* City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will present a proclamation to Gilad Shalit's father, Noam Shalit, tomorrow at City Hall calling on the Israeli soldier's captors to let him go and declaring Sept. 7 "Gilad Shalit Day in New York."
* Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn won't have to set foot in a Catholic church to vote in a Civil Court race next week after Assemblyman Dov Hikind arranged for special ballots to be dropped off at the Brooklyn Board of Elections. Should be interesting to see how many people actually take advantage of this accomodation, provided they are aware of this obscure, low-turnout election.
* A new poll by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies suggests that Bob Turner could pull off the unthinkable next week: Beating a stalwart Democrat in a 3-1 Democrat Brooklyn Queens district. Republican Turner leads David Weprin by four points with a 2.12 percent margin of error. A Siena College poll early last month showed Weprin 6 points ahead.
In related news, Hikind will endorse Turner Wednesday in Brooklyn. Hikind represents just a small portion of the district but his endorsement has been sought by candidates in citywide and statewide races because he is seen as influential among Orthodox voters.
Weprin's campaign said Hikind had assured Weprin he'd stay neutral in the race, though he would have backed Turner over any other Democrat. "He said David was the strongest candidate on Israel and they have a long history of working together for the Jewish community," the spokesman said, downplaying Hikind's nod as worth "a few hundred votes at most."
Hikind on Tuesday night denied any promise of neutrality. "When I met with him I said that as of now I have not made a final decision," he said. "I've been looking at this for a while and if I didn't know David Weprin at all it would be a no-brainer weeks ago. But at the end of the day I'm simply doing what I think is right for me." When pressed on why he waited until a week before the election to decide, when the candidates were known since mid-July, Hikind said "in the last 24 hours I have been looking at this thing and discussing it with friends. To say I said I would not endose anyone is just not correct."
The Weprin campaign will counter Hikind's event Wednesday with their own nod from Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yitzchak Pindrus.
* Scandinavian-Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson will headline a fundraiser next month for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who wants to be the next mayor.
* Steven M. Cohen, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a close member of his inner circle, is outta here after barely eight months in office. But that's long enough for the governor to assert that "Steve has been a critical member of a team that has produced results for the people of the State.” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also hailed his work as "a dedicated advocate for the people of New York [who] has served our state with a sense of purpose and professionalism that will be difficult to replace. Steve helped guide New York through many difficult negotiations, including our momentous victory last month for marriage equality, and I know I speak for my colleagues in the Assembly Majority in saying he will be missed." Imagine if he had served a full year.
Cohen will be replaced by Larry Schwartz, a senior adviser and former aide to David Paterson when he was governor.
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