Mayor Having Problem Finding A Political Party To Back Him
Despite overtures made by political emissaries of Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Queens Republican Party officials, the latter aren't the least bit inclined toward giving the mayor the GOP ballot line to run on for a third term, according to top sources in the organization.
At present, it looks like the borough's Republicans will back supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis as their candidate for mayor this year. As one top party official stated privately, "Most Republicans would rather lose with Catsimatidis than back Bloomberg."
At the same time, prospects for Bloomberg to get the Independence Party line for his third-term quest are also not promising. Officials in the New York City wing of the party have been staunch term limits advocates since that issue surfaced in the 1990s, and the mayor's successful effort to kill the limits so he could seek a third term pretty well put that organization's mayoral line beyond the mayor's reach.
Even the latest reported alliance between Bloomberg and upstater Tom Golisano to try to make the state Independence Party a major player on the state level will have no relevance on the city level, sources stated.
Bloomberg was a Democrat when he burst on the political scene before the 2001 mayoral election. He switched his party affiliation to Republican for that year's race and won.
There was little patronage followup after the mayor took office, and the Queens GOP wasn't pleased about it. Nevertheless, they backed the mayor again four years after that, but there was no improvement in their relations with the mayor during his second term, either.
Local GOP officials are vowing that they won't be used by the mayor a third time.
Before Bloomberg removed the term limits obstacle, Catsimatidis was laying plans to run for mayor this year. Recently, he reaffirmed those plans and is putting a campaign apparatus in place to become a candidate. GOP leaders around the city have indicated their support.
ONORATO CRANKING UP LABOR COMMITTEE: State Senator George Onorato, who has represented Astoria and Western Queens for 26 years, became chairman of the senate Labor Committee several weeks ago, and since then has had his staff reviewing legislation which never saw the light of day while the Republican majority kept a tight lid on Democratic proposals for legislation.
In a discussion of what might be on his legislative agenda when the present session gets rolling, Onorato said he'll get to that in short order.
"We're analyzing everything that has come up in our research effort and in due time we'll be ready to go," the senate veteran said. "We'll take it one step at a time."
By the way, we want to clear up any confusion we may have created by mistakenly identifying senate newcomer Joseph Addabbo Jr. as Labor Committee chair in last week's column. Addabbo (D- Ozone Park) was appointed chairman of the Elections Committee. Sorry for the error.
MARK WEPRIN COUNCIL BID CHALLENGED: If City Councilmember David Weprin goes through with plans to run for city comptroller this year and wins, his brother, Assemblymember Mark Weprin has announced plans to run for the 23rd Council District seat as the Democratic Party candidate. The district covers Queens Village, Bayside, Little Neck, Fresh Meadows and Floral Park.
If the assemblymember goes through with the plan, he'll likely face a primary fight from Bob Friedrich, an accountant and president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op.
Friedrich criticized Mark Weprin for wanting to "keep the council seat in the family" and for saying, "It's easier to commute to Manhattan than Albany" in his announcement about running for the council.
"Should we really be electing our councilman based on his convenience?" Friedrich asked.
Answering Friedrich's first charge, Weprin said he was seeking the seat, not because he was trying to "inherit" it as Friedrich suggested, but rather because he has 15 years of experience as a legislator and is experienced in dealing with many of the same issues.
As for Friedrich's second charge, that it's more convenient for Weprin to work in Manhattan rather than in Albany, Weprin admitted, "There are personal benefits from switching to a council job, but there are also valid reasons, such as being the best person for the job."
The 47-year-old Weprin noted, "I'm a known entity, I have two children in local public schools and I know every problem and issue in the district because I've been living here for many years."
Friedrich maintained that the district would be better off if Weprin remained as its Assemblymember and he became the councilmember. "It's that simple. It's like having your cake and eating it, too," he explained.
The campaign for the 23rd District seat appears to be shaping up as a hard-fought battle.
GIOIA URGES SERVICE TO COMMUNITY: Noting that President-elect Barack Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have been advocating participation in public service projects, Councilmember Eric Gioia (D- Long Island City) has proposed a plan to create a 20- hour public service requirement to be performed by New York City high school juniors and seniors before they can graduate.
The public service could be helping to clean a park, do a neighborhood watch, work at a soup kitchen or on a neighborhood revitalization board, said Gioia. It would instill "a spirit of volunteerism and the knowledge that [high school children] can make a measurable difference in their neighborhood and the world," Gioia said.
The idea has worked in many other cities, Gioia added.
HOW TO GET A TAX CREDIT: Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer (D- Rockaway) says New Yorkers may be eligible for a New York City tax refund even if they did not file a regular return.
To be eligible for it, a person must have lived in the city for at least part of the year and must not be claimed as a dependent on another person's return. The refund could be for $145 for a single person and $290 for a married couple or a surviving spouse.
"The form for this tax credit is very simple to fill out and some residents may be entitled to a welcomed refund they did not even know they were eligible for," Pheffer said.
Form NYC 210 is available at Pheffer's district offices, 90-16 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach, or 108-14 Crossbay Blvd., Ozone Park.