2004-11-11 / Political Page

Weiner Stages Post-Election Tour To Pick Up 2005 Mayoral Campaign A Notch on politics

By John Toscano


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The day after Election Day, as the nation came down off a high ignited by President George W. Bush’s narrow victory over Senator John Kerry and New Yorkers focused on legislative victories and defeats, Congressmember Anthony Weiner put on his walking shoes to tour his Queens/Brooklyn district, partly to celebrate his re-election but mostly to turn his campaign for mayor up a notch.

Other possible Democratic candidates to challenge Mayor Michael Bloomberg next year surely had the impending mayoral election on their minds, but Weiner had been assailing Bloomberg more than any other would-be Bloomberg opponent in recent months and he just couldn’t wait to get to the first order of business once that other election was out of the way.

During the presidential campaign, Weiner virtually ignored his re-election opponent Gerard Cronin while he tried to make points against Bloomberg by charging the mayor was supporting Bush.

As it turned out, it didn’t cost Weiner anything in his re-election campaign because he swamped Cronin, of Rockaway Park, by about 60,000 votes, defeating him by 102,582 to 43,414 in the 9th Congressional District balloting, according to an unofficial Board of Elections tally.

While on the local stump, the 40-year-old Weiner, a former City Councilmember now embarking on his sixth year in Congress, lambasted the mayor, saying, “New Yorkers turned out in record numbers to defend their city—Mike Bloomberg was fighting on the other side.” The mayor, a Democrat-turned-Republican to win the 2001 election, contributed $7 million to help stage the Republican National Convention here last August, but made no contributions to the Bush campaign.

A spokesperson for Bloomberg responded to Weiner and other Dems seeking to run for mayor, saying “While Sen. Kerry and the president are calling for unity and healing, leave it to some aspiring politicians to come up with more divisive, political attacks.

Weiner, who moved into Forest Hills Gardens from Brooklyn about a year ago, predicted Bloomberg would be a one-term mayor because “he’s vulnerable—he has no base.” The congressmember is expected to announce whether he will run for mayor shortly.

Meanwhile, the present favorite to win the nomination and face the mayor next November is Fernando Ferrer, the 54-year-old former Bronx Borough President who lost the mayoral nomination three years ago to Mark Green in a divisive run-off primary. So far, Green has made no move to run again.

In what would be his third attempt to become New York City’s first Latino mayor, Ferrer might finally capitalize on the growing Hispanic vote here. His major opposition for the Dem nomination is likely to come from City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, 35, the youngest of the possible Bloomberg opponents.

Three other possible Democratic candidates against the mayor are Comptroller William Thompson, 51, Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields, 58, and Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron, 54. All are African-American. Thompson has the strongest credentials for the role.

Recent polls indicate Ferrer is the voters’ choice to take on the mayor. That’s admirable but a very chancy prospect, considering the mayor spent close to $78 million to win in 2001 and can easily match that figure now. Besides, the mayor has a fairly good record to run on next year, making him a credible candidate to win re-election—even though he’ll have to overcome a huge Democratic edge in voter registration.

ACKERMAN IN MIDDLE EAST: With Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a Paris hospital and reportedly in deteriorating health, Congressmember Gary Ackerman plans to travel to the Middle East this weekend to meet with Israeli and Arab leaders to review the regional political situation and examine prospects for resuming progress toward peace in that area.

Ackerman (D–Bayside), the top Democrat on the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East, has met with Arafat numerous times in recent years, both in the Palestinian leader’s compound in Ramallah and in Washington. Ackerman is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah of Jordan, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Asad of Syria, all in their respective countries.

LIU HAILS ‘CHILD REMOVAL’ DECISION: Declaring “for far too long, the city has callously removed children from their abused moms,” City Councilmember John Liu last week hailed a recent court decision restricting the city’s ability to do so only when the danger is immediate.

Liu cited the case of Tristram Kelly, now age four, who was taken from his mother Jung, when he was four months old, even though city authorities promised that wouldn’t happen. The Flushing lawmaker said, “By itself, the practice of arbitrarily separating children from their mothers has been very harmful. However, in the context of domestic abuse, this practice has worsened the situation for abused mothers by victimizing them again and discouraging others from reporting abuse. The removal of children can no longer be tolerated—especially when required court orders are not obtained and the city appears only to be ‘covering itself’.”

LAWMAKERS TAKE STAGE: There’s still time to get tickets for the entertaining Legislative Review 2004 at the Queens Theatre in the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Saturday evening, November 20.

That’s the night when the Queens family of public officials, from District Attorney Richard Brown to Borough President Helen Marshall and state Comptroller Alan Hevesi, along with assorted congressmembers, state legislators and city councilmembers will let their hair down and take to the stage to sing, dance, put on skits and do stand-up comedy.

It’s all in the interest of having a little fun and making the surprising discover that some of the performers might have had stellar careers in arenas outside Albany or Washington.

It’s sponsored by Consolidated Edison and Time Warner Cable and chaired by Georgiana Reese of New York Community Bank. Proceeds go to the Theatre in the Park to support its splendid program of theatrical productions.

For information, call Katz at 718-760-0686, ext. 126.

GALLAGHER SPEAKER AT SJU VETS TRIBUTE: City Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (R–C Middle Village) is scheduled to deliver a special address when the St. John’s University Office of Community Relations holds its annual tribute to American war veterans tomorrow on the Jamaica–Hillcrest campus at 12:15 p.m. The school’s ROTC and local veterans will participate in the event.

ALBANY PAY HIKE? Talk out of Albany is that state legislators may be getting a pay raise and possibly do away with the extra stipends some lawmakers get for committee chairmanships. State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno reportedly favors the latter plan, but not a stand alone pay increase. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he hasn’t discussed pay increase proposals with his Democratic majority.

State legislators currently earn $79,500 salaries for their part-time jobs. That makes them the second highest paid state lawmakers in the country, behind California.

If the committee chairmen’s largesse were abolished, the average stipend of $10,000 would be added to the $79,500 salary, giving every legislator a raise. In some cases where stipends exceed the $10,000 average, annual pay would be less under the proposed plan.

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