I on politics
Not only does Governor George Pataki’s trashing of the city’s budget have Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a lather, it’s also bringing back talk of proposals we thought we had heard the last of when the budget was passed—things like the commuter tax and tolls on East River bridges.
The bridge toll idea was never too popular with Queens and Brooklyn lawmakers, who regarded as ridiculous and costly having to pay to go from one borough to another.
Over the weekend, City Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) again dumped on the mayor’s plan, but for another reason. Weprin, chairman of the powerful council Finance Committee, said the tolls would discourage people from coming into Manhattan at a time when they should be encouraged to cross the East River and spend some money to increase tax revenues.
Weprin is consistent, if nothing else. About a year ago, when the mayor imposed restrictions on car travel into Manhattan, Weprin opposed the idea vociferously and in time the ban was lifted.
The mayor likes the bridge toll idea because of the estimated annual $800 million it could bring into the city treasury.
PRIMARY BALLOT CHALLENGES: Almost a dozen candidate challenges in the Queens City Council elections are slowly making their way through the court system. By Primary day, September 9, the ballot presented to voters could be sharply reduced. This information comes from the Board of Elections in Manhattan.
In the 20th Council District in Flushing, the two would-be opponents of Councilmember John Liu (D), Isaac Sasson and Jay Liu, are being challenged. Councilmember Hiram Monserrate and his opponent, Luis Jiminez each face a challenge.
All six candidates for the Democratic nomination, including incumbent Allan Jennings, are being challenged in the 28th District (Jamaica). The others are Yvonne Reddick, the party’s choice, Carolyn Younger, Interdit Singh, Garth Marchant and Stephen Jones.
Councilmember James Sanders Jr.’s two opponents in the 31st District, Everly D. Brown and James Blake are also being challenged.
There’s even a challenge in the only Republican council primary. Richard Iritano, who’s opposing the party’s choice for the nomination, Michael Mossa, in Ozone Park’s 32nd District, is being challenged.
AVELLA ENDORSED: The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), citing Councilmember Tony Avella as an outstanding leader on environmental issues, has endorsed the Bayside Democrat for re-election. NYLCV Executive Director Marcia Bystryn, who made the announcement, cited Avella’s prime sponsorship of Intro 29, which requires that the city purchase products made from recyclable materials, and Intro 399, the adopt-a-park program.
Avella said he was thrilled at receiving the endorsement because, he said, "Protecting our environment and maintain our parks and open space are crucial to our quality of life and to future generations."
Avella has no primary challenge, but is opposed by Philip Ragusa on the Republican and Conservative Party lines.
VALLONE JR. BUSY: The hot, damp, muggy weather hasn’t deterred Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) from attending events in his district during the summer lull in activities at City Hall.
Last Tuesday, the young lawmaker attended the local observance of the Annual National Night Out Against Crime at Astoria Park. The event celebrated the 20th anniversary of the movement designed to strengthen the partnership between communities and their police forces and to send a message to criminal types that the local citizenry is prepared to organize and fight back.
Also at the event was Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria); Ann Bruno, 114th Precinct Community Council president, 114 Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector David Barrere and representatives of the 114th Civilian Observation Patrol (CVOP).
On Tuesday, Vallone participated in the Business Education Outreach Program, visiting businesses on Steinway Street to inform proprietors how to comply with the Consumer Protection Law and other related measures. Vallone was joined by representatives of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC) and the Consumer Affairs Department.
The following day, Vallone was at the Astoria Pool, but not for a swim. He was there to attend the Senior Citizens/Special Populations Celebration Day, which celebrates the benefits of aquatic recreation for seniors and the disabled. The event was sponsored by the city Department of Parks and Recreation, Catholic Charities and Community Board 1.
RAPS MTA: Councilmember Hiram Monserrate can’t figure out why the MTA is cutting personnel so soon after raising fares, especially when so many subway stations are dirty.
The Corona Democrat told a reporter, "What they have to do is open their books so the public will know if all this is really necessary."
YOUTH IN ACTION: Councilmember John Liu, keeping the pressure on his Youth Action Team, announced the high school volunteers who comprise the group will stage a drive shortly to increase awareness in the Flushing and Bayside communities of the voting process as the September 9 primary approaches. This Liu (D–Flushing) said, is part of a continuing voter registration drive which was conducted by the young volunteers at libraries supermarkets and other community venues. The deadline for new registrants to vote in this year’s elections is Friday, August 15 Liu said.
Previously, Liu sang the praises of the young volunteers for conducting cleanups of local parks.
STAVISKY URGES TIGHTER SECURITY: Following the recent homicide at City Hall, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Flushing) has asked the state Office of General Services (OGS) to review security at the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Albany. Stavisky said, "I would like to be able to go through a magnetometer at the LOB when I return to Albany next month for the special session. Many of my colleagues have complained about the total absence of any security whatsoever at the LOB, other than the checking of cars as they enter the garage. Stavisky complimented the OGS for security at the state capitol building which is connected to the LOB at street level and underground.
GOP HOLDS BBQ: The Republican county committee team in Forest Hills’ 28th Assembly District headed by Keith Hunter and Mary Tschinkel, will hold a "barbecue extravaganza" this Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post No. 1424, 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills.