Friday, December 5, 2008

City Council Race for 32 CD - From the Editor's Desk - Commentary By Howard Schwach - The Rockaway Wave

The ascension of City Councilman Joe Addabbo to the State Senate on January 1 has left a vacuum of sorts in the council, and there is nothing that politicians love more than a seat without an incumbent.

That means there will be lots of candidates vying for the vacant seat in the upcoming February election.

I would love to tell you when that election will be held, but that is up to the mayor and he can't make an announcement about the special election until the seat is officially vacant come the first of the year.

These special elections are strange in the sense that they are supposed to be non-partisan. That means no party affiliations allowed. Each candidate chooses to name his or her line, something that he or she believes is descriptive of that candidacy.

This is an election that is literally up for grabs by anybody who can spark some interest on the part of the electorate.

And, while nobody has yet officially begun collecting the necessary petition signatures to get on the February ballot, there are a number of people who have strongly indicated that they plan to run.

There are the usual suspects, but there are also some newcomers that we haven't seen before.

Let's take a look at the possibilities and perhaps add a little of the "morning line" to each of the candidates who may or may not actually join the race.

Frank Gulluscio:
Gulluscio would be the Democratic Party's candidate if there were party involvement in the special election. He worked in Rockaway for some time as an executive assistant to Addabbo, and he knows the territory even though he will be considered a "mainland candidate" by most Rockaway residents. Gulluscio, even without party backing (wink, nod) is still a solid favorite, especially if he can get mainland voters, who tend not to show up in great numbers for such elections, involved this time around.

Lew Simon:
The perennial candidate and perennial loser that many Rockaway residents look to for assistance when they have problems with city government. As the Democratic District Leader, Simon has been everywhere in Rockaway and done many things. One of his problems, from my point of view, is that he takes credit for everything, even things he has never done. I joke that I have covered Simon for 20 years and he has never once told me the truth, but that statement is closer to fact than funny.

Some of his lies are small, like the one where he claims total credit for removing the toll from the Cross Bay Bridge or when he says that he personally closed a crack house in Far Rockaway. Some are large. For example, Simon once came to The Wave with a lawyer claiming that he was going to sue the paper for saying that he was not a licensed teacher. He brought a phony, Xerox copy of a teacher's license with his name typed on the front. A quick check revealed that he was not a teacher.

He also claimed on his resume that he is a graduate of Brooklyn College and that he has a master's in educational administration from Adelphi University. Checks at the time showed up the fact that he never graduated from college and that Adelphi never heard of him. Then, there was the 1989 case where Simon lied under oath before a New York State Department of Labor hearing in which he was attempting to collect unemployment insurance after leaving a Brooklyn Yeshiva where he had been teaching.

I have the verified transcript of the hearing. In it, Simon says that he had been a teacher for 17 years and that he taught for the Board of Education. He also swore under oath that he was a licensed teacher of English for grades K-6, all of which are lies. In fact, the K- 6 license is called a "Common Branch" license because there are no specific subjects attached to the license.

There are other problems with Simon's candidacy.

To my knowledge, and I have been covering his antics for 20 years, Simon has never managed to hold a job for more than a few weeks.

Mark Green once gave him a political job with the Department for the Aging. He lasted only a short time, and nobody at the agency would speak with me about why he had been fired. The question of how he lives without earning a salary becomes a legitimate question, should he run.

One more problem.

Recently, during the hearings about removing soil from the toxic dump site on Beach Channel Drive at Beach 108 Street, Simon was so over the top that the people from the State Department of Environmental Conservation were actually laughing at him.

I'm afraid that the same would be true should he be elected to the council. He would quickly become a laughingstock that would tar the council's relations with Rockaway for years to come.

Glenn DiResto:
The new guy in town, DiResto is a retired NYPD lieutenant who is dipping his toes in the political waters for the first time. Obviously, little is known about him, and we will learn more about his platform and ideas as the race moves ahead. He is a Rockaway person, with the usual local school credits and a bachelor's degree in business management from St. Joseph's College. For Rockaway residents, he may well be an alternative to the usual political hacks such as Simon and Geraldine Chapey.

Geraldine Chapey:
I am not sure that Chapey is running. She recently turned down a big-ticket, no-show job with the Workers' Compensation Board. Why did she turn that kind of political position down? I can only conjecture, because she no longer speaks with me, but the fact that she's received more than $1,000,000 in political contracts and political handouts over the past dozen years to run her one-van senior transportation service may well have something to do with it. Do I want to see her represent Rockaway? You've got to be kidding.

Eric Ulrich:
The lone professed Republican candidate in the race, Ulrich is a young mainland man who is the Republican District Leader. He knows little about Rockaway, although he has been here for some meetings and fundraisers. I don't know much about him except for the fact that he is a conservative Republican, and that is generally enough to know.

Is there anybody else out there who plans to run? Let me know, so I can discuss you in the next go-around in January.