2003-07-09 / Political Page

I on politics

Deadline For Filing Nominating Petitions Approaches
By John Toscano
I on politics By John Toscano Deadline For Filing Nominating Petitions Approaches

Officer Honored On Retiring The 107th Police Precinct Community Council honored Police Officer Joseph Iorio, who is retiring after 20 years of service, at its recent dinner dance. On hand for the celebration were (l. to r.): Council President Carol Ann Foley, Assemblymember Barry Grodenchick, Iorio and Assemblymembers Mark Weprin, Nettie Mayersohn and Brian McLaughlin.Officer Honored On Retiring The 107th Police Precinct Community Council honored Police Officer Joseph Iorio, who is retiring after 20 years of service, at its recent dinner dance. On hand for the celebration were (l. to r.): Council President Carol Ann Foley, Assemblymember Barry Grodenchick, Iorio and Assemblymembers Mark Weprin, Nettie Mayersohn and Brian McLaughlin.

By Friday, we should have some idea about who may be the candidates to challenge incumbent Queens City Councilmembers in the September 9 primaries.

The first day for filing nominating petitions was Monday and the deadline for getting them in to the Board of Elections is tomorrow at midnight. So we should learn by Friday who the challengers to go against the borough’s incumbents—13 Democrats and one Republican—may be.

Keep in mind that there’s more to getting on the primary ballot than just collecting the required number of signatures. Democratic County Leader Thomas Manton will have several eagle-eyed party members checking every signature to make sure they meet every requirement for consideration as valid.

The Republican county leader, state Senator Serphin Maltese, will likewise scrutinize the petitions of any would-be candidate who might want to challenge Queens’ only GOP councilmember, Dennis Gallagher (R–C, Middle Village).

MIKE AS CAMPAIGNER: The general elections are exactly 117 days away. That doesn’t give Mayor Michael Bloomberg much time to give his dismal ratings in the polls sizeable boost to respectability. He would need to win back some popularity if he expects to play any role in the City Council elections on Election Day, November 4.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll on how New Yorkers view their mayor was released last Wednesday. It found 60 percent of city residents don’t like the way he’s running the city while 31 percent approved of his performance. These aren’t the kind of figures you must have to go out on the stump and help someone to get elected or defeat someone you would rather not have in the council.

New Yorkers have been down on the mayor since last November when he asked for a 25 percent real estate tax increase and was forced by the council to settle for 18.5 percent. From that point on it was tax, tax, tax by the mayor as he tried to close a $3.5 billion budget gap.

Bloomberg made no attempt to hide his anger at those who strongly opposed him on the initial tax increase. Two of those were Councilmember Tony Avella, a Democrat from Bayside, and Councilmember Dennis Gallagher, as noted, the only Republican from Queens and only one of three in the council.

Quite possibly, Bloomberg might try to defeat Avella in his attempt to win re-election, but it seems very improbable that he would try to hurt Gallagher’s re-election prospects; in fact he would be more likely to help the Middle Village lawmaker.

If on Election Day in Bayside Avella is opposed by Philip Ragusa, a Beechhurst GOP leader, it’s doubtful the mayor will have any impact on Avella. The councilmember voted against the biggest real estate tax increase in city history. The mayor might rally some fence-sitting Republicans to Ragusa’s side, but it’s hard to imagine him attracting Democratic homeowners away from Avella. But we shall see, come November.

AVELLA ENDORSED: Meanwhile, Avella announced last week that he has received key labor endorsements for his re-election bid. They came from the 1.1 million-member New York City Central Labor Council, an umbrella organization covering 500 labor unions; the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), another powerful organization; the United Auto Workers Region 9A, and the working Families Party.

Thomas Murphy, UFT director of legislation and political action, told Avella, "Your commitment to public education, labor, human rights and civic action are first and foremost among the reasons for our endorsement."

LIU SUCCEEDS: Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing) has worked out a compromise for developing a playground sought by the community while still preserving what is hallowed ground to man in Flushing. Both facilities share a common site, the 3.5-acre Everett Martins Field at 46th Avenue and 164th Street, which was built over the remains of the Colored Cemetery of Flushing in the 1930s. The cemetery holds the remains of blacks and American Indians.

Under Liu’s compromise to satisfy both groups, a memorial park will occupy most of the site and a new playground will be built on a portion of the site deemed not to be hallowed ground. The $2.6 million playground is ready to go into construction with funds already in the new budget.

VALLONE’S WARRANT BILL: Following hearings by his Public Safety Committee on the police search which caused a woman’s death in The Bronx, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) has introduced a bill requiring the Police Department to submit quarterly reports on information about warrants applied for and executed by the department.

At an emergency hearing on department procedures for conducting no-knock search warrants, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly testified about reforms needed in the system. Securing the information called for in his proposed bill, Vallone said, will ensure that Kelly’s directives are being followed.

AVELLA OPPOSES OVERTIME CHANGES: In a statement regarding proposed changes in overtime pay, Avella stated, "Although employees are supposed to have the option of either accruing compensation time or earning overtime pay, employers will likely force employees to take compensation time because it will save them the cost of paying for overtime. This will only succeed in hurting working families, whose budget and mortgages depend on earning overtime."

NOLAN SATISFIED: After being briefed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on its plans to use $591 million from federal and state governments for its anti-terrorism program, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) relaxed the hold she had placed on the funds and they were released. Nolan a member of the MTA Capital Program Review Board, had vetoed use of the funds when they refused to divulge how the money would be spent.

Following settlement of the issue, Nolan said, "Everyone feels that they were properly briefed. I feel very comfortable."

PROBE OF ASSESSOR: The July/August issue of the Public Employee Press says Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin is going to follow through on his May announcement to investigate charges that Department of Finance staff cuts and inefficiencies resulted in millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

McLaughlin (D–Flushing/ Richmond Hill) had said in a May release that he would conduct the probe as chairman of the Assembly Real Property Tax Committee. At that time, he estimated the alleged loss to the city was over $1 billion in property taxes and that the tax had been imposed upon homeowners possibly because of deficiencies in the system.

The inefficient operations at the Finance Department were traceable to inadequate assessing staff, antiquated computer technology and incorrect use of mass appraisal methods, McLaughlin said.

BP HAILS COLOMBIAN CIVIC CENTER: Borough President Helen Marshall recently led a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Colombian Civic Center at LaGuardia Community College.

Marshall cited the role played by the center in the Colombian–American community since it was established on Corona Avenue in Elmhurst in 1978. Since then, Marshall said, the center had played a key role in the community, presenting cultural programs, ESL classes, computer training, immigration counseling and other services. She noted that Queens has "by far the largest Colombian population in New York City, and we are grateful to the center for all it has done and continues to do in our borough."

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