Gianaris, Simotas Rip Con Ed Over 2006 Blackout Victims
Assembly candidate Aravella Simotas, citing a study by Pace University that found Con Edison has underpaid the residents and businesses affected by the July 2006 power blackout in Queens, blasted the utility for the study’s finding that less than one-10th of damages were paid to affected parties.
Last week, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria), one of Con Ed’s major critics, had skeward the utility about the Pace study findings, saying that to begin with, “The deal made with Con Edison severely undercompensated us for damages caused by the blackout.”
Simotas, who’s running for the Assembly seat while Gianaris is seeking the state senate post, said the Pace study was not a surprise.
“Anyone knows the damage caused by Con Ed was severe and long lasting,” Simotas added. “Con Edison has under-served this community for years and now we know they underpaid for the devastation they caused.”
Con Ed’s media relations office responded: “Since 2006 Con Edison has made substantial changes in its operational and communication procedures, including significant improvements in tracking customer outages. Additionally, Con Edison has invested billions (more than $5 billion) in infrastructure enhancements throughout our entire system. We also invested approximately $300 million in Northwest Queens—including the construction of a new substation, which allowed us to replace one large network with three smaller, more reliable networks. These investments helped to maintain service with only minimal interruptions during the record heat wave two weeks ago.”
Con Ed issued the statement Monday, July 26, in response to a study recently released by Pace University that found the nine-day power outage of 2006 resulted in some $188 million in damages and ultimately affected some 174,000 people.
That was interesting, but it didn’t explain the charges Pace made. Both Simotas and Gianaris agreed it was a non-answer.
“They need to stop making excuses and offer real solutions,” said Simotas.
Gianaris said it was no surprise to him that Con Ed “would not clarify the issue with a more direct answer”. The Assemblymember has been steadily calling for reforms of Con Ed’s operations, saying, “The only way to avoid continuing abuses in the future is to dramatically reform Con Edison once and for all.”
Meanwhile, Simotas picked up further labor support in her primary battle against John Ciafone, the other would-be candidate. Jeremiah Frei-Pearson, has dropped out of the race.
Simotas added Local 1199 SEW, the nation’s largest healthcare union, with 275,000 members, to her list of endorsements. The local’s political director, Kevin Finnegan, stated, “We’re confident that Aravella, once in the Assembly, will be a strong voice for working families throughout New York.”
PALADINO A THREAT: Buffalo millionaire Carl Paladino appears to be gaining ground on Rick Lazio, the designated Republican candidate for governor. Paladino, who got on the September 14 primary ballot via a petition campaign, has already spent close to $2 million of his own money on his campaign and has threatened to spend $10 million more to become the Taxpayer Party candidate. He is making progress in the polls against Lazio and reportedly is attracting other regular GOP candidates to his campaign.
Lazio, meanwhile had only about $689,000 in his campaign account, according to recent reports, and had loaned the campaign $200,000 of his own
money to stay afloat. In a recent Rasmussen poll, Lazio scored only 27 percent of the vote while Paladino attracted29 percent; both trailed far behind Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, who took 58 percent of the vote. Cuomo is also still far in front in the campaign cash department, with $24 million in his account.
The Buffalo businessman’s improving picture and Lazio’s seeming inability to get his bandwagon moving have reportedly enabled Paladino to get several Republican state senate candidates to join him on the Taxpayer ballot line.
Meanwhile, Steve Levy, who was rejected by the GOP at the party convention where Lazio was crowned, has said he will announce this week if he will try to mount an independent campaign for governor. He had been elected Suffolk County Executive as a Democrat, but had switched to the Republican Party in an attempt to gain the party’s nod for the nomination for governor.
WITHDRAWS FROM 36AD PRIMARY: Jeremiah Frei-Pearson has dropped out of the 36th AD (Astoria-Long Island City) Democratic primary. That leaves Aravella Simotas and John Ciafone in the contest. In quitting, Frei-Pearson stated, “Unfortunately, the dynamics of the race have changed in the past week. After this past week’s developments, we still have a path to victory, but that path would require us to run a negative campaign against a fellow Democrat. This is a path I am unwilling to take.” He did not identify the “fellow Democrat”.
DROMM LIKES ‘STOP AND FRISK’ CHANGES: City Councilmember Daniel Dromm was full of praise as Governor David Paterson signed controversial legislation to end the stop-and-frisk database currently used by the NYPD. But he was displeased with how this policy is enforced “because the legislation does not prohibit the police from still using these tactics. It is [unacceptable] to have children of color grow up expecting to become a target of a negative stop-and-frisk police interaction,” he said.
But overall, Dromm declared, he found the stop and frisk policy and keeping the database “unfair and a violation of an accepted American freedom—the ability to live in this country without fear of unreasonable police intrusion into private citizens’ lives”.
ULRICH LIKES RACINO PROPOSAL, BUT…: After listening to and participating in the presentation of the Genting proposal to operate a racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, Councilmember Eric Ulrich was impressed, but added “There still are many questions to be answered.”Among these are Genting’s “planned reliance” by slot players to get to the racino via the A train.
As Ulrich (R–C, Ozone Park) sees it, given the recent MTA service cutbacks on that subway line, “It is unclear whether or not Genting will be able to rely on an already overburdened public transit infrastructure.”
He said the line is already “bursting at the seams” and bus service is wholly inadequate.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D) was endorsed by former Mayor Ed Koch, who cited the Queens/Manhattan lawmaker as “a tough negotiator with strong values who had delivered important projects and thousands of jobs to this city”.
Koch, who once represented the Upper East Side Manhattan area in Congress that has been Maloney’s province for the past two decades, also hailed Maloney as”a highly effective champion of the Second Avenue Subway and the Queens- Manhattan Long Island Rail Road Connector (which will bring the LIRR into Grand Central Station), helping to secure billions of dollars in federal funding and creating good jobs in Manhattan and Queens”.
The former mayor also noted that Maloney was the prime sponsor of legislation to give healthcare coverage to Ground Zero workers and has been at the forefront of credit card company and bank control legislation and wrote the credit card industry reform law.
“In short,” Koch concluded, “she is the kind of responsive, independent and tenacious representative New Yorkers need and has my complete support.”
Maloney is opposed in the Democratic primary by Wall Street hedge fund operator Reshma Saujani.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE: Another former mayor, David Dinkins, endorsed state attorney general candidate Eric Schneiderman, a state senator from Manhattan. Dinkins, the first African-American to hold the city’s highest office, cited Schneiderman as “a man of principle and integrity and a progressive leader for many years”.
The crowded Democratic primary contest includes Kathleen Rice, Nassau County, L.I. district attorney; Assemblymember Richard Brodsky (Westchester); former state Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo, and Sean Coffey, a wealthy attorney.
Rice, the only woman in the race, also has the distinction of being the leading fundraiser. But her image suffered a setback last week when it was revealed she didn’t cast her first vote in an election until 2002, 18 years after she registered to vote as a Republican in 1984. She switched to the Democratic Party in 2005 to run for district attorney.
Recent reports place Rice at the top of the fundraising list with $4.2 million on hand. Coffey runs second, with $2.9 million, but the bulk of that comes from Coffey himself. Schneiderman has $2.1 million, and Brodsky and Dinallo are both at the $1.6 million level.
STATE SENATE–PADAVAN, ADDABBO ENDORSED: Recognizing candidates from both major political parties, the New York state Independence Party has endorsed Republican state Senator Frank Padavan and Democratic state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr.
The organization cited Padavan’s “strong, independent leadership” and his “being in the forefront of the fight to bring about increased accountability and transparency in all levels of state government”.
Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) is “the driving force in the Senate to bring about the necessary common sense changes to reform the state government”.
Accepting the endorsement, Padavan cited the party as “symbolic of the growth of independentminded voters in New York who are deeply concerned about the direction of their state”.
Addabbo (D–Ozone Park/Howard Beach) said the Independence endorsement comes after meeting many of the party’s members who reside in his district while he was circulating nominating petitions.
Addabbo said that as both a councilmember and state senator, he had always tried to represent his constituents “in a strong and independent way” and is “committed to fixing our state government by sponsoring and supporting many reforms.
“The support of the Independence Party and its many members in my district recognizes that effort, and I am grateful for the designation,” he added.
Addabbo displaced former Senator Serphin Maltese as the district’s representative two years ago in a major upset that helped the Democrats to win control of the senate. In this year’s re-election attempt he is being challenged by Anthony Como, a former councilmember from Glendale and a longtime and loyal supporter of Maltese.
Padavan also received a significant endorsement from the municipal labor organization District Council 37, the city’s largest public employee labor union.
Lillian Roberts, executive director of the 1265,000-member organization, stated: “Day in and day out, Frank is fighting for all working New Yorkers and their families. His unwavering support, independent leadership and straight forward approach to the challenges facing our city and state are needed today and for years to come.”
The DC 37 endorsement is significant because the union usually backs Democrats. Padavan’s Democratic opponent in the general election is ex-City Councilmember Tony Avella from Bayside/College Point. the Democratic candidate for the Eastern Queens 13th senate district seat.
Avella announced an endorsement from Councilmember Margaret Chin (D–Manhattan), whose district includes Chinatown. The endorsement could spur support for Avella from the heavily Chinese American population in Flushing and other areas of Queens and the city.
Chin hailed Avella as “a champion of good government” who has “consistently fought for his constituents while a member of the City Council”.
Avella has also been endorsed by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymembers Nettie Mayersohn, David Weprin, Rory Lancman and Bill Scarborough, all Queens Democrats, and Democratic City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Mark Weprin.
Other Avella endorsements have come from ex-City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., UFCW Local 1500, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Region 9A, Empire State Pride Agenda and Marriage Equality New York.
ASSEMBLY CANDIDATE DOINGS: Bob Friedrich, who’s challenging Assemblymember David Weprin in the 24th AD (Little Neck/Glen Oaks) Democratic primary, criticized Councilmember Mark Weprin (D–Oakland Gardens) for not acting sooner on getting replacement bus services for his constituents and then taking credit for an alternate bus line last week.
Friedrich said the credit for the replacement of the Q79 line should go to him and civic leaders who organized protests and demanded action by city officials.
“For elected officials to now take credit for the group ride program is preposterous,” Friedrich maintained. “It’s like someone starting a fire and then providing a fire extinguisher to put it out and seeking thanks for their efforts.”
MELINDA KATZ JOINS AUBRY CAMPAIGN: Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D–East Elmhurst), seeking re-election to a ninth term, has added former Councilmember Melinda Katz to his campaign team as finance committee chairperson.
Aubry stated, “Melinda’s expertise will contribute to the campaign by leading the long list of distinguished individuals, unions and supporters towards re-election.”
To date, Aubry has raised $80,000 for his reelection efforts, much of it coming from community residents. Aubry serves as chairman of the Assembly Correction Committee and was the chief architect of the reform of the “unjust and draconian” Rockefeller drug laws.
JEFFERSON DEMOCRATIC CLUB CELEBRATES 100TH: The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing, founded shortly after the turn of the 20th century, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at its annual dinner dance on Tuesday, September 7 at the Douglaston Manor at 63-20 Marathon Pkwy. in Douglaston.
Honorees on this special occasion will be New York State Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn Jr. as Man of the Year; Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood), chair of the Education Committee, as Legislator of the Year; Rosemary Kelly, North Shore/L.I. Jewish Health System, as Woman of the Year; and Freddy Delligatti, Plumbers Union Local I, as Labor Advocate of the Year.
Club President David Fischer, speaking on behalf of Democratic District Leaders Ann- Margaret Carrozza and Joe Bechtold, expressed his gratitude to all club members, past and present “for enabling us to achieve this historic milestone”.
Fischer added: “For the last 100 years, our members and leaders have championed Democratic values and demonstrated a centurieslong tradition of service and dedication to our Northeast Queens community.,”
Contact Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and all other matters, or phone 718- 224-4746.
MENG’S ‘ENGLISH SIGNAGE’ BOOSTED: Students from the Chinese American Planning Council School Aged Day Care Center at P.S. 20 in Flushing have adopted Assemblymember Grace Meng’s call for English-language signage for businesses as their community service project.
The youths will volunteer to help create bilingual signs for stores. They plan to canvass merchants to see if any require their assistance to translate existing signs.
Meng (D–Flushing), a strong advocate of bilingual signs, praised the youths for already creating 200 posters to promote the idea “and help unite our diverse community and improve business for our local businesses”.