2008-01-09 / Political Page

Mayor's Oklahoma Visit Fizzles

Even before he can make a hard decision to run for president as an independent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having trouble with Barack Obama, the leading Democratic hopeful at the moment.

The mayor went to Oklahoma on Monday to meet with Republicans and Democrats who were gathered to send a message to the present presidential hopefuls that if they take a stronger bipartisan approach to settling America's problems, they would get behind a third party candidate and get him into this year's race.

Some in attendance at a University of Oklahoma forum were saying that Obama is already reaching out to independent voters and urging everyone, no matter their political affiliation, to support him in dealing with the nation's problems.

Others declared that they had no intention of turning their backs on their party's candidates already running for president, which went far to take the steam out of any "Draft Bloomberg" movement.

The mayor, meanwhile, continued playing down any talk that he's already decided to get into the race, despite stories in the press that preceded his arrival in Oklahoma that he will decide in a few months whether or not he'll run.

The story was attributed to Bloomberg's pollster, Douglas Schoen, whose remarks were printed in a Los Angeles Times story. Schoen was quoted as saying that the mayor is going to spend the next two months doing an assessment of his prospects. This was the first public admission from a Bloomberg insider that the mayor was, indeed, thinking about undertaking an independent campaign for the presidency.

So we'll just have to see what plays out. But, as they said at the Oklahoma forum, Barack Obama may have staked out the independent vote already, beating the mayor to the punch.

SPITZER'S 'STATE OF STATE' ADDRESS: Governor Eliot Spitzer is set to make his annual State of the State address in Albany today. There has been the usual speculating in the press as to what new programs he might unveil. Among these are placing a cap on annual property tax increases and using state lottery funds, 4 million dollars worth, to improve the state's higher

education program.

Whatever he proposes will have to be approved by the state legislature, including the state senate. That body's fight with the governor has put a virtual halt to any new ideas getting to first base during 2008.

In fact, as we get into 2008, Spitzer and his administration are still jammed up with one investigation or another and there's every likelihood that the status quo will continue until these probes are somehow concluded.

DEMS' PRE-PRIMARY PARTY HONORS PLUNKETT: Queens Democrats will hold their traditional Pre-Presidential Primary Cocktail Party on Thursday, January 31 at Antun's of Queens Village. Mary Lu Plunkett will be honored for her 50 years of service to the organization, making things go smoothly at its Forest Hills headquarters.

The event comes five days before Super Primary Day on Tuesday, February 5 when party chairman Congressmember Joseph Crowley will rally his forces to get out a super vote for U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the organizationendorsed candidate.

Tickets are $300 per person. The announcement notice contains a reminder that because of Congressmember Crowley's participation, the organization may not accept contributions from corporations, labor organizations or other federally prohibited sources. Also the organization will not accept contributions in excess of $10,000 per individual per year.

Dinner co-chairs are Vivian Cook and Morton Povman. Things get underway at 6 p.m. at Antun's, 96-43 Springfield Blvd., Queens Village.

KICK OFF FUNDRAISER FOR VALLONE: With an eye toward getting his 2009 City Council race in the black, Paul Vallone has scheduled a fundraiser for January 9 at Cascarino's Restaurant at 14-60 College Point Blvd. in College Point from 6 to 8 p.m. Call 718-335-9755 for more information.

Vallone, son of former City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone and brother of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., announced recently his plan to run for the 19th District seat presently held by Councilmember Tony Avella (D- Bayside). The district covers Bayside, Whitestone and College Point.

Avella's term will expire at the end of 2009 because of term limits, as will Peter Vallone Jr.'s and most other incumbent councilmembers.

Paul Vallone, who resides with his family in Bayside, said in announcing his first fundraiser, "We wanted to celebrate the New Year with our friends and supporters." He said "recommended" donations are from $100, $250 and $500, " or any amount each contributor is comfortable with to kick off this exciting campaign".

For more information, call 718-204-2929.

HAILS NEW LAW, EYES BAD DOCS: Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria) welcomed 2008, expressing the hope that his new law ensuring airline passengers' rights will "insure that they are treated like people instead of cargo".

The law, which took effect January 1, requires airlines to provide working bathrooms, adequate food and water and fresh air during flight delays longer than three hours. Failure to comply could result in fines up to $1,000 for each passenger. The airline industry has a suit pending to declare the law null and void.

Looking ahead, Gianaris said he plans to file new legislation requiring that the state Department of Health publish a list of doctors with the worst malpractice records.

Recently, news stories were published about a doctor who allegedly regularly reused hypodermic needles in his practice, bringing complaints from some of his patients.

Speaking of his planned bill, Gianaris stated, "Patients should not have to play Russian roulette with their health care." The list called for in his bill, he said, "will enable New Yorkers to identify the worst of the worst [doctors]" and give patients "a fighting chance to prevent a tragedy before it's too late".

On another topic in the news over the holiday period, the overturning of the conviction of Martin Tankleff after he served 17 years in prison, Gianaris said New York state has "the dubious distinction of being home to one of the worst records as it relates to innocent people being incarcerated".

The lawmaker called for formation of an Innocence Commission to explore the causes and "remedy this injustice within our criminal justice system". He has already filed a bill calling for creation of such a commission.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk County District Attorney has announced Tankleff will not be retried on charges of killing his parents 17 years ago.

PADAVAN: GET READY FOR EMERGENCIES: State Senator Frank Padavan (R- C, Bellerose) will unveil plans this Sunday in concert with the American Red Cross in Greater New York to better prepare all New Yorkers for emergencies and natural disasters.

The "Ready New York" event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Mary's Nativity Parish Center at 46-02 Parsons Blvd. (corner of Jasmine Avenue) in Flushing.

Padavan said the event will include an emergency preparedness presentation that teaches residents how to create a family emergency plan, build an emergency supply kit and keep family and loved ones safe during emergencies and natural disasters.

For more information, call the Red Cross at 212-875-2189 or go to www.nyredcross.org/readyny.

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