2003-01-15 / Political Page

Monserrate Says ‘No More Cop Layoffs’

By John Toscano

City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, who has been leading a move to get more police officers assigned to his Corona district, showed on Sunday that his concerns for public safety go beyond his council district boundaries.

The one-time officer prompted by surging talk about 1,500 more cop layoffs because of budget difficulties, to bring the force back to the 35,710-officer level of 1993, blasted the possible move at a City Hall press conference on Sunday.

Referring to the 1970s fiscal crisis when police force reductions triggered an upturn in crime, Monserrate declared, "Talk of layoffs is scary and irresponsible at a time in our city of economic downturn."

Another ex-cop, Councilmember James Davis (D–Brooklyn), echoed Monserrate, saying, "As layoffs take place, crime goes up." He said there could be reasonable cuts, but he and Monserrate were holding out for no more cuts.

Monserrate could be signaling a fight in the council, when the 2003–04 budget is being negotiated to peg police personnel levels at rates that would assure the public’s safety. That's what he’s been doing regarding Corona, in tandem with Assemblymembers Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights) and Jose Peralta (D–Corona). They’ve demanded more cops to quell an ongoing mini-crime wave and they will get some under a new police anti-crime initiative.

GALLAGHER’S BATTLE OVER CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Another Queens lawmaker already involved in a major debate in the council is Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (R–C, Middle Village).

Gallagher has filed a bill to cut in half what candidates receive from the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to cover campaign costs. Up to now, the campaign aid has been on a $4-to-$1 basis; Gallagher says with the city’s fiscal straits, that should be reduced to $2-to-$1. Some 35 councilmembers must run for re-election this year, including Gallagher, so some of his colleagues want to see no changes in the CFB handout, even though Gallagher’s bill could save the strapped city about $4 million.

CROWLEY GETS TOP DEM LEADERSHIP POST: Congressmember Joseph Crowley was named a Chief Deputy Whip by House Democratic leaders, making him the highest-ranking lawmaker in the Democratic hierarchy of all the congressmembers from New York City.

It’s a feather in the Elmhurst lawmaker’s cap because it is rare for a three-term congressmember to be included in the inner circle of House Democratic leaders.

At the same time, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) was named a Regional Whip. Whips are used to keep in contact with other members regarding policies set by the party’s congressional leaders. They also apply pressure to vote along leadership lines when key votes come up.

Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), commenting on his appointment, said, "I plan to use my seat at the table [with other Dem leaders] to promote sound policies to improve public education and health care and protect Social Security for working families."

In the past, Crowley has worked closely with Congressmember Nancy Pelosi (D–California), who recently was elected to head the Democrats in the House, the first woman to hold that post. Crowley has also held lower level leadership posts since becoming a congressmember in 1999.

Weiner said he was honored to be appointed a Regional Whip and noted, "The 108th Congress promises to be an especially challenging one with the House sharply divided along party and ideological lines and weighty matters to consider, both abroad and on the home front."

PADAVAN BUMPED UP: Another Queens public official who was appointed to a high power position in his party’s hierarcy was state Senator Frank Padavan (R–C, Bellerose). Now in his 31st year in office and author of many significant pieces of legislation, Padavan was appointed vice president pro tempore of the Republican controlled senate, placing him among the three most powerful Republicans in the party caucus after Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Padavan has always been a leading advocate of legislation to help New York City and his new position can only give him more clout to continue doing this as well as having a voice in all other matters that come up during this year’s session.

HILLARY, CHUCK BOOSTED, TOO: In another major boost for New York in Washington, United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was appointed head of the Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee, which helps shape party policy in the Senate. At the same time, Schumer was appointed to another party hierarchy position, Regional Whip, which calls on him to keep Senate Dem leaders updated on what northeast lawmakers are thinking about emerging issues.

In their new positions, Clinton and Schumer will both be at the table when Democratic Minority Leader Tom Daschle sits down to determine party policy on the budget and other important legislation that comes up.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the party positions held by Clinton, Schumer, Crowley, Weiner, and Padavan is that they can be more effective for New York City by being involved in their respective parties when top level discussions are held.

GENNARO KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: The first of many similar announcements—a re-election campaign kick-off—was made by Councilmember James Gennaro last week after he launched his re-election bid last Thursday.

On hand at the Hillcrest Jewish Center in Jamaica Estates for the official announcement were Queens Democratic Leader Thomas Manton and Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Gennaro’s leaders in Queens and in the council, respectively.

Also on hand were Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing/Richmond Hill), who doubles as president of the 1:1 million-member New York City Central Labor Council, and Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D–Bayside), who handled the emcee duties.

Gennaro (D–Jamaica Estates), 13 other Queens councilmembers, and about 20 others from throughout the city, must run for another two-year term because council district lines were changed to reflect changes in the 2000 census.

LIU, MILLER RECOGNIZE KOREAN IMMIGRATION: Last Wednesday, Speaker Miller and Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing) held a City Hall press conference to mark the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration to the United States and to hail the Korean community’s many contributions to New York City. They also unveiled a resolution calling upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg to designate the year 2003 as the Korean–American Centennial.

MILLER AGAIN: Tomorrow night, Miller will be the guest speaker at the 59th annual governmental relations reception held by the Queens Chamber of Commerce at Riccardo’s by the Bridge, 21-01 24th Ave., Astoria.

SON HELPS SWEAR IN DAD: Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik was sworn in to his first term last Sunday by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Assisting in the ceremony was Grodenchik’s son, David, who held the Bible on which his father placed his right hand while swearing to uphold the Constitution as part of his lawmaker’s duties.

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