Weiner ‘Gets No Respect’; Mayor Bounces Back In Poll After Switch To Queens
The Queens/Brooklyn lawmaker has put together a fairly complete list of campaign proposals in his effort to capture the Democrats’ mayoral nomination, but they haven’t made any impact on his showing in the polls, which have him at rock bottom. It wouldn’t surprise us if he borrowed Dangerfield’s catch phrase.
In the latest instance of Weiner’s efforts going unnoticed, there was hardly a mention in the press that his legislation in 2002 led to the creation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which conducted a three-year probe of why the World Trade Center buildings completely collapsed on 9/11.
The NIST findings and 30 recommendations were released last week. They include better fireproofing and improved construction of stairwells and elevators. Weiner has called for adoption of all the NIST proposals, and said he will offer legislation to make the recommendations requirements for federal buildings.
Weiner declared, “The Port Authority [which own the WTC], must make its commitment to safety clear by announcing immediately that it will comply with all the recommendations of the report. Further, they should agree to subject themselves to the most rigorous oversight by the New York City Department of Buildings. The Freedom Tower should be built to comply with the most comprehensive safety codes in history.”
About a year after the 9/11 attack, while everyone was questioning certain aspects of the strength of the Twin Towers, but no one was doing anything about it, Weiner authored the bill creating NIST. Signed into law by President George W. Bush, the law overhauls building collapse investigations to ensure that mishandled evidence and infighting that hobbled previous investigations never happens again.
In his latest legislative gambit, Weiner has joined with Senator Edward Kennedy (D–Massachusetts) to introduce the Health Care Accountability Act, which would examine the failure of large businesses such as WalMart to furnish health care coverage for employees and the associated costs for taxpayers when the giant firms withdraw their financial support of existing plans.
In his mayoral campaign, Weiner released a “save our subways” plan, which calls for the MTA to surrender control of the underground transit system to the mayor.
BALL TAKES BLOOMBERG BOUNCE: About a month ago, following the defeat of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan for a football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side, his popularity in the polls went down.
However, the latest Quinnipiac University poll, taken two week after the mayor revealed plans for the Mets/Olympic stadium in Queens and released a week ago, showed Bloomberg blooming again with a 13 percentage point lead over Democrat Fernando Ferrer.
The poll was taken from June 12 to 19. The mayor released his new Mets/Olympic stadium plan on the 12th so that he reaped the full benefits of the bounceback of the city’s Olympic chances in the survey.
The poll showed the mayor with a 55 percent job approval rating, his highest in three years; a respectable 40 percent of the Hispanic vote against 51 percent for Ferrer, and a 50-to-37 percent lead over Ferrer in the head-to-head vote for mayor.
Ferrer still leads all the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for mayor—Ferrer 31 percent, C. Virginia Fields 19 percent and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Weiner tied at 12 percent.
MAYOR BESTS MILLER IN ‘TRASH’ FIGHT: Last Wednesday, when the Quinnipiac poll was released, giving the mayor a big boost, hizzoner also scored a victory over City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, one of his mayoral opponents.
On that day, Miller backed off on attempting to override the mayor’s controversial approval of a garbage transfer plan thereby letting the mayor’s proposal become law.
These developments revealed another problem for Miller—his inability to retain control over Democratic councilmembers because he is a lame duck speaker. His term ends at the end of the year and he can’t run for re-election because of term limits.
However, Miller promised to revisit the garbage transfer plan later on by bringing his own plan up for a vote, which he says he will win. But will he have enough votes to override the mayor’s expected refusal to sign it into law? We think not.
WHO’S NEXT SPEAKER? The fight to become the successor to Miller among Democrats running for new terms in the Council is already in full swing and Queens lawmakers are right in the thick of it.
Among these are Councilmembers David Weprin (Hollis), Melinda Katz (Forest Hills) and Leroy Comrie (Jamaica). Ultimately, their chances of winning will come down to which one has the most support from Democratic Party County Chairman Thomas Manton because he exerts the most power over the borough’s council delegation members, who cast the votes to select the new leader.
At the moment, Weprin would seem to be the strongest Queens entrant in the Speaker sweepstakes. He has held the powerful Finance Committee chairman post for the past four years and has handled it well. Manton backed him for this job when the new council was organized in 2002 and there’s no reason he shouldn’t stick with him when the newly elected council organizes next January and the speaker’s job is up for grabs.
Katz also heads an important committee, Land Use, but it is not of the same stature as Finance, which makes Weprin virtually the number two person to the speaker in the normal workings of the council.
Comrie holds a top position in the council hierarchy as Majority Whip and, as a member of the minority caucus, might have its support for speaker. But that would still leave him far short of the 26 votes needed to win the top job in the 51-member body.
There’s not been much talk about Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (Astoria) going after the job previously held by his father, Peter Vallone Sr. However, the younger Vallone has also held a key committee post as chairman of the Public Safety Committee and handled it well. The panel deals with the very sensitive subject of police activities and Vallone has dealt with everything that has come his way in an outspoken manner independently and strictly on the merits.
There’s a long way to go until the vote for speaker takes place next January, but certainly Queens with its 14 votes will command respect and surely the borough-backed candidate favorite son (or daughter) choice will have a shot at the prize.