Bruno's Stunning Departure Won't Affect Local Elections Here
His party's continuing hold on the state senate has been in danger for the past year or so as it has lost ground in recent off-year elections upstate, and forecasts of further losses in this fall's elections seem well founded, based on increases in Democratic Party enrollments which could fuel a huge turnout and victory in the state for Barack Obama over John McCain in the presidential race.
Despite these conditions, however, the two Republican state senate incumbents in Queens, Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese, cannot be written off so easily by their respective challengers Democratic Councilmembers James Gennaro and Joseph Addabbo Jr.
Democrats have tried several times in recent years to defeat Padavan, but the Eastern Queens lawmaker has been able to withstand these challenges by campaigning on his legislative record and involvement in local issues.
Bruno would have little affect on these local downstate races, we believe, although his being from the Albany area might help some GOP candidates in upstate races, except for the reasons we have cited that will give Democrats a greater chance of success in this year's elections.
Bruno, 79, has served in the senate for 32 years, the last 13 of them in the demanding job of majority leader, so that the sudden decision to retire shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. The recent death of his wife might have also influenced that decision. Bruno was able to walk away from the rigors associated with his legislative duties with no regrets.
However, he still may not be entirely worry-free as he exits. He has been the subject of an FBI probe for several years, and there was one media report that noted as he announced his retirement on Monday that the senate delivered 30 boxes of documents to investigators on Monday also.
Among the many officials who joined in wishing Bruno a happy retirement was Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Joe Bruno has been a good friend to me and the people of New York City for all the years I have known him," said the mayor. "Time and again, when we have asked him for leadership, he has delivered for our schools, our environment, our economy, and our people. He has more than earned the right to retire, and we wish him all the best."
The mayor, for his part, was also a good friend to Bruno and the GOP majority over the past six or seven years, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars for political campaigns.
SEEK MORE COPS: Six Queens councilmembers were among 12 who joined with leaders of the city's police union last week to make a plea for restoration of $16 million in the next budget to ensure the appointment of 1,000 more police officers.
"More police officers mean safer streets," said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D- Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee.
"Public safety is the catalyst by which every other aspect of the city has prospered," Vallone added. "We cannot allow crime to return and erase all the progress we have achieved in the past two decades."
Others at the City Hall press conference urging the restoration of budget funds were Councilmembers David Weprin, Melinda Katz Hiram Monserrate, Leroy Comrie, and Tony Avella.
WILLETS PT. ADVANCE: In the ongoing controversy surrounding the development of Willets Point, the Bloomberg administration announced it has agreed to provide union jobs and wages as part of the city's redevelopment plan.
Councilmember Hiram Monserrate (D- Corona), whose district includes the 61- acre development site and who has been seeking more jobs for local residents as the plan goes forward, said in a statement that the administration's jobs agreement was "a step in the right direction".
Monserrate said he applauded Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for prioritizing job development and living wages for working families as a means to economic development, rather than developers' bottom line. "I hope this agreement serves as a model for current and future development projects across the city," Monserrate said.
He said he looked forward to working with the EDC on the "remaining issues of concern about Willets Point."
FORECLOSURE RELIEF? State Senator Frank Padavan announced last week that an agreement had been reached between Governor David Paterson and legislative leaders on a comprehensive bill that will help at-risk homeowners throughout the state to overcome imminent foreclosure of their homes.
"This agreement is reflective of the strong commitment at all levels of state government to provide help and relief to at-risk homeowners facing a potential foreclosure on their homes," Padavan stated.
He acknowledged the work of Paterson and legislative leaders in reaching the agreement to aid homeowners caught in the subprime mortgage mess. Queens, in particular, has been hit very hard by the foreclosure crisis.