2010-07-14 / Political Page

Questions Arise About Ciafone Residency In 36th AD

John Ciafone, the Astoria attorney who has high hopes of winning the 36th Assembly District seat in this year’s elections, faces a tough candidate in the September 14 primary because Aravella Simotas, his opponent, has the backing of the Queens Democratic organization. In addition, she’s supported by every Democratic elected official in the Astoria/Long Island City Assembly District as well as the still powerful Taminent Regular Democratic Club, led by state Senator George Onorato

If Ciafone, 40, loses the primary, he will still be the underdog against Simotas, despite the fact that he has snatched both the Conservative and Independence Party endorsements.

Last week, Ciafone’s election prospects became even dimmer due to his residency problems. Although his wife and two children live within the 30th AD, Ciafone within the past year has changed his voter registration to indicate he lives with his mother in her home in the 36th AD.

John Ciafone, left, faces a tough candidate in the September 14 primary because Aravella Simotas, his opponent, has the backing of the Queens Democratic organization. a third candidate is expected to file petitions to get in the Democratic Party primary, Jeremiah Frei— Pearson. John Ciafone, left, faces a tough candidate in the September 14 primary because Aravella Simotas, his opponent, has the backing of the Queens Democratic organization. a third candidate is expected to file petitions to get in the Democratic Party primary, Jeremiah Frei— Pearson. Ciafone’s purported change of address will have 36th AD voters asking themselves why a candidate seeking to represent the 36th AD doesn’t live with his wife and children in that district.

And legal savants, including Michael Reich, executive secretary of the Queens Democratic organization and something of an expert on election law, are sure to challenge Ciafone’s assertion that his primary residence is his mother’s house, not the home where his wife and children live.

Not only will Reich’s challenge, which will eventually come after nominating petitions are filed for the primary, fill Ciafone’s thoughts as he prepares his defense to the detriment of his campaign, but it will also take away his physical presence from his campaign, as he will be in court defending against the challenge that is sure to come.

Ciafone is confident the residency question will eventually be decided in his favor because he filed to change his voter registration address to his mother’s house in the 36th AD in plenty of time to make his quest for the Assembly seat legal.

Ciafone said he spends a lot of time at his mother’s house taking care of her and a disabled sister. He also has another home in Whitestone, which he calls a summer home for his wife and children and himself. This is not expected to figure in to the residency question, however.

Meanwhile, a third candidate is expected to file petitions to get in the Democratic Party primary, Jeremiah Frei—Pearson, of Astoria.

The 36th AD seat opened up for this year’s election when the incumbent, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D), opted to run for the 12th state senate district seat when longtime incumbent state Senator George Onorato announced he would retire at the end of this year, rather than seek re-election.

TABONE TOUTS CONSERVATIVE ENDORSEMENT: Vince Tabone, the Republican candidate for the 26th AD seat in Bayside being vacated by Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza, who is retiring, has also grabbed the Conservative Party endorsement and feels it can be a real asset in his election effort against Democratic challenger Ed Braunstein, a lifelong resident of Northeast Queens who also currently resides in Bayside. Braunstein is an attorney and works on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff.

Tabone, speaking after signing his official acceptance of the Conservative endorsement for Queens party chairman Tom Long, said: “Voters are rightly concerned about our government overspending and over-taxing, stifling growth and opportunity and economic recovery.”

He noted, “Queens voters are concerned about the ethical lapses

and scandals plaguing our government and the squandering of tax dollars.”

In contrast, Tabone declared, “The Conservative Party’s commitment to fiscal restraint, lower taxes and to law and order and ethics reform is widely recognized, so having their endorsement as an independent Republican lets voters right away know I will fight for them in Albany and in the neighborhood. Pulling [the voting machine lever] for me on the Conservative line sends a strong message to Albany that enough is enough.”

In announcing his candidacy, Braunstein stated: “I am running for the New York state Assembly because I believe we need new leadership to fight for our community. Our quality of life is under attack and it’s time we fought back to protect the community we all cherish. Our taxes keep going up and we all know that government spending keeps going up, but Northeast Queens keeps getting shortchanged over and over again. The only thing we seem to get for our taxes is another meter maid writing tickets on our streets.”

Braunstein’s statement reflects his support of more money for schools and police and fire protection and parks improvements. He outlined a five-point agenda, including cut spending, improving local schools, protecting quality of life, helping senior citizens and reforming Albany with “real change; ethics reforms and more transparency or “the special interests will continue to exert too much control over Albany”.

VALLONE RAISES BLACKOUT FEARS: The recent heat wave has brought back the spectre of a replay of the 2006 power blackout in Astoria, Long Island City and Woodside for City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria). Vallone recalled that, for the first four days of the 2006 power outage, Con Edison had claimed that 400 customers were affected, while more than 200,000 people were suffering.

At the time, Vallone said, “[Con Edison] assumed they [would] get the power back before anyone would notice, and ultimately proved they can’t be trusted.”

Of the current heat wave, Vallone said last week that as Con Edison downplays the amount of power outages occurring, calling them “minor”, he is now questioning those numbers and is reminding people that in 2006, Con Ed “lied over and over about the extent of the blackout in Northwest Queens and the number of people affected”.

In a related matter, Vallone appealed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to extend the operating hours of the Astoria Pool and other municipal pools during the heat wave. Vallone stated, “There’s no better way to conserve electricity or cool down during this extreme heat than to visit one of our city pools. We need to provide more access to our residents, so that no one misses the chance to enjoy these great resources during the day or in the evening.”

Vallone had received complaints from constituents who were turned away from the Astoria Pool, which led him to suggest extending open hours from 7 to 8 p.m. Currently all 54 Parks Department pools are open from 11 am. to 3 p.m. and then 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Vallone also noted that in recent days police had stopped admitting swimmers at 5:15 p.m. due to concerns about massive crowds exiting pool locker rooms at that time. Typically, he said, Park attendants can turn people away at 6 p.m., as greater numbers of people are using the public pools and causing overcrowding.

GILLIBRAND: BRING WORLD CUP TO U.S.: Following the great reception recent soccer World Cup action received in this country, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–New York) is leading a bipartisan coalition of 26 senators in an effort to support America’s bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Her colleague, Senator Charles Schumer, is among the Cup’s advocates.

The U.S. Soccer Federation has already submitted a bid for the 2018 or 2022 World Cup and FIFA is expected to decide by December which country will host those games. The U.S., already home to some of the world’s best and most popular sporting venues, would surely draw record-breaking audiences, Gillibrand said in a letter to FIFA President Sepp Blatter. “With a population of 300 million people, we assure you that there will be no lack of fans clamoring to attend the matches.”

The lawmaker also pointed out that the U.S. features significant transportation and tourism infrastructure that will enable visitors to attend games with great ease.

PHEFFER ANNOUNCES SERVICES FOR AFGHAN GI: Services for Sergeant Ronald Alan Kubik, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, will be held by his family today at the JASA Rockaway Park Senior Center, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer announced.

“On April 23, our longtime friend and community member, Birdie Daly, lost her beloved grandson, Ronald,” Pheffer said. “I encourage everyone to join us in paying our respect to Ronald’s ultimate sacrifice.”

Besides grandmother Bridget (Birdie) Daly, Kubik is survived by his father and mother, Ronald and Rose Kubik; his grandmother, Eileen M. Kubik; sisters Amy and Mary, and stepbrother Fred.

Pheffer said Queens County Commander Mike Henen Jr., Past Commander of the Queens County American Legion, will preside over the memorial services, to be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the senior center at 106-20 Shorefront Pkwy., Rockaway Park.

Representatives from the Army Reserve will direct the Color Guard. A reception in Sergeant Kubik’s honor will follow. Kubik was killed during combat operations with Company D, 3d Battalion, 75th Rangers.

FERRERAS HONORS ‘HUGGING SAINT’: On July 5, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras (D–Corona) welcomed Mata Amritanandamyi Devi (“Amma”), known informally as the “Hugging Saint”, to New York City on her annual North American tour stop at Manhattan Center and presented her with a Council Proclamation expressing gratitude for her spiritual and charitable work around the world.

“Amma’s mission, offering a loving touch to millions while building the social and economic infrastructure to help the poor and suffering lead productive lives, is an inspiration and model to all of us seeking deeper engagement with our communities,” Ferreras said.

Amma was honored in the Council Proclamation for her extensive charitable work, including her donation of tens of millions of dollars for relief for the 2004 Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and survivors of the Haitian earthquake earlier this year.

Thousands of people had come to welcome Amma to the U.S. and hear her message of Universal Motherhood, Ferreras said.

HALLORAN RAVES ABOUT ‘RECORD FUNDS’ FOR LOCAL GROUPS: Some legislators may be circumspect about receiving and distributing socalled “member items” or “discretionary” city funds to local community groups, but Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C, Whitestone) was ecstatic about the $415,000 he received and gave out to about a dozen groups in his district and told the world about it.

“These monies make a huge difference,” said Halloran, a first time lawmaker representing a Northeast Queens district covering Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace and parts of Flushing, Douglaston and Little Neck, said. “In a recession, it’s harder than ever for nonprofits and community groups to make ends meet and keep serving our neighborhoods.” Halloran got $57,000 more than his predecessor, Tony Avella—the most such money that the district has ever received, Halloran exulted.

Among the community groups benefitting from Halloran’s list were:

•Chabad of Northeast Queens, for its nursing home and youth programs, getting funds for the first time.

•Boy Scouts ($7,500) and Girl Scouts ($5,000).

•Several local churches, which received about $10,000 in total for senior and youth programs, including St. Kevin’s senior club, St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church and St. Mel’s Leisure Club.

•Little League Baseball of College Point ($9,000); Bay Community Volunteer Ambulance Corps ($3,400) for Bay Terrace service; Bayside Historical Society ($10,000); Bayside Village BID ($3,500); Friends of Fort Totten ($3,500), and Little Neck–Douglaston VAC ($3,500).

LAWMAKERS LAMENT ROCKAWAY FERRY CLOSING: Instead of ending service on the Rockaway-to-Wall Street ferry, the Port Authority and New York City should have run it like a business, like the Staten Island Ferry, and kept it running to benefit Rockaway residents, said Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn).

Also bemoaning the end of service were Councilmember Eric Ulrich (R–C, Ozone Park) and the ferry’s Rockaway clients, who will now have to resort to auto, bus and subway service for a longer ride to New York City.

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