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Queens Chronicle

Politics

Friday 06/14/2013
NYC Mayoral candidates talk post-Sandy repairs, housing, equality

How will the next mayor use federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to create jobs and give needed support to poorer communities?

That's what about 2,000 church, synagogue and union members wanted to hear Thursday night as they crowded into the narrow pews of the First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst. People circulated the thick air with paper fans advertising the "Color Purple" Broadway show while keeping track of the candidates' responses on a "scorecard" given out by the forum's sponsor, Faith in New York, a group of 53 congregations. Outside the rain blew sideways, a much, much tamer storm (but still a bad storm as Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn pointed out) as the one that destroyed many of the audience members' homes in October.

"We are looking for substance," Rev. Marvin Bentley of Anitoch Baptist Church of Corona said, "not empty promises, not rhetoric, but substance."

Unlike other mayoral forums vague and longwinded grandiose statements were not allowed from each of the five Democratic candidates, who were given just 10 minutes  — broken down into two 90 second and one four-minute answer and a short closing response to if they would pledge to visit the affected area once elected, which all answered with yes — to respond to questions. Republican candidate Joe Lhota declined the invitation to participate in the forum.

Even with the time limit a man from Far Rockaway said in Spanish "They are all equal. They just talk, talk, talk."

Overall, the crowd responded to former Congressman Anthony Weiner the best. He got loud cheers. He was funny, even addressing the spiritual crowd as "brothers and sisters" and then later making fun of himself for getting carried away.

"He addressed the needs of the people," an older African-American woman who lives in East Elmhurst said. 

She also liked Bill Thompson, saying "he also knows what he's talking about."

City Comptroller John Liu seemed upset he had to keep his answers brief since usually he loves to talk, but he got a positive reception. 

Public Advocate Bill De Blasio was the most succinct — using specifics as well as connecting to the crowd as a father.

The response to Quinn's answers was mixed. Maybe it wasn't the answers, but her strong demeanor — something that many people love with her loud laugh and no-b.s. attitude — but in front of the many public housing and outer-borough residents she seemed a little cold. Not as approachable as Weiner or as understanding as De Blasio. It also hurt that some super-liberal protester barged into the chapel blowing a whistle and chanting to stop the Rockaway pipeline towards the end of her answers. The crowd was distracted after that.

The candidates spoke of hiring locally for post-Sandy cleanup, going door-to-door in the storm's aftermath, paying the prevailing wage, more affordable and middle class housing, hiring women and minorities for the jobs as well as healthcare. A full rundown of answers will be printed in an article in the June 20 edition of the Queens Chronicle and then online following print.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Politics on Friday, June 14, 2013 12:49 pm. Updated: 1:04 pm. | Tags: Queens , Anthony Weiner , Christine Quinn , New York City , East Elmhurst , Hurricane Sandy , John Liu , Baptist Church Comments (0)

Thursday 06/28/2012
Voting irregularities will lead to formal complaint

While Tuesday's voting went smoothly at many polling places in Queens, confusion reigned at others, with some voters being turned away, poll workers not knowing their responsibilities under the law and, in at least some cases, not even knowing what primaries were being held, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The group is compiling a list of irregularities it observed at a number of polling places, and will be filing a formal complaint with the city Board of Elections with the goal of having them rectified before the next time voters go to the polls, its lead attorney said Thursday.

Among the alleged failures were the turning away of eligible voters and the refusal to give them provisional "affidavit ballots" to cast, a lack of signs in Bengali and Hindi, a lack of interpreters who speak those languages — all required by federal law — and ignorance of the fact that Republicans as well as Democrats had a primary to vote in.

"We went to 21 polling sites on Tuesday and we're reviewing every report from every poll site very carefully," said Glenn Magpantay, the AALDEF's lead attorney and its democracy program director. "We're compiling all our observations from Election Day and we'll be filing a complaint with the Board of Elections."

After the complaint is lodged, the board must formally respond within 60 or 90 days, as per the settlement of a 2005 lawsuit filed against it by several groups, led by the AALDEF, and then the two parties will meet to try to rectify the issues before voters next go to the polls in September, Magpantay said.

The goal is "to accommodate the growing and diverse community of voters in Queens," he said, "so every American can fully exercise their right to vote."

Among the worst problems the legal defense fund observed on Tuesday were these:

• At the Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing, poll workers were confused about which districts were holding primaries. One worker turned away a registered Republican, apparently not knowing that GOP voters across the entire state were casting ballots in a primary for the U.S. Senate.

• At Newtown High School in Elmhurst, where there is a sizable south Asian population, there were no signs in Bengali or Hindi, though there were interpreters for those languages available. The interpreters were sitting, however, in front of signs that said "Interpreter available" in Chinese and Korean.

• At PS 89, also in Elmhurst, poll workers were confused about who could vote, and around a dozen names of eligible voters were missing from the poll books. Magpantay himself visited PS 89 to observe voting, and a poll worker asked him for help alleviating the confusion — but he had to say he was only there to observe, not to assist voters.

• At PS 7, also in Elmhurst, two Chinese-American voters were not listed in the poll books, but rather than being given affidavit ballots as they should, they were turned away and given forms to register to vote.

• At PS 139 in Rego Park, another voter who was not in the poll book was turned away, denied an affidavit ballot and told to go to "the elections building." It was not clear if that referred to the borough BOE office in Kew Gardens.

While some voters were denied their rights, things went smoothly at many polling places, Magpantay added.

"Some poll sites were very good," he said. "The coordinators were very helpful, the poll workers knew what to do, the interpreters were there. In places like Bayside, Floral Park and Bellerose, the inspectors were very good."

He could not say if there were any more problems on Tuesday than there are in any election until the AALDEF completes its review.

Posted in Politics, Politics, Queenswide, Western, North, Eastern on Thursday, June 28, 2012 12:33 pm. Updated: 2:28 am. | Tags: Primary Election , Glenn Magpantay , Asian American Legal Defense And Education Fund , Board Of Elections , Polling , Elections , Federal Law , Lead Attorney And The Democracy Program Director , Poll Site , Newtown High School , Rosenthal Senior Center , Primaries , New York City Board Of Elections , Board Of Election , United States Senate , Poll Worker Comments (0)

Wednesday 06/27/2012
Queenswide: Front runners easily win all primaries

Candidates seen as the front runners in congressional primaries across Queens — whether incumbent lawmakers or party establishment choices — all won their nominations by wide margins Tuesday, according to preliminary results.

In the new 6th Congressional District, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) won a decisive victory in a four-way race for the Democratic nomination, taking 51 percent of the vote, with 89 percent of election precincts reporting their results, according to NY 1. The city Board of Elections did not immediately have its preliminary results available.

Meng took nearly double the votes won by her nearest rival, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), who came in at 28 percent, according to the NY1 figures. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) scored 16 percent, and Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside physician, won 5 percent.

Meng will face City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Bayside) in November, in a fight for the only congressional district in Queens not seen by almost all political watchers as an absolute lock for the Democrats.

In the new 8th Congressional District, which largely covers sections of Brooklyn but includes Howard Beach, Lindenwood and much of Ozone Park, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) trounced Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), winning nearly three-fourths of the vote, 72 percent to 28 percent, NY1 reported.

In the reconfigured 7th District, which also is mostly in Brooklyn but encompasses Woodhaven and some of Maspeth, incumbent Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens), formerly of the 12th District, won renomination easily. Velazquez scored 58 percent of the vote, compared to 31 percent for City Councilman Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn) and 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, for also-rans Dan O'Connor and George Martinez.

In Southeastern Queens, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) also cruised toward re-election, winning 66 percent of the vote for what will now be the 5th District, beating former Councilman Allan Jennings, with 13 percent, Mike Scala, with 12 percent, and Joseph Marthone, with 10 percent. Those figures were reported by WNYC.

The other House Democrats representing parts of Queens — Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) — did not face primary challengers. Neither did Long Island Rep. Steve Israel (D-Nassau, Suffolk), who now represents the 2nd District but will run for the new 3rd CD, which includes parts of extreme northern and northeastern Queens, from Whitestone to Little Neck. 

Across the aisle, GOP Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn), who won the seat formerly held by Anthony Weiner in a special election, lost his bid to be the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Turner's 9th CD is being eliminated by the reapportionment following the latest U.S. Census. He took 36 percent of the vote in a race against Manhattan attorney Wendy Long, who won the contest with 51 percent of the vote, and third-place finisher George Maragos, the Nassau County comptroller, who came in at 13 percent, according to WNYC and NY1.

Primaries for state races will be held in September.

Posted in North, Central, Eastern, Queenswide, South, Politics on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 6:53 am. Updated: 4:42 pm. | Tags: Queens , Grace Meng , Politics , Congressional Primaries , Board Of Elections , Rory Lancman , Bob Turner , Dan Halloran , Robert Mittman , Elizabeth Crowley , Nydia Vel Zquez , Charles Barron , Howard Beach , Hakeem Jeffries , Gregory Meeks , Nydia Velazquez , Anthony Weiner , George Martinez , Erik Dilan , Dan O Connor , Allan Jennings , Joseph Marthone , Mike Scala , Joe Crowley , Carolyn Maloney , Steve Israel , Republican Party , United States Senate , Kirsten Gillibrand , George Maragos , Wendy Long , Primaries Comments (0)

Friday 06/22/2012
Queenswide: Candidate sends out mailer seen as misleading

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau), the congressman whose reconfigured district is the battleground in a fierce fight for the Democratic Party nomination, today criticized one of the candidates for sending out a misleading "hit piece" that wrongly implies he has the congressman's endorsement.

Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside allergist widely considered the least likely of four candidates to win the nomination, in the new 6th Congressional District, put out a two-sided mailer late this week which, on one side, makes it look as if Ackerman is backing him.

The congressman, however, has endorsed the party leadership's choice, state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing). The other candidates in the race are Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).

The side of the flier that Ackerman takes issue with shows photos of him and Mittman, with the U.S. Capitol in the background. "This is what Congressman Gary Ackerman has to say about Dr. Robert Mittman," it reads in large type, before quoting the lawmaker as saying that Mittman is dedicated to his profession and the community.

Then it reads, "Bob answered the summons of a call for help and responded with the professionalism that should be the standard. For this I pay tribute to him."

What the mailer does not say is that Ackerman made the statement in relation to a specific incident that had nothing to do with the campaign.

"I know Robert Mittman," Ackerman told the Queens Chronicle today through his spokesman, Jordan Goldes. "He did a good deed by helping a woman on a plane. But I did not endorse him. Grace Meng has my unqualified support. I assume his intent was to make it look that I'm endorsing him but most people will see beyond that. He waited until the last moment to mail it — it's a hit piece."

Goldes later added in an email, "Dr. Mittman took a photo of himself and a photo of Congressman Ackerman and cut and pasted it to make it look like they were in Washington together. But they weren't. They never took that photo and they never stood in front of the Capitol."

Mittman could not be reached for comment.

Austin Finan, the spokesman for Meng's campaign, didn't offer an immediate comment.

Eric Yun, the spokesman for Crowley's campaign, said, "Throughout the last three months, Elizabeth's been talking to voters about the issues, and she's never felt the need to try to deceive people in her mailers, because the message that she's talking about is resonating with voters."

Liz Rhoades contributed to this story.

Posted in Central, North, Queenswide, Politics on Friday, June 22, 2012 5:26 pm. Updated: 2:28 am. Comments (0)

Friday 06/15/2012
In Howard Beach, Queens Dems endorse Hakeem Jeffries for Congress

Democratic heavyweights from Queens threw their support behind Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries’ bid for the 8th Congressional District outside the Cross Bay Diner in Howard Beach on Friday, saying the Brooklyn legislator will not forget about the South Queens constituents who make up a small portion of the recently redrawn district.

“Howard Beach and Ozone Park, these will not be forgotten parts of the district,” U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, said at a Friday afternoon press conference announcing the Jeffries endorsement.

Jeffries, who is running in the June 26 Democratic primary against City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ed Towns (D-Brooklyn), noted the vast differences in the newly drawn 8th district — which, along with Howard Beach and Ozone Park, includes neighborhoods like Bed-Stuyvesant and Coney Island, joking he has “been getting a lot of use out of my GPS.”

“But what I’ve found is there are issues that unite people,” Jeffries continued. “… Everybody cares about good schools. Everybody cares about a return to a strong economy.”

Howard Beach and Ozone Park are now situated in the 9th Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn). During the redistricting process, when state legislators are tasked with redrawing the political lines for Assembly, state Senate and Congressional districts once every 10 years, Turner’s district was one of two in the state to be axed —  a by-product of the U.S. Census reporting New York had decreased in population.

With both candidates vying for the 8th district hailing from Brooklyn, and the Queens neighborhoods making up a small portion of the area, legislators and civic leaders have expressed concern about the borough getting the political shaft. But on Friday, that sentiment seemed to have dissipated.

“He told me he’d represent all the people, all the time,” said Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio. “When he said ‘all,’ I knew he was our guy.”

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he needs a “federal representative I can work with” on issues that his constituents routinely come to him with, such as immigration and citizenship.

Calling Jeffries “an inspiration,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) also agreed that the Brooklyn politician would “really focus on all parts of his district.” And Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said Jeffries, upon learning of the new district lines, “immediately reached out to find out what our issues are and how we can work together”

Barron, who recently landed Towns’ endorsement, has said in interviews with the Queens Chronicle that he too would focus on Howard Beach and Ozone Park, though his background as a former Black Panther who has made racially incendiary comments has drawn concern from residents in the area. Crowley said Barron did not seek the endorsement of the Queens County Democrats.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently came out against Barron.

“Any candidate who is anti-Israel does not share Sen. Gillibrand’s values,” Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillbrand, wrote in an email to the Weekly Standard.

Over the years, Barron has made comments questioning the state of Israel, and, according to a 2010 article from usariseup.com, said Jewish residents “only make up 20 percent” of Crown Heights, “but they’ve always walked these streets as if they owned them, and acted as if they are the only ones in the community that matter.”

Democratic District Leader Lew Simon and Gulluscio both said they hope Jeffries will focus on landing federal funding for Charles Park, located in the Gateway National Park.

“It’s a huge issue here, and it’s been neglected,” Gulluscio said. “It’s a stepchild.”

The addition of Howard Beach and Ozone Park to the 8th Congressional District brings new demographics to a political landscape that has been predominantly black and often perceived as more liberal than the Queens neighborhoods.

“I think there’s an opportunity to show how far we’ve come in New York City, that we can have a district with Bed Stuy and Howard Beach,” Jeffries said, responding to a question about “racial tension” in the area. “… I’ve represented every single group, regardless of race.”

Crowley emphasized that the “incident” to which the reporter was referring — an altercation that began on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach in 1986 between three black men and a group of white teens that resulted in the death of Michael Griffith, 24, who was hit by a car while trying to escape — “took place a quarter of a century ago.”

“Our city and country have changed,” Crowley said.

Posted in South, Queenswide, News, Politics, Politics on Friday, June 15, 2012 5:11 pm. Updated: 2:28 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 05/29/2012
S. Queens: Ulrich scores Conservative nod in Senate bid

As a key Republican Party nomination battle for state Senate shapes up between Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and Forest Hills attorney Juan Reyes, the Queens Conservative Party today gave Ulrich an ideological boost by throwing him its support.

Ulrich had announced several weeks ago that he'd be running for the 15th Senate District against Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). But then last week the Queens GOP leadership, which Ulrich opposes, endorsed Reyes in the race, forcing Ulrich to run a primary campaign.

Both camps said their candidate would bring conservative principles to the table in a race against Addabbo, ones that are necessary to bring real change to Albany.

"Eric understands that job creation is the key to strengthening our communities and putting New York back on the right path," Queens Conservative Chairman Tom Long said in announcing the party's endorsement. "He will fight for lower taxes on small businesses and provide incentives for businesses to hire and grow. We need new leaders in Albany, like Councilman Ulrich, who will focus on fixing the economy and making our neighborhoods safe."

"I'm extremely grateful to Chairman Tom Long and the Queens County Executive Committee for their support," Ulrich said. "The residents of Queens are struggling to get by in this difficult economy, yet our current representative has consistently voted for higher taxes and wasteful government spending that is driving jobs out of New York. I will work tirelessly to bring new, good-paying jobs to our community and make Queens more affordable for the middle class."

Reyes, in a statement issued by the Republican leadership last Thursday, said, “I am honored to have the Queens GOP’s endorsement as I campaign to bring our district’s vital message to Albany. That message is one of less spending, lower taxes, less burdensome regulations and more accountability, more transparency, and more freedom that leads to greater growth and economic strength.”

The Queens GOP has been torn for years between two camps. The establishment, strongest in northern Queens, consists of Chairman Phil Ragusa and lieutenants such as Vince Tabone and Robert Hornak. The insurgent group, with its base in southern Queens, includes Ulrich and his chief of staff, Bart Haggerty, among its most prominent members. Each side says the other is not only weak but at times corrupt.

Ulrich got another boost in his campaign when Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) posted a statement backing his run on Facebook, the same day the party establishment announced that it would back Reyes. Halloran is running for the redrawn version of the 6th Congressional District, now represented by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau).

"My friend and City Council colleague Eric Ulrich is running for state Senate, in a district that partially overlaps my new Congressional seat," Halloran said — rather boldly predicting the results of November's election months ahead of time. "Political Albany Democrats have spent and spent until our state is on the brink of bankruptcy. People are leaving New York State because they can’t afford it and we’re bleeding middle-class jobs. I will be honored to work [with] Eric as our state senator. It's time for younger, non-career, politicians to step up to the plate. It's time for real change. The GOP will make Queens the epicenter of taking back Republican strongholds in NYC."

The seat that Ulrich and Reyes hope to win from Addabbo is one the Republicans held for years under state Sen. Serphin Maltese, until he was defeated by Addabbo in 2008. Maltese is also a former chairman of the state Conservative Party. With Republican control of the state Senate resting on a razor-thin margin, the GOP is determined to win back seats like Addabbo's.

In 2010, Addabbo fended off a challenge from Republican Anthony Como, who had done a brief stint as a city councilman following the resignation of Dennis Gallagher, who quit over a sex scandal. Como lost the council seat, which had previously been reliably Republican, to now-Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), who is running in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District — the seat that Halloran seemed to think he'd already won in his posting backing Ulrich.

The Republicans have been bolstered in their belief that they can win back seats they recently lost by last year's victory of now-Rep. Bob Turner (R-Rockaway) over state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Hollis) in the race to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned over revelations of his lewdness. Their cause could be further advanced if Mitt Romney makes headway in his run against President Obama and more Democrats in Queens become dispirited enough to avoid heading out to vote at all in November. Democrats like Addabbo are promoting a centrist image in line with that of Gov. Cuomo, who has won the approval of many Republican voters by standing up in several instances to the liberal state Assembly and the public employee unions, generally among the strongest backers of Democratic candidates.

Posted in Politics on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 5:50 pm. Updated: 2:28 am. | Tags: Serphin Maltese , Eric Ulrich , Anthony Como , Republican Party , Juan Reyes , Joe Addabbo Jr. , Conservative Party , Howard Beach Queens , Dennis P. Gallagher , Conservative Party Of New York , Joseph Addabbo Jr. , Dan Halloran , Tom Long , Queens Conservative Chairman , Ulrich , Mitt Romney , Phil Ragusa , Vince Tabone , Robert Hornak , Bart Haggerty , Gary Ackerman , Dennis Gallagher , Elizabeth Crowley , David Weprin , Bob Turner , Obama Comments (0)

N. Queens: Ackerman endorses Meng for Congress

In lockstep with the Queens County Democrats, retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau) announced Tuesday morning that he is endorsing Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng for the newly created 6th Congressional District.

Although the new district only covers 37 percent of Ackerman’s domain, his support is seen as significant. Most other elected Democrats have already endorsed her.

“When the baton is passed in November, I hope it’s Grace Meng,” the congressman said, noting that the two of them share similar, though different, backgrounds.

Ackerman, 69, who announced his retirement in March, said both he and Meng had parents who came from another country and worked hard to make sure their children had a better education.

He pointed to her “style, maturity, and level-headedness” at the announcement, held outside the Pomonok Senior Center, adding that the other Democratic contenders “are all good people, but we have a choice.”

Others running for the seat are Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowly (D-Middle Village) and Dr. Robert Mittman, a Bayside physician.

Also on Tuesday, Lancman was endorsed by former city Public Advocate Mark Green. He previously got the support of former Mayor Ed Koch.

The winner of the June 26 Democratic primary will face Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), the presumptive Republican nominee, in November.

Posted in Politics, Central, Queenswide, North, Politics on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 2:33 pm. Updated: 2:28 am. Comments (0)

Tuesday 05/01/2012
Queens political rivals are also birthday buddies

Caught between its more famous colleagues, May Day and Cinco de Mayo, May 2 is pretty much an afterthought when it comes to the who's who of May days (see: Memorial Day).

But besides the history of May 2 — including Anne Boleyn, a former queen of England, being arrested and charged with witchcraft in 1536, and the Negro National League playing its first baseball game in Indianapolis in 1920 — the day also brings two former Queens rivals together.

U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) were both born on May 2 — Turner in 1941 and Weprin in 1956.

While Weprin and Turner, who ran against each other for the Congressional seat previously held by Anthony Weiner, won't likely be sharing a piece of cake, the assemblyman is holding a fundraiser in the form of a birthday party. And, according to a New York Daily News headline about the fundraiser, Weprin "knows how to party" — with Bowzer, from Sha Na Na, at least.

Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, of '70s television fame, will be appearing at Weprin's May 10 shindig at Manhattan's Retreat Lounge — but no one yet knows if he'll be serenading Weprin.

As for Turner, there's no word yet as to how he'll be celebrating his birthday — though, according to Jerry Springer, the congressman has been known to be entertaining at fetes.

In an article from City & State last August, during the Congressional race, Jerry Springer describes a party with Turner, the rowdy talk-show host's former boss who was an executive for the television production company Multimedia Entertainment.

"'The one time I saw him with his hair down — at least the hair that he had, there was some function for Multimedia,' Springer, who grew up in Kew Gardens, said in the article. "Maybe it was the beginning of the new season or something. And he was the host of it. And it was a country-western theme. He was dressed in a cowboy outfit with the bandana around his neck.'"

Posted in Politics on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 1:47 pm. Updated: 4:14 pm. Comments (0)

Friday 04/27/2012
Why did Meng hire someone who exploits women?

Yesterday Assemblywoman Grace Meng skirted the issue of financially supporting a political consulting firm whose close affiliate both profits from and promotes the world's oldest profession.

Meng, who represents Flushing and is of Asian descent, is paying Multi-Media, the firm that operates out of the same office as the Queens Tribune, to do the printing for her run in the contentious 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary. She did this without realizing, or maybe without caring, that the head of Multi-Media is also the Tribune's associate publisher, and the Tribune sells as many ads as it can each week for "adult services" from women, most of them Asian.

These are ads that offer things like "Sweet Asian Girls — $50 per Hour" on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale, and "Young Asians Body Massage" on Cherry Avenue in Flushing, and "Hot Asian — Youngest Sexy Girls — Lowest Rates in NYC — Party Girls Available — Multiple Girl Specials" (no address there, but it's a 718 number).

The ads feature lots of silhouettes of well-built young women in poses like you used to see on tractor-trailer mudflaps. Real classy stuff.

The Chronicle asked Meng about her hiring of Multi-Media at a press conference Thursday on — of all things — sex trafficking! Meng is being honored tomorrow by the Center for the Women of New York, which has made battling the sex trade a priority. The center's chairwoman, Ann Jawin, apparently chose Meng as a recipient before the latter decided to run for Congress and hire someone who helps enable an illegal industry to do her printing.

Meng said she would talk to Multi-Media about the ads. Talk. OK.

About a year ago, Jawin asked the weekly newspapers of Queens to stop running such ads. She mostly got the brushoff. But the Chronicle signed a pledge to not accept them — we hadn't been anyway — so Jawin gave Publisher Mark Weidler an award.

We haven't forgotten our commitment. The sex industry in New York isn't just about Midwestern girls who came to the big city with dreams of being Rockettes and ended up having to do what they had to do to pay the rent and eat — which is bad enough. It's also about women like those in Flushing who are forced into hooking by gangsters who do things like steal their passports and beat them after luring them to Queens with lies about jobs cleaning houses and the like. We are not going to stop doing what we can to highlight this issue.

That's why you see stories in our paper about Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Francisco Moya's efforts to combat sex trafficking; columns by the senator on the same; coverage of Jawin's group; and stories about any hypocrisy or lack of knowledge we see out of candidates for office.

What a primary. The party leaders probably didn't expect a primary against Meng from a political pro like Assemblyman Rory Lancman, but they got it. They probably didn't expect the party chairman's own cousin to run against his choice for the office, but she did. They probably didn't expect revelations about how an operative tried to recruit Jewish candidates to take votes from Lancman, but they were made. They probably didn't expect a dark secret from their stalker candidate's past to drive him from the race, but it did.

And they probably didn't expect anyone to do anything but cheer when their candidate was named the recipient of an award for supporting women's rights. But we are. Certain questions need answering.

Posted in Politics on Friday, April 27, 2012 6:24 pm. Updated: 7:04 pm. | Tags: Grace Meng , Flushing Queens , Multi-media , Flushing , Human Trafficking , Ann Jawin , Queens Tribune , The Chronicle , The Tribune , Meng , Democratic Primary , Rory Lancman , Center For The Women Of New York , Jose Peralta , Congress , Mark Weidler , Francisco Moya Comments (0)

Tuesday 04/24/2012
Northeast Queens: Silverstein vs. Halloran for Council? Maybe.

Matthew Silverstein, the Democratic state committeeman from Bayside who reportedly turned down a run in his party's crowded primary for the new 6th Congressional District, revealed today that he has his eyes on a more local prize: Dan Halloran's City Council seat.

Silverstein announced the creation of an exploratory committee for a run next year for the 19th District seat. Its first event will be a May 2 fundraiser in Manhattan.

"Over the past two years it truly has been a great honor to serve as the Democratic State Committeeman for the 26th Assembly District," Silverstein said in a prepared statement announcing the move. "While walking about the district, talking to constituents, I have heard the many concerns about our great city. They range from the future of our school system, tax equity for our co-op and condo owners, protecting senior citizens, finding jobs for New Yorkers, or helping our returning veterans re-integrate into society, people seem to feel that New York City is on the wrong track.

"I believe we can do better," he continued. "The people of the 19th Council District deserve better, and together we can make a difference."

Halloran won the seat in 2009 and is one of four Republicans on the 51-seat City Council. Whether he will be Silverstein's opponent in 2013 is an open question, however, because he is the GOP candidate for the same Congressional seat Silverstein declined to run for. He will face any one of six Democrats vying for their party's nomination in a primary. If Halloran wins, he goes to Washington. If he loses, he retains his council seat.

Silverstein's fundraiser will be held at a tavern called the Irish Rogue. That leaves open the possibility that some speaker at the event will joke about the irony of raising money at the Irish Rogue for a run against an Irish Rogue. The boisterous and colorful Halloran himself might even appreciate such a line.

Posted in Politics on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:36 pm. Updated: 2:29 am. | Tags: Silverstein , Halloran , Dan Halloran , Matthew Silverstein , New York City , City Council , Congressional District , Democratic Party , Republican Party , A Primary , Washington Comments (0)