Saturday, July 24, 2010

Addabbo Distrusts Paterson, and Espada's on the Ropes by Peter Mastrosimone - Queens Chronicle

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Reflecting the terrible state of relations between many politicians in Albany and the distrust lawmakers have of Gov. David Paterson in particular, state Sen. Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) last week revealed that he simply doesn’t trust the state’s chief executive anymore.

Addabbo was discussing the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking for short, with the Queens Chronicle when he said he couldn’t rely on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to determine if the controversial method of natural gas extraction is truly safe. The DEC is of course an executive branch agency that answers to the governor. Addabbo wants a moratorium on hydrofracking until it’s fully studied and determined to be safe or not.

“I’m sorry,” the senator added. “Anything the governor says, I don’t necessarily believe in.”

Ouch. And that’s from a freshman senator in Paterson’s own party.

Addabbo had plenty more to say during a wide-ranging, impromptu interview he granted several members of the Chronicle news staff last Thursday.

Asked about gay marriage, which he voted against last year, citing the feelings of about 75 percent of his constituents, he said that before it comes up again, he’ll conduct a reliable poll in his district to gauge public opinion. Before the last vote he just did an “impromptu” survey, he said. Next time he’ll also run the poll’s wording by members of the gay community.

“With the gay marriage issue, they didn’t like my impromptu poll,” Addabbo said. “I said, ‘When it comes up again, we’ll do a proper poll and the gay community can look at the questions.”

Addabbo is a centrist who represents a relatively conservative district. In his first run for re-election to the Senate, he’ll be facing Republican Anthony Como, the attorney who briefly held a City Council seat he then lost to Elizabeth Crowley last year.

Como waffled on whether he’d challenge Addabbo for some time — even admitting to the Chronicle that he would not run if hired for a six-figure job running the city Board of Elections, something pols usually keep quiet about. It’s hard to see how a candidate who could not even hold a council seat against a newcomer will beat someone with the reputation and name recognition wielded by Addabbo.

That’s all the more true when the top of the state Republican ticket is as weak as it will be in November, when former Rep. Rick Lazio will tilt at windmills by challenging state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for the governorship. Despite his frequent, solidly Republican statements, Lazio’s campaign has been lackluster at best. He even managed to get on the bad side of Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently by suggesting that those behind the mosque planned for Ground Zero should be investigated. Although some are not happy about the planned mosque, many saw that as an attack on religious freedom.

Just about the polar opposite to Addabbo is his fellow Democratic Sen. Pedro Espada of the Bronx, who is under investigation for allegedly enriching himself and his family with taxpayer dollars, and whom the Democratic Party wants to get rid of.

Espada played the race and religion cards this week, claiming during a press conference that God is on his side and declaring, “If you look brown and you’re an immigrant, you’re not supposed to have power.”

The senator is a native of Puerto Rico. He’s also someone who has directed millions of dollars in public funding to a healthcare network that paid members of his family handsomely. Saying the investigations of his activities are based on ethnic bias is unlikely to get him any further than it did the supporters of Aqueduct Entertainment Group, the Queens-based company that won and then lost the chance to redevelop and operate the Ozone Park racetrack.

AEG has gone to court over the state’s refusal to give it the Aqueduct contract. Espada will be in court soon too, but unlike AEG, he won’t be the plaintiff.