exiting stage right
Melinda Katz scored the endorsement of 1199 SEIU today, adding to her bevy of labor support in the race for Queens borough president.
Ms. Katz’s campaign touted the union’s endorsement–they represent more than 200,000 healthcare workers in the city, many black and Latino–as further evidence that crucial minority voters will back her and not her rival, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
king of queens
In a surprise move, State Senator Tony Avella announced this afternoon he will drop out of the Queens borough president’s race, setting up a two-way slugfest between former Councilwoman Melinda Katz and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.
“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to withdraw from the Queens Borough President race,” Mr. Avella said in a statement. “This was certainly not an easy decision and I am eternally grateful for the overwhelming amount of support I received from people throughout Queens.”
king of queens
The candidates for Queens borough president faced off in their first major televised debate earlier tonight on NY1, discussing the future of Willets Point, stop-and-frisk and the lasting controversy over term limits.
But the most heated moments came as the participants were invited to ask questions of one another near the end of the debate.
exiting stage right
State Senator Tony Avella is accusing Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., a rival in the race for Queens borough president, of repeatedly “bullying” and “threatening” him in a push to get him to drop his bid.
“Personally, I think he’s a bully and a coward and afraid of having me on the ballot,” Mr. Avella told Politicker today, claiming Mr. Vallone has tried several times over the course of the election to get him to leave the race. “Let the chips fall where they may.”
Councilman Leroy Comrie today announced an end to his bid for Queens borough president, citing “personal matters” as his reason for leaving the race.
“After careful consideration, my family and I believe, due to personal matters, this is the best course of action,” Mr. Comrie said in a statement. “I remain steadfast in my faith and belief in government and it is a true honor to continue to serve the people of Southeast Queens in my capacity as Councilman.”
The Queens Democratic Party is famously unified, as their endorsement tends to come along with most of the county’s elected officials. For former Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s borough president campaign, which was backed by the Democratic organization last month, this has proven to be the case yet again–with a slew of new endorsements announced today.
Current Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez declared their support for the Katz campaign, along with former borough president candidate and State Senator José Peralta, State Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubrey.
The Vallone Zone Does D.C.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has long been accused of using the Council’s budget as a tool to punish those who cross her and keep members in line. But, as member item allocations have come under increased scrutiny in light of the mayor’s race, Ms. Quinn appears to have changed course.
Sources familiar with the camps of three of Ms. Quinn’s most vocal critics in recent months told Politicker Tuesday that their member allocations–which fund local community non-profits, including senior centers and after-school programs–will either remain steady or tick up slightly, according to preliminary numbers shared with their offices this week.
Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the City Council’s Public Safety committee, is fuming over the federal Justice Department’s support for a federal monitor over the NYPD.
Filling in for a traveling Mayor Michael Bloomberg on John Gambling’s WOR radio show this morning, Mr. Vallone, who is already fighting other measures to curb stop-and-frisk, blasted Attorney General Eric Holder for trying to “mess with New York City” by suggesting new police oversight in response to a lawsuit against the controversial policy. He specifically warned a monitor would lead to more shooting deaths.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a plan Monday to bypass Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.’s efforts to halt the passage of two controversial public safety bills by forcing a vote using a rarely-used mechanism that members–including Mr. Vallone—had previously threatened to use against Ms. Quinn.
Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander said they plan to file discharge petitions later this week to force the council to vote on two bills opposed by both the mayor and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly: one that would create an independent inspector general to monitor the NYPD and another that would expand the definition of racial profiling and allow those who believe they’ve been wronged to sue police in state court.
Councilman Leroy Comrie, once considered a front-runner in the Queens borough presidents race, is “looking at every option,” he told Politicker this morning when asked if he’s planning to drop his bid.
“I’m not prepared to put that out publicly yet, I’m still working on it,” he said during the Memorial Day Parade in the Laurelton neighborhood of Queens.