2006-01-25 / Political Page

All Queens Councilmembers Win Committee Chairmen’s Posts

Three Queens lawmakers retained control over three of the most powerful City Council committees last week when the 51-member body was organized by new Speaker Christine Quinn, for the 2006 session.

Back for another stay in these posts were:

•Councilmember David Weprin (D–Hollis) is Finance Committee chairman, a role which places him across the negotiating table from Bloomberg mayoral administration members to enact the city’s multi-billion dollar budget, making sure the Council’s positions on all issues are protected.

•Councilmember Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) is again at the helm of the Land Use committee, which deals with all important zoning changes, and whose appointment was characterized by Crain’s Business News weekly as “a plus for developers, as Ms. Katz is considered pro-development.”

•Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) heads the Public Safety committee, which tracks crime and anti-terror matters and New York Police Department operations.

Councilmember David Weprin Councilmember David Weprin Other chairmen reappointed were: Councilmembers Tony Avella (D–Bayside), Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises; Leroy Comrie (D–St. Albans), Consumer Affairs; John Liu (D–Flushing), Transportation; Eric Gioia (D–Long Island City) Oversight and Investigations; Helen Sears (D–Jackson Heights), Women’s Issues; James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows), Environmental Protection; Hiram Monserrate (D–Corona), Veterans Affairs, and Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Ozone Park), Civil Service and Labor).

Returning to the Council after a four-year absence, Councilmember Thomas White (D–Jamaica), was given chairmanship of the Economic Development committee, replacing Councilmember James Sanders (D–Rockaway), who had a falling out with Queens Democratic Party Chairman Thomas Manton and lost his support for a committee chair’s post. Manton directed the Queens delegation to vote for Quinn as Speaker and enjoyed her support in getting every Queens Democrat but Sanders appointed to a chairman’s position.

Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (Middle Village), the only Republican from Queens in the Council, was named Minority Whip of the Republican delegation.

Councilmember Melinda KatzCouncilmember Melinda Katz Council chairs receive from $5,000 to $18,000 a year stipends for handling the chairman’s duties, as well as having a measure of power in moving the legislation which comes through their panel.

In their first terms in the Council, every Queens member held a chairmen’s post under Speaker Gifford Miller, with whom Manton also had a very favorable relationship.

GOP CANDIDATES HIT QUEENS: Republican candidates for statewide office are targeting Queens early in this election cycle as the party is beginning to show some life in this important election year.

Attorney General candidate Jeanine Pirro visited the Eastern Queens Republican Club last week and wannabe gubernatorial candidate John Faso will be in Woodside next Tuesday night.

In other breaking GOP news, it’s reported Rochester millionaire Tom Golisano is ready to throw his hat into the ring to become the Republican candidate for governor and might spend $125 million of his own money to win the nod and take on the Democratic candidate, likely to be Eliot Spitzer after he knocks off Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi in a Dem primary.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. Also reportedly ready to dip his toe into Republican waters for the nomination to run for the United States Senate from New York is Edward Cox, a Manhattan attorney who was in the contest early on but then was nudged out when Pirro got into the Senate race. She later withdrew to concentrate her energies on the state attorney general contest.

Pirro was in Bayside last week and really wowed members of the Eastern Queens Republican Club, according to Phil Ragusa and Vince Tabone. The former Westchester District Attorney showed she knows how to get a crowd excited, and Ragusa and Tabone saw this as a good sign she can do the same around the state.

However, a Quinnipiac College poll showed Pirro defeated by the two leading Democratic candidates, Andrew Cuomo and Mark Green, in separate races. But it’s only January and there’s time to bring about changes.

Meanwhile, Faso, who graduated from Archbishop Molloy H.S. in Briarwood before his family moved upstate, will appear before Woodside and Sunnyside Republican Clubs. A good turnout is expected at Four Provinces Hall 39-50 58th St., Woodside. The gathering comes to order at 8 p.m. “All welcome,” said Woodside GOP leaders Ed Coyne, Joanne Mugno and Patrick Hurley and their Sunnyside counterparts, John Ward and Frances Schmidt.

Faso can boast about one thing —he ran for state comptroller in 2002 and was narrowly beaten by the incumbent, Alan Hevesi.

In the fundraising department, GOP gubernatorial hopefuls have lots of catching up to do with Spitzer, who’s got about $19 million in the bank. William Weld and Faso, by contrast, have $1.8 million and $932,000 on hand, respectively.

Golisano could be very intriguing for Republicans. Like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he’s got deep, deep, deep pockets and could spend close to $1 million, it is said.

AVELLA LAUDS 111TH PCT. COPS: Police of the 111 Precinct in Bayside made two arrests recently which won praise from City Councilmember Tony Avella (D–Bayside). The cops collared a 17-year-old Jamaica H.S. student in a shooting near Cardozo H.S. after a basketball game on January 13. The second arrest involved a 36-year-old attorney who was exposing himself while driving in the Cardozo H.S. area.

Avella praised the officers for their quick action.

LAFAYETTE SAYS STATE SAVES $14M: At one time New York State and neighboring states did not exchange motor vehicle information. New York gave away the information to some states, but was charged a fee for information which Albany requested from them, Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette reported.

Lafayette put DMV Commissioner Ray Martinez in touch with New York City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark, the two set up reciprocity agreements with several other states. The new arrangement is saving New York $14 million, says Lafayette.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker is continuing to advise New York City on ways to potentially raise millions more by increasing the capacity of information he helped to make available through the Insurance Information and Enforcement System (IIES).

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