Mayor Marched Thru Queens, Capping Week Of Good Political Developments
During last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral prospects appeared to improve. The possibility of passage of the Jets stadium deal seemed to brighten and Bloomberg received a key endorsement from the Independence Party. The mayor then spent the Memorial Day weekend parading around Queens as if he were taking bows in light of his growing political fortunes.
However, Bloomberg’s opponents, both Democrats and in his own Republican Party, had him ducking brickbats as they showered him with criticism.
The mayor started marching through Queens promptly at noon in the Forest Hills Memorial Day parade up Metropolitan Avenue.
Two hours later, he joined in the festivities at the College Point holiday parade, which stepped off at College Point Boulevard and 26th Avenue and ended in MacNeil Park.
The following day, without missing a step, he started the day at the annual Laurelton parade at 9:30 a.m., bounced over to Brooklyn to march in another parade in that borough, but quickly returned to Queens by midday for parades in Whitestone and then Little Neck/Douglaston.
He continued his campaigning in Queens yesterday, giving a talk at the Bowne Park Civic Association meeting in Flushing.
But the mayor didn’t have the field all to himself those two days. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Congressmember Anthony Weiner, two of his Democratic opponents, showed up at the Forest Hills and Little Neck/Douglaston marches, peppering the mayor with criticism as they marched along.
In fact, Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) and the mayor didn’t shake hands or say hello when they encountered each other on Metropolitan Avenue.
Both Weiner and Miller criticized the mayor for focusing most of his economic development effort in Manhattan, a charge always welcome anywhere in Queens. they also hit him on his school policies.
Miller also blasted the mayor for reaching out to the Bush Presidential Administration in Washington for support for the West Side stadium deal after two top aides to President George W. Bush spoke favorably about it.
Preceding the holiday weekend activity, the mayor and Governor George Pataki announced an $800 million package of developments for Lower Manhattan, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s district, which followed by several days Silver’s criticism that his bailiwick was being ignored while all the attention and dollars were being showered by Bloomberg and Pataki on the West Side stadium.
The announced goodies for Silver were obviously a response to his standoffish behavior regarding the stadium. After the largess arrived, however, there were some indications that Silver would be getting aboard the stadium bandwagon, which was reportedly now being supported by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
The stadium project needs “yes” votes from Pataki, Silver and Bruno if it comes up later this week. It now appears Bruno and Silver are ready to join the governor in voting for a $300 million state subsidy, which is part of the funding the stadium must have. It would be an immense victory for the mayor.
During last week, the mayor also got encouraging news when 28 of 51 city councilmembers signed a letter saying they favor the stadium deal. Miller, opposes the project, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that more than half his members came out in favor of it.
The stadium deal is not crucial to the mayor’s chances of winning re-election, but approval of it would burnish his image as a mayor who can get things done, even in the face of strong opposition.
And if the stadium in turn leads to winning approval of the 2012 Olympics, there’s a good chance that all the hard feelings aroused by the fierce fight over the stadium will fade away in the euphoria of the excitement the Olympics will bring.
HEVESI PRAISED: State Comptroller Alan Hevesi drew praise last week for exposing Medicaid payments to rapists and other sexual predators for erectile-enhancing drugs, thereby increasing the danger sex perverts pose to society.
Because of Hevesi’s revelations, Washington and Albany immediately ended the nonsensical drug giveaways. Hevesi uncovered the practice, which had been going on for more than six years, leaving the question of why it had been going on that long in the first place.
In an editorial, the New York Post praised the former Forest Hills lawmaker for his alertness and also noted that last year he revealed out-of-control state authorities were running up needless debt totalling $115 billion.
McLAUGHLIN HONORED: Flushing Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin was honored last week by another Flushing political organization, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic Association, for his years of service to the community, both as lawmaker and community activist.
Presenting the honors were officials of the FDR club, Evan Stavisky, a district leader; Stavisky’s mother, state Senator Toby Stavisky, and club president Judith Abbott. Also honored along with McLaughlin, was Peter Koo, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association.
Accepting the award, McLaughlin stated: “We can never forget that political clubs are really the first line of defense in a democracy. Through their efforts, they get candidates on the ballot, and they get citizens to vote. Our political organizations are, therefore, vital to the continuance of our democratic process.”
CARROZZA BILL PASSES: A bill authored by Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza (D–Bayside), which ensures that employees in a group insurance plan are notified on time if their coverage is being terminated, has passed the Assembly.
Explaining the legislation, Carrozza stated: “Health insurance is a necessity. When people pay each month for health insurance, they should have it. If employers, for whatever reason, are no longer able to pay health insurance premiums for their employees, then employees need to be informed immediately. This legislation protects employees and their families from involuntarily giving up their right to convert coverage because they were left in the dark by their employers.”
AIMING AT HILLARY: As polls continue to show United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton remains a strong candidate to be re-elected to a new term from New York state next year, possible opponents keep surfacing.
Last week, Edward Cox, a son-in-law of the late, former-President Richard Nixon, signaled his intent to challenge Clinton. Just prior to Cox’s announcement, Westchester District Attorney (DA) Jeanine Pirro, a Republican, announced she would not seek re-election as DA next year, but would consider running for a statewide office. That could mean as a challenger to Clinton or for governor or attorney general.
Republicans are eager to put up a strong challenger to Clinton on the ballot either to defeat her or take the wind out of her sails if she would want to run for president a few years hence. The polls have also consistently shown her favorably rated as a presidential contender.