Tag Archives: 6th Congressional District

Meng, Halloran go head to head in Middle Village


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A state assemblymember criticized for being “too nice” and a city councilmember deemed “too aggressive” dueled in a Middle Village debate last week.

The two candidates running for the open 6th District Congressional seat — Democratic Assemblymember Grace Meng and Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran — detailed their stances on hot-button federal issues and defended themselves against their negative portrayals at a Juniper Park Civic Association forum held on October 18.

The hopefuls butted heads when it came to their clashing opinions on the Affordable Care Act and immigration reform.

While Meng believes the Affordable Care Act is not a “perfect system” — saying it initially led to confusion for small business owners and fear for seniors — she said the federal statute, commonly called Obamacare, is a “great step in a very important direction.”

Halloran disagreed, saying the health care law will stifle small businesses and create “as many problems as it’s going to solve.” He also said health care should be a state issue and not one handled by the federal government.

In regards to immigration reform, the two candidates were unified in saying providing help to legal Americans come first, but they did not share the same views on passing the DREAM Act. Meng supports the bipartisan legislation — which would make qualifying undocumented youths eligible for a path to citizenship if passed — while Halloran firmly said there should be no path to citizenship for anyone who comes to the country illegally.

The hopefuls then had a chance to debunk how they are commonly depicted. Halloran said he may be seen as “too aggressive,” but that forcefulness, he said, is sometimes necessary to get things done.

“Nobody stands up for the county of Queens loudly enough,” he said. “You don’t do that by being quiet.”

Meng, on the other hand — who said she is seen by many as being “too nice” — said that quality should not be underestimated.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” she said.

Halloran, Meng polls at odds over 6th District race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

meng halloran

A new poll released by Councilmember Dan Halloran found him and Assemblymember Grace Meng in a virtual tie for the 6th Congressional District seat, though his opponent says a 30 point gap still separates them.

Halloran’s poll, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found the Republican to be trailing Meng by three points, which is within the poll’s margin of error (5.7 percent).

“The poll confirms that Dan Halloran is on his way to winning this race. Dan won over Democrats in his Council race and he is doing it again in the heart of Queens,” said spokesperson Kevin Ryan. “Voters know that he will fight to create jobs, help small businesses and reduce gas prices.”

Meng’s spokesperson released a statement saying internal polling by the campaign has the assemblymember holding a 51-22 advantage in the district.

“Leave it to Dan Halloran to release a tailor-made poll. This “poll” is nothing more than a desperate attempt on behalf of the Halloran campaign to raise money from its far right, radical Tea Party base of support. Once again, Dan Halloran just makes things up and expects no one to question him,” said Meng spokesperson Austin Finan.

One thing the disparate polls agreed upon was the amount of undecided voters. Halloran’s poll measured the number at 30 percent while Meng’s survey found 27 percent still unsure.

Halloran leads Meng among voters who have heard of both candidates (40-35) and who have an opinion of both (61-33), according to the McLaughlin & Associates poll.

The pollsters concluded that in a district that has voted for Republican in the past including Senator Frank Padavan, Senator Serf Maltese, Rudy Giuliani and Halloran, the councilmember can be victorious.

Further proof given was Mitt Romney’s three point lead over President Barack Obama in the district, according to the poll.

A Siena College survey of the 15th Senate District that includes more conservative portions of the 6th Congressional District found Obama to be leading Romney by three points in early October.

McLaughlin & Associates, a national survey research and strategic services company, currently represents 20 sitting members of Congress all of whom are Republican.

Three hundred voters were surveyed on October 10 and 11 for the poll.

Medicare, money at center of 6th Congressional District mudslinging


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Traditional Medicare could be endangered if the power to decide the fate of the major, federal insurance program falls into the wrong party’s hands, according to a Democratic congressional hopeful.

“Republican plans for Medicare would end guaranteed benefits for our seniors and destroy the traditional Medicare option,” said Assemblymember Grace Meng, who hopes to secure a House seat in November.

The candidate was joined by former Congressmember Liz Holtzman to outline the “stark differences” between the two parties over handling Medicare, during an October 9 press conference outside the Bayside Senior Center.

“Seniors are rightly worried these days about important programs like Medicare being harmed by the misguided policies of the Tea Party Republicans in Washington, D.C.,” said Holtzman, who served in Congress from 1973 to 1981.

Meanwhile, Meng is being taken to task by her Republican rival, Councilmember Dan Halloran, for “ducking” two forums in the last week after having agreed earlier this year to face off with him in a series of five debates. In three out of four candidate nights, Halloran’s camp said the councilmember debated against “an empty chair.”

Halloran said he was “eager to publicly discuss” a recently published New York Post report, which said the councilmember is allegedly being investigated by the Albany district attorney for being over two years behind in filing campaign finance reports for his 2009 City Council run.

According to the Post, Halloran has missed five filing deadlines and owes the state $3,243 in fines and growing interest.

But Halloran’s camp said a State Board of Elections spokesperson was misquoted in the story, having never said the agency was contacted by the district attorney regarding Halloran’s filings.

Halloran had previously condemned Meng for failing to file her personal financial disclosures in May.

Mayor Bloomberg endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

Assemblymember Grace Meng secured a major boost to her campaign this week, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted her as the “independent voice” in Congress for middle-class families and a “bridge-builder in Albany.”

“New Yorkers demand representation in Washington that puts the needs of the taxpayers ahead of partisan politics,” said Bloomberg, who endorsed the Democrat’s run for the 6th District seat on Monday, October 1.

“Whether it’s her outspoken support for sensible gun legislation to help make our streets safer or her advocacy for common sense immigration reform, Grace embodies the values that Queens residents care about most,” the mayor said.

Meng — who also secured boosts from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association earlier this month — returned the praises, saying the mayor’s leadership helped make the city and nation stronger.

“Like the mayor, I have made the tough, but necessary choices to deliver for my constituents as an assemblymember — a habit I plan to continue as a member of Congress,” she said.

But Meng’s rival, Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, disagreed on both counts, arguing the mayor disregarded the will of the voters while depicting Meng as a “go-along Democrat,” whose majority of votes lie in tandem with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Albany.

“I have vocally fought the mayor‘s social engineering pet projects and spending excesses,” Halloran said, “and despite the mayor’s billions, I will continue to speak truth to power. [Meng] certainly isn’t rocking the boat here in New York, and we can’t expect her to in Congress.”

Halloran’s camp minimalized Meng’s mayoral endorsement by dumping it alongside other “feel good” and often widely unpopular measures Bloomberg championed for this year, including the ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks from certain venues.

The soda ban, bike lanes and the endorsement of Meng top the pile of the mayor’s “bad ideas,” the councilmember’s team said.

“Bloomberg’s latest suggestion for the [city], voting for Grace Meng, is just as detrimental to New Yorkers’ freedom and prosperity as the rest of the mayor’s ill-conceived ideas,” said Halloran’s spokesperson, Kevin Ryan. “Our voters need Meng in Congress like they needed the soda ban.”

Bloomberg — now an independent, but who was a Democrat before seeking elective office, later switching his registration in 2001 and running for mayor as a Republican — gave $1 million to State Senate Republicans last week.

Meng also received the endorsement of former mayor Ed Koch in August, but another former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is slated to be the special guest at an October 9 fundraiser for Halloran.

Ed Koch endorses Grace Meng for Congress


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Grace Meng

After backing one of her opponents in the primary, former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Assemblymember Grace Meng for the newly drawn 6th Congressional District.

“Grace Meng is unequivocally the strongest candidate to maintain strong U.S. relations with the State of Israel,” Koch said on the steps of City Hall on Monday, August 13. “Grace has demonstrated a deep understanding of the nature of Israel’s struggle in its corner of the world and why it’s so important for Israeli and American interests and global security that the United States stands in support of her.”

During the lead up to the Democratic primary, Koch endorsed Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who Meng defeated.

“Mayor Koch has long stood as a pillar of strong U.S.-Israeli relations and a champion of middle class families everywhere, which is why I am so honored and thankful to have his endorsement during this critical moment in our nation’s history,” Meng said of the endorsement.

Koch served in Congress for eight years prior to his 12 years as mayor of New York City.

Meng will face off against Councilmember Dan Halloran in the November 6 general election.

 

Live Coverage: Queens Primary Day at the races


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

11:40 P.M.

In a released written statement, Bob Turner, who lost tonight’s U.S. Senate Republican primary to Wendy Long said:

“I congratulate Ms. Long on her impressive victory tonight. I want to thank Chairman Cox and all of the Republicans from across the state who supported me in this campaign. I went to Congress last year as a citizen legislator on a clear mission to help save our nation from the harmful big-government policies that are keeping New Yorkers out of work, small businesses shuttered and record levels of debt on the backs of our children. Senator Gillibrand has made a dramatic transformation from her days as a conservative Democrat to now being named the nation’s most liberal senator as a loyal supporter of the Obama-Reid agenda. I remain steadfastly committed to these goals and I pledge to work with Ms. Long to unite all Republicans and Conservatives in the effort to defeat Kirsten Gillibrand in November.”

11:30 P.M. 

Several media sources are also reporting Gregory Meeks the primary winner in District 5, Grace Meng in District 6 and Wendy Long in the  U.S. Senate Republican primary.

 

 

 

 

 

11:05 p.m.

Incumbent Congressmember Nydia Velazquez will continue her run for an 11th term on Capitol Hill, after the New York Times reported the Brooklyn-based representative had won a four-way primary. Velazquez—who is running in the new Congressional District 7— is now running unopposed for the seat, as there is no current Republican candidate.

The new district spans from Chinatown, through Brooklyn and into Woodhaven. Queens residents who were once represented in the soon-to-be defunct District 9 had expressed concern about the redistricting and how they would be represented in such a diverse Congressional area.

10:50 p.m.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries defeated Councilmember Charles Barron in the Democratic primary, and will now face Republican Allan Bellone on November 6. In the days and weeks leading up to the election, Jeffries received key endorsements from Senator Charles Schumer, former Mayor Ed Koch, Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder and State Senator Joseph Addabbo. The newly-drawn District 8—though mainly made up of Brooklyn neighborhoods—includes parts of Howard Beach and Ozone Park.

10:25 p.m.

Eddie Boles, treasurer of the Uniformed Fire Officers Union, who campaigned with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley throughout Queens today, spoke with many undecided voters:

“We emphasized the point that she’s a person that cares about constituents, community.”

“She’s a doer. She provides results.”

While he said he couldn’t know for sure whether Crowley would win, Boles did say “I’m confidant in her ability to be a good congresswoman.”

9 p.m.

Poll are closed. Stay with the Queens Courier for all the results.

6:50 p.m.

Quotes from outside P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadow:

“I’m voting for Crowley because she looks intelligent.  If she wins we will give her a chance to prove to us what she is worth,” Rose Giraldo, 64.

“I don’t really know who is on the ballot, but I’m going to go check it out,” Victor Chan, 36.

6:30 p.m.

Poll monitors at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows said 450 voters have been there and the after work crowd is picking up.

5:45 p.m.

According to poll monitors at M.S. 158 in Bayside, 132 have voted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

The Courier spotted poll workers at M.S. 158 in Bayside single-handedly taking down Assemblymember Grace Meng’s campaign flyers, which were placed on the gates surrounding the school. It is prohibited to place or wear campaign paraphernalia within 500 feet of polling locations, they said.

Earlier this morning, a poll worker at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows told Assemblymember Rory Lancman to take off a campaign sticker he was wearing on his suit that displayed his name when he went to cast his vote.

4:17 p.m.

City & State is reporting that supporters of Assemblymember Rory Lancman and Robert Mittman got into a “heated altercation.”

A man from the Orthodox Jewish anti gay-marriage group Jews For Morality told the site, “I don’t understand why I was attacked by several members of the Lancman campaign. They felt somehow that we were being disingenuous.”

2:30 p.m.

As Congressmember Nydia Velazquez is out at polling stations just hours before polls close, she has been advising that her name is mistranslated in Chinese, DNAinfo has reported.

Velazquez is running in a four-way primary in a newly-drawn district that spans from Chinatown, through Brooklyn and into Woodhaven.

The translation of the 10-term congressmember’s name was in eight characters, DNAinfo reported, which when pronounced did not sound like Velazquez’s name.

Multiple calls to the Board of Elections were not answered.

1:35 p.m.

By 11:30 a.m., 120 voters had cast their ballots at St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing. While the turnout seemed weak for such a contentious race, those present fervently believed their involvement could make a difference.

“The primary is more important than the general election,” said Moogseog Mah, a 60-year-old Flushing resident. “Without the primary, I can’t choose who I want.”

Claudia Sargent, a 57-year-old Flushing resident, said voting in the primary allotted her a “grassroots approach” to politics.

“The primary is where you really get to make your mark, both literally and figuratively,” said Sargent. “I see good possibilities in two candidates, but I voted my conscience. When you vote in the general election, you are voting for the candidate that the [political] machine has chosen for you.”

1:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries, running for the 8th congressional district, walked to P.S. 9 in Brooklyn shortly after 9:45 a.m., with his two sons, Joshua, 8, and Jeremiah, 10, to cast his ballot.

He was completely confident of victory.

“Oh we’re going to win the Democratic primary,” said Jeffries when asked if he doesn’t win the primaries will he still run with another party.

Jeffries said that the early primaries and redistricting presents a challenge, but he still connected with the community.

“There is certainly a challenge as it relates to the accelerated primary and the fact that we have to deal with the redistricting year,” he said. “But that said we’re confident that we’ve identified thousands of supporters who are going to come out and support us today.”

Jeffries also said the district lines, which are comprised of parts of Brooklyn and Queens, will not be a problem.

“There are things that unify people all across this congressional district. Everybody cares about safe streets. Everybody cares about good public schools everybody cares about a strong economy. We are bringing people together all across the congressional district in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and queens. I’m confident that at the end of the day we are going to be successful,” he said.

12:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Grace Meng arrived at St. Andrew Avellino School in Flushing at 11 a.m., ready to cast her vote.  Accompanied by husband Wayne, 37, and their young sons, Tyler, 4, and Brandon, 2, the congressional hopeful smiled as she received a warm welcome.

“We’re expecting a slightly low turnout,” said Meng, who joked she just spotted a family trailing suitcases, leaving for vacation. “We’re still hopeful for the evening rush. Hopefully more people will come out to vote.”

The predicted low turnout did not bother the assemblymember, who mentioned she feels she is getting a great amount of support from the community.

“Several people have said they’re voting for me,” she said.

Meng claimed a major push of her campaign involved spreading the word throughout the borough about voting in the primary, held this year in June for the first time in many years.

“We’ve made tons of phone calls and knocked on tons of doors and hopefully by the close of voting today and the close of the polls we’ll see a good turnout,” said Meng.

Toting Brandon on her hip, Meng strolled into the building to file her ballot.

“We’re very excited to cast out vote for Grace Meng,” said the assemblymember. “We look forward to the results and getting right to work.”

 

12:30 p.m.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman cast his vote at 11 a.m. at P.S. 173 in Fresh Meadows with the support of his two daughters, who helped scan his ballot.

“I’ve always been excited about election day, just being involved in politics my whole life. The elections that I get to vote for myself are even more exciting,” said Lancman, one of four 6th District primary candidates.

Lancman was surrounded by his two daughters, 10-year-old Laura Hannah and 12-year-old Gail, his 14-year-old son Jonathan and his wife Morgan.

“Running for office is a lot of fun, but it’s a tremendous sacrifice for the family,” he said. “It really is a team effort.  My two daughters in particular helping me put my ballot through the scanner was really very nice.”

According to volunteer at a poll site, 211 people had casted their vote at about 11 a.m.

“I feel very confident that we’re going to win,” Lancman said. “I think we have an understanding of what the universal voters are going to be in this race based on past races. We focused our efforts on making sure that we get our message out to who we think is going to vote. From what we can see, we’ve pretty much been accurate about what the universe is. I think we’ll have a good result tonight.”

12:40 p.m. Congressmember Bob Turner cast his vote in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate earlier this morning in his hometown neighborhood of Breezy Point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11:00 a.m.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks cast his vote at about 9:45 this morning in St. Albans at P.S. 118 Lorraine Hansbury School.

With him was his wife, Simone Marie Meeks, who also cast her vote. The long-time congressmember said he was confident going into the last stretch of campaigning before ballots close tonight.

“I feel good, you never take anything for granted,” Meeks said. “You know you’ve got to earn everybody’s vote, and that’s what we try to do.”

Meeks said Congressional District 5’s diversity in many ways made it an area he looked forward to representing again. “I think it’s an exciting district,” he said. “It’s a district that looks like America when you think of it.”

 

 

 

10: 45 a.m.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley cast her vote this morning at P.S. 113 in Glendale flanked by her sons Dennis and Owen after talking to voters in Forest Hills.

“I feel strong. Ive been getting a great response from the people,” the 6th District candidate said.  “I outworked my opponents and I think its been a good campaign.”

The primary comes a day after the city agreed on a new budget that saved the 20 fire companies that were threatened to close.

Crowley who chairs the Fire and Criminal Justice committee said, “Closing even one fire company would have reduced response times and people’s lives would have hung in the balance.”

Surrounded by supporters from the Uniformed Fire Officers union, who endorsed her, Crowley added, “I’m so grateful to have the support of the uniformed fire officers, the firefighters, they’re out there working hard and helping get out message across to the voters.”

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Four Dems vying for congressional seat face off in debate

The four Democratic candidates vying for the 6th Congressional District seat will face off on Thursday at a debate sponsored by the Juniper Park Civic Association and the Daily News. The forum starts at 7:45 p.m. at Our Lady of Hope School Auditorium, 61-21 71st St. in Middle Village. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Woman, 32, slain in apt.

A Bronx woman was stabbed to death in her ex-husband’s apartment building last night, police sources said. Luz Paulino, 33, was repeatedly knifed about 8:50 p.m. in the hallway of the seventh-floor Elmhurst building. She died at Elmurst Hospital. Read more: [New York Post]

City’s High School Grad Rate Flatlines, Data Shows

After years of gains, the city’s high school graduation rate flatlined last year. Data released by the state Monday show 60.9 percent of students in the city graduate in four years, a slight decrease over the 2010 rate of 61 percent. Read more: [NY1]

Flushing merchants worry Macedonia Plaza will hurt business

Local business owners are concerned that a mixed commercial and affordable housing project going up on a Flushing parking lot could hurt struggling shops. The 14-floor Macedonia Plaza, which recently received the funding it needs to move ahead with construction at 37-08 Union St., is not expected to include parking — a provision that worries nearby merchants in congested downtown Flushing. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Giants lineman David Diehl released after arraignment on drunk driving charge

New York Giants star David Diehl was so blitzed when he sideswiped parked cars with his BMW while leaving a Queens bar on Sunday that he couldn’t walk unaided, a witness said. “He was totally obliterated. He couldn’t even function,” said Al, 48, who didn’t want his last name published. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Woman, 64, raped in Qns.

 A 64-year-old woman was raped on a Queens street, cops said last night. The victim was walking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard near Beach 91st Street at 5:30 a.m. Sunday when the man forced her to the ground before sexually assaulting her. Read more: [New York Post]

6th District candidates Meng and Lancman trade jabs over Millionaire’s Tax


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Two democratic congressional contenders traded jabs with each other after one candidate dubbed himself the sole fighter for the Millionaire’s Tax.

In his mailed literature (pictured below), Assemblymember Rory Lancman — who is vying for the newly-redrawn 6th District seat — said he is “the only one” in the race “who fought for the Millionaire’s Tax in the Assembly so the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.” Attempts to plant his flag on the measure’s passage angered colleague and opponent Assemblymember Grace Meng, who claims to be the champion for the middle class, according to her camp.

“While Rory Lancman was busy relishing in his self-promotion, Grace Meng was in Albany building bridges with her colleagues and negotiating the agreement that actually delivered real tax relief for struggling, middle-class families in Queens,” said Meng’s spokesperson, Austin Finan.

The Millionaire’s Tax was passed last December after legislative leaders voted in favor of it during a special session held less than a month before the state’s temporary surcharge was set to expire. The measure creates a higher tax bracket for highest-income residents and reduces the tax rate for millions of middle-class residents.

Finan said Meng, a tax equity supporter, not only pushed for the measure, but stood “front and center” at a Millionaire’s Tax rally held at City Hall last year in October. He also said she penned several statements and op-eds in support of it.

But Lancman’s spokesperson, Eric Walker, boasted of Lancman’s efforts, including writing an op-ed last year in the New York Daily News — and a column in the Huffington Post — and taking the same fight to Fox Business Channel and Capital Tonight. Walker said Lancman called for tax fairness back in 2008 — before Meng was even elected.

“Rory was the only one in this race who fought for the millionaire’s tax — that’s a fact,” Walker said. “If Meng was a leader in the fight for tax fairness, it must have been a top-secret operation.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver remained neutral in the standoff, saying “many members were strong advocates in our fight to extend the Millionaire’s Tax, including both Grace Meng and Rory Lancman.”

Meng was recently endorsed by the National Troopers Coalition, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, the New York Chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the Bangladeshi American Community Council, while Lancman received boosts from The Jewish Press and former Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, another candidate in the four-way Democratic primary, gained the support of Communication Workers of America Local 1101.

Meanwhile, the only citizen candidate in the primary race, Dr. Robert Mittman — a Bayside allergist — recently unveiled his own “Social Security Rescue Plan” and pledged to close the “Medicare doughnut hole” with federal budget savings. He proposed cutting military spending by at least 30 percent, fully eliminating the cap on taxable earnings and said millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share of earnings to the Social Security Fund.

[UPDATE] Congressmember Gary Ackerman endorses Assemblymember Grace Meng in 6th District


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Grace Meng

Assemblymember Grace Meng — one of six congressional hopefuls vying for the newly-drawn 6th District seat — bagged the key endorsement of retiring Representative Gary Ackerman, who said Meng was “head and shoulders above the rest” in the race.

“Grace is without question the most qualified candidate,” Ackerman said. “This is a district I’ve represented all or parts of over the past 35 years in government, and Grace is a unique, highly qualified individual who I would be most comfortable with knowing she is representing the district I represented. She is going to fight for the things that I fought for during my political career, and I know she will do it the most effectively.”

Ackerman, a 15-term congressmember since 1983, announced in March that he would not seek re-election and will be retiring at the end of the year. He said the other candidates were “all good and decent people,” but he said it was “not a close call” in deciding who to endorse, touting Meng’s “personal attitude, accomplishments, character and determination” as reasons for his decision.

“So many people were asking me who I think would be best. People wanted to know. I thought maybe I had an obligation or responsibility,” Ackerman said, adding that while he always had an opinion, he did not originally plan on publicly endorsing a candidate.

The endorsement has raised some concerns, since the consulting firm Meng’s campaign hired is part of the Queens Tribune company, which is partially owned by Ackerman. Ackerman, according to several reports, said that had nothing to do with his decision. Meng told The Courier she knew Ackerman as only her congressmember.

Ackerman cited similarities between Meng and himself, saying they were both raised in Queens by “hardworking, middle class” families. He said she represents the “voice of the quiet people, the everyday people and the hardworking people.”

“They need somebody who isn’t audacious and loud but effective. She believes in the things my district believes in at the greatest extent possible,” Ackerman said.

The “game changing” endorsement from Ackerman, according to the Meng campaign, was the icing on top of the cake after the assemblymember — who is also the choice of the Queens County Democratic Organization — rolled out a major boost from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) late last week.

“It’s been a good week as we’re leading up to the home stretch,” Meng said. “It’s a great boost for our campaign, but the most important endorsements are from the voters.”

Meng said she met up with Ackerman in early April to tell him she was interested in running for his seat and to ask him for his advice and support. Once every week since then, she said she would personally call and update him on the campaign. Meng said he decided last week to officially endorse her.

“He’s been our congressman for over 30 years. He’s worked very hard. He has great name recognition and people really respect him,” Meng said of Ackerman. “I’m very excited.”

Ackerman formally announced his support on Tuesday, May 29 at the Pomonok Senior Center in the South Flushing, where Meng vowed to “carry on his extraordinary legacy and commitment to the working, middle-class as a member of the House of Representatives.”

Meng will face off against Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman in the June 26 Democratic primary. The winner will go up against Republican runner Councilmember Dan Halloran and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou in the November election.

Lancman also landed the support of a major public figure during the home stretch of the Democratic primary race. Mark Green, former city Consumer Affairs commissioner who is also a former elected city public advocate, endorsed Lancman at a press conference held one hour after Ackerman’s announcement. Lancman and Green called for comprehensive campaign finance reform laws at the federal level, pointing to political contributions from “Big Oil” companies as an example of the “corrosive influence” of corporate money on democracy.

“Because Rory Lancman has been a leader to take the ‘for sale’ sign off our state government, I’m endorsing him today because he’ll continue to lead that charge when he gets to Washington,” Green said. “We need a smart, strong progressive voice in Washington — Rory’s it.”

The 6th District candidates will be participating in a handful of upcoming debates hosted by local civic groups on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church, located at 188th Street and 73rd Avenue; on June 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Young Israel of Queens Valley, located at 155-55 77th Avenue; on June 6 at 8 p.m. at 210-10 Union Turnpike; and on June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at I.S. 93, located at Forest Avenue and Madison Street in Ridgewood.

Councilmember Dan Halloran recovering after successful surgery to remove benign tumor


| mchan@queenscourier.com

HALLORAN RECOVERY 2w

Councilmember — and congressional hopeful — Dan Halloran is on the road to recovery after undergoing a lengthy but successful neurosurgical procedure to remove a benign tumor on Wednesday, officials said.

“Dan is doing well,” said spokesperson Steven Stites. “He’s back on his feet and looks like the same old Dan — if you couldn’t tell from his triumphant return to social media.”

According to Stites, Halloran was out of surgery by early evening on Wednesday and is well ahead of his recovery schedule. The councilmember is currently staying at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan but will return home to Flushing to recuperate for the next few weeks, Stites said.

Halloran was timely diagnosed in March, although representatives would not specify the location of the tumor.

The councilmember recently took to his Facebook page, telling friends and constituents he was “out of the rough patch” and posting a photo of himself smiling in the hospital bed.

“Doctors are shocked — I am way ahead of recovery schedule. They attribute it to whiskey and my thick Irish skull,” Halloran joked.

While Halloran — who is running for Congress in the 6th District — recovers, he said his office will run 100 percent in his absence for constituent issues. Stites said the councilmember would be off the campaign trail for a short time, “but it does not affect his long-term plans.”

“He is in it to win it,” Stites said.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman outlines plan to fight overdevelopment


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Assemblymember Rory Lancman outlined a comprehensive plan he designed to combat overdevelopment and said he would push the bill at a federal level if elected to Congress.

The four-part Homes and Essential Landmarks Preservation (HELP) Act — introduced by Lancman, who is running for Congress in the 6th District — focuses on extending tax credits to some homeowners and restricting the credits when violations are incurred, expanding the federal landmarking law and ensuring enforcement of zoning laws.

“Anyone who comes here to buy a home to live in and raise their family — they’re not just buying that home. They’re buying the neighborhood. They’re buying the way the neighborhood looks. They’re buying the way the neighborhood feels, and it is really a very tragic situation when a neighborhood’s fundamental character and feel changes because of overdevelopment,” Lancman said at the May 18 press conference held at Bowne Park.

More than one third of Queens has been rezoned since 2002 to protect the character of its residential neighborhoods, Lancman said, and R2A and R1-2A low-density zones have been created to thwart the growth of “McMansions.” Still, the assemblymember said overdevelopment remains a persistent problem in the borough.

He said increasing population density in already heavily congested areas leads to even more overcrowding in schools and roads, limits parking spaces and strains sewer systems.

The city government’s “lax approach” to enforcing zoning and building laws and collecting penalties from violations and other illegal activity, Lancman said, demands “a federal solution” to the problem.

The current tax code, Lancman said, allows both homeowners and businesses to quality for a host of deductions. If his legislation is federally introduced and passed, he said it would prohibit any homeowner or business from obtaining these tax credits if they are in violation of city zoning or building ordinances.

The bill would also extend tax incentives for rehabilitating non-income producing residential buildings that are listed on the National Historic Register, since only commercial and income-producing properties are currently eligible for the 20 percent tax credit.

Lancman said he hopes this will motivate homeowners to rehabilitate their homes instead of selling them to a developer “who would otherwise demolish them.” The provision, he said, would help preserve neighborhoods like Broadway-Flushing and Parkway Village, both listed on the National Register.

Lancman said the HELP Act would also address the city’s “dismal record” in collecting zoning and building violation fines by linking federal Housing and Urban Development funding to the city’s ability to collect fees.

Under the bill, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Personas Act (RLUIPA) would also be clarified to ensure that religious institutions do not use it as a shield to ignore zoning regulations. Lancman said RLUIPA has allowed excessive zoning exemptions for religious institutions, including seven in Queens since 2006.

Rally to resurrect Glendale Social Security office


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Congressional candidate Rory Lancman recently stood in the shadows of a shuttered Social Security office and called for the program to be saved both locally and nationally.

Lancman was joined by colleague Assemblymember Cathy Nolan in front of the closed Social Security office on Myrtle Avenue, which shut its doors last year.

“This closed Social Security office is a brick-and-mortar manifestation of the Republican assault on Social Security in this country for the last 20 years,” said Lancman, who is running for the 6th Congressional District seat.

The assemblymembers called for the reopening of the Glendale facility that served thousands of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The office closed last summer in a money-saving maneuver after cuts to Social Security’s budget. The consolidation of the offices will save the agency approximately $3 million over 10 years.

More than half of the local residents that used the office do not have a car, Lancman said. Residents must now travel to the Rego Park office, which is about 45 minutes away from the Glendale location by public transportation.

During the press conference, area senior citizens gathered to speak about the pitfalls of the Glendale office closing.

“I don’t drive; to go to Rego Park is a nightmare,” said Linda McGrath, who had used the Glendale office. “It’s easier to get to Manhattan than it is to get from here to Rego Park.”

Another retiree, Kathleen Strong of Glendale, added that driving to and parking at the Rego Park branch would be a hassle.

“Congress may think that traveling a few extra miles to access Social Security benefits is no big deal, but the folks in Washington apparently don’t understand that things are a little different here in middle-class Queens neighborhoods like Glendale and Ridgewood,” Nolan said.

Besides calling for the office’s reopening, Lancman outlined what he called a very simple solution to saving Social Security.

“There is a broader assault on Social Security that goes much, much deeper than just the closing of individual offices,” Lancman said.

According to a recent report from the Social Security Board of Trustees, the combined assets of the Social Security Trust Funds (Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance) will be exhausted by 2033.

Lancman said that if elected to Congress, he would champion raising the taxable income cap in order to keep Social Security solvent for the next 75 years.
Currently, only the first $110,100 in income is subject to Social Security taxes, while any income over the threshold is exempt from the tax.

“There was a choice made to cut a billion from the Social Security Administration, then a choice made to cut this Social Security office as opposed to others, and those are the kind of choices that I want to fight against.”

Bill would alleviate train troubles for Middle Village residents


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Bob Holden

A congressional hopeful has joined the fight of residents who continue to rail against trains they say are disrupting their lives.

The Fresh Pond freight rail lines, operated by New York & Atlantic Railroad in Middle Village and Glendale, have long bothered residents that live adjacent to the tracks — especially those along 69th Place near the overpass.

“The trains pass through early in the morning, with 80 cars in tow banging,” said Anthony Pedalino who lives down the block from the tracks in Middle Village. “It wakes you up almost nightly.”

Joe Dalfino, who has lived next door to the tracks for 20 years, said the noise and fumes from the cars has picked up over the past few years. Train traffic picked up around five years ago when the railroad began carrying garbage through the area, residents claim.

In November, the company agreed to move the noisier aspects of the train 400 feet, though this has alleviated little of the noise, nearby residents said.

Residents still complain of waking up to early morning trains up to six days a week.

“For far too long, residents of this area have had to put up with the noise, the smell and the lack of security resulting from rail companies ignoring the community’s concerns and performing railroad yard activities outside the railroad yard,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, candidate for the 6th Congressional District.

Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, is concerned the disturbances will only get worse if garbage from an additional six community boards begins passing through, though this is currently under review.

Lancman intends to introduce legislation that will alleviate the suffering of the nearby residents if elected to Congress. The state and city have little to no power to regulate the railway.

His bill, the Neighborhood Rail Improvement Act, would prohibit railroad yard activities — coupling, decoupling and maintenance — from taking place on tracks outside of the railroad yard and give local residents input into yard operations

“I think the government needs to stand up for its residents,” said Pedalino. “It’s not just the railways, it’s the government that’s allowing the railways to do this.”

Noise is not the annoyance those living adjacent to the tracks deal with; residents complain of the odor emanating from train cars filled with garbage and the train’s diesel fumes.

During the summer, Pedalino said he must keep his windows closed and his air conditioner running due to the fumes and Dalfino said he can no longer use his backyard for barbecues.

“We need to institutionalize mechanisms for the community to have input, to require the railroads carrier, the agencies that oversee the railroad’s operations, to sit down with the community hear their concerns and give answers,” he said. “It’s through that process that the community is able to influence and shape the policies and practices of the railroad.”

Congressional candidate Jeffrey Gottlieb fires back at ‘sham’ allegations


| mchan@queenscourier.com

JEFF GOTTLIEB PHOTOw

The newest challenger in a hotly-contested congressional race fired back after opponents accused him of being a “sham candidate.”

Jeffrey Gottlieb announced his intent to vie for the 6th District seat last weekend, but not without first taking hits from challenger Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who blasted the Queens County Democratic Party for “injecting a fraudulent candidate into the race.”

Lancman said the bogus candidacy was orchestrated by Democrats to deceive Jewish voters in the district and siphon votes away from him.

“The county organization is panicked by the strength of my candidacy,” Lancman said, “but cynically fleecing Jewish voters with a sham candidacy by a longtime party hack is particularly appalling.”

According to Lancman’s campaign manager, Mark Benoit, Gottlieb was collecting signatures for Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Democrats preferred pick — before he threw his hat in the ring. The “malicious” and “last-minute” decision to run, he said, was a scheme “designed to manipulate the electoral process in [Meng’s] favor.”

Meng told The Courier she did not know Gottlieb was collecting signatures for her.

“I haven’t spoken with Jeff in a long time. I know who he is, but I have no other comment besides that,” she said.

Gottlieb, a county patronage employee at the Board of Elections, said he plans on running an aggressive and spirited campaign, in spite of what he called “vicious political attacks.” He shot back at Lancman saying his opponent believes he has become “bigger than those he seeks to represent.”

“Is Rory really that afraid that his record on issues will be challenged here in the community? I think so and his actions clearly show his fear. Why does he proclaim he should be the only Jewish candidate to seek this office? If one of my opponent’s wishes to sling derogatory comments at me, so be it,” he said. “I have a race to run, and the right message that the voters want to hear.”

Lancman said the “deceiving” move would only backfire.

“Voters will rightfully see through this charade, and the party insiders responsible for this hatchet job should be ashamed of their attempt to deny the Jewish community a fair and legitimate election,” he said.

All four Democratic candidates, including Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, will face off in the June 26 primary to contend for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against the sole Republican runner, Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Politicians continue to pick up Congressional endorsements


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Congressional candidates contending for the 6th District seat continue to collect boosts to their campaigns.

Assemblymember Grace Meng — the Queens County Democratic Organization’s bid — picked up endorsements from the New York State Independence Party and the Italian-American Political Action Committee. She also received support from several dozen political individuals.

Meng’s Congressional Committee also raised $300,000 in 10 days, said her campaign manager.

Vying for the same seat, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley gained the support of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 9 (DC 9).

Meanwhile, Assemblymember Rory Lancman got a leg up from several high-profile political endorsements, including former Mayor Ed Koch, leaders from New York City Working Families, 32BJ, the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Communications Workers of America Local 1182.

All three Democratic candidates will face off in the June 26 primary to contend for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against the sole Republican runner, Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Halloran, who formally announced his intent to run on March 26, has so far pulled in backing from Councilmember Eric Ulrich, former state Senator Frank Padavan, the Conservative Party and the GOP.