2003-10-15 / Political Page

Ion politics

How Much Will Ragusa Benefit By Mayor
By John Toscano
Ion politics By John Toscano How Much Will Ragusa Benefit By Mayor’s Backing

Ion
politics

Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Phil Ragusa in the 19th City Council District race in northeast Queens against incumbent Councilmember Tony Avella last week, but it seems it may not have much impact.

The mayor’s major beef against Avella, the Democratic candidate, was the lawmaker’s refusal to vote for the 18.5 percent real estate tax increase. However, Ragusa also opposes the huge increase. He said in an interview last week that the theme of his campaign is the repeal of that tax. So for all intents and purposes, the mayor’s displeasure with Avella for voting against the tax has become a non-issue.

Ragusa is also against another tax Avella voted for—the surcharge on absentee landlords. But Avella and the mayor were on the same side on this one as the mayor signed it into law. If Ragusa assails Avella for his vote on this issue, he also criticizes the mayor, who endorsed his candidacy. Somehow, the mayor and Ragusa don’t seem to be strongly aligned on the major tax issues in the campaign, as political allies could be expected to be.

Will the endorsement help in winning votes for Ragusa that he doesn’t already have a lock on? We can expect Republican voters to be in Ragusa’s corner, along with Conservative and Independence Party members who have endorsed him. But, given the mayor’s declining poll figures of late, can the mayor be expected to draw votes from undecided voters or from Democrats? There doesn’t appear to be much prospect of that happening.

Meanwhile, this appears to be one of the most interesting Council contests around this year. Voters in the Bay Terrace section of Bayside will have a chance to hear from both candidates on Tuesday, October 28 when the Bay Terrace Community Alliance holds its fourth annual Meet the Candidates night. The event will start at 8 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th St.

Organizers of the event have also scheduled a discussion of the non-partisan voting referendum, the most contentious issue on the ballot this year, and have signed up adherents of both sides of the issue to speak on it, so there could be some fireworks.

SUPPORT AVELLA’S ZONING BILL: The New York City Central Labor Council, an umbrella organization covering 400 labor unions with 1.1 million members in the tri-state area, has announced its support of Avella’s legislation to give the city council oversight and review of variances granted by the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

The BSA decides on applications for variances from the zoning regulation in a particular area on a particular parcel. By contrast, the City Planning Commission deals with broader zoning matters.

Avella has said, "No government body comprised solely of appointed positions should wield this kind of power, which significantly impacts the quality of life within this city. Power should be vested in elected officials who are responsive to the desires and opinions of those they represent." Avella chairs the council Zoning Committee.

In announcing support of Avella’s BSA change, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing), president of the Central Labor Council, declared:

"We believe that zoning plays an important roll in the housing stock and critical sections of our economy. We further believe that elected officials, not appointed bureaucrats, should be held accountable for these critical decisions."

The city council already wields final approval power over City Planning Commission matters.

HONOR McLAUGHLIN AT DINNER: Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing/Richmond Hill) is being honored this Saturday evening, October 18, at the annual dinner–dance of the 38th AD Community Democratic Club, which is headed by Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio (D–Ozone Park). McLaughlin is also president of the New York City Central Labor Council.

The affair will be held at La Bella Vita Restaurant, 106-09 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park, from 7 to 10 p.m. For reservations, call John Seminerio at 1-800-721-1531 or the restaurant at 718-835-6161.

WIESENFELDS HONOREES: Jeff Wiesenfeld received many accolades and honors in his years as a key aide to Governor George Pataki and before that former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato. But he and his wife, Cynthia, are really pleased and looking forward to receiving the Vision of Hope Award from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) on Sunday, November 9 at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

The former Forest Hills pol said that Cynthia has suffered with Crohn’s disease for more than 30 years.

"If it were not for the efforts of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Inc., she might not be with us today," he said. "I truly credit CCFA for helping to save Cynthia’s life two years ago. So, as you can imagine, the mission of this organization is very important to me. Your contributions to this vital fundraising campaign will be deeply appreciated and well used. Consistently, over eighty cents of every dollar raised by CCFA benefits research and outreach programs."

The Long Island Chapter of CCFA can be reached at 616-222-5530.

OGNIBENE MAKES IT DEFINITE: Tom Ognibene, a Middle Village Republican leader, has let it be known that he intends to run against Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the Republican mayoral primary in 2005.

The former City Council Minority leader made up his mind to enter the race when state Republican leaders tried to change his mind. Now they won’t even take his phone calls, which has only made him more determined to run. He considers himself the true Republican as compared to Bloomberg, formerly a Democrat. Meanwhile, he’s busy trying to raise money, with a goal of $500,000 plus matching funds.

VALLONE AGAINST SCOOTERS: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) wants to ban personal motorized scooters in New York City. He introduced a bill to make the scooters illegal to sell or operate anywhere. Police, Transportation and Parks Department officers would be authorized to seize and impound any scooters they saw being used.

Vallone’s bill, which is backed by Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Woodside), was submitted, he said, because scooters are dangerous to those who ride them and pedestrians as well.

‘ROWDY SPORTS FAN’ BILL PASSES: Another Vallone bill, which increases penalties for rowdy fans at professional sports events, was passed by the city council recently. It was jointly sponsored by Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Under the bill, anyone who trespassed on playing fields, bullpens and locker rooms during a game would be subject to a $1,000 fine (up from $500) and a year in prison (up from 90 days). The bill also authorizes civil suits against perpetrators. The measure also covers actions by ball boys and team mascots.


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