Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the Northeast Queens Republican Club in Bayside last week, according to Phil Ragusa, the Republican candidate for the City Council in that area, and again made a pitch for cutting back on taxes that were increased earlier this year.
According to Ragusa, who’s seeking to unseat incumbent Councilmember Tony Avella, a Democrat, the mayor voiced support for him, although it was not characterized as an endorsement.
Ragusa said the mayor stated that the tax increases voted in were too much of a burden and people couldn’t afford them. If Ragusa is elected to the council, he and Bloomberg will try to lower taxes.
Last November, Avella made the mayor angry when he voted against an 18.5 percent real estate tax hike which the council whittled down from the requested 25 percent increase the mayor wanted.
Ragusa, who is calling for tax cuts in his campaigning, stated: "The mayor’s support for me and, most importantly, his commitment to work with me to lower taxes is extremely welcome." It should be pointed out, however, that the mayor has spoken generally about cutting back on taxes, but has never stated it as a defined goal.
Last Sunday, when he was responding to a question at a press conference, the subject arose again and he responded, according to the New York Post: "We’d like to reduce people’s taxes to the fullest extent possible. Unfortunately, some taxes are always going to be a fact of life in our society."
Also his call last week for $300 million more in cuts from city agencies was made because of a projected $2 billion to $3 billion budget deficit, which would appear to rule out tax cuts.
Ragusa also said it was "indispensable" to have the mayor’s support in order to address zoning and over-development and effectively provide constituent services.
Although Ragusa said his opponent had failed in these areas, last week we reported former City Councilmember Julia Harrison, president of the Holly Civic Association in Flushing, had presented Avella with a plaque "for leading the successful campaign in the City Council to change New York City’s zoning code, thus taking the first step to eliminate the many community facility abuses and preserve our neighborhoods."
Responding, Avella said, "It is extremely important that we fight to preserve our quality of life and defend our neighborhoods from overdevelopment."
From the looks of it, the Avella–Ragusa contest is going to be a hard-fought campaign. Residents of the 19th Council District might want to plan to attend a candidates’ night on Tuesday evening on October 28 at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th St. (at Cross Island Parkway) in Bayside. It’s sponsored by the Bay Terrace Community Alliance.
Meanwhile, Avella was endorsed by the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and the Uniformed Firefighters Officer Association (UFOA), while Ragusa was endorsed by the Retired and Active Police Officers 10-13 Association.
GIOIA INTRODUCES CLARK: Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Woodside), who says he and General Wesley Clark worked together at the White House during the Clinton administration, introduced Clark last week when he made a speech on the economy in Manhattan.
Although Clark got into the Democratic presidential field only recently, he’s vaulted to the top of the group of contenders. Two recent polls verified this. Also in the Quinnipiac University survey released last Wednesday, Clark led the list among New York State voters and defeated President George W. Bush in a head-to-head confrontation, 48 to 41 percent. However, the same poll showed U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton ahead of Clark if she were to enter the race.
The poll showed Bush’s approval rating had plummeted in New York state and both Clinton and Clark were favored over the president by the state’s voters.
In introducing Clark, who is from Arkansas, just like ex-President Clinton, Gioia said, "There’s a town in the Dominican Republic that has produced a huge number of major league shortstops. And Little Rock, Arkansas may be getting that same reputation for presidents."
GENNARO RESPONDS: Responding to his endorsement by the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) last week, Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Jamaica Estates) noted that as chairman of the council’s committee on environmental protection, he had "partnered" with the organization on a host of issues "and found its advocacy for and commitment to the environment to be unrivaled."
Gennaro said, "The council and its leadership are committed to ‘green’ governing and making New York City the environmental leader for urban centers around the world."
Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), who was also endorsed by NYLCV, noted it had been "a strong ally in the fight to stop the proliferation of power plants throughout New York City and in my district." He said he anticipated NYLCV support in passing his bill to limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation units.
WEPRIN NAMED TO SPORTS COMMISSION: Mayor Michael Bloomberg has appointed Councilmember David Weprin to the New York City Sports Commission. Weprin, chairman of the council finance committee, said the commission had met last week to discuss the development of amateur and professional sports, and to attract international sporting events to the city.
"It will be exciting to experience working with the commission to further develop the city’s economy through the promotion of sports," he declared. "I look forward to developing ways to attract major events to New York, such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl."
LIU EYES CAR DEALERS: For several years, the Police Department has been providing a free service to automobile owners designed to prevent their cars from being stolen. Its called the VIN-Etch Program and it consists of engraving a car’s vehicle identification number on the car’s windows. It discourages would-be thieves from stealing cars.
Now, Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing) complains that some auto dealers are charging car owners as much as $2,000 to perform the same free service so he has introduced a bill prohibiting auto dealers from charging a fee to do the VIN-Etching. He calls it one of the most reprehensible ripoffs he has ever seen.
GIFFORD AT JFK DEMS: City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D–Manhattan) will be the featured speaker at the Thursday, October 16 meeting of the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club at its clubrooms at 78-31 Parsons Blvd., Flushing.
SEARS HELPS AIDS PROJECT: Councilmember Helen Sears (D–Jackson Heights), who has directed funding grants to the momentum AIDS Project through her discretionary funding allotment, attended the group’s recent food tasting event.
QUEENS CONSERVATIVES MEET: The Queens Conservative Party county organization is scheduled to meet on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. at 107-15 Metropolitan Ave. Forest Hills. Chairman Thomas M. Long announced.