Tag Archives: election

Weprin fined for comptroller campaign violations


| mchan@queenscourier.com

doc4cbef60961af74912417281-270x405

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.”

Bloomberg endorses Obama for president


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the mayor's office

On the heels of the worst storm in the city’s history, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his endorsement of Barack Obama for president citing his leadership in climate change and potential to bridge both parties.

Bloomberg said Hurricane Sandy “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,”  in an op-ed for Bloomberg View and re-published on his website.

“Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be – given this week’s devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action,” he wrote.

“One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

Bloomberg cited New York’s PlaNYC, which has cut the city’s carbon footprint by 16 percent in the last five years, and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as examples of local governments making progress where the federal government has not.

The mayor said that as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had “a history of tackling climate change,” but has since reversed course.

“I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office. He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results. In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts,” said Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican turned Independent.

He said he has found the past four years disappointing and that if the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney ran, he would have received his vote.

Despite his disappointment, Bloomberg said Obama achieved several victories including, Race to the Top, his health care law and women’s rights.

“When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor said that the Obama that ran in 2008  as a “pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder” devoted little time to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists as president.

“Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too,” said Bloomberg. “If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours.”

 

 

One night, two debates, many issues


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

In a matter of hours, at two separate debates, incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Ulrich argued over issues including stop-and-frisk and discretionary funds, while both agreed on more help for small businesses — albeit through varying means.

The first debate, at Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach on Thursday, October 18, saw Ulrich and Addabbo both announce their support of stop-and-frisk — recently discussed by the city council — but Ulrich alleged his opponent had flip-flopped on his support of the issue.

When asked his stance on the NYPD’s policy, Addabbo said he supported it, adding that he had not backed a bill in the senate that would water down the policy.

“I said I couldn’t support those bills, I am for stop-and-frisk,” he said. “It’s a good tool for our police to use. It has a direct correlation to a decrease in crime. We need to help our police officers out there, they put their lives on the line with reduced resources.”

Following Addabbo’s statement, Ulrich brought up a roll-call vote from more than two years ago in which his opponent voted for a policy that he said was against stop-and-frisk.

“I support [Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly, the members of the NYPD and stop-and-frisk,” Ulrich said. “I have a roll call of the votes from June 23, 2010 here, which a bill that weakened stop-and-frisk, prevented law enforcement from retaining information from the people who were stopped, questioned and frisked, and you’re listed as one of the 32 yes votes.”

Addabbo reasserted that he supported stop-and-frisk; the vote in which Ulrich referred to dealt with questioning, he said.

“It had to do with questioning, not stop-and-frisk,” Addabbo said. “Now let’s set the issue right. Stop-and-frisk: I am for it.”

Jobs and small business, a concern in elections at many levels this year, have particularly been a worry throughout the district. The two acknowledged that businesses, particularly on Cross Bay Boulevard, had been faltering and suggested different means to save, expand or begin businesses.

Ulrich said that if elected senator, he would support a corporate franchise tax cut that would lower taxes on business owners from 6.5 percent to 5.2 percent. He also suggested looking at current banking regulations in the city for business owners looking for loans to either stay balanced or move forward.

“One of the other things we’ve talked about is the difficulty many small businesses have in accessing loans and capital, either to keep themselves afloat or to expand their businesses,” Ulrich said. He went on to say Albany should look at, and fix, some of the problems blocking business owners from getting loans “so they can keep themselves open for business and obviously keep their employees on the payroll.”

Addabbo said there was currently money in the state budget to help new businesses get started and lower costs, and that he has worked to try and relieve some of the utility costs on small business owners. This included working with National Grid and Con Edison to see what energy prices could be reduced to save money.

“I shop on Cross Bay Boulevard,” he said. “We need these stores on Cross Bay Boulevard; they are the life blood of our community.”

— With additional reporting by Melissa Chan

October 12 last day to register for general election, mayoral primary


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

If you want to cast a ballot in this year’s presidential election — or next year’s mayoral primary — October 12 is the last day to register to vote.

New York ranks near the bottom of the country in voter registration; less than 64 percent of eligible residents are registered to vote, ranking the state 47th in the nation.

Click here to find out if you’re registered to vote

To be able to vote in the general elections — which includes president, Congress, Senate and state offices — on November 6, your application must be postmarked no later than Friday, October 12 and received by October 17. You may also register in person at your local Board of Elections or any voter registration center.  Change of addresses must also be received by October 17.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new initiative in August — online registration — to help increase voter numbers.

According to the governor’s office, registration rates jumped from 28 to 53 percent among voters 18 to 24 in Arizona after online registration was introduced.

Residents can now log on to their computers to register to vote, change their address or update party enrollment.

If you want to register electronically, you can now visit the Department of Motor Vehicle’s “MyDMV” web site.  You will also be able to register paper-free at local DMV offices.

Though it is nearly a year away, unregistered voters or those wishing to switch parties have until October 12 if they would like to vote in the 2013 mayoral primary elections.  City residents cannot change enrollment and vote in that parties primary in the same year.

The city’s Board of Elections website says, “The last day to change your enrollment is the same as the last day to register for the General Election.”

According to the New York Times, “The law is rooted in the notion that closed primaries should not be raided, at the last minute, by outsiders who may want to pick, say, a weaker candidate to run against their preferred choice in a general election.”

Live Coverage: Queens Primary Day at the races


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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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.”

– BY MELISSA CHAN

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.

– BY BILLY RENNISON

 

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.”

– BY BILLY RENNISON

 

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.

– BY TERENCE M. CULLEN

 

 

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.”

– BY ALEXA ALTMAN

 

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.”

– BY MELISSA CHAN

Romney officially receives Republican nomination


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

With the end of 50 states’ roll call, Mitt Romney is now the official presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

Romney reached the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination shortly before 6 p.m. as each state took the podium announcing their delegate totals.

The Tampa convention, delayed due to Hurricane Isaac, livened up as the delegates took the stage rallying the GOP crowd behind their nominee.

With just over two months until the election, polls have Romney within percentage points of President Barack Obama.

The Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte during the week of September 3.

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

EVENT of the DAY: Free Shakespeare in the Park: “Hamlet” 

Come enjoy a summer night with the Bard. Queens-based Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents a free performance of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows.

[Click here for more info or submit your events]

Former Assemblyman Jimmy Meng charged with fraud 

Former State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, the father of Congressional candidate Grace Meng, was charged with fraud Tuesday in an elaborate shakedown scheme. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jimmy Meng promised a person who was indicted on tax charges that he could help by bribing prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Read more: [NY1] 

Elderly Queens woman: Doc’s bad op cost me vision in left eye

An elderly Queens woman is suing her doctor, claiming a botched cataract operation cost her the sight in her left eye. Evalyne Chedda, 70, went to Dr. Alina K. Stanciu’s office in Forest Hills on Jan 18, 2010 for the operation. Read more: [New York Post]

UPDATE: Local leaders charge city snubbing them on possible Triumph of Civic Virtue move  

Snubbed community leaders said they have yet to hear from city officials who are mulling a plan to move the long-neglected Triumph of Civic Virtue statue from its perch outside Queens Borough Hall. The controversial statue, which has raised the ire of some people for its imagery, also has strong supporters who have been lobbying the city unsuccessfully for years to get it cleaned and restored. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

 UPDATE: Results still out in contentious Bayside BID election, but so is Gregg Sullivan: source 

More than a week after the only contested BID election in the city, Bayside business owners aren’t quite sure who won the contentious race — but the writing appears to be on the wall for Gregg Sullivan. A vocal critic of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District’s board, Sullivan will likely not win the seat he was seeking, according to a source familiar with the organization’s bylaws. Read more: [New York Daily News] 

Meng wins 6th District Congressional primary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Assemblymember Grace Meng claimed victory by large margins in the hotly-contested 6th District Congressional primary race, according to Associated Press results.

“This is an important victory for Queens,” Meng said during her victory party at Plum Restaurant in Bayside. “This victory is about we. We made this together.”

Meng beat our her three rivals – Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman – by winning 51 percent of the vote, according to AP reports as of 1 a.m. on June 27 when 89 percent of precincts were reporting.

Lancman who was largely seen as Meng’s top competitor — raked in the second highest amount of votes, taking in 28 percent, while Crowley garnered 16 percent and Mittman 5 percent.

“We are celebrating this evening because of you [voters]. We are here for each other and all look out for each other,” Meng said. “Let’s go win this thing in November.”

The candidates each threw their hats in the ring to replace U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman after the 15-term elected official announced in March he would not seek re-election this year.

Ackerman threw his support behind Meng on May 29, saying she was “head and shoulders above the rest” in the race. Meng went into the race already backed by the Queens County Democratic Party and gained a huge endorsement at the 11th hour from Governor Andrew Cuomo. She bagged several key endorsements along the way, including a last minute boost from the New York Times.

Lancman, who saw his “almost dream of a lifetime” come to an end, said in his concession speech he would support his Assembly colleague in the general election against Republican runner Councilmember Dan Halloran.

He also praised Crowley, saying she showed “extraordinary personal courage and hard work” in her try for the seat, and thanked his campaign team and supporters.

“What we built here as a campaign — I think starting from scratch and really starting without the infrastructure that comes with the support of the county organization — is something we can be extraordinarily proud of,” he said.

Before his speech, Lancman told a supporter he thinks Mittman may have taken the difference in votes between him and Meng.

The assemblymember, who pledged not to seek re-election for his current seat, did not specify his next plans. However, there are speculations he may seek a City Council or borough president position.

The race to replace him has already begun, with two Democratic and two Republican hopefuls announcing their candidacy.

It was also unclear after her concession whether Crowley intends to seek re-election to her Council seat, but she did confirm she would help get Meng elected.

While Crowley unofficially came in third in the race, she in her speech that her efforts three months ago showed how people choose the candidates, not an organization – alluding to her lack of support from both the County and possibly the party’s chair, who is also her cousin.

“This has been a rollercoaster ride of a campaign, and we really put up a good fight,” she said. “We showed that organized labor still has a voice in New York City.”

Meanwhile, a handful of hopefuls have already been eyeing Meng’s seat, while the assemblymember prepares for the November 6 general election against Halloran and Green Party candidate Evergreen Chou.

“Let’s run this campaign based on issues,” she said to Halloran. “Let’s not discuss race or religion or partake in scare tactics.”

With additional reporting by Alexa Altman and Billy Rennison

Where Does Unspent Campaign Money Go?


| kevinj.ryanmail@gmail.com

In this busy political season, candidates struggle to raise funds for their war chests, in the hopes of winning their races. Even with the enormous amount of money needed to mount a political campaign, there is often some left over after the buzzer. What happens to that unspent campaign money?

According to the rules set forth by the Federal and State Election Commissions, candidates’ committees can generally do a variety of things with surplus funds. Whatever they choose to do with it, it must be reported to the applicable commission in accordance with its rules. A surplus amount only exists if there is any money left over after all expenses and debts have been paid.

All expenditures must be filed under one of several general categories. The one universal rule is that the money must not be spent for “personal use.”

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) says that campaign funds may be used in a wide variety of ways, including:

• Moving expenses (including costs associated with “winding down” an office or campaign for a losing candidate)

• Payments to Committee

• Gifts. Campaign funds may be used to purchase gifts or make donations of nominal value to persons other than the members of the candidate’s family.

• Donations to charitable organizations

• Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local political party committee

• Donations to state and local candidates, pursuant to state law

• Returning it to the original donors

• Any other lawful purpose that is not considered a personal use

What constitutes personal use? It’s a murky area, but The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) states that an expenditure is considered personal use “if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office, including:

(A) a home mortgage, rent, or utility payment;

(B) a clothing purchase;

(C) a non campaign-related automobile expense;

(D) a country club membership;

(E) a vacation or other noncampaign-related trip;

(F) a household food item;

(G) a tuition payment;

(H) admission to a sporting event, concert, theater, or

other form of entertainment not associated with an election campaign; and

(I) dues, fees, and other payments to a health club or recreational facility.”

Similarly, New York State Election Law says that surplus campaign funds may be transferred to a constituted committee or party committee, contributed to a charity, prorated and returned to the donors, or held for use in a subsequent election campaign. Surplus campaign funds may also be used by an elected official for any lawful purpose, including defraying the ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his or her duties as the holder of an elected office. Contributions may not be converted to personal use not related to political campaign or holding public office or party position.

A candidate could hold on to campaign money for years, as long as he or she is still contemplating another run for office. Expenditures related to keeping that possibility alive, such as parties and dinners, are permissible.

Candidates who receive matching public funds from the government, such as New York City candidates receiving public funds from the Campaign Finance Program of

the New York City Campaign Finance Board, are required to use surplus money to repay public funds to the government. However, it can be a slow and difficult process for the City to collect those funds.

Leaving aside the broader issue of campaign finance, there is always the potential for abuse in reporting surplus expenditures, such as hiding the true purpose of expenditures by filing them under one of the acceptable uses. But given how much time and effort candidates and their committees need to spend to raise funds in even the smallest race, the law gives them latitude on how to spend it.

Let’s hope our Queens leaders and their staff are keeping accurate, open and timely records of the hard-earned money that voters donate to them.

 

Queens Democrats unanimously endorse Jerry Iannece for 25th Assembly District


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Jerry Head Shot

Jerry Iannece, who is vying for the 25th Assembly District seat, received a unanimous endorsement by the Queens County Democratic Committee today.

“I am proud to accept the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Party and excited to continue working hard to protect Queens taxpayers,” Iannece said. “Public service should be about standing up for middle class families to make sure that we expand opportunities for all our citizens. My experience first as a New York City prosecutor and now as chair of Community Board 11 has allowed me to focus on the real world issues our citizens face each and every day.”

Iannece has been a member of Community Board 11 for over 15 years and has served as chair since 2002.

“Whether it was advocating for tax relief for overburdened property owners or making sure our kids have access to a great education, I have worked hard to provide strong leadership for Queens families,” the Bayside resident said. “I look forward to continuing this fight in the weeks and months ahead.”

Iannece announced his intentions to seek election over a month ago. The hopeful has since been endorsed by the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.

The 25th Assembly District seat is currently held by Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who is making a run for Congress.

According to published reports, candidate Nily Rozic will be contending against Iannece during the Democratic primary. No other candidates have officially surfaced yet.

 

WATCH: Eric Ulrich announces Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Councilmember Eric Ulrich will run for Senate in the 15th District.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich — considered a rising star in the Republican Party — has declared his intent to vie for the 15th Senate District seat.

“This was not an easy decision for me to make. I love the job that I already have, and I had every intention of running for re-election next fall,” Ulrich said in his announcement video. “But the stakes are simply too high. While I’ve been able to accomplish many good things at the local level, I believe that I can accomplish even more if the people send me to Albany.”

Ulrich, 27, was first elected to the council when he was 24. He won his 32nd District City Council seat during a Special Election in 2009, succeeding State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. — who is now considered his likely Democratic opponent.

In 2008, Addabbo defeated Serphin Maltese, a two-decade Republican incumbent, later winning Senate re-election in 2010 against Republican runner Anthony Como. Ulrich, a second-term councilmember and the youngest in the council, was also re-elected to a full term in November 2009.

According to Vincent Tabone, executive vice chair of the Queens County Republican Party, GOP officials had urged Ulrich to take on the current senator in an election for the past four years.

“Addabbo has been a real disappointment for the people in the 15th Senate District,” Tabone said. “We’re very excited that Eric is taking this step.”

Tabone said Ulrich is the only announced candidate on the Republican side so far.

Josh Cherwin, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Addabbo has been a “tireless advocate on behalf of the people he represents, which is why voters continue to return him to office by significant margins.”

“We expect the same to happen this year,” Cherwin said. “Few public servants have done more than Senator Joe Addabbo to stand up for the working families of Queens.”

Addabbo did not return calls for comment in time for press.

In December 2011, Ulrich was named chair of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in New York City.

If elected to State Senate, Ulrich said he would provide incentives for job creation by including tax cuts for small businesses and investing in his neighborhoods to encourage economic growth. His five-point plan to improve schools, he said, includes retaining the best and brightest teachers, building new schools to reduce the average class size, creating new school recreational space, strengthening communication between parents and teachers and accelerating student achievement with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate.

“If we’re serious about revitalizing our communities, creating good paying jobs and encouraging young people like me to stay in New York, then we’ve got to lower the tax burden for homeowners and small businesses and invest in higher education so that people can compete for the jobs of the 21st Century,” Ulrich said.

The newly-redrawn 15th Senate District encompasses parts of the Rockaways, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and extends up to Middle Village, Maspeth, Forest Hills, Ridgewood and Glendale.

Crowded field set for 6th District Congressional race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Democratic contenders “Ada” Juan Sheng (left) and Robert Mittman (right) have collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the June 26 primary.

An already crowded Queens Congressional race now has two more runners vying for the hotly-contested 6th District seat.

According to the city’s Board of Elections, Democratic contenders Robert Mittman and “Ada” Juan Sheng have collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the June 26 primary, as did Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, Assemblymember Grace Meng, Jeff Gottlieb, Republican candidate Councilmember Dan Halloran and Green Party runner Evergreen Chou.

Each hopeful had until Monday, April 16 by midnight to file their petitions with the city. At least 938 signatures were required, officials said.

While Board of Elections representatives could not disclose how many signatures each candidate collected, Halloran’s camp said he submitted “well over two and a half times” the statutory minimum, while Mittman said he garnered 3,000 petitions.

Mittman, an asthma and allergy specialist in Bayside, told The Courier he threw his hat in the ring over frustrations with health care in Congress.

“I consider it an honor to seek elected office in the community that I was born in, raised in, lived in, volunteered and worked in for over 40 years,” Mittman said. “I look forward to the opportunity to compete in the upcoming Democratic Primary and to debate and discuss the issues that are important to our neighborhood. In particular, as an internist and family doctor, I am eager to discuss the current crisis in our health care system which desperately needs reform.”

Sheng, said to be a producer at “The Chinese New Yorker with Ada Sheng” television program, could not be reached for comment.

All six Democratic runners will face off in the primary to fight for the seat recently vacated by retiring U.S. Congressmember Gary Ackerman. The winner is expected to go up against Halloran, the sole Republican runner, and Chou, the Green Party candidate, during the November 6 general election.

Check back with www.queenscourier.com later today for updates on this story.

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.

Candidates eyeing Avella’s seat


| mchan@queenscourier.com

candidates

State Senator Tony Avella recently announced his intent to seek re-election, but contenders vying for his 11th District seat plan on giving him a run for his money.

Republican challenger Joseph Concannon has entered the race, while Elio Forcina — who ran for State Assembly in 2010 — said he’s “strongly considering” it.

Concannon, a retired city police officer from Bellerose, told The Courier he “can do a lot more for the district” than the current leader.

“I think I can be more effective, address more of the issues in the area and spur some job creation as well,” he said. “I think in today’s economic environment, people want to work. They want opportunity in front of them.”

Concannon said the incumbent Avella “has not been effective at all in Albany” — a sentiment shared by Forcina as well.

“By many people in the district, they really feel somewhat oppressed by government getting into their business all over the place,” Concannon said. “My legislative agenda is to keep government as small as practical and as effective to relay service to the people of the state who are paying their taxes. I don’t think Avella has been good in that area at all.”

Forcina, a Democrat-turned-Republican from Whitestone, said he would run only if Kimon Thermos — a possible yet unofficial candidate — decides not to.

“I’m very fond of him, and if he wants to run, I’ll be supporting him instead,” said Forcina, an attorney and Marine Corp veteran.

Thermos could not be reached for comment.

Forcina cited Avella’s “immoral and unethical” campaign tactics against candidate Frank Padavan during the 2010 election as part of his reasons for wanting to seek office. He said Avella bashed Padavan for his religious and social views on abortion and gay marriage.

“I didn’t like the way Tony Avella’s campaign treated Frank Padavan. Avella’s message was ‘If you’re Catholic, you’re disqualified for running for public office.’ He attacked him. And because of that, I will support anyone who runs against Avella,” Forcina said.

Padavan, a popular Republican incumbent of 38 years, was ousted from his seat when Avella beat him in the down-to-the-wire race. Both candidates took shots at each other — Avella painted Padavan as a problem the voters sent to Albany for too long and as anti-woman’s rights, while Padavan insisted Avella give back alleged crooked funds provided by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee while they were under investigation by the Inspector General.

“For that reason, I think Queens needs a Republican up in the State Senate. That made me realize I could no longer be a Democrat. I don’t think Avella is able to bring anything back to his district,” Forcina said. “He gives a lot of press conferences that yield no results.”

Avella said in his announcement that “a great deal” was accomplished during his first term, but that there was still “a long way to go to reform Albany.” He said since taking office, he has “served this district faithfully, both in Albany and in the community, through bi-partisan legislative efforts, an unbridled defense of our neighborhoods from harmful over-development and unparalleled constituent services.” His accomplishments so far, he said, include authoring and introducing more than 50 bills and co-sponsoring more than 200 bills.

The Queens County Democratic Organization did not confirm if any Democratic runners plan on challenging Avella in this year’s primary.

“We’ll see what happens,” Forcina said.

 

Has Obama learned to lead?


| letters@queenscourier.com

The problem in being the head of any organization is that regardless of the malfeasance of anyone, you bear the blame. With leadership comes the ups and downs. Enduring the ridicule of disappointed customers is one of the prices of being a leader, even in the absence of control.

President Barack Obama justifiably deserves the rancor of many voters. Upon his swearing in, his control of the organs of government was a unique opportunity given few presidents. Rather than exercise the power he held in his hands, he chose to indicate a direction for others to lead. By doing so, he corrupted his power, diminishing the esteem his supporters had for him.

Many prior supporters of the president hold him accountable for the dire condition of employment and are vehemently enraged by the financial aid that has returned the big banks to stability and profitability. Though the Great Recession would have become another Great Depression if the banks were allowed to fail, the average person who is underwater in their home and fearful of losing their jobs asks, “What about me?”

Current indicators point to an upturn for the economy and to improved employment. Yet the anger and fear that created the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street is not soon to disappear. The open hatred of the Republicans for Obama will only become more evident as we near November 2012.

Regardless of the eventual Republican nominee, Obama’s chances of re-election remain good. America has paid for this president’s education that finally has him standing out front of issues and fighting for what he deems right for the American people. Hopefully, if Obama is re-elected, the mistakes of the past have taught him how to lead a nation that has always stood with a leader.

Edward Horn