Jerusalem — While British Prime Minister Tony Blair practically did cartwheels to avoid courting controversy during his visit to Israel this week, New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, also on a whirlwind tour, took no such precautions.
In a coda to the investigation of Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind and various associates, Rabbi Elliot Amsel, a key Hikind fund-raiser, pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing more than $700,000 from Syrit College, the Brooklyn computer school he ran until his indictment.
A year after he became a key factor in the race for mayor, the Rev. Al Sharpton is looming as a wild card as the race for governor heats up.
Sharpton is supporting the Democrat H. Carl McCall, but has taken a low profile in the campaign, as no one has made an issue of that support. That could change closer to Election Day.
"Jews are the only white community in play in this race," said one McCall insider. "If the election gets tight, this card is going to get played."
A few weeks ago, Gov. George Pataki traveled to Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park to symbolically "sign" a measure requiring insurers to cover the cost of treatments for infertility: a measure of great interest to the Orthodox Jewish community.
State Sen. Eric Schneiderman easily fended off a challenge in which his religion was made an issue in Tuesday's Democratic primary for a Senate district that includes parts of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
But another politician who often touted his Jewishness lost a five-way primary for a newly created Senate seat in Brooklyn.
H. Carl McCall would do away with closed-door decision making in Albany if elected governor and work with members of Congress on a "New York strategy" for advocating policy on international issues, he told The Jewish Week.
"I'm not going to approve policy issues or budget measures that have not been subject to legislative hearings and public scrutiny," said McCall, addressing the power of the governor, Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker to decide virtually all state business in secret.
Now that H. Carl McCall is the uncontested Democratic candidate for governor, the extent of Jewish support for his candidacy is expected to come under close scrutiny at a crucial moment in black-Jewish political relations.
McCall, the state comptroller who would be New York's first African-American governor (and the second in the nation's history) was expected to win overwhelmingly among Jews in Tuesday's Democratic primary, making what some viewed as an important statement in the wake of two divisive congressional races in the south.