|Pataki Power, Politics & Padavan
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
PATAKI POWER? Who is George Pataki?
At times we wonder.
Two weeks ago, it was the Governor who
quietly, behind the scenes, steered the Hate Crimes Bill through the Republican-controlled
State Senate. Criminals who select their victims on the basis of their race, religion,
age, gender, disability or even sexual orientation will now face heightened penalties in
New York State. For years, prior to this historic passage, the State Senate Republican
leadership had prevented the Hate Crimes Bill from ever coming to the floor for a vote.
New York was only one of eight states that had not passed a bill of this type.
Its passage is therefore no great victory
for progressive forces in NY; it is however a credit to the one man that made it happen,
George Pataki. His quiet leadership and pressure has demonstrated that he can advocate for
an agenda to the center or left of the political spectrum.
Previously he was instrumental in the
passage of a billion dollar environmental package that both liberal Dems and national
environmentalists have applauded. In March of this year he offered a broad package of gun
control legislation which is now State law. And now he has championed and passed the Hate
Is this a liberal (pardon the word, George)
in Republican clothing? Or is this a moderate Republican with a national agenda? Is George
Pataki quietly and effectively positioning himself for the Vice Presidential slot on an
all George ticket?
George W. Bush needs a moderate to offset
his harsh conservative image. He also could use the 34 electoral votes that New York has.
His Texas, his brothers Florida and Patakis New York could give the GOP a
major league lead in the race for the White House.
So George Pataki is becoming the darling of
the middle (and in some cases the left) because hes had enough of Albany who
could blame him and a DC address would be a wonderful change.
POLITICS: Conservative Republicans
have never been a favorite of this writer.
Pataki was never our prince charming. We
assume we made it clear above that we applaud his progressive (is that more palatable than
Like Pataki, State Senator Frank Padavan
showed that he can change and even with both eyes facing right, he can tell right from
wrong. After years of being on the wrong side of the Hate Crimes Bill, Padavan followed
Patakis lead and voted for its passage. We applaud him for that.
Sadly, Padavans Republican State
Senate colleague from western Queens, Serf Maltese was one of only 12 voting against the
bill. We find his fancy footwork in trying to justify his vote, just another attempt to
avoid his real motive: denying gays the protection afforded other minorities. Serf, you
need not be gay or sanction gay lifestyles in order to provide extra protection against
hate crimes. You neednt be black, disabled or old to support extra penalties for
But the saddest outcome of this effort is,
in the end, its politics as usual.
Serf Maltese is left unchallenged for his
Senate seat while Frank Padavan is being targeted by the Dems. Its no longer a
question of principle, its a question of money and power. The Dems are fighting
(more like hoping or dreaming) to win enough votes to take the majority in the State
Senate, only so they get the perks. They want the majority leader, the committee chairs,
the extra compensation and the power. Were really not sure there is an agenda that
drives the party.
Its no difference in the Assembly or
in Congress, for that matter.
We are witnessing a nationwide Democratic
effort to win 5 new Congressional seats to retake the majority in a House of 432 members.
At issue is making Dick Gephardt speaker and lots of Dems chairpersons. There is power,
there is money and as an afterthought, there may be some issues.
We remember the good old days when the
difference between the parties was like the difference between left and right (in our
opinion, that was also the difference between left and wrong).
But no longer; everyone has moved to the
center and votes are traded and often controlled by special interests.
Money and power have brought democracy to
an all time low.
And its sad!
PADAVAN: Two weeks ago, accompanied by
our little verse, "Incumbents Always Win," we wrote: "while Republican
Frank Padavan will face an aggressive challenge from Rory Lancman. But the Albany and
Queens County Dems are unlikely to invest any resources against Padavan who consistently
proves he owns his district."
Dem State Senator Dan Hevesi emailed us
with another viewpoint saying in part: We are going full throttle against Padavan this
year. The Senate Dems are going to provide Rory with substantial resources and he has the
united and enthusiastic support of Queens Dems. This race is for real Rory is a
very good candidate, Frank has lots of vulnerabilities, With Rudy G. out of his race it
should lessen the Republican/Conservative turnout. We (Dems) are in the midst of a huge
effort to retake the Senate this year. Frank will be tough to beat, but this race will be
about large-scale issues. Weve got a very good shot and were taking it!
My email reply: Thanx for your input
perhaps Ill use it for a future column. But, do you wanna bet? How much?
Dan: I think dinner would be appropriate
as long as you are not registered as a lobbyist with the State, because then I
cant accept your meal when Frank goes down! :)
Me: Make it a lunch! The Friday after the
General (Election)? My photographer will shoot you paying the bill.
For the record, were undecided on
ESIDENT" Picture of the Week
On Queens Blvd, right outside of Queens Borough Hall is this sign welcoming you and
introducing the "BOOP ESIDENT" CLIRE ULA." It directs you to Jury
Impaneling but fell apart when it had to deal with "Marriage." Hmmmm! Photo by
ASTORIA RACE: Although there are
whispers, insiders are dismissing rumors in Western Queens that the powerful Taminent Dems
will break with the Queens County Dem Organization in the upcoming race for the Assembly
seat that Denis Butler will vacate when he resigns.
Perpetual candidate Kimon Thermos
has ingratiated himself to City Council Speaker Peter Vallone King of the
Taminent. Thermos, an Astoria boy, has long backed Vallone, his Astoria Civic Association
and their local efforts despite Vallones refusal to back Thermos in his past
attempts to capture Butlers seat.
Local politicos are wondering how Thermos
will react when and if the Taminent puts its considerable power behind Mike Giannaris,
not a new face, but "Countys" new candidate for Butlers seat.
The whole thing could get down and dirty,
insiders said. Especially if Taminent decides to employ some of the same tactics against
Thermos that they used to defeat Community Board 1 District Manager George Delis in
Delis failed 1998 attempt to steal the seat from Taminent-backed, long-time
incumbent State Senator George Onorato for Onoratos never-before-contested
Liz Goff & Mike Nussbaum contributed to
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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