Rima Fakih, the first Muslim winner of the Miss USA contest, is against the mosque. (She “totally” agrees with President Obama’s religious freedom argument, but thinks the project “shouldn’t be so close” to Ground Zero).

The mosque developers say they never had any plans to meet with Gov. David Paterson who insists a meeting was scheduled for Monday.

Speaking in Bahrain, Imam Feiesal Abdul Rauf called extremism a global threat.

A judge handed Mayor Bloomberg a legal victory on Willets Point.

Alfonse D’Amato hearts Bloomberg, but disagrees with him on the mosque.

Strippers near Ground Zero are unmoved by the mosque uproar.

A former aide to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver-turned-Assembly candidate is running against Albany.

Randy Altschuler’s campaign says it won the legal challenge to Chris Cox’s OTB petitions for the Conservative party.

The state Democratic Party released a new Web video hitting “pay-to-play” Rick Lazio.

The Kathleen Parker-Eliot Spitzer show debuts on CNN in October.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez continued her anti-Vito Lopez endorsement spree.

Michael Grimm says he’s too busy to accept The Brooklyn Paper’s invite to debate Michael Allegretti.

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice has something in common with GOP California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman.

Former Sen. Nick Spano is still handing out campaign cash.

Assemblyman Greg Ball’s campaign is touting a new internal poll that shows him way out in front of his GOP state Senate primary opponent, Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy.

Former Rep. Sue Kelly endorsed Murphy for Senate, calling her “a thoughtful, strong person.” (No link).

NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera endorsed Gustavo Rivera for state Senate.

Sen. George Maziarz endorsed Jay Townsend for US Senate. (No link).

Bloomberg will do the Daily Show next week.

The National Defense PAC endorsed Doug Hoffman in NY-23. (No link).

Air Espada Slams ‘Puppet’ Opponent Rivera (Updated)

Gerson Borrero got ahold of Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s first TV ad in which the scandal-scarred Bronx Democrat casts his primary opponent, Gustavo Rivera, as controlled by outsiders who “want to take out power away from us.”

“Us” in this case refers to the Latino community. Espada, referred to in the ad as “our voice in the Senate,” likes to remind people of the fact that he is the first Hispanic to ever hold a legislative leadership post and accuse anyone who attacks him as being prejudiced.

The ad production is very low budget, but it gets the point across. Singled out for criticism are a handful of “outsiders”: 32BJ’s Mike Fishman (“sued for racketeering”), WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor (“under investigation by the FBI for voter fraud” – not anymore, as of today), Sen. Liz Krueger and Bill Samuels (“millionaire puppet masters who don’t care about our community”).

UPDATE: Rivera’s Espada’s campaign strategist Horacio Gutierrez sent the following response:

This election is about Pedro Espada’s failure to represent our community in Albany and his numerous ethical problems and criminal investigations.”

“He is desperate to change the subject by lying about Gustavo Rivera, but the Bronx is too smart to fall for it. On September 14th, they will vote for a real change in Albany – someone who will never forget that he works for them.”

Sampson Weighs In On Motts Strike

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson is the latest in a growing line of Democrats to send a letter on behalf of the striking RWDSU employees at the Motts plant in Wayne County, urging the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group to “return to the negotiating table as quickly as possible.”

The letter hews more or less to the same script as previous missives sent by elected officials – including AG Andrew Cuomo – noting the plant’s closure is harming not only the 305 workers involved, but also the economy of the entire region.

In addition, Sampson says his office has been in communication with RWDSU executives and expressed support for the union’s president, Stu Appelbaum, whom the senator says he has found to “professional and fair,” adding:

“As apple reason quickly approaches, it becomes even more important for this resolution to get resolved in a fair and prompt manner – I again urge a return to negotiations. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know.”

Mott JLS Letter

DiNapoli Hits Wilson On Choice (Updatedx2)

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli came out swinging earlier today when he picked up the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, accusing his GOP/Conservative opponent, Harry Wilson, of being anti-choice when it comes to abortion rights.

“Obviously the overriding concern is the ability to provide choice for women and for families in our state, and my record has been clear in that regard,” DiNapoli said.

“My opponent Harry Wilson has not much of a record at all, and when he’s made statements on this issue it’s very clear that he supports restricting the choice that we now have for New York’s women.”

“That values system is not one that should be represented in the statewide offices, including the comptroller’s office. And I would also point out he’s endorsed by the Conservative Party, and we know that their platform has long called for undoing the legal protections that we have in our state and in our nation when it comes to choice.”

Just to refresh your memory (and mine) on this question, I e-mailed Wilson’s campaign spokesman Bill O’Reilly to get the candidate’s positions on two key abortion-related issues.

Wilson is “pro-choice,” according to O’Reilly. But he does not support late-term abortions (in the third trimester) and supports requiring minors to get parental consent before receiving an abortion, although he is in favor of allowing this to be overridden by a judge.

Both those positions are antithetical to groups like Planned Parenthood. I’m awaiting a statement from DiNapoli on his position regarding these issues, but it’s pretty safe to say he would not have received today’s endorsement, or that of NARAL Pro-Choice NY, which has acted as a surrogate on the Democratic incumbent’s behalf, if his stance was not in keeping with theirs.

More >

Hey Cuomo! Frack This!

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Andrew Cuomo is usually met by enthusiastic supporters, thanks largely to his highly controlled campaign, which vastly prefers scripted events to unscripted spontaneity.

But an appearance Cuomo made in Ithaca yesterday didn’t quite follow the script, as opponents to the natural gas drilling process known as hydrofracking showed up to protest his event.

(Apparently, there were also protests at his stop in Montour Falls, but the majority of the opposition appears to have take place at the Women’s Community Building in the Finger Lakes college town, where one man went so far as to dress in a hazmat suit to underscore his displeasure with the idea of drilling in the Marcellus Shale).

Cuomo took a “wait and see what the studies say” approach when addressing the protestors, although as DN City Hall Bureau Chief Adam Lisberg has noted, the AG has in fact taken a position in favor of banning drilling in places that would impact the NYC water supply.

As you will see in the video below, in which drilling opponents ask questions they didn’t get to pose to Cuomo during his campaign swing, anti-drilling activists would very much like to see the AG take that same position in their neck of the woods.

Caption Contest

I just received this little gem from Carl Paladino’s campaign manager Michael Caputo. It was taken at the Altamont Fair.

The prize: YNN swag. The less-than-impartial judge: Me.

Please keep it clean. Have fun. – LB


WFP: US Attorney’s Probe Ends With No Charges

The Working Families Party is off the hook with the US attorney’s office, according to the following statement just released by the labor-backing organization’s spokesman Dan Levitan:

“In December 2009, we announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was conducting an investigation concerning the Working Families Party and Data & Field Services, Inc. We were advised last night that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has decided to close its investigation without the filing of any charges. ”

“The Working Families Party and Data & Field Services cooperated fully with the extensive investigation conducted by the government. We appreciate the professionalism of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

“Of course, the NYC Campaign Finance Board, as part of the post-election audit process of campaigns that participate in the public campaign finance system, is auditing the campaigns that contracted for services with Data & Field Services in 2009.”

“We are gratified that the federal investigation has concluded and look forward to continuing our work for good schools, good jobs, and good government.”

Recall that AG Andrew Cuomo refused to take the WFP line, indicating he would prefer to wait and see what the outcome of the investigation would bring.

This upset a number of WFP stakeholders, who noted the fact that the state Independence Party is under investigation didn’t stop the AG from accepting Row C.

As it turns out, that situation has only worsened since Cuomo agreed to take the Indy nod. Now not one, but two DAs – Manhattan and Staten Island – are looking into the state’s largest third party and it has become clear that the party itself, not just indicted GOP consultant John Haggerty, is in the crosshairs.

Cuomo had argued that Haggerty was the sole focus of the probes, while the WFP as an organization was being investigated by the US attorney’s office. Now it’s clear that’s no longer the case.

However, the real problem for Cuomo when it comes to the WFP isn’t only the investigation, it’s also the party’s liberal ideology, which does not mesh with his fiscally conservative platform.

Errigo For Cuomo

Assemblyman Joseph Errigo is poised to endorse AG Andrew Cuomo, according to our Josh Robin, who is covering the candidate on his latest upstate swing.


This marks the second time a Republican state lawmaker has crossed party lines to support the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner.

The first was Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who has a history of backing Democrats (or, at least as far as the NY-23 special election from which she was bounced for being too moderate is concerned).

Interestingly, both Errigo and Scozzafava are not seeking re-election this fall, so they don’t have to worry about any reprecussions from their fellow Republicans.

Still, this is not good news for either Rick Lazio, the GOP/Conservative designee, who has got to feel a bit of a sting when fellow members of his party would rather back a Democrat than support him; or Carl Paladino, who has been amassing a base of support in his native Western New York.

Errigo hails from Conesus, which is outside of Rochester. When he announced back in April that he wouldn’t be running again in the 130th AD, he said he was fed up with Albany and its dysfunction.

Errigo, as you may recall, blew the whistle on Eric Council Executive Chris Collins, confirming the Republican would-be gubernatorial candidate had made an inappropriate remark to a woman while at the State of the State this past January.

Collins penchant for making off-color remarks contributed to his decision not to run statewide this year. He has since endorsed his fellow Buffalonian, Paladino, for governor.

Paladino: Make Ground Zero A Park

During an interview on yesterday’s “Capital Tonight”, GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino suggested Ground Zero should not be redeveloped at all – even though building at the site is already well underway – and should be turned into a “lawn” or “park” instead.

“My God, what do we do with our cemeteries? Do we build monuments at our cemeteries? We worship those that have fallen,” Paladino told me.

“It should be a quiet place in the middle of all that hubbub and business down in New York City. It should be a quiet place of of remembrance…Maybe they should just leave the building that’s underground and put a lawn on top of it, you know? That might be the best way.”

Simliar ideas may have well been floated way back in the day before redevelopment got started in earnest at Ground Zero. But I haven’t heard anyone recently suggest simply halting the whole project and sodding over the entire site – an idea I found extra baffling coming from someone like Paladino, who made his money in real estate development (primarily in WNY).

State Dems Welcome Boehner With Web Ad

Here’s the latest from the state Democratic Party, which is keeping the heat on GOP congressional candidates Ann Marie Beurkle (NY-25) and Chris Gibson (NY-20) for appearing at fundraisers over the next two days with House Minority Leader John Boehner.

Boehner, who is scheduled to headline an event for Gibson tonight at the track in Saratoga and will be with Beurkle in the Syracuse area tomorrow, is being cast by the Dems as wanting to “let Wall Street Gamble with our hard-earned Social Security benefits.”

Boehner has been in the Democratic crosshairs this summer since he said he would support raising the Social Security retirement age to 70 for those who won’t retire for another 20 years and also raised the specter of the GOP possibly bringing back its privatization plan.

To be fair, it should be noted that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party isn’t thrilled with the president’s bipartisan deficit commission which is expected to recommend scaling back Social Security and Medicare.