It snowed, hailed and rained on Bill de Blasio’s parade. The public advocate spent Monday, his first official day as a mayoral candidate, on a journey that spanned over sixty miles and all five boroughs, a dramatic, physical manifestation of his plan to propel himself to Gracie Mansion by reaching out to disenfranchised residents in the far flung corners of the city and channeling populist backlash against the policies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg along the way.
State Senator Jose Peralta, regarded as one of the front-runners in the hotly contested race for Queens Borough President, has the subtle backing of New York Mets and Major League Soccer executives, according to his latest disclosure statements.
Peralta’s district includes Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and Willets Point, where the real estate company headed by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz won a high-profile bid–along with Related Companies–to turn the auto repair shop haven into a shopping and housing complex. The long-delayed Willets Point project is not without controversy, though Mr. Peralta and the Queens Democratic establishment are in support of the development.
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.”
The Vallone Zone
Queens Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. will announce his bid for Queens Borough President tomorrow, a Democratic source with knowledge of Mr. Vallone’s plans confirmed. Mr. Vallone will make his announcement at his father’s holiday party in Astoria. Peter Vallone Sr., the former City Council Speaker, is hosting the bash at the restaurant Don Coqui. The invitation noted the event will include “an announcement as to Council Member Vallone’s future political plans at the party, because he wants those closest to know first!”
king of queens
State Senator Tony Avella, an outspoken Queens pol who has been mulling a run for borough president for some time, is ready to pull the trigger and announce his campaign. And he’s not holding back criticism against the term-limited incumbent, Helen Marshall, and her handling of post-Hurricane Sandy efforts.
“I thought we should have had a much more active borough president and much more of a coordinating effort from the office of the borough president,” Mr. Avella told the Times Ledger. “That convinced me Queens needs a voice.”
Last year, GOP Congressman Bob Turner drew national headlines when he notched an upset victory in the special election to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose infaous lewd tweet led to the liberal firebrand’s resignation. However, after giving up his seat for a failed Senate bid and watching his party lose the presidential election, it sounds like Mr. Turner might be giving up the political life.
“I’m very disappointed, but the country has changed, its demographics, its values, but I’m part of the old guard,” Mr. Turner said at Councilman Eric Ulrich’s election night event, according to Forest Hills Patch. “I think it’s a really sad day.”
With last night’s elections, a number of seats changed hands between the Democratic and Republican parties across New York State, and indeed the entire country. But in the five boroughs of New York City, it was a one-way street.
At the congressional level, for example, the city lost half its Republican representation with the exit of Queens’ Bob Turner, who unsuccessfully ran for his party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate. GOP Councilman Dan Halloran had his sights on the remnants of Mr. Turner’s district in northeastern part of the borough, but the area’s solidly Democratic tendencies allowed Assemblywoman Grace Meng to easily leap over Mr. Halloran and secure a new gig in Washington D.C.
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.“
Earlier this afternoon, “a group of irate Orthodox community leaders” held a conference call to protest poll site changes implemented in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens. In the call, local Jewish leaders alleged their new voting location was designed to dampen turnout in their ideologically conservative community as it struggles to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation.
“We’re a group of people who really, really suffered tremendously,” Richard Altabe, a board member of the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance, said. “Or voting rights are about to be taken away from us. It’s going to be difficult enough to get people to vote….Our ability to speak and have our voices heard is going to be squashed by circumstances. I’m really, really horrified.”
Breezy Point, on the tip of the Rockaway Peninsula, was among the most devastated neighborhoods in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, floods and fires left the area reminiscent of a war zone.
The fires also claimed the homes of Congressman Bob Turner and State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, Crain’s Insider reported. Fortunately, Mr. Turner’s office told the publication that the congressman and his wife made it out safely. Mr. Long is safe-and-sound too.