Tag Archive: City Council

Dec 18 2012

Sasson To Enter Council Race?

Isaac Sasson won the lotto which tends to overshadow any of his accomplishments, but at least no one will be able to say he’s running for the paycheck.

While the battle lines for City Council have not yet been finalized, many candidates are already gearing up for will surely be an uncertain and competitive primary season. With the term limiting of Councilman James Gennaro, so far only two candidates have officially expressed interest including Assemblyman Rory Lancman and District Leader Martha Taylor, however the political world will be surprised to hear another familiar candidate is ready and willing for another shot at political office. That candidate is Isaac Sasson, a retired cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Sasson has been eyeing elected office for several years earning him the reputation as an independent and insurgent candidate. He ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2003 against then City Councilman John Lui, and again for Council in 2009 and most recently for Senate in 2010 where he came close to victory each time. Having forgone the chance to rematch Senator Stavisky in 2012, Sassoon endorsed independent Democrat John Messer. But this time in 2013 it could be his year.

Since his last run, Sasson, a Sephardic Orthodox rabbi, has grown his base to absorb some moderate and conservative Dems while cornering the Jewish vote. He is often mentioned as one of the most prominent leaders in the Jewish Community – and it just so happens that the neighborhoods of District 24: Kew Garden Hills, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica, Utopia, and Jamaica Estates has a large Jewish population. But Lancman and Taylor are Jewish too, so how will this play out and will it split the vote? Many conservative leaning Jews have been outraged by Lanceman’s liberal positions particularly on marriage rights – and thus feeling alienated – they’ve looked for leadership in Isaac Sasson to uphold their values. He’s also scored major points advocating for tenant’s rights plus his activism on Communty Board 7, which includes sections of District 24, has him firmly planted in the mind’s of voters outside of Flushing where he resides. His appeal also comes from his education, as those pleased with Councilman Gennaro’s scholarly approach to legislation (Gennaro is also a scientist) will appreciate the same characteristic in Sasson as he graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree and earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of Connecticut.

Even when the lines shift, the Jewish vote is historically consistent and historically Democrat with a high probability of voting in primary elections, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out. Meanwhile, many have come to know Sasson as a scholar, a volunteer, and an independent voice in the community. His position on hyper local issues is always backed up by facts and figures – a very rare quality in the political world especially in comparison to the long history of servitude Taylor and Lanceman have to the Democratic Party. Given that, it’s not likely he’ll get the coveted endorsement, but the demographics in this race suggest Sasson will have a large enough base (and the name recognition) to potentially pull off a win in a three-way primary. His campaign war chest will surely help. But we don’t know anything for sure as both Taylor and Lancman have the experience, name recognition, and extensive resumes of service which are not to be underestimated. In the end Sassoon will likely run, but not for personal gain or prestige, he’ll run to serve the community.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/12/isaac-sasson-to-enter-council-race/

Nov 28 2012

Vallone Says Landmarks Should Not Be Politicized

City Property named after the living creates an ethical quandary.

Thanks to a bill by City Councilman Peter Vallone, the chance for anymore city property to be named after a living person could be a thing of the past.

Press Release: Vallone – who was the only elected official to vocally oppose the co-naming of the Queensboro Bridge after former Mayor Ed Koch and is opposed to altering the names of bridges and other landmarks in general – believes that the renaming of City property could be used to garner political support, earn favors, collect donations or appease a powerful elected official (Vallone noted that there are currently at least six properties renamed after former State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno in upstate New York).

“The Queensboro Bridge has already been taken from the people of Queens, so there is no telling what landmark could be next,” said Council Member Vallone. “At a minimum, renaming property after someone’s death helps to ensure the honor is bestowed for the right reasons.”

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/11/vallone-landmarks-should-not-be-politicized/

Nov 09 2012

Countdown timer to the next election TBA —–>

We have a countdown timer ticking down till the next big election and this time it’s set for the 2013 City Council Primaries. But we don’t know the exact date yet because we have to wait for Mayor Bloomberg to decide. Not even the dates for petitioning have been set (but that hasn’t stopped a plethora of candidates from filing a committee anyway). It’s likely we won’t know the exact date until after New Years. June is a possibility, and so for now our countdown timer is set for June  – until the date is officially announced. FYI.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/11/countdown-timer-to-the-next-election-tba/

Sep 28 2012

Addabbo gets UFT Endorsement

Senator Addabbo stands with a cadre of elected officials and members of the UFT at a school named after his late father, State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Who’s having a good week? On Tuesday State Senator Joseph Addabbo received an enormous boost to his campaign against Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich.

A UFT endorsement carries a lot of weight and can tip the balance of an election considering the large volume of boots they can put on the ground for a candidate, not to mention an enormous sphere of influence and expansive networking prowess.

Read the full press release below.

Press Release: Queens, NY- The United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have endorsed State Sen. Joseph Addabbo for a third term representing New York’s 15th Senate District.

“Senator Addabbo has proven time and again that he is a tireless advocate on behalf of students,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

The unions endorsed the Queens Democrat in front of the Joseph P. Addabbo School in Ozone Park, named after the senator’s late father, 13-term U.S. Congressman Joseph Addabbo.

“I am incredibly honored to have the endorsement of the UFT and NYSUT,” Addabbo said. “Education has always been and always will be one of my first priorities, and because of the support of organizations like the UFT and NYSUT, I have been successful in my fight for quality education for every child.”

Senator Addabbo fought to restore much-needed yellow bus services for over 4,000 7th and 8th graders in New York City, and has worked to decrease class sizes. He also supported a law in which schools have to make detailed plans to address cyberbullying, and backed the 2010 law to combat bullying and discrimination in schools among students with different backgrounds.

With two children in New York schools, Addabbo said he knows how important education is.

“Education is the key to building a better future, and ensuring the success of the next generation,” said Addabbo, a graduate of St. John’s University and Touro Law School. “All children should have the opportunity to learn and reach their full potential.”

Addabbo, a member of the Senate Education Committee, this year helped secure an extra $292 million for city schools, in addition to providing more than $31 million for community colleges, and $28 million for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/09/addabbo-has-a-good-week-uft/

Sep 26 2012

Halloran says Meng averted questions regarding her Sept. 11th whereabouts

Congressional Candidate Dan Halloran is demanding full disclosure from his opponent.

Dan Halloran issued a press release condemning his rival Grace Meng for averting some facts regarding her whereabouts on September 11th, 2012. In the communication, Halloran accused Meng of not fully disclosing the fact that she attended a fundraiser thrown for her by Shelly Silver on the most hallowed day of the year.

Halloran’s official communication also urges the full public disclosure of Meng’s finance reports, raising questions about the delay of her personal financial disclosures.

Press Release: Auburndale, N.Y.- At a recent meeting of the Auburndale Improvement Association, 6th District Congressional candidates Dan Halloran and Grace Meng answered questions submitted by the audience. But there was a distinct contrast between their responses.

Both candidates were asked, “Where were you on September 11, 2012 and what was your agenda?” Halloran said, ”I started off in the morning at the 9/11 memorial, as I have every year. After that, I went to several other 9/11 events in the district, including Bayside Hills. It’s a day of remembrance, a day to try to stay as low key as possible.”

Meng, who attended a fundraiser for her campaign on September 11, responded “My office and I attended various vigils that day, the closest of which was Bayside Hills… I also had a lunch with various community and religious leaders that day.” What she failed to tell the good people of Auburndale is that one of those “luncheons” was in fact a fundraiser for her campaign, thrown by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on that day.

Meng’s aversion to disclosing facts is not new. She waited until late September to file the personal financial disclosure that the House Ethics Rules demand to be submitted in May. Meng’s latest self-imposed deadline was last Friday, but she finally filed on the following Tuesday. The public is still waiting to discover the source of the $122,000 she deposited into her own campaign, right before her primary in June.

Meng’s statement that same night that she “chose to be one of those lawyers who don’t make a lot of money” makes her ability to deposit so much cash into her own campaign even more mysterious.

Her campaign owes it to voters to provide a credible explanation of the protracted delay and to make the information available to the public immediately.



Dan Halloran, a lifelong resident of Queens, is running for Congress to fight for our families in Washington, just as he’s done in City Hall. Dan was elected to the City Council in 2009 on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Libertarian lines to represent the Queens neighborhoods of College Point, Auburndale-Flushing, Bayside, Whitestone, Bay Terrace, Douglaston, and Little Neck

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/09/questions-ducked-at-the-auburndale-improvement-association/

Sep 18 2012

Halloran announces plans to attend Tea Party icon’s fundraiser; draws sharp criticism from political hopeful

Congressman West (R-Fla) has been in hot water for his controversial statements.

A Democratic candidate for the 19th City Council District is outraged with Dan Halloran for announcing plans to attend a fundraiser held by Tea Party backed Republican Congressman Allen West.

Making the case of guilt by association, in a statement Silverstein cited West’s pro-gun advocacy and his accusations toward Congress for being linked to the Communist Party as indicative of his character and policy making agenda. “Dan Halloran’s alliance with Allen West is a clear reminder of why Dan Halloran is the wrong choice to serve the 6th Congressional District in Congress & the wrong choice to serve the 6th Congressional District in Congress and the wrong choice to serve the 19th Council District in the NYC Council.”

Silverstein, a state committee member and a candidate for the seat currently held by Halloran, said he spoke on behalf of the constituents,

“West’s radical opinions are not in line with the viewpoints and beliefs of people in the 6th CD, 26th AD or 19th CD.”

Reached for comment, Halloran Spox Steven Stites said,

“As City Councilman, Dan Halloran works to keep cops on the streets and make New Yorkers safe. As a perennial political candidate for everything under the sun, Matt Silverstein puts out press releases.

Official Press Release Below



Contact: Campaign Chair Warren Schreiber (917)494-2247 / silverstein2013@gmail.com

19th Council District Candidate Matthew Silverstein Condemns City Councilman Dan Halloran For Agreeing To Attend A New York Fundraiser For Controversial Congressman Allen West

Bay Terrace, New York

City Council Candidate Matthew Silverstein today released the following statement:

I was shocked to learn this morning that City Councilman & Congressional candidate Dan Halloran would be attending an upcoming fundraiser for controversial Congressman Allen West.

Congressman Allen West is completely out of touch with the majority of Americans. Congressman Allen West’s comments accusing 78-81 Democratic Members of Congress of being part of the Communist Party are completely inappropriate.

What are most alarming were Congressman West’s recent comments about guns. Congressman West said at a campaign rally “Well, I got a great idea. I believe for personal security, every American should have to go out and buy a Glock 9mm”.

According to the New York City Police Department website, since the start of 2012 there have been 1,034 shooting incidents in New York City This is already up 1.3% from 2011. With gun violence on the rise in New York City, comments like this only add more fuel to the fire. Now is the time to talk about ways in which we can reduce the rate of gun violence in our City.

Dan Halloran’s alliance with Allen West is a clear reminder of why Dan Halloran is the wrong choice to serve the 6th Congressional District in Congress & the wrong choice to serve the 19th Council District in the NYC Council.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/09/silverstein-blasts-halloran/

May 29 2012

Picture: Councilman Gennaro at Family Fun Day in Jamaica

Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) watches as a girl feeds Pedro the llama at the Family Fun Day in Captain Tilly Park in Jamaica Hill on Saturday.

On the lighthearted side of politics in Queens, Councilman James Gennaro, a staunch conservationist and defender of mother-nature, enjoys Family Fun Day in Jamaica.

p.s. According to a source, Mr. Gennaro is said to be retiring from City Council for personal reasons thus opening up another seat and another world of possibilities….


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/05/gennar/

Apr 20 2012

First Candidate Announces Run For Peter Vallone’s Seat

The tide is rising in Astoria.

Tony Meloni will announce his plans to run for the open seat in the 22nd City Council District on Sunday.

Anthony Meloni, affectionately known as Tony, is a pillar of the neighborhood and the spirit of community service filters and fibers his being.

Meloni, who lives in Astoria, settled here 45 years ago as an immigrant from Sardinia, an autonomous island off the coast of Italy. Meloni speaks fluent Italian and is presently learning Greek, which is a noble endeavor considering Astoria has the largest Greek Diaspora in the United States.

Despite a few differences, Meloni relents, believing that all cultures can find common ground in their love of the community where they work, play, and raise their children.

A Queens College graduate that majored in Urban Studies with a minor in ethnic studies, Meloni’s academic background gives him wide latitude to bridge the cultural melting pot that is Astoria.

Like many Astoria residents, Meloni is a family man. He has two grown children, a daughter who teaches high school English and his son is an engineer.

In his professional life, since 1988, Meloni has been the executive director of Immigration Advocacy Services, a non-profit office that helps people become citizens and residents through filing documents, complying with immigration procedures and offering  free consultations.

Meloni is everywhere. He’s a staple at most, if not all, community meetings from the Kiwanis of Astoria to the Community Board.

“It’s a great way to know what’s going on in the community and being an active participant keeps my ear to the beat of the neighborhood,” Meloni said.

By far, his most influential and visible service to the community is the New York Anti-crime agency, which supervises troubled kids and teenagers that have been arrested. The group instills a spirit of civic and duty by giving children and teens a second chance.

“We have thousands of hours of community service for local kids, and 92 percent do not get re-arrested,” said Meloni, adding, “I’ve gotten to know the young community by advocating a valuable service to our neighbors”.

Meloni is a passionate environmentalist and will make conservation and green initiatives a principal of his campaign. He believes that diesel fumes from school busses and trucks have contributed to the poor air quality in Astoria.

“The City is wrong in purchasing diesel busses and trucks, and firefighters have to sit there and inhale diesel fumes. School children must inhale these fumes. It doesn’t make sense,” said Meloni, who plans to spearhead legislation to retrofit school busses and city vehicles for cleaner air emissions.

“Our air is not the greatest and we want to work with the power plants. People are doing it already but it doesn’t hurt to have everyone on the same page,” he said.

Public safety, small business advocacy, and Veteran’s affairs will also be a part of Meloni’s platform.

“We performed the biggest cleanup ever done in NYC… we cleaned 250 stores in one day in ’92 in Astoria –  all main avenues – we even cleaned Hell’s Gate bridge and we’ve been maintaining it ever since.”

The initiative is part of Meloni’s belief in community empowerment.

“If you wait for government it will take a lot longer. The government and the community can work together,” he said.

In terms of political philosophy, Meloni is middle of the road. He doesn’t like extremes especially when he believes common sense should dictate the issues. “It’s about compromise, a middle road that can be followed.”

Meloni also believes in marriage equality. “The government should not be telling people who they can marry,” he said.

Regarding advocacy of small businesses, Meloni spoke with a bit of cynicism, “in between the taxes, water rates, and fines – the government is taking advantage of small business. Restaurants are getting fined – they pass the grade – and they still get a fine. Go to court the situation is untenable. Our small businesses should not be footing the bill. If someone goes to court to fight it it’s a kangaroo court you don’t feel like you have a chance and it doesn’t make anyone feel any better. You go out of your way to fight it, and no matter what you do, it’s daunting for small businesses.”

City Councilmember Peter Vallone is term limited this year and his seat will be up for grabs. However, Vallone feels that Meloni’s campaign should be taken very serious.

“Tony is a longtime friend and he and I have worked closely together for years on public safety issues. He has been involved in the community for decades and will be a formidable candidate,” according to Vallone.

Asked if he felt he could fill the Councilman’s shoes, Meloni replied, “I think I can, I’ve worked with Pete…sure they are big shoes to fill, but someone has got to do it. I might as well try to serve the people and the community. I do it because it’s my community and I can make a bigger change and I can do more to continue to help us,” said Meloni.

Meloni believes in the old addage that brevity is the soul of wit. He is renowned and respected for giving short and poignant speeches. “Astoria is a small town within a large city. I want to keep it that way so that we don’t lose that community feeling. People are coming to our area. They come because it’s a neighborhood.”

It seems if you ask anyone that knows of him or his work, they will tell you Meloni is not about lip service, “He walks the walk,” said Michael Serao, a board member of the Astoria Kiwanis whom volunteers side-by-side with Meloni at the multitude of community service projects performed by the group.

Meloni agrees that serving the constituents is the number one priority. “I felt coming from the community you can do a lot for the community.”

But there are many problems facing Astoria residents.

Asked to predict some of the challenges facing the district in the near future, Meloni responded, “It’s not a white picket fence; it has a lot to offer. We don’t want to lose vital city services and we are overburdened by tax and rate hikes as it is. Schools closures like LIC and Bryant (Meloni is a graduate of Long Island City High School), it’s way off. I think the Mayor is playing with student’s lives and teachers.”

“If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it,” said Meloni, adding, “This political back and forth is not helping anyone.

While the campaign kickoff is a little early in the electoral cycle, so far a consulting firm has not been selected.

Meloni will be running a grassroots campaign on his merits and believes that the early start will show how strong his candidacy really is.


The official announcement will be made Sunday, April 22nd at Riccardo’s By The Bridge in Astoria at 3:30. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/04/first-candidate-announces-run-for-peter-vallones-seat/

Jan 19 2012

Koo To Defect From GOP

Crowley sent a chopper to pick me up, Ragusa sent a Ford. What did you think I was going to do?

Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) announced he will be switching parties, according to the New York Times.

It’s not as shocking as one might think.

In a heavily Democratic district, one can only wonder what was offered to him behind the scenes. Who courted Mr. Koo, a millionaire pharmacist from Flushing?

In 2009, Koo ran against Yen Chou, a Democrat who owns a daycare facility. The primary was vicious, and Koo emerged the victor after the Dems tore each other apart. Many insiders considered it a fluke.

The switch could have been totally unexpected, and the Queens County GOP may not have known it was coming. But it still hasn’t officially happened yet.

Food for thought:

Rumors of a gerrymandered ‘Asian Majority’ district for a Senate seat could have motivated him.  Is it a numbers game? Is Mr. Koo questioning the worth of being a Republican? The area is heavily Democratic and Koo could have feared a well-funded and supported Democratic challenger for Council or for the Senate seat, should he decide to run.

Koo, long considered a centrist has taken many positions favorable to Democratic kingpins like Christine Quinn that could ease the transition.

Is he angry with the local GOP party for a lack of support and constant infighting?

Keep in mind Koo is a millionaire and can self-finance his own run.  After all he was originally registered as a Democrat. Just speculating, if Mark Weprin becomes speaker, Koo could be Finance chair, that’s if he’s a Democrat. If he’s a Republican, then he might be on the lowly housing committee (Republicans cannot chair committees).

Being a successful small businessman might help Koo ease through the transition.

What do you think?


FYI, during Mr. Koo’s run for City Council in 2009, Dennis Gallagher  worked on his campaign setting up stanchions that were emblazoned with ‘property of Mike Riccatto’ in downtown Flushing.

Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2012/01/koo-to-defect-from-gop/

Nov 10 2011

Sanders’ Chief of Staff says He’s got the Right Stuff.



A City Council staffer is planning to run for his old mentor’s seat in South Queens. 

Richards sounds like he’s shaping up to be an activist candidate. There are too many lame duck Chiefs of Staff especially chiefs that remained on board after their pol that hired them was ousted in a residency scandal. Preserving the head of the beast after you rode the anti-establishment tide stinks of hypocrisy. True Mammons of civic uprighteousness toting an exaggerated  sense of self-worth.

I know far too many Chiefs of Staff waiting around in the woodwork for their elected official to retire or die, or be ousted in a scandal, or like in Sander’s case waiting for term limits to kick in. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be going on here.

On the bright side there are many effective and honest staffers in government, but not enough.

 From Queens Chronicle: Donovan Richards, chief of staff to City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton), always wanted to help others, even at an early age, but his dedication to civic duty came full circle after a tragic event.

On March 13, 2003, his friend was shot and killed after getting into a dispute with another man. The incident led him to attend a community meeting where Sanders was speaking about gun violence, and he was eventually hired by the lawmaker, whom he called his “mentor.”

Now, Richards plans to run for his boss’ seat when he is term-limited out in 2013 and has the councilman’s full support.

For Full Article: http://www.qchron.com/news/eastern/richards-will-run-to-replace-sanders/article_6711e971-8a1e-5f74-8442-4a225b2dc215.html


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/11/sanders-chief-of-staff-says-hes-got-the-right-stuff/

Oct 21 2011

Two Queens Candidates File For A “Run”

Born in Manhattan and raised in Queens, Justin Wax Jacobs is a lifelong resident of Briarwood. The recent graduate of the University at Albany has filed a campaign committee. Generally seen by insiders as tantamount to running for office.


From City Hall News,

 Justin Wax Jacobs looks like he’s giving politics another crack. The 22-year-old recently registered a campaign committee to run in 2012 against Queens Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, after getting tossed from the ballot on the most minor of technicalities in the recent special election for the seat. The young politico gathered 1,600 signatures in six days to run as an independent, but was by the Board of Elections because he failed to write the correct district number on the top of every page – becoming a poster boy for a broken system. 





Silverstein is keeping his options open.


 Matt Silverstein, the former president of both the New York and Queens Young Democrats, took a step towards joining the fray to take on Republican Councilman Dan Halloran in 2013. Silverstein registered a campaign committee this week and may face off against several 2009 contenders for the seat.

 Silverstein said in an email he was simply keeping his “options open,” according to City Hall News.



Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/10/2012-hopefuls/

Oct 17 2011

On The Front Line Of Occupy Wall Street…A Lawyer Named Yetta.

Yetta Kurland, a civl rights litigator and an activist says her primary concern is the use of excessive force by the NYPD against Occupy demonstrators. "It's a HUGE curtailment of our first amendment rights," said Yetta. Picture from FB.

QP Exclusive: The Wall Street Movement is not going away, says Yetta Kurland a civil rights activist and former city council candidate from Manhattan’s West side. Yetta is a lawyer, no not a blood sucking corporate lawyer, she’s the people’s rep, a civil right’s litigator and she’s been working pro bono for the demonstrators arrested down at Wall Street.

Yetta really knows her issues and the law. In the interest of bringing QP readers a front line perspective, we decided to interview her.

QP Interviews Yetta Kurland:

 Yetta, what’s the scene like at Wall Street?

Yetta begins by saying it’s been more calm but, “You know what’s amazing? The visuals of the Times Square and Washington Square. The movement has grown so massive and very tense, riot gear and horses were out with significant arrests nearly 100 arrests but not mass arrests that folks were concerned with”.

You just can’t arrest that many people,” according to Yetta.

I understand you’ve been down at the courthouse volunteering your legal services as an attorney on behalf of demonstrators. Can you tell me more about that?

“I have been volunteering, it includes arraignment at the court house, and visiting precincts.” It’s easy to get lost in the system, said Yetta who has split her time between visiting precincts and at the courthouse at 100 Centre Street for more than 100 arrestees. “It can be extremely time consuming  — keeping track of those arrested,” she said. It’s a lot of work [and] it’s unfortunate and frankly unnecessary. 

“My primary concern is excessive force.”

“On one of my cases, Ari Douglass was horribly injured by police who basically ran into him knocked him over and left him pinned under a motorcycle, and in response rather than giving him care, they gave him a number of criminal charges including criminal mischief, and resisting arrest.”

“If you look at the video, he’s clearly not.”

So, what are the demonstrations being charged with?

“Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrests, Obstruction of Government administration– different charges routinely used. Ari was charged with criminal mischief. Criminal mischief depending on the degree s a felony charge.”

When Occupy Wall Street began, did you predict an end – that is for the demonstration to fizzle out?

“I don’t think this is going to fizzle out. I don’t think weve seen the full momentum of the movement.”

“971 cities across the world, Rome Los Angelas, London, Chicago. 175 arrests. Folks are willing to put themselves on the line.

Yetta continues, “When we see brutality you see more people coming out in solidarity. I don’t see any thing fizzling out.  There is obviously a question about the cities want to shutdown the efforts and weather or not the folks will be able to continue there. Last week was a great victory they were supposed to shutdown the park – and they didn’t. We are moving forward and everyday is a victory… I think that these occupiers are reclaiming public space — public spaces for the public good, I mean the public interest.”

Its really resonating not just with New Yorkers. It is true the whole world is watching this…. I don’t see this coming to an end anytime soon I see this as transformative.:”

What do you think will be the outcome on a national level?

“I hope that the outcome on the national level  is that we reinvest the public sector. I hope that we find ways to prioritize the collective public interest of our country and to seperate government from private interest — that we have check and balances to ensure a free democratic society.”

Are you advocating electoral reform?

“I think it has to happen on every level, electoral, corporate, financial reform in the way we do business reform in the way the NYPD tactics to deal with protesters in public space.

 This is a referendum on police tactics post 9\11. Riot gear, massive arrests… It is a huge curtailment of our first amendment rights.

What’s your next step to support the movement?

“My only role is to act as an attorney to represent the folks down there.”

At the time of this interview, Yetta was traveling to the courthouse at 100 Centre Street.  “There’s additional activities and well keep monitoring and helping to deal with people that have been arrested. We have to go back to work perhaps go to trial. It’s a lot of expense.”

Yetta points out that the police presence is costing an exorbitant amount of tax dollars:

“Every time a huge group of police officers there’s a lot of costs involved in that we complain about financial difficulties we shouldn’t waste tax payer dollars for that.”

What do yo think about Mayor Bloomberg extolling the virtues of free speech, but denouncing the demonstration on Bloomberg radio?

“Confusing—“I’m not sure what he means by that… and free speech is exactly that: It’s not always with something you agree, or even with the medium. He’s lost in his position.

Curious, are you thinking of running for public office  again?

Oh I don’t know— it’s years away, but if I do, I’ll let you know.”

See Politicker NY article.

What’s your message to all the naysayers out there? You know – armchair politicians?

“Come down to Liberty Park and talk to the people. Remember that its easy to step back and not want to be involved or engaged. Bob Dylan said the times they are changing and if you have to wrap your head around that,” said Yetta.

“It’s undeniable. It’s not for us to naysay it’s much bigger… it’s a social movement.”

“History is being made by brave minded making a stand and standing up to simply ask for integrity in our system and that we have a balancing of our powers a truly democratic society,” according to Yetta.

Keep up the good work – QP. If you need to contact Yetta, email yetta@yettakurland.com.

A photo of Yetta during her bid for City Council (3rd district) against Council Speaker Christie Quinn.


Permanent link to this article: http://queens-politics.com/2011/10/on-the-front-line-of-occupy-wall-street-a-lawyer-named-yetta/

Oct 02 2011

Batter Up: Who Will Challenge Avella In ’12?

Go ahead, take a swing, says incumbent State Senator Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Four possible candidates show the ambition it takes to make a run for Tony Avella’s 11th Senate District in northeast Queens. Who are they?

While no candidate from the GOP has come forward and declared an official run, the 2012 election is right around the corner, and members of the Queens Republican Party have already been asking themselves, am I ready for a face- off with Democrat Tony Avella for the 11th Senatorial District?

Here are a few bets (a primary notwithstanding) for those GOP’ers circling the wagons:


1. City Council Member Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone)

Odds of running against Avella = 3 to 1

Dan has excellent name recognition in the community. He’s at all the meetings, almost omnipotent. Beside being the #1 target of the Queens Democratic Machine, Dan is a good representative. His experience with city government plus the professional networks he’s created will help push him over the hill. Dan is also very popular around the neighborhood, even though Dems enjoy a significant enrollment in terms of party registration (93,820 Dems vs. 32,018 GOP). If recent events have taught us anything, party solidarity is beginning to mean less as time goes on, but I digress…

Average folk tend to look past his Libertarian leanings, and his office staff is excellent, fast, and responsive. Dan is young and he has the energy to travel back and forth to Albany. It’s a lot of stress for us down-state folk. Dan’s odds: 3 to1.

2. Vince Tabone, Executive Director of the Queens County GOP.

Odds of running against Avella = 10 to 1.

Vince Tabone is one of those ‘operatives’ turned candidates. Vince pals around with Chairman Phil Ragusa from the Queens County GOP and he has mulled around the thought of taking the chair position from Ragusa for quite some time. Plenty of ambition over at the party HQ. Interesting story about Tabone, when I was working a special election in South Queens, Vince cornered me at the Reception House on Northern Blvd during a local GOP convention and promised to deliver me boots on the ground (code phrase for pro-volunteers) to South Queens. With the election a few days away, and no help from the Queens GOP in sight (we won that election by ourselves) I said, “Vince, you have no boots on the ground, and you can’t deliver what you don’t have.” I patted him on the back and I walked away. Later on he would run a failing bid for State Assembly against now incumbent Ed Braunstein, who I campaigned for.

Overall, Vince was a lackluster candidate who paid volunteers to sit around and eat. It’s true, my people saw his people on Election day hanging out at Gyro World. They were paid volunteers and they came from Long Island. But that’s not the point. The Senatorial electorate doesn’t want another hard-nosed conservative (the anti-gay sort), but that may not stop him from running. Vince is a great fundraiser plus he has an acerbic tongue that puts fear into the hearts of his opponents. Even with the North Shore Towers (a Democratic stronghold with dependable voters) working against him, Vince gave the Democratic County Machine a run for its money.  Vince’s odds: 10 to 1

3. Elio Forcina, Former State Assembly Candidate, Attorney.

Odds of running against Avella = 99 to 1

Elio Forcina is thought to be highly regarded amongst Conservatives as well as the Queens GOP. Elio ran for State Assembly District 26 in a Democratic primary as a Conservative Dem, and won nearly every single ED in Whitestone, (a stronghold of sometimes conservative leaning voters). During his grassroots campaign, Elio stuck to his Conservative roots and ran a platform of fiscal responsibility and increasing transparency in Albany. Wilson Pakula? Elio is also a neighborhood fixture in Clearview Gardens and his campaign banner is still up at the 7-11 parking lot in Whitestone, and probably will be forever.

I see Elio at many meetings, or at least see him in touch with current events on Facebook. I also campaigned for Elio because I thought he’d make for a great Assembly Member. Despite our contrasting views on the role of government, Elio would have been amiable enough to center himself and bring home the bacon to AD 26, he is after all, a neighborhood guy. Elio’s odds = 99 to 1

4. Marco DeSena

Odds of running against Avella = 20 to 1

Marco is somewhat of a mystery. Marco filed to run for Assembly in AD27 and got himself enough signatures to get on the ballot, and that’s where I believe his campaign ended. Marco spent 36 dollars in the election and gave Democrat Mike Simanowitz the edge. If Simanowitz had just three volunteers (he had an army of supporters, including yours truly) that would have been three more volunteers than DeSena had .

I ran into DeSena for the first time at a rally before the election, he came up and introduced himself. The Professor from Baruch College did not give off a candidate’s vibe, and the rally where we met wasn’t in his district. Although the Queens GOP did endorse him, someone over there must either like him, or they couldn’t find anyone else to step up to the plate. So, I don’t know. Something’s going on. DeSena is a variable, and now with an “Assembly run” behind him, at least he got his foot in the door. Marco’s odds = 20 to 1

5. ?


* Many more may enter or never declare, and there’s no residency requirement for running. Also redistricting is a big issue, so we don’t actually know where Senate 11 will be located. Lastly, Senator Tony Avella is an excellent legislator and an experienced campaigner. He knows the people and the district better than any of the candidates above.

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