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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for August, 2009

Another could-be challenger bows out


Republican Rep. Peter King of Long Island announces he will not challenge U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Earlier Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney also stepped aside.

More below.

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican New York Rep. Peter King has announced he will not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010.
King said on Monday that he’ll instead seek re-election to his 10th term in Congress.
He says he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate, but that he wouldn’t be able to raise the funds necessary to challenge the Democratic candidate.
He says that Gillibrand “generates neither strong support nor opposition,” making it “virtually impossible” to raise the funds required to overcome the Democrats’ edge in registered voters.
The congressman says that if Caroline Kennedy had been his opposition, it would have been far easier to contrast his “blue collar conservatism with her Manhattan liberalism.”
Rep. Carolyn Maloney also backed out of the race against Gillibrand last week.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, August 31st, 2009 at 4:44 pm |

Diocese fights to keep documents private


Retired Cardinal Edward Egan’s former diocese in Connecticut is fighting hard to keep documents about alleged sexual use private. Here’s a report about an appeal to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

From the Associated Press:

Associated Press Writer
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut that has fought for years to prevent the release of documents generated by lawsuits against priests for alleged sexual abuse wants conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to take up the case.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Tuesday ruled the documents cannot remain sealed until the full court decides whether to review the case. On Friday, attorneys for Diocese of Bridgeport asked that Scalia, a Catholic, reconsider its request to continue a stay on the release of the papers.
“The appeal to the court’s most stridently Catholic member, whose son is a priest, smacks of desperation and favoritism,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Ralph Johnson III, attorney for the diocese, declined to respond directly Clohessy’s comments but said Scalia was selected because he ruled as an appeals judge on one of the central issues in the case related to the definition of court documents. Johnson also said under the custom of the court a reconsideration of a stay is typically taken up by all nine justices.
A message was left Friday with Scalia at the court.
The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. They could provide details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000.
A telephone message was left with Jonathan Albano, attorney for The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. The three newspapers along with the Hartford Courant have asked to see the documents.
A Waterbury Superior Court said in 2006 that the documents were subject to a presumption of public access. The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision, ruling that more than 12,000 pages from 23 lawsuits against the six priests should be unsealed.
The Connecticut high court also rejected the claim by church officials that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.
The documents include depositions, affidavits and motions.
The diocese has also filed papers arguing that the nation’s highest court should take up the case because the First Amendment prohibits civil authorities from intruding into internal church decisions about priest assignments.
State and federal courts have been divided on the definition of judicial documents and how the presumption of public access is to be applied, so the high court should resolve whether the public’s right applies to all court documents, church attorneys argued.

FILE PHOTO: Pope Benedict XVI greets Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, right, as they celebrate Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York Saturday, April 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, pool)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, August 28th, 2009 at 6:08 pm |

Commemorating Sept. 11


Yesterday I wrote about the push to make Sept. 11 a day to volunteer.

Jay Winuk, whose brother Glenn died at Twin Towers trying to help, has been behind the effort since soon afterthe attacks, and this year, he’s thrilled that Congress has made it official. Sept. 11 is now a National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Nothing could be controversial about that, right? Well, no. There’s a group of people who think helping others somehow detracts from commemorating the day.

That makes little sense to me. And to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Today it announced it was collaborating with Winuk’s group, MyGoodDeed.org to encourage the public to commemorate Sept. 11 through acts of service.

“Tremendous acts of compassion and sacrifice characterized the events of 9/11,” said Joe Daniels, the president and CEO of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. “The 9/11 Memorial & Museum will preserve the story of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath, and strive to inspire acts of service.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, August 27th, 2009 at 3:56 pm |


Plus-size model poses naked


In May, I wrote about women’s magazines and their emphasis on super skinny models.

“The 7-Day Slim Down: Our Easy Plan to Tone Every Jiggle Zone,” read one headline.

Or “45 Foods That Burn Fat.”

It is my spring ritual, I noted: I flip though the pages and imagine myself perfect.

For the September issue, Glamour has broken with tradition. It published a photo of a plus-size model sitting in profile, her belly clearly showing. The magazine’s editor in chief wrote that her inbox was flooded the moment Glamour hit the newsstands.

Here’s the picture.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, August 24th, 2009 at 5:11 pm |

Bottle bill to go into effect


The updated bottle bill has had its problems. It covers only water not many of the other drinks environmentalists wanted. And it landed in court.

But this week, a federal judge lifted an injunction. Federal District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts ordered most provisions of the “Bigger Better Bottle Bill” to go into effect immediately, and the bottled water expansion to take place in October.

According to Laura Haight of NYPIRG, the order means:

“The state can start collecting 80% of the unclaimed deposits on beverage containers covered under the law;
The handling fee increase will now go into effect, raising the compensation to stores and redemption centers from 2 cents to 3.5 cents for each container they recycle;
The expansion of the law to include bottled water will likely take place on October 22.
In addition, Judge Batts permanently enjoined the New York State-specific UPC labeling code requirements from going into effect, which many businesses complained about as being unduly onerous and the bottled water lawsuit challenged as unconstitutional.”

On another topic, this is my last post for a week. I’m away on vacation.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at 8:24 pm |

Harsher DWI laws


Gov. David Paterson proposes tougher DWI laws when children are in the car.

Spurred by the Taconic wrong-way in which four children died, Paterson’s bill would make it a felony to drive drunk or high if a child younger than 16 is a passenger.

“In 2007, there were 9,480 accidents related to driver intoxication in New York and 344 resulted in deaths. Nearly 200 of those killed or injured were under the age of 14. Too often, intoxicated drivers directly threaten the lives of those too young to decide whether to enter a car with an adult. To those who put our children at risk, today we say enough,” Paterson said in a press release.

PHOTO: Daniel Schuler cries while his sister-in-law Jay Schuler speaks at a press conference in Garden City, N.Y., Aug. 6. Schuler’s wife Diane was drunk and high on marijuana when she drove the wrong way for almost two miles on a highway before smashing head-on into an SUV, killing herself and seven others, a prosecutor said. Schuler family attorney Dominic Barbara says 36-year-old Diane Schuler wasn’t an alcoholic but was diabetic and may have suffered a stroke before the July 26 crash north of New York City. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 4:11 pm |


Espada to resign


The uproar over the appointment of Sen. Pedro Espada’s son to a $120,000 job handling government relations apparently had its effect.

Pedro G. Espada will resign from the post later today.

The Daily News first reported the story.

Sen. Espada issued this statement:

“My son, Pedro G. Espada, has informed me that he will officially withdraw on Thursday (Aug. 13) from the Senate position of deputy director of intergovernmental relations.”

“He applied for the job with great enthusiasm and the best of intentions, and I am certain that his qualifications and experience in city and state government won him the position.

“I not only fully support his decision to withdraw, but after consulting with high-level staff in the attorney general’s office and reviewing the pertinent sections of the public officers law, I believe this action is appropriate.”

“Although his appointment was consistent with Senate hiring practices in the past, it doesn’t mean these practices should continue.”

“As someone who led the charge in recent months for reform in the upper house of the state legislature, this action reaffirms the Senate Democratic Conference’s commitment – and my commitment – to the new reform government.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 12:21 am |

Immigrant affairs official in NYC


Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Fatima Shama, one of his education advisers, as head of the city’s immigrant affairs office.

Shama was born in the Bronx to immigrant parents: Her mother is Brazilian; her late father, Palestinian.

I wrote about Shama a few years after the World Trade Center was destroyed, when she and other Muslims formed a group called Muslim Voices For Peace to confront the repercussions of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Here is her bio from the WISE Web site — Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equity.

Fatima Shama was born and raised in New York City. Her mother, a Brazilian-Catholic and father, a Palestinian-Muslim immigrated to the US in the early 60’s. Fatima became actively involved with American-Muslim organizations promptly after September 11th. Fatima’s passion for Islam is steadfast and her commitment to creating a society where differences are celebrated remains strong. Fatima joined the Bloomberg Administration in early 2006 and works in the area of education and community development for the Mayor’s Office. Her specific focus is on health literacy. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Fatima was the executive director of a health coalition in Brooklyn. Fatima has worked in the areas of economic and workforce development, international health and human rights, and immigrant rights. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton, attended Temple Law School in Philadelphia, and completed the Executive Management Program at Columbia Business School’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. In 2005, Fatima was a United Way of New York City Senior Fellow. She is currently completing her Masters in Public Administration at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs. Fatima lives in New York City with her husband Ziad Mansouri and their son, Samir.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 at 5:22 pm |

Opponent backs off


Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney has reportedly decided against running against Kirsten Gillibrand for U.S. Senate.

Maloney is a nine-term congresswoman who represents the Upper East Side.

It is hard to understand why she waited so long to make her announcement.

She is not that well known outside of New York City and Gillibrand was picked as a new face in the Democratic party.

Here’s more from AP.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney will not challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the state’s Democratic primary.
Maloney says in a statement to be released Friday that she plans to stay in the House of Representatives. She says her decision was based on a desire to deal with current challenges including health care reform, clean energy issues and the economy.
Gillibrand was appointed in January to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state. President Barack Obama and other top national Democrats have come out in support of Gillibrand to clear the field for her 2010 campaign.

PHOTO: Dr. Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, left, speaks to Joint Economic Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, after testifying before the committee. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, August 7th, 2009 at 12:08 pm |


A meal for charity


If you have a meal at Zereoue, a West African-French fusion restaurant on East 37th Street between Fifth and Madison avenues, remember to say “the Woodruffs sent me.”

Zereoue, which is owned by former NFL running back Amos Zereoue, will donate 15 percent of the check of any diner who mentions the Woodruffs to Remind.org, the charity founded by ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff and his wife Lee after Bob survived an IED explosion while on assignment in Iraq.

The promotion will continue for the next two months.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, August 6th, 2009 at 6:13 pm |

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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