Schedule Term Limits Repeals; Prospects Uncertain
Schedule Term Limits Repeals; Prospects Uncertain
BY JOHN TOSCANO
Today a group of City Councilmembers, whose lawmaking careers are due to end, at least at the city level, because they are barred from seeking reelection this year under the term limits law, is scheduled to introduce a bill to repeal the law, allowing them to run again if they choose.
If the bill is introduced, it will set off a small civil war between the 20 or so Councilmembers whose names are on the bill as sponsors, and their opponents led by Council Speaker Peter Vallone.
Queens Councilmembers reportedly sponsoring the bill include Julia Harrison (Flushing), Helen Marshall (East Elmhurst), Walter McCaffrey (Woodside) and John Sabini (Jackson Heights), all Democrats, and Al Stabile (Howard Beach), a Republican.
It will take 26 votes to pass the bill. If it passes and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani vetoes it, 34 votes will be required to override the veto.
In his most recent statement on the term limits repeal, Giuliani said, "I agree with term limits on the mayor, but I’ve always thought the term limits for the council weren’t correct because (the law) puts the entire City Council out all at once and creates a real problem next year." If the bill passes and comes to him, he will spend time studying it before taking action.
Actually, only 35 of the 51 present members are directly affected by term limits.
However, many of the legislators made the same point as the mayor, saying the law will seriously hurt city operations.
Although the mayor’s position has changed, Vallone remains adamantly against the proposed bill.
"This is a profoundly anti-democratic process," Vallone’s spokesman, Jordan Barowitz, said last week. "The people have spoken on this issue."
VALLONE–MAYOR PUBLIC FUNDING CLASH: Meanwhile, the mayor and Vallone are at odds over the amount of public funding that should be distributed to candidates running this year.
The mayor has sued to block the plan by the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to give qualified candidates $4 for every $1 collected in campaign contributions. The mayor sued as the prospective payout of tax funds to candidates has reached an estimated $70 million to $80 million.
"Something has gone wrong here that we’re talking about these kinds of numbers," the mayor said.
But Vallone disagreed, saying he would defend the status quo in the courts or through legislation.
MORE CANDIDATES: Despite the term limits repeal attempt and the threat to cut campaign public financing, the field of candidates in Queens grew by two last week.
In the 29th Council District race, longtime Forest Hills activist Norbert Chwat announced his candidacy and in the 19th District (Bayside/Whitestone), community activist John Frank said he will kick off his campaign this Sunday.
Chwat, a 40-year resident of the 29th CD, most recently has been protesting conditions on Queens Boulevard which have resulted in several vehicle accident deaths in recent months. He and his wife, Estelle, founded the Forest Hills Action League last year to protest poor library and post office service. Already in the race is former Assemblymember Melinda Katz. Both are seeking the Democratic nomination.
In the 19th Council District, Frank joins Jerry Iannece, Tony Avella and Arthur Cheliotes in the Democratic field.
Frank worked in Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s 1998 campaign and is now campaign treasurer for Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza. A graduate of Columbia and Harvard, he has also been involved as a community activist.
Frank plans to announce this Sunday at 11 a.m. on the steps of his childhood home at 214-10 35th Ave., Bayside
Iannece has scheduled a formal campaign kick-off next Thursday at Verdi’s Restaurant, 149-58 Cross Island Pkwy. in Whitestone, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
Possibly anticipating Monday’s snowstorm, Avella wrote the Department of Sanitation and asked that particular attention be paid to clearing intersections in Bayside, Flushing and Whitestone
DEL VILLAR REGISTRATION DRIVE: Declaring voting to be "the most effective weapon against racism," 21st Council District Candidate Angel Del Villar of Corona announced he will conduct a voter registration drive as part of his campaign. The registration drive will be operated out of the Dominican–Hispanic Congress for Community Empowerment offices at 46-15 104th St., Corona, through Aug. 6th, the last day to register to vote in this year’s elections, he said.
Del Villar, an attorney, is seeking the Democratic nomination in the East Elmhurst/Corona/Jackson Heights area. Also seeking the Dem nod are the Rev. Marvin J. Bentley and Aida Gonzalez–Jarrin.
DEBATE SET: Peter Vallone Jr., John Ciafone and Mike Zapiti, all seeking the Democratic nomination for the Astoria/Long Island City seat in the City Council, have been invited to debate next Wednesday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. on the New York 1 tv channel.
The program will be rebroadcast from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. the same day.
The younger Vallone, seeking to succeed his father, Council Speaker Peter Vallone, in the 22nd district, is far ahead of his two opponents in money raising, having raked in almost $76,000, according to city Campaign Finance Board (CFB) records. Zapiti, an Astoria businessman, and Ciafone, an attorney each have about $6,000 in the bank. Ciafone, a long-time member and past president of school Board 30, is aiming to raise about $20,000 that will stretch to $100,000 with campaign matching. He hopes his four previous election tries will have laid the foundation for a successful run. All are seeking the Democratic nomination.
GREEN IN QUEENS: Public Advocate Mark Green, a Democratic mayoral candidate, continues to lead his three opponents, Council Speaker Vallone, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, in the early polls.
With 23 percent undecided in a Quinnipiac College survey, Green leads with 27 percent, Vallone and Ferrer have 17 percent each, and Hevesi is last at 10 percent.
Hevesi, who has twice fared very poorly in well publicized appearances before black audiences, has only seven percent of blacks supporting him in the Quinnipiac poll.
Last week it was reported that United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and her union are supporting Hevesi and are trying to get two huge municipal labor unions behind the comptroller. But these unions have high percentages of black and Hispanic members, so Weingarten may be facing an uphill task.
HIDDEN BENEFIT: President George W. Bush has indicated he’s ready to negotiate on school vouchers, which has stirred some opposition to his education plan. The reason might be that his plan for education reform has a little-publicized provision that will allow parents to take up to a $5,000 deduction annually for educational expenses for every child they have enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools.
PARTY STUFF: Queens Democratic chairman Thomas Manton and county Dems gather next Thursday, Feb. 15th, for their annual winter cocktail party at Antun’s of Queens Village at 6 p.m.
That same night, Queens Conservatives meet at 8 p.m. at American Legion Continental Post, 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, to hear a talk by Grant Lally.
Former Assemblymember and 36th AD leader Denis Butler and co-leader Mary Anne Kelly join with Queens Board of Education Member Terri Thomson as honorees at the Powhatan and Pocahontas Regular Democratic Clubs joint dinner at Riccardo’s by the Bridge, 21-01 24th Ave., Astoria.