Queens Elections & Albany Reform, Not!
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
ELECTION UPDATE: As we watch petitioning take place across Queens, here’s an update on the list of races shaping up this summer:
10th Senatorial District: Allan Jennings, denied the Republican line, is out there circulating to get in the Democratic Primary against State Senator Ada Smith. Anti gun activist Liz Goldsmith was the first to jump in when Smith continued her bizarre rampage. Longtime community and school activist Shirley Hundley is also in this this one.
We’d watch the legal team of the Dem County Organization to again try to take apart Jennings and his petitions. The longtime anti-organization Dem has long been an embarrassment to the group from Austin St. But apparently Smith, with her biting, throwing coffee at staffers, run-ins with law enforcement and continued accusations of staff abuse, has not yet crossed the line. However, we might expect that the Dem organization not work too hard to review Goldsmith or Hundley’s petitions. We hear there are many insiders who think Smith has gone too far, too many times. However, a serious race is unlikely if more than one person has to divide the anti-incumbent vote.
39th A.D.: Word has it that Carmen Enriques will challenge Assemblyman Jose Peralta as part of Hiram Monserrate’s effort to take John Sabini’s Senate seat in the 13th Senate District.
The Center for Public Integrity gathered the total number of lobbyists in each state using 2004 figures and divided it by the total number of legislators. New York led the 50 States by far with 18 lobbyists for each elected legislator. Florida was second with 13. The nationwide average was five. New York had 3,842 registered lobbyists; Illinois was second with 2,161.
What’s the message to this one?
The top five:
State Lobbyists Legisltr Lobbyts per
New York 3842 212 18
Florida 2041 160 13
Illinois 2161 177 12
Colorado 1054 100 11
Ohio 1280 132 10
Nation 38,324 7,382 5
ALBANY REFORM, NOT!
The Daily News this week joined the chorus begun by our friend and columnist NYCivic’s guru Henry Stern and the NY Times, railing at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker who they say “delivered a virtuoso performance in the annals of Albany bossism, sticking it to taxpayers, coddling special interests and trashing the democratic process in a single committee meeting.”
From NYC to municipalities throughout the State, from Governor-Pataki to Governor apparent Spitzer, elected officials across our State have supported legislation to change the way public employees are awarded money in personal injury lawsuits against municipalities. The new law would eliminate a loophole allowing injured public workers to sue for wages and medical costs even when, health insurance coverage anddisability benefits, have reimbursed them fully.
Finally after great effort, the Assembly Judiciary Committee was ready to approve the measure for a likely floor victory. Just as the committee was scheduled to meet, Speaker Sheldon Silver, added three new members, all of whom voted against the bill preventing its passage by one vote.
According to the Times, the city says it could potentially save $160 million by settling pending cases if the legislation passed this year. Statewide, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Silver, who in his other job receives huge payments as a member of a powerful trial lawyer firm, has been a longtime ally of the powerful lobby group of Trial Lawyers, the bill’s most vocal opponent.
Although the new committee members supposedly did not discuss their views on the bill with the Speaker or his staff, it was their votes that prevented passage of the good government legislation.
Queens’ Cathy Nolan, apparently acting in support of Silver’s agenda, was one of the three who brought down the bill that would have saved the city and other municipalities millions.
How do you spell reform?