Mayor Dumps On Queens, Rules Out ‘Alternate’ Stadium Site In Boro
Mayor Michael Bloomberg must have forgotten that he will stand for re-election in Queens later this year, as well as the rest of the city when he rather indelicately and somewhat insultingly dismissed any idea that Queens could provide an alternate site for a stadium if the site on Manhattan’s west side should somehow fail to become reality.
The borough’s Republicans have already taken a stand against his re-election ambitions by designating former City Councilmember Tom Ognibene as his opponent in the Republican primary election.
Surely he must have lost some other votes by declaring that Queens, which was good enough to host two World’s Fairs and annually hosts the greatest tennis spectacle in the world, was not classy enough to house the stadium that is a key ingredient for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
As you might expect, the billionaire mayor based his reasons on economic factors, explaining, “The trouble is that the economics don’t work for a stadium of this size because you can’t sell naming rights and boxes outside of Manhattan for what you can sell in Manhattan. That’s just a fact of life.”
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who was present and standing alongside Bloomberg when he made his disparaging remarks, tried to play down his comments afterward. She pointed out, “He doesn’t say that all the time,” and noted that about three-quarters of the games’ venues are in her borough.
Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) who hopes to be running against Bloomberg in the mayoral race, is already on record as disagreeing with the mayor’s assertion, having proposed that the stadium should be built in Willets Point near Shea Stadium.
Another mayoral opponent, Council Speaker Gifford Miller, who opposes the Manhattan stadium site, said he plans to introduce legislation to block construction of the stadium, so the mayor should choose an alternate site in Queens.
But the mayor rejected both of their ideas, saying that if the Manhattan site is not available, there won’t be a stadium built anywhere else. However, he remains confident the stadium will be built in time for the Olympics.
It had better be. The International Olympic Committee evaluation team, before it left town last week, left a chilling message: no stadium, no Olympics in New York City. No Olympics in New York City could easily translate into no re-election for Michael Bloomberg.
ENDORSEMENTS: The various mayoral campaigns continued to build last week in preparation for the tough times ahead.
•Bloomberg picked up the support of The Bronx Republican organization, which joined the Manhattan GOP in his corner. Tom Ognibene was the Queens organization’s choice, leaving Brooklyn and Staten Island up for grabs. Which way Staten Island goes will be significant in the Republican primary because of the borough’s strong Republican leanings.
•Fernando Ferrer, the frontrunner for the Democratic nod and the leader over all would-be candidates in the polls, picked up state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s backing, a good catch given the Attorney General’s soaring popularity. It will help Ferrer in cultivating support among Jewish voters, which make up a good portion of Dem voters.
•Speaker Miller enlisted Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) for his team. He traces his political career roots back to the Washington lawmaker, having served as her chief of staff and her successor as the council representative for the East Side of Manhattan. Maloney has a reputation for working hard in political campaigns so she will be helpful for Miller.
Miller also added a top African–America campaign aide to his staff, Reggie Johnson, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 election campaign. Johnson will handle chores as Miller’s spokesman and strategist.
FERRER TO MAYOR: END SUNDAY PARKING: Speaking at the Greater Highway Deliverance Temple in East Harlem on Sunday, Ferrer got on board a campaign led by Councilmember Hiram Monserrate (D–Corona) to suspend metered parking near churches on Sundays.
“People shouldn’t have to pay to pray,” Ferrer said. Monserrate has filed legislation to prohibit metered parking near houses of worship throughout the city. Unmetered Sunday parking used to be the case until two years ago when it was reinstated to help the city out of a budget crunch.
CROWLEY AT HARVARD: Queens College alumnus Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), speaking at a forum on “Building the Indo-American Alliance,” stated:
“As the world’s oldest democracy [sic] India is a nation that has become one of our greatest allies in the war on terror. The relationship between the U.S. and India has continued to grow in recent years as both sides recognize the inter-dependence of our economies, our shared commitment to liberty and the common threat of global terror.”
SABINI APPOINTMENT: State Senator John Sabini (D–Jackson Heights) has been appointed as the top minority Democrat on the senate Transportation Committee, which oversees roads and certain mass transit elements. The key appointment comes at a time when major transportation issues are being played out in Sabini’s district.
These include reconstruction of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and adjacent roadways, overhaul of the busy 74 Street, Broadway subway station and Victor Moore Arcade bus terminal and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority takeover of private bus lines in Queens.
AVELLA PRAISES 109TH PCT: Responding quickly to a complaint forwarded to the 109th Precinct in Flushing by Councilmember Tony Avella (D–Bayside) regarding sale of pornographic materials, officers from the precinct swooped down on the Food Marts Easy Stop at 162-20 Northern Blvd. and arrested its owner on charges of public display of offensive material. Police also confiscated 235 DVDs and VHS tapes of hard core pornography.
Avella also announced that in response to his request, 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Thomas Cea had renewed enforcement attention to 20 Ave. in Whitestone, issuing six summonses over a recent weekend. Cea commented that coordination between the precinct and Avella was “a classic case of government at work.”
MARKEY FUNDRAISER: A fundraiser for Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) is scheduled on Thursday, March 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Angie’s Restaurant, 41-46 54th St. in Woodside. Michael Den Dekker and the Committee to Elect Markey, 718-565-2630 are sponsoring the event.