The Ithaca Journal from Ithaca, New York on October 27, 1998 · 12
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The Ithaca Journal from Ithaca, New York · 12

Ithaca, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 27, 1998
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2B Today's TopicWorldState The Ithaca Journal Tuesday, October 27. 1998 nate candidates ore sem As biy Dems nget i Expensive race getting nastier By JOHN MACHACEK Gannett News Service NEW YORK The Empire State's bitter U.S Senate race is everything you imagined it would be: An all-out war of TV ads that snarl and bite. Name-calling and ethnic insults. Mudslinging attacks that shade the truth. Welcome, America, to the world of Republican incumbent Alfonse D'Amato and Democratic challenger Charles Schumer, both masterful, political street fighters who are now bludgeoning each other in the nation's tightest, nastiest and most expensive Senate race. Key issues like the economy and taxes have been overshadowed by a barrage of negative and personal attacks on the stump and in dozens of TV ads. D'Amato hammers constantly on Schumer, a Brooklyn congressman, for missing dozens of votes on the House floor while campaigning this year. Schumer portrays D'Amato as a "bully," a "liar," and an "ethically challenged" politician who makes New Yorkers "ashamed." But in the contest's most explosive moment so far, D'Amato last week referred to Schumer, who is Jewish, as a,"putzhead," which is vulgar Yiddish slang for "penis" but which, in modern American usage, commonly means "jerk." The race is dead even, according to weekend tracking polls that Zogby International did for the New York Post. But they show Schumer gaining ground, especially in New York City suburbs, another crucial battleground. About 16.5 percent of voters remain undecided. Democrats, in danger nationally of losing perhaps five Senate seats in the Nov. 3 elections, have made the controversial D'Amato their No. 1 target. He and North Carolina Sen. Lauch Faircloth are considered the most vulnerable GOP senators. Other Republican leaders, including Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, were coming to D'Amato's aid by campaigning with him. D'Amato also was to join Pataki on a plane and bus tour of the state. Slur could be critical D'Amato's "putzhead" remark, made in an offhand way during a private meeting with Jewish leaders, could be the turning point in the race, said New York state pollster Lee Miringoff. He recalled how an equally close 1992 Senate race shifted in D'Amato's favor after he was called a "fascist" by his Democratic opponent, then-state Attorney General Robert Abrams. "Everybody is looking for the slightest advantage," said Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute of Public Opinion. Schumer seized on what he Notebook TV ad disenchants witch constituency BOSTON Trouble is brewing for Acting Gov. Paul Cellucci, whose combative reelection campaign has angered a potent Massachusetts constituency: witches. Pagans and witches from Cape Cod to Salem are outraged at a 30-second television spot that mocked a defense of witches' rights mounted six years ago by Cellucci's Democratic rival, Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. In lieu of turning Cellucci into a toad, dozens of witches and their brethren plan to protest the ad as an infringement of their civil rights by demonstrating in downtown Boston before Monday night's final gubernatorial debate. In the meantime, e-mails are flying back and forth as if on broomsticks, telephone calls and petitions are gathering momentum, and few doubt that the odd spell or two is being thrown into the mix. "Here's a curse on Paul Cellucci Let him lose like Susan Lucci," chanted one witch. ;"It's very upsetting," said Cheryl Sulyma-Masson, a high priestess in the pagan religion known as Wicca and head of the 200-member Witches League for Public Awareness. Sexuality not issue for gay incumbent ! AUSTIN, Texas Sexual orientation is off the table as an issue in the re-election campaign of Texas' first openly gay legislator. ; That's because Rep. Glen Maxey's opponent, Republican Fred Ebner, is homosexual, too. ; "With the gay issue off the table, the voters can really decide on the issues that are important," said Ebner, who is retired from the college textbook publishing industry. ; This is first time two openly gay candidates have squared off in Texas. - Compiled from wire service reports. The Associated Press Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) gestures during a press conference to announce the endorsement of him by New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton. described as a "cheap slur" to bolster his case that D'Amato's public and personal behavior is an embarrassment to the state and that New York's junior senator can't be trusted. "It's all a part of a 19-year pattern that makes New Yorkers wonder if they can believe Al D'Amato at all," Schumer said after D'Amato denied making the remark until witnesses, including his ally,' former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, confirmed that he did. But D'Amato refused to apologize, saying he thought the Yiddishism meant "fool." He accused Schumer of trying to inject "religious differences" into the campaign. The flap occurred as D'Amato and Schumer stepped up their appeals to the huge Jewish vote in New York. A staunch supporter of Jewish causes, D'Amato won wide acclaim in the Jewish community for his work in spearheading the U.S. effort to get Swiss Banks to pay $1.25 billion in compensation to Holocaust victims for hiding their assets after World War II. Democrats accused D'Amato of politicizing the settlement after D'Amato pointed out that two of the 1 10 House votes Schumer missed involved Holocaust issues. D'Amato had raised $25 million and Schumer $13.1 million as the race entered October, but national Democrats are shoring up Schumer in the homestretch. President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton have made fund-raising appearances for Schumer. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is giving Schumer the maximum help allowed and is steering Democratic contributors to his campaign. D'Amato had been gaining D'Amato has bounced back from a record low popularity rating three years ago when, as the Senate's chief Whitewater inquisitor, he offended many New York constituents with, his arties pull out all to get their voters to the polls By RON FOURNIER The Associated Press LOS ANGELES California Republicans with a history of voting can expect three pieces of mail and two telephone calls from the party before next Tuesday, when things really get serious. Come Election Day, the OOP will be knocking at the door. "We'll say, 'Mrs. Jones, you haven't voted yet and we need your vote. Please get out of your pajamas and we'll drive you down there,'" said Mike Madrid, political director for the state party. "In her pajamas or not, we get her to the polls." They never give up, these soldiers in the ground war of American politics. Thousands of Democrats and Republicans like Madrid are fanning out across the country this week to get out the vote on Nov. 3. In this midterm election, when as many as two-thirds of registered voters will stay away, campaigns are won or lost on turnout. Both parties will try almost anything to get you to vote. Republicans pass out voter registration forms in church pews or use Mexico's patron saint to label Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) a "baby killer." For the Democrats, Vice President Al Gore is taping radio spots in Spanish and Hillary Rodham Clinton's voice is on the other end of thousands of "robo calls" placed to New Mexicans. Republicans want Democrats to stay home Election Day, she says, "but we can't let them get away with that." The concept behind get-out-the-vote efforts is simple: identify supporters; give them a reason to show up Nov. 3 and remind them to vote. And then remind them again. Polling, census data; phone-banking and voting records help campaigns identify core voters. The troops are motivated with emotional issues such as Social Security for Democrats and taxes for Repub- If i ' w. ix ' . i A I - ' v 1 f m- - . The Associated Press U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato stands amid a sea of Lubavitchers to receive the endorsement of the Crown Heights Political Action Committee as he campaigns in the Brooklyn borough of New York City Monday. probe of the Clintons' failed Arkansas land deal. Clinton carried New York in both his presidential campaigns and remains popular. "The first question Clinton will ask on election night will be 'How is D'Amato doing?'" pollster Miringoff said. As in the past, D'Amato nas moved to the left in an election year to broaden his appeal in a state where Democrats hold a 3-2 registration edge. In 1995, he voted for much of the GOP "Contract with America" agenda to pare the growth of social programs that are helpful to New York's huge population of elderly, poor and minorities. Later, he charged that House GOP leaders had overreached in pushing a "Republican Revolution." He has since increased his support for the environment, voted with Democrats to increase tobacco taxes and worked on his standing with women by pushing for more money for breast cancer research. Much to Schumer's astonishment, D'Amato last week was endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights organization, for pressing gay issues, including more AIDS 'If I win, it's because of it on the same thing.' licans. The constant reminders include yard signs, mass mailings, telephone calls and eleventh-hour doorstep visits. In many states, including California, election officials provide lists throughout Election Day of who has not yet voted. Party officials scour those lists for targeted voters, then send somebody to fetch them. "If I win, it's because of turnout. If I lose, blame it on the same thing," said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), driving through a neighborhood on the next-to-last weekend of his tough re-election campaign. Democrats are especially concerned about this year's turnout, because most polls show that Republicans are more likely to vote. "You know what this comes down to? How much do we want to win , this?" House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt told get-out-the-vote workers in Iowa. Gore told union members in St. Louis, "The extreme right wing of the (Republican) party is always wrong, but they're intensely wrong." Both parties get help from the outside Democrats from minority and labor groups, Republicans from social conservatives. The Christian Coalition alone will distribute 36 million voter guides and telephone several million supporters. Executive Director Randy Tate has recorded public service announcements for 500 Christian radio stations. "This election is going to turn on turnout," Tate predicts. A group of California conservatives quietly built a database of 450,000 voters who will receive mail and two or three telephone calls. 4 ' f funding and tough anti-discrimination laws. Still, polls taken 11 days before the election show slightly more than half of likely voters say they prefer to elect "someone else." That suggests many New Yorkers have grown weary of D'Amato's grandstanding style no matter his success as Senator Pothole, a nickname earned by delivering federal aid and fixing constituent problems. Schumer, a nine-term Brooklyn congressman, has gone toe-to-toe with D'Amato since crushing Geraldine Ferraro and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green in a three-way Democratic primary Sept. 15. He says D'Amato creates more potholes than he fills by voting with conservative Republicans against important social legislation. Typical of New York City Democrats, Schumer has a liberal voting record. But he has also moved toward the center in recent years by backing tougher penalties for criminals, including the death penalty. In just a week, said Utica, N.Y.-based pollster John Zogby, the race could come down to whether D'Amato is a senator "New Yorkers can be proud of." ' : the stops turnout. If I lose, blame Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) A single union affiliate, the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO, will make personal contact with each of the county's 472,000 labor members by Election Day. Their other targets: 160,000 new Latino voters, only 10 percent of whom are union members; 60,000 black union households and 40,000 nonunion blacks who work in labor precincts. In the Latino community, labor activists try to take advantage of Gov. Pete Wilson's unpopular immigration and bilingual education positions. Thumping his fist into the palm of his hand, union leader Miguel Contreras declares, "Our message is: 'Obligation to vote. Obligation to vote. Obligation to vote. Pete Wilson. Pete Wilson. Pete Wilson.'" President Clinton may be the best motivator for both parties. Republican leaders talk about his behavior and impeachment to fire up their most loyal voters. Democrats are fueling anger among blacks who feel Clinton is under attack because he sympathizes with them. In Michigan, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer told black churchgoers Sunday to vote "assuming President Clinton is on that ballot, Rosa Parks is on that ballot Malcolm X, Medgar Evers is on that ballot." Black churches traditionally play a major role in turnout efforts. "Some ministers will tell people to vote because it's the right thing to do," said Rev. Hazekiah D. Stewart Jr. of College Station, Ark., a friend of Clinton. "There will be those who will tell people to vote because they've been paid because they've cut a deal with a politician." follow leader, group claims By JOHN FRIT2E Gannett News Service ALBANY It's a game of foliow-the-leader when it comes to casting votes in the state Assembly, with 92 Democrats voting with the leadership at least 80 percent of the time, according to a report released Monday by an anti-tax group. Of the 97-member Democratic Assembly conference, 73 voted with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) on all of the 12 bills the group, Change-NY, selected to study. The report also showed that the typical Upstate Democrat voted with Silver on 11 out of the 12 selected bills. Assembly members Joseph Robach (D-Greece), RoAnn Destito (D-Rome) and William Magee (D-Cazenovia) were among the less likely to vote with Silver, the group found. Upstate Democrats who voted more often with Silver include Martin Luster (D-Trumansburg), David Gantt (D-Rochester), Susan John (D-Rochester), John McEneny (D-Albany), Paul Tonko (D-Amster-dam), William Hoyt (D-Buffalo), Joseph Pillittere (D-Lewiston), Richard Brodsky (D-Greenburgh) and James Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon). "I think when you're seeing people from diverse places voting the liberal line from Manhattan, you have loyalty coming above issues," said Brian Backstrom, vice president of Change-NY. . But Backstrom backed off from criticizing those who voted with Silver, whom some Republicans feel is an unpopular figure in parts of Upstate. "We leave it for the voters to decide whether they want their representative to vote just like Shelly Silver or whether they'd rather have an inde-pendent-thinking representative expressing their views," he said. Democrats who scored high countered by saying the votes Change-NY considered were not an accurate representation of their record. "No member of the Assembly has been a bigger pain to the Assembly leadership than I have," argued Luster, who voted with Silver on all of the bills selected for the report, scoring a 100. "I have voted over 20,000 times in the Assembly. ... It's absolutely silly to pick and chose whatever bills you think are important and try to define somebody's record by it," Luster said. "The report and the timing and the findings have to be suspect," said Silver spokeswoman Pat Lynch. She charged that Change-NY has a right-wing view. "I think each individual member's record stands for itself," she said. Of the 12 votes Change-NY considered, 10 were from this year. Backstrom said the group tried to find bills that were a "portrayal of Silver's agenda." ' Magee, who scored 67, said he Around The World United Nations Report says Iraq lied about nerve gas UNITED NATIONS Leaving open the possibility that Iraq retains a hidden supply of the quick-killing nerve agent VX, a panel of chemical weapons experts has concluded that the Iraqi government lied to U.N. weapons inspectors about its nerve gas -arsenal, according to a report made public Monday. The experts met at the United Nations last week to review tests conducted by laboratories in the United States, Switzerland and France on missile warhead fragments recovered from Iraq. Although only the American lab found definitive evidence of VX, one French test found traces of a nerve agent that could have been VX or sarin, each a deadly gas. Moreover, all three labs found evidence that the missile fragments had been treated with decontaminants, which raises the question of whether the warheads were "scrubbed" by Iraq to remove nerve gas elements before the tests were conducted. The findings, reported to the Security Council on Monday, are significant because Iraq has repeatedly denied to U.N; weapons inspectors that it ever placed VX in munitions. The American tests, the experts found, showed that VX had been loaded into at least two missile warheads that were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq during or immediately after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. South Africa Report cites brutality in South Africa PRETORIA, South Africa It stands knee-high, weighs nearly 18 pounds, and was three years in the making. Now, three days before its for- Local results Here's a look at how often area Assembly members voted with their boss, Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) according to a report published Monday by anti-tax group Change-NY. The number reflects the percent of total votes that aligned with the speaker. Martin A. Luster (D-125th District): 100 Daniel J. Fessenden (R- 126th District): 0 James Bacalles (R-1 30th District): 0 Robert Oaks (R-1 28th District): 10 George H. Winner Jr. (R- 127th District): 0 Jay Dinga (R-1 23rd):... ......0 feels the report accurately portrays his attempts to vote for what his con-, stituency wants, not what the Down-. state leadership is after. ' ' "" "I represent the interest of the peo-pie who elected me," Magee said. "I vote what I think is in the best and I'll; -suffer the consequences either way if there are any." -'' Because Democrats have a large' ' majority in the Assembly, 97 to 53, 'u Backstrom said the leadership some-T times allows a member to vote against-1 the party if it would be politically dam-; 1 aging not to. "When there's political gain to be; ' had, Silver lets people off the hook to1; ; vote with their district," Backstrom' ' said. The report also found Assembly ' Republicans less likely to vote with"1 their leader, John Faso (R-Kinder-,. hook), who scored a zero by voting'1 against Silver on all 12 bills. Only 51;'. percent of the Republicans voted the " same as Faso on all the measures. ' ' The votes reviewed by the report include budget bills Silver proposed" that called for more spending than; Gov. George Pataki asked for. Other measures supported by Sil-ver cited in the report include ones, that would have allowed initiative and' , referendum, eased restrictions on' , environmental lawsuits, made it hard-er to change the state's public-health ,' regulations, made it more difficult for Republicans to bring up matters for ' debate, required the borrowing of $4.5 . , billion for school buildings and man-? ' dated election of members of the Pub-'I-lie Service Commission. Also picked out by Change-NY ,! were measures opposed by Silver that ' would have forced the state to pay for t any new spending imposed on local-' ( governments and created new crimes' to cover "date rape." 'n ', mal release, the report of South Africa's., Truth and Reconciliation Commission' ' is sparking a national furor as players in the apartheid battle scramble to clear' ' their names in advance of a barrage of' ' damaging findings. ' . Reports Monday said the 3,500-pagV ! document would say that President'' Nelson Mandela's African National1 Congress, among others, committed s gross human rights abuses from 1960 to' ' May 1994, the period covered by the"" commission's investigations. Most of' the accusations of alleged abuses are " expected to focus on treatment of prisoners held by the ANC at its clandes-tine camps in neighboring countries' '? during those years. Mexico City Observers blame army in massacre MEXICO CITY A massacre of 45 Indians in the southern state of Chiapas last year could not have taken- place without the complicity of some v army members, a group of Spanish observers said Monday. - ' v The observers, led by Willy Meyer, a f legislator from Spain's United Left';; coalition, toured the troubled state this week. They plan to deliver a report to.., the European Parliament and the"' United Nations in two weeK ', The Tzotzil Indians were killed Dec.'', 22 by members of a pro-government paramilitary group in the hamlet of Acteal, less than a mile from a state, police station. M' "The massacre could not have taken. . place without the complicity of mem-;, bers of the army," Meyers said at a '.. news conference in Mexico City. A military spokesman who identified , himself only as Col. Aguilar declined'' to comment on the allegations, saying?-the massacre was being investigated by federal prosecutors. ' Compiled from wire service reports. i I

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