Author Topic: City Council Candidates Forum  (Read 12255 times)

Offline causidicus

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #30 on: April 23, 2009, 08:40:38 PM »
For video of Council Member Helen Sears getting her wet rag into a twist (again, her words) over my basic question about her responsiveness to constituents:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M0bnEd0Z7c&feature=channel_page

The Daily News has also linked to this video ("Councilwoman Helen Sears got a little upset at a JFK Democratic Club meeting" at http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/).


Offline CupcakeTownie

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #31 on: April 23, 2009, 08:55:12 PM »
And to think she was avoiding the media!  LOL.  It's going to be a great summer!

 :rockon:
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Offline willsweeney

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2009, 04:33:18 PM »
From Queens Courier: http://www.queenscourier.com/articles/2009/04/22/news/local/doc49ef3e3954554618004993.txt
by Claudia Cruz

First candidate forum for District 25
Three City Council candidates face off in debate


From the tone of the first candidate forum, District 25 incumbent Councilmember Helen Sears has her work cut out for her.

“Here’s an example of walking the walk and talking the talk,” said challenger Daniel Dromm about Sears’ efforts to help the disabled community in the district. “Helen’s district office is not even handicap accessible.”


Dromm, a district leader in Jackson Heights, and fellow candidate Stanley Kalathara, a business owner, lawyer, and president of Indo-American Democratic Committee, did not mince words when describing Sears’ work in the district for the last eight years.

Sears, who has represented parts of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Rego Park, Woodside, and Corona, spent more time defending her record on issues such as the local economy, education, crime, youth and recreation, and Con Ed, among others, than talking about her goals if re-elected.

Sears pointed to her years on the transportation committee in the City Council and how she helped get medallion taxis to become wheelchair accessible. She highlighted her continuous battle for a ramp at the Jackson Heights Post Office and the success of getting an elevator in the 74th Street/Roosevelt subway station.

“It took 15 years to get an elevator in there,” she said. “It works and it doesn’t, but it’s better than what we had.”

Dromm pointed to his history of standing up for special education students and working with the 82nd Street Business Improvement District to get ramps in front of stores. Stanley Kalathara said concisely, “I agree with both and I’ll do a better job.”

The friendly banter between the three out of five candidates – Alfonso Quiroz and Mujib Rahman did not attend – kept the approximately 50 intergenerational and international crowd engaged. Assemblymember Jose Peralta, who publicly endorsed Dromm this past March, yielded his time to audience questions.

“What are you going to do about getting a high school in the district?” asked one person. “Would you vote for resolution 245 that grants the right to vote for non-citizens?” asked another. “Why did you vote against the lead paint resolution?”

More than once Sears found herself on her own. She said that Ivan Lafayette had led the charge for a new high school but that “geographically we’ve got no space.” Kalathara responded that Sears was “always shifting responsibility,” and Dromm said that it was important to be creative like building up or consider eminent domain.

Both Kalathara and Dromm favor the passage of resolution 245. Sears responded, “I’m here to tell you that I’m not sure where I’m on this. I haven’t given it much consideration.”

A heated debated ensued over Sears’ vote against the lead poisoning bill of 2004.

“Yes, I was one of the few who voted against and I’ll tell you the same thing I said then ‘It’s absurd that I’d want lead in children,’” said Sears, who said the city has targeted areas where incidents of lead poisoning was high versus applying the law to the entire city. She instead favored a law that would ban the importing toys from countries with no lead bill. “The fact is that it was a very bad bill.”

Dromm and Kalathara agreed that Sears had not done enough. “You see, this is what politicians do, politics as usual. Just give an answer, did you support or not support,” said Kalathara. “I don’t really think you focus on the community.”

After the forum, the feedback from the crowd was consistent.

One 30-year resident of Jackson Heights, who did not want to give her name, said that Kalathara was funny and that despite voting for Sears in the past, this year she’ll vote for Dromm.

Mary Jo Brookes, a resident of Jackson Heights for 19 years, thought the candidates did well. “They gave good answers,” she said.

Bing Wong, a resident of Elmhurst for 20 years, said that Kalathara’s statements would make people remember him. He then added more analysis on the forum.

“Helen Sears did not do a good job,” Wong said. “But the [Queens County Democratic] Party must support her. She’s the incumbent.”

Offline Chuckster

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #33 on: April 24, 2009, 04:49:46 PM »
Sears, who has represented parts of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Rego Park, Woodside, and Corona, spent more time defending her record on issues such as the local economy, education, crime, youth and recreation, and Con Ed, among others, than talking about her goals if re-elected.

This is the pretty much the same thing that happened at this past Monday's Candidates' Forum.  I remember her saying something along the lines of having unfinished business to tackle in a new term.  She wasn't specific though.
The Chuckster has spoken!

Offline v70cat

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2009, 06:42:53 PM »
A heated debated ensued over Sears’ vote against the lead poisoning bill of 2004.

“Yes, I was one of the few who voted against and I’ll tell you the same thing I said then ‘It’s absurd that I’d want lead in children,’” said Sears, who said the city has targeted areas where incidents of lead poisoning was high versus applying the law to the entire city. She instead favored a law that would ban the importing toys from countries with no lead bill. “The fact is that it was a very bad bill.”

The Lead Bill was a bad law and she was right, but what has she done for the community?

Offline causidicus

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2009, 09:06:53 PM »
Only Helen Sears, one other Democrat, and the Republicans on City Council voted against the lead paint bill.  Among the Democrats, the bill had near unanimous support.

As for what Council Member Sears has done for individual constituents, I cannot say.  Since I have been living in the community, I have had great difficulty getting any response from her.  I have heard the same from many other neighbors. 

Offline willsweeney

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum Videos
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2009, 11:41:26 PM »
See for yourself. Hear from the candidates in their own words.
Videos from the JFK Democratic Club's City Council Candidates Night are now online at:

www.youtube.com/SunshineCouncil

In order of appearance

Stanley Kalathara
Introduction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFlatGRW7l8
Question & Answer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhVoyf3vMiY

Helen Sears

Introduction 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH8McgBb2gs
Introduction 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnWpnxLIqDw
Question & Answer 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-6KSXgW9js
Question & Answer 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0cmCwKVMlE

Alfonso Quiroz
Introduction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSXBerHQYsE
Question & Answer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it38M-4LCac

Daniel Dromm
Introduction 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNhnkGg2u14&feature=channel
Introduction 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zgNu82yUnQ&feature=channel
Question & Answer 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfFe93amSVw&feature=channel
Question & Answer 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypx8-q8V_go

**thanks to Cupcake Townie for shooting this footage with me**

note: youtube.com only allows clips that are under 10 minutes long. we had to split the Helen Sears and Daniel Dromm videos in half to accomodate.

Offline CupcakeTownie

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #37 on: April 25, 2009, 09:22:53 AM »
After spending some time studying the videos and the information and insight provided, I have to say that I'm a little concerned about the possibility of Helen Sears ending up in any elected office.

Borough President?  Yikes! Say it ain't so!

Does she have the backing of the Democratic Party and if she cedes her campaign to Quiroz (as was suggested might happen) will he? That seems highly doubtful of course. Since I'm only nominally a party member, and unaccustomed to party politics, I can only say that it seems like the Party would rather pick a winner than play loyalty games.

I can't think of any elected position she would be good for, though I'm sure she'll do fine as appointed to some position where she doesn't have to interact with the public or be held accountable to voters.

However, some of the positions that she holds on resolutions regarding Patriot Act, Death Penalty, etc., seem not convictions on her part but rather opportunistic singalongs (note how she insists in the videos that she has never been "for" the death penalty). Since I was living in SoCal in 2000, I cannot account for what her position on term limits was then, or what has been before or since--until, that is, she lined up the Mayor. That action certainly turned me from a hand-sitter into something else (ahem) who will have a summer of unemployment to spend on a course of action...and when they did that (and when people like Monserrate sold out the small-businesses and workers at Willets Point) and with the deepening destruction and theft through eminent domain abuse, I woke from my slumber like an angry monster (albeit one named Cupcake).

To pursue my point about her opportunism, my suspicion is only now trying to adjust her sails by "meandering" language that allows her some "plausible deniability" about things that yesterday were probably too hot to think clearly about. So much of post911 political rhetoric (and, sadly, legislative and judicial action) seems caught up in that. I think of the case of the treatment of Ward Churchill--until Stanley Fish's recent deconstruction of the Churchill affair (http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/ward-churchill-redux/) and also the discussion of domestic surveillance, torture, etc.  I think it's rather difficult to know what someone thinks when they simply say what they think the prevailing views will hold on the matter.

And the quote that the questioner, identified on this board as causidicus, read from the New York Times certainly referred to constituents, even granting (perhaps) that the reference was indirect, understood. She never did explain what (or to whom) she was referring in that quote, but my guess is that in the charged atmosphere of City Hall the sense of feeling embattled may read differently than it does from outside, and so the expectations of discourse within that environment would enable her to rat-out her angry peeps back home.  She insinuates this often, not only in her attack on causidicus and some random points she made up and then attributed to him, but over and over:  that electing someone into a secret society does not mean you have a right to oversee (or even know about, apparently) what is going on there. At the end of the embarrassing diatribe, she says that with the "meandering" and "when the truth is twisted like a wet rag" we are to "expect a response." The irony of course is there for anyone to see, and if you study her language close enough you'll find more than a few self-incriminations like that.

Another point in that brief video that I found terribly upsetting was her admission that while her office is open from 9-5, her staff was still there (it was at least 8:30 by that point) and that while they were only open during business hours often work overtime without pay. This public admission ought to be investigated, but my sense is that these staffers, like many public employees, keep long hours but are salaried with job descriptions to match. Still, she is the one who said they "didn't take" the overtime they are, apparently, owed.

She meanders, too. Wow!  Not a good public speaker. IF she's good at making the legislative sausage, or if she's bringin' home the bacon, then I want to hear the inside skinny. What is she negotiating that she's too busy not to be accountable to her constituents? (That is, what is she giving up to get this co-called pork?) Her point might have been a good one: I'm busy, I have people to help sort out input suggestions and inquiries from people in the district! But if her staff is not able to even sent out a letter of acknowledgment (as is typical in my experience, even when I've written to representatives out of state) then we have a problem of organization. I can't get a response to a question--even a referral (most recently, I asked for information about how I might work locally on issue-X, looking for neighborhood leaders on issue-X) but other people are tying up her staff with requests that may not be served based on the merits. How do we even know? If she wants to do anything more than rep the 25th, she had better hire an image consultant and a speechwriter or handler. She was there, as far as I could tell, alone, but should have had someone giving her signals, especially since more than once she became a little unhinged.

She is the one who should expect a response.


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Offline Queenskid

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2009, 12:00:22 PM »
What we tend to forget is that the district doesn't begin on 69th Street and end at Junction Boulevard.  It extends south through Elmhurst, Lefrak City and into Rego Park.  Sears has always done well in the southern part of the district.  CupcakeTownie, Sears may seem like a loser when it comes to Jackson Heights, but the County leadership will back her if they think she can hold her own here and win big in the densely populated parts of the southern end.  I much prefer Dromm, although I have been critical of his decision to back Monserrate over Sabini, something Sears is guilty of too.  But Dromm has to be careful not to fall into the trap other Jackson Heights candidates have fallen into.  Just because you're popular on 77th Street doesn't mean you can compete in Lefrak City where hundreds of people have to just go downstairs to the building basement to vote.  If Dromm runs, and I'm not sure he will if County backs Sears, this will be a very tough race.

Offline causidicus

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #39 on: April 25, 2009, 02:23:13 PM »
Right-on analysis, Cupcake.  Instead of implying that I was lying, why didn't Sears just address the issue?  I obviously touched a nerve.

As for other parts of the district, Queenskid, you are right that it will be a challenge for Dromm.  However, I think Dromm can do the work to overcome any perceived obstacles.  Knowledge is power, and I think Dromm's success depends on his ability to inform and connect with voters outside Jackson Heights.  It's not like Sears is any more responsive to Lefrak than to Jackson Heights.

Dromm is completely serious about representing the 25th District.  Compare his performance--substance, tone, energy--with the other candidates' at the last two events.  What you see Sears, Quiroz, and the County organization doing is a dance.  Like all good dancers, they get so into what they are doing that they forget about the rest of the world, in this case, the residents of the community.  There are many other perceptive posters who have caught on, so review previous posts if you want to see what I mean.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2009, 02:31:09 PM by causidicus »

Offline Aronan

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #40 on: April 25, 2009, 02:29:20 PM »
Dromm also has the support and endorsements of many popular elected officials in the district. Their support of him plus their work on his behalf in other areas of the district will be a big boon to his campaign. County endorsement or not, with the elected official Dromm already has behind him it's entirely possible he could win without County.
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single man can inspire to victory an army of
thousands. If one concerned with ordinary gain can
create such an effect, how much more will be produced by one who cares for greater things ?" -Chunag Tse

Offline CupcakeTownie

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #41 on: April 25, 2009, 03:56:48 PM »
Queenskid, thanks for comments and insight, which are helpful for me as I am trying to figure all this out. In my day job I deal with people from different parts of the borough, so I realize that Jackson Heights is rather special and not because it's the next hot neighborhood for folks west of the East River or south of Newtown Creek. I know only a little about Tony Avella, but what I do know about him, and what I know about parts of his district, including Bayside, Whitestone, etc., make me wonder how he ever got elected. I guess when I imagine the work ahead this summer I'm thinking of these areas like Lefrak City. (How are the elevators there, folks? Perhaps we should check that place out some hot summer night...I used to know someone who worked in the city building there and she said the elevators were frequently out. I'd be interested to attend a larger 25th Dist meeting where issues there were discussed. I guess Daniel Dromm and all of the candidates have platforms that address the needs there and other parts of the dist. which are very different from JH. Lets hear about that. Seems to me that folks in JH are doing -- relatively, anyhow -- pretty well. I know, for example, that the library branch at Lefrak is in a basement which floods frequently, etc. Compare that to fancy new community centers and branch libraries. While obviously LIC/Queensbridge deserved theirs, and the Langston Hughes Community Center is one of the most amazing places in the borough--and the people there much deserve such resources--I can imagine that there are a laundry list of issues/concerns in places like Lefrak that I, at least, would do well to know more about.  I never see anything about that place on more, um, conservative blogs like Queenscrap, but perhaps I'm missing something there. Perhaps the next meeting some of these more particular issues -- such as the hospital closings which came up in the first meeting -- affecting Lefrak -- will come up and Dromm, Sears and the others will have the chance to be more specific...

I used to live as a Company Townie, but now I am living in Cupcake Town.

Offline Queenskid

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #42 on: April 25, 2009, 07:05:12 PM »
Dromm also has the support and endorsements of many popular elected officials in the district. Their support of him plus their work on his behalf in other areas of the district will be a big boon to his campaign. County endorsement or not, with the elected official Dromm already has behind him it's entirely possible he could win without County.

Aronan, if County backs Sears, I'm not sure those endorsements will stick.  The Queens Democrats run a tight ship and not too many elected officials will take them on--witness the way they caved on Sabini when County went with Monserrate.  With respect to Lefrak, a lot of strange things can happen in that place on election day.

Offline Brian

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #43 on: April 25, 2009, 11:52:13 PM »
We must stop Helen Sears from being re-elected.  Look at the traffic and sanitation condition on 73rd and 74st.  it is totally mess and the community has asked her to deal with the issue for a long time.  She never ever tried to resolve the issue.  We asked her to stop over development of the area by the merchants but she continued to favor the merchants over the residents.  SHE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT RESIDENTS. 

Ms. Sears, what happened to the traffic study from 2007 summer???    We are still waiting for the result to come out and act on the issue based on the study.

Offline crocketnyc

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Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2009, 12:21:05 AM »
Having Ms. Sears on government payroll is a waste of precious taxpayer dollars.  The tax free ad she sent to the entire district was another waste (those state of the district campaign letters should be outlawed no matter who is in office).  That newsletter was all fluff.   I especially chuckled when she was responsible for safer streets (yeah in the last year there have been significant crimes on Roosevelt Ave).

Graffiti is such that it almost rivals the 1970s (or least on its way there).  There are more empty stores than in the previous five years.   The MTA's new subway at Roosevelt still looks like a hellhole if you look at the corner of Roosevelt and 75th St.  Why is the MTA allowed to have that corner boarded up for the last four years?   

It would better to have a vacant seat for the next four years than for her reelection. 

Jackson Heights Life

Re: City Council Candidates Forum
« Reply #44 on: April 26, 2009, 12:21:05 AM »