Monserrate Stirring Political Pot Again
Almost immediately, there were reports from the front-runner for the seat, that Monserrate and some of his aides harassed him as he tried to get nominating petitions signed at St. Leo’s Church in Corona.
The front-running candidate, Francisco Moya, said Monserrate’s aides “yelled and screamed obscenities” at him.
Moya has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic organization and a flock of Democratic elected officials from Corona and Jackson Heights. Included in that group is state Senator Jose Peralta, the man who defeated Monserrate in the special election for the 13th senate district seat after Monserrate was ejected from that seat earlier this year for assaulting his girlfriend.
Peralta also occupied the 39th AD seat that Moya and Monserrate will be fighting over in the Democratic primary on Sept. 24. The seat has been vacant since Peralta gave it up.
Monserrate denied knowing anything about Moya’s claims of being accosted while trying to collect petitions. The former senator also has been closemouthed about any attempted comeback into public life.
But word about him seeking the 39th AD seat brought a quick reaction from the five Democrats competing to become their party’s candidate for state attorney general.
The five A/G hopefuls are Assemblymember Richard Brodsky of Westchester, Sean Coffey, Eric Dinallo, a former state insurance superintendent, the Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, and state Senator Eric Schneiderman, of Manhattan.
All five endorsed Moya for the Assembly because they felt Monserrate had no business being a state senator after being found guilty of assaulting his girlfriend.
GIANARIS’ REFORM REDISTRICTING MEASURE ADVANCES: The bill to establish an independent commission to redraw legislative districts, introduced by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, cleared an important first hurdle last week when it was approved by the Assembly’s Government Operations Committee.
Gianaris (D–Astoria), a leading reformer in Albany, greeted the first approval of the bill, calling it “a big step toward making this important reform a reality”.
Gianaris, who is running for the state senate seat this year being vacated by Senator George Onorato, added.
“By ensuring that voters choose their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters, government will be more responsive to its citizens and the public will have more faith in its government.”
Under Gianaris’ bill, an independent commission would be established to reapportion legislative districts every 10 years, removing that function from the state legislature itself. At the same time, the legislator said, it also removes the conflicting motivation for legislators to draw districts that primarily ensure their own elections, rather than connect communities that share natural boundaries and local concerns.
Gianaris’ legislation has been praised by former Mayor Edward Koch, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and several goodgovernment organizations including Citizens Union, NYPIRG and the League of Women Voters.
Koch has formed a reform organization which lists independent redistricting, such as would be created under Gianaris’ legislation, as one of its major objectives.
Now that Gianaris’ bill has been voted out of committee, it stands a good chance of being brought up for a vote by the full Assembly.
PHEFFER’S DEBT COLLECTION ABUSE PREVENTION BILL PASSES: The Assembly has passed Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer’s bill requiring third-party debt collectors and debt buyers to obtain a license from the Department of State in New York state.
The bill came in response to widespread abuses by debt collectors, as reported to federal and New York City consumer protection agencies.
According to the bill, a license would cost $500, would be valid for two years, and applicants would have to include a summary of methods used to collect debts.
“Most debt-collection businesses try to work within the law, but there are many that use abusive tactics and we must protect our citizens’ interest against those who may abuse it,” Pheffer (D–Ozone Park) said.
CROWLEY VICTOR FOR SAVING FIREHOUSES: Citing budget negotiations that will restore the $37 million needed to keep our firehouses open, City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale), reported last week, “When we started this fight, 62 fire companies were on the chopping block and now all will remain open.”
It was through Crowley’s efforts as chair of the council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee that the citywide campaign to save the firehouses was waged and won. After Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed closing 62 fire companies because of budget deficits, Crowley mobilized the citywide effort to stop the closures.
“Our top priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, and by finding the money to save firehouses, we succeeded today,” she said.
KOCH MOVEMENT EMBRACED BY AVELLA: It was announced last week by Tony Avella, who is challenging state Senator Frank Padavan’s re-election bid this year, that he has signed New York Uprising’s Good Government Pledge, which calls for various proposals, including non-partisan redistricting, budget reform and other popular reform measures.
In announcing he had signed on to the Koch coalition pledge, Avella stated, “I am very happy that efforts at true reform are finally taking hold in this state and it is my pleasure to be among some of the first candidates in the 2010 state senate race to publicly promise in both the Pledge for Change New York and in the New York Uprising Good Government Pledge, that I will work toward making all these reforms realities.”
Koch said he was delighted that Avella had signed the New York Uprising Pledge, which has been sent to all candidates running for state office this year. Among others who have taken the pledge is Avella’s opponent, Padavan. In last week’s column, Vince Tabone, the Republican candidate for the 26th AD seat in Bayside, announced he had taken the Koch pledge.
MALONEY BILL AIMS AT SEX TRAFFICKING: A bill aimed at shutting down child sex trafficking in the United States has been introduced by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan).
“Too many think that sex trafficking is only a problem in foreign countries,” Maloney said. “But here in the U.S., an estimated 100,000 underage girls, most of them American citizens, are exploited through commercial sex each year. Nationwide, we have shelter space for only 50 of those 100,000 victims. This is simply unacceptable. We have a moral obligation to help America’s daughters, granddaughters, sisters and nieces.”
Under the bill, federal block grants would pay for shelters, specialized counseling, clothing and other daily needs to keep victims from returning to the street.