”

Cuomo: Don’t Let Terrorists Ruin 9/11 ‘Celebration’ (Updated)

A “significant” number of additional State Police troopers have been deployed in response to the terror threat officials worry will be timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The state is taking the threat seriously and has adopted a “prudent and diligent course of conduct,” the governor said during a press briefing in Broome County today after he took another aerial tour (I believe this was his third) of the Southern Tier flooding.

But Cuomo urged New Yorkers not to let the threat be either a cause for alarm or panic, adding:

“We should not allow it to dampen our spirits as we go into the celebration. What the terrorists want is to …ruin the celebration on 9/11…and I don’t think we should give them that.”

Cuomo later said terrorists should not be allowed to “tarnish” the 9/11 commemoration, saying that would be “an infringement of the freedom that we seek to celebrate.”

An interesting choice of words by the governor there. So far, he’s the only politician I’ve heard cast the 10th anniversary of the attacks as something to celebrate.

UPDATE: Now there’s a formal statement from the governor, too, which appears after the jump.

More >

‘Below Zero’ Chance Of Clinton Challenging Obama

The odds of Hillary ’12 are “below zero.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruled out that she would challenge her boss, President Obama in a Democratic primary next year, she said on CNN earlier today.

Clinton, a fierce 2008 primary rival of the president when she was a senator from New York, also shrugged off the compliment from former Vice President Dick Cheney that she’d be a force to be reckoned with if she ran again.

A Clinton primary challenge has been raised by some pundits as a possible, even as some liberals are feeling buyers remorse over Obama, who they feel hasn’t been able to stand up to Republicans in Congress.

Clinton, who has said she’ll leave the Obama cabinet in 2012 no matter the outcome of the election, also reiterated that as the country’s top diplomat she was happy to be out of politics.

“One of the great things about being secretary of state is I am out of politics,” Clinton said. “I have a big job to do and I am honored to do it everyday.”