SPINCYCLE: Newsday�s guide to politics and politicians

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Did signature seal acquittal?

The lawyer for the freshly acquitted Shomwa Shamapande raised the question in

court last week that Nassau insiders have been asking each other since the

payroll scandal involving the former seasonal clerk erupted last year.

Shamapande had been charged by the district attorney with submitting six

bogus time sheets from March through May 2005, collecting $12,000 in pay for

days he did not work.

The prosecution pointed out that the signature of his supervisor, former

Deputy County Executive Michael Klein, had been copied on those time sheets.

But Shamapande's lawyer, Dominick Porco of Westchester, noted that Klein's

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signature had already been found duplicated on all but one of Shamapande's time

sheets throughout 2004-05.

In fact, Newsday reported last year that Klein's signature appeared to have

been duplicated on 25 Shamapande time sheets - even though county policy

requires supervisors to sign and date their employees' reported work hours.

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"If this is such an important part of the procedure, the signing of time

sheets, how can you go for 15 months and not sign time sheets for the man who

is working for you?" Porco said during his summation.

Porco cited Klein's testimony that he would drive Shamapande to Nassau from

Manhattan every workday.

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The question was never answered from the witness stand, however. When Porco

asked it of Klein during trial, the judge refused to allow the exchange,

saying it went beyond the six time sheets at issue.

Shamapande, who had worked previously in state and national Democratic

campaigns, was involved in the early stages of County Executive Thomas Suozzi's

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run for governor, setting up a meeting with political consultant Bill Lynch

and attending the Democratic National Convention, writing a "Fix Albany"

campaign strategy memo. All on county time.

According to Klein's testimony, the discussion at the meeting with Suozzi,

his political consultant Kim Devlin and Lynch involved potato farming on Long

Island.

Porco sought to make mashed spuds of this claim during his successful

summation.

- Celeste Hadrick on Long Island

STATE DEM LEADER

Spitzer looks north to fill spot

June F. O'Neill, who attended high school in Bay Shore and now is the St.

Lawrence County Democratic chairwoman, is expected to be elected the party's

next state leader a week from Wednesday.

Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer called O'Neill, 60, on Thursday to ask her to

take the post.

O'Neill, a retiree who works part-time for the state comptroller's office,

spent 34 years in state and county government. She has led her upstate county's

party committee for the past four years as she did between 1978 and 1983.

The New Jersey-born O'Neill moved to Bay Shore as a teen and graduated from

Bay Shore High School, where she was a classmate of Suffolk Legis. Ginny

Fields (D-Oakdale).

Her St. Lawrence Democrats won control of the county legislature last month

winning a 10-5 Democratic majority - which had been 10-5 Republican.

She said she was "flabbergasted" when Spitzer aides first called last week,

and she vowed to work hard "in every corner of the state." Her selection came

after Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, told Spitzer aides about

two weeks ago he that was not interested.

- Rick Brand on Long Island

SCHUMER SORROW

Biofuel for Giants loss

Not that he's a pessimist, but six days prior to yesterday's Giants-Cowboys

showdown, Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer had a pint of biofuel in hand

with which he could drown his sorrows if need be.

The bottle was presented to Schumer last Monday by Steven Levy of Sprague

Energy, who was grateful that Schumer was pushing for dredging the East

Rockaway Inlet so fuel barges can reach his terminal.

"Thanks. And after the Giants game last week I would have drunk this

stuff," Schumer said as he studied the liquid.

His comment came two days after the Giants' train wreck of a loss to the

Titans, and Schumer started to venture a bold prediction for the Cowboys game.

"But next week - here's my theory," Schumer said. "I'm saying this in

public. No. I shouldn't. I'll tell you next week my plan for the Giants. OK.

Our final speaker today is Kevin Rooney."

- William Murphy on Long Island

ON THE BLOG TODAY

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's latest attempt to revamp the public

campaign finance system has hit a roadblock, with the county's largest union

condemning the measure. The Association of Municipal Employees finds the bill

"counterintuitive to open government," said Sandy Sullivan, legislative

director for the 8,500-member union. "We are opposed to this legislation in any

form." Sullivan's comments were a precursor to Tuesday's legislative hearing

on the issue. Levy wants to replace the voluntary checkoff system he created in

1998, which was supposed to usher in public financing of campaigns in Suffolk

but did not. He now is pushing for a surcharge on county contractors to fund

countywide campaigns. Levy's measure would bar county contractors, county

unions such as AME, political action committees and lobbyists from donating to

campaigns and would impose spending limits on candidates who voluntarily

participate in the new public campaign finance system.

- James T. Madore

NAKED AMBITION

Which was the most fevered lunge for self-promotion by a power player? Vote at

newsday.com/spincycle.

1. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) saying after House Speaker-designate Nancy

Pelosi passed him over to head the Intelligence Committee: "Sorry, haters, God

is not finished with me yet."

2. President George W. Bush declaring: "We're going to stay in Iraq to get

the job done, so long as the government wants us there."

3. U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton demanding "more than a cursory

acknowledgment that mistakes were made" after Homeland Security Secretary

Michael Chertoff said "perhaps there was a little too much bean-counting" in

funding anti-terrorism programs.

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