Tag Archives: Paul Vallone

Paul Vallone sworn into City Council during local inauguration


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Hundreds of residents packed into a school auditorium Saturday to watch Councilmember Paul Vallone get sworn into office.

The early afternoon ceremony at P.S. 169 in Bay Terrace was attended by a lengthy list of dignitaries, including State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Vallone, 46, was installed by his father, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. He took his oath of office, swearing on the family’s Bible.

“I believe that what you’re doing today, by bringing Paul Vallone into this very diversified and complicated district … that you will be delivering to this Council district one of the best representatives in government that this country has ever produced,” Vallone Sr. said.

The freshman legislator continues the 40-year Vallone legacy in City Hall. His brother, Peter Vallone Jr., was term limited out of the City Council at the end of 2013.

Vallone, who represents District 19, was officially sworn into the City Council Dec. 10 by City Clerk Michael McSweeney.

He ended his inauguration by giving out his first proclamation to Kevin and Tina Lynch, who won ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last month and rocketed Whitestone to national stardom.

 

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Council approves law increasing number of parks where crime is reported


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

The City Council unanimously passed an amendment Thursday that would require the NYPD to submit to the Council crime reports for all city parks and playgrounds larger than one acre.

Currently, crimes are only reported in the city’s 31 largest green spaces.

The NYPD would also be required to post this data on the department’s website within five days of providing it to the Council, according to Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, who proposed the amendment.

The councilmember said the amendment will close a “loophole” from a bill he passed in 2006.

“It will help the public make more informed decisions about their safety,” said Vallone

That legislation originally required the crime reporting of 20 parks, but was supposed to be extended to hundreds more over three years. But, according to Vallone, the NYPD didn’t need to make those increases if the technology wasn’t available to do it.

The amendment will increase the amount of parks where crime is reported to over 870, Vallone said.

According to the legislation, the Police Department would be required to report crimes for 100 of the city’s largest parks initially, then that number would be increased over time, until January 2017 when all crimes for parks one acre or larger would be reported. In January 2018, crimes would be submitted for public pools, basketball courts, recreation centers and playgrounds that are not located within parks one acre or greater in size.

Vallone said he anticipates a veto from Mayor Michael  Bloomberg.

It would be up to the next City Council to override his veto in January, he said.

“I’m sure my brother will lead the way on [the override], Vallone said, referring to Paul Vallone, who starts his term representing District 19 next month.

 

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Paul Vallone sworn into City Council


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@pfvjr

Councilmember Paul Vallone was officially sworn into the City Council Tuesday by City Clerk Michael McSweeney.

The freshman legislator, who represents District 19, begins his term Jan. 1.

He will have a local inauguration ceremony Jan. 4.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Incoming Councilmember Paul Vallone names staff


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone has picked the team he’ll take to City Hall in January, The Courier has learned.

The seven-member staff consists mostly of longtime supporters and includes two former employees of Queens elected officials and the aunt of a local assemblymember.

“These are people who believed in me five years ago, when I first started,” Vallone said during an interview at his family’s Flushing law firm. “They’ve been with me since day one. They’ve grown with me, bled with me, laughed with me. They did everything with me. I trust them.”

The incoming lawmaker appointed Jonathan Szott as his chief of staff, snatching the top aide from his term-limited brother, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

He is also taking Michael Yon from his part-time gig at Assemblymember Ron Kim’s office to work constituent services and community outreach in the Korean communities.

Both workers received blessings from their former bosses before the switch.

“For me, it was easy to decide, even though it’s really not a lot of time,” Vallone said. “It’s really only been a month since the election. It was probably harder to cut down the list.”

The hires were finalized last week, the freshman legislator said.

They include Communications Director Lionel Morales, Director of Constituent Services/Treasurer Vito Tautonico and part-timers Breeana Mulligan and Ahmed Nazar.

Kate Boehme, the aunt of Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, will also help part-time in the communications department. Boehme and other members of Braunstein’s family helped a lot with campaigning, Vallone said.

“They were with me this summer from beginning to end. She’ll be a big asset,” he said.

There may also be room to add one or two more positions, including legislative director, Vallone said.

Also up in the air is where the incoming councilmember will work.

The Flushing branch of the family’s law firm at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard will close after five years, as Vallone prepares to transition into a full-time elected official.

High hopes of transforming the office into his City Council headquarters may be dashed since the bathroom is not yet wheelchair accessible.

“It’s going to be hard parting with this place,” said Vallone. “My wife and I did everything here. I mean everything, from kids’ homework to the Clinton Democratic Club to both campaigns.”

Vallone starts his new job January 1. He will be officially sworn into the City Council January 8 and will have a local inauguration January 5.

But work has already begun, Vallone said, and calls have been pouring in from constituents in need.

The lawmaker-to-be said he has already gotten commitments from the city’s School Construction Authority officials, saying they will move away from building a school in Whitestone.

And while it is too late to change plans for a Bayside school at the former Keil Bros. site — something Vallone said he opposed, despite other claims — the city pledged to keep the school zoned for School District 26 only, Vallone said.

“It’s still an unfortunate location, but that’s a major victory,” he said.

Vallone replaces Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this year.

 

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Council vote OKs Bayside school on Keil Bros. site


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A controversial proposal to build a school in Bayside sailed through the City Council last week, despite the community’s overwhelming opposition.

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) needed the Council’s final ruling in order to go through with plans to build a new elementary school at the site of the Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery.

Owners of the popular garden center sold their 210-11 48th Avenue property to the city for an undisclosed amount earlier this year.

The City Council approved the application last Thursday, with only Queens legislators Mark Weprin and Peter Vallone Jr. voting no.

“I had opposed the school because I didn’t think it was the best site for a school to begin with,” Weprin said. “I wasn’t even convinced about the need for the school.”

Nearby homeowners said the 456-seat institution would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

The contentious plan even led to two rowdy residents threatening SCA officials in May, when the proposal was first presented to the public at a heated Community Board 11 meeting.

The board had just shot down the application in an advisory vote when a male resident threatened to break an SCA representative’s legs and a woman allegedly followed another official in a car, The Courier reported.

“The community is very much against it,” Weprin said. “The Department of Education decided we needed a school there. I haven’t met anybody in the community who is dying to have a school there.”

But many local educators who support the plan said the new school would relieve heavy congestion in the district’s 21 elementary schools. At least three schools have had to put classrooms in space originally meant for libraries or music rooms, according to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of CB 11.

The SCA said its site selection process began in 2008. The authority honed in on the Bayside location this April. The DOE did not comment on when construction would begin.

Meanwhile, a battle still brews between the district’s state senator and its new councilmember.

State Senator Tony Avella claims Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone snubbed the community by supporting the proposal behind closed doors.

Vallone, who does not cast a Council vote until January, has “never voiced support for the school site,” his spokesperson said.

“Tony must not have gotten the memo — he’s not the councilman anymore,” said spokesperson Austin Finan. “Moving forward, Paul Vallone will not be responding to the lies perpetuated by Senator Avella who has clearly demonstrated he is more focused on personal vendettas than he is the future of northeast Queens.”

 

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Bill would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office


| mchan@queenscourier.com

State Senator Tony Avella, taking a shot at two newly elected officials, introduced a bill that would limit when registered lobbyists could run for office.

Legislation the lawmaker announced last week would prohibit former registered lobbyists from running for city or state office for two years from the time they leave their firms.

Elected lobbyists could have a “distinct and unequal advantage” when it comes to influence, access and money, Avella said.

“It’s no question we have to reduce the amount of influence lobbyists have,” he said. “The less influence, the better.”

Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz and Councilmember-elect Paul Vallone are registered as New York City lobbyists — a fact Avella said was not lost on him when he was running against Katz for borough president.

Avella also supported Vallone’s primary opponent, Paul Graziano.

The senator said he spoke to widely known good government groups on the bill, though he did not specify which organizations supported it.

“I thought the bill was appropriate. I think that it’s something we should do in the future,” Avella said. “If elected officials and their staff are prohibited from working as registered lobbyists for a period of time after their term or employment has ended, why isn’t the reverse true?”

The bill, which Avella says is the first of its kind, was referred to the Senate’s Rules Committee on July 1. If passed, it would take effect immediately.

 

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Paul Vallone wins race for Halloran’s seat, continues Vallone legacy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The 40-year Vallone legacy will live on in City Hall.

Paul Vallone, 46, will carry his family’s name in the City Council for the next four years after winning election Tuesday to lead District 19 in northeast Queens.

Vallone beat Republican Dennis Saffran with 57.2 percent of the vote, as of midnight with all precincts reporting, according to preliminary results.

“[This] was a five-year journey that finished today,” Vallone said. “The good guys did it today.”

The two were vying to replace scandal-scarred incumbent Dan Halloran, who chose not to seek re-election after his April arrest on bribery charges.

“They attacked. They lied. They lost,” Vallone said of his opponent’s campaign. “Those who lie don’t get a seat in this community anymore.”

Vallone emerged in September as the winner of a crowded Democratic primary race that came down to the wire.

He beat runner-up candidate Austin Shafran by nearly 200 votes after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted.

One of Vallone’s primary foes, Paul Graziano, later crossed party lines to endorse Saffran.

Halloran, a Republican, did the same — but to cast his vote for Vallone, he announced on his Facebook page on Election Day.

“Voting today — for the first time in my life voting for a democratic city council candidate and candidate for public advocate,” Halloran wrote on his post, which was accompanied with a photo of Vallone’s campaign flyers.

He later congratulated Vallone with a Facebook post that said, “The Vallone family’s tradition of public service continues and I am sure Paul will work diligently for us.”

Vallone, a Flushing attorney, is the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Vallone Sr. represented Astoria from 1974 until 2002 when his oldest son succeeded him. Vallone Jr. is term-limited out of office this year.

“I think it’s very, very important that we have one good, moderate voice in the City Council that can bring both sides together, resulting in a safer city,” said Vallone Sr. “That’s the way I tried to start it in 1974, and we have to do that again. If anybody can do it, it’s Paul Vallone.”

Vallone Jr. shared the same sentiment, saying a “reasonable voice in City Hall is needed more than ever.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of my little brother,” Vallone Jr. said. 

This will be the first time in four decades a Vallone will represent northeast Queens instead of Astoria.

The district runs from College Point to Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck. 

The area’s elected officials, the Queens Democratic Party and civic leaders who endorsed him welcomed the change.   

“We’ve restored some sanity to the 19th District,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “The residents can now hold their heads high and be proud.”                                                   

Cuomo, Gillibrand back Paul Vallone in District 19 race


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand endorsed Democratic City Council candidate Paul Vallone for District 19 Wednesday.

Cuomo said Vallone could carry the legacy of his family.

“I have known the Vallone family for decades and admire their contributions of public service to the City of New York,” the governor said in a statement. “In my mind, there is no question that Paul Vallone is the right man for the job.”

 

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Political Roundup: Schumer backs Vallone


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

ROUNDUP

Senator Schumer endorses Paul Vallone 

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer endorsed City Council candidate Paul Vallone for the District 19 seat on Monday.

“I have known the Vallone family for decades and their respected name and commitment to public service have made the people of Queens proud to call them their own,” Schumer said.

Vallone was recently endorsed by former Congressmember Gary Ackerman.

He faces Republican challenger Dennis Saffran in the November general election.

 

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Hundreds show up to sign petition opposing Whitestone school site


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Devon O'Connor, president of Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Hundreds came out to Whitestone Saturday afternoon to sign a petition asking the city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) to propose alternate sites for a high school.

Residents, after hearing rumors of a school coming to an abandoned six-acre along 150th Street and 5th Avenue, said they were upset they weren’t involved in the decision process.

The lot would not be appropriate for a school because there are no major streets and no public transportation nearby, said City Council District 19 candidate Paul Vallone.

“We must be the voice that is heard and considered first when it comes to new construction in our neighborhoods,” he said following the petition signing.

According to Vallone, almost 600 petition signatures have been collected.

Vallone, upset by the lack of information, gathered with community leaders and residents on Wednesday to speak out against the SCA’s “unilateral site selection powers,” present them with other sites for the school, and let the SCA know the community wants to be involved.

According to State Senator Tony Avella, the Department of Education (DOE) said there is no official proposal to bring a school to that location.

“I stand with the community to not use this site for the school, but [Wednesday’s] rally seems premature,” said Avella. “There’s no proposal. It’s all just rumor.”

DOE spokesperson David Pena said there has been no official decision made to place a school at the Whitestone site.

Anyone who wasn’t able to sign the petition Saturday can sign an online petition. A paper copy can also be picked up at Vallone’s campaign office at 25-59 Francis Lewis Boulevard.

 

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Whitestone school rumors met with rally


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Paul Vallone

Whitestone residents are upset they weren’t involved in the decision process after hearing rumors of a school coming to an abandoned six-acre lot in the heart of their community.

After residents had seen city employees and School Construction Authority (SCA) surveyors measuring a vacant lot located along 150th Street and 5th Avenue, they began to ask questions and then heard of a potential school being proposed for the site.

Upset by the lack of information, City Council District 19 candidate Paul Vallone gathered with community leaders and residents on Wednesday, October 2 to speak out against the SCA’s “unilateral site selection powers,” present them with other sites for the school, and let the SCA know the community wants to be involved.

“It’s the process we are upset with,” said Vallone. “No one is going to tell you we don’t need a school. We need a school. It’s just the location that’s a problem.”

Vallone said the lot would not be fit for a school because there are no major streets and no public transportation nearby.

The lot is in the middle of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank, which was granted legal permission to clean and maintain the abandoned vacant property last year after it stood neglected by owner Whitestone Jewels.

State Senator Tony Avella said he has spoken to the Department of Education and there is no official proposal to bring a school to that location. He has also let the DOE know the community does not want a school at the site.

“I stand with the community to not use this site for the school, but the rally seems premature,” said Avella. “There’s no proposal. It’s all just rumor.”
Both Vallone and Avella believe the site would serve better as an open park space where children could participate in recreational sports.

According to DOE spokesperson David Pena, there has been no official decision made to place a school at the Whitestone site.

“As we do throughout the city, we always take preliminary surveys of areas where we have identified a need for new school construction,” said Pena. “This is just one area in the city we are surveying. We go through a public process before there is any approval on a particular site.”

The SCA did not respond as of press time.

 

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Paul Vallone wins District 19 primary in final vote count, Shafran concedes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photos

Paul Vallone can pop the champagne bottle — again.

Final vote counts officially sealed the win for the Flushing attorney in a hard-fought and close Democratic primary race for City Council.

“I couldn’t be any more excited,” said Vallone, 46. “It was a delayed week, but it was very exciting.”

Vallone declared his victory on primary night last Tuesday, September 10, in a contentious race to replace scandal-scarred Councilmember Dan Halloran in the 19th District.

But the announcement was seemingly premature, as runner-up candidate Austin Shafran trailed by 144 votes and refused to concede.

With nearly 99 percent of precincts reporting, Vallone was leading his four opponents by about 31 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. He had 2,723 votes to Shafran’s 2,579.

Vallone was declared the champion again after voting machines were checked and paper ballots were counted, a process that began late last week, his campaign said. He won by nearly 200 votes, according to preliminary results.

“You had to be strong all the way through,” Vallone said. “I kind of always hoped the paper ballots would reflect what the primary night results did. It ended up even giving us a little boost.”

His campaign manager, Austin Finan, said the gap between the two candidates narrowed to 134 votes last Friday after machines were recanvassed.

Vallone then gained 59 more votes to secure his victory on September 16, when affidavits, absentee and emergency paper ballots were tallied, Finan said.

While a spokesperson for the Board of Elections said the results could not yet be confirmed, Shafran said he would not contest them.

“We gave it a try. We went up against the Vallone name, which is pretty big,” he said. “I’ve had better days, but you come to grips with it a little bit every day.”

“At the end of the day, it’s under 200 votes total between the margin of victory. That’s like two votes per election district,” Shafran continued. “But whether you lost by one or 1,000, it doesn’t really matter in the long run.”

The race also included third place finisher Paul Graziano with 1,539 votes, John Duane with 1,005 votes and Chrissy Voskerichian with 900 votes, according to unofficial results.

Vallone — the son of former Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and brother to Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. — will face off with Republican Dennis Saffran in the November general election.

Primary guide: City Council District 19


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

19

As the clock ticks closer to city primaries on Tuesday, September 10, The Courier would like to provide you, the reader and the voter, with a fair, detailed guide of who is running. Here is a list of the candidates in City Council District 19 (College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston and Little Neck), who they are, what they stand for and what they want to continue to do if they go on to the general election in November.

Name: John Duane

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Father, consumer advocate, attorney

Personal Info: John Duane was born and raised in northeast Queens, where he also raised his three children and has lived his whole life. He knows better than anyone the issues facing the community. As a state assemblymember, Duane wrote 22 bills that became law, including the Vietnam Veterans Tuition Assistance Law. As an assistant attorney general, he took on ConEd and won $30 million in refunds for taxpayers. In his law practice, Duane fights deceptive credit counselors and has won $250 million in judgments for victims of fraud.

Issues/Platforms: Duane knows that a government cannot function properly without the trust and involvement of its citizenry. He will be a full-time city councilmember and has proposed a comprehensive “Integrity Plan” to regain public trust that includes full-transparency and creating a discretionary spending oversight board. Duane’s other priorities include fighting overdevelopment and keeping small businesses thriving by not letting the city target them unfairly as a source of revenue. Duane will use his office to improve public education and increase parental involvement in our schools. He has also made providing services to our seniors and veterans a top priority.

Name: Paul Graziano

Party:  Democrat

Current Occupation:  Urban planning/historic preservation consultant

Personal Info: Graziano, 42, is a lifelong resident of North Flushing and the son of two CUNY professors. Educated at P.S. 21, I.S. 227, Bronx H.S.  of Science, University of Massachusetts-Amherst (BA-Comparative Literature) and Hunter College (MS-Urban Affairs), he is marrying his fiancée, Elzbieta, in September.

Issues/Platforms: For two decades, Graziano has tirelessly protected the 19th Council District from overdevelopment, including successfully downzoning every neighborhood; creating the R2A “anti-McMansion” zone; placing 1,330 buildings in Broadway-Flushing on the National Register of Historic Places; getting Douglaston Hill and the Schleicher and Ginsburg mansions landmark designation; and helping win the fight to turn Fort Totten into a public park and historic district when it was slated to be sold to developers.

Graziano’s work also focuses on education reforms, including ending mayoral control of the Department of Education, replacing top-down “Teaching to the Test” decision-making with local teachers and parents deciding their children’s future; reinstituting art, music, after-school activities and tutoring; protesting against the DOE’s proposed school facility at Keil Brother’s on 48th Avenue in July; and standing in solidarity with teachers, parents and students against an abusive principal at P.S. 29 in August.

Name: Austin Shafran

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Full-time candidate for City Council

Personal Info: Austin Shafran was born and raised in Bayside, where committed to public service, he worked tirelessly for CongressmemberGary Ackerman and then for Governor Andrew Cuomo to deliver a better and brighter future for the northeast Queens neighborhoods he is proud to call home. Whether it was playing for award-winning local little leagues or helping countless families access vital services, Shafran’s connection and commitment to his neighborhoods is deep and sincere. He said he would fight harder than anyone to clean up corruption, give schools the support they need, and make sure families and seniors can afford to stay in our neighborhoods.

Issues/Platforms: As councilmember, Shafran will cut property taxes and water rates for homeowners, co-ops and condo owners and reduce income taxes for middle class families; provide more funding for senior services; improve schools by reducing class sizes, stop high-stakes testing and increase input for parents and educators; crack down on unscrupulous developers threatening neighborhoods and ban outside employment for councilmembers to stand up to the special interests and put our community first.

Name: Paul Vallone

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Attorney

Personal Info: Paul Vallone is the managing partner of the family law firm of Vallone & Vallone. He currently serves as president of the Clinton Democratic Club, immediate past president and founding member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and board member of Community Board 7. Vallone also serves as counsel and board member to the Auburndale Soccer Club and was previously appointed to serve as a board member to the New York City Board of Corrections. Vallone and his wife, Anna-Marie, live in Flushing with their three children Catena, Lea and Charlie.

Issues/Platforms: Vallone is running to restore honest and effective Democratic leadership to the 19th City Council seat. His top priorities include putting more cops on the street, standing with other small business owners against unfair regulations and crushing fines, keeping schools the best in the city, preserving the residential character of neighborhoods, combating the incessant airplane noise pollution plaguing neighborhoods and ensuring that northeast Queens finally gets its fair share from City Hall. Vallone has been endorsed by the Queens County Democratic Party, Congressmember Grace Meng, Assemblymember Ed Braunstein, Senator Toby Stavisky, Assemblymember Ron Kim, Assemblymember Mike Simanowitz and former City Council Candidates Kevin Kim and Jerry Iannece.

Name: Chrissy Voskerichian

Party: Democrat

Current Occupation: Civic leader, 109th  Precinct Council President

Personal Info: Voskerichian started working when she was just 16 years old. She moved through the ranks of the telecommunications industry, retiring after 31 years as director of Global Sales & Operations for one of the largest firms in the world to focus more on her neighborhood. She founded the Station Road Civic Association and in 2009 was elected president of the 109th Precinct Community Council where she has worked hard to create a partnership between the NYPD and the community. She served as chief of staff for the District 19 City Council office.

Issues/Platforms: Voskerichian’s main priority is to protect the quality of life in northeast Queens and ensure that public safety is never compromised. She believes the city must give police officers and firefighters the tools they need to do their jobs. Voskerichian also stresses the need to support teachers by building new schools to reduce class sizes and giving kids a head start with free Universal Pre-K for every child. Finally, she promises to make constituent services a focus of her office. She will use her knowledge and experience to have a fully functional office capable of helping everyone and improving the community she calls home.

 

MORE PRIMARY GUIDES

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with thunderstorms, then thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 82. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 66. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Open-Mic Storytelling Show at The Creek & the Cave

Every Tuesday at The Creek & the Cave, Jake Hart (The Moth, Nights of Our Lives, Local Stories) hosts an open-mic storytelling show from 7-9 p.m. No themes, no judges, and you get 8 minutes to tell whatever true story you want. Plus, special guest storytellers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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PAC attacks City Council candidates in District 19 race


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Three City Council candidates who recently had their faces plastered on smear mailers are calling for an end to “one of the worst mudslinging campaigns” the district has ever seen.

“I am very disappointed and saddened by the false attacks which have been made on the personal character of the candidates,” said Chrissy Voskerichian. “False accusations and outright lies have no place in what should be a spirited, focused and honest campaign.”

Voskerichian, Austin Shafran and Paul Graziano have been targeted in at least five hit pieces this month which were paid for by a political action committee (PAC) called Jobs for New York.

They are running against two other Democrats in a primary for the District 19th seat currently held by indicted Republican Councilmember Dan Halloran.

John Duane has not yet been mentioned by the PAC and Paul Vallone has been endorsed by them.

Graziano, in the latest mailer, is seen engulfed in flames under a headline that reads “Let’s not get burned by Paul Graziano.”

The urban planner is accused of saying in 2006 he would “take advantage of racial strife in the community” and is called “an embarrassment” in another flyer.

“It’s really an outrageous situation,” said Graziano, who also called the hit pieces “amusing” and “ridiculous.”

Voskerichian, who served as Halloran’s chief of staff for three years, is labeled “the captain” of the scandal-scarred politician’s “sinking, corrupt ship.”

Shafran, the Senate Democrats spokesperson in 2010, is blasted for “staunchly defending” State Senator Malcolm Smith, who allegedly conspired with Halloran and GOP leaders to run for mayor on the Republican line.

The four candidates called for Vallone to put an end to the negative campaigning — “the worst” the district has seen, according to State Senator Tony Avella, who used to be the area’s councilmember.

“I consider Paul Vallone a friend, and I know he’s better than this,” Duane said. “It’s time for him to stand up and do the right thing by publicly repudiating this insidious, negative campaign that is being perpetrated on his behalf.”

The PAC, headed by the Real Estate Board of New York, spent $113,134 on Vallone’s campaign, according to The Real Deal.

Austin Finan, a spokesperson for Vallone’s campaign, said candidates, by law, have no control over outside spending.

PACs can spend as much money as they want on behalf of candidates but cannot coordinate with them.

“Those opponents of Paul Vallone who repeatedly lie about these facts continue to demonstrate they lack the honesty and integrity to represent northeast Queens in the City Council,” Finan said.

The candidates, however, said Vallone is still tied to the tactics.

“Anyone who benefits from these reprehensible attacks and fails to denounce them is as bad as the people behind those attacks,” Shafran said.

 

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