Morning Read: 'A Political Trojan Horse'

Controversial Harlem activist Thomas Lopez-Pierre continued his campaign against Council candidate Mark Levine with an email this morning soliciting donations for his effort to run against Mr. Levine. Mr. Lopez-Pierre’s email described Mr. Levine, who is white, as “a political Trojan horse who was sent to weaken the political power of Black and Hispanic people in Upper Manhattan.” In the email, Mr. Lopez-Pierre also solicited contributions and expressed his desire to get 88 donations of $175 from New York City residents to obtain public matching funds. However, he said he won’t take money from “anyone who is a landlord or works in the real estate industry or from political action committees.” His prohibition on real estate donors was interesting, as Mr. Lopez-Pierre has himself operated several real estate businesses in Harlem.

President Barack Obama making an early exit from his annual family vacation in Hawaii to return to Washington late tonight in an attempt to broker a so-called fiscal cliff deal.

A new Gallup poll shows just under half of Americans believe politicians will reach a deal in time to avoid the fiscal  cliff.

Starbucks is having D.C.-area baristas write the words “come together” on coffee cups in an attempt to encourage a deal.

The congressional representatives in the Capital Region are hopeful lawmakers in Washington can reach a fiscal cliff deal.

New York City’s pension funds own “nearly $18 million” in firearms-related stock”–and it would be tough to get rid of.

Assemblyman William Boyland got taxpayers to pay his legal bills in his last corruption trial, but he is having no such luck this time around. Brooklyn Federal Judge Sandra Townes shot down Mr. Boyland’s bid to have his legal expenses paid for in his latest corruption case. “Anybody who owns property valued at $460,000 and who is receiving the salary of an assemblyman and who is receiving $960 a month in rental income is capable of financing his defense,” Judge Townes said.

The number of homicides in the five boroughs last year was down almost 19 percent to “the lowest figure since recordkeeping began,” a decline the NYPD attributes to its controversial stop-and-frisk policy.

With the new year, a slew of new laws will take effect in New York, including a ban on electronic cigarette purchases by minors.

Experts expect Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make a decision about whether to lift the ban on fracking by February. Gov. Cuomo has not said whether he plans to end the moratorium on the controversial natural gas drilling procedure. However, even if he does end the fracking ban, experts don’t forecast a “shale gas boom” in New York because of “a depressed natural-gas market and threats of lawsuits and civil disobedience from opposition groups.”

By vetoing a bill to allow crossbows during deer and bear hunting season in New York, Gov. Cuomo kept an annual Columbus Day “Youth Firearms Hunt” alive.

New York Times columnist Michael Powell believes the Democratic mayoral candidates are “showing respect” to Republican hopeful Joe Lhota by “taking potshots at him.”

Actor Ben Affleck said he’s taking his name out of contention for the Senate seat in Massachusetts that will be vacated if John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of state.

Retiring Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank gave a lengthy exit interview to Politico. “After 45 years, I’m tired … I look forward to a situation where when the phone rings, I won’t be apprehensive that it’s some problem I have to deal with: some crisis—maybe that somebody else has done something stupid that I have to deal with, or in the worst case, something stupid I’ve done that I have to deal with.”