Tag Archives: State Senate

State Sen. Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial declared a mistrial


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Judge Kenneth M. Karas declared a mistrial Tuesday in the corruption trial against state Sen. Malcolm Smith, reports said.

The decision was made after it was revealed that the United States Attorney’s office failed to turn over 9,000 recorded conversations to defense lawyers until well into the trial, prompting several jurors to say that they could not wait for the defense to process the new recordings, according to the New York Times.

The recordings, almost 300 hundred of which are in Yiddish, were made or received by Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who became a government informer in order to avoid a prison sentence.

The case against another defendant, the Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone, was also declared a mistrial. But the case against Dan Halloran, a former councilman, will continue next week, according to the Times. A new trial date of Jan. 5, 2015 is set for Smith and Tabone.

Smith, who currently holds office and is seeking reelection, is accused of trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor.

On  June 12, the morning before the day’s trial, federal prosecutors argued that the conversations were irrelevant to bribery crime and wire fraud with which the defendants, including Smith, are charged, the Times said. But the defense – including Smith’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel – convinced the judge that somewhere in the recordings there might be evidence that Stern and an undercover agent entrapped the defendants. The judge decided to postpone his decision until Friday to give prosecutors a chance to show him how the recordings might be translated quickly enough for the current case to continue.

But it could take weeks to translate the Yiddish material since none of the lawyers speak Yiddish, according to the Times. And that’s something the jurors can’t wait for.

“The lawyers are working around the clock as it is, and now you’re adding a pretty substantial review of the recordings,” the judge said.

Jurors were then ushered into the courtroom where more secretly recorded conversations were played and they heard Smith say that bribes are the “business of government,” according to the New York Post.

“Tell them I got a kid in Albany that needs to be born. So when you birth him . . . I’ll help you with your children,” Smith is heard saying on the tapes. “I’d say absolutely not,” to giving more bribe money.

“I’d say, ‘I’m not giving you a freaking dime.’ I’d say, ‘If I even give you a nickel more, you have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person you endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Matter of fact, he’s better than sliced bread.’ ”

Smith, a Democrat who was for a time the State Senate majority leader, is charged with being the linchpin in a conspiracy to bribe Tabone, then the vice chairman of the Queens County Republican Committee, and Joseph J. Savino, the Bronx Republican chairman, so he could get their authorization to run for mayor as a Republican in 2013. Savino pleaded guilty to bribery. Tabone has argued that the payment he received was a legal retainer and he was entrapped into taking it. Halloran allegedly served as a go-between in discussions with the Republicans.

 

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Newly revealed recordings may halt Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Sen. Malcolm Smith’s corruption trial might be put on hold, according to reports.

The United States Attorney’s office failed to turn over 9,000 recorded conversations to defense lawyers until well into the trial, prompting the judge in the case to consider adjourning the case or declaring a mistrial, according to the New York Times.

The recordings, almost 300 hundred of which are in Yiddish, are made or received by Moses Stern, a Rockland County developer who became a government informer in order to avoid a prison sentence.

Smith, who currently holds office and is seeking reelection, is accused of trying to bribe his way into a GOP nomination for mayor.

On Thursday morning before the day’s trial, federal prosecutors argued that the conversations were irrelevant to bribery crime and wire fraud that the defendants, including Smith, are charged with. But the defense – including Smith’s lawyer Gerald L. Shargel – convinced the judge that somewhere in the recordings there might be evidence that Stern and an undercover agent entrapped the defendants. The judge, Kenneth M. Karas, decided to postpone his decision until Friday to give prosecutors a chance to show him how the recordings might be translated quickly enough for the current case to continue.

But it could take weeks to translate the Yiddish material since none of the lawyers speak Yiddish, according to the Times.

“The lawyers are working around the clock as it is, and now you’re adding a pretty substantial review of the recordings,” the judge said.

Jurors were then ushered into the courtroom where more secretly recorded conversations were played and they heard Smith say that bribes are “business of government,” according to the New York Post.

“Tell them I got a kid in Albany that needs to be born. So when you birth him . . . I’ll help you with your children,” Smith is heard saying on the tapes. “I’d say absolutely not,” to giving more bribe money.

“I’d say, ‘I’m not giving you a freaking dime.’ I’d say, ‘If I even give you a nickel more, you have to stand on the Empire State Building and drop every person you endorsed and hold Malcolm up and say he’s the best thing since sliced bread. Matter of fact, he’s better than sliced bread.’ ”

Smith, a Democrat who was for a time the State Senate majority leader, is charged with being the linchpin in a conspiracy to bribe Vincent Tabone, then the vice chairman of the Queens County Republican Committee, and Joseph J. Savino, the Bronx Republican chairman, so he could get their authorization to run for mayor as a Republican in 2013. Savino pleaded guilty to bribery. Tabone has argued that the payment he received was a legal retainer and he was entrapped into taking it. The third defendant is Daniel J. Halloran, who allegedly served as a go-between in discussions with the Republicans.

 

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Stop for school bus or lose license for 60 days: state Senate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Repeat scofflaws who zoom through school bus stop signs could face stiffer penalties under a bill the state Senate passed last week.

The legislation calls for a 60-day license suspension for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus more than twice within 10 years.

“It’s bad enough that a driver passes a stopped school bus once, but to do it twice is unacceptable,” said upstate Sen. John Bonacic, who penned the law. “This bill is intended to make our roads safer for our school children.”

Committing the crime twice within three years is currently punishable by up to $750 and 180 days in jail. But only the monetary fine — up to $1,000 — increases for each new offense after that.

The new law, in line with citywide “Vision Zero” strides to reduce pedestrian fatalities, would temporarily yank dangerous drivers from the wheel.

“Drivers who are reckless with their lives and the lives of others, particularly with the lives of children, must be punished and taken off the roads,” Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said.

The bill now awaits movement by the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

 

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Queens pols: DREAM Act is not dead


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Maybe it was just a fantasy, but Queens politicians that support New York’s DREAM Act aren’t giving up the fight to make it a reality.

After receiving support from the State Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Monday, the State Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act, which would have allocated $25 million in state funding for tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants attending college.

The legislation received just 30 of the necessary 32 votes to pass. Two Democratic senators opposed the measure, along with all Republican members.

Every Queens senator voted in favor of the measure, and now they are hoping to convince Cuomo to add the DREAM Act to the state budget, which is due April 1.

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t pass. There are people in the state who don’t agree with it. That’s democracy,” said State Senator Tony Avella, who co-sponsored the measure. “There is no question that it’s disappointing, but we won’t give up the fight.”

Cuomo himself voiced disappointment that the Senate failed to pass the bill after the vote, and the same day he released a statement, vowing to fight for it– though it’s not clear if he will put it in the state budget.

“I will continue to work with supporters, stakeholders and members of the legislature to achieve this dream and build the support to pass this legislation and preserve New York’s legacy as a progressive leader,” Cuomo said.

If the DREAM Act had passed the final hurdle in the Senate vote, it would put New York among states such as California, New Mexico, Washington, and even Texas, which is known as a Republican state.

“I think it’s an embarrassment for New York State,” State Senator Malcolm Smith said. “We have always been a progressive state, especially for immigrants. We need to make it happen. I am optimistic that the bill could come up again before we end session in June. I will push for it to come up again.”

 

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John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.

But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.

“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”

“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”

Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.

“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”

The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

 

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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.

 

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What Queens pols hope to accomplish for their constituents in 2014


| 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.

 

 

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Attorney Munir Avery to run for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Munir Avery

Munir Avery announced he will be the first challenger for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat in the 2014 election.

“I was born and raised in Queens Village, and I want to continue to serve my community. I want to bring the services to my community,” said the attorney.

Smith, who was indicted in April for allegedly trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ticket for mayor, has not publicly decided whether to run again.

Reps for the 13-year Democratic incumbent said he is not going to comment on his challenger.

In the State Senate, Smith caucused with a group of Democrats that govern with Republicans, said Avery.

“Because of that, the Democrats don’t have their chairmanship [in Albany],” he said.

If elected, Avery plans to caucus with the Democrats in order to work and fight for the party’s agenda.

“It’s cleaning up the system,” he said. “That would be the reason I felt the need to run against [Smith].”

Although this is Avery’s first run at office, he is no stranger to politics. He currently is counsel to Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, and previously worked for the Queens district attorney’s office and on City Council campaigns.

Avery hopes to address various issues surrounding schools, including funding a universal pre-kindergarten, nurturing scholar athletes, and implementing art and after-school programs.

“When I went to public school, we were able to have art, gym,” he said. “I want to see that back in the schools and I’m going to fight for that.”

He also wants to promote open government in Albany and “try to get the big money out,” of which he said Smith has failed to do.

 

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Hiram Monserrate sentenced to two years in prison


| brennison@queenscourier.com

File photo

Former Councilmember and state Senator Hiram Monserrate was sentenced to 24 months behind bars on Tuesday for fraudulently using City Council money to fund a run for state office.

Monserrate, who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was convicted of fraud after misappropriating more than $100,000 in City Council discretionary funding to finance his failed 2006 run for state Senate.

“Hiram Monserrate helped to underwrite his political ambitions with money that was intended to benefit those in need, and he corrupted his office in the process,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

The money was directed to the Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment (LIBRE), a non-profit in his then council district. The discretionary funds, which are drawn from city taxpayer dollars, were used to pay employees of the non-profit to collect signatures, work on his Senate campaign and conduct a voter registration drive.

“Hiram Monserrate was undone by his greed and now will pay the price. He used a nonprofit’s money to serve his own political career rather than his constituency and with today’s prison sentence will forfeit his freedom,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn.

In addition to the 24 months in jail, Monserrate must pay a $80,000 fine and serve three additional years of supervised release.

Monserrate, who was elected to the state Senate in 2008 after eight years in the City Council, was expelled from the seat in 2010 after being convicted of domestic assault of his girlfriend. He lost the subsequent special election to state Senator Jose Peralta.

Smith’s move could stymie State Senate Democrats


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Malcolm Smith #8

State Senator Malcolm Smith, representing southeast Queens, announced he joined the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in an allegiance with Republican representatives. This will possibly give the pact a tandem leadership of the chamber and stymie the Democrats, who seemingly took power in November’s election.

The tenured senator is now joining a coalition that will split power between two of the three sects in the Senate, with incumbent Senate Leader Dean Skelos switching every two weeks with Bronx IDC Senator Jeff Klein.

Klein’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

Smith wants to focus more on policy than politicking, said spokesperson Hank Sheinkopf.

In 2009, two freshman Democrat state senators joined Republicans to vote for a change that would have effectively removed Smith as senate leader.

The two senators later retracted and sided back with Dems.

“As someone who has been a victim of a coup,” Sheinkopf said, “and has seen chaos, this would be the best way to ensure that there would be no chaos. He wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen again.”

The senator, whose district will no longer include the storm-ravaged Rockaways, wants to focus on better transit, among other issues concerning the state, Sheinkopf said.

Though Smith is joining a coalition that will be allied with Republican senators, Sheinkopf said Smith remains a Democrat.

And while some Democrats are cautiously optimistic, others are appalled by what is known of the plan so far. Senator Joseph Addabbo, one of the Queens senators in office during the 2009 leadership crisis, said the Senate is at a crossroads right now. If power is split between all three sects of the higher house, GOP, IDC and Democrats, then a true allied government could be productive. However, should there be what Addabbo called a continued blockage by Skelos against Democratic bills, constituents will suffer as a result and the progress of government will get nowhere.

The New York State Senate Democratic Conference released statements following the news of Smith’s move, and claimed Republicans ultimately hurt constituents by holding up the legislative process.

“This is not a coalition but a coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government,” said Democratic spokesperson Mike Murphy. “Sadly, the real victims of today’s announcement are the people of our state, whose clearly expressed desire for progress on a host of issues will now be scuttled.”

Senator Jose Peralta, also a candidate for borough president, said he always had a great relationship with Smith and looked forward to continuing that despite the move, focusing on borough-wide issues and doing whatever possible to enact legislation at the state level.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Senator Malcolm Smith in the legislature in Albany and in communities in Queens,” Peralta said. “While I am deeply disappointed that he will not be a member of the Senate Democratic Conference, I will work to keep open a line of communication between Senator Smith and the conference and am hopeful he will fight to enact long-overdue sensible gun legislation, raise the minimum wage, improve our schools and ensure access to decent, affordable housing for all New Yorkers.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in an editorial for the Albany Times-Union, noted that he would not support either side at this time, or discuss the actions of particular legislators.

He did note, however, that the Democrat-led senate, which held power from 2009 to 2011, had failed to pass much legislation and cited leadership crises during that time. In addition, the governor listed what legislation he supported, including a minimum wage increase and reform to the much-discussed stop-and-frisk policy.

“The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises,” he wrote. “The Democratic Conference dysfunction was legendary and the current leadership has failed to come to a cooperative agreement with Mr. Klein’s IDC faction.”

Murphy, in a statement responding to the op-ed, said the governor’s agenda was almost a match to members of the conference. Democratic senators, he said, would continue to fight for New Yorkers’ wants and needs and jeer the Republicans for any missteps in constituents’ needs.

“The governor has now presented a similar agenda including many issues the new Republican Coalition has opposed,” he said. “Senate Democrats will continue to lead the fight on this progressive agenda, and we will hold the Senate Republican Coalition accountable until New Yorkers get the progressive change they deserve.”

Messer refuses to give up fight


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

John Messer

It was a fight not easily conceded.

State Senate hopeful John Messer refused to back down after opponent Toby Ann Stavisky reported winning numbers during the primary race for the 16th District. Messer said a hard hit in the south Flushing neighborhood of Electchester — a Stavisky-favored area — caused his influence to dwindle at local polls.

Messer said he found the numbers perplexing and that he believed he was the favored candidate in nearly all precincts. The contender said he brought a large number of new voters to the polls, who may have checked their ballot box with an X instead of filling in the bubble.

The local attorney and small business owner said his lawyers will be looking into a possible recount and are going to consult with judges to see if an order can issue a second look at the votes.

“I believe going into this I wanted to inspire people and I wanted to bring people into the process and when I went around today, everyone was so excited,” said Messer. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me. We went to certain poll sites where certain poll site workers would come out and say by the way everyone who came in here today was asking for you and then we get the numbers and they’re like 50/50. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Messer believes he won 75 percent of the precincts.

“We inspired so many people and brought so many people into the process, I don’t want the people who are behind us and who really want a change to get disappointed. We’re going to still work together to bring out change and bring the communities together.”

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to endorse Ulrich after opponent’s inflammatory mailer


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

rudy ulrich

Following a mailer criticizing Councilmember Eric Ulrich for associating with Democratic and gay politicians, Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani today will endorse the senate hopeful on the eve of the Republican primary for State Senate District 15.

Friends of Juan Reyes — the campaign for Ulrich’s opponent — has sent out several mailers leading up to the election that took shots at friends of the councilmember and his support from the state Republican Party. The mailer’s content alleged Ulrich had liberal leanings since being elected to City Council, and hired gay staff members.

A media advisory from the Ulrich campaign said Giuliani “will strongly condemn the scorched-earth attacks.”

Ulrich’s current chief of staff in the City Council is Rudy S. Giuliani, a second cousin of the former mayor.

Reyes has touted during his campaign that he was a Giuliani aide during the former mayor’s second term in office. During that time, Reyes worked in different legal positions, but some have said Reyes was virtually an unknown in close circles.

Reyes, however, alleged in a statement that the Republican Party was pressuring the former mayor to endorse Ulrich.

“I respect Rudy Giuliani,” Reyes said, “and I know the intense pressure he has been under from the party leaders to endorse Ulrich.”

 

Sanders calls for Huntley to exit Senate race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

In light of charges levied against State Senator Shirley Huntley, her primary opponent is calling for her to step down and exit the race for her seat immediately.

“With great regret, I am calling upon Senator Shirley Huntley to take the high road. Step aside so that a new voice can take over and you can deal with the legal problems you are dealing with,” said Councilmember James Sanders outside Queens County courthouse today, less than three weeks before the September 13 primary election.

Huntley was hit yesterday with conspiracy and tampering charges for allegedly attempting to cover up money her niece and aide stole from a Long Island nonprofit. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that when Huntley learned of the probe into her niece and aide, she penned a false backdated letter stating the nonprofit she founded, Parent Workshop, Inc.,  conducted workshops that never took place.

The three-time incumbent faces a fiercely contested primary in less than three weeks against Sanders and Gian Jones.

“The Senator should resign, effective immediately,” Sanders said.

The councilmember said Huntley deserves her day in court, but “you cannot deal with a 20-count indictment and effectively do the work of the people.”

This late in the game, the Board of Elections could not remove someone from the ballot, Sanders said, but a candidate could step aside and refuse to continue in the race.

Unions have contacted Sanders about switching their endorsements and the councilmember indicated some will come shortly. He added he looks forward to a “necessary” conversation with the Queens County Democrats, who endorsed Huntley, about possibly switching their support.

 

King endorses Ulrich for State Senate


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

With less than a month until the Republican primary for the 15th State Senate District, Congressmember Peter King endorsed Councilmember Eric Ulrich – adding to the long list of endorsements for the city representative.

“Eric understands that the way to put New Yorkers back to work and grow our economy is by lowering taxes on families and small businesses and reigning in the reckless government spending that has created unsustainable deficits and threatens our competitiveness,” King said. “His conservative principles of limited government, safe streets and a strong quality of life will make him an excellent representative in Albany and I urge all Republicans to vote for him on September 13th.”

Ulrich, who is facing off against former Guiliani staffer Juan Reyes, said he was proud of King’s endorsement, as well as the 10-term representative’s tenure in the House.

“I’m honored to receive the support of Congressman King, a true public servant who has done a great deal for the people of New York,” Ulrich said. “I look forward to working closely with him as a partner on the state level to keep New York City safe, ensure our veterans coming home from war are cared for and revive our economy.”

The primary winner will face off against State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who has represented the district since 2009.

Ozone Park native Ulrich has picked up other major endorsements, including Congressmember Bob Turner, former Governor George Pataki, the Senate Republicans Election Committee and the Queens Conservative and Queens Independent parties.

 

Candidates start slinging mud in 15th Senate District


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Though the 15th Senate District Republican Primary is still two months away, there has already been heavy campaigning — and a lot of mudslinging.

A mailer sent out by the Juan Reyes campaign last month claimed that incumbent councilmember and State Senate hopeful Eric Ulrich was the choice of Republican party insiders.

“If the Albany political bosses had their way, their hand-picked puppet would already be on his way to the Senate chamber to rubber stamp the backroom deals they cut months ago,” the mailer read.

An official in the Reyes campaign said the race was unfair because of perks Ulrich had been receiving, especially with promoting his campaign. The Reyes official said the State Senate Republicans Campaign Committee had been sending out mailers for the Ulrich campaign by use of the state Republican Party’s non-profit mailing status. This practice, the official said, makes this an unbalanced race.

A representative for the committee confirmed it had endorsed Ulrich for the Republican primary, and that it was legal for them to use the party’s non-profit postal status to send out mailers for his campaign.

The Reyes campaign rep went on to say that funds raised by the committee had originally been established to help Republicans defeat Democrats, not other Republicans. He added that these mailers were probably sent out with little-to-no consultation from the local community.

“They’ve done probably close to half a dozen without any kind of input of local Republicans,” he said.

Bill O’Reilly, a spokesperson for the Ulrich campaign, dispelled the accusations in the mailer, and referred back to an earlier claim by Reyes that his campaign offices had been vandalized by Ulrich endorsers.

“That mailing is utterly ridiculous — almost as bizarre as Mr. Reyes’ statement about his campaign office being ransacked. Queens voters are smart and will not fall for Machiavellian tactics like that,” he said in an email. “Councilmember Ulrich is the clear reform candidate in this race. It’s why he has garnered so much local support.”

On July 9, Friends of Juan Reyes sent a news release questioning Ulrich’s association with John Haggerty, a former Bloomberg campaign runner who was convicted of felony charges in stealing about $750,000 from the camp, citing several recent stories regarding the councilmember’s association with Haggerty. One article attached to the release said Haggerty had submitted petition signatures for Ulrich to the Board of Elections. O’Reilly responded to the release saying, “The fact is, that a campaign volunteer named Mike Michel submitted the councilmember’s petitions at the Board of Elections. Mr. Reyes needs to get his facts straight — and to take a few days off to gather his wits.”