2008-10-31 / Columnists


Now that the City Council has gone behind the backs of the voters and approved changing the city's term limit law from eight years to twelve, we must make sure that all of those councilmembers who voted for the change get thrown out of office in next year's election. Locally, that means James Sanders Jr., who voted in favor of the change. Joseph Addabbo Jr., our other councilmember, voted against the change, but probably did so because he has some confidence that he will be a State Senator come January and therefore had no dog in the term limits hunt. Should Addabbo lose to Serph Maltese on November 4, however, you can bet that he will be right there on the ballot for the City Council seat in November of 2008, just as Sanders will. The action of the self-serving councilmembers, in the face of massive opposition from the public, shows once again why term limits are necessary.

Speaking of Addabbo, he and Maltese had a half-hour debate on NY1 last week, and Maltese threw lots of knockout punches while Addabbo never touched the seasoned State Senator. At one point, Maltese pointed out that even Addabbo's "local paper" said that he had abandoned the Rockaway community, while Addabbo pointed proudly to the fact that he had obtained a ferry for Rockaway commuters after years of trying. It was painful to watch Addabbo disassemble. Maltese is right, Addabbo abandoned Rockaway early on by walking away from the chair of the vital Council Parks Committee and then virtually disappearing from the peninsula during his final year in office, while he prepared to run for the Senate seat.

New York City Comptroller William Thompson called The Wave last week on his phone tour of Queens' community newspapers. We talked of foreclosures and term limits, two of his favorite topics. Thompson, who wants to run for mayor in 2009, says that Queens is the worst when it comes to home foreclosures, with both the highest number of foreclosures in the city and also the highest rate per capita. He said, that, despite the fact that it is against their nature, he hopes that banks will realize that they don't want the homes and that they will sit down and negotiate with homeowners to come up with a deal that will work for both the homeowner and the bank. "The banks are not looking to own lots of property it can't get rid of," Thompson said. "They should be willing to make a deal, especially if somebody comes early out, before they get to the final moment that their home is going to be sold. They can't wait until the it's too late to do anything." At the same time, Thompson admitted that some people just can't afford a home. "When you have a family earning $20 or $30 thousand a year, and the broker puts them in a $600 thousand home, well that's just not right. There's no way they're ever going to afford that home no matter what they do." As to term limits, Thompson is opposed to changing the law without going back to the people. "The mayor is stealing democracy," he said. "There's no other way to look at it."

Queens Public Television will televise the results of local elections on its Channel 34 between 8 and 10 p.m. on November 4. Since the major channels will be full of the national elections, that might well be the only place to catch the local results in such elections as the Assembly race between Audrey Pheffer and Gerry Sullivan and the Senate race between Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Serph Maltese.

The man who shot two cops in a Queens subway station last week when he was stopped for trying to beat the fare, was an ex-convict who had been deported to his native Dominican Republic in 1998 for narcotics violation. Officials say that he came back into this country via Texas about six months ago. That story is pretty representative of what happens to deported criminals. They find a way to come back to this country and generally continue with their criminal activities. Police officials say that he struggled with the police because he did not want to be deported once again and that they often catch wanted criminals by stopping and arresting people trying to beat the fare. In fact, from January 1 to October 1 of this year, 3,673 people with outstanding warrants were taken into custody for fare evasion. Sixtyeight of those were wanted for serious crimes. Three were wanted for murder, for example, and two dozen others for shootings.

The Diocese of Brooklyn hosted a round table meeting this week to discuss the future of the diocese's 113 schools, which will be included in a major structural overhaul in the next few years. The Brooklyn Diocese Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio was not present despite hosting the event. Rather his Vicar General, Bishop Frank Caggiano, was on hand to present the reporters with information about the diocese's plans and reasoning regarding the initiative. The Wave was only one of two publications that attended the event, out of all the Brooklyn and Queens papers that were invited. The meeting did not provide specifics on school closings or church mergers in the Rockaway area. Instead, it was intended to introduce the fact that the schools will be going through a reconfiguration that will not be formally presented to the public until early next year after a comprehensive study of all aspects of the catholic school system are collected and analyzed.

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