king of queens
The Queens County Democratic Party is expected to endorse Councilman Leroy Comrie for borough president next week, according to four sources plugged into various sides of the race.
The sources–some of whom were disappointed in the decision–told Politicker that Congressman Joe Crowley, the head of the borough’s Democratic organization, will probably endorse Mr. Comrie to balance his leadership position in one of the most demographically diverse counties in the country.
Councilman Dan Halloran’s former chief of staff, running in the race to replace him after he was arrested on corruption charges, has raised about $11,000 in less than two weeks.
Chrissy Voskerichian abruptly left her post when Mr. Halloran, a Republican, was charged last month for allegedly quarterbacking a bribery scheme for a mayoral candidate. She filed a campaign committee to run in the Democratic primary in Mr. Halloran’s northeast Queens district, even before he said he would not seek re-election.
Former Councilwoman Melinda Katz raised $80,000 during the most recent filing period, placing her total at $489,313 raised thus far, her campaign for Queens borough president announced this morning.
“We’re in great shape going into our final push to hit the max by the July filing,” a campaign source wrote to Politicker in an email.
It is a question few in the New York political establishment dare to ask publicly: is the seemingly endless string of indictments and arrests of elected officials a conspiracy against minorities in power?
But there was Queens State Sen. James Sanders Jr., bellowing in a theater with a preacher’s rhythm, more than implying last night that the recent arrests of black elected officials like Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and State Sen. John Sampson were not coincidental. Even State Sen. Shirley Huntley, who admitted to stealing funds earmarked for her district’s underprivileged children and was sentenced Thursday for her crimes, could have been linked to a conspiracy, Mr. Sanders said.
Ironically, Mr. Sanders defeated Ms. Huntley last year–after she was indicted–and took her seat in the State Senate.
Former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who pleaded guilty in February to falsifying evidence and attempting to cover up her embezzle efforts, was sentenced in court today to a year and a day in jail. In addition, she will have to pay $87,700 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“The crux of this case has always been the defendant Shirley Huntley’s greed and self-interest,” United States Attorney Loretta Lynch announced in a statement. “Promising to provide much needed assistance to the parents of New York City public schoolchildren, … Shirley Huntley violated the public trust and betrayed her constituents by stealing public funds for her own benefit.”
Ms. Lynch added, “Today’s sentence should send a clear message: we will bring to justice those who corrupt the system of laws upon which our community relies.”
A name familiar to millions of New Yorkers could enter a volatile Queens City Council race.
Rudy S. Giuliani, chief of staff to Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich and second cousin to the former mayor of the same name, is mulling a run for indicted GOP Councilman Dan Halloran’s seat, multiple sources told Politicker.
“If there’s a special election, it’d be hard to pass up,” one Queens Republican insider said. “That’s how he’s framed it to me.”
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.”
The Vallone Zone
“Queens is discriminated against on an almost daily basis,” Councilman Peter Vallone told Politicker last week at Dark Horse, a restaurant near his City Council office.
“Things happen to Queens that would never happen to another borough,” he said, sipping a Stella Artois and taking bites of blackened salmon. “They’d never rename the Brooklyn Bridge. They’d never rename the Manhattan Bridge. Queensboro Bridge is renamed, nobody says a peep. Nobody makes a peep other than me.”
Mr. Vallone, a candidate for borough president, complains that Queens “hasn’t had a bully in the pulpit,” and he would like to change that.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn officially launched her long anticipated mayoral campaign this morning with a “walk and talk tour” of the five boroughs. Though the event was carefully choreographed, with the locations of the various stops not made public so only handpicked supporters and reporters who tagged along in a press van without knowing the destinations could meet Ms. Quinn at each point of her journey, the Speaker was still confronted with a heckler who brought up one of the more controversial moments of her career–when the Council she led paved the way for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for a third term by overturning the term limits law in 2008.
“Why did you push Bloomberg for a third term!” an elderly man named Herbert Goldman shouted as Ms. Quinn spoke at her third stop of the day in Forest Hills, Queens.
O Say Can You Hear?
Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert was the surprise guest this morning at the House Democratic retreat and his appearance included quips about his sister’s House bid in North Carolina and a “dramatic” duet of the Star Spangled Banner with Queens Congressman Joe Crowley. Sadly, Mr. Crowley’s office told us they don’t have video footage of the comedian and congressman performing, but Mr. Crowley did offer up a complimentary appraisal of his partner’s performance.
“All I can say is Stephen Colbert can be my back-up singer anytime,” he said.