Gov: Indian Nations Helped Tank Upstate Economy

Here’s Gov. David Paterson speaking today at the Saratoga Racetrack, where he was on hand for the Travers, about the impending start of collection of sales taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian Land, which is slated to begin next week.

A judge on Friday reserved a decision on a lawsuit brought by the Seneca in an effort to postpone the Sept. 1 start date. Paterson said this afternoon that he would be willing to meet with tribal leaders, but won’t be swayed from sticking to the deadline, explaining: “It is our right to do this as New Yorkers to try to protect our businesses that are suffering from an unfair competitive advantage.”

Asked what he would say to New Yorkers who are sympathetic to the Indians in this argument, Paterson replied:

“It’s one of the reasons that so many small businesses have been unable to run, and it’s not fair to them. So, as New Yorkers I would think that they would respect their neighbors who are trying to run businesses.”

“One of the reasons – not the major reason – but one of the reasons the upstate economy is in such dire straits is because the businesses have not been able to compete freely not just in the sale of cigarettes but also in the sale of gasoline.”

This was Paterson’s first public appearance since former Chief Judge Judith Kaye released her report this past Thursday that recommended Albany County DA David Soares consider criminal charges against the governor in connection with the Yankees tickets scandal.

Paterson refused to comment on the report or say whether he’ll be meeting with Soares this coming week, saying: “It’s an ongoing investigation, and I can’t comment on it.” Asked whether he had paid for his tickets to the track today, he chuckled and replied: “Yes.”

DAs Question Indy Outlaw

Both the Staten Island and Manhattan DAs are moving forward with their respective probes of the state Independence Party and have questioned former party activist, Frank Morano, a source familiar with the investigations confirms.

Morano declined to comment, but also did not deny he had spoken to investigators in both Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.’s office and Staten Island Dan Donovan’s office in recent weeks. He did stress that he had not received a subpoena and plans to “fully cooperate” with both probes.

According to my source, the questioning of Morano by Vance’s office related to the structure of the Independence Party.

As you’ll recall, Morano wrote at length about that topic back in July when he publicly announced his decision to resign his state committee and executive committee posts.

At the time, Morano said the state’s third-largest party (or largest third party, depending on how you look at it) no longer offers alternatives to the two-party system and in fact has “become just as bad, if not worse than the two major parties.”

He also said he planned to lodge a complaint with the state Board of Elections in hopes of sparking an investigation into the Indy Party’s expenditures.

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Clinton For McMahon

A reader kindly forwarded an invite to a Sept. 3 rally for Rep. Mike McMahon that will be headlined by former President Bill Clinton and hosted by the Democratic chairs of the two boroughs included in NY-13 – Brooklyn (Assemblyman Vito Lopez) and Staten Island (John Gulino).

Here’s the information:

“Please join President Bill Clinton for a rally supporting the re-election campaign of

Congressman Michael McMahon
13th Congressional District, New York

Building Bridges to a Better Tomorrow
for Staten Island and Brooklyn

Hosted By:
Hon. John Gulino, Chair, Democratic Committee of Richmond County
Hon. Vito Lopez, Chair, Democratic Committee of Kings County

Friday, September 3, 2010
Doors Open at 10:30 AM
Program Begins at 12:30 PM

Spiro Hall
Wagner College
631 Howard Avenue, Staten Island NY 10301
Parking will be available at Wagner’s Stadium Lot

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An ‘Aggravating Factor’ In Paterson Perjury Case

Here’s the resident legal expert for “Capital Tonight”, former Albany County ADA Paul DerOhannesian, who joined me last Thursday to review the fine print of former Chief Judge Judith Kaye’s report on Gov. David Paterson’s Yankees tickets scandal.

DerOhannesian directed my attention to P. 36 of the report, which states that Paterson had the opportunity to employ a so-called “affirmative defense” to perjury and failed to do so. I, of course, am not an attorney, and so sought an explanation that a lay person might understand. DerOhannesian graciously complied, saying:

“I think it’s very interesting. Once again, the chief judge points out that for a perjury charge, it’s a complete defense that you say: ‘Wait a minute, I made a mistake.’ And you do it before it affects the proceeding. In other words, before the trial is over, before the hearing is over, or the investigation.”

“So, what she’s pointing out is, he was given an opportunity to correct this testimony. He didn’t. And to me that’s an aggravating factor that points the finger toward a perjury charge. When she’s saying, ‘Look. He had this opportunity. He was aware of the problem. He did nothing about it. That would go to his intent.”

This doesn’t bode well for Paterson, whose fate now rests in the hands of Albany County DA David Soares. The DA is keeping awfully mum on this case, saying he’ll have no comment until his review is complete.

Sending A Message?

Reading NYT scribe Nick Confessore’s piece this morning on the relative wisdom of – and pitfalls in – Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s decision to tack far left in his AG bid, I got tripped up on the following paragraph that appears at about the midway point:

Speaking of Mr. Schneiderman, Michael McKeon, a Republican political consultant (though one who is supporting the current attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, in his bid for governor this year), said: “Of the front-runners, he is by far the preferred choice for the Republicans because he has staked out so far left a position. And given that he is running for a law enforcement job, it helps Republicans even more.”

For the record, McKeon isn’t just “supporting the current attorney general” for governor, he is spearheading the group “GOPers for Cuomo“, which entails rounding up Republicans like himself to endorse the Democratic frontrunner and keeping political reporters up to date on his efforts.

McKeon’s involvement with Cuomo caused a rift between himself and his former boss, ex-Gov. George Pataki, who is supporting Rick Lazio for governor, as are a number of other former Pataki aides.

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Weekend Open Thread

GOP debates. The 164th annual State Fair’s debut. Albany County DA David Soares’ David Paterson dilemma. And, of course, the mosque.

Just another quiet end-of-summer week in NY politics. Comment away.

Be well. – LB

Extras

Ron Lauder won’t bankroll another pro-term limits campaign.

The fight over the mosque proposed near Ground Zero has fueled a push to pass the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

“Bloomberg/Arnold could change the political dynamic in this country to one of temperament rather than economic outlook,” writes The Hill’s Bernie Quigley.

New Jersey GOV. Chris Christie fired his education commissioner over an error in the state’s “Race to the Top” application. (Fixed).

AG Andrew Cuomo’s sister wants to build a homeless shelter in Brooklyn.

Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. is backing Gustavo Rivera, while his father, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., remains loyal to Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.

New Roosevelt is casting Espada as a “bad apple” in its latest mailer.

A federal judge delayed a decision on the Seneca Nation’s request for a restraining order to block the collection of taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian land.

Bronx District Leader Hector Ramirez landed the endorsement of 1199 (no link), and is the beneficiary of a full court press by Democratic Party against Assemblyman Nelson Castro.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins slammed the “demagogic bigotry” displayed by the GOP candidates over the mosque, adding: “I want to know why they hate our freedom.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver got some parking garage love from Rochester Mayor/LG candidate Bob Duffy.

Sen. Dave Valesky declares in his first campaign ad that he’ll do what’s “good for Central New York,” even it means opposing members of his own party.

Muslim leaders took issue with Gov. David Paterson’s comments about the “almost Westernized” people behind Park51.

Hillary Clinton’s hair is still making headlines.

There is a person in America with a Blago tattoo.

Obama Headed Back To NY

President Obama is making yet another trip to the Empire State and he’s bringing some Congressional brass with him.

Obama Invite

The president will join Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, along with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Robert Menendez at a fundraider at the Roosevelt Hotel on September 22.

The event comes one week after primary day and six weeks before the mid-term elections.

The last time the president was in New York was back on July 28 when he was in New York City to tape an interview on ABC’s “The View.”

While he paid a visit to the so-called ATM State, Obama also hit two fundraisers, both of which were high-dollar, $30,400-per person affairs to benefit the Democratic National Committee.

Capital Region Chairs Stand Behind Townsend

US Senate Candidate Jay Townsend has picked up the backing of the seven Republican County Chairs that make up the Capital Region.

IMG00123-20100827-1036In a press release, regional Vice Chair Tom Graziano Sr., who is also the Albany County Chair, chose to attack Senator Schumer, and not Townsend’s primary opponent Gary Berntsen.

“I fully support my other Capital District Chairs in this effort of supporting Jay Townsend and could not agree more that Chuck Schumer is wrong for New York,” Graziano said.

Graziano technically hosted the event, but was unable to attend the event today because he was feeling under the weather.

While the endorsement is good news for Townsend’s campaign, it’s hard to say if it will help him much in the September 14th primary. The seven counties only make up a little more than 8 percent of the registered Republicans in New York.

Tit For Tat On The AG Front

The contest for the Democratic nomination for attorney general is getting nasty – especially between the state senator and district attorney in the running.

This morning, Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s campaign sent around a letter to his four opponents asking for civility and taking a not-so-subtle shot at Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, who called him a “dangerous” choice for AG this week.

Schneiderman is calling on his opponents to sign a pledge promising to keep things positive.

Rice’s communications director released a statement characterizing his “plea” as falling “somewhere between hilarious and self-delusional.”  But while at the NYS Fair, staffers accompanying Rice told YNN’s illustrious Bill Carey that Rice will sign a pledge to stay positive on the trail.

Bill also caught up with the candidate herself and asked her about the tone of her campaign.  She insists she’s always remained positive and focused on the issues voters care about.

“In the short time that I have been in politics, I have always run very positive campaigns,” Rice told Bill.

“I like to talk about what I am going to do and what I’m going to bring to the table. And I think that’s what people want to hear from candidate across this state.”

Rice’s campaign then engaged in a dialogue directly with Schneiderman this afternoon – also by way of letter – calling on him to clarify statements he made about his experience running a drug rehab program.

“We reject your assertion from your letter this morning that questioning of you has been personal,” writes Rice campaign manager Jeffrey Stein.

“In fact we are a bit taken aback by the hypocrisy of your letter considering the multipronged attacks your campaign has engaged in throughout its duration, causing many people to define your campaign by its propensity to attack District Attorney Rice rather than talk about you and your record.”

The entire letter from Rice’s campaign manager to Schneiderman appears below.

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