Katz Campaign Hits Airwaves
With about four weeks until the September 15 primary elections, City Councilmember Melinda Katz launched her city comptroller campaign television advertising effort last week, picturing herself as "the most experienced candidate and a fighter for the middle class".
In the first of two 30-second ads that will air until Primary Day, Katz recounts her legislative experience as a young lawmaker "amid a dysfunctional Albany", where she took on special interests and stood up to the HMO lobby to pass a bill that enabled women to obtain OB/GYN care without first having to procure a referral from their primary care physician.
She claims the law was landmark legislation in the United States and soon became a national model.
The former Assemblymember and twoterm councilmember from Forest Hills is battling fellow Queens Councilmembers John Liu (Flushing) and David Weprin (Hollis) as well as David Yassky (Brooklyn) for the Democratic nomination for city comptroller in the primary election.
Yassky also hit the airwaves with campaign commercials last week, joining Liu, who was on the tube first. Weprin started his advertising over the weekend.
Katz, a single mom, is the only woman in the race and played to that voting bloc in her "Fight Hard" commercial last week. Her second 30-second commercial, titled "Whole Plan", will be in rotation during the next several weeks. This ad will emphasize Katz's plans for running the comptroller's office if she's elected as the city's chief fiscal officer.
Katz has racked up a sizeable and varied group of endorsers, including labor unions, Hispanic and black supporters present and past and public officials, including ex- Congressmember Geraldine Ferraro and former Mayor Ed Koch.
Katz also announced cross-endorsements with council candidate Jimmy Van Bramer, who is seeking to succeed Councilmember Eric Gioia in the 26th Councilmanic District (Long Island City, Woodside and Sunnyside).
Katz praised Van Bramer as "committed to a government that works for everyone", and Van Bramer stated he admired Katz's "long track record of fighting for tenants rights, fair wages and better jobs".
Katz exchanged endorsements earlier with another city council candidate, Paul Vallone, who's running for Tony Avella's seat in Bayside. It appears to be a strategy to maximize the vote she might attract in her home district, where she's competing against Liu and David Weprin.
Van Bramer is in a tight race himself against attorney Deirdre Feerick and three other candidates. Feerick has the backing of the Queens Democratic Party and its chairman, Congressmember Joseph Crowley, as well as incumbent Councilmember Eric Gioia.
Van Bramer's latest endorsement came from Citizen Action of New York, whose major policy priorities are education, affordable health care and promoting racial justice. Van Bramer has always stood for these ideals, a Citizen Action official declared.
LIU, WEPRIN, AVELLA BLAST BONUSES: Several of their fellow councilmembers who gave their staff members end-of-fiscal-year pay bonuses were blasted by Liu, Weprin and Avella last week. The bonus money came from the councilmembers' $273,000 annual budget allocations. Councilmembers had the option of returning any unused funds or awarding bonuses to staff members.
Liu said that with city budget deficits a prospect for the next several years, this was not an appropriate time to be doling out bonuses. He also acknowledged that in previous years he, too, had given out the cash.
Weprin, council Finance Committee chairman, also cited the present economic times and said he wouldn't have recommended bonuses this year, although he had given them out in the past.
Avella was quoted in one press report as criticizing the practice, saying, "If you want to do public service, you have to go into it with the mindset that it's not going to pay as well as the private sector. If you want to make money, take another job."
POLL ADDS TO GUV'S WOE: The most recent Quinnipiac University poll on next year's gubernatorial election continued to grease Governor Paterson's skids in the direction of Albany's exits.
Adding to the discouraging signs the governor has been getting in recent weeks, the new poll showed state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo with a huge 61-15 percent spread over the incumbent among Democratic voters.
Cuomo also led the state's first African- American governor by 45-24 among black Democratic voters.
Enhancing the good news for the Democrats favoring Cuomo were the results of a Cuomo versus Republican Rudy Giuliani poll, which gave Cuomo a comfortable 48-39 percent lead.
Giuliani, who has said repeatedly in recent months that he has made no decision about seeking the governorship, trounced Paterson in another Quinnipiac pairing by a 53-33 percent count.
The dire political news for Paterson came as it was reported from Albany that even his closest associates feel it would be futile for him to seek election next year.
CFB DEBATES START SUNDAY: The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) will hold its first televised debate of the 2009 election season this Sunday. It will feature the Democratic primary candidates for city comptroller.
The debate among the candidates, Councilmembers David Weprin, Melinda Katz, John Liu and David Yassky, will be aired on Channel 7/WABC-TV beginning at 11 a.m. Weprin, Katz and Liu represent Queens districts; Yassky is from Brooklyn.
Candidates for citywide offices who join the CFB program are required to participate in the debates. A second event is scheduled for Wednesday, August 26 at 7 p.m. on the NY1 cable channel.
Hoping to attract the largest possible viewing audience for the debates, in line with its mission to keep New York city voters informed about the candidates, the board urges the public to organize Debate Watch parties, which it co-sponsors with various civic and media organizations. For more information on hosting a Debate Party, contact CFB Public Affairs Officer Amanda Konstam, at Akonstam@nyccfb.info or call 212-306-5262.
PHEFFER BLASTS 'CEASE & DESIST' ENDING: Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer (D- Ozone Park) said she was outraged that the New York state Secretary of State had allowed the Cease & Desist program in Queens to go out of existence on August 1, despite calls to continue it from elected officials, civic leaders and private citizens.
Under the program, Queens homeowners who do not want to receive calls from real estate agents asking them if they want to sell their homes place their names on a "Do Not Contact" list which is distributed to real estate brokers.
Brokers who call anyone on the Cease & Desist order are subject to fines and/or license suspensions by the secretary of state.
Pheffer expressed fears that without the Cease & Desist order in place, residents especially the elderly, will be frightened into fleeing neighborhoods, which the Cease & Desist list was created to prevent.
The lawmaker urges residents to contact Secretary of State Lorraine Corress-Vasques at 123 William St., Manhattan to reinstate the list.
LAWMAKER WANTS PARK, NOT MORE TRUCKS: Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D- Glendale) has appealed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to build a new park in Maspeth to counteract the negative environmental impact from a proposed waste transfer station in a neighboring community.
The park site suggested by Crowley is the former site of St. Saviour's Church at 57th drive and 58th Street. "The community is in desperate need of more green space," Crowley stated. Meanwhile, the proposed expansion of the waste transfer station in nearby Long Island City will create more truck traffic through Maspeth and increase asthma rates in the latter community.
CANDIDATES NIGHT: The Bay Terrace Community Alliance (BTCA) will hold its 10th annual candidates night on Tuesday, September 1 at 7 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center, 13-00 209th St. and the Cross Island Parkway in Bayside. For more information, call 347-542-7311.