Tuesday, December 30, 2008


On December 10, 2008, the Urban Justice Center released its report card for the Human Rights Project, which rated NYC Council Members on their human rights record based on key legislation before the City Council in the past year. The Human Rights Project works to hold city government accountable to human rights laws and standards. Click here to see the New York City Council Watch report card.

Council Member Tony Avella, candidate for mayor of NYC in 2009, ranked third on the list. Leticia James ranked first, followed by Charles Barron who ranked second. The issues covered included term limits, voter registration, elder abuse, immigration services, tenant protection, paid family leave and child-health plus - just to name a few.

Read the article in the Queens Ledger by Nathan Duke.

This should answer all those animal haters who think that compassion is a finite quality - that to give any to animals - as Council Member Avella has consistently done - means that you have less for people. Those of us who disagree with this miserly approach know that compassion for animals or humans only generates more compassion. It is an infinite quality and only grows with use.

We are proud of Council Member Tony Avella's achievements and wish him the best in his race for Mayor of NYC. Wouldn't it be great to have a mayor who cares about people and animals?

See his web site - www.tonyavellaformayor.com

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Term Limits in New York City

Re the term limits bill passed by the New York City Council, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Councilmember Tony Avella's most courageous stand against this anti-democratic power grab by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn.

It must further be pointed out that, to those of us who have followed Tony Avella's political career, this sort of laudable behavior is hardly new or unique.

For a long while now, while other hack councilmembers have scraped their knees, cravenly genuflecting at the throne of the Speaker, Tony Avella has been a steadfast profile in courage, prioritizing the best interests of the people of New York City, ahead of political expediency - a priority that has not come without a price tag for Avella, exacted by a vindictive council leadership.

Also, mention must be made of those councilmembers such as Bill DeBlasio, Letitia James, Charles Barron, et al, who with no motivation other than a clear vision of good government, cast a firm "NO" against this naked power grab of Mayor Bloomberg's. They stand in stark contrast to those in the council who, as has been reported, only cast a "NO" vote after passage of the term limits extension bill was considered a fait accompli and their votes against it, meaningless - and only after being given permission by the leadership to vote against the bill.

With Tony Avella's decision to run for Mayor of New York City, the choice is clear. Does New York City want a perpetuation of the cynical, hypocritical, self-interest that defines our current leadership and has perhaps never been so boldly displayed as in this self-serving, term limits extension? Or is it time for honesty and integrity to inform the future of our city.

Note well, this man Tony Avella, for in him you will see a quality in all too short supply in the political world today - that quality, defined by moral excellence, that is INTEGRITY!

Monday, September 1, 2008


In 1993 the people of New York City overwhelmingly voted for term limits. In 1996, the issue came up again and once more it was voted in - this time extending the term from 8 years to 12 because it seemed to make sense at the time.

What about this does the City Council not understand?

Don't they get that New Yorkers, who are quite savvy when it comes to political issues, wanted to restrict those who had a lock on Council seats and other city wide offices - all due to the heavy influence of political clubs.

Who are these council members who blithely ignore the fact that New Yorkers have twice now voted for term limits? Are we gradually moving toward a dictatorship where our opinion or vote does not matter?

According to a recent article in the New York Times on August 28th, a majority of Council Members surveyed supported extending term limits -- even though city residents have twice voted for them. 27 out of 38 interviewed favored extending term limits - only 8 opposed altering the rules.

Each member of the City Council who want the rules changed, while in the middle of the game, knew what they were getting into when they were elected. They include Miguel Martinez and Domenic Recchia, Jr. to name two. Thomas White has an interesting spin n keeping his job - "From the civil rights point of view, term limits have denied people the right to vote because they can't vote for who they want to. If I like the way you represent me in your district, and you enjoy the things I am doing for the district, why would I want to change you?"

You're kidding - right, Mr. White? I mean - that was the whole point of the public voting for term limits because the Council had gotten so stagnant under Peter Vallone. The political clubs with their influence controlled politics even more than they do now. People demanded a chanage. The ballot initiative was true democracy.

And sorry, Kendall Stewart if it has taken you six years to "learn the ropes." Tough learning curve. But you knew that going into this. Don't change rules in the middle of the game!

Ah - but there is still some honor left in politics. John Liu: "The issue at hand is not term limits, it's who decides. Is it 52 people - 51 council members and the mayor - or is it 8 million people?

And our man, Tony Avella is quoted as saying - "The day we change the term limits is the day we take a step toward dictatorship. We seem to have someone in the mayor's office and speaker's office who think they can change the law to stay in office."

Tony Avella is running for the office of Mayor. Visit his site at www.tonyavellaformayor.com to sign his "I support term limits petition."

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The New York Times recently reported that Council Member David Weprin is planning to introduce a bill into the NYC Council that would prohibit AUTOMOBILE drivers from text messaging when they are driving. It sounds very responsible ... after all, it is against the law for automobile drivers to talk on their cell phones while driving ... why not text messaging too? ALL drivers should be focused on the road. The operable words here are “ALL” and “AUTOMOBILE.”

I would support this bill with enthusiasm if it covered all drivers on the road. And by that, I mean it needs to include horse-drawn carriage drivers - the ones who drive all over mid-town Manhattan; the ones whose "engines" leave calling cards for people to step in.

Believe it or not, carriage drivers are not required to have a NYS Drivers License to operate their 19th century contraptions better known as a carriage or buggy. This means they can drive while using their cell phone. They can also read magazines, stand up while driving and my favorite - make u-turns with impunity.

“ What!” You say. “But they drive right in the thick of traffic! How can that be.? I have seen them on many occasions get into messy situations with cars and taxis. I have seen them squeeze in between cars on 9th Avenue. What gives? Is the City nuts? I’m moving to Canada! Where's my suitcase!"

There, there, now. If you go to Canada, try Toronto. They got rid of horse-buggies in the 1970s. Unfortunately, I do not have too much hope to give you in your quest for sanity and fairness since Mr. Weprin has already taken sides in the horse-drawn carriage debate by supporting a bill that would increase rates for carriage drivers. For those of you who do not know, this is a cash only business. And as with businesses of this type, drivers do not have to report exactly what they earn. Who would know?

Considering that this small industry is the subject of a lot of controversy now, it would behoove Mr. Weprin to stay out of the fray rather than to award the industry a carte blanche rate increase with no give-backs. Particularly since he is running for Comptroller and as such would be handling the City’s money, he should be beyond perceived conflicts of interest.

“My goodness” you say. “Doesn’t the Mayor and Council members – particularly Mr. Weprin care about the safety of pedestrians?” And I say - “Get real." Mr. Weprin only cares about being elected Comptroller so he can control the City’s money and support the carriage industry.

It is the voters – YOU – who have to see the irony in this – Weprin running for comptroller and supporting a cash only business. There are other more qualified candidates for Comptroller such as Council Member David Yassky who has announced his candidacy.

Mr. Weprin’s quote about text messaging is from the New York Times:

“It’s a risk to drivers, obviously, and also to passengers and pedestrians,” Mr. Weprin said in an interview. “You’re not looking at the road and you don’t have both hands on the wheel” when engaged in text-messaging. “The probability for accidents is too high to ignore.” Mr. Weprin said the bill would be modeled on New York State’s ban on the use of cell phones while driving, which imposes a $100 fine for the first infraction.”

Well, Mr. Weprin, you should be fined $100 for introducing such an incomplete, shallow bill.

Of course, drivers should not be on the phone - texting or otherwise when they drive. That is just plain common sense. But this must include ALL DRIVERS.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trash talk with Jessica Lappin

From the "Not in My Back Yard" department
The Chapin School "mom-tourage" isn't alone in its opposition to the prospect of a Marine Transfer Station on E. 91st Street. Why, it's right in my back yard, too! Dammit! Mayor Bloomberg says, "Why should the Bronx have a monopoly on trash?" Yorkville residents see things differently, of course. Not to worry about health concerns, though. An administrative law judge has already advised complainers that they can call 311 to air any grievances about unsafe or unsanitary conditions or permit violations that may be observed if the proposed beastly waste center becomes a reality. Not a hotline, but 311. Yep. Don't hold your breath on resolution of your problem.

City Council member Jessica Lappin has emailed constituents to announce that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold another public hearing on the issue. It's fun to attend a public hearing with Ms. Lappin in attendance--why, anything can happen! She's a former figure skater, and graceful under pressure!

Save the date: Tuesday, September 16
Time: 1 pm-4:30 pm, and 6 pm-10 pm
Location: New York Blood Center, 310 E. 67th Street
Comments are limited to 5 minutes
Written testimony may be submitted until 5 pm on Monday, Sept. 29
Written comments should be submitted to the New York District Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Rm 1937, and New York, NY 10278-0098.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

She kicks ass with bed bugs

Gale Brewer's tireless efforts to bring about meaningful bed bug legislation haven't helped her in the City Hall newspaper August poll, which asks: Which City Council member would make the best Batman? Read the results
There's still time to vote -- click here and scroll down the page
Note: I attempted to contact Gale Brewer about this situation and others, including her embarrassing flip-flop on the groundbreaking bill to ban horse-drawn carriages. No response. Hope springs eternal.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is Gale Brewer bugging out?

Is anyone else worried about City Council member Gale Brewer? She has a lot on her mind, to be sure. Bedbugs, for one thing. But why would she tell a bald-faced lie at a well-attended public meeting? That’s right, she pledged her support for Tony Avella’s legislation that would ban horse-drawn carriages. She still has not signed on as a co-sponsor—six months later! What’s worse, she is stonewalling her constituents who support this landmark measure.

She made this declaration in February at a packed meeting at the New York City Bar Association, where a panel on animal advocacy was gathered to discuss humane legislation and the workings of the City Council. Oh yes, she did! Lawyers, advocates, friends, and Upper West Side constituents—we all listened as she boldly promised her support of Intro. 658.

New Yorkers understand, of course, that Gale Brewer is toiling over a number of important issues. Like bedbugs. In January, she told NY1: “The bottom line is bedbugs must be dealt with.” First things first, Gale.

She must love the bedbug issue with all her heart. Maybe she’ll run for president on the bedbug platform.
Say, did anyone else attend the bedbugger’s recent open house? Always great food. I didn’t see any bedbugs, but I was had an itchy red welt afterward. Thinking about Gale gets me scratching.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I don't even have to write this piece because Sally Goldenberg from the NY Post says it all. After you read this, please think about whether or not you want someone like Christine Quinn for mayor. She is expected to announce her candidacy at some point. It will mean more corruption, more pork barrel favoritism; more TAMMANY HALL and more politics as usual! It is unfortunate that Tony Avella's district has suffered from this favoritism because he has "defied her." His ethics stand out in a field of political hacks.

NEW YORK POST - July 4, 2008




Speaker Christine Quinn's friends on the City Council brought pounds of pork home to their districts - while neighborhoods represented by members on her enemies list often get beans, a review of this year's budget shows.

Her biggest victim was Tony Avella (D-Queens), whose "sins" were harshly criticizing her over the budget slush-fund scandal, voting against congestion pricing, which she pushed for, and running for mayor, a job she is expected to seek.

He got a mere $340,464 - the lowest of anyone on the council, which he said is "morally and ethically challenged."

Quinn insisted she's not doling out rewards and punishments. "There are many different factors that go into that decision making," she said.

Underscoring her point, Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), an opponent of congestion pricing but an overall ally of hers, topped the list with nearly $1.25 million.

Queens Democrat Eric Gioia, who has had several disputes with the speaker's office - though he voted for congestion pricing - got only $360,464.

The same amount went to Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who opposed congestion pricing and blamed Quinn for the budget scandal and was angry she refused to name a Brooklyn street after radical Sonny Carson.

Two members - Michael McMahon (D-SI) and Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn), who decided at the 11th hour to vote for congestion pricing - each received whopping sums.

McMahon, who also defended Quinn after the scandal, got more than $1.2 million. He noted that he does well each year because he is Staten Island's sole Democrat on the council.

"The speaker never said to me, 'Look, if you vote for congestion pricing you'll get more money, or if you don't, you'll get less money,' " he said, but he acknowledged those who "continuously work with the leadership on issues . . . do well."

Recchia, who received more than $1.1 million, also voted at the last minute for congestion pricing, but said "there was no quid pro quo."

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Finally something interesting is being done about the NYC Council slush fund scandal that reared its ugly head this past April. At that time, it was revealed that during 2007 and 2008, Speaker Christine Quinn’s office had set aside $4.7 million for thirty different phantom groups. Quinn claimed that she only found out the groups were fake a few months prior and told her staff to stop funneling the money to them. They apparently did not and she claimed she was unaware of this. Hmmmmm. Seems to me in her position that she should have known one way or another.

Quinn became Council Speaker in 2006 when a deal was made with Queens Democratic boss - the late Tom Manton who hand picked her. Gifford Miller, Speaker prior to Quinn, has not addressed this issue. It is interesting to note that Council Member Jessica Lappin was his chief of staff but has not yet been implicated.

On Thursday, June 26th, eight taxpayers asked a judge for a special inquiry into this scandal. Attorney Norman Siegel argued that this highly questionable practice has had a corrosive effect on the public trust. No kidding!

Who better to lead this charge than Norman Seigel, the “People’s Advocate” – and the candidate who should have won the Public Advocate position in 2005. (He lost to Betsy Gottbaum who has been so unsuited for this job.)

If successful, the lawsuit will require that Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Boomberg to testify under oath about this questionable budget practice.

The people deserve better than Christine Quinn for Speaker -- or for Mayor.