Liu, Queens’ Mayoral Candidate, Enters Race
Still plagued by questions about his fundraising, but determined not to back down, City Comptroller John Liu officially announced to a large crowd in front of City Hall on Sunday, that he is running for mayor of the city of New York.
“When you go after powerful people and rich corporations,” the Flushing homeowner declared, “they’re going to come after you… But let me be clear—we are not backing down.”
If Liu can win the Democratic nomination running against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Comptroller William Thompson and former Councilmember Sal Albanese, and then defeat his Republican opponent, he will be the city’s first Asian- American mayor, as he was the first elected councilmember and comptroller.
Liu, 46, also sounded a populist note in his 10-minute address, blasting his favorite target, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He stated: “In New York these last 12 years, the rich keeps getting filthy rich while far too many New Yorkers can’t even think to get ahead, because they’re just fighting to get by. The simple fact is that a guy working on a Wall Street trading desk has a far greater shot of climbing into the one percent than a hard-working single mother has to climb above the poverty line.”
Addressing “senior citizens, working mothers, immigrant bread winners, small business owners, struggling teachers and students—many of whom are here today,” he observed: “Mayor Bloomberg and his enablers have made it harder for them, while making it easier for the wealthiest New Yorkers to leave the rest of us behind. That’s not just…not right“ and that’s not New York.”
Liu declared that, as mayor, he’ll provide the leadership “where opportunity, real opportunity, is within the reach of every New Yorker. Because this can’t be a city of rich and poor, of them and us. New York needs to be one city.”
However, Liu will have a tough climb, beginning first with the trial of two of his associates, including his former campaign treasurer, who will go on trial April 15 on fraud charges. Liu has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
As for his campaign finances and whether there’s enough to adequately finance a primary and beyond that, a general election campaign, Liu issued information last week saying, “The campaign has raised just about the maximum spending limit for the September 10 [Democratic] primary.”
He said that since November, 2010, “the campaign account has received $3,229,794 from 5,192 donors. The campaign currently has $2,039,217 in cash on hand. With $568,515 in total matchable contributions claimed to date the campaign can apply for hand presently. These are the figures:
Among the Democrats, Quinn raised $487,480 and has $5.6 million on hand, the most in both categories; Thompson raised $340,000 and has more than $2 million on hand; de Blasio raised $229,108 and has $2.65 million on hand; Albanese raised $51,000 and has $141,000 on hand.
Among Republican candidates, Joe Lhota raised $730,000 since entering the race two months ago. It was his first fundraising effort and, to most observers, it was a good sign that continued efforts will give him the cash he will need for both a primary and, if necessary, funds for a general an additional $3,411,090 in public funds under the NYC Campaign Finance Program. The campaign needs to raise just $12,578 more in matchable contributions to reach the spending limit.”
Meanwhile, all the other mayoral candidates, Democrat and Republican, issued reports of how much campaign cash they had received over the past two months and how much campaign cash they have on election will be raised.
The other top prospect in the Republican field, billionaire grocer John Catsimatidis, is financing his own campaign and has said he will spend about $1 million a month, or whatever is necessary.
Last week, Catsimatidis was endorsed by former New York state Governor George Pataki, who stated that Catsimatidis “has the skills, the vision and the courage needed to lead New York City. He’ll make a great mayor and that’s why I’m endorsing him today.”
Pataki noted Catsimatidis’ life experience in rising to the pinnacle of his success “has given him the common sense and practical business experience needed to run a city as complex as New York”.
Catsimatidis responded: “George Pataki understands what leadership is all about. During 12 years as governor he was a consensus builder who brought together diverse groups for the common good. He understood the concerns of business leaders and the needs of working families. It’s an honor to receive his support.”
PERALTA RAISES $110,106, ENDORSED BY SEIU LOCAL: Queens borough president hopeful state Senator Jose Peralta reports his campaign treasury has reached $110,106 this filing period and $469,289 overall, including expected matching funds.
“Our fundraising success this period shows Jose’s new momentum,” said campaign coordinator John Castellano. “Our campaign is building a broad coalition and will have the resources we need to compete and win on Election [primary] Day.”
Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) also reported he has been endorsed by a group of clergy leaders from throughout Queens and also SEIU Local 32 BJ.
LAW COMBATTING CRIMES DURING EMERGENCIES PASSES: Legislation which would increase criminal fines and create civil penalties for certain offenses committed during a state of emergency in mandatory evacuation zones— such as looting and trespassing—was passed by the City Council last week under the sponsorship of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria).
“During and after Hurricane Sandy,” Vallone said, “the majority of New Yorkers banded together and helped their neighbors in need, but some saw the devastation as an opportunity for personal gain. This law will help make sure these crooks think twice before they act again and are punished more severely if they do.”
Vallone, who is running for Queens borough president, said following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, there were numerous reports of fraud, looting and impersonation of officials in the evacuated areas. One victim of the storm testified during a council hearing, detailing how her home was looted and others in her community were scammed by people impersonating emergency responders.
MENG BRINGS CONGRESS TO QUEENS: To give her constituents an opportunity to meet one-on-one with Congressmember Grace Meng (D–Flushing), Meng will hold her first “Congress On Your Corner” event at the Middle Village library branch, next Wednesday, March 27 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“It is essential for members of Congress to be sure that they are accessible to their constituents and meeting with the people I am privileged to represent is a top priority of mine,” said Meng. “I look forward to seeing many of them on March 27, and I encourage all who live in the area to attend.”
MARSHALL DESIGNATES ‘PAUL VALLONE DAY’: Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has commemorated Monday, March 25 as former Bayside- Whitestone Lions Club President Paul Vallone Day, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Vallone & Vallone law offices, 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard in Bayside.
“My thanks to the Queens Borough President for the honor,” said Vallone. “Stop by for some refreshments and let’s talk about how to make our community a better place,” said Vallone, “who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 19th District City Council seat in Northeast Queens.
Vallone will also participate in the Whitestone Lions Club Annual Tree Giveaway on Saturday, April 13 at the A & S Whitestone Nursery, 23-02 Francis Lewis Blvd., Whitestone from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
ADDABBO’S WAY ON HOME BUYING PLAN: Responding to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposals to buy homes in floodprone areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. says the primary consideration should be to “assist homeowners who want to stay in their homes”.
Addabbo (D–Howard Beach), whose district was battered by the late October storm, stated, “I appreciate all the ideas that are coming forward to address the shorefront property situation, but I believe we should really focus our attention and resources on those individuals and families who don’t want to move.”
Under Cuomo’s plan, Addabbo explained, $400 million in federal Sandy aid would be used to acquire, at pre-Sandy prices, properties from owners who would prefer to move rather than rebuild in the flood plain. The purchased land would then be used strictly as open space for parks, wetlands, drainage or other purposes.
Under the mayor’s buyout plan, Addabbo explained, “purchased land and property could be turned over to other entities and be developed again”. Federal Community Development Block Grant funding would be used to purchase the properties, and so far, $1.8 billion has been set aside for the city, but the amount to be used has not been decided.
But Addabbo states firmly, “My residents’ plans are—they want to stay and I want to help them to stay. The mayor’s buyout plan gives the land to other developers, instead of letting the land remain vacant. So far, all by-out plans lack detail and seem very vague to me.”
Addabbo adds that the administration also stated that “buy-outs would be an important part of the city’s relief package”. But the lawmaker notes, “These properties are valuable and some of the most expensive homes sold in Queens are on the waterfront,” implying that a large share of recovery funds would be used up to purchase the Howard Beach homes.
If that’s so, Addabbo points out, if the flood-prone area is redeveloped, it would pose an economic risk to the city if another storm comes along and hits the area.
Addabbo also says, “Mayor Bloomberg has implied that under his plan, homes would be elevated above the 100-year-flood level and it would make them ‘flood proof’ for the future. However, this does not solve the whole problem, since the impervious services would still experience massive flooding in the surrounding areas.”
Addabbo added that while the details and further approval of both plans are being discussed, “Our people who want to stay here need immediate hope. I think they should be our priority.”
Meanwhile, Addabbo has introduced new legislation (S4053) that would provide $10,000 grants to small business owners whose storefronts were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The lawmaker said the proposed program “will help to restore a sense of normalcy and send a message that we are ‘open for business’ in the aftermath of the storm”.
The Southeast Queens lawmaker, who is a member of the senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy explained, “As the senate representative of communities that were particularly hard-hit by Sandy, I can attest that our business community was badly battered by the storm and needs help to revitalize and make repairs to their storefronts.”
Under Addabbo’s proposal, grants would go to businesses with 50 employees or less, whose buldings sustained damages of $10,000 or more between Oct. 29, 2010 and Nov. 3, 2010, when the storm struck.
FUNDING RESTORED TO BUDGET FOR DISABILITY PROGRAMS: The state Assembly last week restored $120 million to the proposed 2013 budget, funding earmarked for not-for-profit organizations that work with individuals with developmental disabilities.
Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) applauded the action, which he hopes will be in the final budget. He stated: “Many of these programs provide around-the-clock care, and proposed cuts by the governor would have a detrimental effect, service providers would be forced to close, jobs would be lost and people with developmental disabilities and their families would lose the services that they need,” Goldfeder said.
“It is our responsibility,” he added, “to protect our most vulnerable citizens and I am urging my colleagues in government to join me in fighting to ensure that this critical funding is included in this year’s final budget.”
RIDGEWOOD DEMS HONOR QUINN: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Democrat leading her party’s mayoral charge, will be honored as Woman of the Year at the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s annual dinner on April 24 at Riccardo’s by the Bridge catering hall in Astoria.
The venerable club, which is led by Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, will also spotlight Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer as Man of the Year and outstanding members of the fields of labor, public service and the community.
Besides Nolan, the 37th AD representative and the powerful chair in Albany of the Committee on Education, the club features Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer as its state Democratic Committeemember and Jim Greyshaw as club president.
In designating Quinn for the organization’s top honor, it gives a strong hint who it will support in the Democratic mayoral primary in September, which will select the party’s candidate for mayor. Among the others in that contest are City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former City Comptroller William Thompson and former Councilmember Sal Albanese.
Quinn is bidding to be New York City’s first woman to be elected mayor and also the first gay person to serve as mayor. A recent poll of Democrats running for mayor had Quinn on top with a 37 percent tally far ahead of the field.
Among the other honorees that evening will be: Michael Rebell, a professor at Columbia University and executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equality; labor leaders Sal Alladeen, president of Joint Council 1217, and Andrew Pallotta, executive vice president of NYS United Teachers, Labor Leaders of the Year; Roberto Perez and Zakiyah Ansari, recipients of the Community Service Award.
JACKSON HGTS. DEM CLUB DINNER HONORS LABOR LEADER: Hector Figueroa, president of Local 32 BJ Service Employees International Union, will be honored on April 4 by the New Visions Democratic Club, which counts state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Francisco Moya and Councilmember Daniel Dromm among its members.
Other honorees that evening will be Mercedes Cano, president, Latino Lawyers Association of Queens; Bing Wong, community activist, and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, which advocates for parks and open space.
The club covers the 39th AD, Part A, which includes Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and Corona. Peralta, the 13th District senator, is among several candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Queens borough president this year. He also serves as Democratic district leader in the 39th AD, Part B.
Dromm is also a Democratic district leader of the 39th AD, Part A. Jessico Ramos is Dromm’s co-leader.
The dinner will be held at Abbracciamento’s Restaurant in Rego Park.