Koch Makes Move Toward Turner Endorsement
Out-spoken former Mayor Ed Koch threw himself squarely into the race for Anthony Weiner’s former 9th CD seat on Monday, saying he would vote for Republican candidate Bob Turner over Democrat David Weprin if he backs Israel and opposes cutbacks to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The outburst by Koch, who is strongly pro- Israel, was admittedly directed at President Barack Obama, who called on Israel several months ago to return to its 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations over a Palestinian state. Obama was publicly rebuffed by Israeli leaders responding to the position statement.
Quoting Koch’s remarks, made in his weekly commentary, the New York Post reported the former mayor as saying:
“If Jewish New Yorkers and others who support Israel were to turn away from the Democratic Party in the congressional election and elect the Republican candidate to Congress in 2011, it might very well cause President Obama to change his hostile position on the state of Israel and to re-establish the special relationship presidents before him had supported.”
Koch reportedly is upset with Obama for considering cutbacks to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, actions he proposed as part of his on-going fight with House Republicans in his efforts to address the sky high national debt crisis.
As this column was being written early yesterday, there was no response from either candidate. But from our past knowledge of the candidates, Weprin has always been strongly pro-Israel and Turner, going back to his losing race to Weiner last year, espoused a pro-Israel position and sometimes described himself as a hawk on protecting Israel’s security.
However, the district, which elected Weiner, also Jewish, to Congress six times, is also heavily Democratic, with only about 20 percent registered Republican voters.
We can’t read Koch’s mind, of course, but it’s hard for us to believe he could sway Jewish voters to support Turner, even if he accepts Koch’s conditions, because Weprin has never wavered from a strongly pro-Israel position anytime in his public career dating back to the early 1980s.
Meanwhile, Weprin announced his endorsement by the Working Families Party, a proven asset for getting out the vote, which will be especially important in the September 13 special election. Turner already has a second line on the ballot, the Conservative Party.
Michael Long, the Conservative’s state leader, attended Turner’s campaign lifter yesterday, as did Ed Cox, the state GOP leader and Queens Republican Leader Phil Ragusa.
As we see it, the Weprin-Turner contest, which will decide who will serve the remainder of Weiner’s term, which will
be complete at the end of 2012, promises to be interesting. Turner proved himself an engaging candidate in his maiden encounter against Weiner, in which Turner received an impressive 40 percent of the vote.
Weprin, as the candidate of the party which elected Weiner to the post since it was created, goes into the race as the favorite. The 55-year-old Holliswood homeowner is a former two-term City Councilmember who brings a high voter recognition advantage into the campaign.
His father, the late Saul Weprin, was a highly respected Queens pol and state Assemblymember, who capped a long career there by serving as Assembly Speaker under then Governor Mario Cuomo. Another family member, brother Mark, presently serves as a councilmember after a long stint as an Assemblymember.
But Turner, originally from Richmond Hill but now a Breezy Point resident, comes off that fine performance against Weiner, in which his main target was the healthcare law passed by Obama.
Turner could also help his cause if he spends as freely against Weprin as he did opposing Weiner. In that race, he spent about $400,000, about half of which was his own money. He’s also holding out hope that Republicans in Washington will provide some funds for this race.
Queens Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa, commenting after he voted to give Turner the nomination, referred to his impressive race against Weiner last year, saying, “Bob ran strongly against the incumbent last time, and we know he has the momentum now going into this special election to win and send a strong message to Washington that the people need real change for the American people.”
In getting the GOP nod, Turner beat out Juan D. Reyes, a lifelong Forest Hills resident, a former Giuliani administration official, and an attorney who once worked for Republicans in Washington.
As Turner accepted the nomination, he thanked Ragusa and Brooklyn GOP chair Craig Eaton for their support and stated:
“We are united going into this race with a great campaign team coming together, that will make this a very successful effort. I believe our message of bringing real world experience and fiscal sanity to Washington will resonate with the people in the 9th district and I look forward to representing them in Washington.”
Weprin, 55, brings an impressive resume into the campaign. A lawyer, he also has had experience as a financial advisor and served in former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s administration as a Deputy Commissioner in the Banking Department. In the two terms he served in the city council, he was chairman of the Finance Committee for his entire eight years, playing a key role in the budgetmaking department.
He describes himself as a social progressive and fiscal conservative, and said in one interview after his nomination that he felt, with his Wall Street experience, he could, if elected, make some contributions in the discussions on the debt ceiling and other finance issues. He said he never thought he would have the opportunity to run for Congress, and perhaps with a reference to all the conjecture about the 9th CD seat being eliminated in the coming reapportionment, that whether he held the seat for a year and a half or 20 years, he’s going to take it one step at a time.
There has also been some speculation in the press that even if the district is wiped out after the special election, if Weprin wins the election, it could give him a push toward the New York City elections of 2013, in which he might run for City Comptroller as the present incumbent, John Liu, runs for Mayor, as many expect he will. Weprin ran previously unsuccessfully for the comptroller’s job in 2009.
Weprin won out over several other hopefuls, reportedly with the backing of Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who heads the Queens Democratic organization. Crowley was quoted as saying following Weprin’s nomination, “We believe we have a strong, smart candidate in David Weprin, who is not only going to win, but serve the people of the 9th Congressional District well.”
Weprin received another congratulatory note following his nomination, from Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows). Gennaro wrote: “Assemblymember Weprin has been a valued leader in Queens for decades and his public service record on behalf of his constituents has always been excellent. I look forward to his election and his service in the House of Representatives.”
Weprin and Gennaro served together in the council and worked closely on several issues.
DEMOCRATIC ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES CHOSEN: Also nominated last Wednesday at the same executive committee caucus where Weprin was nominated for Congress, party officials also nominated candidates for two Assembly seat vacancies: Michael Simanowitz to run to succeed Nettie Mayersohn in the 27th Assembly District (AD) in Flushing; and Phillip Goldfeder, who was chosen to replace Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, who resigned her seat in the 23rd AD, covering Rockaway and Ozone Park in Southern Queens.
Simanowitz was the longtime chief of staff to Mayersohn and has been active in Queens civic life, where he grew up, now resides and is raising a family. He started working for Mayersohn in 1996, is a Democratic district leader in the 27th AD and also serves as treasurer of the Queens County Democratic Organization. As a district leader,
Simanowitz had the opportunity to vote for himself to become the candidate.
Simanowitz also has a long record of working with community leaders and for the past 15 years has been a member of the 107th Police Precinct Auxiliary Unit, where he has been the commanding officer since 2002.
Upon being nominated, Simanowitz stated, “It’s been an honor to serve the people of the 27th district for the past 15 years with my mentor Nettie Mayersohn and I look forward to having the opportunity to continue representing my friends and neighbors in the Assembly.
Mayersohn, who served for 28 years in the Assembly, congratulated Simanowitz, saying, “I’m delighted to support my friend and longtime chief of staff… to continue my fight for the people of Queens, and I know that he will serve honorably in the Assembly for many years to come.”
Goldfeder, the Democratic nominee in the 23rd AD, is seeking his first elective office from a post as director of intergovernmental affairs in the office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.). Also on his resume was service as Director of the Queens Community Affairs Unit of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and he also worked for the New York City Council.
Goldfeder, who was born, raised and educated in Queens, still resides with his wife and family in Rockaway.
Reacting to his nomination, Goldfeder stated, “I am confident that with the nomination of the Queens County Democratic Organization and their support, coupled with my experience and commitment to residents of the 23rd AD, we have a dynamic team that will allow me to be successful on September 13.
Complementing Pheffer on her Assembly career, Goldfeder said his predecessor had “set the bar really high when it comes to accessibility and community service, and I intend to continue in that great tradition”.
Pheffer served in the Assembly for 24 years and retired recently when she was appointed the Queens County Clerk, succeeding Gloria D’Amico.
The two Democratic Assembly candidates, who will also be on ballots in special elections on September 13, got an early show of support from their Queens County colleagues on Monday at a Borough Hall rally.
Party Chairman Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Jackson Heights) set a serious tone for the two Assembly races, in which the Democrats are strong favorites to win, by telling the crowd of supporters that they must get out and work hard for their elections because he’s taking nothing for granted.
Michael Simanowitz, 39, appears to have an easier task in running to succeed former Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn than Phil Goldfeder does in his race to succeed Pheffer. Republicans have made inroads in the Rockaway district since Councilmember Eric Ulrich (D–Ozone Park) was elected there. Now, they have chosen veteran GOP local District Leader Jane Deacy, a former NYC cop, to oppose Goldfeder.
GIULIANI VISITS N. HAMPSHIRE AGAIN: Still mulling a possible run for the Republican nomination for president, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will visit New Hampshire, an early primary state, again tomorrow as he tests the waters for a possible run for president. Giuliani made a previous visit to the Granite State, and apparently wants to feel the pulse of the voters there before making a decision. The time is getting short, however, and some announced candidates have made good impressions, so Rudy must make a decision soon.
VALLONE PRESSES FOR MORE COP APPOINTMENTS:
Peter F. Vallone Jr.
(D–Astoria), chair of the Public Safety Committee, commended Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly “on finding the resources for our newest recruits, [but] it’s important to note that this large class represents two classes combined into one and our head count remains at an alltime low. We need to continue to hire classes at this size every six months and work towards replenishing our headcount”.
Vallone also noted that “this class merely replaces officers lost to attrition and does not increase uniformed headcount, which remains at 34,413—the lowest level in nearly twenty years.
GIANARIS, SIMOTAS PUSH TRAFFIC SAFETY MOVE: Seeking to improve traffic and safety conditions near 14th Street between 34th Avenue and 33rd Road in Long Island City, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (both D–Astoria) have sent a letter to the city Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting that angled parking be allowed at that location because of inadequate parking spaces there.
The lawmakers pointed out that the limited parking spaces at the location are already in high demand by the thousands of residents living nearby, especially in several highly populated developments, such as the Queensview Houses, Ravenswood Houses and the Estates of Hallet’s Cove. Also nearby are Long Island City H.S. and a Department of Sanitation facility, which attract additional traffic to the area in question.
“As Long Island City continues to develop, it is important that our infrastructure keeps pace,” Gianaris stated. “I am hopeful DOT will acknowledge the rapid growth in this area and meet the growing parking needs so that LIC can continue attracting more residents, workers and businesses.”
Gianaris and Simotas are also asking that alternate side parking be implemented on 14th Street to address the pollution and litter problem caused by the high volume of drivers who frequent the area.
Simotas stated: “As a government, we have a responsibility to adjust to the demands of growing neighborhoods like Long Island City. The actions we are requesting from the DOT would help ensure that our community’s residents and workers are provided with clean streets and adequate parking space as they go about their daily lives.”
SIMOTAS SECURES POLL WORKER TRAINING LOCATION: Responding to the needs of her constituents, including many seniors, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and the city Board of Elections have arranged for training sessions for poll workers to be held at Our World Charter School’s (OWNCS) building at 36-12 35th Ave. in Astoria. The classes will be held there on weekdays from August 1 thru 12 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
“Election Day workers provide a vital service to the democratic process,” Simotas said. “By supplying a more accessible location for Western Queens residents to undergo training, we ensure that members of the community who want to take part in this program are able to do so.”
MALONEY BACKS JOBS BILL: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) is backing bipartisan legislation which would pressure China to play by the rules of fair trade and provide the U.S. government with effective tools to address unfair currency manipulation.
Maloney stated: “This bipartisan measure could help create at least a half million jobs and would enhance our economic and national security at no cost to American taxpayers. Creating jobs should be the number one priority of all of us in Congress, and yet this bill is stalled in committee by the Republican leadership.”
The lawmaker continued, “This bill makes clear that trade duties can be imposed to offset the effects of a fundamentally undervalued currency under U.S. trade remedy laws, allowing the U.S. to take action to counter this unfair practice. This legislation is an essential element in addressing currency manipulation by the Chinese government that has jeopardized efforts to create and preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs.”
Maloney emphasized, “This is about supporting American companies and American manufacturers. For too long, China has gotten away with manipulating its currency to decrease the price of its goods on the world market. I believe American products can compete and win on a level playing field.”
She concluded saying a new report confirms that at least 500,000 American jobs could be created if China stopped manipulating its currency to gain an unfair advantage over American businesses and workers.
CITY COUNCIL BACKS CUOMO ON HYDROFRACKING: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) have issued statements supporting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s position on banning hydraulic fracturing in the New York City watershed area in the Upstate Catskill area. Banning the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process in mining for natural gas deposits, is based on fears that the fracking can contaminate drinking water sources.
Quinn stated that the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) recommendation to ban the controversial mining procedure is an important step in guaranteeing the continued safety of our drinking water. The DEC’s regulations will ensure surface drilling will not interfere with New York City’s water supply.
Gennaro, chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee (EPC), who led a three-year fight to protecting the watershed and the city’s water supply, said the state DEC’s statement was “terrific news” and “it appears that the advocacy of the council and others has succeeded”. He also said the protection should extend to water tunnels and aqueducts that are outside the watershed but feed New York City.
KOSLOWITZ FUNDS KEY PROGRAMS, TOUTS RX DISCOUNT CARD: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills) announced that, through her efforts, the city council will provide funding for programs in her district. Among them, are capital improvements at the North Forest Park Library and the Rego Park Library; also Katzman Park and Painters Playground.
Koslowitz also announced discretionary non-capital funds were obtained for many other programs in her district, including: Maspeth Town Hall, Queens Inter Agency on the Aging, Middle Village Adult Center, Young Israel Senior League of Forest Hills, Jewish War Veterans, Midori Foundation, Queens Jewish Community Council, Queens Theater in the Park, Queensborough Community College, Rego Park Jewish Center, Vietnam Veterans, NY Junior Tennis League and South Asian Youth Council.
Koslowitz also announced that her office is working in conjunction with Big Apple Rx to distribute discount prescription benefit cards under a new program in the five boroughs.
“The Big Apple Rx Discount Card is a fast and effective way to save money on certain prescription costs,” she said. There is no charge to use the card, which can be obtained by calling her office at (718) 544-8800 or by email at Koslowitz@council nyc.gov.
STAVISKY HONORS GOLDENBERG: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) announced that she nominated Commander Roberta Goldenberg, a Queens resident who retired from the Navy in 1999, as one of many veterans honored by the senate this year. Goldenberg, who was inducted into the New York State Veteran’s Hall of Fame, is now the executive director of the North Flushing and College Point Senior Center, planning activities for more than 500 seniors.