Nov. 15 For Lame Duck Session (Updated)

We’ve known it was coming for some time now, and today Gov. David Paterson made it official.

He’s calling lawmakers back to Albany for an extraordinary session on Nov. 15.

“There is still unfinished business which must be addressed by the Legislature before the end of the calendar year,” Governor Paterson said via press release.

“While we have not finalized the agenda for this session, it will include time-sensitive legislation that is either overdue or should not wait until the next administration takes office.”

“Among other items, the agenda will include a revised version of the Education, Labor and Family Assistance Article VII bill that I was forced to veto earlier this year to prevent an unaffordable increase in school aid, an appropriation bill to authorize distribution of $607 million in federal Education Jobs Fund money to school districts, and necessary legislation to reorganize the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation.”

It will be interesting to see who actually shows up for the lame duck session considering there are a number of lawmakers who lost their seat on primary day and more are likely to be ousted one week from today.

UPDATE: We now have a response from Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, whose days may or may not be numbered by Nov. 15:

“Nothing is more important than protecting jobs and providing a quality education for all of New York’s schoolchildren. The Senate Majority Conference stands ready to come back and take the necessary action to move our state forward.”

Shake-Up Imminent In NYC Board Of Elex (Updated)

With just just one week before Election Day, there’s a major shakeup expected at the NYC Board of Elections with commissioners preparing to oust the executive director this afternoon, NY1′s Grace Rauh reports.

If the vote does indeed take place, it would be designed to send a signal that commissioners will not tolerate the mistakes and missteps that have dogged the board ever since Primary Day, a source tells Rauh.

The Executive Director is George Gonzalez, a Democrat from the Bronx. He was chosen for the position in August, although he has worked at the elections board for many years.

UPDATE: It’s official. Gonzalez is out. The vote was 6 in favor of firing Gonzalez, with four commissioners abstaining.

The city’s Board of Elections hasn’t had a stellar image for some time, but its performance past few months has yielded some particularly harsh criticism.

Mayor Bloomberg called Primary Day a royal screwup for the board, and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a scathing report last week detailing the mistakes.

The board has also come under fire for a printing misleading instructions on paper ballots. It has also been criticized for creating a ballot that appears specifically designed to hinder a candidate in a Queens NYC Council race.

It’s still possible, of course, that Gonzalez could somehow fend off this attempt to fire him. But from what we are hearing, it seems likely his career at the Board of Elections is about to end – as early as today.

‘Environmental Terrorists’ (Updated)

Someone might want to remind Sen. Hugh Farley that we’re living in the digital age, which means that whenever a candidate is speaking publicly, it’s a safe bet his or her words are being recorded.

The New York League of Conservation Voters, which has made the veteran Schenectady County Republican its top general election target, was the target of the senator’s ire at a recent forum. (He didn’t name names, but it’s hard to imagine who else he might be talking about).

Despite the fact that he just recently voted “yes” on a Democrat-sponsored hydrofracking moratorium passed by the Senate, Farley speaks about the importance of natural gas drilling from a business standpoint and calls it “abolutely essential for the health of New York State and the farm community and energy in general.”

“It is something that these environmentalists are absolutely wrong on,” Farley says.

“…This is a group that is from New York City that was, has been on the extreme extremes of the environment. In my judgment, they’ve almost been like environmental terrorists.”

Just yesterday, the Senate Democrats released a video that showed Farley, who voted “no” on same-sex marriage along with all 29 of his fellow Republicans, calling gay marriage “abhorrent.”

Also, the NYLCV reminds me that it was just in Queens yesterday endorsing one of Farley’s GOP colleagues, Sen. Frank Padavan, over Democratic former NYC Councilman Tony Avella.

UPDATE: Farley’s spokesman tells DP that this YouTube video is spliced and features footage from two diffrent events. He doesn’t deny anything the senator says, but does note the NYLCV is targeted Farley based on what he called “misleading information.”

Senate GOP Launches First AEG Ad

You knew this one was coming…

The first ad that touches on the AEG scandal is out, and it comes from GOP Sen. Jim Alesi, who is facing a surprisingly spirited challenge in the 55th SD from Democratic newcomer Mary Wilmot.

The spot says the Senate Democrats “got caught with their hand in the cookie jar” and “took hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for an illegal contract at Aqueduct racetrack” and then spread that cash around to their candidates – including Wilmot.

Alesi has called on Wilmot to return the $160,838 she received from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and another $18,500 from senators named in the IG’s report on AEG (Conference Leader John Sampson, President Malcolm Smith and Sen. Eric Adams).

Wilmot told the D&C: “I don’t know much of what they’re being accused of. As of this point, I’m not going to return the money.”

Some Senate Democratic candidates have said they’ll return the money (Sen. Antoine Thompson, who’s apparently in enough trouble that the DSCC has shifted resources to help him, a la Sen. Bill Stachowski in 2008, comes to mind, but he was named in the IG report).

At least two candidates – Joanne Yepsen (running against Sen. Roy McDonald in the 43rd SD) and Mike Kaplowitz (running against Assemblyman Greg Ball for the seat being vacated by Sen. Vincent Leibell in the 40th SD) – have said they won’t vote for Sampson for leader if they’re elected and he’s under investigation.

Whoopi Goldberg: Gay Marriage Is A ‘No Brainer’

Whoppi Goldberg is the latest prominent New Yorker to sign on to Fight Back PAC’s campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, recording a Web video that seeks contributions to fuel the group’s effort to oust senators who voted “no” on the bill last December.

“Now’s the time to stand up for our friends,” Goldberg says in the video.

“Really, darling, it’s a no brainer. You know, I understand not everybody is for gay marriage. But if you’re not for gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person. That’s what I say.”

Murphy: Internal Poll Shows Me Up

In the wake of the Siena poll that showed him trailing Republican Chris Gibson by nine percentage points in NY-20, Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy’s campaign insisted his internal polling shows him with the slimmest of leads.

“Our campaign’s most recent internal polling from 4 days ago shows Scott with a 3 point lead, despite the 7 weeks of attacks by the now 6 outside groups – led by the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Morris.,” said Murphy campaign spokesman Josh Scherwin.

“This race remains about one thing: Who has the experience to help create jobs and help middle class families during tough economic times. Scott is a businessman with the experience necessary to do just that.”

The poll, on which no details were released (including how many voters were questioned, the methodology and the margin of error), was conducted by the Global Strategy Group. The firm also works for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and predicted her longshot victory over then-GOP incumbent Rep. John Sweeney in 2006.

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Errol Louis To Anchor ‘Inside City Hall’

NY1 just announced DN columnist and WWRL radio host Errol Louis will be my downstate colleague, filling the anchor desk on “Inside City Hall” that has been without a permanent occupant since the departure of Dominic Carter last year.

“NY1 prides itself on its comprehensive, tough, thought-provoking political coverage for New Yorkers interested in city and state politics. Since 1992, we’ve covered topics of political relevance from mayors Dinkins to Bloomberg, governors Cuomo to Paterson, and city, state, and national elections,” said Bernie Han, VP of News at NY1.

“The addition of veteran political journalist Errol Louis to our team is yet another example of our commitment to providing the best political coverage to our viewers.”

Prior to joining the News, Louis was Associate Editor of the New York Sun where he published columns from 2002 to 2004. He also won an award for commentary from the New York Association of Black Journalists, and is named the city’s Best Columnist & Radio Show Host in the current edition of the Village Voice.

Louis holds a BA in Government from Harvard University, a Master’s in Political Science from Yale, and a Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Juanita Scarlett (a veteran politico herself, who works for Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo) and and their son, Noah Louis.

Cuomo And Clinton To Rally In Brooklyn

Former President Clinton, who is criss-crossing the nation in hopes of staving off a GOP tidal wave next Tuesday, will join Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo for a GOTV rally in Brooklyn tomorrow.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs and Executive Director Charlie King just sent out the following invite:

“Dear friend,

I am writing to extend a very special invitation.

This Wednesday President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will rally Democrats to Get Out and Vote in Brooklyn – and you’re invited!

Doors open at 3 pm at New York City College of Technology Klitgord Center at 285 Jay Street (near Tillary Street).

With just a week left until the Election, it’s time to show that Democrats are energized and ready to take on the challenges facing this state.

And there’s no one better to lead the charge than President Clinton and Andrew Cuomo, the next Governor of New York.

To reserve a spot, please send your name and the names of any other Democrats who will be joining you to RSVP@nydems.org. Full location and directions are below.

Onward towards victory.

Carey For Cuomo

Former Gov. Hugh Carey, whose leadership at the height of a fiscal crisis Andrew Cuomo is fond of citing as an example of how he hopes to govern if he’s elected next Tuesday, has formally endorsed the Democratic frontrunner.

“I am proud to endorse Andrew Cuomo for Governor,” said Carey in a statement released by the Cuomo campaign.

“What our State needs is a governor with character, experience and dedication to public service to bring this State forward. As we faced difficult times during my administration, we brought together the leadership and talent needed to overcome those challenging times. ”

“The bridge building Andrew can achieve is why I believe Andrew Cuomo as Governor can return New York to the Excelsior State! ‘Onward and Upward.’”

Carey crossed party lines to endorse former Republican Gov. George Pataki back in 2002 and was a regular guest at the ex-governor’s State of the State addresses. He returned to the Democratic fold to back Eliot Spitzer for governor in 2006.

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Labor Questions Cuomo’s Timing

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo’s tough talk during an extended NYT interview published yesterday sent shock waves through the labor community, but not because of the AG’s thinly-veiled threats, which the unions have heard before.

What upset labor leaders was the timing of Cuomo’s remarks, which came just as unions (at least the ones that endorsed him for governor) are trying to kick their respective GOTV operations into high gear and convince their members to hit the streets – and the voting booth – for the Democratic ticket in the final week of the 2010 campaign.

“It’s the timing, it’s almost entirely the timing,” one labor insider told me late yesterday afternoon. “We’re trying very much to get people out and that’s just not helpful.”

“It’s going to really discourage folks from participating, which hurts the whole ticket. I mean, he’s going to win, but it hurts the Senate stuff and it hurts the congressional stuff. I think it was calculated, but I’m not sure what his end game is.”

Cuomo has made no secret throughout the campaign that he believes labor unions – particularly those that represent public employees – are going to be a target when and if he’s elected governor.

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