Vallone Leads Pack In First Poll On B.P. Race
In the first poll on the Queens borough president race that we’ve become aware of, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. is said to be far ahead of the crowd of would be candidates for the nomination, with a 26 percent rating compared to the closest challenger, Melinda Katz, who got a 15 percent tally.
Following behind are: Councilmember Leroy Comrie (Jamaica) 13 percent; state Senator Tony Avella-12 percent; state Senator Jose Peralta-seven percent; and Undecided-28 percent.
Former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik, who was late entering the race, was not included in the poll.
The survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group, a public affairs group, and was published in Monday’s Daily News. The poll was commissioned by Resorts World, the racino at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Vallone, the son of former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr., led because of his higher name recognition. The poll had him on top in this category by 57 percent of those voting. He was followed by Avella (35 percent), Katz (28 percent) and 27 percent each for Peralta and Comrie.
Katz’ spokesman George Arzt, when asked his opinion on the poll results, said the results showed the race was wide open. Avella’s campaign manager Seth Urbinder shrugged the results off, saying it was done by a private political consultant and the results had one particular candidate ahead of all others and therefore was not credible. But Vallone’s campaign spokesman, Austin Finan said, “The numbers don’t lie.” He cited Vallone’s contributions to the borough in his 11 years in the council and his goal of uniting the borough.
AVELLA: LANDMARK ‘MEADOWS’ PARK TO BLOCK DEVELOPERS: With Flushing Meadows-Corona Park facing threats from “devastating development interests”, state Senator Tony Avella is calling upon the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to review landmark designation for Queens’ major recreational resource.
“The city should not be entertaining proposals which would radically reduce open and recreational space for the hundreds of thousands of Queens residents who use this park on a yearly basis. Instead, the city must landmark this vital borough park to ensure its continued usage for generations to come and send a clear message that parkland is not for sale.”
Avella has publicly voiced his strong opposition to several recent proposals to cut up the park for commercial use. Included is one from the New York Mets organization to build a mall in the park, and the United States Tennis Association is proposing to expand the tennis stadium—which occupies parkland—where the US Open is held each year. Also, Major League Soccer is proposing to build a stadium in the park, taking a 13-acre chunk away from the parkland and bringing in thousands of soccer fans on a regular basis to destroy the terrain.
As for the soccer stadium idea, one of Avella’s colleagues, state Senator Jose Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) is a most ardent supporter of the soccer stadium idea.
But Avella (D–Northeast Queens) argues: “The 1.255 acre Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the Borough of Queens’ most prominent park, which provides open space and recreational benefits to thousands of borough residents and low and middle income families. The park is a valuable asset for the city and the residents of Queens not only because of its green space and natural areas, but also due to its embodiment of historical structures and leading cultural and educational institutions.”
The Bayside lawmaker continued: “Due to its unique history, serving as host to two World’s Fairs in 1939 and 1964, plus hosting the General Assembly of the United Nations from 1946 to 1950, it certainly qualifies as historically significant. Its importance as a Queens treasured park cannot be overstated and, as such, deserves landmark recognition.”
VALLONE’S PANEL CONSIDERS SIX ANTI-GRAFFITI BILLS: At an oversight hearing on New York City’s efforts to both prevent and remove graffiti, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the Public Safety Committee, held an oversight hearing on dealing with the graffiti menace.
The committee also considered six pieces of legislation—five sponsored by Vallone, a worldwide leader in the fight against graffiti— which are aimed at deterring graffiti vandalism or penalizing those who engage in such acts. Three of the bills taken up add aerosol spray paint caps, often called “fat caps”, and etching pens to the list of banned graffiti tools and require identification in order to purchase ALL graffiti tools, and not just etching acid.
“As vandals have found new ways to destroy property, we have to evolve and find new ways to stop them,” said Vallone (D–Astoria). “These laws will keep common graffiti instruments out of the hands of vandals and keep our streets cleaner.”
The other bills heard at the hearing require the NYPD to publish a report on quality of life summonses and graffiti-related arrests on its Web site on a quarterly basis; call upon the state to increase penalties for making graffiti and possession of graffiti instruments; and call on the state to require those convicted of graffiti offenses to repair, replace and clean the property they have damaged.
During the hearing, Vallone said, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) Assistant Vice President Andrew Mainardi and Henry Ehrhardt, director of Customer Relations for the city Department of Sanitation, testified about the successes of the NYC Graffiti Free program. As part of the program, property owners can report unwanted graffiti to 311, and after signing a waiver from the Sanitation Department, the graffiti can be removed for free by the NYCEDC. Between 2009 and 2012, the average time for site cleanups dropped 33 percent, from 32 days to 21 days. The waiver form is available online at www.nyc.gov or can be requested by mail by calling 311.
Other witnesses who testified at the hearing included Captain Elwood Selover, Commanding Officer of NYPD’s Citywide Vandals Task Force; Bruce Pienkny of CitySolve; James and Barbara Pollack of the 114th Civilian Observation Patrol; and Community Affairs Unit Assistant Commissioner David Schmid.
KATZ OPPOSES SCHOOL COLOCATIONS IN QUEENS: “One year after trying to close them,” Melinda Katz said in a statement last week, “the Department of Education’s co-location plans for Flushing and Newtown High Schools are misguided at best, and more than likely dangerous to the very survival of both schools.”
Katz added: “It defies common sense to take struggling and over-crowded high schools and burden them with housing other schools. both Flushing and Newtown High Schools have made extraordinary strides and improvements over the last year. Reducing enrollment and space in an effort to house these other schools will only succeed in reducing funding and resources for two high schools in desperate need of both.”
Katz explained, “This situation reflects the problem with co-location in general, and one of the reasons I led a successful fight against a similar effort at Halsey Junior H.S. when I served on the City Council. As we move forward, if there are to be charter schools, they cannot come at the expense of the space or limited resources currently dedicated to our public schools.”
For the future of Flushing and Newtown High Schools, she said, “The students would be far better served if the DOE put as much effort into helping both high schools continue to improve their programs as they do in trying to close them or take away space.”
MENG SELECTED FOR SMALL BUSINESS PANEL: Just seven weeks since she was sworn into Congress for the first time, Congressmember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) has been named to a key position on the House Small Business Committee, namely as the ranking member or top Democrat on the Sub Committee on Contracting and Workforce, a critical panel of the Small Business Committee.
Meng explained that “the subcommittee oversees the federal procurement system including practices and programs to help small business land contracts with the federal government. It also reviews workforce issues that affect small businesses’ ability to attract and retain qualified employees, and has jurisdiction over various Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, as well as policies that affect small businesses and the U.S. workforce.
Meng stated, “Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in Queens, New York City and across the nation. As many small business owners continue to recover from the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, it is critical that we do all we can to assist them with whatever help they require. I look forward to doing all I can to ensure that small businesses have all the resources they need to create jobs, grow our economy and make their businesses successful.”
CATSIMATIDIS ENDORSED BY BROOKLYN LAWMAKER: John Catsimatidis, the independent Republican businessman running for mayor of New York City this year, has been endorsed by Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R–SI/Bklyn). The second-term lawmaker said, “Catsimatidis has the big ideas to take New York City forward.”
Malliotakis stated, “I have known John Catsimatidis for years and he has the common sense, business acumen, and big ideas to take New York City forward. He has demonstrated compassion for the people of my district who are struggling post-Sandy, and has committed to work with me to address the unreasonably high tolls, ever-increasing high property taxes and inadequate transportation options that plague our community.”
Catsimatidis responded, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. She is one of the bright stars of New York City politics, she is someone who truly cares about the future of our city and always fights for her constituents. Her tireless response to the devastation of Sandy is a shining example of how elected officials should act in a time of crisis. I am proud to have her on my team.”
DROMM RUNNING FOR NEW TERM: Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Democrat of Jackson Heights, announced he will seek re-election to a second term. He kicked off his campaign last night at Club Evolution, 76-19 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights with a fundraiser.
SHAFRAN SEEKING 19TH COUNCIL DISTRICT SEAT: Austin Shafran, who served as the Public Affairs Officer of the Democratic delegation in the state senate previously, announced last week that he will seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 19th Council District seat in Northeastern Queens in this year’s election.
Shafran made the announcement at the Bay Terrace Jewish Center in Bayside last Tuesday evening. The Queens Democratic organization’s Chairman and Congressmember Joseph Crowley was among the attendees at the event.
Shafran, who was born and raised in the area, drew a crowd of local community elected, labor, religious and business leaders for his first-time campaign send off.
Previous entries for the 19th Council District Democratic nomination include attorney Paul Vallone, also from that area. The district is presently represented by Councilmember Dan Halloran, a Republican who scored a surprise victory four years ago and is running for re-election.
CONSTANTINIDES ENDORSED: Costa Constantinides, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 22nd district City Council seat in this year’s election, was endorsed by the Mason Tenders’ District Council last week.
The construction craft laborer’s union Political Director Mike McGuire said in announcing the endorsement:
“We are happy to announce our backing of Costa’s campaign. He has shown his support for our members, as well as members of other labor unions throughout the city since the beginning of his campaign and we know he will continue his support as a city councilmember.”
Constantinides responded he was also honored to get the endorsement, saying, “The members (of the union) are tasked with jobs that often go overlooked by us on a day-to-day basis, but we all know the city would not run if it weren’t for them.”
Constantinides, who is seeking to succeed the present incumbent Peter Vallone Jr. as representative of the Astoria/Long Island City district, has previously been endorsed by the Working Families Party and several other labor organizations. He is a Democratic Party district leader within the council district. He has been a very active community worker.
ROZIC RECEIVES COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D–Fresh Meadows) reported last week that she has been appointed to serve on the following committees: Children and Families, Corporations and Public Authorities, Corrections, Labor and Environmental Conservation.
Rozic, elected to her first term last November, said she was pleased with the assignments because, “These committees span issues relevant to the communities of Eastern Queens and build off of policy expertise I have developed over the years. There is much work to be done to keep our economy growing and our communities thriving, and I am committed to working both in Albany and the community to further our interests.”
Rozic also plans, she said, to collaborate with the committee chairs and her colleagues in government and have a productive legislative session.
Rozic is also a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and the Legislative Women’s Caucus.
WEPRIN HOLDS PARTICIPATORY BUDGET SESSIONS: Councilmember Mark Weprin (D–Oakland Gardens) invites constituents of his 23rd Council District to tomorrow evenings’ Participatory Budgeting meeting, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Hillside Manor, 188-11 Hillside Ave., Holliswood.
Participants at the meeting will learn which projects they’re permitted to vote on at the PB Project presentations. And any one at last 16 years of age and living in council district 23 will be able to vote during the first week of April.