* A top immigration advocate predicts Gov. Andrew Cuomo will soon come around to supporting the long-gestating DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrant students to receive state and federal tuition assistance. The SUNY board of trustees, headed by Cuomo appointee H. Carl McCall, endorsed the act on Wednesday, but Cuomo has so far stayed mum. Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said she thought McCall’s support would be decisive in what Cuomo eventually decides to do. “His view is going to matter to the governor,” Hong said. “A lot of the time he takes cues from the very leaders he’s appointed to these positions.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also been a vocal supporter of the bill, which Hong suggested could also steer Cuomo toward eventually supporting it. “I’m sure the governor doesn’t want to do any less,” she said.
* Convicted former Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger spent another $550,000 from his campaign account on legal fees in the last six months of 2011, bringing his total legal spending to $1.2 million over the past year. He pleaded guilty to corruption and bribery charges in late December, but still has $452,000 in his campaign account. Lawmakers are supposed to spend that money on running for office, but Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Insurance Research Group says those in trouble often spend it on legal fees with no consequences. Among Kruger’s other campaign expenses: $25,000 for a financial planner and $7,500 for prison consultant Jack Donson.
* Scratch the speculation that Senate Republicans would go easy on the four-member Independent Democratic Conference this fall: Vincent Reda, chairman of the Rockland County Republicans, said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos assured him the party would challenge one of the IDC’s most vulnerable members, freshman Sen. David Carlucci. Reda named three potential challengers – Clarkstown Councilman Frank Borelli, Rockland County Legislator Ed Day and former Orangetown Town Supervisor Paul Whalen – but does not expect a Republican primary.
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