2008-07-09 / Political Page

Mayor Chats About NYS GOP Politics With Former Upstate Senator

Reports persist that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to take over the state Republican Party as part of a plan for him to run for governor on the Republican line in 2010.

The latest such report came in last Thursday's edition of the New York Post, which chronicled a meeting held at City Hall the previous Tuesday between the mayor's chief political operative, Kevin Sheekey, and former five-term upstate Republican state Senator Ray Meier.

Meier acknowledged in the story that the meeting took place, saying it was a broad discussion of the state party's future, including the party's state committee as well as the GOP senate leadership, which is very shaky at the moment.

But Meier didn't acknowledge that part of the story which said he was asked by Sheekey if he would be interested in running the state GOP, to which he allegedly responded "yes", according to sources.

Sheekey reportedly expressed the opinion that under the present State GOP leader, Joseph Mondello, the organization has experienced a steady decline, which leads to the obvious conclusion that he should be replaced.

It also appears that if the mayor and Sheekey are really interested in starting to make things difficult for Mondello, perhaps the mayor should start to contribute campaign funds to certain Republicans running for re-election or challenging Democratic incumbents in order to get them elected so that the GOP could maintain control of the senate.

It could be that we'll be seeing the mayor either endorsing or financially supporting Republican Senators Frank Padavan or Serphin Maltese, both from Queens and both seriously challenged this year by City Councilmembers James Gennaro and Joseph Addabbo Jr. However, there have been no such signs of any action of this sort by the mayor.

Meanwhile, Gennaro (Fresh Meadows) and Addabbo (Ozone Park) charged that Padavan and Maltese had not addressed certain issues in Albany during the recently concluded session. Among the issues allegedly overlooked by the two GOP incumbents were cleaning up toxic leased school sites, skyrocketing city water rates, a paid family leave act, and protecting the public from illegal guns.

Padavan responded, saying the senate passed his toxic school sites bill in 2007 with the support of the mayor, the city Department o f Education and the School Construction Authority. He also stated that the UFT indicated support for, and that a good working relationship with, the SCA, under the current system, which would be codified by the senate bill. He added, "Assembly version gives oversight to the city council." Apparently, the Assembly and senate bills were never reconciled, so neither passed both houses, as required.

On the water rates issue, Padavan explained that it is a city council issue, not one for the state legislature and that the state does not set water rates for any municipality.

As for other legislation cited by Gennaro and Addabbo, Padavan's responses are as follows:

•Capping property taxes: Padavan sponsored a law from more than 20 years ago (which) already caps assessment increases on residential properties to no more than 5 percent a year, or 20 percent over five years for an average of 4 percent a year. The city council sets the tax rate, which has caused increases.

•Paid leave: The Assembly version ignores the impact on small business owners, which would further jeopardize small and medium sized businesses in New York state. Senator [Thomas] Morahan (R-C, Orange/Rockland County) has introduced at least two versions of a Paid Family Leave bill, with a more balanced approach.

•The Healthy Teens Act, as proposed, minimizes parental input in appropriate sex education.

•The senate has passed legislation introduced by Senator [Martin J.] Golden (R- C, Brooklyn) to require a report to the legislature and governor on the effectiveness of micro-stamping, and questions arose regarding concerns that only one corporation has the capability of this technology.

•IDA's: New York City already has a prevailing wage, so it would have no impact on the city. The issue is upstate, where municipalities have expressed strong opposition to the prevailing wage to the extent that they would rather not have the program continue with it.

Maltese did not respond. The Gazette will try to get a response from him, although Padavan's response could actually suffice.

MALTESE SAYS HE LEADS IN POLL: Maltese said that a poll of 400 "likely voters" in his 15th Senate District showed him leading Addabbo by 26 percent (53 to 27 percent), with Albert Baldeo of the Hope and Change Party receiving just 1 percent. Baldeo was defeated by Maltese in a close race in the 2006 election.

Addabbo's reaction? "Those numbers are not that impressive for a 20-year incumbent, and I haven't even announced yet or done a single mailing."

Addabbo said his council district is only about 40 percent of the senate district, so he'll be concentrating his early campaigning in those areas that are not in his district, such as Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Woodside/Sunnyside.

The poll was conducted by McLaughlin Associates in Rockland County, which does polling for the senate Republican Campaign Committee.

CROWLEY EXPLAINS FISA VOTE: Following House passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D- Queens/The Bronx) said in a release: "This new FISA bill is leaps and bounds better than the Bush administration's original proposal, making important steps to modernize our intelligence system and the tracking of terrorists while also bolstering protections for Americans' civil liberties. I am going to support this measure; however, I am going to work hard to elect a new Democratic administration this fall that will enact policies that further enhance the safety and the inalienable rights of all Americans."

Crowley, up for re-election this year, along with every other member of Congress, has a fundraiser scheduled on Monday, July 21 at Cavo, 42-18 31st St., Astoria from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Sara Conrad at 202-543-8556 or sara@theconradgroup.org.

COMO COMMITTEE POSTS: Recently elected to replace Dennis Gallagher, Councilmember-elect Anthony Como (R- C, Middle Village) has found himself on committees relating to seniors, the environment, public safety and youth services. Como said all are extremely important to his district, so he's very satisfied with all the appointments.

TAYLOR ANNOUNCES FOR CITY COUNCIL: Martha Taylor, 24th Assembly District Part A Democratic leader, vice chair of Community Board 8 and founder of Friends of Cunningham Park, announced her intention to run for the city council 24th district seat currently occupied by Councilmember James Gennaro. Gennaro's term ends in 2009.

Taylor was introduced by Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who doubles as Queens Democratic County Chairman. Also present at the announcement were Councilmember David Weprin and Assemblymember Mark Weprin.

NEW HEARING DATE: Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D- Maspeth), who is opposed to erecting cellphone towers in her residential area of Maspeth, informs us the next hearing on this issue will be held on August 26 before the Board of Standards and Appeals in Manhattan. Besides Markey, opponents of the cellphone towers include Crowley and Borough President Helen Marshall.

BLOOMBERG-TYPE MAYOR WANTED: Leaders of major New York City corporations, anxious to have one of their number succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the city's chief executive, have started a search of their ranks for a candidate to run for the position in 2009. So far, they have come up with one possibility, Richard D. Parsons, chairman of Time Warner.

Rather than someone from the political ranks, the corporate titans want someone with Bloomberg's business background and corporate style of administration.

Thus far, the Democrats eyeing the job are Comptroller William C. Thompson, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Congressmember Anthony Weiner. The lone Republican to announce thus far has been John A. Catsimatides, a billionaire and owner of the Gristede's supermarket chain. There has also been some speculation that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo might follow in his father Mario's footsteps and try to run for mayor. The elder Cuomo took part in one of the city's most memorable and contentious Democratic primaries against then Congressmember Edward A. Koch in 1977. Koch won the primary.

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