Tabone Takes Koch ‘Pledge’ As Part Of Campaign Goals
Taking a page from one of New York City’s most outspoken, reform-oriented, Democratic mayors, Republican Assembly candidate Vince Tabone announced that he has signed former Mayor Edward Koch’s “Pledge for Change New York”, which calls upon elected officials and candidates “to embrace and enact reforms to state ethics laws, budgetary process and increased accountability and transparency”.
Tabone, who is also the vice chairman of the Queens Republican organization, will make the “Pledge” principles part of his campaign for the 26th AD (Bayside) seat now occupied by Assemblymember Ann-Margaret Carrozza, who will not be seeking re-election in November. Her last day in office is Dec. 31, 2010.
The Queens Democratic organization has designated newcomer Ed Braunstein as its candidate to oppose Tabone in November. Braunstein, who is active in several Bayside community groups, is an attorney employed as a legislative assistant in the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Koch welcomed Tabone to his group, called New York Uprising, saying he was delighted Tabone had signed the “good government” pledge, which has been sent to all candidates for state office.
Koch described the organization as a non-partisan, independent coalition that advocates for meaningful government reform across New York state.
Koch stated: “Our mission is to put an end to the inability of the legislature to govern our state and reinstate the public’s faith in government by offering real, honest and sensible solutions that legislators and candidates can implement, adhere to and be held accountable for. I’ve watched the dysfunction and scandals in the state legislature over the past few years [and] one fact is inescapable. In far too many cases, New Yorkers deserve better representation in Albany.”
Tabone, the only candidate in his race to have taken the pledge, said the proposals contained in it “are desperately needed and will go a long way in restoring the public’s faith that good government is possible and that the dysfunction in the state legislature can be overcome”.
Tabone said the Koch-inspired movement includes the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, the state League of Women Voters and the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
Some of the proposals in the pledge call for “independent and powerful” ethics, lobbying and campaign finance watchdogs; ending legislators drawing legislative district lines; abolishing “obsolete” public authorities, and ending payto play for lobbyists and seekers.
In announcing his candidacy, Braunstein stated, “Albany is in desperate need of reform, and I look forward to being part of the solution. We need to bring a new era of accountability, improved transparency and tougher ethics laws to ensure we are getting the kind of government we need and deserve.”
FUNDRAISER EVENT HONORS HEVESI: A major event to honorAssemblymember Andrew Hevesi and raise funds for his re-election is set for tomorrow evening in Forest Hills. Headed by Congressmembers Joseph Crowley and Anthony Weiner, the invitation lists 16 Democratic Assemblymembers, as special guests coming out to honor a friend and co-worker. All are members of the Queens Assembly delegation.
The lawmakers listed are Assemblymembers Nettie Mayersohn, Barbara Clark, Vivian Cook, Catherine Nolan, Jeffrion Aubury, Margaret Markey, Audrey Pheffer, William Scarborough, Michelle Titus, Ann-Margaret Carrozza, Michael Gianaris, Rory Lancman, Michael Den Dekker, Grace Meng, Michael Miller and David Weprin.
Hevesi is running for re-election to his 28th AD seat (Forest Hills/Rego Park) and for Democratic district leader. He is facing a challenge in the primary from Joe Fox, also from Forest Hills, an attorney and member of Community Board 6. Fox’s past employment includes jobs with the state Assembly Codes and Consumer Affairs Committees. He also held several positions in the Koch mayoral administration.
Hevesi succeeded Michael Cohen in the Assembly and is running for re-election for the second time. He is chairman of the Energy Committee and has authored several laws dealing with renewable energy. He is the son of former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.
The event will be held at Mardi Gras, 70-20 Austin St., Forest Hills, from 6 to 8 p.m. Make checks payable to Hevesi for Assembly. For more information or to RSVP, contact Ben Kalish at 646-797- 3290 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
MALONEY GETS IMPORTANT COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D– Queens/Manhattan) has been appointed to the Financial Stability Conference Committee, which will attempt to create a single bill out of the separate Senate and House bills that were passed to exert control over Wall Street and the major banks in the city.
In accepting the assignment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Maloney stated she would “work with the chairman to ensure that this conference is fully transparent and achieves the goals we all share: preventing the kind of meltdown that the financial system—and the nation—experienced in the fall of 2008, and that triggered this brutal recession”.
CIAFONE BACKED BY CONSERVATIVES AND INDY PARTY: John Ciafone, an Astoria Democrat challenging Aravella Simotas, the Democratic organization’s choice, in the party’s primary election, has picked up Independence and Conservative Party endorsements in the 36th AD (Astoria/Long Island City) race.
This will provide a place for Ciafone, an Astoria attorney on the November ballot even if he loses the primary to Simotas in September and she becomes the Democratic Party nominee in the 36th AD.
Queens Conservative Party Leader Tom Long said the party endorsed Ciafone “because he’s conservative-minded on the issues”. Mike Niebauer of the Queens Independence Party made a similar comment and added that Ciafone was also “a community activist with views similar to what our party stands for”.
MOYA BACKED BY TOP DEMS: Francisco Moya, the Queens Dems’ choice in the 39th AD (Corona/Jackson Heights) election, has been endorsed by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Moya is running to succeed Jose Peralta, who gave up the seat to run for the 13th district state senate seat, defeating Hiram Monserrate.
In the announcement by Moya’s campaign, de Blasio stated Moya would be “a strong advocate for better schools, better jobs and for a better Albany”. Thompson said Corona voters have the opportunity to elect Moya “and send a true reformer to Albany to represent them”.
Moya already had Peralta’s endorsement as well as that of Queens Democratic Leader Congressmember Joseph Crowley.
STATE CONSERVATIVES OPPOSE CIG TAX HIKE: In a strongly worded statement, New York State Conservative Party Leader Michael Long blasted a new, larger tax on cigarettes, charging terrorist organizations will realize bigger profits and the state will get less money because New York cannot collect the tax from cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.
Long cited published reports that state Department of Taxation and Finance agents arrested suspected terrorists who had almost 40,000 counterfeit cigarette tax stamps in their possession.
“If one penny of the black market cigarette money funds terrorism, it should be unthinkable that Speaker Sheldon Silver would support the proposed increase,” Long wrote.
Despite a bill being passed on Monday which authorizes Governor David Paterson to negotiate agreements with Indian tribes to collect state cigarette taxes, Long said, “If anyone really believes that will happen, I have a bridge to sell them in Brooklyn.”
POOL CLOSING LEAVES KIDS HIGH & DRY: Beginning next Tuesday, according to an announcement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week, the Fort Totten public pool in Bayside will be among four such pools that will be closed this year because of budget deficiencies.
Councilmember Dan Halloran (D– Whitestone), didn’t agree with the move, but said there were no funds available to keep the pools open.
“There is no way to find a new funding stream,” Halloran said. The Fort Totten pool reopened two years ago, following a $500,000 renovation. “Basically, we spent that money for nothing,” Halloran said. City officials expect to realize a $200,000 savings by closing the pool.
TRAGIC FIRE SHOWS FOLLY OF FIREHOUSE CLOSINGS: A Springfield Gardens fire which took the lives of two young brothers last Thursday shows how foolhardy is the proposal to save city funds by closing local firehouses while causing fewer firefighters to deal with fires, two lawmakers declared.
In joint reaction statements following the deadly fire, Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley and James Sanders criticized the firehouse closing.
Crowley (D–Glendale), chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Committee, stated: “Let this be a tragic warning and predictor of what will happen if we reduce our already overstretched fire protection. Firefighters are our first line of defense against tragedy. If you close even one fire company, as proposed by the mayor, more people will die.”
Sanders (D–Far Rockaway) in whose district the fire occurred, declared, “This horrifying incident exposes a hard truth: Our most vulnerable, the children and elderly, cannot afford these cuts. Their lives will be the first on the line.”
Sanders pointed out, “Not 24 hours before [the fire], I joined with Councilmember Crowley, the UFA, and the UFOA to tell Bloomberg that he is gambling with our lives by proposing cuts to the Fire Department.”
PUBLIC ADVOCATE ALSO HITS CLOSING: Joining the two lawmakers’ pleas in urging the mayor not to close firehouses was Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who said the closings were “unacceptable”.
De Blasio stated: “Preserving public safety is the government’s number one responsibility and it should remain our first priority, even in times of economic constraint. New York City, however, is about to lose 20 fire companies due to budget cuts. This decision will increase the response time of our firefighters and make our neighborhoods less safe.”
VAN BRAMER IN FINAL PUSH TO SAVE LIBRARIES: On another front in the budget battle, less than a day after he collected 200,000 post cards, letters and petition signatures, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, united with Queens residents in a final push to save libraries from the budget axe.
On Friday morning, Van Bramer (D–Woodside) joined with children, mothers, senior citizens and library advocates in front of the Sunnyside Community Library to tell stories of what libraries mean to them and why they should not be shut down.
Among the group were library trustees, I.S. 25 students and representatives of District Council 9 and Local 321 union members.
Addressing the large gathering, Van Bramer stated, “These educational havens provide vital resources during such pressing times. Now, more than ever, New Yorkers need libraries.”
Another powerful voice for libraries, Queens Library Director Thomas W. Galante, also made a plea to save the libraries.
SEE SOME HOPE IN STATE BUDGET PICTURE: Last week, in spite of the gloom and doom coming out of Albany, Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) announced that she had voted to include in the state budget a $22.5 million restoration to fund the MTA School fare program, continuing student fares aid and also saving senior centers in Queens and elsewhere in the city from being shuttered. Included among the saved, she said, were the Flushing senior centers.
“Flushing has one of the highest senior center populations in the state, and this budget is in direct response to their needs,” Meng said.
The 2010-11 state budget is now almost two months overdue for approval and the temporary approvals cited by Meng will have to survive a final vote on the entire budget.