- - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ILLINOIS

Blagojevich, Ryan cited in debate

CHICAGO | Candidates for Illinois governor are linking their opponents to convicted previous governors.

Republican Bill Brady repeatedly connected Gov. Pat Quinn to ousted Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich during a gubernatorial debate Wednesday evening.

Blagojevich has been convicted of lying to the FBI and faces retrial on corruption charges.

Meanwhile, Mr. Quinn said Mr. Brady supported former Gov. George Ryan who is serving a prison sentence for corruption.

Mr. Quinn and Mr. Brady squared off in Chicago at WLS-TV.

EPA

$773M to clean up old GM sites

The Obama administration has reached a deal on a $773 million environmental trust, the largest of its kind in U.S. history, to clean up dozens of former General Motors sites spread over 14 states, officials said Wednesday.

The funds will target automotive sites containing hazardous waste that were left shuttered by the auto giant’s bankruptcy last year. About half of the 89 sites covered by the trust are in Michigan, and others are in Indiana, New York and Ohio.

The trust fund, which was proposed in May, was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York and is expected to receive final approval next year. The deal involves the government; Motors Liquidation Co., which represents former GM assets that were not placed in the new auto company; 14 states; and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York.

“This trust — the largest environmental trust in our history provides support — for aggressive environmental cleanups at these sites, which will create jobs today and benefit the environment and human health over the long term,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

CONNECTICUT

Chairman seeks probe of WWE

HARTFORD | The chairwoman of the Connecticut Democrats is seeking a federal elections investigation into whether Republican Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign illegally coordinated with the professional wrestling company where Ms. McMahon was chief executive until last fall.

Nancy DiNardo said she filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The complaint comes two days after World Wrestling Entertainment launched an Internet-based campaign dubbed Stand Up for WWE to combat what the Stamford-based company calls unfair attacks.

Throughout the Senate race, Mrs. McMahon’s opponents have criticized everything from WWE’s programming to how it treats employees.

Messages seeking comment were left with WWE and Mrs. McMahon’s campaign. Campaign spokesman Ed Patru has said WWE launched its effort on its own.

WHITE HOUSE

First lady honors arts programs

Children took the stage and celebrities sat in the audience Wednesday as first lady Michelle Obama honored community arts programs that help young people around the country develop their talents and succeed in life.

Mrs. Obama presented 15 after-school and out-of-school programs, many of them serving at-risk youth, with the 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. She said the programs teach young people that “each of them has something of value to contribute.”

The East Room erupted in whoops and hollers after a handful of solemn-looking youngsters from an arts program in Hartford, Conn., carefully took the stage and then burst forth as a jazz combo performing with tap dancers.

“You never know the hidden passion that’s in a kid,” Mrs. Obama declared after their performance.

MASSACHUSETTS

Frank lends $200K to own campaign

BOSTON | Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is lending $200,000 to his re-election campaign, citing what he says is promised spending by outside conservative organizations in support of Republican rival Sean Bielat.

Mr. Frank began October with more than $1 million in his campaign account compared with Mr. Bielat’s $364,000 and said Wednesday he’s taking money out of his own pocket to fight anticipated spending by independent groups.

Mr. Frank says that among them is the conservative Tea Party Express, which has targeted him for defeat, in large part because he is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Frank says much of the opposition is because of his role in helping pass a massive overhaul of financial regulations.

PENNSYLVANIA

Palin endorses Toomey in race

HARRISBURG | Sarah Palin is endorsing fellow Republican Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania’s Senate race.

In a statement posted Tuesday on Facebook, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate listed Mr. Toomey and a half-dozen other Senate contenders as candidates who deserve support in the Nov. 2 election.

Mrs. Palin says they all would hold the line against proposed “cap-and-trade” restrictions on air emissions that she said pose a threat to jobs in industrial and manufacturing states.

The endorsement surfaced just before a poll released Wednesday that shows Mr. Toomey’s Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, gaining ground on Mr. Toomey.

A spokesman for the state Democratic Party says the endorsement shows Mr. Toomey has more in common with GOP extremists than with the people of Pennsylvania.

COLORADO

Pot cards cheaper for state’s poor

DENVER | Medical marijuana cards in Colorado cost $90, but state health officials are hearing testimony Wednesday on lowering that rate for the poor.

The Colorado Board of Health is planning to drop the fee for marijuana cards for patients in poverty. The new indigent rates come after complaints that some sick people can’t afford the $90 fee.

The district offers reduced registration and renewal fees for patients who qualify for Medicaid or whose income is equal to or less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Colorado Board of Health will also hear testimony Wednesday on creating a formal process to add ailments to the list of conditions that allow people to get medical clearance for pot.

NEW YORK

Poll: Cuomo has big lead in race

ALBANY | A new poll of voters in New York state shows Democrat Andrew Cuomo has opened a 37-point lead over Republican Carl Paladino in the race for governor.

The Siena College poll, released Wednesday, shows Mr. Cuomo not only has a lead that Siena’s pollster called “overwhelming,” but also has the momentum as the race enters its final two weeks.

Mr. Paladino’s opportunity for a comeback is hurt by a 69 percent disapproval rating.

Siena interviewed 647 likely voters from Oct. 14 to Monday, ending just before the only scheduled debate in the race. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 points.

From wire dispatches and staff reports