Hammering on Halloran
The City Council will vote next week to strip Councilman Dan Halloran of all his committee assignments after he was charged today with taking part in a bribery scheme.
“These allegations represent a reprehensible abuse of the public’s trust,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement earlier this afternooon. “If true, then the full weight of the legal system should be brought to bear on all parties implicated. The matter will be immediately referred to the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee.”
In the wake of bribery charges being brought against the Queens Republican Party’s executive vice president, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich is calling for former Congressman Bob Turner to the lead the party.
“I want to see Bob Turner as the next chairman and I want [Queens GOP Chair] Phil Ragusa to resign immediately,” Mr. Ulrich told Politicker. “I believe Ragusa has an obligation to step aside. The only person who can bring peace and bring people together is Bob Turner because of his integrity, character and ability to work with people on different sides. He’s very conciliatory.”
Malcolm in the Middle
“Today is another sad and disappointing day for every New Yorker,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced at his press conference this morning where he unsealed corruption charges against six officials–including State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran–accusing them of accepting bribes to boost Mr. Smith’s mayoral campaign.
“The charges we unsealed today demonstrate once again the ‘show me the money culture’ seems to pervade every level of New York government,” he continued. “The criminal complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany.”
Vince Tabone, who works both as a staffer on GOP mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis’ campaign and as an attorney in the billionaire businessman’s company, was reportedly among the politicos arrested earlier this morning, a group that also includes State Sen. Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. They face wire fraud and bribery charges in an alleged scheme to help rig the mayoral race in Mr. Smith’s favor.
Politicker reached out to Mr. Catsimatidis for his reaction to these developments.
Law & Order
Two of the most colorful characters in New York City politics, Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith and GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, were arrested earlier this morning, according to multiple news outlets. They were among six people reportedly charged, including Bronx GOP chair Jay Savino and Queens GOP vice-chair Vince Tabone, in an alleged bribery plot to secure Mr. Smith a slot to run in the Republican mayoral primary.
Mr. Halloran is known for many things in city politics, including his outspoken embrace of libertarian philosophy, disputed reports of an intentional snowplow slowdown after 2010′s infamous blizzard, and his pagan religion. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith might be best known for his zoot suits complete with suspenders and pinstripes, picking strange political battles like a press conference denouncing the rapper Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter, and his somewhat surprising decision to seek City Hall’s top job on the other side of the partisan aisle without actually changing his voter registration. He would have needed the support of three GOP county leaders to do so, which federal prosecutors are alleging is at the heart of today’s case.
City Council Republicans and mayoral candidate Joe Lhota were mostly in sync with Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, denouncing a bill that would create an inspector general’s office for the NYPD.
“There’s no reason to have an inspector general office for the NYPD,” Mr. Lhota said at City Hall this morning. “It already has oversight by the five district attorneys, by the two U.S. attorneys, by various other organizations. Its just another level of bureaucracy that is being put upon the City of New York and it’s absolutely unnecessary.”
Austin Shafran, who’s leaving his Cuomo Administration post today to run for the City Council, ripped into his potential opponent, GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, a self-described libertarian, for his positions on a whole host of topics ranging from gun control to federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Dan Halloran’s support for the radical NRA proposals clearly shows he is out of step with a community that cares about the safety of its children,” Mr. Shafran told Politicker this morning, alluding to what could become a dominant theme in one of the rare toss-up general election City Council races in New York City. “It was a watershed moment—you choose the political interests of the NRA over the public safety of our schools and children.”
Unlike Teddy Roosevelt, the president he quoted at last night’s Queens redistricting hearing, Republican Councilman Dan Halloran spoke loudly and did not carry a big stick.
Mr. Halloran’s bruising 2009 City Council race in northeast Queens cast a long shadow over the hearing in Long Island City- the third of its kind in front of a commission tasked with the decennial redrawing of districts to reflect demographic changes in the city- where he and allied civic groups clashed with Asian advocacy organizations about whether a neighborhood, Oakland Gardens, should be incorporated into Mr. Halloran’s 19th District. The heavily Asian neighborhood, which groups like the Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy (ACCORD) believe should be joined with nearby Bayside to empower Asian-American voters in the area, is currently in Councilman Mark Weprin’s district.
“Additionally, contrary to some public submissions which call for the creation of a Asian or other ethnic district, I cannot help but to recall the words of the great New Yorker and president, Teddy Roosevelt when he said that, ‘There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans,’” Mr. Halloran said. “We do not have proposals to create an Irish district, an Italian district, a Greek district, a district of green eyed people or a district of left handed people.”
news of the world
In a few months, Queens County’s elected officials are gathering for a musical talent show of sorts. In a flier sent out to the borough’s legislators, the show, a fundraiser for Queens College, is “seeking elected officials who can sing, act, dance, do comedy and are willing to share their talents in a musical comedy revue which celebrates our wonderful borough.”
According to a source, two of the borough’s most musical officials, Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley and GOP Councilman Dan Halloran, both seemed likely to attend. Mr. Crowley, of course, is a well-known music lover, from “Call Me Maybe” to little ditties in his fundraising solicitations. For his part, Mr. Halloran is a fairly talented alternative rock singer, as he thoroughly demonstrated at one of his own fundraisers.
Queens Democrat Grace Meng became the first Asian-American from New York to be elected to Congress when she defeated Republican Councilman Dan Halloran on Tuesday, but after her victory, she focused on her status as a female elected official rather than her background. In a speech before a room full of supporters and local officials at the Sheraton LaGuardia East last night, Ms. Meng emphasized the importance of electing women to government office and voiced her support for the middle class rather than trumpeting her win as a watershed moment for Asian-Americans.
“Tonight is historic in that we’ve taken one small step in getting more women elected to government,” Ms. Meng said as she addressed the room. ”More women in government means practical attention on how families educate their children, how they pay their bills, how they worship, how they participate in their community, and how they plan for the future.“