2010-10-13 / Political Page

Tabone Blasts Albany Dems For Passing Sales Tax

Assembly Candidate Vince Tabone, running for the 26th district seat in Northeast Queens, lashed out last week against the state sales tax which took effect on October 1, charging it would severely hurt middle income shoppers or force them to do their shopping in New Jersey.

Tabone, the Republican–Conservative candidate, also said he had met with many store owners along Bell Boulevard and Francis Lewis Boulevard, two of Northeast Queens’ major shopping strips, who blasted the 4 percent sales tax on clothing items under $110.

Merchants described in detail how state and local issues, such as the sales tax, are adversely affecting small business owners and blocking economic recovery.

Tabone, who’s opposed by Democrat Ed Braunstein, also weighed in on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, on whose staff Braunstein worked before running for the Assembly seat.

“By approving this tax, Speaker Silver and members of the Queens Assembly delegation are giving a shot in the arm to New Jersey and a shot below the belt to area employers and shoppers,” Tabone declared.

Ed Braunstein, above, Democratic candidate in the 26th AD. Ed Braunstein, above, Democratic candidate in the 26th AD. Tabone said the increases are particularly hard on seniors living on fixed incomes and working families who have already tightened their belts to get by.

“Silver’s rubber stamp Assemblymembers voted to increase taxes and fees on everything from bottled water to utility bills to vehicle registrations,” Tabone charged. The net effect, Tabone added, was “killing jobs and destroying the local economy”.

The 26th AD contest could be a very close race. In Braunstein’s favor, the Democratic candidate has benefitted from the party’s big edge in Democrat vs Republican voter enrollments. The party has also closed ranks behind their candidate, following the victory by Republican Dan Halloran in last year’s City Council election.

Vince Tabone, at left, Republican- Conservative candidate in the 26th AD. Vince Tabone, at left, Republican- Conservative candidate in the 26th AD. However, Braunstein didn’t do himself any favors when he tried to paint himself as a reformer railing against the dysfunctional Assembly last August. He was at the time running against three others in the Democratic primary. Braunstein was the new kid on the block, running against the trio who had deeper roots here.

Braunstein put out a campaign flyer which stated, according to one press report, “Albany is an embarrassment. We deserve better… Career politicians are completely out of touch with our values.” He was lambasted by his three opponents, who he went on to defeat in the September primary.

He was defended by his then campaign manager, who said Braunstein had a “comprehensive plan to reform Albany”, which included campaign finance reform, tough new ethics laws and independent redistricting.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney pictured above. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney pictured above. Election Day, November 2, only 20 days away, will show if Braunstein’s efforts are enough to mollify his three opponents and perhaps others.

This district was held by a Republican, Douglas Prescott, before he was defeated in 1996 by incumbent Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza, who’s retiring at the end of the year.

If this turns out to be a Republican year, like many people are predicting, it could sweep Tabone into office. He might also get a boost from state Senator Frank Padavan, who’s favored to win over Democrat Tony Avella, a former Councilmember.

It shapes up as a very interesting race.

HEVESI SAGA NEARS END: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s long investigation into the “pay to play” pension kickback scheme that went on in former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s office finally snared Hevesi himself last week, ending one of the most shocking sagas in Queens political history.

Republican opponent for the 14th CD Ryan Brumberg at left. Republican opponent for the 14th CD Ryan Brumberg at left. Hevesi, now 70, pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges and implicated his former political right-hand man Hank Morris, in the scandal.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lewis Bart Stone set December 16 for sentencing. He is cooperating with Cuomo’s office in the continuing probe, Cuomo said in a statement. Stone acknowledged that saying Hevesi was helping the case brought by Cuomo’s office against Morris. Stone added that Hevesi, because of his cooperation, could end up serving no jail time.

In court for Hevesi’s appearance were his sons, former state senator Dan Hevesi and Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi.

Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer The former comptroller’s conviction has aroused widespread calls for legislation stripping convicted officials of their state pensions. Gubernatorial candidates Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino both favor such a law, as do attorney general candidates Eric Schneiderman, Democrat, and Staten Island District Attorney Republican Dan Donovan.

The likelihood that Cuomo could be the next governor has fueled hopes that a bill can be enacted. The state senate is poised to pass a pension forfeiture bill, but the Assembly has balked several times at considering such legislation.

MALONEY FACING EX-DEM IN ELECTION: If some pre-primary stories were to be believed, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney was facing a real threat from challenger Reshma Saujani. Maloney trounced Saujani easily by a four- to -one margin on September 14.

Senator Jose Peralta Senator Jose Peralta Now, however, with the general election looming on November 2, Maloney’s Republican opponent, Ryan Brumberg, says he “holds a strong chance for an incredible upset”. Maloney is seeking her 10th term and appears a strong favorite for re-election.

Brumberg scored an impressive victory over two opponents in the primary, one of whom was the Manhattan GOP choice. Prior to the primary, the Columbia graduate, who got his law degree at Stanford, worked at McKinsey and Company, dealing with top U.S. firms in the financial sector during the financial crisis. He emerged from this experience with “key insights into the best practices of private industries and the best ways to wind down taxpayer involvement in the companies”, according to a statement from his campaign press relations office.

The statement also said Brumberg’s past experience “has given him ideas how to solve the many economic issues our nation faces, from correcting our flawed relationship with government-sponsored enterprises to instituting tax reforms for businesses”.

As for other policy areas, Brumberg is ready, if elected, to release a “comprehensive proposal to reform our healthcare system and fix the inefficient plan wrongly defended by Maloney, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama”.

As a former Democrat, Brumberg chose to realign his political affiliations because of fiscal issues but maintained his pro-choice and pro-marriage equality beliefs.

Brumberg, a self-described successful businessman, has raised $200,000 for his campaign, more than any Republican in the 14th Congressional District, covering Upper East Side Manhattan and parts of Queens, since 1994, he says. Three debates between him and Maloney are planned during the campaign.

PADAVAN TACKLES TRAFFIC MEDIAN PROBLEM: State Senator Frank Padavan has complained to Queens Department of Traffic Commissioner Maura McCarthy that he’s been “inundated by telephone calls from local residents about a proposed traffic median at Little Neck Parkway just north of the Long Island Rail Road in Little Neck.

The veteran lawmaker told McCarthy that the median will cause traffic problems because school buses will find it difficult to make a left turn going north to pick up students.

Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) also warned, that there is also the possibility of vehicular accidents when making a left turn into the back road”. He also pointed out the seveninch high curbing is more than three inches higher than what he and civic leaders were told it would be, and he feared emergency vehicles would find it difficult mounting the curb when necessary.

Padavan, who’s being opposed for re-election by former Councilmember Tony Avella, asked McCarthy to evaluate the entire situation “in order to remediate this condition”. Among those appealing to Padavan about the median were several Little Neck community associations and the Douglas Manor and Westmorland Associations.

STAVISKY GETS GRANTS FOR 2 ORGANIZATIONS; Two Queens organizations have received $10,500 grants secured by state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky to be used in alternatives to incarceration programs. Receiving the grants were the Fortune Society and the Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime organization.

Stavisky said the two grant recipients do work that is “extremely important for at-risk individuals and communities in our borough and New York City”.

PHEFFER GETS STRONG RE-ELECTION SUPPORT: Seeking election to her 25th year in the Assembly, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer has gathered strong endorsement support in her race against Republican Harold Paez.

Pheffer, running on the Democratic, Working Families Party and Independence Party lines, has picked up endorsements from many government workers’ unions, reflecting her making working men and women and job creation her priority issues in Albany.

Among her endorsers are DC 37, UFT, AFL-CIO, NYS Public Employee Federation and the fire officers, firefighters, court officers and sanitation workers’ unions.

Pheffer’s 23rd Assembly District includes Ozone Park and the Rockaways, where she has resided for more than 50 years.

ADDABBO SPONSORS JOB FAIR: More than 100 potential employers are expected to attend a free job fair being held by state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. on Friday, November 12 at the Aqueduct Racetrack clubhouse from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. With unemployment still a major problem, chances are that a large crowd will show up.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) advises: “Bring plenty of resumes, business attire suggested.” There will be free parking and the event will be wheelchair accessible.

PADAVAN, COMO ENDORSED: State senate candidates Frank Padavan and Anthony Como were endorsed in their respective races by the New York Post, which also endorsed seven other Republicans as part of that newspaper’s plan to return the GOP to control of the senate.

In endorsing longtime Northeast Queens incumbent Padavan, the paper cited his “tough on crime and Medicaid waste” stances, as well as his role in giving the mayor control of the school system.

Como, from the Middle Village/Glendale area, is challenging state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) for the 15th Senate District post Addabbo won from Serphin Maltese, a Como ally, two years ago. Como was lauded for seeking ways to create jobs and for seeking to impose a spending cap if elected.

PERALTA TOP ‘GREEN’ LAWMAKER: In the only scorecard that grades lawmakers on their environmental votes, the EPL/Environmental Advocates crowned state Senator Jose Peralta (D–Corona) with the top senate score. Other Queens Democrats in the senate to earn high scores were Shirley Huntley (D–Jamaica) and Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone). Republican Padavan received a low grade of 66 for this year.

Assemblymembers from Queens who got 90 grades were Grace Meng, Audrey Pheffer, David Weprin, Rory Lancman, Nettie Mayersohn, Andrew Hevesi, Margaret Markey, Barbara Clark, Jeff Aubry and Catherine Nolan, while Michael Gianaris and Michael DenDekker each got 89 and Michael Miller got an 84.

On average, Republican lawmakers scored lower than their Democratic colleagues, EPL/Environmental Advocates officials said.

The “SuperBills” that were the group’s priorities were electronic waste recycling, the Global Warning Pollution Control Act and the Environmental Access to Justice Act, which would restore New Yorkers’ right to enforce environmental review laws.

LAWMAKERS DEMAND TESTS, CLEANUP OF CLASSROOMS: Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Assemblymember Grace Meng, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew and community and labor groups joined in demanding that the city Department of Education and the EPA test all schools for the presence of PCBs, chemicals which are a serious risk to children. Recent tests found “significantly elevated” levels of PCB’s in a high percentage of schools tested, Meng said.

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