Catsimatidis Makes Bloomberg-Like Move Toward Mayoral Run In '09
Following the route that Mayor Michael Bloomberg took, and hoping to extend the Republicans' hold on City Hall, supermarket mogul John A. Catsimatidis has switched his political affiliation from Democrat to the GOP for a probable bid for mayor in 2009.
Catsimatidis, 59, a self-made billionaire (estimated wealth $2 billion), said he would spend what he feels necessary on a campaign. Announcing his party switch in a letter to Republican leaders in the city, Catsimatidis said Bloomberg and Mayor Rudy Giuliani before him had shown that commonsense Republican principles could make the city manageable.
At present, no one is standing in Catsimatidis' path to the Republican nomination, although there has been talk that Time Warner Chairman Richard D. Parsons might take the plunge.
Another possibility is Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, an independent, who's been encouraged to run for the city's highest elective office but hasn't made any moves yet.
Meanwhile, a bulky field of Democrats is expected to make the fight for their party's nomination. They include Congressmember Anthony Weiner (Queens/Brooklyn), who made an impressive showing in 2005; City Comptroller William Thompson; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn of Manhattan, who may win Bloomberg's endorsement if Kelly stays out of the race; Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and possibly Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Thompson stole a lead on the others by starting his fundraising early and has a reported $2.6 million in the bank. Weiner has about $2 million, and Carrion about $1 million.
WEINER QUESTIONS SPITZER PLAN: Weiner said last week that he feels Governor Eliot Spitzer's controversial plan to issue drivers' licenses to illegal aliens would run afoul of the standardized license requirements of the federal REAL TD Act. He said this concerned him because he didn't want New York-issued licenses to become a "second-class license" because some of the people with such licenses are not citizens.
Weiner joined several other Democrats who oppose Spitzer's plan, including ex-Mayor Edward I. Koch and Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Republicans in Albany strongly oppose the plan and intend to pass a bill prohibiting the state from issuing licenses to illegal aliens. State Senator Frank Padavan (R- C, Bellerose) is the sponsor of that measure.
At a hearing on Padavan's bill in Albany yesterday, former state Motor Vehicle Commissioner Ray Martinez testified in favor of the bill, saying Spitzer's plan goes counter to security measures passed after 9/11.
SMITH IN THE MIDDLE: State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D- Jamaica) wound up in the middle of the Spitzer- Bruno imbroglio and now has both of those powerful principals mad at him.
Smith's troubles started last Tuesday when Spitzer said that Smith and several of the governor's aides discussed plans to go to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and try to get that agency to impose taxes on Bruno for using state airplanes for "personal political business".
Word of this got to Bruno who, of course, was furious with Spitzer and Smith. But Smith then said the plot never got anywhere because he refused to go along with it because it would bottle up government business.
Spitzer came down on Smith, who up to then had been on great terms with the governor, but may be in hot water now. Meanwhile, Bruno who controls everything that goes on in the senate, retaliated against Smith, stopping some ongoing projects.
CUOMO HEADS CROWLEY ITALIAN HERITAGE CELEBRATION: Former Governor Mario Cuomo will be the featured speaker at the fourth annual Italian Heritage celebration to be held by Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx) on Sunday, October 28 at 1 p.m. at the F&J Pine Restaurant, 1913 Bronxdale Ave., The Bronx.
TERM LIMITS CHANGES STILL POSSIBLE: Council Speaker Christine Quinn said last week she has not made a final decision on extending term limits beyond the present two-term, eightyear limit.
Responding to a question, she stated that she and her colleagues among the Democratic majority had not yet made a final decision on possible term limits changes.
In one story dealing with the topic, the New York Post quoted her; "Myself and my colleagues have to come to a final decision soon because people need to make decisions on what they're doing in 2008, 2009. We'll make a final decision in the near future."
In 2009, 35 of 51 councilmembers, including Quinn, will complete their two terms and have to leave the council. Many have already started making plans to seek other offices, including Quinn, a mayoral aspirant.
INFORMATIONAL HEARING SET: State Senator Serphin Maltese's Glendale-Ridgewood district, will be the subject of an informational hearing to be held tomorrow, October 18 at 6 p.m. at Christ the King Regional H.S. at Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street in Middle Village.
Also participating in the hearing will be Borough President Helen Marshall, and Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan, Anthony Seminerio and Audrey Pheffer. The forum will focus on several recent railroad derailments and accidents in Ridgewood and Glendale.
FDR DEMS MEET: Assemblymember Pheffer, who is considering running for Queens Borough President in 2009, will speak on consumer issues at tomorrow night's meeting of the FDR Democratic Association at 8 p.m. at the Chabad of Northeast Queens at 212-12 26th Ave. opposite Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside.