eye on politics
The rivalry between City Councilmember Eric Gioia and Community Board 2’s longtime chairman,Joseph Conley which began in the 2001 Democratic primary campaign for the Woodside/Sunnyside city council seat that was won by Gioia, has flared up again. This time it’s over Conley’s reappointment to the community board.
Borough President Helen Marshall has been dragged into the fray because of her power to appoint or reappoint community board members. Conley says he has learned that Marshall is not going to reappoint him because Gioia doesn’t want him on the board. He asked to meet with Marshall to see where he stands and to plead his case. She agreed. The meeting is set for today at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens at 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Gioia (D–Woodside) denies he’s involved in any way in Conley’s reappointment.Marshall’s office has not returned phone calls asking if Conley’s story about not being reappointed is true.
Marshall is also getting some flack from another lawmaker, Councilmember TonyAvella, over board appointments in general.
Avella (D–Bayside) is charging that Marshall has overreached her powers under the City Charter by permitting councilmembers to make appointments to boards that are not in their particular districts.
Avella maintains that each councilmember under the City Charter is authorized to appoint up to 50 percent of board members, but only to boards in his or her own council district. Avella says he’s ready to challenge the matter in court. Marsha has not commented on this issue, either.
Political watchers in the borough also had their eye on Avella’s district, watching to see what action, if any, he would take on the appointment of Jerry Iannece, Board 11 chairman.Avella defeated Iannece and others in the 2001 Democratic primary, and there was speculation that the lawmaker would exact some revenge on his election opponent.
It didn’t happen, although there was a surprise element in Iannece’s reappointment. It came through Councilmember David Weprin, whose district includes parts of Bayside.The question is, does a portion of Board 11 fall into Weprin’s district or into Avella’s? We’re researching that now.
Community Board 1, covering Astoria and parts of Long Island City, is another board with some members who will not be appointed. Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), said he is not reappointing four members because he does not consider them "among the best" on the board. However, he said he recommended board Chairman Vinicio Donato, who has been chairman for many years. Vallone Jr. would not identify the members he did not reappoint.
Conley said he had asked Marshall about his status and was told he was "under review."He also said that, to his knowledge, "I’m the only chairman [whose reappointment] they are struggling with." He charged this was "purely political," and that Gioia was standing in his way.
Conley said that he and Gioia had a run-in at a recent meeting over the customary five minute speaking time. According to Conley, Gioia went well beyond his speaking time and he had to cut him off, "I thought it inappropriate that he just dropped in and then wanted to monopolize the meeting."
Gioia retorted, "It’s too silly to be talking about that when we’re faced with a $3 billion deficit, layoffs and other service cuts." He maintains Conley never asked him for reappointment to the board. "Besides this, the borough president can act on her own if she wants to reappoint him. I don’t have the final word,"Gioia said.
Gioia ended an interview by saying he would no longer discuss Conley’s case "It’s too distracting," he declared. Marshall is scheduled to announce the makeup of all the boards on April 1.
SEEK $40B FOR STATES, CITIES: United States Senator Charles Schumer and Congressmember Anthony Weiner have introduced bills in their respective houses calling for a $40 billion revenue sharing plan to help cities and states bail out of their huge budget deficit holes. Under the legislation,New York state would receive $1.2 billion, of which $650 million would go to New York City.
In the bill, the $40 billion funding would be split 50-50 by each state with their localities. Priority for using $20 billion of the funds should be given to homeland security, Medicaid, public health, highway construction, childcare, education at all levels, and to prevent further property tax increases, Weiner said.The other $20 billion distribution would be base don increased unemployment, with $15 billion to be divided among sates where unemployment grew to one percent or more between 2000 and 2002, and $5 billion going to states whose unemployment grew anywhere from 0.4 percent to 1 percent over the same time period.
In recent months, CouncilSpeaker Gifford Miller and Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis), Finance Committee chair, have called on President George W.Bush for a revenue sharing plan for beleaguered cities.
CROWLEY, MALONEY RENEW EQUAL RIGHTS EFFORTS: Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and JosephCrowley (D–Queens/ Bronx) were among several Democrats who reintroduced the EqualRights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution last week.Crowley, who described it as an amendment "whose time came decades ago and whose time is still right, waiting for Congress to catch up,"said it benefits men and women alike.
ERAaffirms the equal application of the U.S. Constitution to both females and males. It was introduced into every session of Congress between 1923 and 1972, when it was passed and sent to the states for ratification.However, it did not get ratified by enough states, falling three states shy.It has been reintroduced every year since it failed to become ratified. Maloney and U.S. Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy have been the chief sponsors of the bill, which imposes no deadline for ratification by the states.
Crowley last Friday led a group of his colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee on a tour of the NASDAQ stock exchange onWallStreet. The Elmhurst lawmaker is one of the Democratic leadership’s key liaisons to the financial services sector.
Also last week,Crowley received the Congressional Champion Award from the YMCAof the USA, the national office of the country’s 2,493 YMCAs.
"YOU BREAK IT, YOU PAY FOR IT" BILL INTRODUCED: Councilmember TonyAvella (D–Bayside) and city Comptroller William C.Thompson have introduced a bill in the council that would permit the city to recover monies for damages to city property caused by anyone’s negligence.
The bill would facilitate the comptroller’s responsibilities relating to the settlement of claims brought by the city against third parties and/or insurance companies for damage caused to city property.
Avella said, "Given the city’s serious fiscal condition, recouping these monies which could easily represent tens of millions of dollars, if not more, is extremely important."
Thompson stated, "We must look for ways to generate money at a time when we are making decisions that affect the lives of all New Yorkers.Coordinating affirmative claims through the Comptroller’s office will save the city millions of dollars"
VALLONE JR. FUNDRAISER: Next Monday evening at 8 p.m., a fundraiser for Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) will be held at Amici Amore I, 29-35 Newtown Ave. in Astoria. Hosts are the lawmaker’s dad, Peter ValloneSr. and Dino Redzic.For reservations, call Dino at 718-267-2771.
MONSERRATE PUSHES HEALTH INSURANCE: Getting personally involved in a drive to encourage his constituents to apply for New York State sponsored free or affordable health care,Councilmember Hiram Monserrate last week handed out 3,000 informational flyers at the 82nd Street subway station inJacksonHeights.
The signup drive as a joint effort by the Corona lawmaker and CarePlus, a local group with the same objective as Monserrate.Last week’s effort was part of Cover the Uninsured Week, a national grassroots campaign aimed at 41 million uninsured throughout the United States.
Monserrate said that of all the city’s ethnic groups, Hispanics are most likely to be uninsured.His Corona/Elmhurst/ Jackson Heights district is home to the city’s largest Latino population.
KNOW YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: The League of Women Voters of New YorkCity has many programs to promote informed and active participation in government. One of the nonpartisan group’s most effective initiatives is the publication of "They Represent You," a comprehensive directory of New YorkCity’s elected officials in Washington,Albany and the city council. The 40-page guide includes detailed maps for each borough, defining congressional, state legislative and city council districts, public officials’ names and party affiliation and telephone numbers.
It also lists voter registration and party enrollment rules and community board listings and related Web sites. To secure a copy, write the League of Women Voters NYC, 45 E. 33rd St., Room 331, New York, NY10016 and enclose $11.37 which covers an $8 purchase price plus mailing. It’s money well spent.