Post ‘Unhesitatingly’ For Coffey (Updated)

Political newcomer Sean Coffey has landed the support of the Post in his quest to succeed Andrew Cuomo in the AG’s office, with the tab’s editorial board lauding the fact that he is “unencumbered by entanglements with New York’s political establishment” and therefore best suited to clean up Albany.

“He sees the AG’s office both as a bully pulpit and as an investigative unit against Albany’s inbred culture of corruption,” the Post wrote.

“…To be sure, we have differences with Coffey – most notably on the stop-and-frisk database bill, which he supported. And it’s disquieting that his law firm got millions in pension-fund-related work after making hefty donations to the past three state comptrollers.”

“Still, Sean Coffey is the only credible reform candidate on the AG ballot. We urge enrolled Democrats to support him on Sept. 14.”

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Q Poll: NYers Steadfast Against Park51, Want Cuomo To Investigate

Today’s Q poll reaffirms that the majority of New Yorkers – 71 percent – would prefer to see the backers of a mosque/Islamic center proposed for construction near Ground Zero voluntarily relocate the project to a less sensitive site in deference to the wishes of some 9/11 victims’ family members.

At the same time, voters agree by a 54-40 percent majority that the constitutionally protected freedom of religion grants the developers the right to build wherever they wish. That sentiment is overwhelmingly shared by voters across party and regional lines.

Seventy-one percent of those polled said the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, AG Andrew Cuomo, should investigate the financing of the controversial project – even though fundraising has not yet begun in earnest. Even Democrats say 65-25 percent that Cuomo should look into the mosque’s financing.

That’s a victory for Cuomo’s GOP/Conservative opponent, Rick Lazio, who has been repeatedly calling for the AG to probe the project’s funding. (In fact, he’s talked about little else for weeks now). Cuomo has said he’ll look into a criminal case, if one develops, but also insists Park51 is about religious freedom and should be built.

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Here And Now

Gov. David Paterson is scheduled to sign the nation’s first domestic workers bill of rights into law today.

President Obama will deliver the second Oval Office speech of his tenure tonight. The topic: Iraq.

The IRS placed a $580,666 lien against Albany uber-lobbyist Patricia Lynch’s firm on Aug. 11 after she failed to pay federal payroll taxes.

“There was an unexpected expense in the year 2009 and the matter is being resolved,” said Darren Dopp, a spokesman for the firm.

The state Independence Party has not yet returned several hundred thousand dollars that the Manhattan DA’s office insists was stolen.

A 2012 Zogby poll Mitt Romney would beat President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg in a three-way race for the White House, 42-41-6.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch doesn’t think Alan Simpson had anything to apologize for.

Carl Paladino’s comment on “Capital Tonight” that President Obama “worships himself” made headlines.

The Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors endorsed Paladino for governor. (No link).

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s latest AG campaign mailer depicts Albany as a crime scene – complete with yellow tape – that only she can clean up.

US Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised NY for its successful “Race to the Top” application, saying the state showed “breathtaking courage” in making the reforms necessary to land cash in Round II.

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Cox Trips Out On Altschuler

Here’s the latest attack launched by NY-1 hopeful Chris Cox on one of his two GOP primary opponents, Randy Altschuler, in the form of an ad that reiterates all of the self-funding businessman’s negatives: He outourced jobs, he used to be a Green Party member, there’s a big gap in his voting history.

The ad will appear on News12 Long Island, FOX News, CNN, TNT, and The Discovery Channel, according to the Cox campaign.

Most of the mudslinging as the primary draws ever closer has been between Altschuler and Cox, which leads me to believe someone out there has some polling data that shows George Demos trailing. Also, recall that Altschuler has the much-coveted Conservative Party line, while Cox is trying to lay claim to the conservative mantle.

Extras

Midnight tonight is the final fundraising deadline of the primary season. (No link).

Gov. David Paterson has no plans to take further action against David Johnson (suspended without pay) or Clemmie Harris *(still working as a special assistant to the governor).

Sen. Eric Schneiderman was endorsed by Equality Long Island over the weekend.

The four Democrats seeking to replace Sen. Eric Schneiderman will debate transporation issues on Sept. 7.

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. handed out school supplies paid for with campaign funds and challenged a heckler to a fist fight.

Here’s NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s bad landlord list.

Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos’ opponent blamed the Long Island Republican for the LIRR’s recent delays.

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is taking heat back home in Nevada for accepting fundraising assistance from Mayor Bloomberg.

The 14th CD primary is boiling down to Wall Street, Wall Street, Wall Street.

Rep. Anthony Weiner Tweeted how he really feels about Republicans.

The UFT has lost some 2,000 members, which translates into $2 million in dues.

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice wants to be a “green AG.”

Nick Confessore is a brave man.

David Dinkins and de Blasio praised ATU candidate Larry Hanley.

The New Roosevelt Initiative endorsed Francisco Moya for Assembly against expelled ex-Sen. Hiram Monserrate. (No link).

Sen. Brian Foley was endorsed by PEF. (No link).

The Seneca are trying to dial down the tensions surrounding the impending start of collection of taxes on cigarettes sold to non-tribal people on Indian land.

Espada gave an extended sit-down interview to Gerson Borrero.

The WFP has an anti-hydrofracking bumper sticker.

Paladino: Obama Not A Christian ‘In His Heart’, ‘Worships Himself’

GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino told me in an extended “Capital Tonight” set to air this evening that he does not believe President Obama is a practicing Christian “in his heart.”

That comment came in response to a question I put to the Buffalo businessman during a mock lightning round, which we would have done in a two-man debate – had Paladino’s primary opponent, Rick Lazio, agreed to participate. I later asked him to elaborate, which sparked this exchange.

CP: “I think it’s part of the theater of Mr. Obama. I’m not quite, I’m not saying he’s anything else, but I think Mr. Obama is about himself. I think any religious beliefs that he advocates are part of the theatre to make himself look better to the American people.”

LB: “So, you’re not specifically saying that he is not a Christian. You just don’t believe him when he says he’s a practicing Christian?”

CP: “I don’t believe he… No, I think he worships himself. He’s a very condescending person.”

The topic of Obama’s faith has been on the front burner since an Aug. 19 Pew poll found one in five Americans believe the president is a Muslim – an increase from 11 percent in March 2009 – and 43 percent had no idea what religion he practices at all.

A Newsweek poll last week pegged the number at one in four.

This caused the White House to send out a statement reiterating that Obama “is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life.”

In an NBC interview with Brian Williams that will air tonight, the president said:

“The facts are the facts…There is a mechanism, a network of misinformation that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly… I can’t spend all of my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead.”

Doheny On The Attack

Things are getting ugly in the North Country, where GOP congressional candidate Mott Doheny is out with an attack ad that accuses his primary opponent, Doug Hoffman, of profiting from his campaign in NY-23.

Reporters (at least those outside the district) were alerted to the existence of the ad by the Hoffman campaign, which sent out a press release slamming the spot and calling it a “a desperate attempt by Matt Doheny to save his floundering campaign.”

Hoffman campaign spokesman Rob Ryan called on Dohney to apologize for “hurling mud” and take down the ad.

Dohney Attack Ad from Liz Benjamin on Vimeo.

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Nov. 2 Special Election In Queens

Mayor Bloomberg just called a special election on Nov. 2 (to run concurrent with the November general) in the 28th NYC Council District in Queens to fill the vacancy left by the death late last week of Tom White, who lost a battle with cancer at the age of 71.

Here’s the announcement:

“Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that a special non-partisan election will be held in the 28th Council District on November 2nd, the date of the regularly scheduled general election, to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Council Member Thomas White, Jr. Pursuant to the City Charter, the nomination of candidates in the election will be by independent nominating petition, rather than through a party primary.

The newly elected Council Member will serve until December 31, 2011. A second election to fill the remainder of the term will be held on Election Day in November 2011.

UB President To Retire Following Albany’s Failure

University of Buffalo President John Simpson announced this afternoon he is retiring as the college’s President effective of January 15.

CT SOP 0830 simpson

In a press release, he states that his motivation is mainly because he wants to be closer to family, but he adds that “the difficult decision has been made somewhat easier by Albany’s failure to give UB and SUNY policy tools.”

“UB’s promise, and its potential to transform this community, have been threatened severely by repeated budget cuts and, most recently, by the latest setbacks from Albany,” Simpson said.

This past session state lawmakers failed to pass SUNY empowerment legislation that would have allowed campuses to set their own tuition, to an extent, and also give them power to make purchases without prior approval from the state legislature.

The project grew out of a pilot program that was proposed for the University of Buffalo, called UB2020. The idea being that by the year 2020, University of Buffalo would be a state of the art medical campus.

Following Albany’s failure to pass SUNY empowerment legislation, Simpson sent an email to colleagues suggesting it would be optimistic to think that project could be done by 2030.

Park51 And The 20th AD

A reader forwarded as link to the Aug. 27 edition of the 5 Towns Jewish Times, which features (on P. 36) a Letter to the Editor from Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg announcing that he opposes the Park51 mosque/Islamic center project proposed for construction near Ground Zero.

Weisenberg, a former police officer and 21-year veteran of the Assembly, opens by saying he is “absolutely opposed to the construction of a mosque in the shadow of the site where the towers fell,” while also noting that the Muslim community has a constitutional right to build.

“We simply cannot build an institution on this sacred ground that is associated with so much pain and violence,” Weisenberg wrote. “…Those behind this project have said they hoped it would foster tolerance and healing. But the wounds are too fresh, the project is simply too divisive.”

The assemblyman proposed building a multicultural, interfaith community and education center on the Park51 site, which, interestingly, is the same thing Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin – who voted “yes” on the project back in May – suggested in a DN OpEd that ran this morning.

Weisenberg is being challenged in a primary by former Nassau County Legislator Jeff Toback. His decision to write this letter to an Orthodox Jewish paper is an interesting one, politically speaking.

Orthodox Jews tend to be more on the conservative side – particularly when it comes to issues of public safety – and they tend to vote in a bloc. Their support could prove very helpful to the assemblyman come primary day, assuming he manages to sway them in his direction.