Immigration issues drew new focus last week with President Barack Obama's national address, but it is difficult to find anyone betting that a reform bill would reach a vote before November's high-stakes midterm congressional elections. Regardless of timing, political conditions may have shifted significantly since a swift reaction drove back efforts for a measure late in the George W. Bush administration.
For one thing, Arizona's illegal-alien enforcement law now shapes the debate. Locally, Patrick Young of the advocacy group Long Island Wins, which has long contested those championing crackdown campaigns here and clashed with Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, says the Marcelo Lucero slaying tamped down the most militant rhetoric. Of the size of the undocumented population, Young says: "We're not hearing of large-scale departures, but it definitely seems that in the last two years there has been a very sharp decrease in the number of new arrivals."
UNITED THEY STOOD: Newly Republican Levy joined with GOP state Sens. Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan and Owen Johnson to demand state restoration of Empire Zones, citing Canon's move of its North American headquarters to Melville. One insider noted speculation has whirled around the prospect of Flanagan running for Levy's job next year.
ALBANY EXODUS: With six months left in office, Gov. David A. Paterson chose the start of the holiday weekend to announce the departures of Director of State Operations Valerie Grey, Deputy Secretary of Education Duffy Palmer and Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Diana Jones Ritter.
ON EX-A.G.: Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, running for state attorney general, was asked on a radio show about the fact that ex-Gov. and ex-A.G. Eliot Spitzer wasn't prosecuted for his prostitution propensity. "When you bring in Eliot Spitzer and the decisions that were made there, this is why people feel that there are two sets of rules: rules for the connected, and those for the regular Joes like you and I," Rice said. That led a Rice skeptic to ask if as D.A. she's gone after "johns." She has. In April, for example, 29 were arrested in Hempstead Village on charges of patronizing a prostitute.