2005-07-20 / Political Page

Bloomberg Campaign Hqs. Opens In Bayside; Weiner Raps Al Qaeda Bank

As virtually everything seems to be coming up roses for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign for re-election, Republicans in Northeast Queens opened the first “Bloomberg for Mayor” headquarters in the borough last night in Bayside.

At the festivities sponsored by the 26th Assembly District Republican Committee, headed by state Committeeman Phil Ragusa, the veteran GOP leader stated:

“Clearly, the placement of Mayor Mike’s campaign headquarters in our neighborhood is due in no small part to the leadership of our own state Senator Frank Padavan as well as the extraordinary volunteers, committee members, area GOP clubs and so many courageous GOP leaders from throughout Queens who stood and delivered for Mayor Mike this summer during the petitioning period. Thank you one and all for the courage of your convictions.”

The district’s state committeemember, Gloria Piekarski, also praised the volunteers who collected signatures on nominating petitions to help get the mayor on the ballot. Piekarski stated: “All our volunteers have done a fantastic job, going door to door collecting signatures. I am truly proud of them.”

The volunteers in Northeast Queens helped get the signatures to get the mayor on the ballot (a minimum of 7,500 are needed to get on), but for the overall effort the mayor shelled out $60,000 for this important and crucial task.

According to a reliable Republican source, the mayor’s aides turned in petitions with about 25,000 signatures at Board of Elections headquarters in Manhattan last week when the deadline for filing arrived.

26th AD Committee Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone commented: “It has never been more important to have leadership, integrity and common sense in New York City government. That is what this campaign is about.” Tabone, the former Republican leader in Astoria, moved to Bayside and now is an important part of the Whitestone Republican Club and the 26th AD GOP leadership.

Meanwhile, the polls show the mayor steadily climbing in popularity and leading his Democratic opponents. Bloomberg made further headway in his campaign last week.

He started out by capturing the endorsement of DC 37, the 1.1 million-member, and largest union of city workers, an organization which almost always backs a Democrat. The move by the giant union means the Democratic candidate eventually chosen to oppose the mayor will be deprived of the thousands of campaign workers that generally toil in the Democratic standard bearer’s election effort.

Following DC 37’s endorsement, Bloomberg a few days later, pulled off another major campaign success in Democratic territory in Riverdale in The Bronx which is the home area of leading Dem candidate Fernando Ferrer. Here the mayor was endorsed by the Northwest Bronx Democratic Alliance, which four years ago endorsed Ferrer for mayor.

The mayor capped his winning streak with another Bronx victory—not in the political arena but on the baseball diamond. The mayor used his persuasive powers to convince pitcher Al Leiter to sign on with the Yankees after being cut by the Florida Marlins.

Adding a storybook ending to the tale, Leiter, in his first mound effort for the Yanks, pitched them to a victory over the Boston Red Sox!

OUST ARAB BANK, WEINER DEMANDS: Democratic mayoral hopeful, Congressmember Anthony Weiner last week charged that Arab Bank has ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and called on the U.S. Department of State to expel it from this country.

Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn), a member of the House Subcommittee On Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, said the bank, whose Midtown Manhattan branch is its only one in the United States “has well-documented ties to terror.”

Among these, he said, is that 40 to 60 customers of Arab Bank are suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah and it has repeatedly saved the Palestinian Authority from bankruptcy.

Arab Bank is a Jordanian bank controlled by Palestinians, Weiner charged. It is already required to report every day to the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under a consent decree which placed many controls on the bank’s activities.

“Any bank that funds terrorism against Israel has no business doing business anywhere in the United States or New York City,” Weiner stated. “The Arab Bank has proven itself to be a terror bank. We should shut it down and expel it from the United States.”

VA CLINIC NAMED FOR VIET HERO: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) led a ceremony on Monday which renamed a Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in honor of Marine Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Jr., a Sunnyside native who died in the Vietnam War and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Noonan’s family, friends and neighbors and veterans’ organizations joined Crowley at the ceremony at the VA clinic at 41-03 Queens Blvd., Sunnyside.

In January 2005, Crowley sponsored legislation authorizing the clinic to be renamed in the late soldier’s honor.

SEARS FUNDRAISER: Friends of Helen Sears 2005, led by Tony Argento and John Maltz, will head up a fundraiser for Councilmember Sears’ re-election tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bulova Corporate Center, 75-20 Astoria Blvd., Jackson Heights.

MONEY TALKS (IN POLITICS, TOO): Governor George Pataki’s falloff in popularity in recent polls was reflected by diminishing returns in his fundraising efforts, as reported last week in campaign filings made by his campaign committee.

However, there’s still 16 months until the 2006 gubernatorial election, when Pataki might or might not run for a fourth term. Meanwhile, although he hasn’t announced a decision yet, the governor barnstormed in Iowa over the weekend, testing his popularity.

The fundraising report showed the governor had raised slightly more than $785,000 in contributions since January, bringing his campaign bankroll up to $2.7 million. That’s well below his 2001 pace. At this point four years ago, he had taken in almost $9 million and had $12 million for his third-term re-election campaign bid.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D–New York), who’s scheduled to run for re-election in 2006 raised more than $6 million in the past three months, giving her a campaign bankroll of $12.6 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks election spending.

Clinton’s only Republican contender so far is Edward Cox, son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon. Still a GOP possibility is Westchester County veteran District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

LUNCHEON FOR INDIA P.M.: Continuing the grand tradition of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian–Americans whenever an Indian Prime Minister visits Washington, the panel honored Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at a luncheon in the nation’s capital yesterday, according to the caucus’ Democratic co-chair, Congressmember Gary Ackerman (Bayside).

‘DISCOVER QUEENS: A new license plate bearing the legend “Discover Queens” was unveiled yesterday at a ceremony which included Borough President Helen Marshall, state Senator Frank Padavan (R–C, Bellerose), Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing) and Motor Vehicle Department Commissioner Raymond Martinez. The first set of new plates were presented to Marshall and commemorative plaques were given to the other dignitaries. The plates are intended to show Queens pride as well as stimulate the borough’s tourism and economic development.

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