By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
While Florida continues to be the center of the political universe,
we can seek some refuge knowing that not everything political at home is on hold.
Things in Queens heated up as the post election shuffling for next
years term-limited positions took on a new perspective. Longtime Rockaway
Assemblywoman and Democratic District Leader Audrey Pheffer is thinking of tossing her hat
into the crowded ring to replace Beep Claire Shulman in the race for Queens big
Pheffer, an amiable Assemblywoman, has represented Rockaway, Howard
Beach and Ozone Park in Albany since 1987. Her significant other, Glenn Riddell, is the
former head of the Supreme Court Officers Union and now an Albany lobbyist. He will
try to jump-start the fundraising effort while playing catch-up to others in the race.
The Borough President Sweepstakes: (Top, l. to r.) Audrey Pheffer, Sheldon Lefler,
Karen Kozlowitz, (bottom, l. to r.) Helen Marshall. Tony Seminerio, Carol Gresser.
Seeking the Democratic nomination, she joins
Councilmembers Sheldon Leffler, Karen Kozlowitz, Helen Marshall and former Board of
Education Prez Carol Gresser. Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio has also toyed with running.
According to insiders, Kozlowitz, also a longtime Dem District Leader
and the hard-working chair of the Councils Committee on Consumer Affairs, is most
threatened by Pheffers candidacy competing for the backing of the Queens Dem
Organization. Kozlowitz, who will likely have difficulty raising the necessary bucks to be
a front-running contender, is better known in the borough than Pheffer and her Forest
Hills district is geographically more favorable for a boroughwide race.
The Internet is alive with humor of the Presidential Election. Pictured are two visual
spoofs received about Florida and the National Election. (Top) A ballot where the punchout
holes move; (below) a take-off on the well-known computer "Dummies" series.
Marshall, another Dem District Leader and the only
minority candidate in the race, is a former Assemblywoman and presently chair of the
Councils Committee on Higher Education. Certainly, as the number of serious white
candidates increases, Marshalls chances to emerge as the choice of the Countys
black Democratic leadership and take a hotly contested race improves.
Leffler, an intellectual and Chair of the Councils Public Safety
committee, is in this race to stay. Although considered by many a long shot,
Sheldons chances may certainly improve if he is the only male in a large handful of
Seminerio, a conservative who has talked of getting Republican
support, has not been taken seriously. However, in a rather large field of moderate Dems,
Seminerio could be a surprise running from the right.
And finally, until now the perceived frontrunner Carol Gresser is off
to an early start and leads the field in fundraising. Although a lifelong regular
Democrat, Gresser is perceived as the independent candidate in the race. However, she is
untested, having never run for public office, although she has dealt impressively with the
City fathers while President of the NYC Bd. Of Ed. Her husband Larry, a former Deputy
Borough President three decades ago adds some family depth to what appears
to be a candidacy to contend with.
Although rumors this week have the Queens County Dem organization
leaning toward Pheffer, observers note that it is clearly the style and in the best
interest of County Chair Tom Manton to let the process run its course. With three Dem
District Leaders and a handful of loyal and supportive party members as candidates for the
top slot in the borough, an open Primary process could be used to allow local Dem leaders
to solidify their clubs behind Council candidates, permitting a variety of choices and
alliances for Borough President. With any of a number of outcomes, the Democratic
Organization has an ally in Borough Hall.
On the Republican side, Department of Environmental Protection
Commissioner Joel Miele is said to be considering jumping into the race. Councilmembers Al
Stabile and Mike Abel have previously expressed their interest. However, in an
overwhelming Democratic County, there is no reason not to believe that the winner of the
Democratic Primary in September 2001 will become the Borough President in January 2002.
Also disregarding the Florida recount, Council Speaker, Astorias
Peter Vallone prepares for his 2001 Mayoral run with a birthday party fundraiser Monday,
Dec. 4, 7 p.m. at Laura Belle Supper Club in Manhattan. Hosted by Mary Tyler Moore with
Bernadette Peters entertaining, the evening is called "Swing" night with Peter
So, Jean Carrol of Bayside, fair reader, poet and Hillary basher could
not let our verse go unanswered. She now writes:
Okay, gleeful Michael,
Your Hillary did win
Our long, well-known first lady
Backed by masters of the spin.
Her opponent? That was Lazio,
Whom most folks did not know,
And yet she did not trounce him
For the race was touch and go.
Fact is, the numbers illustrate
Her victory was laced
With votes for Rick that show us
Millions view her with distaste.
P.S. I like you anyway!
Your verse, it is amusing
both clever and quite cute.
But your pleasant poetic spinning
Is politically un-astute.
By a 12 percentage point margin
She beat Rick and the GOP
By any political standards
It is a mandate for Hillary.
To imply its a close election
Just to get your side a score
Doesnt recognize what close is.
Heard of Bush and Gore?
P.S. I like you too!
Sunday, November 19: Another weekend not knowing who won the
Presidential election or what I can spin on the weekend that will still be valid on
Thursday when the paper hits the street.
Weve managed to do it the past two weekends.
This time rather than give our spin, well give you our
The courts will decide this one. Although the marginally
Republican-controlled Congress will posture about their right to seat and recognize
electors, their leadership will finally acknowledge that they will not interfere with the
legal process of selecting the next President. This may take a couple of weeks and will be
due in part to the fact that there will be several defectors in the party insisting that
Congress stay out of the process.
That process will be ultimately be decided by the Florida State Supreme
Although challenges will be brought to Federal and ultimately the
United States Supreme Court, the nations highest court will either refuse to hear them or
assert the fact that the Florida Election Law belongs in Florida State not Federal Court.
Only suits under the Constitution or Voting Rights Act One Man, One Vote type of
stuff have standing in Federal Court. It is the purview of the Florida Courts to
decide on their States elections.
The Florida Supreme Court is a seven-judge court consisting of judges
who are almost entirely Democratic (six Dems and one Independent). However, this
independent and respected court is known for decisions based on merit not politics.
Under their direction, all recounts underway will be included in the
vote total. All overseas absentee Military ballots will receive great latitude in meeting
validity requirements and fewer than originally indicated will be disqualified. All other
disputes will be resolved by local election officials or subjected to the appointment of a
The court will meet with both sides and extract commitments to
recognize the vote total that will be announced under court supervision and according to
At the end of the day after youve read this column . . .
and next weeks column, too all the votes will be tabulated.
And then, by a number of votes no greater than the number of your
fingers and toes, a winner will be announced. The name of the next President of the United
States will be a four-letter word. And the other side will gripe and play "what might
And the nation will go on and prosper. And very little will change.
God Bless America.