Brooklyn backs Monserrate
The State Senate voted to oust embattled Senator Hiram Monserrate Tuesday, but they did it without help of a good chunk of the Brooklyn delegation.
In a weird turn of events, Brooklyn State Senators Carl Kruger (D-Mill Basin), Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush), Martin Milave Dilan (D-Bushwick), Eric Adams (D-Fort Greene) and Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson (D-Canarsie) voted against the committee’s resolution to expel Monserrate. Others voting no were Monserrate himself and State Senators Ruben Diaz Sr. and Majority Leader Pedro Espada.
Kruger’s no vote was not that surprising since Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor last year for attacking his girlfriend, was a fellow “amigo” and helped stave off the Democrats’ rise to power until he was assured the chairmanship of the Finance Committee. Neither is Parker’s vote because he could be facing the same expulsion committee when his assault case against a NY Post photographer is finally adjudicated.
Quite surprising is Sampson, who has been on the fence on the issue, and Adams, who hasn’t publicly spoken about Monserrate or the expulsion committee.
After the vote, Monserrate lashed back at the Senate during a 16-minute diatribe, claiming that he was being expelled for something he did before he was elected to office. He also said that he would launch a legal challenge against the Senate’s decision.
Gillibrand pushes back
While prospective U. S. Senate Candidate Harold Ford trolls for support from the powerful Kings County Democratic machine, incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is making inroads with the more independent arm of the party.
Last week’s meet-and-greet with Gillibrand at 52nd Assembly District Leader Jo Anne Simon’s Boerum Hill home drew a host of independent minded elected officials including Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Assemblymembers Joan Millman and James Brennan and district leaders Lori Knipel, Alan Fleischman, Walter Mosley and Olanike Alabi.
“It was a meet and greet for people to have the opportunity to meet the senator, talk with her and get to know her,” said Simon, noting it wasn’t a fundraiser.
Gillibrand characterized the meeting as an opportunity to get back in the borough.
“It was great to be in Brooklyn again and talk with so many community leaders about the need to save and create good-paying jobs and protect the environment,” said Gillibrand.
“I am working hard every day to help Brooklyn families and give voice to those who don’t have one,” she added.
Beep inauguration faux pas
Borough President Marty Markowitz’s swearing-in by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Park Slope Armory didn’t go exactly by the book.
Despite the mayor’s protestation that Markowitz would repeat his words precisely, Markowitz put his own spin on his oath of office.
“We swore in the president, and there was a minor mistake,” Bloomberg said before commencing. “I got sworn in and some people thought there was a minor mistake. We’re not going to have any mistakes. You are going to repeat exactly after me.”
The laughter was loud when Markowitz jumped in, after Bloomberg asked him to repeat, “I will faithfully discharge the duties,” by finishing the sentence, “Of the Republic of Brooklyn.”
“To make this legal, you had better say, of the office of borough president,” Bloomberg rejoined when the applause died down.
Bloomberg shouldn’t have been much surprised by Markowitz’s interjection. As he noted, tongue-in-cheek, the borough president is “Brooklyn’s shyest and most bashful, and we’re here tonight to bring him out of his shell.”
Sti-spending for a good cause
Most elected officials pocket it, but Brooklyn City Councilmembers Mathieu Eugene (D, East Flatbush), Jumaane Williams (D, Flatbush) and Steven Levin (D, Brooklyn Heights) are putting their committee stipends to good use: they’re donating the money to the relief efforts in Haiti.
The three Brooklyn pols and City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents upper Manhattan, made the announcement last Wednesday.
Williams told this paper that Councilman Rodriguez asked him if he would donate his stipend to a Haiti relief effort of his choosing and he readily agreed.
“I haven’t decided who I’m giving the money to yet,” said Williams, refuting previous reports that he’s personally opposed to council committee stipends.
“I’m 100 percent in favor of receiving stipends for the additional work and I’m just as happy to donate it to a good cause,” he said.
Williams oversees the Oversight and Investigation Committee. Eugene is the chair of the Veterans Committee while Levin leads the Planning, Dispositions and Concessions subcommittee. Eugene and Williams positions come with a $10,000 yearly stipend. Levin’s comes with a $4,000 yearly stipend.
Peace pipe be damned
State Senator Carl Kruger had this to say recently about the prospect of another thruway blockade if the state starts to collect cigarette taxes sold by Native Americans to non-Native Americans: “I don’t know one homeowner on Long Island or Nassau or Westchester County that wouldn’t go out on the Sprain Brook or the Long Island Expressway and burn some tires if they didn’t have to pay their property tax. And if they attempted to do it, they would be arrested.”
The Seneca tribe has in the past blocked the New York State Thruway in protest, arguing the taxation is unconstitutional and violates their sovereignty. Kruger is hoping to pressure Governor David Paterson to get on board so that the state can start collecting an estimated $1.6 billion in lost revenue.
One longtime observer of the local political scene rolled his eyes when reading Kruger’s comments.
“I think he fails to understand the complexity of the debate,” the person groaned. “But you know, it’s no surprise to find Kruger off the reservation.”
Fidler on the Roof
Did Councilmember Lew Fidler’s (D-Canarsie) loyalty to Council member Diana Reyna cost him the Finance Chair?
That’s what one Brooklyn District Leader is saying this week.
According to Democratic District Leader Alan Fleischman, Fidler was beat out by Councilmember Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) for the coveted Finance seat because his loyalty to Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) angered Kings County Democratic Party Chair Vito Lopez. Assemblymember Lopez (D-Williamsburg) ran a candidate of his own choice, This past year, Maritza Davila, against Reyna, who was seeking a third term in City Council, after a long-standing rift between the two North Brooklyn leaders.
“(Fidler) is not an ally of Vito’s right now,” said Fleischman.
Other political sources noted that the choice was far from entirely up to Assemblymember Lopez and that Council member Recchia enjoys a close working relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and that Bloomberg lobbied Speaker Chistine Quinn heavily on Recchia’s behalf.
When asked to clarify, Council member Fidler confirmed that he did not campaign against Reyna, despite being pressured to by Lopez, but that he believes this was not the reason why he was not selected Finance Chair. He referred all further questions about the committee chair selection process to Speaker Christine Quinn.
A spokesperson for Speaker Quinn did not return calls by the time this article went to press.
More trouble for Parker
State Senator Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush) isn’t having a great year.
Last month, it was announced that the pugilistic pol could face a senate expulsion committee similar to the one that Queens State Senator Hiram Monserrate has faced once the criminal case looming over his head is finally adjudicated.
This week, his position in the Senate was put in further jeopardy thanks to fellow State Senator Pedro Espada Jr.
Espada announced he is drafting legislation that will automatically oust any lawmaker convicted of a misdemeanor. Currently, state legislators are booted from Albany if they’re convicted of a felony.
If the bill becomes a law, Parker could be the first test case: he’s currently facing misdemeanor assault charges for socking a New York Post photographer.
Other members of the Brooklyn delegation saw Espada’s bill for exactly what it was — an attempt to stop the Senate from getting rid of Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor after beating up his girlfriend. His intentions, however, are a moot point now, because the senate has voted to oust the embattled Queens legislator.
Espada’s bill, ironically, doesn’t include past convictions, only future ones, so Monseratte, if he survives the upcoming legal challenge, as well as himself (he was fined for not filing campaign disclosure reports) are in the clear. Parker, if convicted, would not, however.
Police protect pol
If you see cops following Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, don’t be alarmed.
The city has assigned additional officers to protect the former Brooklyn City Councilmember.
According to published reports, de Blasio will now have six cops watching his back at all times. Both the NYPD and de Blasio’s office have refused to comment on the extra security measures. The Police Department didn’t reveal if threats were made against de Blasio.
Watch out, Anthony
Don’t give gay and lesbian people the right to marry who they want – that’ll only deny religious photographers and wedding halls the freedom to refuse them service.
At least that’s the way Kingsborough Community College student Joseph Hayon sees it.
“Same-sex marriage will take away our religious freedom and force wedding halls and photographers to accommodate same-sex weddings against their religious beliefs,” Hayon said this week.
The 32-year-old south Brooklyn product believes this is really John McCain country, and he doesn’t like the way Representative Anthony Weiner has been representing the people of the 9th Congressional District.
To remedy the situation, Hayon says he’ll challenge Weiner at the polls this fall on the Republican line.
“There are two ways to change things,” the young GOPer said. “Weiner can change his mind or we can change him.”
Hayonsupports school vouchers, opposes “government-run” health care reform, and believes he actually has a good shot at dethroning Weiner because the McCain/Palin ticket polled so well here in 2008.
Good luck with that, Joey. For more on him check out www.hayon2010.com.
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