2006-04-12 / Political Page

Lafayette Boosts Home Teams

In an effort to boost loyalty for local professional sports teams, Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette has introduced bills in Albany to bar misguided fans from getting license plates bearing the name of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees' longtime rival.

Lafayette (D-Jackson Heights) also wants legislation passed which would prevent the Jets and Giants pro football teams, which play their home games in New Jersey, from using the word "New York" in their team titles.

Explaining his action, Lafayette said, "It's a great opportunity to start the season with a bang and a little controversy. And it will help New Yorkers realize where their loyalties should be."

According to the Daily News, which first reported Lafayette's legislation, plates with the Red Sox logo are currently not available at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), according to a spokesman. They were available previously.

WEPRIN EYEING COMPTROLLER'S JOB? There's talk that City Council Finance Committee chair David Weprin is making plans to run for City Comptroller in 2008 when the Term Limits law ends his present eight-year stint as a councilmember.

Weprin (D-Hollis), who has held the powerful Finance Committee post since he was first elected in 2001, has scheduled a fundraiser on May 2 which will also celebrate his 50th birthday. Weprin garnered some previous government job experience when he held a high-level post in the state Insurance Department during the Cuomo gubernatorial administration.

Also interested in succeeding incumbent Comptroller William Thompson Jr. when he's relieved of his office by term limits at the end of 2008 is Martha Stark, presently city Finance Commissioner. She's a Brooklyn resident.

KATZ ON BILL WITH ORLANDO: The Queensborough Performing Arts Center (QPAC), on the Queensborough Community College campus in Bayside will provide an entertainment program on Sunday, April 23, featuring veteran singer Tony Orlando in concert.

Of greater local interest, however, is that Councilmember Melinda Katz, also an accomplished singer, will perform at the event, which starts at 3 p.m.

Katz (D-Forest Hills), who comes from an artistic family, is known for her singing voice and has performed often at public events since her political career started over a decade ago. Her dad, the late Maestro David Katz, founded the Queens Symphony Orchestra in 1953 and conducted it throughout his lifetime. Her mother, the late Jeanne Dale Katz, founded the Queens Council on the Arts.

Katz is a sponsor of QPAC, along with her colleague, Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing). Other sponsors are the Astoria Federal Savings Bank, Flushing Savings Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and the city Department of Cultural Affairs.

Orlando recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of his super hit recording "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree." He also has four million-selling records and has appeared in television variety shows, movies and Broadway musicals.

The concert starts at 3 p.m. and will be held on the Queensborough Community College campus in Bayside. To make the event more memorable, the first 65 people who purchase a $25 raffle will be invited to a post-show reception to meet Orlando. For information, call 718-631-6311, Monday-Friday, 10 am.-4 p.m.

NOLAN BILL PROTECTS EMS VEHICLES: At the request of the New York Police Department, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) has introduced a bill to increase penalties for anyone vandalizing emergency vehicles such as patrol cars, fire trucks and emergency medical vehicles, such as ambulances.

"These emergency vehicles must be in working order to help our emergency responders do their jobs-to protect and serve the people of our city," Nolan said.

Nolan's bill would make it a felony to intentionally cause damage to any authorized emergency vehicle.

QUEENS GOP ENDORSES PIRRO: The Queens County Republican Party, headed by state Senator Serphin Maltese, has endorsed former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro as the GOP candidate for state attorney general.

Maltese said he was particularly impressed with Pirro because she brings "a wealth of experience" as one of New York state's most successful district attorneys. He noted that during her tenure as DA, her office maintained a 98 percent conviction rate in superior court and violent crime in Westchester County decreased by 30 percent.

Party Vice Chairman Phil Ragusa of Beechhurst and Vincent Tabone of Bayside also cited Pirro's record as Westchester DA. Tabone particularly cited her articulate advocacy for civil confinement legislation and her focus on domestic violence, child abuse and "putting away sexual predators".

DANIELS QUITS, BACKS FASO: In a move that strengthens the candidacy of former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso for the GOP gubernatorial nod, former state Secretary of State Randy A. Daniels quit the race and threw his support to Faso.

Daniels said he would urge his conservative and upstate supporters to get behind Faso, who has already been endorsed by the state Conservative Party, headed by Michael Long.

Daniels' withdrawal leaves the Republicans with a twoman race for the governor's nomination, between Faso and William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed Faso leading Weld 22 percent to 16 percent among GOP voters with Daniels at 8 percent.

GOP SENATE RACE SHOWS SOME SPARK: Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, who has already attracted some conservative Republican support in his quest to become the party candidate opposing U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, announced last week that he plans to reach out to conservative GOPers nationally for financial support.

Spencer, who's already gained the support of Congressmember Tom Feeney (R-Florida), chairman of the House Conservatives Fund, plans to woo possible 2008 Republican presidential candidates, emphasizing to them that their financial support for him could result in a Clinton defeat or a poorer show, thus hurting her chances to run for president in 2008.

Spencer said he plans to cover 30 states in his fundraising drive. Meanwhile, Spencer's opponent for the Republican Senate nomination, Kathleen Troia McFarland, is planning a barnstorming and fundraiser trip similar to Spencer's.

Spencer has picked up the pace of his campaign since McFarland entered the race in an attempt to get her to end her campaign before the state Republican party meets next month to designate its statewide ticket.

However, McFarland indicated last week she has no thought of quitting as she added Rich Galen, a top GOP strategist, to her campaign staff.

PADAVAN HONORED: The Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association last week honored state Senator Frank Padavan (R-C, Bellerose) in appreciation of his many years of dedicated service and commitment to the association and the Whitestone community.

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