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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Suffolk brass battles term limits

Suffolk County district attorney Thomas Spota holds up

Suffolk County district attorney Thomas Spota holds up a kilo of cocaine seized in a major cocaine drug bust during a press conference at the Suffolk County Criminal Courthouse. (July 31, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Suspense has just begun to mount in the politically charged legal battle over Suffolk term limits.

Last week acting state Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo ruled that the county's term law does not apply to the countywide offices of district attorney, sheriff and clerk, essentially because the posts are products of the state constitution.

Now the question becomes whether the ruling will be appealed.

Lawyer Stuart Besen was hired to defend the term-limits law when the county attorney opted out, citing potential conflicts. Besen said Friday that he will file a notice of appeal, which would preserve the option of a full appeal, but whether to follow up, he said, depends on "the client," which could mean the county or its legislature.

On Wednesday, the legislature's Ways and Means Committee is expected to interview Besen. Committee chairman Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) said Besen is correct to file the notice. Gazzillo also decided to knock out county voter Peter Nichols as an intervenor in the suit; Nichols' lawyer Bruce Plesser said Friday he will appeal that denial.

Current incumbents with a stake in the outcome are DA Thomas Spota, Sheriff Vincent DeMarco and Clerk Judith Pascale, who sued together to void the county law.


FRESHMAN & FUNDER: First-term, 32-year-old state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) seems so assured of defeating Democrat Frank Genco in November he's spending time and money to help elect other new Republican members, through his Next Generation Leadership NY PAC, launched with $50,000 from his own campaign fund. As if countering Albany insiders' longtime caricature of the GOP caucus as a geriatric club, the PAC backs, for Senate, Assembly members Phil Boyle, 51, of Bay Shore; George Amedore, 43, of Rotterdam; and Sean Hanna, 50, of Mendon, plus developer Bob Cohen, 58, of Westchester; and City Councilman Eric Ulrich, 27, of Queens. The PAC plans an Oct. 18 luncheon fundraiser for all five.


IRAN & N.Y.: Ten blocks from the United Nations, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his latest inflammatory remarks, Behrooz Behbudi, founder of the Council for a Democratic Iran, held outreach meetings. Behbudi, an expatriate businessman and life member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, "The only force this [Iranian] government is afraid of is the people" -- and suggested that current U.S. foreign policy is difficult to fathom.

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