2006-09-13 / Political Page

Queens Dems To Vote For Manton's Successor On Friday

Queens Democratic Party leaders will meet this Friday at party headquarters, 72-50 Austin St., Forest Hills, to elect a new county leader to succeed the late Thomas Manton.

According to those familiar with the choices for the new chairman, the only name being mentioned for the powerful post is Congressmember Joseph Crowley. Everyone this reporter has spoken to over the past several weeks since Manton died on July 22 has given the same response regarding his successor: no other possible contenders have been heard from, except Crowley.

If this information holds up when the Democratic organization's 72-member executive committee meets early Friday morning to vote, Crowley will succeed Manton, just as he succeeded him in 1999 when Manton resigned his seat in Congress.

Manton, at that time, had personally chosen Crowley to make the move from his Assembly seat in Albany to the nation's capital.

From all that we've heard, it was the same story regarding Manton's plans to eventually retire from politics: he wanted Crowley to follow in his footsteps as county leader. We'll be watching on Friday.

Basically, the makeup of the executive committee will be the same as the one Manton ruled in the past few years.

Of the 71 members on the committee, all but 11 were re-elected without a challenge in yesterday's party elections.

Of the 11 on the ballot, it's too soon to know who the official winners were. However, several were incumbents with ties to the regular organization so they would appear to be winners in their races. The winners of the few other races, whoever they are, were unlikely to make much difference in Friday's balloting.

SPITZER NIXES POLS' JUDGE PICKS: Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, favored to be the state's next governor, says if elected he would move to take away political leaders' influence in selecting state Supreme Court judges.

Spitzer told the Daily News Editorial Board that it would be better to have the justices appointed by the governor as part of a merit selection process.

Spitzer said he would seek to have a state constitutional amendment passed to abolish judicial elections and place selection in the governor's hands. However, a constitutional amendment must be approved by the state legislature twice, a huge hurdle because so many legislators favor keeping the present selection process in political leaders' hands.

The present system has been declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court which last month upheld a lower court ruling and ordered the state to elect judges through more open primaries.

GIANARIS: PSC SHARES BLAME: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, still looking for answers about the cause of the recent Con Ed power failure in Astoria, placed a lot of the blame on the state Public Service Commission (PSC).

Commenting on the PSC's announcement that it will audit Con Ed's actions, Gianaris (D-Astoria declared: "The Public Service Commission bears much responsibility for Con Edison's failures over the last several years. As the entity that overseas Con Edison's performance, they failed miserably.

"While their review is welcome, I still continue to insist on a truly independent look at what needs to be done to prevent this summer's blackouts from occurring again. From Queens to Staten Island to Westchester, the people of New York deserve no less."

Gianaris intends to find some answers regarding the cause of the blackout from an independent

Assembly Task Force which he is leading and which will investigate Con Edison's massive power failure. The task force, comprised of energy industry experts, will issue its recommendations before the end of the year.

CATSIMATIDES TAKES AIM AT VENDORS: Chafing at the proliferation of street vendors who take business away from stores and frequently don't pay taxes, John Catsimatides, who heads the huge Gristedes grocery chain, feels there should be greater controls over the food peddlers.

Catsimatides, who has sometimes been reported as having mayoral ambitions, plans to build a coalition of New Yorkers who agree with his position on the growing vendor problem and want the Bloomberg Mayoral administration to do something about it. He may even undertake an advertising blitz in neighborhood newspapers to push his anti-peddler campaign, reports say.

KELLY GETS FRENCH MEDAL: New York City's top cop, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, last Saturday received the French Legion of Honor, the highest award given out by France for outstanding service to France.

The French became aware of Kelly's special anti-crime talents some years ago when he served for five years as a high official of the international police agency Interpol for the Americas. He also helped to establish a liaison between the New York Police Department and France which resulted in two New York detectives being stationed there.

WEPRIN PANS 'SURVIVOR': City Councilmember David Weprin's displeasure with the exploitive portrayal of ethnic groups to boost the ratings of the television show "Survivor" drew support last week from General Motors.

The giant auto maker announced that it was dropping its sponsorship of the CBS reality show because this season's program will pit different ethnic groups against each other.

Weprin (D-Hollis) and Queens colleague Councilmember John Liu (D-Flushing) had expressed their outrage at the new and controversial "Survivor" theme previously.

At a rally against "Survivor" in front of CBS headquarters in Manhattan, Weprin stated: "Hopefully CBS will see [GM's action] as a warning sign of bad things to come if they continue this exploitive portrayal of ethnic groups for the purpose of bolstering TV ratings.

"Television is one of the most influential mediums for the communication of ideas. CBS knows this, yet they either have chosen to ignore their responsibility or decided to abuse their influence by blatantly segregating and stereotyping ethnic groups in hopes of artificially creating a racially tense situation that might up their floundering ratings. GM was smart to cut its sponsorship of the divisive show, and I applaud their efforts."

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