2012-10-03 / Political Page

Report Addabbo Getting $500,000 Campaign Boost From Teachers For Race Against Ulrich

Every state senate race that may be won by either a Democrat or Republican in the November 6 elections is vital to both parties, who are fighting furiously to gain the majority among the 62 members that decides which party will control that chamber for the next two years.

One of the tightest contests in the state that impacts the overriding battle for control is presently going on here in Southern Queens, and it’s between the incumbent, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., a Democrat from Howard Beach, and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, a Republican from Ozone Park.

The race was jolted last week by a report out of Albany that the powerful New York state United Teachers organization has decided to pour a $500,000 campaign contribution into Addabbo’s campaign.

Standing alone as a contribution to a single Democrat, the contribution must be judged as a life saver for the beleaguered political organization as well as for Addabbo because the senate Democrats’ financial base has suffered from an enormous shortage of the green stuff coming into this year’s round of elections and pales by comparison to their Republican rivals, who, for one thing, are the favorites of New York City’s millionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The latest report we’ve seen places the GOP’s senate campaign war chest total at $3.6 million, as compared to the slightly over $700,000 that the Democrats have to spend. Bloomberg’s share of that is a reported $1 million, bringing Hizzoner’s largesse for GOP senators up to $3.3 million since the year 2000.

But Addabbo’s saviors, the statewide teachers organization, are not stopping with the halfmillion dollars they are shelling out for the Queens lawmaker. The teachers are planning to bring the senate Democrats’ campaign coffers up to an equal level with their senate rivals. Keep in mind that the teachers have been hurt grievously since the Republican senate pushed across Governor Cuomo’s pension reforms and the two percent cap on local property taxes, which seriously slashed budgets in many suburban school districts.

Getting back to the Addabbo-Ulrich campaign, to begin with, both adversaries have won major victories in elections conducted in very similar territories in the past—Ozone Park, Howard Beach, the Rockaways and Richmond Hill. If this were still true, an Addabbo-Ulrich election would still be a tossup for the residents of those areas to decide.

But during the redrawing of state senate districts earlier this year, the majority Republicans changed the boundaries of the new 15th state district, and moved the northern and/or western border further into Richmond Hill and adjoining areas and as far as Rego Park and Forest Hills. The election may be decided by voters in these newly added districts, but again, the previous voters who have supported both of the candidates previously could have a larger influence on the outcome.

Both of the county Democratic and Republican organizations are supporting the respective candidates. Queens Democrats designated Addabbo for re-election some months ago. Queens Republicans extended an invitation to Ulrich to address a committee that was considering endorsements, but he refused to appear before them. However party leaders told the Gazette that Ulrich, as all other GOP candidates, will have the organization’s full support in his election against Addabbo.

TENANTS’ RIGHTS GROUP ENDORSES ADDABBO: The Tenants PAC, a leading tenants’ rights group, endorsed Addabbo on October 1, saying he “works for the people and [is] not in the pockets of real estate entities and pro-landlord organizations.”

VALLONE OPPOSES SALE OF STRATEGIC KEYS: Responding to the astounding press report last week that terrorists— or anyone else—could purchase for $150 a set of master keys that could give anyone access to firehouses, emergency elevators and subway gates, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) said he would move immediately to close loopholes to forbid sales of those keys, while also introducing legislation to remedy the situation.

Vallone, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he would introduce bills that would forbid the sale, duplication or possession of such keys making it a crime calling for a sentencing up to a year in jail. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she would support Vallone’s legislation; and Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C–Whitestone) indicated he would also support the bill, assuring bipartisan backing. Meanwhile, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio blasted the possible sale of the keys, and the potential damage it could do to the city’s anti-terrorism defenses.

The NY Post broke the story on Sunday, revealing it had purchased a set of the keys from a retired New Jersey locksmith who was legally selling them on eBay. The story said a set of the keys are distributed to every city firefighter and electrician.

Vallone said he had previously heard of cases in which “unauthorized keys are in the hands of potentially dangerous” persons, but he said there were laws to cover such situations. The lawmaker also said the city should consider changing all the locks that could be involved.

But Halloran said this would be a huge undertaking. “Every emergency elevator—how many buildings have elevators,” he asked and answered, “There are thousands.” The Whitestone lawmaker said the same applied to the thousands of locations in the subway system that require the special keys. He concluded, “There’s an incredibly large swath of the city in jeopardy–it’s a daunting task.”

SCHUMER ENDORSES RON KIM FOR ASSEMBLY: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) announced his endorsement of Ron Kim, the Democratic candidate for the 40th Assembly district seat in Flushing in the November 6 election.

“Throughout his victorious primary campaign,” Schumer stated, “Ron demonstrated that he will fight every day to create jobs, expand economic opportunities, and protect our working men and women. I am proud to support Ron Kim because he is ready to deliver results for middle class families of Queens.”

Kim, who is poised to become the first Korean-American elected to political office in New York state, thanked Schumer for the endorsement, saying, “New Yorkers of all stripes know that Senator Schumer is our strongest advocate in Washington. I thank him for his support and look forward to working together in the years ahead.”

Kim started out in public service as an aide to then-Assemblymember Mark Weprin and moved on to work in the Department of Buildings and the Department of Small Business Services. Later as a Regional Director of Government and Community Affairs under two New York governors, Kim collaborated and worked with a varied group of state agencies, elected officials and community organizations.

He is opposed by Phil Gim, the Republican candidate in the election.

CROWLEY EYES LOOMING DOCTOR SHORTAGE: With an eye toward help- ing to ensure teaching hospitals can meet the growing demands for physicians as our nation faces a looming doctor shortage, Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) has introduced legislation to expand the current cap on the number of Medicare-supported training slots for doctors.

Crowley said that by the year 2020, our nation is expected to face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians and 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges— ”a stunning shortage of more than 91,000 doctors”, the lawmaker stated.

The veteran lawmaker declared, “We face a cruel irony: retiring baby boomers and the newly insured, now covered through the Affordable Care Act, will be accessing our healthcare system in greater numbers, but we won’t have nearly enough doctors on-the-ready to deliver healthcare services they’ll need. A doctor shortage is something we just can’t ignore. Medical schools have responded by expanding enrollment numbers, but it’s time for Congress to act so these new medical students can be fully trained. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to lift the outdated cap on the number of new doctors our teaching hospitals can train.”

He pointed out that Medicare and Medicaid graduate medical education (GME) funding reimburses teaching hospitals for the additional costs incurred as a result of training physicians. Congress has long acknowledged the burdensome costs associated with training our

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