* Westchester Assemblyman George Latimer is set to get a big boost later today in his campaign for state Senate. At noon outside the Yonkers police department headquarters, Latimer, a Democrat, will get the backing of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, a union that has a history of supporting Republicans, including in local Senate races. The development is also seen as important because Senate Republicans added a large piece of Yonkers to the Senate seat in redistricting in an effort to make the district more GOP-friendly. Latimer is running for an open seat vacated by retiring Democratic State Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, and the seat is among the best Republican pick-up opportunities in the state. Republican developer Bob Cohen is the strong favorite for the Republican nomination in the race, though he does face an opponent, Diane DiDonato Roth, a member of the North Castle Town Board. The Yonkers PBA has 500 members that serve Yonkers, a town of about 200,000.
* City Council members Dan Halloran, Oliver Koppell, Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Robert Jackson all showed up at yesterday’s public hearing on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban – and each one criticized the proposal, saying it would hurt small businesses and the local economy. Some said blasted the proposal as arbitrary, since some establishments would not be covered by the new limit, which would cap the size of sodas and sugary drinks available at food service establishments at 16 ounces. “Laws and regulations should not be arbitrary and capricious,” Councilman Koppell said. “This proposed regulation is exactly that.” But Health Commissioner Thomas Farley explained that the change could only be implemented for restaurants and other establishments that are regulated by the Health Department. The restrictions were proposed by the Bloomberg administration as a way to address obesity, but critics also said they would fail to address the underlying issues of the city’s obesity epidemic – education, physical activity and poverty – and urged the Board of Health to vote against the proposal. Councilman Jackson recounted that a constituent told him that, “Only God can dictate to me what I can and cannot do. And [Mayor Bloomberg] is not God.”
* Bloomberg yesterday rebuffed rabbis’ threats of legal action if the city goes through with a proposal to restrict a controversial Orthodox Jewish circumcision procedure. “We have an obligation to keep people alive and safe and the courts have held that up repeatedly,” Bloomberg said yesterday at a press conference. “There are certain practices that doctors say are not safe and we will not permit those practices to the extent that we can stop them. You don’t have a right to put any child’s life in danger, and this clearly does.” His comments came in response to Orthodox rabbis who defended the controversial practice of “metzitzah b’peh” at a New York City Health Department public hearing this week. During the ritual, a mohel uses his mouth to suck blood from the circumcision wound, which has led to the transmission of herpes to some infants, in a few cases leading to their deaths. One mohel, Rabbi A. Romi Cohn, defended the practice, saying rabbinical law guidelines are “much stricter than the medical profession,” though he admitted some people without training as required by rabbinical law pose as mohels to make money, a practice he strongly condemned.
Tags: A. Romi Cohn, Bob Cohen, Dan Halloran, Diane DiDonato-Roth, George Latimer, Letitia James, Melissa-Mark Viverito, Michael Bloomberg, Oliver Koppell, Robert Jackson, Suzi Oppenheimer, thomas farley
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