The Term Limited
Can We Get Back To The Election?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Term limit repeal died last Thursday. At least we think it did.
We are proud at the small part we played in forcefully reminding the City Council that
they are there to serve the people of the City and its not the other way around.
According to Speaker Peter Vallone and his people, term limit repeal is dead
killed by the Government Operations Committee. Sadly the three Queens members of the
committee continue to bring shame to our borough. John Sabini who denied to this paper
involvement in the term limit repeal effort the same week he was sitting in the office of
attorneys planning strategy for repeal; Julia Harrison, just a week after she reinforced
her position of disdain towards the Asians in her Flushing community; and Juanita Watkins
in search of another two years on the public payroll, all voted to bring the term limit
repeal bill to the full council for a vote. Brooklyns Lloyd Henry voted with them.
Councilmembers from the other four boroughs, Committee Chair Mary Pinkett, Adolpho
Carrion, Phil Reed, Eva Moskowitz and Stephen Fiala voted to kill the bill.
Council Speaker Peter Vallone took credit for quietly lobbying achieving the
bills death. On the morning of the vote, the Speakers people contacted this
writer and informed us, "I think we have the votes to keep it in committee."
And now the Vallone folks tell us: "yeah, he [the Speaker] really thinks its
dead. He worked every angle to kill it. And one of them was definitely the "ire
of the press." So Im sure you [the Trib and this columnist] did
We applaud the Speaker for the role he played in trying to restore a bit of respect to
a Council sullied by a month of self-serving scheming. Perhaps this victory helps his
mayoral efforts. Weve become used to a mayor who bashes you in the face when he
disagrees with you. Peter Vallones style is quite different. We just wish we knew
how to tell when he is seriously fighting for or against something. Weve become
cynical of accepting the word of politicians.
Peter, we cautiously accept the victory. We remind our readers that this was not a
fight over term limits. It was a fight over the self-serving efforts on the part of
Council members to void the will of the people expressed in two referendums.
We take the Speaker at his word and assume he will use all the power of his office and
prevent any further attempt to consider this term limit coup. He has spent fifteen years
showing us he has the power. Wed like to hear that he would use it should City Hall
corridors start anti-democratic buzzing again.
From Queens, Helen Marshall, Al Stabile, Tom White and Walter McCaffrey joined
anti-democratic Harrison, Sabini and Watkins in this vile effort to void the peoples
McCaffrey coincidentally has still failed to adequately respond to serious questions
about missing or misappropriated campaign funds well in excess of $100,000 which was at
the center of a scandal forcing him out of a Congressional race last year.
Marshall and Stabile contacted us Marshall on several occasions to insist
their motives were nobler than their colleagues. Stabile wrote a letter which ran a couple
of weeks back on our edit page explaining his position. Then Stabile informed us, if he is
prevented to run because of term limits, hed be a candidate for his old seat in two
years when the law permits him to run again.
We again extend to Marshall an invitation to justify her position to overturn the will
of the people. We think her viability as a borough presidential candidate is very closely
tied to her ability to explain away her involvement in the darkest effort of the modern
day City Council.
We believe that these council members brought shame on the council and themselves. We
cannot recall very many issues where legislators were willing to defy the will of the
people to benefit themselves. We shall not forget the dark days of Council moral
corruption. We hope the people wont either.
As for term limits, we think the new Council will be bright, talented, energized and
ready to tackle the problems of the City, one large step removed from the yolk of big
money and lobbyists. The city will benefit.
A NEW CANDIDATE
It seems that weve met or talked to or read about or wrote about hundreds of
candidates seeking the 14 Queens Council seats well, almost.
Eric Gioia is one of several who has seriously impressed us with his desire,
intelligence and ability. We had Eric, a candidate for McCaffreys 26th Council
District seat, as one of our "likely winners."
Not so quickly says Elizabeth Crowley. The twentytwo year old daughter of
the late Councilman Walter Crowley who once owned this seat has thrown her hat into the
ring. West Queens political folklore relates that there are enough Crowley family members
and friends in this district to insure a Crowley victory.
Hmmm! That would require a professional organized effort we hear that Liz has
retained Scott Levensons quite competent Advance Group. Also needed would be enough
dough to make it happen. Well if cousin Joe the Congressman is aboard, raising money isn't
as difficult for a newcomer.
The Liz Crowley announcement is new. The jury is still out.
However, Eric Gioia who spent two plus years working in the White House and has
supporters including Christy Brinkley and Bruce Lindsay as well as a large number of
troops in the district and Queens premier campaign consultants, the Parkside Group,
may have many sleepless nights ahead.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at:
Theyre smiling in Joe Crowleys and Anthony Weiners offices.
For months, the unadjusted census figures have caused the entire NY Congressional
delegation considerable concern. Some more than others.
You see, according to the 2000 Census figures finaled by the Bush administration,
New York, which has not grown as fast as the rest of the nation, is going to lose two
Congressional seats. And as the scuttlebutt went, one would be upstate and one downstate.
Charlie Rangel need not worry. But everyone else will be pulling out the maps and
trying to figure out how to draw lines to get what they want.
But conventional wisdom indicated that the Bronxs Elliot Engel who is at odds
with his Democratic County leader Roberto Ramirez, who helped powerful line drawer
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver retain his speakership, is the most vulnerable. Next in
the vulnerable line was Queens Joe Crowley who also has a piece of the Bronx and a
political rabbi named Tom Manton who led the move to overthrow line-drawing Silver. Now
Crowley could be thrown into the same district as Engel or could be drawn into battle with
number three on the vulnerable list, Brooklyns Anthony Weiner, who also has a large
chunk of Queens.
Queens senior reps Ackerman and Lowey, in three counties each, were likely to be
impacted by new lines. Carolyn Maloney could lose Queens. No one could guess the effect on
Nydia Velazquezs gerrymandered minority seat. While Greg Meeks black district
would be least likely to be scribbled on.
So these Queens reps along with their staffs, spent hours drawing, dreaming and
planning to lobby and worrying. And theyve just begun.
The math of the new census goes like this. Old (present) Congressional Districts
contained 630,000 people. New New York Districts would require 654,000. Yikes, things will
And those that were betting, bet that one of Engel, Crowley and Weiner would not be
returning to the 2002 Congressional dance.
And then, Friday of last week, more precise figures were released. The population of
New York City increased by 9.4% to 8 million people. Although cries of undercount continue
to eminate from City politicians and googoos (good government groups), that 8 million
figure has brought joy to the offices of vulnerable City Congress members.
You see, they felt that when the map drawers Repbulican Guv George Pataki,
Republican Senate Leader Joe Bruno and Dem Silver took pencil to paper or computer
to census tract, it was less likely that they hurt the folks who represent the exploding
population of New York City. But Bruno is sure to try.
Crowleys Office immediately pointed out that his 7th Congressional District was
the largest in the State containing 680,000 people even more than the requisite
Weiners applauded the fact that Queens is the fastest growing borough showing an
increase of 278,000 people since the 1990 census.
Queens now has 2,229,379 people. (Remember that; were goning to test you on it
in weeks to come.) Thats up more than 14% from the last census.
Now, in part, the boroughs and the citys population grew and in part, the
City Planning Commission did a credible job of identifying folks who were missed or
undercounted last time around most frequently the poor or new immigrants. Although
the City is likely still shortchanged by undercount, the improvement in the count will
accrue financial benefits since many federal funding formulas are based on population
and these are numbers that will be used. Rudy Giuliani gets the credit.
As far as redistricting, weve played with the numbers there will be lots
more playing before the lines are finaled. The reality is that in spite of City growth,
what were calling Metro NY (the City, Long Island and Westchester) loses about three
quarters of a Congressional seat while upstate loses one and a quarter seats.
Speculation will be the name of the game until the lines are drawn and dry. Our crystal
ball, with a heavy distortion towards Queens, suggests that lots of lines must change but
Elliot Engel will find his district absorbed into super Congresswoman Nita Loweys
district and the rest divided among Crowley, Jose Serrano and perhaps others.
Engel will have a choice of facing superwoman Lowey, Serrano in a minority district,
Crowley on mostly Crowleys turf or he could punt.
Lots more to this one stay tuned.
ACK & GERSH
Gary Ackerman, post hip replacement, heard there was a staff luncheon (read: free food)
at the Trib office and showed up for a bite, sporting his new cane. Hes back
to the DC commute and feeling fine.
Alan Gershuny, our old friend, is returning to Queens as Ackermans alter ego.
After April 1 youll find him at Garys Queens office.
Welcome home, Alan.
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
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