Sabini Gets 3-Day Reprieve In Fight For Party Backing
A rare, very significant and unprecedented event in Queens Democratic Party politics- withholding support from an incumbent elected official approaching reelection- failed to happen on Monday and is set for a rerun on Friday.
Congressmember Joseph Crowley, Queens Democratic organization chairman, granted state Senator John Sabini a threeday reprieve and scheduled a vote by the leaders of Sabini's senate district on endorsing a candidate for the primary and general election, who is expected to be the area's sitting city councilmember, Hiram Monserrate.
Sabini, now in his third term as state senator in the Jackson Heights- Elmhurst- East Elmhurst- Corona- Woodside district narrowly defeated Monserrate by only 250 votes in a bitter, hard-fought primary two years ago.
According to party officials close to Crowley, the county leader feels that the heavily Hispanic district is ready to come out strongly for Monserrate, the most powerful Hispanic pol in the borough.
There should be no reason to doubt Crowley's judgment on this since he has represented the district for almost a decade and knows it as well as anyone else.
On top of that, party officials say he has lost some of the support he had in his primary fight two years ago. For these reasons Crowley decided to back Monserrate, a former city cop and Marine veteran who's been the district's council representative for the past seven years.
However, Monserrate is also having a problem since recent disclosures that the Queens DA's office and the city Department of Investigation are looking into the possibility that an organization which received City Council grants secured by Monserrate may have made questionable use of the funds.
As for Monday's postponement of the designation vote for Monserrate or Sabini, some pols with whom we discussed it expressed some skepticism about whether Crowley has the support to get Monserrate designated.
One of these skeptics, a veteran, experienced observer with close ties to the district, wondered, "If they had the votes [for Monserrate] why not do it and get it over with? Why give Sabini more time to get votes?"
Those questions will be answered on Friday.
Meanwhile, when Sabini made a formal announcement on May 5 that he was running for reelection, several leaders among those present for the announcement were District Leaders Michael Den Dekker, James Lisa, Barbara Jackson, Ellen A. Raffaelle, Jimmy Smith, Veta Brome, Dorothy Phelan, Francisco Moya and Mohammed Aminullah. Also present were Borough President Helen Marshall, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubrey.
A lifelong Jackson Heights resident, Sabini was always active in community causes and came in as a district leader in partnership with Helen Sears, although they haven't been close in recent years.
Before beginning his senate career as successor to Dan Hevesi, he served two terms in the city council. He's been an active senator, both in Albany and in the district.
The fact that Crowley's move to support Monserrate was a purely political decision should be kept in mind. The district was cut out for a Hispanic, and while it took a few years for this to become a reality, there's a Latino leader present now that Hispanic voters are coalescing around. Crowley, as we said, knows the district from longtime, handson experience and he is, in effect, welcoming in the new kid on the block rather than wasting energy in fighting to keep him out when change is inevitable.
110 PCT. IN FLUSHING MEADOWS? For several years, Borough President Helen Marshall has advocated building the new Police Academy in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in order to provide a greater police presence there, which would act as a crime deterrent.
On Monday Police Commissioner Ray Kelly came up with another possibility to bring more police into the sprawling park- the new 110th Precinct station house. Kelly said the department has proposed a park site for the police facility. The idea is being studied by the Parks Department and the mayor's office.
Kelly's proposal was made in testimony before the city council Public Safety Committee, headed by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D- Astoria), who countered that he liked the idea so long as it didn't intrude on useable parkland.
The huge park ranks second to Central Park in the number of crimes committed in city parks, a fact frequently cited by Marshall when she talks about siting a new Police Academy in the park, located in Corona and Elmhurst.
URGES CON ED SELL WATER FRONT PROPERTY: Councilmember Eric Gioia (D- Long Island City) suggested last week that Con Edison should sell a large piece of property it owns along the East River in Long Island City- Astoria facing Manhattan in order to raise money, rather than seek another rate increase requiring its customers to ante up more dough.
"It is no surprise that Con Edison is putting its own convenience ahead of the chance to save ratepayers some money," Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D- Astoria) said. "Instead of trimming corporate waste, Con Edison makes the public pay more so it can increase executive salaries and investor dividends. The time has come for Con Edison to stop using its customers' hard-earned money as a slush fund to finance its irresponsible excess."
Con Edison maintains that the Con Edison Learning Center "is an essential facility we use to train the men and women who provide gas, steam and electric service to 9 million New Yorkers".
Gioia said the pricey parcel is presently being used as a parking lot and is valued at about $500 million. Selling it off would also relieve the huge utility of having to pay real estate taxes which make it a very expensive parking facility.
Recently Con Ed filed a request with the Public Service Commission for another rate increase to raise several hundred million dollars, just weeks after getting approval for a rate increase previously requested.
Con Ed might be a little shy about delving into the real estate business just now. Recently it was involved in negotiations to sell an Astoria parcel to Federal Express, and which Gianaris and community residents continue to oppose.
CROWLEY HAILS ISRAEL ON 60TH ANNIV: On the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary, Congressmember Joseph Crowley paid tribute to this country's staunch ally in the Middle East.
Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a seven-time visitor to Israel hailed the country as a modern success story for its unwavering dedication to freedom and democracy and enduring spirit to survive.
Crowley declared: "Since her independence, Israel has endured unstable and troubling conditions in the Middle East. They have been subject to violence and unwarranted attacks. They have been asked to compromise their borders. They have had missile strikes threatening the lives of innocent citizens on an almost daily basis. Yet, the Israeli people remain united and strong- continuing to stand up to their beliefs and for their country."
VALLONE FUNDRAISER: Another fundraiser is scheduled for Paul Vallone on Tuesday, June 10 at Verdi's of Whitestone, 149-58 Cross Island Pkwy. from 6 to 8 p.m.
Vallone, son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and brother of incumbent Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. of Astoria, is running for the 19th council district seat presently held by Tony Avella, who'll be forced out by term limits in 2009. Paul Vallone is part of the Vallone law firm and active in Northeast Queens civics matters.
Tickets range from Promoter ($150) to Socialite ($2,750). For more information, call 718-274- 0909.