HEARD AROUND TOWN:
* Senate Democrats are beginning a concerted push today for passage of the DREAM Act, which would provide state education funding and scholarships to undocumented immigrants. The issue will be a main focus of the annual Black, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Conference this weekend. Sen. Bill Perkins is featured in a video the Dems will roll out today that highlights the benefits of passing the DREAM Act and calls on Senate Republicans to bring it to the floor. "As a state with one of the largest immigrant populations, we should be on the forefront of progressive immigration policies and push back on the tide of national and local anti-immigrant policies," Perkins says in the video, adding, "I would hope that my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle would join us in supporting the New York DREAM Act."
* Rep. Ed Towns has three excuses for why he didn't attend a candidates' forum held in Canarsie last week: he wasn't invited; he had a death in the family; he was at a fundraiser at a Washington Wizards basketball game. Al Wiltshire, a spokesman for the Brooklyn congressman's re-election campaign, said some combination of those three things prevented Towns from attending the Feb. 10 event, hosted by the South Canarsie Civic Association. "We never received any notification about any debate or candidates' forum," Wiltshire said. Not so, says the forum's moderator, Mark Furtig, who contends Towns was invited along with Councilman Charles Barron and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, both of whom attended. "You'd figure, if he couldn't make it, he'd send a representative," Furtig said. "Because of the fact that he disrespected everyone there by not coming and not sending someone, I found it important to inform the audience the reason why, even though an invitation was extended."
* Who says there isn't anything fashionable about the state comptroller's office? Last week, the office approved a contract between Marc Jacobs International and the state Division of Military and Naval Services for Jacobs' annual Fashion Week shows to be held at the Lexington Avenue Armory. Jacobs pays the state $130,000 a year for use of the space, which is his venue of choice. But that preference landed Jacobs' company in hot water several years ago, when it paid $1 million as part of a settlement in a case brought by then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo's office showed the company bribed an armory employee for rights to the building, a coveted space for shows during fashion week.