|The Winners & Losers
of the Albany Coup;
Shooting Up Times Square?
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
SILVER TARNISHED? Since our piece last
week revealing the then impending, now defeated coup by upstate Assemblyman Mike Bragman
with the backing of Queens Dem Chief Tom Manton, the inside political game has been to
assess who really won and who really lost.
Allow us to play for a few moments.
Silver, Manton and a whos who lineup
of NYS Dems went to Albany to coronate Hillary Clinton as their Senate candidate and first
lady of the party. They came back with Hillary duly crowned, Carl McCall popularly
applauded prince-in-waiting and Speaker Sheldon Silver under attack.
By now, you know that the attack has been
countered; Silver survived and has made peace with each of the NYC Assembly delegations
including Queens, whose county leader was one of the coup architects. Assemblyman Clarence
Norman, Brooklyns County Leader, is, we hear, to be interim Majority Leader to
temporarily replace Syracuses Mike Bragman whom Silver ousted in retribution for the
coup attempt. Silver, will look for a non-NYC Assemblymember who he can trust to serve as
his permanent Majority Leader. Look for the Bronx Dem Leader Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez
to be rewarded by Silver with a lucrative perk and/or perhaps a deal where Silver will be
backing his mentor, Fernando Ferrer, in his bid for mayor. Silver, you can be certain, got
to Ramirez with a real attractive offer. Manhattan Dem Leader Assemblyman Denny Farrell
will also not be hurt by sticking by Silver.
Who really won?
Hillary the big winner has a
united party, which will likely remain united, until at least election.
Al Gore also gains by having a united
Democratic Party in NY.
The initial take is that Silver is the
other really big winner and Queens Manton, perhaps the loser.
We think not.
Silver remains Speaker. But Bragman, now
clearly out of power, still has a large block of upstate Assemblymembers ready to stand up
and oppose the Speakers authoritarian and vindictive ways, weakening Silvers
heretofore-unchallenged unilateral rule. Silver reached out to Manton to make peace and in
so doing gave up on his support of insurgent Walter McCaffreys challenge of Manton
protégé Congressman Joe Crowley. (We wouldnt be surprised if Manton pulls
insurgent candidate Patrick OMalley from the race to challenge Silver-backed
Assemblywomen Cathy Nolan as part of the deal).
Manton went up to Albany to support Hillary
and came home with the Speaker support for Crowley not a bad loss.
Furthermore, although the truce will likely
hold, as we said, until Election Day, insiders are already looking at Silvers likely
successor (other than Bragman who may be injured beyond repair). That change could come by
popular will of the members as soon as January next.
A victory for Silver? Yup; but does it have
CYBER POLITICS: As the
self-proclaimed online political conscience of Queens, we try to monitor how government
and politicians use e-mail and the web.
It took just a day, until Friday last, for
Shelly Silver to beat back Mike Bragman and oust him as Speaker.
However, as we write this almost a week
post coup attempt, the Assembly website (above) still lists Mike Bragman as Majority
Well bet that his name is off his
office door, the keys changed and the Speaker is having everything in Albany that suggests
Mike Bragman has power decommissioned.
Somehow, they never remember the official
website. Soon, the guys who make the laws will have to realize that the web is the
quickest way to reach the people second most effective (to community newspapers, of
GUNS: So this was the one-year
anniversary of the tragic Columbine massacre perhaps the mother of senseless
shootings at school.
Thoughts of Columbine and tragedy and the
sorrowful out-of-control gun situation that exists in our country creep into our
consciousness every time we hear the words guns, kids and schools spoken together.
Children our children are dying at the hands of guns in the hands of our
children. They are also dying at the hands of guns in the hands of criminals.
Our children, our brothers, our sisters,
our mothers and fathers all of us are at danger from the guns in our homes,
in our streets, in our society.
Like the moms who marched in Washington and
across the nation on Mothers Day, I blame the guns. They should all be equipped with
locks, registered, and their users licensed.
Yeah I know, "Guns dont kill
people, people kill people." Boshwabble! Guns kill people. They did at Columbine;
they will again; they do every single day.
This weekend, the New York Times reported
that the National Rifle Association is planning to open a restaurant and arcade in Times
The NRA is a lobbying group. They collect
oodles of money from gun-worshiping citizens and then spend it promoting the
"sport" and lobbying or convincing the government not to regulate their precious
freedom. They are within their rights.
Citizens have a right to "bear
arms" the Constitution says so. We have lots of rights; they are all precious
to us and are the foundation of our freedoms.
Free speech and a free press are limited by
libel laws, as they should be. The cliché, "you cant shout fire in a crowded
theater" is an old form of limiting free speech, our most precious freedom.
Were not trying to take their guns
away. The moms who marched want to register guns and license gun owners. They want trigger
The NRA responds with a restaurant and
arcade promoting firearms to children. Isnt that who arcades and theme restaurants
appeal to? And they respond with Charlton Heston and his cold, dead hands speech. We
should not be surprised that these guys dont fight fair.
Limit their freedoms, perhaps if
that is what registration and safety is considered. Deny their freedom? No!
However, when the gun-toting NRA wants to
open up shop in Times Square, thats another thing. Freedom or not, we can finally
find a need for the former not-so-kind, not-so-gentle Rudy Giuliani. Although, they may
have a right, so do the people! The City should check permits and codes, regulate and
inspect, harangue and harass their gun toting asses back to Montana or wherever people of
violence come from.
Not in our City.
Not with our children.
CONGRATS! Bronx Assemblyman Jeff Klein
and Laura Hevesi, daughter of Comptroller Alan and wife Carol, are about to announce their
THERMOS: Kimon Thermos, has announced
his third try to unseat longtime Astoria Assembly-member Denis Butler. Thermos was a
candidate against Butler for the 36th Assembly District in 1996 and 1998. Both races were
extremely close with Thermos falling just a percentage point behind the incumbent in
This year we hear that operatives from the
Mark Green organization are involved in guiding Thermos. Green, concluding that he has no
friends in the Queens Dem organization has started early lining up with candidates certain
to challenge Dem County. Sheldon Leffler appears to be Greens Beep guy and now
Thermos for Assembly. Look for a hot one this year. The Primary is Tuesday, September 12.
The newest Democrat in Queens County. Meaghan
McLaughlin, the smiling daughter of Assemblyman Brian and wife Eva.
WEISENHOOHAH: Jeff Weisenfeld,
longtime assistant to the Governor and occasional almost Queens candidate has tendered his
resignation to the Guv effective in June. He will be joining the international investment
banking firm of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Jeff will still keep his public policy
posts with the governor as a Trustee of CUNY, member of the United Nations Development
Corp and the Long Island North Shore Commission. Those who worked with or encountered
Weisenfeld know he pulls no punches. His lack of political adroitness alienated many.
However his hard work and forthright approach helped many. We wish Jeff well!
E-MAIL: In response to our column about
our new publication the PRESS and my son Lee, the college newspaper editor,
we received the following e-mail:
* From former Queens journalist and
P.R. man Doug Gladstone: Forget about your nice, flowery sentiments about Mothers
Day.... the stuff you wrote about your son, Lee, and his venture into the fourth estate
was a great Fathers Day preview! Keep up the good work.
* Congrats on the new Press
and Lee the editor. Great photo. Barbara Nadel
Barbara Nadel of Forest Hills, an
occasional contributor to these pages, was just elected National Vice President of the
American Institute of Architects. Congrats to her.
JUSTICE: Taking his seat in his
chambers, the judge faced the opposing lawyers.
"So," he said, "I have been presented, by both of you, with a bribe."
Both lawyers squirmed uncomfortably. "You, attorney Leon, gave me $15,000.
And you, attorney Campos, gave me $10,000."
The judge reached into his pocket and pulled out a check. He handed it to Leon.
"Now then, Im returning $5,000, and were going to decide this case solely
on its merits!"
of the Week
"Mama Dont Let Your
Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys"
The words above were originally popularized by Waylon
Jennings. The City Council Citation is in the hand of Councilman Alfonso Stabile as he
presents it to the Federation of Black Cowboys for their dedication and commitment to
entertain and inform local youth about life in the wild west. The Cowboys operate out of
the stables in Lindenwood, Howard Beach. No report on whether Al went riding.
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@queenspress.com