Avella Considering A Run For Mayor Next Year, He Says
On a sunny and uneventful afternoon in Brooklyn last Sunday, City Councilmember Tony Avella made the surprising announcement that he’s considering running for mayor next year.
The setting for the wholly unexpected declaration–a rally protesting the closing of the "People’s Firehouse" in Williamsburg—highlighted Avella’s career priorities for the past two decades: quality of life and community issues.
When we reached the 52-year-old lawmaker to confirm the reports he was considering running, Avella told us, "I’m going to give it a shot." He explained, "I can’t remember the city being divided like this," citing the mayor’s closing of six firehouses last year, including one in Long Island City.
Avella, a councilmember from Bayside for the past two years, got his start in city government in 1984 as the Queens representative for Mayor Edward Koch. He said his possible candidacy was "all about the issues and getting people to rise up and take back their city government. Things have got to change."
As for his chances in a field which includes incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Gifford Miller and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer among others, Avella admitted they were "slim to none," and added he wanted to explore running as a vehicle to highlight quality of life issues.
BLOOMY’S POPULARITY INCREASES: A recent Daily News poll showed that the mayor’s approval rating is on the rise. The most recent poll shows his rating at 40 percent as compared to a 33 percent approval rating last September. The story noted that other recent polls also have shown a similar improvement.
A report out of Albany says some Republicans up north are predicting that Bloomberg will switch back to being a Democrat after the late August GOP presidential convention in Madison Square Garden. The reason: the mayor could lose a Republican primary for the nomination. Former Republican Councilmember Tom Ognibene of Middle Village, has said he will challenge the mayor in next year’s mayoral primary. However, it seems to us he would face as tough a fight in a field of Democrats, even though he was a Democrat before switching to run for mayor in 2000.
MALTESE–SEMINERIO BILL BANS GAY NUPS: Queens lawmakers state Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) and Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio (D–C, Ozone Park) are the sponsors of the Defense of Marriage bill which would ban and void same-sex marriages in New York state.
Last week, Governor George Pataki and Edward Cardinal Egan, head of the New York City Archdiocese called for passage of the controversial measure. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno also is for it and Maltese says he now has 14 sponsors on the bill. It defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Maltese said same-sex marriages are "an abomination" and are not a civil rights issue.
Manhattan Democrats Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Senator Thomas Duane, have introduced a bill legalizing same-sex marriages. Even if the Maltese/Seminerio bill passes in the Senate, it would have little chance of winning approval in the Assembly. The same holds true for the opposition bill, so it seems the issue will not be settled in the legislature.
ROBLES TALK ON MARRIAGE: Tomorrow night, City Clerk Victor Robles, who doubles as head of the city’s Marriage License Bureau,will give a talk before the John F. Kennedy Regular Democratic Club in Fresh Meadows on the city’s regulations for getting married. Recently, Robles refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple.
The JFK Dems Club meets at 78-31 Parsons Blvd. in Fresh Meadows beginning at 7:30 p.m.
CELEBRATING GREEK INDEPENDENCE: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) and Borough President Helen Marshall will appear at the Hellenic Cultural Center, 27-09 Crescent St., Astoria to join in a celebration of Greek Independence Day next Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, call Gianaris’ district office at 718-545-3889.
HELP SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS: Last year, Councilmembers Hiram Monserrate (Corona), David Weprin (Hollis) and James Gennaro (Fresh Meadows) led the effort to get a moratorium to help small business owners avoid getting heavy fines while they corrected previously unknown infractions dealings with the awning over store entrances.
The moratorium expired on January 14 without legislation being enacted to continue protecting the small business owners, so the three Democrat lawmakers are now joining forces to extend the moratorium while city agencies enact legislation to update regulations concerning awnings.
Monserrate said the moratorium had been the difference between staying in business or closing their doors forever for many business owners.
"While city officials work to bring these codes up-to-date," said Monserrate, "we cannot allow these merchants to be left hanging in the balance. Extending the moratorium is the only way to responsibly address the needs of the small businesses that put food on the table for working families across the city."
‘GUIDE DOG’ BILL PASSES ASSEMBLY: When Assemblymember Mark Weprin was in college, he learned first hand the difficulties faced by blind people when his roommate and he were refused admittance to restaurants because of his roommate’s guide dog. Weprin (D–Bayside) had legislation passed which called for a $250 fine when people with disabilities are discriminated against because of their guide dogs or service dogs.
However, the anti-discrimination law apparently is not strong enough so Weprin recently had another bill passed in the Assembly to increase fines to $1,000 if the violation is repeated within a two-year period.
"Establishments need to know the law and be severely punished for violating it," said Weprin. The approved bill is expected to pass in the Senate, Weprin said.