2011-09-07 / Political Page

Cuomo Hits TV For Last Minute Weprin Push

As we reported elsewhere in today’s Special Election Edition of the Gazette, there are just six days left until next Tuesday when the election between Democratic Assemblymember David Weprin and Republican businessman Bob Turner for the 9th CD seat for Congress, previously vacated by Anthony Weiner, will be held.

The race has been very exciting, interesting and very tight. Now, in what appears like a last ditch effort to swing the contest to Weprin, over Turner, Governor Andrew Cuomo will appear in a series of television and radio ads on behalf of Weprin over the next six days to help his chances against Turner.

This last minute strategic move is obviously designed to take advantage of Cuomo’s present high popularity generally—and a 70 percent approval rating in the 9th CD—to try to assure a Democratic victory.

Among other things, the race has been billed as a vehicle to help Democratic chances to take back control of the Congress from the Republicans and to re-elect President Barack Obama to a second term.

On the other hand, a victory by Turner— who’s a conservative stalwart and has positioned himself as very supportive of the Tea Party movement that has practically been running the Republican program in Washington—would be just as terrifically helpful to the GOP cause.

From all appearances, the outcome between Weprin and Turner is extremely close and the move to bring the governor in on Weprin’s side will hopefully—for Democrats—put Weprin over the top.

Beside the obvious political significance of the the move, there is a great friendship between the Cuomo and Weprin families dating back to the pre-governor days when both families lived in the Holliswood section of Eastern Queens—where David Weprin still resides.

At that time, Mario Cuomo, then a very successful attorney, became a member of the Independence Democratic Club, then headed by the late Saul Weprin, David’s father. Saul was also the local Assembly representative who helped to guide Mario Cuomo in his political career and ultimately into the governor’s chair in Albany. Andy Cuomo and David Weprin are about the same age and grew up in this very friendly and nurturing relationship.

Meanwhile, as Cuomo lends a hand now to David Weprin, Turner also got a boost yesterday from the New York Post, which endorsed Turner to be the next 9th CD congressman. The endorsement editorial attacks Weprin as “a career Democratic Party hack” who was “handpicked by party bosses” and doesn’t even live in the district (this is common in special elections, but if he wins is required to move into the district).

Turner, who’s applauded for having made the race for Congress a referendum on Obama, and a victory for Turner, the first by a Republican in that district since 1923—88 years—would register in the White House, the editorial states.

Turner is ready to create jobs and favors trimming spending and taxes, and also abhors the president’s pressure on Israel in the Middle East, the endorsement concluded.

GIANARIS LAUDS FILM/TV PROGRAM JOBS: State Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) had high praise and satisfaction for a program he supported which has created many jobs in his district and elsewhere in New York state.

Gianaris pointed out that the New York State Film Production Credit, which rewards companies that produce films and TV shows in the state with a tax credit, also creates jobs. Gianaris was a lead supporter when the legislation was created and later expanded.

The lawmaker said that the credit program recently attracted to New York City a record 23 television shows, including eight new primetime series. He also noted the NYC’s media and entertainment industry employs 100,000 New Yorkers and generates $5 billion per year for the city’s economy.

“The ability for this industry to film in New York and create so many jobs during these difficult economic times is a testament to the success of our film tax credit, which is the most prolific job creation program in recent years,” said Gianaris.

“Right now, there is nothing more important than creating jobs, and I am glad Western Queens is able to reap the benefits of this booming industry.”

While previously serving in the Assembly, Gianaris was a lead supporter of legislation creating and later expanding the state film tax credit. That program is now fully funded until 2014, which will result in the creation of thousands of jobs and generate $10.5 billion of direct spending in the state.

The mayor’s office recently announced that 23 television series and 140 news, talk and reality shows are being filmed in New York City for the 2011-12 season. In addition, 4,000 local businesses support productions that shoot on location throughout the city.

Gianaris’ Western Queens district is home to three major production companies including Silvercup Studios, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Broadway Stages, which produce the bulk of NYC’s film and TV projects.

BURY POWER LINES? Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale) says she’s going to introduce a bill requiring utility companies to bury power lines underground, but a Con Ed spokesperson says the cost would be prohibitive as well as lead to rate hikes. Meanwhile, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–Whitestone) would like to see how the burying idea would work out on a piecemeal basis; doing it whenever the streets are opened up for another reason.

For Crowley, the whole problem of overhead lines came into focus once again after Hurricane Irene did its dirty work, leaving thousands of homes without power and miles of wire in a huge tangle, taking days to unravel them and getting the poles back up again.

Crowley said, “In some cases, it doesn’t take a tropical storm or a serious weather condition to cause these power lines to fall.”

Queens has miles and miles of ugly overhead lines, she acknowledges, and they are unsightly and also susceptible to catching fire.

But, she insisted, the investment to put them underground must be made because the longer they wait, the more expensive it’s going to be.

But a Con Ed spokesperson reportedly said they would cost about $1 million per mile to bury, and that would ultimately have to be passed along to rateholders as well and maybe rate hikes, too. In addition, each customer would have to pay for the final connection.

Halloran noted Con Ed has a monopoly on power in the city and with that comes responsibility. One of those, he explained is to upgrade and improve the electrical services to New Yorkers.

However, he acknowledged that that would cause other problems, such as flooding in low lying areas like the Rockaways.

RACINO UPDATE: Michael Speller, president of Resorts World New York, announced that his company’s first deliveries of video lottery terminals have arrived at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, where Resorts will operate a racino in the near future. Speller said the first arrivals were to be used for testing on the floor of the gaming facility.

“We are on the path towards creating a world-class entertainment destination,” Speller said.

When completely operational, there will be about 500 video lottery terminals available for action. Resorts is also exploring other wagering games to offer.

SILVER SAYS ‘NO FULL ACTION CASINOS IN CITY’: One influential lawmaker who does not want full action casinos in any of the five boroughs is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D–Manhattan). This could put him on a collision course with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the gaming industry.

Silver approves of having table games in full blown casinos in resorts like the Catskills, but not within the city’s border.

“I don’t want to see people going out for lunch during work and losing a week’s pay or a month’s pay,” Silver told the Daily News.

Cuomo had different ideas than Silver on this issue. He said recently that it may be time for the state to take a broader approach to casino gambling, pointing to the many types of gambling offered, so his strategists are looking at gambling operations in the state.

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