2005-10-26 / Political Page

Ferrer Journeys To Little Neck To Offer Homeowners A Tax Break

Congressmember Anthony Weiner and City Councilmember David Weprin accompanied Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer to Little Neck this past Sunday. There, Ferrer proposed tax help for homeowners that would be larger than the $400 annual rebate offered by his Republican rival, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Weiner, who ran second to Ferrer in the Democratic mayoral primary, spoke after Ferrer had explained his proposal and gave it an extra push.

Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) declared: “If you think that rising taxes are not a problem in New York City, [then] Mike Bloomberg is the man for you. Because he says there’s going to be four years of the same: higher and higher taxes on the middle class and those struggling to make it.”

Ferrer’s proposal would exempt the first $100,000 of a residential property’s value, resulting in a $973 savings that would replace the current $400 rebate offered by Bloomberg. After the mayor had imposed a controversial and little liked 18.5 percent property tax in November 2002, he won approval from the state legislature for three consecutive $400 annual rebates; the second of those is now being mailed to homeowners.

Ferrer called his proposal HOPE (Home Owner Property Exemption), and pointed out that it would benefit all income groups in the city. It would require state legislative approval.

As expected, the Bloomberg team pointed to HOPE as another instance of Ferrer switching positions.

OGNIBENE LOYALISTS: The regular Republican Party leaders in Woodside, Ed Coyne and Joanne Mugno, broke ranks with their party’s other leaders around the borough, who are supporting Bloomberg for re-election, and urged a vote for Tom Ognibene, the Conservative Party candidate for mayor, on November 8.

Coyne and Mugno, who head the Regular Republican Club, 30th Assembly District, also urged a vote for Philip T. Sica, the Republican–Conservative candidate for borough president against Democratic incumbent Queens Borough President Helen Marshall who is running for re-election.

“Vote Conservative, the conscience of the Republican Party,” Coyne and Mugno announced.

In a statement, the leaders declared that Ognibene was still in the mayoral race as the Conservative candidate “despite the arrogance, chicanery and hypocrisy of Mike Bloomberg and his acolytes.”

Throughout the lengthy statement, they repeatedly lambasted Bloomberg for eliminating Ognibene, a longtime Republican leader, as an opponent in the Republican primary and for supporting insurgent candidates in party elections against regular organization choices.

Coyne and Mugno also took a swipe at Democratic mayoral candidate Ferrer, saying, “On Election Day, November 8, the choice will be between a Republican–Conservative, Tom Ognibene, on the Conservative line, and two left wing Democrats, Freddie Ferrer on the Democratic line and Mike Bloomberg.

“In reality, the only difference between Ferrer and Bloomberg is a bank account and the fact that Freddie was not afraid to go before his party in a primary.”

ANOTHER DEM DEFECTS: Lauding Bloomberg for generally having done a good job in his first term and throwing out party labels and looking at performance instead, Councilmember James Sanders, a Democrat from the Rockaways, endorsed the mayor for re-election recently. He joins two other Queens councilmembers—James Gennaro (Fresh Meadows) and Peter Vallone Jr. (Astoria) in crossing over to endorse the Republican mayor.

100% ENVIRONMENTAL SCORE: Assemblymember Mark Weprin (D–Little Neck) received a grade of 100 percent for his votes on environmental issues, the highest score given to any Assemblymember by Environmental Advocates, a non-partisan, Albany-based organization that monitors environmental voting records.

In announcing the high rating, Weprin noted that during the past year, he had voted in favor of wetlands protection, the solar energy tax incentive and the children’s health and safety bill of rights, just a small sampling of the many environmentally friendly causes he has championed in the Assembly.

Weprin commented, “Protecting the environment is a struggle in which we must all take part. Ensuring that we have clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe is a commitment that we have to make for our children and for future generations.”

LAFAYETTE EXPLAINS 4TH GRADERS’ SUCCESS: Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D–Jackson Heights) says Bloomberg attributes the recent improved scores of public school 4th grade students to reforms he instituted after taking over control of the schools. But, he argues, the “real explanation is the pre-K statute…enacted in 1998 and took full effect in 2000…and gave these fourth graders a great head start in their academic careers. As a matter of fact, these 4th graders today were the first children enrolled in pre-K programs.”

Lafayette, one of the authors of the pre-K statute, said it authorized not-for-profit organizations to provide class space for youngsters who otherwise wouldn’t find room for classes. Lafayette also saw to it that there was funding for the pre-K kids to attend summer school prior to enrolling in classes in the fall.

Lafayette also says Bloomberg is not acknowledging “that 52 percent of the cost of new school construction in New York City, instead of the 18 percent in the old formula” was provided through the efforts of the Democratic Assembly Majority, including himself.

MONSERRATE PRAISED: The New Americans Democratic Organization from Northeast Queens held a meeting last Wednesday night at the Eastern Nights Restaurant in Astoria. Members were impressed by an impassioned talk given by Councilmember Hiram Monserrate (D–Corona), on behalf of Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer, according to the club’s co-presidents Chet Szarejko and Morshed Alam.

After the meeting, Monserrate and members of the organization, who also endorsed Ferrer, attended a fundraiser at Monserrate’s invitation by the Latino contingent of his constituency and came away “sparked by Hiram who, incidentally, is a great dancer and party entertainer.”

LIU LEADS ‘CANE FUNDRAISER’: The Queens County Young Democratic Organization, in conjunction with Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing), will hold a Hurricane Katrina & Rita Relief Fund Fundraiser tonight at Mardi Gras, 70-20 Austin St., Forest Hills from 7 to 9 p.m. The proceeds will go to the disaster relief fund set up by Liu for victims for the two deadly hurricanes.

CLINTON DEM CLUB MEETS: The William Jefferson Clinton Democratic Club of Queens, headed by Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing), will hear a talk from attorney Steven Schwartzapfel tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at a meeting to be held at Samaritan Village, 138-02 Queens Blvd., Briarwood.

Schwartzapfel will discuss his experiences with challenges to the [President George W.] Bush administration and its attempts to limit individual legal rights and options. The attorney, recipient of the prestigious Martindale–Hubbel Award, and his law firm have received national recognition for their successful litigation of cases involving medical malpractice, insurance fraud, highway design defects and elder abuse, among others.

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