A Breath of Fresh Air - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the September 2008 Juniper Berry Magazine

A Breath of Fresh Air

Someone please open a window!

In less than two months, we will all have the very rare opportunity to be voting in a very unusual local election contest. There will actually be contenders to choose from.

At the state level we have some contests (good), and some fake, uncompetitive choices (bad ‒ very bad). There is an historic first and another, business-as-usual stick in the eye of voters.

Who is putting a stick in your eye? The combined Democrat and Republican party no-compete contest in many NY State Assembly races.

Ask why. The answer will be that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will set out to destroy any Republican who opposes any Democrat. There is a way to deal with his impudence: If any candidate for the NY Assembly is on the ballot unopposed, skip that vote. The greatest outcome would be a winner to be able to claim a victory with only a tiny number of votes ‒ himself, his family and his campaign donors.

The actual contest to watch is in Assembly District 30. Currently, Marge Markey is the incumbent since 1999. The terrible fact is that she has never faced any opposition.

Until now, anyway. Tony Nunziato, who owns and operates the family florist business in Maspeth (so he deals with customers every day, for years), is an active member of the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce ‒ where he acts on behalf of the Maspeth business community, is on the executive board of the Juniper Park Civic Association and is active at every Town Meeting and COP104 meeting to hear residents' concerns and step in to help anyone who asks.

He was also a member of CB5 for 10 years (until disgraced former councilman Dennis Gallagher and Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz conspired to remove him), and chair of environmental committee. Tony has been at the forefront of issues such as the Elmhurst Gas Tank park fight, Cross Harbor Tunnel fight, getting trucks off of Grand Avenue, preserving St. Saviour's Church and is a community representative for the Kosciuszko Bridge project. For these issues Markey was MIA!

Marge Markey's qualifications: Wife of a clubhouse judge, Director of Marketing & Tourism under Claire Shulman. Her Assembly committee assignments:

Committee on House Operations, Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection, Committee on Governmental Operations, Committee on Labor, Committee on Racing and Wagering, Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development.

Are there any farms or farm issues in the 30th District? That committee on Tourism: how many tourists were attracted to Maspeth, Corona, and Woodside by the efforts of this committee? What did the tourists visit and how much did they spend?

As for the Committee on Racing and Wagering, is it a serious conflict of interest for committee member Markey to be holding events at O'Neill's, one of just three restaurants in Queens to operate an OTB Betting operation? They have had the right to operate for ten years. That's nearly as long as Markey has held office.

Tony is a down-to-earth, long-time resident of Maspeth and is approachable by any resident of Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, or Woodside who needs some help. He will do whatever he can to assist. Ask yourself what Marge Markey has ever done to solve your problems. Have you ever seen how she conducts herself at community meetings? You can't because she never shows up.

Miracle of miracles! There is a contest for the NY State Senate seat of District 15. Joe Addabbo, a soon to be term-limited City Council Member from Ozone Park, will be on the November 4th Ballot as the Democrat challenger to current Senate incumbent Serphin Maltese. Maltese has been an office holder since 1989. Until the election of 2006, in which Albert Baldeo came within 700 votes of ousting him, Maltese was a product of the Republican/Democrat deal to allow an incumbent to run again unopposed, as long as his party also either puts up a sure loser or no challenger at all.

When deciding your choice for this State Senate race, keep in mind that Maltese hired Dennis Gallagher as his own chief of staff, and, later, after Gallagher's assault became public, Maltese never spoke a single public word of condemnation of Gallagher. Politics first, it seems. Have to keep that council seat in Republican hands.

This past June, Anthony Como, Republican, and another staffer for Maltese, narrowly won the District 30 Council seat against three other contenders. Democrat Elizabeth Crowley was defeated by Como by nearly 30 votes. A number of voters believed that Como was the son of the former governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of current NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo ‒ the actual son of the former governor. Many elderly voters cooed their admiration of Como's father, and Como never corrected the mistaken identity.

Well, he won. He kept Gallagher's office. He kept Gallagher's staff. Como has accomplished nothing since the time he took the oath of office in July. Except that, his very first activity once sworn in was to meet with ‒ not constituents ‒ no, he met with Bill Driscoll, a partner with the Parkside Group, a New York public relations company with extensive real estate and developer interests that actively worked to get St. Saviour's torn down. Before the election, Como said he was committed to rebuilding St. Saviour's and opening it for the community. He promised he would allocate money toward St. Saviour's and missed our June meeting in order to work on the budget, but when the budget came out, there was not a penny for St. Saviour's.

Como has a home right near Gallagher's; an oversized hulk with nearly 30 building violations and as many as 10 Stop Work Orders ‒ which he violated ‒ both before and after his taking the oath of office to obey all laws and do what's in the best interest of his constituents. So, we have a lawmaker/lawbreaker on the taxpayer payroll, deciding what you can or cannot do, while deciding that laws are meaningless.

It is right to question the judgment of Maltese, who gave us both Gallagher and Como.

So, it is also right to take a good look at Joe Addabbo to replace Maltese in the senate, and at Elizabeth Crowley to replace Anthony Como in the City Council.

It's time to take control. To shake up political expectations. Let the too-cozy politicians know that your vote is not in the tank.

Let's have a breath of fresh air.