Vallone Sr. Warmly Received At State Of The City Speech
Vallone Sr. Warmly Received At State Of The City Speech
By John Toscano
Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone experienced some unforgettable moments in the many years he gave state of the city addresses to capacity audiences at City Hall during tjishe reign as the second most powerful official in New York City government.
But the reception he received at last Tuesday’s state of the city address by incumbent Council Speaker Gifford Miller really caught him by surprise. It was "unbelievable," in his own words."I’ve never received such a sustained burst of applause in all my years in politics and government service," he stated.
It all happened suddenly as Miller started his speech and was introducing the dignitaries who were present, among them his parents, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and her Manhattan counterpart, Virginia Fields, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Each elicited some perfunctory applause, a council aide reported.
"When he got to Mr. Vallone’s introduction, there was a spontaneous burst of widespread applause, including the councilmembers present, and it went on for about a minute or more. It even brought a light comment form Miller that he’ll invite his predecessor along whenever he has to make a speech." the aide reported.
Vallone spent 27 years in the city council, 15 of them as majority leader and speaker. In his beginning-of-the-year addresses he introduced many significant, far-reaching programs, such as Safe Streets, Safe City, a $1.4 billion school construction program, the city’s first recycling program and its first campaign finance law to control contributions to candidates.
Each in its time was no doubt well received. But last Tuesday’s show of love and respect, coming after he’d been a year out of office, and with his son, Peter Jr. sitting among the councilmembers, was something special. "It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever experienced, a great tribute from the new councilmembers and the new officials in the government. I’ll never forget it," he said.
MIKE STILL TAKING REVENGE: Remember the 18.5 percent real estate tax increase that passed last November? Mayor Michael Bloomberg certainly does. Several councilmembers balked at it and voted against it, making the mayor furious. Lawmakers from Queens in this group were Tony Avella (Bayside) and Alan Jennings (Richmond Hill), both Dems, and Dennis Gallagher, a Republican from Middle Village.
Last week, it looked as if the Bloomberg administration might still be exacting some revenge from the "no" voters. Official citywide parking passes expired last week and every councilmember but Avella, Jennings and Gallagher got renewals. The passes are issued by the Department of Transportation and handed out by the mayor’s office. When the three went to pick up their parking passes, there weren’t any for them.
GENNARO HELPS SMALL BIZ: Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Jamaica Estates) is pushing for passage of what he calls a "common sense" bill to help store owners effectively advertise their services on their store canopies. Right now, store owners can list only name and address, but no telephone number or logo. These restrictions impede them from improving their businesses. Many business owners who have chanced listing additional information or did so by mistake have paid dearly in fines imposed by city inspectors.
Gennaro thinks the current law, which sometimes costs storeowners thousands of dollars in fines, is "irrational and irrelevant." So he and colleagues David Weprin and Hiram Monserrate want the law changed so storekeepers can at least list their telephone numbers and logos besides their business names and addresses.
"The current zoning regulations place unnecessary restrictions upon entrepreneurship," says Gennaro, so they should be amended.
APPOINTMENTS: State Senator Toby Stavisky and Assemblymember Mark Weprin received key promotions in rank last week and Assemblymember Jose Peralta got his first committee memberships.
Stavisky (D–Flushing) was named an Assistant Minority Whip by new Senate Minority Leader David Patterson. Stavisky becomes part of the team responsible for promoting the minority party’s programs.
Welcoming the new position, Stavisky said it would give her added input into the policy decisions of the Democratic caucus and will "enhance my ability to work on the things that the voters of my district care about, such as education, safer neighborhoods, health care and support for children and seniors."
Weprin (D–Bayside) was appointed chair of the assembly’s ethics and guidance committee, a post he earned, said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, by "his comment to open government and his belief in accountable representation." Weprin, now in his fifth term, said, "Having grown up around the state legislature, I feel very strongly that we must maintain the integrity of the institution and public confidence in our elected officials."
Peralta (D–Corona), who was elected to the Assembly last year as the first Hispanic from Queens, was appointed to the following committees: banks, labor, correction, cities and election law. He said the labor panel was a perfect fit because he was an official in the New York City Central Labor Council prior to being elected.
COHEN FAVORS RENT CONTROL RENEWAL: Assemblymember Michael Cohen (D–Forest Hills) said the Assembly took a major step in ensuring that rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants will be protected from being forced out of their homes due to skyrocketing rents due to the extension of rent control approved by the lower house.
Cohen said that besides extending controls through 2008, the bill will end high rent vacancy decontrol and will reduce the percentage by which rents may be increased, from 20 percent to 10 percent when a unit becomes vacant.
The bill is now in the hands of the state senate, which leans more favorable toward landlords.
CLINTON TOPS DEM PREZ POLL: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is not even an announced candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, yet in the latest poll, she outdistanced six others who already have their hats in the ring.
In the Quinnipiac poll, Clinton scored a 42 percent total. Her closest pursuer at 15 percent was Senator Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut). Following them were Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) 11 percent; Congressmember Richard Gephardt (Missouri) 11 percent; Senator John Edwards (North Carolina), 7 percent; Governor Howard Dean (Iowa) 3 percent and Al Sharpton 2 percent.
The poll may cause some excitement in some quarters, but another weekend report says top Democratic campaign contributors in New York are sitting on their wallets because, as Kerry puts it, "George Bush is perceived as a very strong candidate right now."
CONSERVATIVES MEET: The Queens Conservative Party will hold its next meeting on March 20 at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post 1424 at 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills. Any questions, call Chairman Tom Long at 718-474-3826.