Tag Archives: Assembly

Ex-Assemblyman William Scarborough gets 13 months in prison for corruption

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Another former state lawmaker from Queens convicted of corruption is off to jail.

Former Assemblyman William Scarborough was sentenced on Monday to serve 13 months behind bars and two years’ probation for pleading guilty earlier this year to federal wire fraud and theft charges, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced.

Scarborough, who previously represented the 29th Assembly District covering all or parts of Cambria Heights, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates, Laurelton, Rosedale and St. Albans, was also ordered to pay a combined $108,710 in restitution to both the federal and state governments.

“Today’s sentencing of Assemblymember Scarborough on public corruption charges sends a clear message that those who abuse the public trust will be held accountable,” Schneiderman said. “[His] jail sentence resolves one unfortunate chapter in New York State government, but crystallizes the need for comprehensive reform to clean up corruption in our state.”

In May, Scarborough admitted in federal court that he used false information to apply for and receive per diem payments for purported business travel expenses related to his service in the state capital. The payments varied from daily allowances for overnight stays in Albany to reimbursements for traveling between Albany and his Queens home.

Between January 2009 and December 2012, authorities said, Scarborough submitted 174 falsified travel vouchers to the state government and received $54,355.

In a related case, Scarborough also admitted in state court to allegedly misusing $40,000 in campaign contributions for personal expenses. He is expected to serve up to one year in state prison for that guilty plea.


David Weprin won’t run for brother’s City Council seat

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photos

There won’t be another Weprin switcheroo at City Hall.

Assemblyman David Weprin ruled out a run last week for the City Council seat that his brother, Mark Weprin, will vacate soon in order to become Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs, according to a spokesperson for the assemblyman. David Weprin will instead seek re-election in 2016.

The Weprin brothers previously traded legislative seats. David Weprin occupied the 23rd City Council seat for eight years before making a failed run for city comptroller in 2009. Mark Weprin — then occupying the Assembly seat previously held by their late father, Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin — ran for and won his brother’s City Council seat.

After Mark Weprin stepped down from the Assembly to become city councilman, David Weprin won his brother’s and his father’s former Assembly seat in a 2010 special election.

Many observers believed David Weprin would jump at the chance of returning to City Hall after Mark Weprin announced his resignation from the City Council on May 11. According to the New York Observer, David Weprin told supporters on May 14 he would stay in Albany, noting that he was recently promoted to the Assembly’s leadership by current Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I’ve decided that I plan on running for re-election to the Assembly,” David Weprin was quoted in the Observer article. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve accomplished so far in the Assembly. I think I have a lot more to do. I’ve developed a lot of seniority in a short time — a lot of people have left.”

Once Mark Weprin’s City Council resignation takes effect, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to call a special non-partisan election to be held within the following 60 days. Each candidate must obtain their own ballot line; political parties cannot nominate a candidate, but may make endorsements.

Former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik already confirmed his interest in the race. Other potential candidates include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidates Bob Friedrich and Steven Behar.

The 23rd Council seat covers all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.


Renewed push to pass Maspeth pol’s Child Victims Act

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblywoman Margaret Markey

Four times since 2006, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey’s Child Victims Act — which extends the criminal and civil statute of limitations to punish sexual predators — passed the Assembly, but never made it to the state Senate floor for a vote.

The Maspeth lawmaker, however, isn’t giving up her efforts to make her bill a law.

Markey announced on Monday a renewed effort to make the Child Victims Act a reality, which includes meeting in Albany on April 22 with colleagues and advocates of sexual abuse victims. She also secured the support of state Senator Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, who is sponsoring a companion bill in the state Senate.

The Child Victims Act amends the statute of limitations to prosecute — and for victims to sue —alleged sexual abusers. Current state law requires that victims must present criminal or civil charges within five years of their 18th birthday.

Markey’s bill would eliminate all criminal and civil statutes regarding future child sex abuse cases, meaning that victims who are abused after the act becomes law may come forward and press charges or file a lawsuit at any time after the abuse took place.

Per a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the existing criminal statute cannot be extended. However, the Child Victims Act also creates a “civil window” by suspending the existing statute of limitations on civil cases for one year so those who were victims of child sexual abuse before the law was enacted can make their case.

“Since so many abused children are not able to come to grips with what has happened to them until much later in life, it is the victims who suffer most as a result of our state’s archaic statute of limitations for these offenders,” Markey said. “Future generations of children are also at risk as pedophiles go unpunished for their crimes and can easily remain hidden and continue their abuse under current law.”

The Democrat-dominated Assembly passed the bill each time with overwhelming margins, but the legislation was left in committee in the state Senate, which the Republicans — at times in concert with a smaller faction of Democrats — led for the last several sessions.

“We keep passing it over and over again, but you don’t get anything on the receiving side,” said Mike Armstrong, a Markey spokesman. The lawmaker, however, feels emboldened this time around with Hoylman’s sponsorship in the State Senate.

The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, however, opposed the act in previous years, claiming the open-ended statutes would leave it vulnerable to litigation and settlements that could cripple the diocese’s finances.

“We continue to oppose this bill,” said Dennis Prost of the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of all New York dioceses on public matters. The conference, however, supports similar legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Cusick of Staten Island which would extend the civil and criminal statute of limitations in sex abuse cases to 28 years of age and make public institutions liable for such matters.

Prost called Markey’s legislation “fundamentally unfair” as it would open the door to litigation surrounding “decades-old cases.” Cusick’s bill, he noted, is “more fair” because it would more easily enable victims abused in public institutions to seek justice.

“Right now, if you want to sue a public institution, you have to file a notice of claims within 90 days in order for that window to be open,” Prost said.

But Markey, a practicing Catholic, believes the reasons for continued opposition to her bill amounts to “red herring excuses,” according to Armstrong.

“It’s a lifelong ordeal for the victims, and there ought to be some accountability if you can demonstrate there’s a perpetrator who can be identified and can be subject to a logical criminal case,” Armstrong said.


Queens Dems take general election

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photos

There were no surprises in this year’s general election, as all the Queens Democratic candidates won their races.

Many of the congressional, Assembly and state Senate Democratic candidates running in the borough this year were only facing third-party challengers.

The ones that were not still bested their GOP rivals by a good number of votes.

The hotly contested races already took place during the September primary, specifically between Tony Avella and John Liu in the 11th state Senate district and Malcolm Smith and Leroy Comrie in the 14th state Senate district.

Avella, the incumbent, narrowly beat Liu, the former city comptroller, while Comrie, a former city councilman, defeated state Senator Smith, who is awaiting trial on federal corruption charges, in a landslide.

Though Avella had to still take on Green Party candidate Paul Gilman, Comrie was uncontested in the general election and the only non-incumbent who won.

Other Queens electeds who faced no challengers on Nov. 4 included U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, state Sens. James Sanders Jr., Jose Peralta, Toby Ann Stavisky, and Assembly members Phil Goldfeder, David Weprin, Nily Rozic, Ed Braunstein, Michael Simanowitz, Andrew Hevesi, William Scarborough, Margaret Markey, Michele Titus, Vivian Cook, Barbara Clark, Michael DenDekker, Jeffrion Aubry, Aravella Simotas, Mike Miller and Francisco Moya.

Sanders, Stavisky and Markey were the only ones who had to secure their seats in the September primary.

Scarborough, who has represented the 29th Assembly District in southeast Queens for two decades, faces legal troubles, however, after being arrested on state and federal corruption charges last month. He is accused of stealing campaign funds and collecting travel reimbursement checks through the voucher system, which each legislator gets when he or she is in the state capital, even when he was not there.

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Steve Israel, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Assemblyman Ron Kim all retained their seats over Republican opponents.

Israel and Addabbo had the two closest races of the night in Queens. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Israel received 54.5 percent of the vote, while his GOP challenger Grant Lally earned 45.5 percent, according to unofficial results. Addabbo beat his Republican opponent Michael Conigliaro 55.1 to 44.9 percent, with 3,632 votes separating the two.

Fellow incumbents U.S. Reps. Gregory Meeks, Hakeem Jeffries and Joseph Crowley, state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who were only up against third-party challengers, easily won their races.

Outside of the borough, Gov. Andrew Cuomo won his re-election bid against Republican Rob Astorino. Cuomo, with his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, earned 54 percent of the vote with 99.5 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results, while Astorino and his candidate for lieutenant governor, Chris Moss, received 40.6 percent.

In other statewide elections State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also faced Republican challengers and won the majority of the votes.

“I feel good about what we did and I feel good about how we did it,” Cuomo said in his victory speech. “Our efforts were all about unifying people and growing the state. We said that New York is at its best when it acts like a family, honoring each other’s rights and responsibilities.” 


P.S. 46’s Lunar New Year show celebrates diversity

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo and videos by Melissa Chan

Students at P.S. 46 in Bayside rang in the Year of The Horse Tuesday with a Lunar New Year celebration.

About 125 scholars, kindergarten through fifth grade, took the stage to perform Chinese and Korean dances and songs, as well as the traditional lion dance and martial arts, during the school’s ninth annual assembly.

“We have such a huge Asian population,” said co-coordinator Caroline Galan, a Response to Intervention teacher at the school. “It’s one of our biggest holidays that we celebrate.”

The show could not go on without the help of some 30 parents who came to practice with the students during lunch for about two months, Galan said.

Co-coordinator Hannah Ree, who teaches special education, said the “inclusive” assembly raises awareness of different cultures and celebrates diversity.

“It’s a great way to share who we are and get other children to celebrate with us,” she said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to be a part of this.”



P.S. 203 rings in Year of the Horse with Lunar New Year celebration

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

The majestic horse was the star of the show Friday at P.S. 203’s Lunar New Year assembly.

Students from the Bayside school shuffled into the auditorium, under the cover of the 12 Chinese zodiac calendar animals.

One by one, each ornately decorated animal paraded down the halls, before giving center stage to the mare with the pink bow.

“It takes a whole school — parents, teachers, children, everyone — to really make this event happen,” said Principal Carole Nussbaum.

Planning for the hour-long assembly began in October, Nussbaum said.

Students celebrated with Chinese and Korean dances and songs, and a buffet of cultural treats.

“I am always impressed by the talent and passion of the students of P.S. 203,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, “and that is a reflection of the excellence of the staff and administration here.” 



Federal, state and city officials: ‘Make Lunar New Year an official school holiday’

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

State lawmakers have strengthened a renewed push to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday, garnering support from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Students shouldn’t feel like they have to choose between celebrating their heritage and missing a day of school,” the newly-risen speaker said.

The City Council plans to introduce two resolutions, calling for schools to close and metered parking to be suspended on one of the most important holidays of the year in Asian communities, Mark-Viverito said.

Multiple other measures have been introduced in the state and federal levels that call for a similar break for families.

A bill that would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly for years.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.

While it has made no movement in the past, elected officials gathered Friday in downtown Flushing to declare 2014 the year of action.

“This is the year and this is the time we believe it’s going to happen,” said Councilmember Paul Vallone, who is drafting a bill that would suspend metered parking that day.

About 14 percent of city students in the school system are Asian-American, Mark-Viverito said.

Officials have long argued absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, who spearheaded the Assembly’s attempts during her last tenure, proposed a resolution in Congress this month, asking local education agencies that include the city’s Department of Education to close schools that day.

“One day, we’ll look back and see that we made history,” said Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.



What Queens pols hope to accomplish for their constituents in 2014

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photos

As we enter 2014, The Queens Courier asked our elected officials: “What do you hope to accomplish for your constituents in 2014?”

Councilmember Costa Constantinides
There are many opportunities before us to ensure that our district continues to move forward. I will work for cleaner and safer streets, a healthier environment and a better education system. We look forward to working hard for everyone on these and many other priorities in the new year.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm
In the next year, I plan to work with the Department of Education to create methodologies and policies in our schools that are more conducive to learning. I also want to continue my work to improve pedestrian safety through a three-prong approach: engineering, education and enforcement.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras
I look forward to improving the quality of life for all of my constituents, especially those who are residing along the Roosevelt Avenue corridor. In addition, I look forward to working with the Department of Education to secure more school seats and address the overcrowding issues in our district through the use of our Education Task Force. 2014 is going to be a great year!

Councilmember Peter Koo
With several projects taking off in northeast Queens, 2014 will bring exciting changes to Flushing and its surrounding area. I wish all constituents a prosperous 2014!


Councilmember Karen Koslowitz
I hope to continue to bring needed services to my community and to work with my constituents to make their lives easier by helping them to cut through the red tape of city government.

Councilmember Rory Lancman
I hope to make life more affordable for regular New Yorkers.




Councilmember Donovan Richards
I’m excited about the opportunity to work with our incoming borough president to keep Queens on the map. Melinda is someone who understands what this borough needs and how to move it forward.

Councilmember Paul Vallone
Our district office will immediately address constituent concerns and work with fellow councilmembers to reclaim outstanding capital funding and bring District 19 back to the top where it belongs.


Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer

In 2014, I look forward to working towards making Vision Zero a reality. The growing number of fatalities and injuries that continue to occur as a result of reckless driving and poor street design are unacceptable. No pedestrian, motorist, or cyclist should ever fear losing their lives on our city’s streets. In the new year and throughout my second term in office, I will continue to fight toward making our streets safer for all.

Councilmember Mark Weprin
I will work to keep co-ops and homes affordable and make sure my diverse district continues to be a great place to live and raise a family. I will also work with our new mayor to make our schools even better.



Councilmember Ruben Wills
I am hopeful that the strides we have made within our local schools will continue to see growth, in particular I am most excited about our feeder initiative expanding throughout the district. It is my sincerest hope that in 2014, District 28 continues to experience economic growth, improve on our education system, increase job opportunities, and share in a greater standard of living for all.

Assemblymember Ed Braunstein
I will continue to fight to reduce the plane noise that has had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of my constituents in northeast Queens. I will also continue to push for the passage of legislation that would provide tax fairness to middle-class co-op owners in New York City.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder
I will focus on individual Sandy recovery assistance, but will also ensure that large scale protection measures are in place so we are all more resilient for the future. It is unfortunate that it took a natural disaster to illustrate our deficiencies, but we must learn from our mistakes and use the opportunity to learn and grow.

Assemblymember Ron Kim
I am tremendously proud of the work we have done, but there is still more to accomplish. I will be introducing a bill to put some focus on character development in our education system, making sure that transportation plans include our borough, and looking into ways to bring in more affordable housing to downtown Flushing.


Assemblymember Mike Miller
My main legislative priority is using my newly appointed chairmanship to the Task Force on People with Disabilities to support legislation and directives that will directly benefit the quality of life and increase available services to the disabled. As a member of the Aging, Education, and Veterans’ Affairs committees, I will work to make sure our schools receive proper funding, our veterans are well taken care of, and our seniors receive the services and care they need.

Assemblymember Francisco Moya
I hope to pass the NYS DREAM Act this legislative session. And personally, I hope to see the greatest football team in the world, FC Barcelona, win La Liga.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic
For too many New Yorkers, the economic recovery still remains a figment. In 2014, I want to make sure government is doing its part to bolster economic security for working families, provide a sound education and improve everyone’s quality of life.

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas
The top priority in 2014 will be a renewed push for my Rape-is-Rape legislation aimed at protecting survivors by redefining the legal definition of the term ‘rape.’ Semantics really do matter, and this bill eliminates the unnecessary distinctions in terminology that de-legitimatize the trauma of rape.


Assemblymember David Weprin
As we enter into the new year, one of my main priorities is to ensure legislation will provide New Yorkers with much-needed aid in education, public safety, small business support, job creation, transportation, healthcare, rebuilding our infrastructure from Sandy, affordable housing, tax relief for New York’s working families and that other vital public services become law.

State Senator Tony Avella
Once again, my New Year’s resolution for 2014 will be to try and enact campaign finance reform in Albany and term limits for state legislatures.




State Senator Michael Gianaris
In 2014, I hope to see continued success for western Queens neighborhoods. As our communities continue to grow, I will fight for more good schools and hospital beds, better mass transit options and increased and improved green space. I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky
I am looking forward to seeing my constituents at my new district office at 142-29 37th Avenue in downtown Flushing. It is exciting being closer to my colleagues in government, nonprofit groups and businesses, and I am optimistic that 2014 will be a productive and successful year for our community.


Congressmember Joseph Crowley
It is imperative that in 2014 Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform to ensure we bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, allow them to live and work here without fear of being separated from their families and offer them the opportunity to fulfill America’s promise. The time is now for meaningful reform, and I am hopeful that my Republican colleagues are equally as committed to seeing it through.

Congressmember Steve Israel
I will continue working to make sure airplane noise is kept under control, co-op and condo owners are treated fairly and are eligible for disaster grants from FEMA like other homeowners, and to improve quality-of-life issues that affect my constituents in Queens. I’m proud to represent part of Queens, and I resolve to keep working my hardest.


Congressmember Gregory Meeks
I would want everyone affected by the economic downturn and Superstorm Sandy to have a full recovery, that we pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill and a safe return for the troops in Afghanistan.

Congressmember Grace Meng
Continuing to work hard to maintain and improve the quality of life in Queens. So many issues to tackle: strengthening the economy, creating jobs, reducing the backlog for our veterans, protecting our seniors and children, supporting small businesses, continuing to help those impacted by Sandy, immigration reform, etc.





Pols push to make mixed martial arts legal in New York

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

A big fight for an increasingly popular sport is underway.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) could become legal in New York later this year, but there are still a few jabs advocates have to block.

Nine Queens assemblymembers sponsored a bill that would make the sport legal. The bill, sponsored by two legislators from Queens, passed 47-15 in the Senate.

The Assembly must pass the bill for it to become law, though the body voted not to remove the MMA ban last May. That left New York as one of a few states where professional MMA is illegal, though amateurs are allowed to fight here.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White has repeatedly blamed the Culinary Workers Union based in Nevada for blocking mixed martial arts in New York. His partners, Lorenzo and Frank Feritta, own Station Casinos in Las Vegas. Culinary workers have lobbied against the non-union establishment.

In an April 25 interview with ESPN, White said he wanted to see mixed martial arts in New York, but was resigned to waiting for the vote.

White said a UFC presence in the city would lead to about $600,000 in ticket taxes and an overall economic impact of $60-100 million. He is hopeful a fight will come at Madison Square Garden in the future.

“We’re doing fights all over the world,” he said. “Do I want to be here? Yes.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder met with representatives from the UFC last week. He said legalizing pro MMA would tap into a revenue source nearly every other state has. Goldfeder added that no one opposing the legalization has reached out to him.

“There’s a huge upside with no downside. We currently have the access to MMA” through cable television, he said. “Now we can take advantage of some of the benefits as well.”

Goldfeder said he is confident the assembly will pass the bill before the current legislative session ends in June.

He added that Resorts World Casino New York City could potentially host UFC fights. While it is not as big as Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, it has hosted professional boxing matches on the third floor.

Requests for comment from Unite Here, the nationwide wing of the culinary union, were not answered by press time.




Weprin fined for comptroller campaign violations

| mchan@queenscourier.com


A state legislator was penalized thousands of dollars after the city determined his run for comptroller was fraught with violations.

According to the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB), Assemblymember David Weprin owes $28,184 in total penalties and $325,561 in public funds repayments for a dozen violations his failed election campaign for comptroller committed in 2009.

The offenses include accepting over-the-limit contributions and donations from corporations and unregistered political committees, the CFB said. The campaign also failed to file daily pre-election disclosure statements, did not provide bank statements and did not report or document transactions and credit card expenditures.

Weprin’s 2009 camp was fined close to $4,000 alone for making improper post-election expenditures and $100 for failing to demonstrate that spending was in furtherance of the campaign.

Jen Berkley, a spokesperson for the lawmaker, said the campaign entity and its funds no longer exist after more than three years have passed since the unsuccessful bid.

“This kind of came down to a very small amount of money, not that it shouldn’t be repaid if there is a proper entity to repay it. The issue here is that there is not,” she said. “It’s the downside to an investigation that takes close to four years. We’ll do whatever we can to accommodate and cooperate with the Campaign Finance Board.”

Weprin and his 2009 campaign treasurer are still jointly liable for settling the $28,184 debt for penalties, said CFB spokesperson Eric Friedman, even in the absence of a campaign committee.

The assemblymember will not have to repay the $325,561 in public funds out of pocket, Friedman said, but as long as he has a financial obligation to the CFB, he cannot receive public funds for another citywide election.

“We audit every campaign carefully,” Friedman said. “These are things we take very seriously, and that’s reflected in the results.”

Incumbent Stavisky, newcomer Ron Kim defeat Republican challengers

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Political veteran State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky welcomed in a new generation of local leadership when she and first-time candidate Ron Kim celebrated their general election wins of Senate District 16 and Assembly District 40, respectively.

Stavisky, the first woman from Queens to be elected to the State Senate, defeated Republican opponent J.D. Kim with 76 percent of the vote and garnered 40,355 votes according to unofficial results, retaining her seat in Senate District 16 for what will be her seventh term.

“I’m always nervous,” said Stavisky before the results poured in on Tuesday, November 6. “And I think that’s a good thing because you can’t take voters for granted. Every election is different and I’m optimistic but the voters have spoken.”

Celebrating alongside Kim, who swept a victory from Philip Gim with 67 percent of the vote, Stavisky applauded the political newcomer’s “remarkable job” and indicated his key to success as continuing along his current trajectory.

“It’s very difficult when you run for office for the first time but [Kim] instinctively knew what to do, he knew what positions to take — it’s a lot different when you’re a candidate. It’s one thing to study political science and be familiar with the issues and it’s quite different when you’re a candidate.”

Kim, who was endorsed by Assemblymember Grace Meng, whose seat he will be taking, outraised Gim by a more than 2 to 1 margin.

During Kim’s victory speech, he thanked his staff, volunteers and family. Kim named New York City Comptroller John Liu as his “mentor” and “advisor,” saying that had it not been for Liu, he would have not won this election.

“When an elected official makes an endorsement it’s usually a photo op and a piece of advice,” said Kim. “But John was there every single night — he was so dedicated. I learned so much about what it is to run a campaign the right way and do it the clean way and just pure hard work.”

He then thanked Stavisky for her guidance, saying the Senator stood with him from the beginning of his campaign and their successes were the result of a combined effort.

“We ran as a team and we won as a team,” said Kim.

Incumbent Miller defeats newcomer in 38th District

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Assemblymember Mike Miller can look forward to at least two more years in Albany with “the best job [he’s] ever had.”

The incumbent assemblymember in the 38th District held off Etienne David Adorno to take the Democratic primary. Miller is running unopposed in the upcoming November general election.

Miller called his time in Albany the best job he’s ever had because of the people he’s been able to help.

“The people spoke and I appreciate their support, because I do it for them,” he said at his Thursday, September 13 victory party in Glendale, surrounded by colleagues from Albany and other politicians from the area.

Unofficial results had Miller taking the election by a 71 to 29 percent margin — with approximately seven percent voter turnout.

The assemblymember first gained office in a Special Election for former Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio’s seat in 2009. Miller was re-elected to a full term the following year.

Miller secured the endorsements of a slew of local politicians including a trio of Latino elected officials in an increasingly Spanish district.

“It was important to get the support of the electeds, but it was more important to get the support of the voters,” Miller said.

Adorno, a member of Community Board 9, said he’s learned a lot from his campaign.

“I learned what my real knack was,” Adorno said. “My knack is to be an integral part of the community and lending a helping hand and a voice whenever [the community] needs it.”

The political newcomer, who ran with a shoestring budget and no endorsements, said he is not through with running for office.

Miller is relieved the campaign is over so he can now worry solely about his assembly work.

“I’ll be back in my office tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. ready to get back to work,” he said.


Live Coverage: Queens Primary Day at the races

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


7 p.m. 

Members of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association and officials from the United Federation of Teachers hit the streets today campaigning for Assemblymember Mike Miller in the 38th District.

“When an elected official like Mike stands up for his constituents, we hope on election day his constituents stand up for him,” said Dermot Smyth, Queens political action coordinator for the UFT.

With low voter turnout expected for a primary held on a Thursday, Smyth said every teacher in the area was contacted, letting them know to get out and cast a ballot.

“People want legislators to be honest and keep to their word. If they say they’re going to do something and they do it, then we applaud them,” said Edward Boles, treasurer of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

Miller said the support of the unions proved he was doing his job.

“If I didn’t fight for the rights of workers, the rights of unionized workers, the rights of workers to make a living and support their families, they wouldn’t be here supporting me.”

6:10 p.m. 

Etienne David Adorno returned to his grade school at P.S. 60 to cast his ballot in the race for the 38th Assembly District seat currently held by Assemblymember Mike Miller.

Adorno, who has traveled throughout the district during the day, said he’s received a great response from voters — something he’s noticed throughout his campaign.

“I’ve had such a large group of young people come out that have never cared about politics and now they actually are following it,” he said.

As Adorno cast his vote at about 4 p.m. he touted not having “strings attached” when he gets to Albany due to a lack of political and union backing.

“I think that once I go to Albany, I’ll be able to accomplish a lot more because I don’t have any strings attached, so it’s not like I won’t be able to speak up on a bill because my endorsers say if you do next year we’ll run someone against you,” he said.

The long-time Woodhaven resident said he’s confidant because of the amount he was able to accomplish in only a few months campaigning.

“If we win the election this year or not, it doesn’t matter, because we won the campaign,” Adorno said. “And there’s always next time.”

5:40 p.m.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said State Senate contender John Messer as he cast his ballot. “The reception everywhere has been really good.”

Accompanied by wife Wendy and the pair’s three children, Ryan, 10, and 5-year-old twins Alexander and Jackie, the businessman and local attorney filed his vote inside the gymnasium at P.S. 46. Messer is looking to sweep State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s spot in the 16th District — a position she has held for the past 13 terms.

By the time Messer cast his ballot at 3:30 p.m., 22 people had already voted at P.S. 46.

Messer’s primary day began around 6 a.m., shuffling mostly around Flushing where he said he has gained a tremendous amount of support.

According to the candidate, feedback from many neighborhoods where he expected his opponent to excel had turned back less-than-stellar turn-out numbers — something Messer believes bodes in his favor.

In the days leading up to the primary election, the candidate’s office received countless phone calls asking about their changed polling sites. To alleviate confusion, Messer decided to send the 6,000 residents who pledged him their vote letters with correct poll site addresses. The note, which was originally just going to be a thank you letter, turned into something the Senate hopeful believes will bring more citizens out to vote.

Messer believes his increased visibility may be the key to winning the race.

“I don’t even have to say who I am,” he said. “People know who I am just by walking by them. It’s positive, even in the areas where my opponent is stronger.  I’m such a cautious guy, but I’m getting a lot of winks, nods and people turning around and giving me the thumbs up.”

5:15 p.m.

Poll workers at P.S. 184 said many voters were upset to arrive only to learn that their poll site had changed.

“One woman could see her house from the site, but we had to send her to St. Andrew’s,” one worker said.

Fifty one poll sites were changed in Queens this year due to redistricting.

The voters that only learned today of the changes said they were upset with the lack of notice.

“I’m not going,” one voter said of her new poll site.

4:30 p.m.

The highly contentious District 16 Senate race remained antagonistic hours before the close of the primary, as negative campaign fliers focused on State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky continue to flutter around poll sites in Jackson Heights, the incumbent candidate said. 

“They’re not from me,” Stavisky said. “I was handed one.”

Stavisky, who has faced a heated battle with her opponent, John Messer, said her camp has refrained from handing out damaging literature of her rival and said she’s happy with the campaign she’s conducted.

“I talked about the issues that were important to the voters: education, job creation, service for older Americans, healthcare. This is what people care about,” she said. “I tried to discuss those issues.”

Stavisky’s campaign workers said the western Queens voter turnout was “not bad.”

More than 110 people had placed their votes at P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights — a new part of Senate District — as of 4:30 p.m., Stavisky said.

But voters have told the senator they’ve been turned away from polling sites.

“That’s the real problem,” Stavisky said. “They’re very upset. They never got a card telling them about [poll site changes]. I know the Board of Elections has a difficult job. I’m not criticizing the Board of Elections. But nevertheless, the bottom line is people are having a hard time finding their polling place.”


2 p.m.

Assemblymember Mike Miller said there were a few problems at polling sites in the area with residents being turned away.

Some voters were sent to a different polling site only to be sent back to the original site, he said.

“You never want to have that.  They’re coming out to vote; I don’t want them to be disenfranchised,” Miller said.

The assemblymember said his staff is at different sites making sure that if a voter’s name is not at the site, they are given an affidavit ballot.



1 p.m.

Incumbent Assemblymember Mike Miller cast his vote at noon at P.S. 91 in Glendale, down the block from his elementary school, St. Pancras, and is feeling confident.

“It’s an election.  This is people giving an opinion about the job you did. If they vote me out, to them I didn’t do a good job, but I’m pretty confident in the job we’ve done the last three years in the district and people realize that,” Miller said.

The assemblymember said he was happy with the response he was receiving from voters he has spoken to.

The key to this primary day, he said, is the swarms of volunteers that have come out for him.

“I get volunteers because of the commitment I give to people and I get that in return,” Miller said. “These people can be anywhere today. They can be home relaxing, but they’re here — they’re trying to get me re-elected.”



12: 30 p.m.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and his wife casted their votes for the   Republican primary in Senate District 15 at P.S. 63 in Ozone Park – where Ulrich went to school from kindergarten to fourth grade.

After voting at 10:30 a.m., Ulrich told reporters the mailer attack from Juan Reyes’ campaign was incorrect and offensive to many demographics in the district.

“To use outright bigotry to try to scare voters and outright intimidate voters I think is an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said.




12 p.m.

Assembly hopeful Clyde Vanel, who cast his vote at P.S. 147 around 10 a.m., anxiously awaits the outcome of the race.

“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Vanel said around noon. “I can’t wait until it’s over, but it’s exciting.”

The business owner and community advocate, running in the 33rd Assembly District against incumbent Barbara Clark, said getting voters to the polls is always difficult, especially during the primary election. Vanel said a main goal of his campaign was increasing voter participation.

“Many people’s polling sites changed and a lot of people didn’t receive notice or got the wrong address,” said Vanel. “We have to better inform people in the community about where they can vote.”



10 a.m.

A large support base had already come out in numbers to place their vote for Assembly hopeful Nily Rozic, according to the first-time Democratic candidate from Fresh Meadows.

“I was at P.S. 173 this morning. There were a lot of my neighbors coming to vote and coming out to support me,” said the 25th Assembly District contender. “We’re really excited. I feel really strong. I have a great team and I feel really good about this election.”

Still, the former chief of staff to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said she expects a lower than usual voter turnout count.

“It is a Thursday primary, so it’s kind of an anomaly,” said Rozic, whose campaign literature outside poll sites tout her recent endorsements from the New York Times and the New York Daily News.

Poll site volunteers at P.S. 173 said more people have been coming out than they expected. One booth alone had seen 18 voters by only 10 a.m.

“The 25th Assembly District wants someone who’s independent, someone who offers a different perspective and is a fresh voice for our neighborhood,” she said. “Across the district, we’ve seen that we have a large base of support, whether it’s south Flushing or out in the depths of Oakland Gardens.”

Meanwhile, her opponent, longtime Community Board 11 chair and attorney Jerry Iannece, took to his poll site earlier at 9 a.m. The Bayside resident is backed by several elected officials, as well as the Queens County Democratic Party.

His campaign spokesperson, Will Watts, said Iannece’s camp is still waiting on returns for hard mid-dat turnout figures.

“So far, however, it appears to be a low turnout election,” Watts said. “We are counting on our volunteers and voter outreach operation to get out our vote and we are confident in them.”


Electeds rally around Miller for re-election

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

A month before the polls open for the state primaries, local politicians stood alongside Assemblymember Mike Miller to lend their support for his re-election campaign.

Nearly half of the Queens assembly delegation and other area elected officials joined Miller, who is set to face off with Etienne David Adorno in the Democratic primary, outside his campaign office at 64-01 Myrtle Avenue in Glendale.

“Somebody who truly cares about the community, knows what the community needs, speaks for the community and works hard is not easy to find up in Albany, we have one in Mike Miller, he has to get re-elected,” said State Senator Joe Addabbo whose district overlaps with Miller’s.

The 38th Assembly District includes parts of Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.

Community leaders and residents were also among the dozens of supporters that turned out for the Monday, August 13 rally.

“We had a lot of support tonight, because we work hard,” said Miller, whose campaign posters include his phone number, which he said will be answered 24 hours a day.

“We have residents here who we’ve helped at 2 or 3 in the morning.”

Adorno, 27, a resident member of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association and Community Board 9, joined the race in July, forcing the primary, which is set for September 13.

Board of Elections bounces hopefuls from ballot

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Three northeast Queens assembly hopefuls had their election dreams squashed after the city’s Board of Elections (BOE) tossed them off the primary ballot.

Democrat John Scandalios, who was vying to replace Assemblymember Grace Meng in the Flushing-based 40th District, had an insufficient number of signatures and was bumped off the September 13 primary ballot, according to results of the BOE’s July 31 ballot challenge hearings.

William Garifal Jr. — one of two Republican runners in the 25th Assembly race — and Lauren Whalen-Nelson, who had hoped to take on current Assemblymember Ed Braunstein in the 26th District, also got the boot due to lack of valid petitions.

Each contender had until July 12 to circulate at least 500 required designating petitions, according to the BOE.

Democrats Ron Kim, Ethel Chen, Myungsuk Lee, Yen Chou and Martha Flores-Vasquez and Republicans Phil Gim and Sunny Hahn will battle it out next month in the 40th District, as will Democrats Jerry Iannece and Nily Rozic in the 25th District. With Garifal’s expulsion, Republican candidate Abe Fuchs in the 25th District will sail through to November’s general election.

State Senator Tony Avella will also not see a challenger until November, when he will face off with Republican contender Joseph Concannon in the 11th District. But State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky in the 16th District can expect a primary fight from Democratic opponent John Messer. Both had enough signatures to make it through until September, despite allegations from Messer’s camp saying Stavisky submitted fraudulent signatures. The winner will take on Republican candidate J.D. Kim.

Braunstein is looking at an uncontested re-election if the Queens County Republican Party declines to file an appeal on behalf of Whalen-Nelson. GOP chair Phil Ragusa said the County was considering the move but was not yet sure.

“We don’t want to disenfranchise the voters of the 26th Assembly district,” Ragusa said. “In an election, you should have both parties represented.”

Whalen-Nelson was seeking to run as a substitute for Tim Furey, a candidate who originally planned on taking on the incumbent but later declined the line, Ragusa said.

Furey, who had unsuccessfully tried to unseat Assemblymember David Weprin in the 24th District in 2010, was not the first this year to bow out of the 26th District race despite being backed by the Queens GOP.

The GOP originally pushed to pit Ralph Cefalo against Braunstein, but the Malba resident ultimately chose not to enter the race, citing personal matters, Ragusa said back in June.

But the County chair said declinations were nothing new.

“There’s a time to decline. This isn’t the first time this happened. It’s how Joe Crowley became the congressman. It’s done all the time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scandalios lambasted the “forces against him” — opponent Yen Chou, the Queens County Democratic Party and the BOE — for throwing him off the ballot.

The former comic book store owner said the BOE gave him “false information” while he fought objections from the Queens Democrats and “corrupt data” by BOE clerks.

Scandalios can appear on the ballot in the general election if he runs on another line and gathers 1,500 signatures from within the district by August 26, according to the BOE.

“Eventually, I will be elected,” Scandalios said.