Vallone, Hevesi Closing Mayor Race Gap
Primary Day, Sept. 11, is just 42 days away, and the race for the Democratic Party nomination is tightening. It appears more likely than ever that a runoff election two weeks later will be needed because Mark Green, the frontrunner, will not get more than 40 percent of the vote.
The question at this point is, who among Fernando Ferrer, Alan Hevesi or Peter Vallone will finish second?
According to the latest Quinnipiac College Poll reported last week, Green was leading the pack, as he has since the first polls were taken last November. The Public Advocate drew 30 percent of the vote, slightly lower than previous counts.
But the real drama was unfolding behind him as Ferrer registered 18 percent, Hevesi 17 percent, and Vallone 16 percent. Both Hevesi and Vallone are the real winners in this particular survey because both have perceptibly gained on Ferrer in the past month or so, with the really hard campaigning still ahead.
The last Quinnipiac Poll had the contestants finishing this way: Green 32 percent, Ferrer 19 percent, Hevesi 17 percent and Vallone 14 percent. Thus Vallone moved up two points as Green came down two points, Ferrer lost a point, and Hevesi remained at the same level.
From here it looks more and more like a race among Green, Vallone and Hevesi, although it appears no one of them will reach the 40 percent mark, thus resulting in a runoff.
CROWLEY HELPFUL: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/ Bronx) has helped to somewhat alleviate a tragic situation for a family in his district by obtaining visas for relatives from Colombia so they can visit with grieving survivors.
About a month ago, a minivan crashed on the Grand Central Parkway, killing the mother of two girls, six and four years old, and leaving their father in critical condition. The girls had not been involved in the accident.
Other members of the family sought Crowley’s help in obtaining visas for an aunt and uncle in Colombia so that they could be with the two young sisters. Ordinarily getting visas can take up to a year, but Crowley’s office persisted and secured them much more quickly. The relatives will be arriving any day now.
MALONEY’S PLEA: Last week, Congress passed the bipartisan Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which included new funding for a family planning program in foreign countries. In a last-minute plea, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) reiterated previous arguments that the funds are not used for abortions, as opponents had charged, but save the lives of women and children.
"The fact remains," Maloney had stated, "that since 1973, no U.S. federal funds have been or are used around the world for abortions." Rather she said, the funds are used to save the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable women and children around the world, 600,000 of whom die every year from pregnancy-related complications. "They are dying because they don’t have access to the most basic health care," Maloney said.
SEEKING OLD CELL PHONES: Describing it as "a simple way that we can help ease their suffering," state Senator Daniel Hevesi (D–Central Queens) made a plea last week to place unused cell phones in the hands of domestic violence victims so they can obtain emergency assistance in a hurry.
Hevesi said old or unused cell phones can be donated to the Donate-A-Phone program. Domestic violence shelters, law enforcement agencies and other organizations fighting domestic violence put the phones in working order, program them with ‘911’ and other vital phone numbers and then issue them to domestic violence victims so they can reach out quickly when necessary.
Hevesi said it’s estimated that there are 24 million inactive wireless phones throughout the United States which can be used to help out in a very trying situation.
To locate a drop-off point, Hevesi said, visit the Wireless Foundation’s website at www.donateaphone.com. For information about receiving a free cell phone or for other domestic violence assistance, he says, call 1-800-799-SAFE.
WANTS ‘CEASE & DESIST’ BACK: Queens Borough President Claire Shulman has written state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer urging him to appeal a recent federal court decision declaring the Cease & Desist Law unconstitutional. Under that law, homeowners could be protected from unwanted solicitations to sell their homes made by real estate agents and sales persons.
Shulman said in her letter to Spitzer that Queens’ designation as a cease and desist zone has protected homeowners from harassment by unscrupulous real estate brokers.
"In the past," Shulman said, "these brokers have suggested to owners that zoning which allows denser development poses a danger to property values. They have also exploited the housing shortage by telling prospective sellers that illegally subdivided homes will lower property values. They then will tell buyers that large homes can be subdivided to earn income."
These and similar practices disrupt communities, Shulman said, making it necessary to have a tool such as the Cease & Desist Law on the books. The law was enacted in 1989.
ATTACKS HOUSING CUTS: Congressmember Nydia Velazquez (D– Queens/Manhattan) assailed the Bush administration last week for cutting about $1.8 billion from the public housing budget.
Velazquez, the senior New York Democrat on the House Financial Services housing subcommittee, said the reductions affect homeless prevention, Section 8 rental subsidies, community development block grants, empowerment zones and public housing drug elimination programs. Also affected is the public housing capital fund, which funds property repair and improvement programs benefitting the poor in underserved urban and rural communities nationwide.