2012-04-11 / Political Page

Koch Again—Backs Lancman Against Dem Org. Choice Meng

Former Mayor Ed Koch, who joined with a Republican candidate to steal a Democratic congressional seat last September by grabbing the Jewish pro-Israel vote, is now trying the same tactics by endorsing a Jewish candidate against an Asian opponent to win a new congressional seat in Flushing.

Although Koch announced last week that he is backing Assemblymember Rory Lancman against Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Democratic primary on June 26, the still feisty ex-mayor is still in effect, trying to snatch a seat away from the Queens Democratic organization since it is backing Meng, of Flushing, in the primary.

Other candidates may be trying to get into this contest which has developed into a whopping intra-party brawl.

In a statement issued by Koch, he said he had interviewed Meng, Lancman and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, of Glendale, all of whom had previously announced their intention to seek the Democratic nomination in the strongly Democratic district.

Although Koch announced last week that he is backing Assemblymember Rory Lancman against Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Democratic primary on June 26, the still feisty ex-mayor is still in effect, trying to snatch a seat away from the Queens Democratic organization since it is backing Meng, of Flushing, in the primary. Although Koch announced last week that he is backing Assemblymember Rory Lancman against Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Democratic primary on June 26, the still feisty ex-mayor is still in effect, trying to snatch a seat away from the Queens Democratic organization since it is backing Meng, of Flushing, in the primary. Koch said he found, “Their positions on domestic issues are, I believe, similar if not identical and are basically in support of the programs of the Democratic Party, which I too support.”

But, he added, “On the issue of supporting the state of Israel, while I am certain both Grace Meng and Elizabeth Crowley do support Israel, I have found Rory Lancman’s knowledge and insights to be superior on what has to be done on the part of the United States to provide our ally Israel with security against its many enemies in the Mideast region and protect it from the existential threats of Iran.

“I believe Rory Lancman will be a great asset to the New York delegation and will serve the people of the 6th CD in the best possible manner.”

Koch concluded, saying, “I have decided to support the candidacy of Rory Lancman for Congress in the 6th CD, and campaign for him to the best of my strength and ability.”

The 6th CD was created by a New York judge as part of a reapportionment of state and federal legislative districts based on the 2010 census count. There were some calls to make it an Asian district. Some reports say its population is 38 percent Asian-American and Meng, 36, would be the first Asian-American to represent the district in Congress, if elected.

The district replaces that of Congressmember Gary Ackerman, who decided to not seek re-election. Unlike Ackerman’s district, which included Bayside and parts of Long Island, the new district is entirely in Queens and includes Flushing, Bayside and Whitestone, which are heavily Asian American, but also with a large Jewish population. Other areas in the new CD also include Fresh Meadows, College Point, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck.

Koch’s most recent involvement in a congressional content occurred last September in what was a special election to replace Congressmember Anthony Weiner who had resigned following his involvement in a texting scandal. The seat in question covered parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The regular Democratic Party organization chose Assemblymember David Weprin to be the candidate; the Republicans picked Bob Turner, from the Rockaway section of Queens, to be their candidate.

Koch immediately deserted the Democratic choice and endorsed Turner, who had run in the previous year’s election on a pro-Israel platform. Koch grabbed on to Turner’s campaign, charging he and Turner strongly opposed President Barack Obama’s pro-Palestine support in negotiations with Israel.

The Turner-Koch alliance soon attracted the heavy voting faction made up of the Hasidic Jewish residents from the Brooklyn portion of Weiner’s former district, led by Assemblymember Dov Hikind. In the voting, Turner easily defeated Weprin, relying on the Koch/Hasidic support at the polls.

In the upcoming Meng-Lancman battle, Meng will be relying on the heavy stream of Asian- Americans who have moved into the huge Flushing area in recent years to make her a winner in the Democratic primary.

In the past several elections, the Asian bloc has turned out in force to elect John Liu as Councilmember, then City Comptroller. Meng has been elected easily to the Assembly, as well, and others from the group have shown strength as candidates.

Meanwhile, Lancman, 43, from Fresh Meadows and an Assemblymember since 2006, has moved aggressively to succeed Ackerman as the congressmember. There was a snafu as he jumped into the void when Ackerman announced he would seek re-election, but then pulled out of the race.

But when Ackerman finally decided to retire, Lancman joined Meng in the contest after she won the endorsement of the Queens Democratic organization. Lancman surely has no friends among Democrats since he’s taken the go-forbroke route against Meng and against the organization led by Joseph Crowley.

But the big question now is: Can he and Koch find support among the 6th CD’s non Asian- American population? In Turner-vs-Weprin, their guns were turned against Obama and that scenario worked out to perfection for Turner.

In the present instance, Lancman may still get some mileage by beating up on Koch. But Koch will have to prove the point that Lancman is the best person to have in Congress because of his knowledge and instincts to be superior to move the United States to protect Israel’s security.

The target of voters Koch/Lancman will be looking to attract may not be the grouping that Koch/Turner found among the Hasidics in Brooklyn, but there could be in Queens the similarly sympathetic audience they have been looking for.

In the present campaign, Lancman and company may have a foot in the door because there was some resentment among old line Democrats in Flushing who grudgingly gave way to the Asian-Americans who challenged them in the clubhouses 15 or 20 years ago and took a foothold and the political power here. The battle is sure to be fierce between the Koch/Lancman faction and the regular Democratic forces who can be formidable when put to the test as they were a few years ago when they finally forced state Senator Frank Padavan into retirement after almost 40 years in office in Northeast Queens. In the race for the 6th CD prize, the Republicans’ candidate, Councilmember Dan Halloran, is a longshot and the real fight will be between Meng and Lancman, and it should be a nail-biter down to the wire on June 26.

But before that, there should be some new forces involving other primary candidates sent in to muddy up the waters, and, of course, the court battles that play a major role before the ballot is finally decided.

MARSHALL: HEAR COMMUNITY BEFORE INCREASING WASTE: The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) should reject sharply increasing the amount of waste handled at a waste transfer station in Long Island City before the community gets a chance to sound off about it, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall advised the DEC last week.

In a letter to the DEC, Marshall said that a proposal to more than double the waste handled at the Review Avenue facility, from 958 tons to 2,100 tons, should not be approved “until the concerns of those Queens residents whose lives have been impacted by operations at the Fresh Pond rail yards have been acknowledged and addressed”.

Marshall said that for the past two years, residents of Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth have been plagued during late night and early morning hours by noise and air quality issues generated by noxious emissions and offensive odors.

The BP said that her office has received numerous complaints and cited the Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions organization for its longstanding effort to find solutions to the environmental issues related to the rail yards.

“Unfortunately,” Marshall explained, “there has not been any way to enforce any agreements with or concessions by the railroads.”

Marshall urged the railroads, the applicant (Waste Management), and representatives from the city and state, along with elected officials and affected community boards and civic organizations, to come to the negotiating table to work out terms and conditions before the application is approved.

“I am eager to see the solid waste transfer program succeed,” Marshall wrote, “but no program, not even one as essential as waste transfer, can succeed without addressing the well-being of affected communities.”

KOSLOWITZ BILL DEALS WITH PROPER WASTE DISPOSAL: Tough legislation introduced by Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills) would revoke the licenses of food handlers or vendors who are caught dumping oil, grease or other toxic refuse into the city’s sewer system or other trash receptacles, two or more times within a 12 month period.

A penalty would be issued for the first offense, Koslowitz explained and fines could be up to $10,000.

The veteran lawmaker stated, “New York City has thousands of vendors throughout the five boroughs and it is important that waste is being discarded properly. On several occasions, I have seen food handlers take grease and cooking oil at the end of the day and dump it into the catch basins. Not only is this unsanitary, but it’s also damaging to the city’s sewer system.”

According to the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Koslowitz said, grease is an example of waste that the sewer system cannot handle. When discharged into the sewers, she said, it can cause unsanitary sewer overflows and interfere with the city’s sewage treatment operations.

Her new legislation, Koslowitz pointed out, “Seeks to ensure that vendors and other establishments are following proper procedures as required by law when discarding waste.”

HALLORAN APPLAUDS SOLUTION TO SCHOOL BUS CRISIS: Showing praise on both houses in Albany for passing a bill which will allow seventh and eighth graders in New York City to again be eligible for school bus service, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C–Whitestone) stated:

“It’s about time that we see a common sense solution to a ridiculous problem. The city literally left these kids out in the dark, adding hours to their commute to school.”

According to Halloran, the authorization covering the bus rides for seventh and eighth graders was withdrawn by the city Department of Education around May of 2010. He said the DOE’s action adversely affected about 4,000 students in the College Point area who were forced to use two to three city buses to get to and from school every day.

The bill passed recently by the Assembly which allows the resumption of bus rides for the seventh and eighth graders citywide was subsequently passed by the state senate and is awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature. The Assembly sponsor was Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz (D–Flushing). Halloran said the bill “creates an exemption for all seventh and eighth grade students” in the city.

Halloran said he had opposed the change made by the DOE that eliminated the authorization in May 2010. He also noted that two Republican lawmakers who supported the bill in the senate were Martin Golden, of Brooklyn and Andrew Lanza, of Staten Island.

“I wish to thank Senators Golden and Lanza for their leadership on this bill in the senate,” Halloran said. “Also thanks are due to Assemblymembers Ed Braunstein and Simanowitz for shepherding this bill through the Assembly.”

PERFECT ENVIRONMENTAL RECORD FOR VAN BRAMER: Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) announced last week that he had received a perfect score by the New York League of Conservation Voters on the City Council Environmental Scorecard.

Van Bramer reported he had co-sponsored legislation to keep the waterways of New York City clean and allocated “a significant amount of capital funding to environmental remediation projects, like the Queensbridge seawall.”

In a statement by Marcia Bystryn, president of the League, she said, “As his perfect score shows, Councilmember Van Bramer has certainly proven he is one of the most environmentally friendly members of the New York City Council.”

Bystryn added that she commended Van Bramer “for fighting for a greener, healthier borough, as well as for his efforts to ensure that environmental issues are continually given high priority within his legislative legacy”.

Van Bramer responded to the award, saying, “The residents of Sunnyside, Long Island City, Woodside, Astoria and Maspeth care a lot about the environment. I am very proud of our collective efforts to make Queens and New York City some of the most environmentally responsible places in the country.

“Helping keep our borough clean and green has always been a high priority for my office. I thank the NYLCV for recognizing me and my colleagues to make our city greener.”

HISPANICS FOR MENG: We no sooner completed the first part of this column dealing with Koch’s entrance on Lancman’s side when we received the following notice of support for Meng from Democratic Hispanic political power houses: former mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer and four sitting city and state office holders— Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Francisco Moya and Councilmember Julissa Ferreras.

The message they bring in support for Meng is support for cultural diversity and also support for another Queens woman in Congress.

Ferrer, for a long time the leading Hispanic in New York City politics, stated:

New York City has always been in “the forefront of progressive leadership in this nation” and stated further:

“I’ve been proud to be on the cutting edge of this leadership, whether at the Drum Major Institute or as Bronx Borough President. I am so pleased to endorse Grace Meng for Congress because Grace will fight for hard-working Queens residents while ensuring New York remains a progressive leader in this country. The Latino community could not have a better advocate in Washington than Grace.”

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez:

“As the first and only Latina member of Congress from New York, I know what it takes to stand up for my community and represent the rich diversity of working families in our city. And that is why I know that Grace Meng will bring a strong, historic voice to Congress that will stand up for middle class Queens residents from all walks of life.

“Grace will be a progressive contrast to the Tea Party Republicans who want to turn back the clock on the past 50 years for women’s rights and protections for the middle class, and I can’t wait to have Grace Meng standing by my side in Congress.”

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras:

“As a woman who made history in Queens as the first Latina elected to the City Council from the borough, I am proud to support my colleague Grace Meng. By electing her to Congress, Queens will send a clear message to the nation that we support a strong leader who is a fierce defender of the middle class and a champion for women. She represents the future of Queens.”

State Senator Jose Peralta: “With Republicans determined to undermine healthcare reform, Social Security and Medicare, we need a champion for the middle class in Washington fighting for working families and our seniors. We need someone who supports smart immigration reform, including the Dream Act. We need someone like Grace Meng! Grace Meng is the best choice for New York’s diverse Sixth Congressional District.”

Assemblymember Francisco Moya:

“Queens has been a beacon welcoming from across the world with the promise of an American dream that is equally valid for both longtime residents and immigrants. As a fellow Americanborn child of immigrants, I am proud to endorse Grace Meng for Congress. I know Grace will give voice to the voiceless among us who are invisible to radical Republicans in Washington. Most importantly, Latinos will recognize Grace as the best choice for this diverse district because she knows that the battle to live the American dream has no ethnic or racial barriers.”

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