By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
We're tired of writing about it. We're tired of everyone disclaiming responsibility for
it. We're tired of City Council members denying it.
If you follow this column, you know I'm talking about the upcoming Council attempt to
overturn the term limit law, which in two separate referendums was ratified by a vote of
Although we personally oppose term limits in concept, we shall stand ready to not only
oppose the effort, but oppose any member of the council who is involved in this
We made it clear previously that repeal if appropriate must be passed by referendum
presented to the voters. That is the way the law was enacted. Disregarding that is
disregarding democracy itself.
Last Friday, 22 members of the Council gave notice to Speaker Vallone that they didn't
care about Democracy. They have cosponsored legislation that would in effect overturn the
term limit law passed by the people by referendum in 1993 and upheld by referendum in
1996. It seems that these 22 Councilmembers know better than a majority of the voters of
New York City.
A published report in last week's Crain's New York Business reveals that many of the
sponsors defend this effort by claiming that term limits are particularly harmful to
Nonsense! Old minority Councilmembers will be replaced by new minority Councilmembers.
Many of the new candidates attracted to participate because of term limits offer a fresh
new approach for the tightly controlled Council.
Councilmembers Postion On Term Limit Repeal
|Dist / Member
||position on term
limit appeal legislation
|19 Michael Abel
||'Too late; gut feeling:
|20 Julia Harrison
||'Term limits are a
|21 Helen Marshall
||'Welcome opportunity to
|22 Peter Vallone
||'Public has spoken, twice.'
|23 Sheldon Leffler
|24 Morton Povman
||'If supported by mayor or
|25 John Sabini
||'I'm not the leader; but I'm
|26 Walter McCaffrey
||'Term limits are detrimental.'
|27 Archie Spigner
||'Poor chance of passing.'
|28 Thomas White
||'My district doesn't want
|29 Karen Koslowitz
||'Gut reaction: no.'
|30 Tom Ognibene
||'The people have spoken.'
|31 Juanita Watkins
||'Bad public policy.'
|32 Alfonse Stabille
||'Concerned about future
Playing the race card is a shameful deception by a group of people who
are desperate to keep their Council jobs.
We were saddened to read that Helen Marshall, an announced candidate for Queens Borough
President, was one of the leaders of the shameful effort. This should end Marshall as a
viable candidate for Borough President. You can't disregard the people's will and expect
to be the people's choice.
Helen, there is still an opportunity to denounce your involvement in this shameful
Joining Marshall in sponsoring this selfish act are Republican Beep wanabee Al Stabile
and five other Democratic Queens Councilmembers: Julia Harrison, Walter McCaffrey, Juanita
Watkins, Tom White and John Sabini who continually denied being involved. Yes John, we'd
be embarrassed if we were you.
Shame on all members who support this legislation and expect to run for reelection to
The Mayor and the Council Speaker are opposed to such an effort and although, it may
pass the Council, overriding a likely Mayoral veto may prove the legislation's undoing. If
enough self-serving votes exist, a court challenge is sure to follow.
The chart above shows the results of last month's survey of Queens Councilmembers
intentions concerning the repeal term limits.
Read it and recognize the reality about our some of our elected officials.
In the coverage of campaign contributions, Arthur Nitzburg, a columnist for a small
Queens weekly commented: 'Of interest here is that Brian McLaughlin's wife, Eva, gave
money to Cheliotes (11/16/00). McLaughlin himself gave money to Avella (12/4/99) and is
Avella's strongest political supporter. There goes Brian, once again supporting both
Crediting a wife's contribution to her husband seems to me to be a rather antiquated
way of viewing the world. But if that is Nitzburg's standard and contributions by one or
one's spouse means you are no longer impartial, then should Nitzburg disclose that the
race in which he is criticizing McLaughlin and wife Eva for having made contributions, he
too is tainted by the same 'crime.' Nitzburg's wife Ann contributed $250 to Joyce Sheppard
another candidate in the same Council race.
"President Bush, a
donation has been made in your name to Planned Parenthood."
- Patt Morrison, LA Times
Furthermore, Ann also contributed $250 to Jeff Gottlieb in another
Council race that Nitzburg offers supposed objective commentary.
Finally, Nitzburg himself has contributed $200 (two separate $100
contributions) to Borough Presidential candidate Sheldon Leffler.
I'm not sure what this all means. However, this writer doesn't believe the
sins of a wife belong to her husband Ñ contributions don't always either. Furthermore,
when this writer makes a contribution and/or formally supports a candidate, we'll let you
know. We wear our feeling on our sleeve.
We'll use our words to clearly advocate in favor of what we feel is best
for the people of Queens and not to deceptively achieve our personal agenda.
Arthur Nitzburg, the writer in question, was forced to resign as
Democratic State Committeeman by Brian McLaughlin's Democratic Club because McLaughlin, we
hear, was going to remove Nitzburg from the position. And now Nitzburg's column regularly
In spite of that, we still believe in freedom of the press.
However, 'let the reader beware.'
CAMPAIGN FILING UPDATE:
We've had a rather interesting response to our detailing of the candidates
filings showing monies raised.
Helen Marshall, candidate for Beep, called us to say her filing now shows
contributions of $76,915, as compared to the CFB website report of last week showing half
that amount. However, she still trails frontrunner Carol Gresser by $125,000.
We were contacted by John Frank who has just announced for the 19th
Council District. Frank describes himself as a community activist and has not filed with
the Campaign Finance Board which leaves him more than $100,000 behind leader Arthur
In the 20th, Terrence Park's name has also been forwarded to us by
reliable sources who say he's another Asian candidate in the race. Park has fundraising
ability and is not enrolling in the CFB matching program. Yes, our impression is Park
wants to run but may ultimately get out and allow front-runner John Liu to carry the Asian
banner in this race.
Also in the 20th District, Martha Vazquez Flores who reported to have $504
in net contributions informs us that she filed late and now shows $9,970. She now trails
John Liu by only $120,000.
Not 4 Publication.com
by Dom Nunziato
And finally, Melinda Katz does have
competition. Norbet Chwatt, a civic activist over the past four decades and a 24-year
member of the community board has declared his intention to run for the Council in the
29th District.Chwatt possesses a very impressive resume as a community leader. However, he
has yet to file with the CFB and faces Katz who is already past the $100,000 mark of net
If our list of two weeks ago omitted your candidate, please let us know.
If candidates have campaign updates, our contact information is printed at
the bottom of this page.
Strom Winds Blowing
I met Strom Thurmond some five years ago. His
brightly colored hair and strong grip and charming personality made him memorable to me
even though he was one of many heavyweights at the party for the launch of 'The Hill' our
sister paper which covers Congress.
This writer with Strom Thurmond, the Senate's senior
Now, future of the United States Senate
may rest on his heartbeat. Thurmond, the 98-year old conservative Republican President Pro
Tempore from South Carolina is the Senate's senior member,
Thurmond, known for his robust and fiery partisan politicking, has become
increasingly weak and slow of mind over the last year. He is feared to be in his final
The Republican leadership is concerned about the consequences should he
die. At the swearing in ceremony of freshmen Senators, Thurmond's demeanor was 'subdued.'
Although especially gracious towards New York Senator Hillary Clinton, Thurmond was unable
to give Hillary his customary hug.
At the inaugural, Thurmond could barely move without the assistance of
If Thurmond were to pass on, South Carolina's Democratic Governor Jim
Hodges would no doubt appoint a Dem to finish out Thurmond's term, giving the Democrats a
A Democratic Congressional aide commented, 'I can see Trent Lott wheeling
Strom into the Senate chamber, holding up an oxygen mask to his face, and helping him dip
his quill in ink so long as old Strom kept on ticking.'
Patt Morrison, columnist of the Los Angeles Times has a fabulous idea. In
her Jan 26 piece titled, 'A President Rowing in Reverse on Abortion Issues,' she
suggested: Presidents Day is coming up on February 19. We all need to make a donation,
however small, to a pro choice organization and have a card sent to President Bush
basically saying: 'President Bush, a donation has been made in your name to Planned
I received this as an email suggesting that I pass it on to 10 people.
After confirming it with the LA Times, I thought I'd share it with you.
Pass it on.
David Colby contributed to this column.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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