2003-07-16 / Political Page

I on politics

Petitions Show 6 Of 8 Council Seats Challenged
By John Toscano
I on politics By John Toscano Petitions Show 6 Of 8 Council Seats Challenged

Nominating petitions for aspirants in the Democratic Party races for city council have been submitted to the Board of Elections. They indicate that six of the eight councilmembers from Queens may be facing a challenge for nominations to run for re-election.

Those challenged, according to officials at Democratic Party headquarters in Forest Hills are:

•20th District (Flushing): Councilmember John Liu faces a challenge from J.C. Liu (no relation) and Isaac Sasson.

•21st District (Corona): Councilmember Hiram Monserrate challenged by Louis Jiminez.

•24th District (Fresh Meadows): Councilmember James Gennaro challenged by Florence Fisher and David Reich.

•27th District (St. Albans): Councilmember Leroy Comrie challenged by Helen Cooper Gregory and Steven Jackson.

•28th District (Jamaica): Councilmember Allen Jennings Jr. challenged by Yvonne Reddick, local Democratic district leader.

•31st District (Rockaway): Councilmember James Sanders Jr. challenged by James Blake and Emily Brown.

Jennings is the only incumbent lacking the Democratic organization’s endorsement for re-election.

Also in the contest for the Fourth District Civil Court Judge, the Democratic organization designee, Howard Lane, is challenged by longtime Ozone Park Republican Leader Joseph Kasper in the Democratic primary. Kasper is the Republican candidate for the post.

Meanwhile, the following incumbent councilmembers appear to have avoided a primary challenge: Tony Avella (19th District, Bayside); Peter Vallone Jr. (22nd District, Astoria); David Weprin (23rd District, Queens Village/Bayside); Helen Sears (25th District, Jackson Heights); Eric Gioia (26th District,Woodside/Sunnyside); Melinda Katz (29th District, Forest Hills), and Joseph Addabbo Jr. (32nd District, Ozone Park).

The lone Queens Republican, Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (Middle Village) also appears to have escaped a challenge. His new district underwent a major change when parts of Brooklyn were added to it.

All incumbents will have served two years by December 31. They were required to run for another two years because their districts were redrawn on the basis of the new population figures gathered under the 2000 Census.

It’s expected all petitions filed by challengers will undergo sharp scrutiny. Because of that scrutiny, many may not make it on the ballot.

CONVENTION SECURITY ENHANCED: New York City received a major boost last week when Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge announced that the Republican National Convention, to be held here next year, has been accorded a special federal designation that will put the Secret Service in charge of overall security planning for the event scheduled August 30 through September 2 at Madison Square Garden, days before the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

The special designation not only assures that the Republicans, from President George W. Bush on down, will benefit from the tightest possible security but that New York City could pick up several hundred million dollars from the federal government as well.

The announcement was made at City Hall. It brought huge grins to the faces of Governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who heads the administration’s Host Committee for the event.

In all, 48,000 convention attendees, journalists and other visitors are expected to converge on the city to witness the nomination of the president and Vice President Dick Cheney for second terms.

The special designation for the event, Ridge said, is to coordinate all security between federal, state and city agencies, but Ridge made it clear most of the work would fall on the New York City Police Department.

It’s estimated the convention will cost the city close to $100 million. This is expected to be covered by contributions from the private sector. Also, the city will lay out police and insurance costs. However, most of this could be repaid by Congress. The federal government paid most of the $310 million spent on security for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

Bloomberg will benefit politically from all the exposure brought to the city by the convention, which comes just about the time he’ll be cranking up his 2005 re-election bid.

VALLONE DISCOURAGES JOINING A GANG: Gang violence always a problem, was addressed by City Councilmember Peter Vallone (D–Astoria) recently when he introduced a bill that makes soliciting, recruiting, enticing or intimidating a person into joining a criminal street gang a misdemeanor offense.

Vallone, chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, told the 114th Precinct Community Council recently that his bill would be "an effective tool for our Police Department and our schools to stop gang activity before it starts." He added, "This is the first legislation of its type in any major city in the country."

LIU WOULD HONOR NON-CITIZEN SOLDIER: Commenting on a city council resolution that would make it easier for a non-citizen member of the United States military to become a U.S. Citizen, Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing) stated, "We have a moral responsibility as a country to help those who have sacrificed for our benefit. One way we can do this is by encouraging that our brave immigrant soldiers, especially those who have died for our country, and their immediate famil[ies], do not face obstacles to citizenship."

NOLAN SATISFIED: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) acted in May to block the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from receiving $591 million in counter-terrorism funds because the agency refused to say how the money would be used. Recently the giant agency spelled out its plans, so Nolan withdrew her objections and the funds were freed up. "Everyone feels they were properly briefed," Nolan explained.

TENET OUT ON LIMB: The folks out in Little Neck may have felt some sympathy for Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet when he recently took responsibility for the use of unsubstantiated information which President Bush used in his State of the Union address in January. The president had charged that Iraq tried to acquire uranium in Africa for a nuclear weapons program. He suffered embarrassment for making the charges, and Democrats were raking him over the coals, saying the charge against Saddam Hussein was another example of the president’s stretching the truth to take his case to go to war against Iraq.

There was some indication Tenet was being made the fall guy in this situation and might even lose his job over it. However, Bush indicated that he was standing by Tenet, a product of Little Neck and a graduate of Benjamin Cardozo H.S. who rose from helping out in his father’s diner to one of the most important positions in the federal government.

SPITZER MIFFED: State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has played an important role in exposing the abuses of high ranking banking and investment officials in the securities business. Now Congress is considering a bill which would prevent Spitzer and other state authorities from getting involved in those situations by strengthening the Securities and Exchange Commission’s powers. Spitzer reacted to the move saying, "They are trying to put handcuffs on the cops and increase the rights of investment banks at the cost of investors."

North Shore Graffiti Cleanup: City Councilmember Tony Avella joined Bernie Caufield president of North Shore Anti Graffiti volunteers and John Frank to paint over graffiti on 38th Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard. Avella founded the group, which has adopted more than 60 commercial locations over the past six years.

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