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A Reluctant Challenger?

A possible opponent for Albany District Attorney David Soares makes himself known

A bad couple weeks just got worse for Albany District Attorney David Soares; it became clear this week that he will likely face a challenger in the form of his onetime opponent, Republican attorney Roger Cusick.

In recent days, Albany County Comptroller Mike Connors released an audit that found poor fiscal management in the district attorney’s office. And after months of calls for Soares to do so, his office released pages upon pages of documentation of its investigation into the Troopergate scandal that critics say Soares whitewashed.

This week, a number of petitions being circulated by the Albany GOP carried the name of Roger Cusick. Cusick, an attorney from Loudonville who opposed Soares in the 2004 general election, has been noncommittal in interviews; if he gets the signatures he needs, it is likely that he will run a third-party candidacy against Soares.

Insiders insist that the push to find an opponent for Soares was inspired by Connors’ recent audit and concerns over the Troopergate investigation.

Soares recently told Metroland that whether or not he had an opponent was “of no consequence.”

Cusick has been very vocal regarding his concerns about Soares’ investigation into Troopergate.

Last year, Cusick challenged popular Albany County Executive Michael Breslin in a race that many saw as futile.

While Cusick’s possible last-minute entry into the district attorney’s race may not be something that has the onetime maverick Soares shaking in his boots—the fact that scandal has motivated Cusick to run (his supporters have been telling anyone who will listen that Cusick was “forced to run” by the people) might indicate that the scandal surrounding Soares’ office has legs.

Cusick has been a bit coy regarding his entrance to the race. He recently told the Times Union, “Will I state for sure that I’m not running? No; I won’t state one way or another.”

—David King

dking@metroland.net


What a Week

Fun With Justice

The first U.S. war crimes trial in half a century came to an end this week with mixed results. The man on trial, Osama bin Laden’s former driver Salim Ahmed Hamdan, was found guilty of supporting Al Qaeda but found not guilty of conspiring with bin Laden to commit terrorist attacks. Hamdan’s trial was the first in what will likely be a series of military trials of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Although he was partially acquitted, Hamdan still faces up to life in prison. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the Bush administration for starting the military trials with “a marginal figure” such as Hamdan.

Hilton’s Revenge

Paris Hilton returned fire on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain this week by releasing a YouTube video mocking a McCain campaign TV spot. Last week the McCain campaign launched an ad that compared Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Not only did McCain’s ad anger Hilton’s parents, who are large donors to the McCain campaign, it garnered a video response from Paris herself. The video features—in mock campaign-spot style—Hilton lounging in a pool chair, offering her solution to the energy crisis. And frighteningly, taking herself seriously for two minutes before gleefully spouting the line, “I’ll see you at the debate, bitches!”

Hootenany!

In perhaps one of the most off-color campaign stops ever, John McCain paid a visit to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip biker gathering in North Dakota this week. The event, which featured Foghat, Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Hawaiian Tropic girls, and women’s oil wrestling, also plays host to the “Miss Buffalo Chip” pageant. While addressing the rowdy crowd, McCain suggested he might have a late entrant. “You know I was looking at the Sturgis schedule and saw that you have a beauty pageant and so I urged Cindy to compete,” announced McCain to catcalls and hoots. “I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as the first lady and Ms. Buffalo Chip!”



The Lone Ranger: Joseph Sullivan is all smiles.

Photo: Teri Currie

Character Welcome

Joseph Sullivan calls his critics politically motivated, and wins a ruling on his petitions

“There is no fraud here,” wrote Joseph Sullivan, candidate for U.S. Congress in the 21st District, to the New York State Board of Elections in response to allegations by district resident Keri Kresler that his petitions were collected improperly. “Perhaps, lack of clear understanding of the election law, haste and careless in gathering signatures, numerous minor errors by witnesses and signers alike, but no fraud!”

On a different matter, the statement continued, “Brian Scavo is the son of talian immigrants. English is his second language. He is a survivor of exposure to lead paint and a product of the Albany public school system. Call Brian stupid all day long, but he is guilty of fraud [sic].”

Sullivan also suggested that Kresler “be hired as an Interrogator at Gitmo Bay where she can instruct Al Qaida captives in NYS Election Law . . .”

This week, the BOE ruled that Sullivan’s petitions are valid. Sullivan has alleged that Kresler, who had come forward with accusations of fraud against both Sullivan and Albany County Legislator Brian Scavo (District 7), had been working as some part of a “a politically motivated exercise in character assassination, as well as an attempt to knock me off the September 9 Democratic primary.”

Sullivan, who until recently was a registered Republican, has been a long-time oddball presence in Albany politics. Sullivan is the founder of the Buckingham Pond/Crestwood Neighborhood Association, and he ran a failed campaign for mayor of Albany in 2005. Sullivan is known for his off-color blog posts and e-mails. One recent press-release headline read: “WHY NO NIGHT OUT AGAINST CRIME IN ONE ALBANY NEIGHBORHOOD?” The body of the e-mail answered: “BECAUSE WE ARE READY, LOCKED AND LOADED!”

Kresler said she finds it ridiculous that Sullivan, along with Scavo, would think themselves worthy of some greater conspiracy. “I think we gave gotten to the point where you can’t take him seriously as a candidate. He sounds like a loon, and he can’t spell. I’m not an operative for anyone. I don’t understand how many times I have to say this. He can’t get it through his skull that I am doing it on my own, not with encouragement from any other organization.”

Kresler said she challenged Sullivan’s petitions because she simply did not believe his signatures were collected properly.

—David King

dking@metroland.net


Room for Error

No one trusts Bush when it comes to Iran—not Congress, and especially not the antiwar community

“Whereas nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force,” seemed pretty clear-cut when the 261 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives signed onto Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-Queens) nonbinding resolution calling for sanctions against Iran.

In many ways, HCR 362 is similar to a slew of resolutions issued by the House calling for the world community to act together to forestall Iran’s efforts to advance an active nuclear-weapons program. These resolutions decry the threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to the Middle East and U.S. interests in the region, and recommend strongly that the president take actions to place strict sanctions against doing business with Tehran. HR 362, however, includes language that many in the activist community fear would give the administration far too much leeway to manage Iran with hostile and precipitous action.

It’s no secret that the Bush administration views Iran as the next logical front in the president’s war on terror. According to political observers, House Resolution 362 was an attempt by Congress to meet the threat of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, and to simultaneously tie the hands of Bush’s squirrelly administration while the legislators were away on summer recess.

However, almost immediately after the resolution was entered into official record, antiwar activists across the country raised the alarm. Near the end of Ackerman’s purportedly innocent, nonbinding document, there is a call for sanctions that appear, through careful reading, to allow—and even call for—the president to engage unilaterally in a military blockade of Iran, which is legally considered an act of war unless authorized by the United Nations.

The controversial passage reads: Congress “demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by . . . prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program . . .”

To actualize these prohibitions and restrictions on movement, critics have said, would necessitate military involvement. A point missed by the 261 cosponsors.

“I never read the resolution as a call for a blockade,” said Rep. Michael McNulty (D-Green Island).

The Capital Region’s Women Against War brought its members’ concerns over the resolution to the attention of McNulty, a cosponsor of the Iran Blockade Resolution (as it is popularly known), asking him to either withdraw his support of the resolution or to push for the contentious language to be removed.

OK, the congressman said. When dealing with the Bush administration, concerns over interpretation aren’t taken lightly. “We should be very careful not to pass anything that Bush could interrupt as giving him authority to use military force in dealing with Iran,” said McNulty.

McNulty also said that he urges an intense diplomacy campaign, coupled with the sanctions called for in HCR 362. And although he does not see the specific language as a call for a military blockade, he did say that he has spoken with Ackerman, who has heard similar concerns, and the congressman intends to reword the resolution.

Rachel McEneny, spokeswoman for Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Greenport), said that the freshman Congresswoman agreed with McNulty that Iran must be dealt with, but that caution must be exercised when calling for action from this administration.

No action is expected on the bill until, at the earliest, the second week of September.

—Chet Hardin

chardin@metroland.net





Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-



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