Peter Vallone, Jr. is In the Chair (Page 2) Pundits sound off on whether Michael Bloomberg will run for president (Page 4)
and Rep. Carolyn Maloney has lunch at her favorite Vol. 1, No. 3
French bistro. (Page 15)
A Governor from the City? Good times may be ahead for the Big Apple if Spitzer wins BY EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE fter 12 years with Peekskill’s George Pataki (R) as governor, some city advocates see hope on the horizon. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whom almost everyone expects to win the Democratic primary and general election, hails from the Bronx. He has lived in Manhattan most of his adult life, and calls an apartment on Fifth Avenue home.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 8
“Outer Borough” Presidents MONEY TRAIL Candidates Bristle at Stringer’s Reforms AG Firm Up Law Molinaro, Markowitz, Marshall and Carrion
The August Poll: Who Should Be Given a Daytime Talk Show? Page 6
BY CARLA ZANONI
Issue Forum: Gay Marriage Pages 12-13
s new Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s (D) plan to “reform and empower” Manhattan’s community boards has started taking shape, the four other borough presidents are sticking to their own plans of action. They dismiss Stringer’s plan for reform, calling Manhattan a unique borough that is not reflective of their bor-
A Night at Charlie Rangel’s 76th Birthday
Review of Brooke Masters’ Spitzer Biography, Spoiling for a Fight
say their challenges are not Manhattan’s
Crystal Ball: Predictions for the month ahead
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D) introduced several changes to his borough’s 12 community boards.
ough’s needs. But those familiar with community boards across the city are not quite convinced. Community board appointments and oversight are two of the only official powers left to borough presidents. Stringer, whose first term began in January, began tackling the issues he says make community boards struggle the most, searching for a system that makes members accountable for CONTINUED ON PAGE
BY JAMES CALDWELL Lawyers seem to have taken an active interest in which of the four Democrats running for attorney general gets the nomination in next month’s primary If money is the measure, Andrew Cuomo is the lawyer’s favorite, leading lawyer fundraising by more CONTINUED ON PAGE 16
IN THE CHAIR
The Speaker’s Son Speaks for Himself Graffiti and his political future on his mind, Vallone chairs Public Safety Committee BY MATT ELZWEIG
the severity of what’s gone on here,” Vallone said. He maintains that the people at Con Ed who, in his view, mishandled the crisis “should go to jail.” Vallone’s top priority is and will continue to be “public safety … and making it the city and the mayor’s number one focus.” Many assume Vallone will run for Queens district attorney in 2009, if term limits are not repealed and he is forced from office. He acknowledges that “Queens D.A. is one of those [positions] I think I’ll be very good at.” Vallone’s opposes term limits because he thinks they force Council members to think about their next job and to begin raising money as soon as they start working in their new positions. For example, he denies that his father was forced out by term limits, of and says he was going to run for mayor regardless of the approaching end of his tenure in the Council. Term limits should be extended for an additional term, he argued. Speaking about his brother, Paul Vallone described the Council member as bringing “that litigator mentality” to public life, constantly offering “proof” to constituents, other legislators, and reporters. “I think Pete’s different in that he’s passionate in his convictions and he’s not too concerned about the politically correct answer … [and] he’s not a media hound,” he doesn’t “try the perfect quotes over and over, or over a single issue … [he] sees things through and then moves on to the ■ next thing.” firstname.lastname@example.org
INT. 392 – A bill that would shift homelessness surveys to the summer months. SPONSORS: Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), 3rd District, Council Member Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), 39th District
orously collect data and report it back.”
don’t represent reality,” explained de Blasio, who noted Quinn’s and the Coalition’s instrumental involvement in pushing this legislation. The bill would put the homeless census during summer, when they are less likely to be living underground or in other
Currently the city conducts its census of New York’s homeless during winter. However, cold weather makes tracking homeless people especially hard in winter, leading to potential undercounts. Accurate surveys are necessary to properly apportion city services to the homeless population. “The Coalition for the Homeless regularly says the numbers are low, that they
for a boy living in his district, when he was in the State Senate. The law helps the state monitor the treatment of children sent to out-of-state facilities for specialized care and mental-health treatment. In June, the Department of Education (DoE) issued a critical report on a facility in
Bills on the burner for the Council
shelter and are therefore more visible. INT. 369 – A bill to require the Department of Education to report to the City Council on the status of Billy’s Law. LEAD SPONSOR: Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn), 43rd District Gentile sponsored Billy’s Law, named
Massachusetts that was using electroshock collars as punishments for trivial infractions. Students were also forced to wear these devices while showering. Two-thirds of the students were from New York State. The purpose of this new legislation is “protecting a population of New York students who really don’t have a voice at all,” said Gentile. “What we need to do on the city level is empower the city DoE to vig-
ANDREW SCHWARTZ PHOTOS
baby on the way, juxtaposed against the less than $50,000 he was making at ETER F. VALLONE, JR. the time. (D-Queens) entered his district For the next ten years, he worked office carrying a canvas bag with with his father and namesake, the forsneakers in it and had an iced coffee in his mer Council Speaker who ran for both other hand. He had just dropped one of his governor and mayor, in their private daughters off at camp and was hoping to hit law practice, Vallone & Vallone, locatthe gym later on. He plays four instruments, ed next to his current office in Astoria. loads of sports, works 12 hour days regularHis father’s legacy and his gratitude ly, and manages to devote all of his remain- to him is obvious, and he does not ing time to his two daughters and the rest of think he will be “able to fill” his shoes. his family. During the blackout, standard 12 Vallone, Jr. watched him work for 27 hour days were stretched to 15. years and says it showed him that “one Michael Distefano owns the local Cold person could make a difference and Stone Creamery, which was could really make lives betforced to close due to last ter [for] the people around month’s blackout. For him, him.” Vallone’s fighting spirit is Now in his second term, clear. Distefano’s struggle is Vallone, Jr. has continued not over, but he credits to chair the Public Safety Vallone for helping him perCommittee, which oversonally, and for “going to bat sees all matters related to against Con Ed.” the police, the courts, the Peter Vallone, Jr. is defining an identity Vallone says he has had a prosecutors, civilian com- his own on the Council. “sense of justice” since he plaints, juvenile justice, emer- just one of many things he is proud to have was a kid. gency management and organ- worked on as chair. Throughout his childized crime. He is also proud of public safety initiahood and adolescence, he Given his professional and tives that have resulted in cameras being wanted to be a police officer, educational backgrounds, it was placed in public schools, illegal gun legislabut by the time he was old a logical choice for Vallone, who tion passed this summer, a commitment to enough to walk a beat, he says he is “determined to get making nightlife safer and 1,200 new cops was studying political sciprosecutors more money.” being included in the new budget under his ence and then law, both at Having sat at the prosecutor’s watch. Fordham University. and defense tables, he saw it as Vallone, who is not known for pulling This led to six years as an “the position that was made for” punches, recently came to the forefront of assistant district attorney in him and he actively sought it city news during the outcry over Con Manhattan. It was a job out. Edison’s handling of the blackout that Vallone felt combined his After stiffening the penalties washed over Queens, by criticizing Mayor interests in police work and for graffiti, this became perhaps Michael Bloomberg (R) for thanking Kevin law. And he would likely Vallone’s sash and his signature issue, though he M. Burke, head of the energy giant. have stayed were it not for a tie rack. says this was inadvertent, and is “The mayor doesn’t seem to appreciate
INT. 399 – A local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to requiring the installation of a stop sign or traffic control signal at every intersection immediately adjacent to any school. SPONSOR: Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island), 51st District The ultimate goal of this and a companion bill, also under consideration in the Transportation Committee, is to “create a safety zone around each of our schools,” according to Lanza. He said he first got the idea from driving through the suburbs of New Jersey, where traffic fines inside such zones are automatically doubled. “Our children are our most vulnerable pedestrians,” he said. “This has been a long time coming.” — By Vijay Phulwani and Sal Gentile
STATE OF THE UNIONS
Getting Its Foot in the Political Door
In the land of protected lobbies, having the doormen on your side can be a major advantage.
Charting its own path, 32BJ grows into potent political force BY COURTNEY MCLEOD NCE UPON A TIME,
LOCAL 32BJ OF THE Service Employees International Union was a large but politically inactive force in municipal
politics. Today, political consultants rate 32BJ, which represents 60,000 doormen, janitors and other building-service workers in New York City, as one of the city’s most influential unions. “Next to 1199, which dwarfs all labor political labor operations in our city, 32BJ has one of the more activist and organized political action groups,” said Scott Levenson, a Democratic political consultant with strong labor ties. 32BJ, nicknamed “the doormen’s union,” rounds out a list of influential unions that includes 1199, the health care workers’ union local that belongs to the same SEIU as 32BJ; District Council (DC) 37, the city’s largest municipal public employees union; and the United Federation of Teachers. Democratic political consultants say 32BJ has gone from outsider to insider by building a large and politically active membership and bringing on savvy leaders who are expected to further improve their political operation. “The goals of our political program are about building the ability of our union to pass pro-worker legislation and to make sure that our members are involved in civic life in New York,” said Peter Colavito, the union’s political director. Colavito, who has a background in activist progressive politics, has been 32BJ’s political director since 2004. Many have credited the union’s president, Mike Fishman, with reinvigorating the union. Fishman, who has a long history as a union leader and has strong ties to the national labor movement, took the helm in 2000. A membership drive added 10,000 members. Fishman’s potency hasn’t gone unnoticed: he made New York magazine’s “Influentials” list this year, joining Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Attorney General and gubernatorial-hopeful Eliot Spitzer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, all Democrats. Colavito says having a strong political program helps the union move strong legislative policy that benefits union members and their families. “We believe that if the city, the state, the federal government is going to be a part of economic development, they
need to make sure that those are good jobs that are created through subsidies and tax breaks,” Colavito said. “The government should not be subsidizing poverty jobs for janitors and doormen.” The lobbying expenses and campaign contributions paid out by 32BJ indicate the extent to which the union has ramped up its political activity, not just at the city level but at the state level, as well. In the course of three years, 32BJ’s lobbying expenses increased more than tenfold: $9,171 in 2003; $15,980 in 2004; and $96,366 in 2005, according to data from the New York State Commission on Lobbying. The money spent on statewide campaigns follows the same upward trend: $45,195 in 2002; $9,744 in 2003; $92,004 in 2004; and $91,393 in 2005, according to state campaign finance data. For political hopefuls, an endorsement from 32BJ brings money, but it also has the power to open doors. Literally. “The fact that 32BJ represents the doorman in many buildings that many people in the public don’t have access to lets them get information out and in voters’ hands that is usually far more difficult to get out,” Levenson said. 32BJ made its electoral politics debut in 2001 when it endorsed Mark Green for mayor, a move that led to some problems. In 2002 Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (D) began an 18-month investigation into allegations by several union members that they were coerced to spend days off stumping for Green. In 2003, the union adopted a political activities code of conduct and hired an outside law firm to oversee its campaign activities. No charges were filed. When asked about the investigation, Colavito said simply, “That’s old news.” With its endorsement of Green in the 2001 mayoral primary, 32BJ began its process of setting itself apart from 1199, which backed then-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer (D).
“Whereas everything in our city with regard to labor is usually seen through an 1199 filter, 32BJ has gone a long way over the past few years to secure its own political identity,” said Levenson, who worked for Green until 1998. “They’re beginning to develop an independent identity and an independent political operation which is powerful in and of itself.” Colavito describes the relationship between 32BJ and 1199SEIU as amicable. “Where we can we work together,” he said. He pointed out that 32BJ and 1199SEIU represent workers in different industries. “Sometimes that means that our goals our different. But our goals are rarely at odds.” The Service Employees International unions backed opposing candidates again in 2005. Ferrer retained 1199’s support, while 32BJ went for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R). DC 37 has also reinvigorated its political operation, along with various other unions around the city. This November will be no different. 32BJ has backed Green in his attorney general bid, and 1199SEIU has endorsed Andrew Cuomo. Mark Benoit, a spokesman for Green, said the backing of 32BJ is key among Green’s seven labor endorsements, which include SSEU Local 371 (social workers and child care workers) and the Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers. “Some endorsements are in name only, and some are worth more than just the name,” Benoit said. “32BJ is worth more than just the name. The name is enough, but they also have a politically active constituency.” Last year more than 3,000 members of 32BJ volunteered for political campaigns. Colavito said there are no formal plans at this date to mobilize volunteers for Green’s campaign, but he expects some union mem■ bers to volunteer.
Hail to the Chief Executive Officer? o Michael Bloomberg is running for president. Or he is not. Or he is toying with the idea. Or he has dismissed it entirely. One way or another, the Bloomberg for President campaign is thriving in people’s minds and in the media, with all sorts of different explanations afloat about what the man who never moved into Gracie Mansion might think of the White House. City Hall asked eight expert observers of various professions, political stripes and backgrounds for their take on why the discussion persists, and what reality may have to say about it come 2008.
MICKEY CARROLL Director, Polling Institute of Quinnipiac University How do you explain it? Well they talk about it, but I mentioned to Kevin Sheekey, “Let me offer six words, Ross Perot, John Anderson, George Wallace.” Stop and think about it: how are you going to run? Republicans won’t nominate him, Democrats won’t nominate him. What would he run as, an independent? He’d need a majority of the electoral vote—not even the most, a majority. And suppose it went into the House of Representatives—he’d have no party. The one thing you’ve got to say about Bloomberg is he won an election he shouldn’t have run the first time around, so, what the hell? Will he run? The funny thing about Bloomberg is this: he’s obviously an incredibly capable, energetic guy, and what is he going to do after City Hall? But short of him becoming a Democrat or a Republican and getting the nomination, there’s no way in the world. What odds would you give it? Assuming that he’s a very smart man, which he is, the odds are roughly 100% against him running. The chances of him winning are zilch. KEVIN WARDALLY Director, Political & Governmental Operations Bill Lynch Associates, LLC How do you explain I think that it? Bloomberg running
2001 mayoral race. If no way materializes, well, nothing lost... Bloomberg can always say he was never interested and go into philanthropy. Will he run? Hard to say. I think he’d like to run if he has some chance of victory. If it’s a losing cause, he won’t. He’ll become a philanthropist and focus on the public health issues that are near and dear to his heart.
for president is a hoax. I think his chances are minimal at best. He’s not a real Republican. He became a Republican out of expediency to avoid having to run in the Democratic primary. But I think he has some smart advisors, and it’s smart politics to keep him in the mix. That way he’s not just a lame duck mayor, but a player on the national stage. Will he run? No. What odds would you give it? 25 to 1 against him running. MARCIA KRAMER Investigative and Political Reporter, Co-host, “Kirtzman & Kramer” WCBS-2 How do you explain it? Bloomberg, like any good business tycoon, is trying to keep his options open. Proof? He put his campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, on the city payroll as deputy mayor for intergovernmental affairs, which means that Sheekey deals with all things political. I think one of Sheekey’s missions may be to see if there’s a way to squeeze Bloomberg into the race... most likely as an independent third party candidate and possibly self-funded, much like his
What odds would you give it? 2 in 7... which is much better odds than he got when he ran for mayor in 2001. ED KOCH Former Mayor How do you explain it? He’s recognized all over the country as someone whose politics are balanced, liberal but moderate, and appealing to conservatives because of his conservative financial background, how he pulled New York City out of the red column and into a thriving community. His advisors certainly would like to be advisors to a president. Will he run?I can take him at his word, and he says he’s not. What odds would you give it? 25 percent. MITCHELL MOSS Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University How do you explain it? I think that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the national political arena, and a tremendous desire for a nonpartisan political voice is underlying the appeal for Bloomberg. There’s also a genuine sense that the Washington milieu is basically paralyzed. There is fundamental desire by Americans for people who know how to get things done instead of just engaging in ideological battles. The most important fact about the national political environment is how uncertain it is. And I think there is a genuine relationship that Americans have to New York today that they did not have before.
HANK SHEINKOPF Democratic Political Consultant How do you explain it? First of all, it’s flattery that people would think that you’re presidential material, so why stop the rumors? Two: It heightens your stature beyond New York. Three: The normative message probably revolves around very simply ideas. He’ll protect your job, and he’ll protect your home. People care about the economy and security. You know, he’s a proven manager, so he’s got to get back to the management thing. Will he run? Too early to tell, but it’s not the craziest idea I’ve ever heard. What odds would you give it? 50/50 THOMAS OGNIBENE Former Council Republican Leader 2005 Conservative Party Candidate for Mayor How do you explain it? When I first started campaigning with the mayor when he first started to run, he was quite the novice. I think he’s gotten much better at being a political figure. He said he could spend about $500 million and that’s a big deal. I don’t think he could ever become president, but he could become a serious power broker. I don’t think people are ready for a Mike Bloomberg. Will he run? He has come to love being in the limelight, and he enjoys being a political figure. I think he actually will do it. What odds would you give it? Even money. JIMMY BRESLIN Columnist and Author How do you explain it? Months before Bloomberg was elected I told a table of people including Wayne Barrett, Jack Newfield, Morty Matz, and Bill Cunningham that he would run for president and might even win. He has the money and the ego. To me these are not rumors. They are merely confirming my ability to see again. Will he run? Yes.
Will he run? [Would not speculate.] What odds would you give it? Odds? How would I know odds? I’m a professor—I don’t know anything about gambling.
What odds would you give it? [Would ■ not say.]
When it comes to speaking about New York City police officers, Mayor Bloomberg has invented a new language. We call it Bloombergese.
Learn to speak
Bloombergese Allow us to translate for you:
We’d like to pay our police officers more.
We don’t have the money to give police officers a bigger raise. New police officers get “all that money” after 5 1/2 years on the job. All police officers have to do is provide productivity savings. We have to stick to “pattern bargaining.”
The PBA has no interest in negotiating a contract.
We want police officers to believe we appreciate them but have no intention of giving them a well deserved raise. We have over $5 Billion in surplus but want to spend it on other things. At top pay, New York City police officers are among the lowest paid big city cops in the country. All police officers have to do is give up vacation days and holidays and work longer hours instead of being more efficient. We ignore the part of the Taylor Law that requires us to consider risk, danger and special training in determining wages, so police deserve no more than clerks get. The PBA hasn’t settled because we haven’t made a single offer that represents any real increase in wage or benefits.
Pay NYC Police Now. Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York 40 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
Patrick J. Lynch
Community Boards CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
divulging conflicts of interest and the lobbying attempts at members, reducing the role of politics in the appointment process and staff hiring, and standardizing funding to reflect the population served. He also said that he will introduce new methods of accountability for community board performance, push for the inclusion of an urban planner on each community board staff and encourage each community board to create a 197-A, a neighborhood plan built by community consensus. “We want to make the community board meetings the real town hall meeting where people can shape and mold their communities,” said Stringer. Borough Presidents James Molinaro (R-Staten Island), Helen Marshall (D- Queens) and Marty Markowitz (D-Brooklyn) maintain that they are interested in making the community boards function at optimum levels, but that the issues presented by Stringer have little to do with their respective boroughs. Carrion did not comment on Stringer’s proposal. All four are in their second terms and barred by current term limits from seeking reelection in 2009, though Markowitz and Carrion have made clear their interest in higher office. Stringer, meanwhile, is widely expected to
seek citywide office by 2013, if not by 2009. The other borough presidents said that Stringer faced different challenges than they did. “In Manhattan, you’re dealing with people not knowing each other or the people you are dealing with,” said Molinaro. As for Staten Island, he said, “We don’t need any reform. It’s fine the way it is.” Markowitz echoed these sentiments for Brooklyn, and Queens Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz said that she has never heard of any community boards in the area having problems with conflicts of interest, lobbying or lack of training. “Our board members take their jobs very seriously and would be offended if lobbyists tried to invade the community boards,” she said. Mark Davies, executive director for the Conflicts of Interest Board, disagreed with this assessment. “Conflicts of interest potentially could arise at any community board,” he said. “It’s difficult because community board members have built in conflict of interests, because they have ties to the community and that’s why you want them there.” Eight Democratic City Council members and 12 community boards from every borough but Staten Island, along with numerous civic organizations, endorsed the “Campaign for Community-Based Planning.” This community board reform plan was drafted by the Municipal Arts Society, a private urban planning consortium.
THE AUGUST POLL
Who Should Be Given a Daytime Talk Show? F
ew City Council members shy away from television cameras. They squeeze in on the sides of press conferences and tend to look achingly at their colleagues doing stand-ups with the local television cameras. But who would be the best star of a daytime talk show? The 51 Council members and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum (D) considered that question this month. G. Oliver Koppell (D-Bronx), the only one with much experience on the job (he hosted his own program while attorney general in the early 1990s), cast his vote for Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), perhaps because of the same traits which got Felder elected funniest Council member in the June poll. And, by coming in second, Felder proved his popularity in the Council once again. “Simcha is my answer for every poll—as long as it’s something good,” explained Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island). Thomas White, Jr. (D-Queens) said Felder had “a good sense of humor, is intelligent, knows the issues, adds humor to sad things, and has brightness and empathy”—enough to get Felder to call White “mom” and embrace him. White’s support helped Felder edge out Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) by one vote, though Barron’s name was often mentioned as the Council members considered. “Charles would get very high ratings,” said Eric Gioia (D-Queens). “I just don’t know if advertisers would advertise with him.” “Charles Barron is the most controversial—he’d be like Howard Stern,” agreed Erik Martin Dilan (D-Brooklyn), though he voted for Lewis Fidler (D-Brooklyn), who received two other votes. But the runaway winner was James Oddo (Staten Island), the Council’s Republican leader. Reveling in the impending victory, he explained that he had been lobbying for votes. When pressed to choose one person, he voted for Barron, though he had originally voted for a pair: himself and Barron together, to be “like Hannity & Colmes,” he said. “We’ve given NY1 their best television ratings in 10 years when Charles and I are on,” Oddo said.
PAM ASEN PHOTO
RESULTS: James Oddo Simcha Felder Charles Barron Lewis Fidler Christine Quinn Helen Foster Melinda Katz Domenic Recchia Bill de Blasio Council Member James Oddo
15 6 5 3 3 2 2 2 1
Dan Garodnick Dennis Gallagher Alan Gerson Letitia James Miguel Martinez Diana Reyna Larry Seabrook Could not decide Did not vote
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3
Though boroughs have individual needs—stadiums, waterways, airports, landfills, to name a few—the mechanism for addressing the needs should be uniform, said Eve Baron, director of the Municipal Arts Society. “I’m not saying that each board needs to be identical,” said Baron, “but they need to be standardized.” In 2005, the Municipal Arts Society released a report chronicling the ways boards are impeded from functioning effectively. The report entitled, “Livable Neighborhoods for a Livable City: Policy Recommendations to Strengthen Community-Based Planning in New York City” outlined several of the same issues Stringer has adopted for his own use in Manhattan. Baron said that her organization made the report available to all borough presidents and formally approached Carrion, Markowitz and Stringer, then a leading candidate in the Democratic primary for the job. Stringer signed on to the plan for reform, as did Carrion. While Stringer has put some of the recommendations into place, over a year later, Carrion said his office is “currently developing a program for all members to receive ongoing training and education on important issues.” To date, Markowitz has done nothing to implement the proposal. “Each community board is a self-governing entity, and I am confident that conflicts and issues of transparency are handled by every board accordingly,” he said. Tom Angotti, a professor of urban planning at Hunter College and who was involved in the Municipal Arts Society plan, said community boards can only be effective if the city makes them accountable to and representative of the community they serve. Boards also need to be given the resources they need. Angotti said the city planning the boards are engaged in should be more connected to the city’s budget process. “Right now the meetings are more like the 4H-Club,” he said. “In a period of four hours, every community board in the city gets to say a few words and then it’s over.” Council Member Tony Avella (D-Queens) agreed, adding that reform is imperative for the system to work in the long run, but that it will not work without the cash to run the boards. “Community boards, which are supposed to be the eyes and ears for the community, constantly find themselves without resources,” he said. On average, each board receives approximately $200,000 to operate. The monies go toward salaries, supplies and research costs. Budgets were cut during fiscal year 2002 and have never reached their previous budget level. Some community boards that serve higher populations receive less than boards with fewer members. One of the areas Avella said are in need of the most reform is the land use process. Stringer said that his plans for in-depth training, on land use, budgeting and various other issues, are intended to “empower” the boards. Several in the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) seem to be in support of Stringer’s reforms, with Deputy Mayors Ed Skyler and Dan Doctoroff each attending different community board training sessions. “We want to give people the flavor of how deep they can go,” Stringer said. But Molinaro said that he did not think community board members who attend six hours a month of meeting should have major power to make decisions for the community. “Community boards are an advisory committee,” he later said. “They are not to do the duties of the borough president.” ■ email@example.com
Charlie Rangel Turns 76
ANDREW SCHWARTZ PHOTOS
igh hopes and enthusiastic backslapping were very much on the agenda August 9, as Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) turned 76 and hosted his traditional birthday bash at Tavern on the Green. Speaker after speaker took time from the heavy buffets and open bars to lavish praise on the 18-term congressman, who put the money he raised off tickets to the Democratic efforts to retake the House. It was not totally altruistic, of course: with a majority of Democrats, Rangel is likely to become the chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee. How that will hold up outside the walls of Central Park remains to be seen.
CRYSTAL BALL “A rainbow coalition of newly elected progressive community-based elected officials heading to Albany in January 2007 will include: Eric Adams, Bill Batson, and Ken Diamondstone of Brooklyn, Bill Perkins of Manhattan, Hiram Montserrat of Queens, and Janele Hyer-Spencer of Staten Island.” —Norman Siegel, civil liberties attorney and two-time candidate for public advocate.
What to expect in the month ahead:
“My new District-Wide Anti Graffiti Initiative will be a huge success in combating graffiti vandalism and will hopefully catch on in other areas throughout the City.” —City Council Member Tony Avella (D-Queens)
Rangel was instrumental in getting Hillary Clinton to look at running for the Senate in the first place back in 1999, and he is still putting her in a good mood.
“Polling will show that security conscious New Yorkers have reinvigorated the chances of Republican victories in local and statewide elections.” —State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn)
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City Council Member Gale Brewer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell and former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields laugh it up as Rangel takes the microphone.
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www.milano.newschool.edu State Sen. David Paterson took time out from his lieutenant governor campaign to emcee the evening.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (DManhattan) shares a thought with Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer.
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A Governor From the City? CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Someone who has walked the streets of New York every day, some say, would more likely be more invested in what those streets look like. “He has more of a day-to-day experience with an urban environment,” said Assembly Member Jonathan Bing (DManhattan), who counts Spitzer among his East Side constituents, adding that Spitzer would be “more sensitive to things on the city level.” Spitzer might not be alone. His lieutenant governor running mate, David Paterson, lives across town. All-but-certain to be reelected Comptroller Alan Hevesi lives across the East River in Queens. And the northernmost major party candidate for attorney general lives no more than 30 miles away. Not to mention Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D), who hails from Lower Manhattan. August might seem a little early to start thinking about what the city might look like under Gov. Eliot Spitzer, but the polls have long made it clear that if Spitzer’s margin of victory in November is less than 15 percent, it will be fair to call it a disappointment. “I guess even John Faso has faced the reality that he’s the underdog and it’s an uphill fight,” said State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Queens) of the Republican and
Help from Unexpected Quarters hen they fight for city interests, a Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might find an unlikely ally in State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R), whose district may be in Saratoga County, but who will be protecting the four city-based members of his conference who help make up the slim, five-seat Republican majority in the State Senate. Bruno’s bind “increases the clout of the four Republicans in the city to bring back the bacon,” said State Sen. Serphin Maltese (RQueens), who helped win some money for public education earlier this year. “Certainly, my protestations and supplications were important, but I think one of the other reasons was they did not want to appear to be shorting the city on education,” he said. “Where city interests are concerned, we have to be tigers, because our only rationale, our only cause for living, is that we maintain the Senate majority.” — Edward-Isaac Dovere
Conservative Party nominee. The city has perennially gotten the short shrift, enough to feed a century and a half of secession talk in some quarters. The $14 billion difference between what the city sent Albany last year and what it got back even prompted Peter Vallone, Jr. (D-Queens) to reintroduce his formal secession bill in the City Council. With the city getting back only about 65 cents on every dollar it sends to Albany in taxes, “it’s like you’re in a poker game and you put in $1 and I put in $2 and we agreed to split the pot,” said State Sen. Martin Connor (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan). Most expect that to change under Spitzer, whether because he and the other likely statewide officials will call downstate home or because they would be catering to traditional Democratic urban constituencies. A metropolitan dreamscape is growing in the minds of many who believe Spitzer will do well by his hometown as governor. Several court cases during Pataki’s tenure have effectively expanded the governor’s power to insert items into the budget. “Even though we’ve all been living under the same Constitution for decades, it turns out the governor has more power than we realized,” explained Diana Fortuna of the Citizens Budget Commission. Some also hope Spitzer will do something to combat “unfunded mandates,” which allow the state to make rules for programs it does not fund, such as is currently the case for Medicaid. These cost the city millions, if not billions of dollars each year, which many would like to see returned to municipal coffers. And if the city faces hard times ahead, having a friend in the governor’s mansion would help as well. “It was of crucial importance that we had [Hugh] Carey and [Mario] Cuomo, whether it was because they were from the city or because they were Democratic liberals, they limited the damage in a way that an upstate or suburban Republican would not have done,” explained Thomas Bender, a professor of urban history at NYU. Others are not convinced. City-based governors must still face legislators who call upstate home. Plus, some fear, political reality may force Spitzer to overcompensate for the bias upstaters might naturally assume he has to the city by tilting even more toward state residents north of the metropolitan area, who have been hard hit by job and population loss. “The reality is that no matter whether you are from New York City or upstate, you’re never going to score political points in Albany or among upstate voters by doing things for New York City,” said Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future. “Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, whether you’re from New York City or not, you really have to almost bend over backwards for
upstate areas [if you want] to do well politically.” Since there are powerful suburban legislators within his own party, Spitzer leading a team of downstaters up the Hudson to Albany may not mean the city will make up much of what it has lost over the decades in cash allocations, in attention, in its share of the tobacco settlements, in education funding or anything else. But indirectly, his policies might lead to the city making up some of it. He has proposed a cabinet-level position for urban development, aiming to anchor growth in the state’s urban centers. As the state’s largest city, New York City is likely to benefit, but not at the same levels, and certainly not at the same proportions, as other places throughout New York. Nonetheless, Partnership for New York City President Kathryn Wylde said the city could make an effective case for helping New York. By building business and economic growth here, the next governor could generate more tax revenue to help the rest of the state. She said both Spitzer and Faso have been receptive to the Partnership’s proposals of how to do so. “Hopefully the new governor will be a person that sees New York City as the engine of the entire state economy, who will be sympathetic to the notion that you shouldn’t kill the goose that’s laying the golden egg,” she said. Mario Cuomo (D), the last governor to come from the city, said he did not have to contend with fears that he was biased toward the five boroughs during his three terms in Albany. He said that his years as secretary of state and then as lieutenant governor enabled him to travel the state, earning him wider credibility. “By the time I got to be governor, I was fairly well-known around the state. Eliot has some of that advantage as well,” he said, noting the travels Spitzer has made during his eight years as attorney general. “It’s not really a problem of being regarded as an ‘auslander,’ or outsider.” Nor does Cuomo expect Spitzer to suffer from any sort of provincialism himself. “It’s not you come from Buffalo, so you take care of Buffalo,” he said. “I came from Queens and I took care of Buffalo. You go where the need is.” Many say city needs are real, and that help is long overdue. And like Comptroller Bill Thompson (D), they are excited by the prospect of having a governor whom they believe will take a different approach than the current governor. “I see it at least as having someone listen to the real case we make,” he said. Norman Adler, a political consultant with Bolton St. John’s who worked for Cuomo when he was governor, was skeptical about the benefits coming to the city under Spitzer. “A lot, of course, will depend on what Eliot Spitzer does about the budget, so it could be more or not more, because geography is not going to be the number one factor in whether we get money,” he said. “On the other hand, having a governor who comes from the same place as you is like your mother’s chicken soup: it can help, and it certainly can’t hurt.”
If he is elected governor, Eliot Spitzer will have to decide whether to push resources to the city, or take a statewide approach.
Where Spitzer Could Make a Difference TRANSPORTATION Spitzer has pledged to support the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access, which would bring the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central. With so many transportation projects under consideration—Moynihan Station and the JFK Airport Rail Link being just two of the most prominent and most expensive—Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow for transportation at the Regional Plan Association, said that Spitzer will have to decide between stretching out the completion dates on projects, canceling some or raising much more money to complete them. “If Spitzer is serious about improving the transit system, he’s going to have to find a way to raise funds for it,” said Zupan. Spitzer has repeatedly indicated he does not want to see MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow serve out his full term, which would end in 2012, and his ultimate decision about whether and when to replace Kalikow will also have an enormous impact, Zupan said. Also important will be whether Spitzer can find state funds to help subsidize the MTA. Down from a high of $240 million allocated to the authority’s operating budget in 1992, the state now contributes $191 million (not adjusted for inflation, making this drop even steeper). The withdrawal of these subsidies has forced the MTA to borrow more, raising its debt service, and contributed to the need for
CITY HALL fare hikes to make ends meet. Doing all that would simply be playing catch-up, said William Stern, a chairman and chief executive of the New York State Urban Development Corporation under Cuomo. He argued that Spitzer should look beyond them to “futuristic infrastructure projects,” calling for the construction of the long-discussed railfreight tunnel linking Brooklyn to New Jersey and for an elevated rail line which would run along most of the perimeter of Manhattan. Stern argued that New Yorkers must rediscover that sort of transportation innovation which a century ago laid the groundwork for the strength of the city today. “We’re like trustee babies living off our trust fund,” he said. “We’re living off what was done by New Yorkers who are long gone.”
EDUCATION As the attorney general and lawyer for the state over the past seven and a half years, Spitzer repeatedly declined comment on the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case. Recently on the campaign trail, he has revved up his rhetoric and pledged to stop appealing the court decisions in favor of the state putting an additional $4 to $5 billion toward the city public school system over a five-year period. Given that the total state education operating budget floats around $13 billion, this would mark a significant increase in funds. With the late March court decision strongly in the CFE’s favor and the sun setting on the term of Pataki, who has repeatedly appealed previous court rulings ordering allocation of the funds, CFE Executive Director Geri Palast has hope. “I think the exciting part of the new governor is that it gives us a new opportunity to resolve this lawsuit,” she said. “Looking at the likelihood of who will be the next governor, we have a lot to be optimistic for.” That optimism has led the organiza-
The Bloomberg Factor ity-state relations often have a lot to do with the relationships between their leaders. Will Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), who live within half a block of each other on East 79th Street, be kindred spirits or battling egos? Political observers are trying to gauge the dynamic between them. Bloomberg has yet to make an endorsement in the governor’s race. If he does, most expect him to cross party lines to back Spitzer, much like his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, who endorsed Mario Cuomo in 1994. If Spitzer then wins, an endorsement could build up the personal and political capital to help Bloomberg achieve some of his second term goals. “These are both very smart people, so the good news is that they’ll certainly understand each other,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City. “I think they’re well-matched intellectually.” Wylde and the Partnership have proposed that the next governor mimic Bloomberg’s model of convening top business leaders for advice on growing the economy. She said Spitzer has been receptive to this idea, leading her to general optimism about the future rela-
Assembly, the politicking undercurrent of the resistance could soon evaporate.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & JOB CREATION Spitzer’s economic development proposals revolve around cities: from spurring growth on undeveloped land to creating new financing for commercial tenants, he would use cities across the state as nexuses for growth. “That’s where new forms of job creation might have the most significant impact,” said Assembly Member James Brennan (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Cities Committee. “Greater investment in the City of New York will deal with traditionally Democratic Party and Democratic constituency concerns to deal with urban populations and urban priorities.” But especially in relative terms, New York will not fare as well as smaller cities upstate, which have long been in decline.
“It’s not you come from Buffalo, so you take care of Buffalo,” said former Gov. Mario Cuomo. “I came from Queens and I took care of Buffalo. You go where the need is.” tion to retool more of its resources toward thinking about how to distribute the money once it is received, rather than simply tackling the legal fight necessary to get it. If allocated, the majority of CFE money would go to the city, but new funds would also reach poorer districts across the state. Charter school expansion could also be on the agenda. The Assembly has resisted Pataki’s efforts to increase the cap on the number of charters issued in the state, but with a Democratic governor dealing with the Democratically held
“The City of New York has the disadvantage of being stronger than the rest of the state, fiscally,” said former Gov. Mario Cuomo (D).
HOUSING Rent control, rent stabilization, Mitchell Lama and the Urstadt Law are all under the control of the state government. Some say a governor with city sensitivities will restore some of the old rent protections which have been eliminated in the last decade and a half. Spitzer has promised to preserve existing affordable housing units and cre-
tionship between the two men. “I would hope that the pressure to get something done would create an atmosphere where they decide it’s best to resolve these different issues quickly, and on some kind of reasonable compromise basis,” she said. Jonathan Bowles, director of the Center for an Urban Future, said Spitzer could even model his governing style partially on Bloomberg’s. “He’s kind of been watching what’s worked for Bloomberg,” he said, suggesting that Spitzer “come up with some issues out of the blue, like Bloomberg has done with the smoking ban.” Nonetheless, having two city residents in charge may have limited benefits, argued Diana Fortuna, president of the Citizens Budget Commission. Even during the years when Cuomo’s time as governor overlapped with the mayoralty of Ed Koch (D), from 1983 to 1989, the city did not enjoy major gains. “That was not a time where state aid suddenly jumped,” she said. “It doesn’t make as much of a difference as you might expect.” — Edward-Isaac Dovere
ate funding and programs which would foster the creation of new ones, and argued that the ceiling at which apartments get deregulated should be raised. But, according to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan), Spitzer should look to an even deeper reform of the existing system. “One of the things that Eliot Spitzer should be able to do is to advocate that the City Council has control of those issues in the city, and that people upstate have control over what they want to do,” he said. Others, like Jonathan Bowles of the Center for an Urban Future, are less optimistic. “I’m not sure any governor is going to cede that power back to the city. I don’t know that the State Senate is prepared to do that,” he said.
GROUND ZERO Though Gov. Pataki tried to leave his imprint on Ground Zero, five years after the Twin Towers collapsed and several ceremonial groundbreakings later, progress is stalled. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is being disbanded, plans for a Freedom Tower remain in flux and neither funding nor potential tenants for the site seem to be in abundance. Some hold Pataki responsible, but others argue that the situation involves too many competing interests to drop the fault at anyone’s feet. Still, people say new leadership in Albany could galvanize a reemergence of the local stake in the area’s fate, pulling it back to the municipal from the worldwide level. “It’s a national site right now, but this is something which is crucial to New York City, and that has largely been ignored,” explained City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D), a strong Spitzer supporter. For the sake of meeting office space
needs and psychology, he said, “things need to happen and happen faster.”
MEDICAID The federal government provides half of each state’s Medicaid budget. New York is one of three states in the nation that require localities to contribute half of the remaining share. With so many of the state’s poor living in the city, about two-thirds of the state’s Medicaid costs are incurred in New York City, which last year put about $5 billion toward addressing these costs. “If the state had been absorbing it, there would have been a shift of several billion dollars to state taxpayers,” said James Brennan (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Assembly’s Cities Committee, arguing that a reworked Medicaid funding formula would benefit localities across the state, many of which have struggled under the weight of meeting their contributions. If this happened, Brennan said the state could begin working on different approaches to healthcare, like disease management. Many expect Spitzer to tackle Medicaid fraud, which means the difference of millions, and perhaps billions, of dollars in the overall Medicaid budget, but lifting the Medicaid budget from localities could have a significantly greater impact. William Stern, a chairman and chief executive of the New York State Urban Development Corporation under Cuomo, called the current system “a prescription for disaster, because basically you have legislators in Albany voting benefits into a program which they only have to pay 25 percent of.” Whether this is practical is an entirely different matter. “The best thing Eliot Spitzer could do is to relieve the city of its Medicaid expense burden, but that’s probably politically impossible,” Stern said.
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he calls stream in from the offices of the congressmen and congresswomen, government press secretaries bringing news about upcoming candidacy and campaign announcements. Government payroll staffers interview potential campaign workers, and often serve in different capacities, depending on the day—or the hour, or the minute. Official email lists become magically melded to those of reelection efforts. Two things are certain in campaign season: (1) with the full help of their staffs, incumbents will abuse the benefits of their incumbency and (2) they will be reelected at a rate averaging more than 90 percent nationwide. These two things are not unrelated. Incumbency can be a good thing: many of the people who have been in the state legislature and Congress for decades have gained extensive expertise in certain areas, with committee chairs becoming leading authorities. But as people quickly grow attached to their positions, mistaken or deliberate
abuses of incumbency imperil the fragile line which separates an open, answerable government from a self-sustaining and self-serving power elite. Even the few months of incumbency between a special election and reelection can mean the difference between a contentious race and a cakewalk--throw on a “RE-” in front of “ELECT” on a campaign sign or mailer and voters naturally react differently. Call a press conference or issue a release from a government office, and it will naturally get more attention. Plus about a million other legal advantages. Last year saw then-Speaker Gifford Miller’s (D-Manhattan) mayoral prospects sunk in no small part because of the apparent government-campaign collusion on speaker’s update mailings. With more than $1 million involved, Miller was a large and visible target, and one upon whom criticism was deservedly heaped. It is harder to spot the improprieties which involve staffers working on campaign speeches, making calls and appearing at events. Especially in races where the conclusion seems foregone, where
Address Both Chicken and Egg
Gates Foundation and Warren Buffet have billions of dollars that will be invested in To the Editor: our children’s future. It is clear that the In the July issue, Prof. Amy Stuart CEOs of Microsoft and Berkshire Wells discussed how there is no evidence Hathaway understand the skills students that charter schools serve students bet- require to academically and financially ter than public ones in succeed. her piece and that lowCharter schools ering the poverty level may be only one soluwould do more to tion to solve the low increase standardized test scores and gradutest scores than by The Rangel ation rates among disThe Modern opening dozens of new Wannabees Political Machine enfranchised groups. I charter schools. In regards to Prof. I don’t doubt that by Wells, raising test T diminishing poverty scores is similar to academic results would what came first, the increase. However, to chicken or the egg? I INDEX: address poverty, one believe that increasing Staten Island for Democrats? must first address the charter schools and “S public education probgraduation rates will lem, namely low graduaresult in lower povertion rates. ty levels, while Prof. In today’s global workforce, a high- Wells supports the inverse—lower poverschool diploma is becoming the new ty will yield higher test scores. DANIEL M. WOLKENFELD membership card to the middle class NEW YORK, NEW YORK across the country. The Bill & Melinda Martin Connor, left, is running for leader and reelection. (Page 3). Greg Atkins, right, is In the Trenches (page 12)
talking about how landscaping led him to Brooklyn development.
And Queens Borough President
Vol. 1, No. 2
Helen Marshall sounds off on pasta and hipness (Page 13).
Successors circling quietly
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the incumbents do not bother to hire separate campaign staff, people stumble into smaller, harder to spot improprieties every day, all over the city and state. We would like to see stricter regulations on the city and state level put in place for those who blur the lines, and encourage leaders to start bringing such bills to the floor. We would like to see official guidelines composed and distributed to the staffs of all New York’s elected officials, with standard training sessions for new hires to ensure they understand the complex distinction between proper and improper, legal and illegal—and learn to err on the cautious side of the hazy. A blind eye or a careless hand to the misuse of staff and resources is truly dangerous to the democratic process. It depresses the number of people who run and get involved with the political process, feeding an increasingly disappointing and complacent inner circle. Competitive elections make elected officials sharper and better and appropriate conduct on the part of incumbents’ staffers, along with a proper redistricting, is key to achieving that goal.
President/CEO: Tom Allon
Defining the Line Between Staffers and Campaign Workers
BY CARLA ZANONI
n politics, hope springs eternal. In the case of the potential suitors for Charles Rangel’s (D-Manhattan) House seat, hope remains hush-hush. Like clockwork, a discussion about the impending retirement of the city’s senior congressman materializes each election cycle, and likely candidates quietly and delicately court the seat in what seems to be the best measure of Rangel’s continued local clout. Among those routinely mentioned: former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, former City Council Member and current candidate for State Senate Bill Perkins, City Council Member Inez Dickens, and State Assembly
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
Sara Gonzalez is In the Chair
Some things have changed, some have not as Vito Lopez, Dennis Rivera, Jerry Nadler and Dan Cantor quickly gain on Tom Manton in power race BY EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE
he political machine is dead, long live machine politics. Decades after Tammany Hall, decades after the reform era, and with ever more of the city’s roughly 168 elected positions in Democratic hands, certain of the party’s men and women (though mostly men) have taken charge. Some are young. Some are old. Some are establishment. Some are less than a decade on the scene. Some are unions. Some are individuals. Sometimes they coordinate, sometimes they do not. But together, they are the engine which runs New York City. With money and thick member rolls, they accumulate influence. With influence, they accumulate more money and more members, racking up dominance and political debts. And all the while, their aspiring succes-
sors wait on the edges, making friends with their enemies, collecting smaller favors--and taking notes. In this landscape, the power of the Democratic county organizations, party centers in each of the five boroughs, is still major: they can supply money and volunteers. Moreover, they can grease the wheels into office, collecting ballot petitions for candidates they support, then providing lawyers to protect these petitions and contest others’, frequently in front of judges who themselves were put on the courts by the county leaders--an often impeneCONTINUED ON PAGE 8
The July Poll: Who is the most fashionable Council member?
Registration says yes, but Marchi race raises doubts
BY SAL GENTILE
Marcia Kramer checks in with the Notepad
Issue Forum on Charter Schools
Where Are They Now? tracks down Carol Bellamy
Democrats have fumbled in the race to succeed 85-year-old State Sen. John Marchi (R).
weeping up Albany,” the campaign slogan for this year’s Democratic effort to win back the State Senate, evokes a Democratic fantasy, with visions of brooms pushing voters to the polls. That might now be more realistic than ever: Democrats in control of every statewide office and both chambers of the Legislature. To take control of the Senate, they need to pick up just four seats. But in Staten Island, Democrats have fumbled a rare opportunity to
win a seat that has been in Republican hands for 50 years – the very kind of opportunity that, if missed, could erode any chance of a Democratic takeover. Though two of its four Assembly members are Democrats, as is one of its state senators and one of its Council members, and the borough’s registration numbers favor the party substantially, Staten Island has traditionally been seen as a conservative, Republican stronghold. “It has a lower percentage of black, CONTINUED ON PAGE
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Long Political Memories To the Editor: I would be acting out of character for an Upper West Sider if I did not point out a slip of fact in Edward-Isaac Dovere’s side bar about how Congressman Jerry Nadler has helped promising younger public servants attain office. Melissa Mark Viverito does, indeed, represent a significant area of the Upper West Side, roughly east of Broadway from 96th to 110th streets. She has been a hands-on advocate for those of us who struggle to preserve affordable housing here. She is helping residents of Park West Village and the new community group Preserve West Park North, who want our diverse community to remain so. A footnote to local political history is that in the early 70s Nadler earned his first elective office as a Democratic District Leader who helped organize residents of Park West Village and its environs (Scott Stringer also began in that post). Grateful Westsiders have long memories. Consequently, Nadler’s endorsement of Mark Viverito last year brought her much support in that West Side part of her future Council district. Joan Paylo COMMUNITY FREE DEMOCRATS DISTRICT LEADER NEW YORK, NEW YORK
The Winds of Change in Spitzer’s and Silver’s Sails Will the sheriff of Wall Street lay down the law to the Assembly speaker? he question on everyone’s lips conYou do not have to be Einstein’s first cerns the relationship between wife (the smart one) to understand that Eliot Spitzer and Assembly Spitzer is going to do to New York state Speaker Sheldon Silver. Will the two men government what he did to Wall Street. get along? Will the reformer and the leg- He is going to reform the monster and islative leader be able to work together? make it accountable to the people. Trust Since I know and me, we are looking at a sinrespect both men, I gle-minded man who knows can only hope that what what his mandate is going to I am about to say here be. is accurate. He’ll take this insiders’ First, it is imporlobby-laden, pay-to-play, tant to remember three-men-in-a-room game that they have two and transform it into a separate constituenfunctioning, transparY LAN cies. ent operation where HARTOCK The governor reports people know where to a statewide constituency. If Spitzer their money is going and how it is being becomes governor, and I expect that he spent. Spitzer will be talking to all memwill, he will immediately be thought of as bers of the legislature, not just the two a presidential candidate. Everyone will top guys. He will scrutinize state conbe looking at him. tracts, and there will be no sweetheart
deals. Spitzer knows that if he can accomplish that great task, history will record him as the best governor New York has ever had. He’ll become not only the governor of New York but the sheriff of Albany. He will come out guns blazing and if anyone gets in the way, there will be hell to pay. Sheldon Silver, on the other hand, reports to his conference (caucus). The Democratic members of the Assembly are the ones who keep him in power. They have been playing the game the old fashioned way for years. It was that way when they arrived on the scene and they expect Shelly to keep on doing things the same way. Trust me on this: Sheldon Silver rewarded his friends and punished most of his enemies. He has never forgotten what happened. Silver has to raise a lot of
Government Must Take a Role in Community Planning BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER DAN GARODNICK ith new developments popping up all over the city, it is increasingly important for local communities to take a more active role in creating a vision for their neighborhoods. Too often, community input is reduced to creating a “wish list” of amenities or conditions that developers can choose to provide in order to make a new building project more palatable to the people who live nearby. These wish lists, formally called “community benefits agreements,” are no substitute for fullscale planning for a neighborhood’s future. Major development projects generally require substantial approvals from the city — which allows city officials to have significant say in what ends up being built. As a result, local elected officials and community boards can establish the essential elements of a comprehensive, long-term plan for their area. Community Board 6, which covers much of the East Side, is setting an excellent example. When this community board learned of Con Edison’s intent to sell the Waterside power plant and associated properties (along First Avenue, from 35th to 41st Streets), it viewed the project as an opportunity to think hard and creatively about how wise use of this land could improve East Midtown.
It drew up, and submitted to the Department of City Planning, a formal proposal to rezone the property from a manufacturing district to a residential district. Far from being anti-growth, this proposal would enable significant new development, but would also create the infrastructure to support it, including new parks along the waterfront, affordable housing and a new school. In contrast, the owner of the site has proposed a plan that contains not a single unit of affordable housing, no school to accommodate the new residents, and
come out in strong support of the responsible plan put forth by Community Board 6. With our schools and public transportation already critically over-taxed, the city will require additional community-based planning to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support new development. As the chair of the City Council’s Subcommittee on Planning, I was proud last week to support a plan from Community Board 8 for the Queensboro Bridge area. This is another excellent example of planning on the East Side that seeks to link future devel-
Major development projects generally require substantial approvals from the city — which allows city officials to have significant say in what ends up being built. As a result, local elected officials and community boards can establish the essential elements of a comprehensive, long-term plan for their area. buildings so tall that they put existing park space in permanent shadow. His plan would essentially drop a small city of 10,000 people onto a six-block strip of First Avenue — without considering the broader effect that their presence would have. These are basic defects that cannot be remedied by a simple laundry list of one-time benefits. A strong alliance of elected officials is working with Community Board 6 and other organizations, particularly the East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development, to see that the Con Ed site is ultimately developed in a way that fits with the neighborhood’s needs. This alliance has
opment proposals to the specific needs of the community. In fact, the plan passed overwhelmingly. Working together, community groups and elected officials, with support from the public, must be the ones to set the agenda for our neighborhoods. It is not simple work, but it is extremely important for the future of our city. Dan Garodnick (D) represents the 4th Council District, covering parts of Manhattan’s East Side. He is chair of the Council’s Subcommittee on Planning and a member of the Con-Ed ■ Waterside Working Group.
money to get more Democrats elected and to protect the ones at risk. Everyone knows that if you want to influence politics in Albany you pay to play. If you are a big time lobbyist, you strategically get money to the Democrats to help elect their people. If you want something big, you get money to Silver on the Democratic side and to Joe Bruno on the Republican side and, up to now, to Pataki and his cronies. That’s the way it has always been. You might call it “strategic investment.” So now there is a golden opportunity. Bruno and his band of Republican state senators are close to majority party extinction. Silver is on notice that the game is going to change big time. Candidate Spitzer’s position is that he is “looking forward to working with Assemblyman Silver” on matters of reform. It couldn’t get any clearer than that. Spitzer wants everyone to know the people’s business. He says that anyone who wants anything from the executive branch will have to approach in a way that is open to public inspection. Spitzer will certainly want the legislature to play the same game. When Mario Cuomo tried to introduce ethics reform to both the executive branch and the legislative branch, he was thwarted. If you look at the shenanigans of the compromised Pataki people, you know that ethics reform is an issue whose time has come. The people are angry and everyone knows it. They want and demand change. Albany is a laughing stock. The bottom line is that Shelly Silver is a smart man. The members of his Democratic conference are smart people. (Well, most of them, anyway.) They should be smart enough to know that the winds of change are blowing and they had better get out of the way. If there is one thing Eliot Spitzer’s opponents have found out it’s that to fool with this guy will get you into a whole lot of trouble. Shelly Silver and Joe Bruno are good guys. They both know when they are facing the inevitable. Shelly wants to stay speaker and this is the way to do it. I hear that Shelly and Spitzer are getting along famously. I’m betting on them both to do ■ the right thing. Alan Chartock is the president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio and the executive publisher and project director of The Legislative Gazette.
City Hall welcomes submissions to the op-ed page. A piece should be maximum 650 words long, accompanied by the name and address of the author, and submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE An Unfortunate Misstep: Denying the Rights of Same-Sex Couples BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER ROSIE MENDEZ
is denied even one benefit under the law, simply because of whom they choose to love, something is wrong. So it was wrong last month, when New York’s highest court, in a 4-2 decision, denied same-sex couples the right to marry. They chose instead to relegate this decision to the New York State legislature. Yet the New York State legislature has never acted quickly when it comes to the rights of members of the LGBT community. It took the state legislature 31 years to pass the Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act (SONDA). Moreover, several bills have been introduced in the state legislature during the past few years to permit same-sex marriage and those bills have not even made it out of committee. So last month’s decision, denying our right to marry and instead leaving it to the discretion of the 212-member bicameral state legislature, came as a stinging blow to the LGBT community. Writing for the majority, Judge Robert POPULATION
S. Smith wrote: “Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like. It is obvious that there are exceptions to this general rule—some children who never know their fathers, or their mothers, do far better than some who grow up with parents of both sexes—but the Legislature could find that the general rule will usually hold.” Living models of men and women are important to a child’s rearing, but, to conclude that it has to be in the form of a mother and a father in an opposite-sex marriage is a leap. When my brother first married, he adopted his wife’s son. My nephew Austin was four years old when he met my brother, seven years old at the time of the marriage, eight years old when he was legally adopted by my brother, and nine years old when his mother died of cancer. Prior to my brother’s marriage, Austin had an active and loving maternal uncle in his life. After his mother’s death, I personally took a more active role in his upbringing alongside my brother, his
maternal grandmother and maternal uncle. Now age 19, Austin, who was dealt a blow at an early age, benefited because despite gender or roles, he had, and continues to have, a diverse group of adults who love and support him. If I were able to marry and decided to raise a child, my child would benefit from the same unconditional love and support that Austin receives. However, today, my brother is afforded the rights and benefits of civil marriage that are denied to me. As a consequence, I and other individuals who choose same-sex relationships are denied at least 316 benefits under New York law that are afforded to heterosexual couples allowed to marry. As stated in the Court of Appeals decision: “Married people receive significant tax advantages, rights in probate and intestacy proceedings, rights to support from their spouses both during the marriage and after it is dissolved, and rights to be treated as family members in obtaining insurance coverage and making health care decisions.” It is no wonder that Chief Judge Judith Kaye in her dissenting opinion wrote: “I
am confident that future generations will look back on today’s decision as an ■ unfortunate misstep.” City Council Member Rosie Mendez (D) represents the 2nd District, covering Manhattan’s Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy Park, Rosehill, Kips Bay and parts of Murray Hill.
Equality Without Marriage Is Possible and Necessary BY CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR
IVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR
same-sex couples in committed relationships is an idea whose time will come; the only question is when.
After 9/11, our leaders in Albany made special arrangements to ensure that the partners of the gays and lesbians who perished in that tragedy were not discriminated against financially. We learned that day that not every gay or lesbian couple is wealthy and has wills and trusts to take care of their partners when they pass away. Thankfully, most deaths happen in more common circumstances. Unfortunately, in those everyday cases the surviving partner does not get special arrangements to get the survivor benefits that straight couples take for granted. Not only do they lose their partners’ income, pension and health benefits, but many assets of the deceased pass to distant family rather than to their beloved partner. I know of far too many cases where personal tragedy also caused financial tragedy, in ways that straight couples will never have to experience. Civil marriage equality is not just about rights, it is about responsibility. Marriage legally requires committed couples to support each other during bad or difficult times, but for gay couples there is nothing requiring a similar commitment. Don’t underestimate the power of legal obligations to reinforce moral com-
mitments, or the lack thereof to undermine them. Studies show that people in committed relationships – gay or straight – are far less likely to engage in unsafe sex or partake of illegal substances. When two people are in a committed relationship, society benefits from their more mature and responsible conduct. From talking to leaders in the Republican State Senate and to statewide Republican candidates, there is widespread recognition that enhanced legal protection for same-sex couples makes sense. Marriage is still a four-letter word for most Republicans, as it is for Clinton, Schumer and Silver. Watching Hillary Clinton carefully weigh and calculate every single one of her words at gay events would be rather humorous, if it wasn’t so disappointing. It will take patient dialogue with and education of our leaders to gain fairness and equality for gay and lesbian families, and Log Cabin Republicans is engaging in this. We regularly meet with our senators, support some of them financially through our PAC, and plan to retain a lobbyist in Albany for next year’s session. More important than educating our leaders is educating their constituents. On this controversial issue, most politicians follow rather than lead. They read
the polls very closely. Republicans come from rural and suburban areas, where the gay vote is less potent and marriage is still controversial. Often, in order for Democratic candidates in swing districts to win, they have to oppose gay marriage, just like their Republican counterparts. Therefore, the battle for civil marriage equality will be won in suburban and rural grass roots, not just in Albany. In June, I traveled with a leader of PFLAG (Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays) to Albany. A Republican senator told us that he opposes special rights for any group. Her answer said it better than I ever could: “I have three sons. One is gay and two are straight. I don't want my gay son to have fewer rights than my straight sons. I don't want my straight sons to have fewer rights than my gay son. I want all my sons to have equal rights.” Civil marriage equality is not about special rights, it is about common sense and fairness. It will make for a more responsible society, as stable families are the bedrock of a healthy community. ■ Its time has come – now. Christopher Taylor is the president of Log Cabin Republicans of New York City.
Last month, the New York State Court of Appeals passed the question of gay marriage back to the state legislature, claiming that legislation, rather than a court ruling, was the only way to change the traditional definition of marriage.
Currently, bills exist in the Assembly and State Senate which would legalize gay marriage, but are being stalled. That could change if party control changes in the State Senate or the governor’s mansion, or both.
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush and many members of Congress support a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. August’s Issue Forum asks: “Where should the debate over gay marriage go next?”
No Rational Basis in Gay Marriage Decision BY STATE SENATOR ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN N JULY
6, 2006, THE COURT OF Appeals ruled in Hernandez v. Robles that the New York State Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the law did not require that New York allow same-sex marriage. The actual holding wasn’t that surprising, but the angry reaction of everyone I spoke to that morning who had read the opinion suggested that it was more provocative than a simple rejection of the complaint. When I called my colleague Senator Tom Duane, perhaps the state’s leading advocate on the issue, he was steaming: “The court ruled on gay marriage. It’s bad… it’s really, really bad.” Then I read the decision, and it made me angry too. Because when you follow the Court’s own analysis to its logical conclusion, the plaintiffs clearly should have won. The Court’s majority held that all the state had to do to win this case was to come up with some “rational basis” for confining marriage to opposite-sex couples. Without some rational basis, they conceded New York’s ban on same-sex marriage would be a “wholly irrational one based solely on ignorance and prejudice against homosexuals.” The Court found that: “there are at least two grounds that rationally support
the limitation on marriage that the legislature has enacted.” The first of the Court’s arguments was simply bizarre. It suggested that, because heterosexual sex can produce children, the legislature could decide to provide an incentive for heterosexual couples to stay in stable relationships by allowing them to marry: “The legislature could find that unstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples.” So, the Court believed that a ban on gay marriage is needed to reduce the instability of those volatile heterosexuals? Okay, we are pretty unstable. But how is the “inducement” that marriage provides for heterosexual couples to stay together reduced if it is also extended to gay couples? It isn’t. No “rational basis” here. The Court’s second argument was perhaps less bizarre, but even more hurtful and shameful: “The legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and father.” So all of us divorced parents, single parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and others raising children in New York in 2006 can be rationally designated under the law as second class parents. In essence, the Court argued that the legislature could
decide to promote the perfection of an Ozzie and Harriet world by denigrating and denying equal treatment to any but the most traditional nuclear families. The Court went on to acknowledge that there is in fact no sound evidence that children are better off with both a mother and father, but in a conclusion that exposed the mind-numbing thinness of the State’s case, the Court stated: “In the absence of conclusive scientific evidence, the legislature could rationally proceed on the common sense premise that children will do best with a mother and father in the home… [and] could rationally decide to offer a special inducement, the legal recognition of marriage, to encourage the formation of opposite sex households.” This is why the opinion provoked such anger. The Court majority’s own arguments demonstrate that there is no rational or empirical basis for the legislature to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. All they could proffer was a “common sense premise” as the rationale for denying equal protection of the law to millions of New Yorkers. As the Court concedes, if there is no rational basis for the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples, this restriction must be based on “ignorance and prejudice against homosexuals.” On July 6, 2006, ignorance and prejudice prevailed.
We will eventually pass a law to allow same-sex marriage in New York. And our courts will eventually acknowledge that, in the words of Chief Judge Judith Kaye’s dissent, “future generations will look back on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep.” But it is sobering and frightening to read a carefully crafted judicial opinion that essentially acknowledges the hatred, ignorance and deep prejudice that force us to fight this battle at all. ■ Eric Schneiderman (D) represents parts of the Upper West Side, Upper Manhattan and the Bronx in the State Senate, and serves as the deputy minority leader.
Do Not Redefine Marriage—Renew It BY ANNE F. DOWNEY, ESQ. N THE HERNANDEZ V. ROBLES litigation, our organization, with nearly 10,000 members in New York, presented arguments in an amicus brief urging the New York Court of Appeals to reject the constitutional challenge to New York’s marriage laws and refrain from trumping the decisions of our duly elected legislators concerning eligibility to marry. Where do we go from here? First, we must reexamine what marriage is. For thousands of years, civilizations and religions around the world have recognized marriage as a unique relationship crucial to the well being of society. Regrettably, our society has lost much of its collective wisdom concerning the institution of marriage. We have embraced a misguided notion that marriage is unimportant or, conversely, that the essence of marriage is some ill-defined emotional bond between two individuals. We have lost sight of the true nature and significance of marriage, as a holy union till death do us part, consisting of one man and one
woman, for the purpose of producing and raising children as part of a stable social unit. We have confused ourselves into settling for cohabitation and revolvingdoor marriages, while entertaining proposals to validate any and every grouping of persons who claim some level of emotional cohesion. By basing the notion of marriage on a vague emotional state, we have set ourselves up for the failure of marriage and social turmoil. Individuals discard their marriage vows when the emotional bond
evaporates or weakens, as often it does. We have reached the point where twothirds of American divorces are now for soft reasons such as “we’ve grown apart.” Moreover, we have rendered asunder the link between marriage and procreation, on the one hand conceiving children outside of wedlock, and on the other hand sterilizing the marital (and non-marital) bed to avoid procreation or, where conception occurs, aborting the results. We need to do better in understanding and practicing the art of marriage. Toward this end, Concerned Women for America of New York is joining forces with non-profit groups across the state to take steps to strengthen marriages. We must establish, support and encourage programs that provide pre-marital counseling, marriage seminars and troubleshooting for marriages. If we do not take steps to strengthen marriages, society will continue to crumble and individuals, especially children, will pay the price. Second, there will be a number of individuals involved in same-sex relationships who will decide to reexamine their
situations and seek a change in direction for their lives. Many have sought healing and blessing through surrendering their lives to God, including all of one’s personality, gifts and desire for intimacy. Third, we must monitor a disturbing trend that is taking place in various parts of the world. A concerted effort is being made to silence persons who, for religious reasons, speak out against same-sex sexual activity. Such persons have been branded by governmental authorities and others as engaging in “hate speech” and “bigotry.” Sometimes the conduct in question entails simply quoting Bible verses. Yet it seems obvious that if we allow freedom of speech and religion to be trampled in the dust, we will all lose. Where do we go from here? There will be times that we strongly disagree with one another concerning this question. Let us try to ground our debate in compassion and understanding. ■ Anne F. Downey is the New York State director for Concerned Women for America.
IN THE TRENCHES
Navigating Finance and Swimming Laps en Route to Stringer’s Office Bocian’s organizational behavior master’s prepped him for reorganizing community boards
BOCIAN’S GRANDPARENTS think it “cool” that their grandson is a senior staff member for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Holocaust sur-
vivors, they fled Berlin for America, the only country that would open its doors. They raised—as described by their grandson—a “fiercely patriotic family.” And so it seemed logical to Bocian that a lifetime of heated dinnertime debates steered him to the public sector.
He left Great Neck, Long Island to attend SUNY Albany and then Columbia University, where he earned a master’s in organizational behavior, a branch of psychology that applies theories of personality to business management. Setting aside a life-long interest in poli-
BY LEE NORSWORTHY
Josh Bocian has brought his experience with Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) to bear in reforming Manhattan’s community boards.
Did you know that there are couples in New York State that are being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation... There are 1,138 federal rights and more that 700 state rights only available through civil marriage, but how does that affect you in every day life? Without these rights: You are unable to make medical decisions for your ill or disabled partner. You are unable to obtain health insurance for your partner unless your place of work makes / has exceptions; even in those cases, you still have to pay higher taxes. Did you know that if your state offers civil unions, it is not transferable and other states would not recognize your union? You could be unable to file charges in a wrongful death case because you are not legally recognized or entitled to claims on your partner’s life.
That's why marriage equality for all is so important. Visit www.marriageequalityny.org to get informed and involved. Say “I do” to Marriage Equality!
We WILL win this fight – with you on our side. Join Marriage Equality Today!! Be a part of the growing movement for equal marriage rights. Since 1998, Marriage Equality New York has been at the forefront of the battle for legal recognition of our marriages and our families, through education, events, political advocacy, media campaigns
and especially partnerships with GLBT and non-gay organizations. We are actively expanding throughout New York State and are looking for groups and individuals to take the lead in areas beyond our core base of support in New York City.
photography © Steven Rosen
In New York State, 2005 has been a year of both… ...exciting victories Thousands join Marriage Equality’s second annual Wedding March to demand equal marriage. NY State Appellate Court finds no basis for denying same-sex couples marriage rights. Anti-Marriage Amendment stalled in NY Legislature. ...and further challenges Mayor Jason West of New Paltz to stand trial for granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A right-wing lawsuit nullifies last year’s New Paltz marriages. Mayor Michael Bloomberg forces us to go back to court to fight for our rights.
Become A Member Become A Member Donate Time Money Donate Time oror Money Start A Local Chapter Start A Local Chapter www.MarriageEqualityNY.org www.MarriageEqualityNY.org 917-207-5959 / inquiries@ MarriageEqualityNY.org PO Box 121, Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113-0121
917-207-5959 / inquiries@MarriageEqualityNY.org PO Box 121, Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113-0121 Marriage Equality New York is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to winning equal marriage rights. Contributions are not tax-deductible, but every dollar goes to the work we do on marriage.
Design: Hide Okuno ©2005 Marriage Equality NY, Inc. All rights reserved.
tics after graduating from Columbia, Bocian started in finance, shifting from investment bank to dot com to consulting firm, the last of which was located in the World Financial Center. Days before September 11, 2001, Bocian was laid off from his job. He spent four months doing a little “chilling” and a lot of “soul searching,” asking himself exactly where he was going to take his career, after realizing he was unhappy with where it had taken him to that point. He consulted his family, friends, and even a career counselor at Columbia University, and they all agreed. Bocian aimed for the public sector, and in only a few weeks, Council Member Gale Brewer’s then-chief of staff, Brian Kavanagh, called him in for an interview. That Friday, he was hired as the director of constituent affairs. “It’s about meeting people’s needs and taking care of things that they shouldn’t have to worry about,” he said, describing the position as one similar to human resources. He was, however, surprised to hear complaints which included “My bird flew out of the window” and “You didn’t respond to my anonymous letter.” In addition to the district’s 150,000 constituents, Bocian also worked closely with the other “staffers” on the West Side, including the staff of then-Assembly Member Stringer, whose district overlapped with Brewer’s. After he won, Stringer offered Bocian his current position at the helm of the office’s most cherished campaign: community board reform. Since January, Bocian has had to take on a constituency ten times the size of Brewer’s, juggling the diverse and often divergent needs of the entire borough, all the while finishing the New York Times before starting to swim laps at 6:30 a.m. sharp. Still, he says, the basics of the job remain refreshingly simple. “You listen,” he explained. “It’s that simple. People will tell you what their needs are. Our job is to address those needs.” ■
FRENCH FARE WITH
A lobster salad and patriotic dessert at East Side favorite Pascalou bler: blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. CH: Kind of patriotic. CM: Yeah! And ice cream. [Waiter comes to take order] CM: I’m going to have the berries with vanilla ice cream. And I would prefer to just have blueberries and raspberries, no strawberries. Why don’t we have a cappuccino? [City Hall orders the warm chocolate cake; Maloney adds Equal to her cappuccino]
PHOTOS BY ANDREW SCHWARTZ
BY CHARLOTTE EICHNA NE OF REP. CAROLYN MALONEY’S
favorite East Side restaurants is Pascalou, on Madison Avenue between 92nd and 93rd streets. It was started by a friend of hers years ago and the Congresswoman still swings by to grab take out on the way home after a late night at the office. Maloney, who has represented the East Side and parts of Queens in Congress since beating a longtime Republican incumbent in 1992, sat down one recent day to talk about the blackout in Queens, her role as an East Side powerbroker, and her big break on film. Carolyn Maloney: You know what I like? I don’t even see it. [To waiter] You don’t have any lobster? I want the lobster salad. City Hall: Do you have any recommendations since you’re a regular? Have you had the goat cheese and phyllo torte? CM: I just like all the healthy salads.
[Maloney orders the yellow squash soup, lobster salad and hot tea; City Hall gets the torte and an iced tea.] CH: You picked a French restaurant, so I’m wondering if you supported the “Freedom Fry” movement in the House cafeterias. CM: I just think that it’s sort of silly. There are so many problems to be working on that that is not a legislative priority of mine. It shouldn’t have been changed in the first place. CH: You haven’t had a major chal-
lenger in a while so you haven’t had to do any serious campaigning. Is that to your disadvantage, because campaigning keeps you more in touch with constituents, or is it a benefit because you get to spend more time doing your job? CM: If I had had a serious campaign, I doubt I would have been able to put together the report on the ill 9/11 workers. I doubt I would have been able to put as much time as I put into Queens [during the blackout]. If I had campaigned, I would have been out on the street handing out literature as opposed to sitting down and really trying to help people with their problems. It lets you work on the big issues that affect people’s lives. CH: You’ve been able to wrangle a lot of East Side politicians together for endorsement events. Busy people, busy schedules, but you got it to work. Do you feel like you have clout? And do you feel now that Gifford Miller is no longer Speaker that the power has waned a bit? CM: Gifford Miller was an incredibly effective Speaker. He was good for our neighborhood. To put it in perspective, when I was first elected in 1993, the East Side was considered a Republican area. I defeated a 14-year incumbent, Bill Green, who outspent me five to one and was considered unbeatable. And I took him on and I beat him and it was probably the biggest upset in the nation. All the elected and party leadership on the East Side for the Democratic Party…we jointly started working to change from red to blue various seats. And all of them were open
CH: You have no plans for retiring, yet people talk about who might run for your seat. Does that make you feel strange? CM: It’s politics, everyone’s going to run. Everyone likes to talk and everybody wants to run. I’ve never lost an election. I do not intend to begin now. I thought it was very humorous when K.T. McFarland was running against Hillary [Clinton] she announced, “If I can’t beat Carolyn Maloney I’m going to run against Hillary.” The East Side is the most Republican district in the city of New York. She said, “I can’t run on the Upper East Side, it’s unbeatable.” That’s really my district. [Dessert arrives] CM: Wow, this looks delicious. Why don’t we trade tastes? I want to taste some chocolate. Mmm, it’s superb!
seats—I was the first one to take out an incumbent. So five seats under my leadership, of course with the help of many other people, switched from red to blue. CH: When is someone going to swipe a MetroCard and get on the Second Avenue Subway? CM: We will break ground this year. I have a breakdown of the money, we have roughly $2.5 billion in place and we’ll break ground this year. And the first segment, which will connect roughly 96th Street to 63rd Street then connect and go all the way downtown, they’ll begin this year and they’re projecting it will be completed in 2012. [Waiter brings menus for dessert] CM: Let’s order dessert. I like crème brûlée. What about this French vanilla with Grand Marnier? Ooh, blueberry cob-
CH: What do you guys have on tap for the afternoon? CM: I have an interview with a movie. They’re making a movie out of the Debbie Smith bill that I authored. This woman testified on the use of DNA to convict rapists before a committee and I called about 20 women; they wouldn’t testify. She testified, she had everybody in tears. So then I wrote this bill that required the government to process the backlog of DNA and created a national database of DNA. And it passed. And Lifetime Television called me and said they’re making a movie and they want to interview me. I want them to cast me, wouldn’t that be fun? CH: Who would you want to play you? Meryl Streep? CM: She’s my favorite actress, bar none. Oh God, I love her. I’d love her to play ■ me. email@example.com To read more about Carolyn Maloney’s thoughts on food, including her ideas for a district cookbook and the pizza contest she judged in Washington, as well as her thoughts on the Queens blackout and the Iraq War, check out the full transcript of the lunch at www.CityHallnews.com.
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