2008-03-05 / Political Page

Mayor's $500 G To GOP Ends Dems' Joy Over Special Election

Governor Eliot Spitzer and Albany Democrats had a lot to celebrate last week following the special state senate election won by a Democrat upstate that reduced the Republicans' senate majority to a single vote and brought Spitzer's hard-fought campaign to oust Senator Joseph Bruno from the majority leadership even closer.

The governor's joy and elation must have just as quickly evaporated as the news broke that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had donated $500,000 to Bruno and the GOP senators to help in their fight to retain the senate leadership in this November's elections.

However, Spitzer didn't seem to be all that upset over Bloomberg's largess, telling reporters he and the mayor have a "great partnership" and are working on important issues for the state.

Such an assertion wouldn't be that hard to believe. When the governor took office about 14 month's ago, Bruno had a four-seat majority and it appeared it would take a miracle to displace him from the powerful post on which Republicans have pretty much had a stranglehold for more than 40 years, since 1965.

But even while Spitzer was waging a small war against Bruno and the government was seemingly standing still, Bruno's majority gradually declined to a point where, even with the mayor's millions thrown into the mix, Spitzer and the Democrats have a real, fighting chance to take over the Senate.

Queens is smack in the middle of the fracas. City Councilmember James Gennaro (D- Fresh Meadows) is set to challenge Senator Frank Padavan (R- C, Bellerose) and Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr.

(D- Ozone Park) is mapping plans to run against Senator Serphin  ltese (R- C, Middle Village).

Just last week, Flushing drug store chain owner Peter Koo, a Republican, announced he would try to help the GOP cause by seeking incumbent Democratic Senator Toby Ann Stavisky's Eastern Queens seat.

That's enough action right there to occupy the governor and Bruno, but we'll no doubt see the whole state spread out as a battlefield.

Why the mayor pushed himself into the middle of it on Bruno's side is puzzling. We can recall very clearly that early in 2006, while the state legislative races were taking shape, the mayor threw down the gauntlet to Bruno over the issue of public school funding, charging the majority leader and his members were denying New York City its fair share of education funding in the budget. At the time, he singled out Maltese as a target in his re-election bid.

At that time, the mayor maintained that the Republicans weren't giving him enough support in Albany, the same argument he made last week against Democratic lawmakers in defending his $500,000 check in support of the election of Republican senators.

In 2006, Bruno and the GOP senators eventually signed off on a huge package of financial aid for the schools and nothing further was heard about the mayor's challenge to Maltese.

As we said, we were puzzled by the mayor's throwing himself into the battle for control of the senate. There are several reasons for his need to remain on friendly terms with the Democrats, among them lots of money to help him deal with a huge budget deficit and getting his congestion pricing plan passed.

On this issue, there's no denying he's right about it being the Democrats in the Assembly who are blocking it, but throwing money at the Republicans won't solve that problem for him. We'll just have to wait and see how this will all play out.

DROPS PREZ BID: Meanwhile, the mayor made a lot of other news last week, most when he announced there'll be no presidential race for him this year. Wise move. Things just didn't pan out for an independent candidate. Now we'll have to endure endless assertions that he's not interested in being anyone's vice presidential running mate, rumors about which have already started.

BIG '50' FOR NOLAN: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D- Ridgewood) will mark her 50th birthday next Thursday at Dazies Restaurant in Sunnyside with a coffee and birthday cake celebration. Hard to believe she's in her 23rd year in the Assembly. Many, many more, Cathy!

GIANARIS TO CON ED: 'TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE': Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria) dismissed Con Ed's offer to "partially" refund 166 businesses in Manhattan that were forced to close for nearly three weeks following last summer's steam pipe explosion as "too little, too late".

Gianaris stated: "What Con Ed is offering these businesses is mere pennies on the dollar compared to the damages they suffered. Reimbursement for physical damage and unused electricity are a given, but what about the weeks of lost business caused by Con Edison's negligence?"

LAFAYETTE HITS HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAM: Displeased with situations where home improvement contractors act on behalf of mortgage brokers, unscrupulously using high pressure sales so people will obtain loans for what are often unnecessary repairs, Assemblymember and Deputy Speaker Ivan Lafayette (D- Jackson Heights) had legislation passed which prohibits such contractors from acting on behalf of mortgage brokers.

"This legislation is even more relevant now with the subprime mortgage crisis and the record number of foreclosures we're experiencing," Lafayette said.

Too often, the contractors solicit low-income homeowners for high interest second mortgages in order to finance construction work that is usually careless or unfinished. The result, Lafayette said, is usually thousands of people, including senior citizens, facing eviction.


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