Friday, November 6, 2009

Take back the bookends, Sen. Bruno

Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, said in his testimony to the jury today, that he returned a set of glass bookends sent to him by Sen. Joe Bruno. It's unclear what the purpose of the gift was. In addition to serving as the council's president, Ward is a co-chair of the union's pension fund committee.

Ward admitted to a "cordial" relationship with the former Senate majority leader, which he said dates back to around 2005. He testified Bruno spoke with him over the phone about letting Wright Investors Service handle his union's pension fund investments. Ward said Bruno described the company as "friends of his," but neglected to mention he was employed by them.

I was "uncomfortable" about it, Ward said. I was "unclear why the senator was asking me to do it," he added. Wright would never land the investment deal, a fact which Bruno's defense emphasized.

Earlier in the morning, the jury also heard from John Cordo, who from 1996-2000 served as assistant counsel to Bruno in charge of labor issues. He testified he had no knowledge of a financial relationship between the majority leader and Wright.

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Monday.

Bruno's morning statement to reporters

As former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno entered the Courthouse this morning, he told reporters that no one so far has said he did anything wrong. "That ought to be what is reported," he said. "I was a part-time legislator ... I obeyed the law."

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Owens to be sworn in

Newly elected Congressman Bill Owens is scheduled to be sworn in around noon today on the House floor in Washington. He will later attend a ceremonial swearing in around 12:30.

Owens beat out Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman on Tuesday for the hotly contested NY-23 Congressional District seat. He is the first Democrat to hold the position since the Civil War.

Paterson campaign hits the airwaves

Gov. David A. Paterson’s 2010 campaign announced today it would begin airing its first campaign television ads statewide. The ads, both of which last about 30 seconds, are titled “Some Say” and “When.”

“Some say” is directed toward Paterson’s critics who believe he should not run for governor. Paterson specifically mentions the Legislature, union leaders and big corporations, all of which the governor says, told him he shouldn’t run after he forced them to make difficult choices. The governor then says that it would have been easier had he just been trying to get re-elected.



“When” features biographical information about Paterson, and uses examples from his life, such as his blindness, early graduation from high school and degrees from Columbia University and Hofstra Law School to show positive character traits.


Both of the governor’s campaign ads end with the phrase “To do what’s right for the people of New York,” and work to illustrate that Paterson has New Yorker’s best interests in mind and will continue to do so.

Paterson’s ad “When” even goes as far as to admit he’s made mistakes in office, but adds: “In the depths of a historic recession, you take what you have learned and have strength to do what’s right for the people of New York”

Paterson, who ascended from lieutenant governor to become the state’s chief executive as a result of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s scandal-induced resignation, has seen consistently low polling numbers since the beginning of 2009.

Paterson announced in September his selection of Richard Fife as his campaign manager. Fife was a senior New York adviser to President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Senate majority will snub Paterson

AP - New York officials say the Senate's Democratic majority won't attend Democratic Gov. David Paterson's joint address to the Legislature Monday on trying to create a coalition to address the state's latest fiscal crisis.

A senior Democratic official close to the majority's leaders said the senators won't return to Albany for what the official termed "a photo opp" for Paterson, who is languishing in the polls as he seeks election in 2010.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak for the senators.

The Senate's Republican minority and the Assembly's Democratic majority and Republican minority plan to attend the rare midyear address to a joint session of the Legislature called by Paterson.

UPDATE: According to the Daily Politics, the Senate Democratic majority will be present on Monday.

Sens. Duane and Parker call for marriage equality bill during Senate special session

Sens. Thomas Duane, D--Manhattan, and Kevin Parker, D--Brooklyn, are supporting equality for same-sex marriage and urging the Senate Majority Conference to bring the marriage equality bill (S. 4401) to the Senate floor during a special session scheduled for Nov. 10 in response to Maine's repeal of its gay marriage law.

With 53 percent of voters in opposition, Maine's marriage equality law was repealed.

In response, Duane said, "Yesterday's referendum to repeal Maine's marriage equality law was a blow to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, and indeed all those who believe in fairness and equality under the law. As in every struggle for civil rights, defeats are temporary -- and so shall be this repeal in Maine."

Parker said in a statement that he believes same-sex couples should be afforded the same opportunities and privileges offered to traditional couples.

"The reality is that there are still many people in new York who don't agree with us on this issue," said Parker. "But there have also been people who wouldn't accept interracial marriage, and that didn't meant hat banning it would b right for society either. It's rarely easy or quick to put an end to any kind of discrimination and that is why I cal for this bill to come to the floor for a vote."

"Legislators in a representative democracy are not simply beholden to a fearful majority, but have a duty to lead and educate their constituents on the importance of enacting civil rights for all of its citizens," Duane added. "Civil rights, which sometimes seem slow to be granted, can never be denied and we must never give up the fight."

Federal and state health professionals speak about H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines

New York Congressman Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, hosted a teleconference for health care professionals yesterday who addressed the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines, and discussed precautions schools, offices and individuals should take to prevent exposure of the virus.

Since manufacturers of the seasonal flu vaccine are now also producing the H1N1 flu vaccine, supply for the seasonal flu vaccine may not be readily available. However, health professionals are confident anyone who chooses to be immunized this year for H1N1 will be able to do so.

Acting Regional Director for the U.S. Health and Human Services Dennis Gonzalez announced federal efforts to protect Americans from the flu.

"From the onset of the outbreak back in April, we have [developed] four goals," Gonzalez said during the teleconference. "One is make sure that we get antiviral medicines out to all states for those who unfortunately come down with the virus; two is to keep the public informed and understand how they can protect themselves and their families; three is to develop a vaccine and now we are in the [distribution stage]."

The HHS purchased $2 million of vaccinations this year, according to Gonzalez. Since Nov. 2 of this year, more than 30 million doses have been allocated through the U.S. THe H1N1 vaccine is shipped as it becomes available and is expected that there will be enough H1N1 flu vaccines.

According to Gonzalez, the federal government has obtained 250 million doses of this year's H1N1 flu vaccine. This amount is based off the National Institute of Health clinic trial data that showed children six months to nine years old will require two doses, and individuals 10 years or old will require one dose.

Dr. Debra Blog, director of the Bureau of Immunization for the state Department of Health, said the federal government is providing the H1N1 vaccine at no cost for the actual injection or for the supplies necessary to receive the vaccination.


The demand for the seasonal flu vaccine has been dramatic and may not be available to individuals in the near future, and "more can't be produced because the same producers are making H1N1 vaccine," Blog added.

"We know that the amount that's being produced [for the seasonal flu vaccine] is about the same that was distributed and used last season," said Blog. "Therefore, if there is increased demand, we know there will not be enough for everybody to get a vaccine. What came out early was used."

Vaccine safety has been an issue for many forthcoming individuals wary of potential side effects the immunization may have, but Blog assured the vaccine is safe since it is created the same the seasonal flu vaccine is, also has a very similar safety profile. There have been no recent studies showing unusual results after the vaccination is administered, Blog said.

Dr. Douglas Ball, director of Public Health Emergency Epidemiology Program for the state DOH, said they are providing guidance for parents and students from kindergarten through grade 12 by community mitigation and non-pharmaceutical intervention.

"Having students and staff stay home, separating ill students and staff, emphasizing importance of hand hygiene and routine cleaning... are the only school dismissals we've recommended for public health assistance," said Ball.

Minimizing exposure to the virus is the most important method, according to Dr. Eileen Franko, director of the Bureau of Occupational Health for the state DOH.

"What we really want to do is minimize exposure of everyone [who is sick] to other people," Franko said. "If you're sick, you have to stay home and not come to work. The first thing you want to do is eliminate the source of exposure."

More information and statistical facts about seasonal flu and H1N1 flu vaccines, click here for federal government info and here for New York info.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day three of Bruno trial

It's day three in the federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Francis Collins, Bruno's former counsel, and currently a state Court of Claims judge, wrapped up his testimony this morning. He repeatedly stated he wasn't responsible for advising Bruno about financial disclosure forms.

The trial's fourth witness, Helen George, then took the stand. George, who worked as internal legal counsel at Wright Investors' Service, a Connecticut-based investment advisor that employed Bruno for a dozen years starting in 1994, was granted immunity for her testimony. Being granted immunity means the witness can't be prosecuted for their testimony. Only if charged with perjury would the immunity privilege be waived.

From 1994 to 1998, Bruno worked for Wright as a independent consultant. From 1998 until 2006, he was a part-time employee. For those dozen years, said George, Bruno functioned as an introducer – someone who met with potential clients, in this case union pension funds, and recommended they give Wright the power to invest their money.

A 1994 letter from the company to Bruno laid out his duties as well as disclosure requirements. Each potential client was to be informed of Bruno's affiliation with Wright. Before an investment contract was signed, a disclosure letter had to be sent to the client. According to George, she looked for but didn't find completed disclosure forms in Wright's files.

George admitted some pension fund trustees raised objections to signing the disclosure form because they didn't like working with referral agents in general. To the best of her knowledge, it was nothing to do with Joe Bruno specifically.


UPDATE: 7:08 P.M.
George acknowledged learning in a conversation with Francis Collins that the Legislative Ethics Committee had approved Bruno's job with Wright Investors' Service. However, she never received a written letter confirming such. She said she was "surprised" there was no letter. George testified that Frank Gluchowski, a lawyer for the Legislative Ethics Committee and later the legislative counsel to the Senate majority, recommended not issuing a letter because he thought it would "raise more questions than it answered."

Wednesday's other witnesses included former New York Sun reporter Bill Hammond and former Bruno press secretary Marsha White, among others. For details of their testimony, be sure to check out the next edition of The Legislative Gazette on Nov. 10.

Owens wins 23rd

The contentious race for the 23rd Congressional District seat is over. On the night of Tuesday, Nov. 3, the Democratic candidate Bill Owens defeated Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman and took the district that has been a Republican party stronghold for a century.

According to the AP, Owens defeated Hoffman 49 percent to 45 percent. Meanwhile, Republican Dierdre Scozzafava who dropped out of the race on Saturday, Oct. 31, still received 6 percent of the vote. Hoffman congratulated Owens on election night.

In a statement to supporters in Plattsburgh, Owens vowed to continue to create jobs, repair the economy, protect dairy farmers and fight for health care and Fort Drum.

“When we began this journey, a lot of people didn’t give us much of a chance,” said Owens. “And tonight, with the entire country watching, Upstate New Yorkers sent a message. We came together tonight as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to seek solutions – to create jobs for our workers, to bring economic development back to our communities, to fight for Fort Drum and to give all middle class families in Upstate New York a fair shake from Washington.”


Via a post on his website, doughoffmanforcongress.com, Hoffman writes, “I congratulate Bill Owens on a hard won victory. In our tradition of free elections, our country continues,” said Hoffman. “And although Bill Owens has won, I believe America is turning the page to a new dawn … I would like to thank all of you who placed your faith in me, who worked tirelessly and shared your enthusiasm with those around you.”

Owens also thanked Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, R-Governeur, for her support after dropping out of the race.

“I must give special thanks to Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava,” said Owens. “I was honored to earn the support of a great leader like her. She has always put the people of Upstate New York before any partisan agenda. I share her commitment and I look forward to working with her to help the people of this district.”

Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chris Van Hollen released a statement acknowledging and congratulating Owens on his unexpected victory while bashing Republicans for their extremist views.

“Congratulations to Congressman-elect Bill Owens on his remarkable victory,” said Van Hollen. “…after losing a seat that was held by Republicans for nearly 120 years, [National Republicans] have to deal with an emboldened and well-funded far right-wing that refuses to tolerate moderate Republicans with differing opinions.”


Likewise, Chairman of the New York state Democratic Committee, Jay S. Jacobs, congratulated Owens on the success of his campaign.

“We send our congratulations to Owens for a race well run,” said Jacobs. “He will be an honorable representative for the people of the 23rd District of New York.”

In his speech Owens said that America should not be separated by political parties in solving the challenges that lay ahead.

“Our challenges aren’t Democratic or Republican,” said Owens. “They’re not liberal or conservative. They are American challenges that we will overcome with American resolve.”

The seat that Owens now occupies has been represented by the GOP since the Civil War. The special election to fill the seat began when former Congressman John McHugh became secretary of the army under the Obama administration.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reform Package Attempts to Close 'Bruno Gap' in Ethic Laws


Senator Daniel Squadron described how the ethics reforms package [Bill S06064 and S06157] he is sponsoring with Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson would assist in stopping the alleged corruption that placed former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno on trial.

The "Squadron/Sampson package" received support from the Citizens Union of the City of New York, Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of New York State, the New York Public Interest Research Group and various other good government and reform groups across the state.

The reform package would institute these reforms:
  • New reporting requirements for consulting services
  • Increased transparency of public officials' business dealing with lobbyists
  • Increased financial disclosure
  • Independent investigations
  • Random reviews of disclosure forms

    Former Gov. Mario Cuomo to speak at celebration of the New York State Writers Institute

    Former Governor Mario Cuomo and Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin are scheduled to speak together at a celebration of the New York state Writers Institute’s 25th anniversary.

    Cuomo signed legislation which created the Institute in 1984, mandating it to provide “a milieu for established and aspiring writers to work together … to increase the artistic imagination.” Since then the institute has hosted over 1,000 visiting writer appearances, screened over 400 films and presented dozens of writing workshops, symposia and special events. The celebration will highlight these events with a short video showing the Institute's past, present and future.

    The event will take place at 8 p.m. in Page Hall at 135 Western Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

    Lenape exhibit opens at Ellis Island

    First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson announced yesterday the opening of Lenape: Ellis Island's First Inhabitants at Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York City.

    The exhibit, sponsored by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, is designed to celebrate and examine the extensive history of the Lenape people from prehistory through the 21st century.

    "Today's opening of [the exhibit] marks another exciting milestone in our commemoration of our state's people and past," Paterson said. "This exhibition provides New Yorkers with another exciting opportunity to rediscover their incredible history."

    Six galleries explore Lenape ways of life, linguistics, cultural and religious traditions. It incorporates an array of materials such as artifacts, antique books, maps, photos, clothing and numerous illustrations.


    The opening ceremony was attended by Commisioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation Pete Grannis, Dr. David M. Oestreicher, Lenape scholar and exhibition curator and John Haworth, director of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, among others.

    "We celebrate and honor the native people who inhabited this region long before Henry Hudson sailed through the New York Harbor on the Half Moon," said Grannis. "This exhibition is a fitting tribute to the first inhabitantsof lower New York -- and it is my tremendous honor to be part of this long overdue homecoming for the Lenape people."


    Oestreicher spent more than 30 years studying Lenape and working with the remaining traditionalists and speakers of the native language.

    The exhibit was created with the help of the Lenape people and was made possible by the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, other advocacy businesses and individuals.

    First witnesses testify at Bruno trial

    The first two witnesses testified this morning in the corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

    James Featherstonhaugh, an attorney with the Albany-based firm Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne, LLP, was the lead witness. Featherstonhaugh, who introduced Bruno to the investment and brokerage firm McGinnSmith in 1992, admitted to knowledge of a financial relationship between Bruno and McGinnSmith. (Bruno would be elevated to the position of Senate majority leader in 1994.) Featherstonhaugh admitted to introducing Bruno to McGinn at the request of the firm's Chairman of the Board Tim McGinn.

    The firm's chairman testified that Bruno was on the payroll. A letter sent to Bruno describing his role at the firm was admitted into evidence. According to the letter, Bruno would spearhead McGinnSmith's efforts at landing investment deals with labor union pension funds. McGinn called Bruno "a significant ally in that effort." A W-2 earnings summary, which was also admitted into evidence, showed that McGinn paid Bruno $24,500 in 1994.

    McGinn said Bruno brought in investments by the hospitality workers union and the Teamsters. According to McGinn, Bruno didn't bring in funds from any entity other than labor unions.

    James Featherstonhaugh told the jury that Sen. Bruno never asked him to conceal anything about his relationship with McGinnSmith.


    UPDATE: 8:02 P.M.
    Tim McGinn also said in his testimony that his firm offered Bruno an office, which he used about a dozen times. One interesting moment came when the chairman said his firm and Bruno intended to send our simultaneous press releases announcing the senator's job with McGinn. Bruno wasn't interested in making it public, according to McGinn.

    Tim McGinn admitted having two conversations with Bruno about the ethics of working for the investment firm. According to McGinn, Bruno acknowledged the moral implications of his work, but told him it was okay. McGinn said he chose Bruno to work for the firm because he was a respected member of the community. He emphasized Bruno's life story and his success in the Legislature.

    McGinn said Bruno requested payments be sent to his consulting company, Capital Business Consultants, Inc., rather than to him personally. He didn't give a reason, according to McGinn.
    During questioning form Bruno's attorney Abbe David Lowell, McGinn said "it was well known" that Bruno worked for his firm and he made no effort to conceal it.

    The prosecution pointed out that Bruno's compensation from the firm increased to $72,000 in 1995 from $24,500 the year before. Sen. Bruno became majority leader of the state Senate in November 1994.

    The third witness of the day was Francis Collins, a New York state Court of Claims judge who served as Sen. Bruno's counsel.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Visit a real Destroyer Escort

    For the next month, people touring Albany will have the chance to tour the USS Slater, a World War II destroyer escort and the only one to remain afloat in America presently.

    A Destroyer escort is a small warship that was used in World War II to protect against aircraft and small boat attacks.

    During World War II, 563 destroyer escorts fought Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic and they protected against Kamikaze attacks in the Pacific.

    The USS Slater, located on the Hudson River in downtown Albany, will remain open to the public Wednesday through Sunday till Nov. 29 with hour-long guided tours. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children.

    Jury selected, attorneys give opening statements on first day of Bruno trial

    Earlier this hour, seven women and five men were chosen as members of the jury that will determine the fate of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. Bruno is on trial facing charges that he abused his office and defrauded the government in failing to disclose his financial relationship with businesses and individuals. He has pleaded not guilty.

    Five members of the potential jury pool were excused for various reasons. Prospective jurors can ask to be excused if they feel they wouldn't be able to judge the facts of the case objectively. Attorneys for either side can also request a juror be excused, sometimes without having to give a reason.

    U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe said he will not sequester the jury, meaning they can return home after each day. He reminded the potential jury pool to not discuss the trial with anyone or follow news coverage.

    The trial is being held U.S. District Court in Albany, and may last into December.


    UPDATE: 5:28 P.M.
    Attorneys for the prosecution and defense delivered their opening statements this afternoon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Coombe spoke on behalf of the prosecution.

    She said the government plans to prove that Sen. Bruno violated federal statute that entitled the public to the "honest services" of its elected officials. They plan to show that Bruno failed to disclose, and intended to keep secret, his financial relationships with investment firms and individuals. The government alleges Bruno was granted over $3 million over more than 10 years by various groups and individuals. He did this "for his own personal enrichment," Coombe said today. He "concealed and disguised" his actions.

    Abbe David Lowell, a top white-collar lawyer from Washington, D.C., delivered the defense's opening statement. He does not deny many of the facts of the case, but denies what the prosecution says the facts amount to. He characterized Sen. Bruno as a "hard-working, honest public servant." He asserted Bruno never pressured anyone to take a certain action. He says witnesses will testify that the former Senate majority leader didn't violate financial disclosure forms nor hide any of his financial relationships. Lowell countered the prosecution's claim that Bruno's actions rise to the level of a "scheme" to defraud the public.

    Biden stumps for Owens

    Vice President Joe Biden joined Democratic candidate for the 23rd, Bill Owens, today at a rally in Watertown.
    In his prepared opening statement, Owens thanked his supporters, including Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava, who dropped out of the race on Saturday.

    "Your support is what got us to this point and will put us over the top tomorrow," said Owens to supporters. "I can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you’ve put in – the hours you’ve spent making phone calls, knocking on doors, and talking to your friends about our campaign to bring jobs to Upstate New York and get our economy back on track."

    He also addressed his opponent, Doug Hoffman's campaign, saying that Hoffman is only embracing the special interests groups financing his campaign.

    "They want to go back to the George Bush days of tax cuts for the wealthy, tax cuts for companies that send our jobs overseas, and privatizing Social Security. They’re going to let their partisan agenda get in the way of keeping Fort Drum strong," said Owens.
    "I know many of you are tired. This has been a grueling campaign. But I need you to press forward for just one more day. I need your help tomorrow so we can stand up for our priorities and our shared commitment to turn the page on partisan ideology."
    On a seperate note, Owens was endorsed by Laborers Local 322 today. Laborors' International Union of North America is dedicated to helping construction workers recieve good pay, benefits and opportunity for advancement.

    New York state granted funding for broadband activites

    New York state will receive approximately $2.5 million in federal stimulus funding for broadband mapping and planning activities.

    The funding, which is available through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, will enable the mapping of New York’s un-served and underserved areas to provide high speed Internet access across the state.

    Of the $2.5 million, $2 million will be used for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five year period.

    "We are very pleased with the $2.5 million federal award that will help advance New York's broadband data collection and mapping activities," said New York state CIO and director of the office for technology, Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart. "The mapping activities will help ensure broadband networks are widely deployed, affordable and accessible to all New Yorkers."

    Street Finder's Bill Becomes Law Just in Time for Tuesday's Elections

    A week before Election Day, Gov. David A. Paterson signed a bill into law that will help voters find their correct voting locations if they are mistaken on Tuesday and go to the wrong polling site.

    On Oct. 28 Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s bill (A1002C), which requires election sites in New York state to supply information and maps regarding the location of voting sites, became a law.

    “The essence is, you want to enable people to vote and this is a bill that will help accomplish that,” said Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, in an interview with the Legislative Gazette.

    According to a prepared statement from the governor’s office, the new law will ensure that workers at polling sites supply voters with the information they need about their correct polling sites, “including countywide maps that delineate voting districts.”

    “It is fairly common for voters to end up at the wrong polling place. Now, election workers will have the proper tools to assist these individuals and ensure their votes are counted,” Governor Paterson said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to be working with the legislature on passing laws that increase access and ease for New Yorkers to vote; just last month, I signed a bill requiring New York City to translate all voting materials into Russian.”

    Often if a voter shows up to the incorrect polling site, he or she could be informed of their correct voting site, but that it does not always happen. Paulin’s bill is aimed to assist voters who are unsure of or have mistaken their correct polling location.

    “It’s to make sure that when voters come into their polling site and their names aren’t found, the poll workers can check their address and send them to the right place or let them vote in the place they’re at if they’re truly in the district,” Paulin said. “We’re franchising people instead of disenfranchising people.

    According to a statement released by Allison Esposito, Paulin’s communications director, if an individual in New York goes to the wrong polling site, they may be provided a provisional ballot, and it will not count if submitted in the voter’s incorrect polling place.

    Paulin spoke about the law’s effect on elections and voters, saying It will have a great impact on individual people — people want to be able to exercise their right to vote.”

    “Mistakes can be made, which can’t be helped unless we dramatically change the system,” Paulin said. “This is a bill that will help people who have moved and who have not voted in a while. 

    She added, “This will enable them to get the correct information so that they can exercise their right to vote.”

    NOW-NYS Critiques Republican Party, Supports Scozzafava in Future

    After Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava announced on Oct. 31 that she was suspending her campaign for New York’s 23rd District, a women’s rights group critiqued her move, calling it a “setback for women” this weekend.

    The National Organization for Women-New York State issued a prepared statement which illustrated their disappointment with the Republican Party.

    President of NOW-NYS, Marcia Pappas, called former Republican candidate Scozzafava’s withdrawal a “setback for women, especially Republican women and moderates in general” in the statement.

    Pappas said the Republican Party is “clearly going so ultra-conservative that many highly qualified women are completely excluded.”

    NOW commended Scozzafava for being pro-choice, pro-gay rights, and for being in favor of president Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Now also called her “more progressive than any of the other candidates.”

    The group critiqued former Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for endorsing the Conservative Party’s candidate, Doug Hoffman, “rather than a qualified woman from her own party.”

    The group expressed hopes for Scozzafava’s return.

    “NOW-NYS salutes Scozzafava, and hopes that as some time in the future she will find the wherewith to rejoin the fray. She is indeed a breath of fresh air in the present-day anti-woman, anti-choice Republican Party,” according to the statement.

    Hoffman continues to recieve endorsements

    The race for the 23rd Congressional District has taken an interesting turn, as Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava announced that she was suspending her campaign on Saturday, Oct. 31.

    Since that time endorsements have continued to stream in for Doug Hoffman, the Conservative candidate in the race, including Senate Republican leader Dean G. Skelos, former Congressman Rick Lazio and New York state Republican Chairman Ed Cox.

    “Dede Scozzafava’s endorsement today represents a betrayal of the people of the North Country and the people of her party,” said Cox. “The citizens of that district deserve a fiscal conservative like Doug Hoffman who will help turn the North Country economy around.”
    Meanwhile, a poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute today shows Hoffman with a five point lead over Bill Owens, the Democratic candidate. Hoffman received 41 percent of the vote, Owens, 36 percent and Scozzafava still recieved 6 percent of the vote.