10 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 18, 2013 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT www.queenscourier.com politics s Candidates focus on development at BP forum BY TERENCE M. CULLEN email@example.com Questions regarding development at Willets Point, directed mainly at three of the six candidates, became a significant part of a recent forum for borough president. Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie, State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella, former Councilmember and Assemblymember Melinda Katz and former Deputy BP Barry Grodenchik took the stage at the Friday, April 12 meeting, co-hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and St. John’s University. Specific questions were directed at each candidate, with Comrie, Vallone and Peralta each addressing how, if elected, he would reshape the area known as the Iron Triangle. Peralta harkened on making Queens a destination location – a policy of incumbent Helen Marshall. With the planned “Tech Campus” coming to Roosevelt Island, Peralta suggested pushing for a tech sector near Willets Point. But affordable housing and better infrastructure are the first step, he said. Comrie, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, said he’s open to re-exploring a convention center at Willets Point. He also mentioned a potential center at Aqueduct, where Governor Andrew Cuomo had originally proposed one. “We really need a convention center for the borough,” Comrie said, adding better transportation options would need to be explored for south Queens if convention center talks resurged. Vallone said Queens residents, in a recent poll, would like to see full-gaming in the borough at Resorts World Casino New York City. The councilmember, however, is also open to a convention center or further retail shops at the site. But, he said, it would have to be the community’s call on what goes there. There is about 4.5 millionsquare feet of Willets Point the city plans on developing over the next few decades, once the projects on either side of Citi Field are completed. The borough president’s role in Queens, better transportation and small business growth were also hot topics at the businessfocused forum. Traditionally, a Beep has been branded a “cheerleader” for Queens, but most felt it was more than that. Grodenchik said he viewed the role as a leader and if elected, he wanted more to be “the quarterback of Queens.” Katz, who chaired the Land Use Committee before Comrie, touted her record of working across the city and what it takes to be borough president. “You should be able to create an economic vision for the borough of Queens,” she said. “I think it’s important to span that throughout the borough.” State Senator Tony Avella said the borough president needed to also serve as a public advocate for the diverse neighborhoods, and the “mom and pop” small businesses who often get hit with city fines. LATEST ENDORSEMENTS THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan Four of five Democrats running for mayor debated last week at a forum in Queens College. RACE TO GRACIE MANSION Democratic candidates tackle tough issues BY MELISSA CHAN firstname.lastname@example.org Four of five Democrats running for mayor would do away with stop-and-frisk or severely tweak it if they make it to Gracie Mansion. City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and ex-Comptroller Bill Thompson said they were opposed to the controversial police tactic at a Queens mayoral debate last week. Former Councilmember Sal Albanese said it needed to be modified. Front-runner City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was a no-show at the April 11 forum and has not publicly announced her stance on the issue. “You think you’re reading about some third world dictatorship, not America and certainly not the City of New York,” Liu said. “It has to be abolished. That’s the way to . . . return our city to a state where it’s less of a police state and more of a city that we all came to America to see.” The four candidates said the NYPD policy has caused rifts between police and communities. Liu, de Blasio and Thompson lambasted the practice as racial profiling. “Somehow they’re being treated as suspects as a whole class of people,” de Blasio said of young minority males. The public advocate also supported a plan to allow an inspector general to monitor the city’s police department. He and Thompson called for a new police commissioner, a mayoral appointment, to replace current department head Ray CITY COUNCIL: The New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO endorsed another round of City Council candidates, all of whom for Queens are running for relection: City Council District 20: Peter Koo City Council District 23: Mark Weprin City Council District 25: Daniel Dromm City Council District 26: Jimmy Van Bramer Kelly. “Stop and frisk, when used correctly, is a useful policing tool,” Thompson said. “But it has been misused and abused by Bloomberg and by Commissioner Ray Kelly.” Albanese said he would keep the policy in tact but would “focus on quality stops” and officer training. He also supported legalizing marijuana, but did not say if he would give Kelly the boot. The mayoral hopefuls also discussed the city’s “abysmal” response to Sandy, the need to repair the public school system and plans to fix the city’s income gap. Liu and de Blasio were in favor of hiking city taxes on incomes of more than $500,000 annually. Thompson said focusing on skill development in public schools would help close the city’s income gap. “I always talk about the ‘tale of two cities’ we’re living,” de Blasio said. “It’s right in front of our eyes, these vast disparities that are going unaddressed.” Albanese touted the 1996 passage of the New York City Living Wage Bill under his City Council tenure. But he warned against raising taxes on the wealthy, saying it would push the rich out of the city. “It’s very sexy to say, ‘Let’s tax the rich.’ Bottom line is we want to generate revenue from services,” he said. Liu, who wants to increase minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, said there was no evidence of wealthy residents hightailing it out of the city. “I think it’s time that we stop holding our city hostage to those kinds of ideas,” he said. BOROUGH PRESIDENT: Former Public Advocate and 2001 Democratic mayoral candidate Mark Green endorsed former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik. The League of Humane Voters of New York City and New York State endorsed State Senator Tony Avella.
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