Democratic state senators in two heavily Jewish districts in Brooklyn and Queens could find themselves duking it out this fall if proposed redistricting lines become law. But two of the senators insisted the proposals would be changed by Election Day.
“This is a proposal by a technician who doesn’t understand the consequences,” huffed Sen. Carl Kruger, whose heavily white south Brooklyn district has been carved up under new lines released by a legislative task force in Albany last week.
Those lines would leave Kruger, who lives in Mill Basin, with a choice of running in a mostly minority district that includes East New York, or fighting it out with Sen. Seymour Lachman of Bensonhurst for a newly created district.
That proposed district, the 25th, would be perhaps the most Jewish in the state, encompassing both Borough Park and Flatbush, which are now in separate Senate districts. The creation of such a district would be good news for former City Councilman Noach Dear, who has been watching with an eye toward his first campaign for state office.
“Noach is the wild card,” said one Jewish political observer, envisioning a three-way Jewish battle.
Dear called the district a “very supportive base” and said he was forming a committee to run.
The proposed changes are seen as giving the Senate’s Republican majority a shot at capturing another downstate seat by carving out a district including such GOP strongholds as Marine Park and Gerretsen Beach, in which a candidate — believed to be Bay Ridge City Councilman Martin Golden — could run.
Kruger said the new lines would either be revised by the Senate or challenged in court: Critics say the changes create too much disparity in the populations of upstate and downstate districts. Yet regardless of what lines eventually emerge, Kruger said he’ll seek re-election even if it means taking on Lachman or Dear. Lachman was out of town and could not be reached.
“I will look for the district in which I will best be able to run,” said Kruger, a four-term veteran.
In Queens, a proposed new district would pit Sen. Dan Hevesi, who represents Forest Hills, Rego Park and other areas, against his neighbor, Toby Ann Stavisky, of Flushing. Hevesi also dismissed the proposed lines as a “first draft.”
He said the last redistricting proposal in the early ‘90s pitted his predecessor, Emmanuel Gold, against Stavisky’s predecessor, her late husband, Leonard Stavisky. The change never came to pass.
“There could be legal action, and should be legal action,” said Hevesi, son of the former city comptroller, Alan Hevesi.
In a statement, Stavisky said she “look[s] forward to continuing to represent my neighbors in the 16th District.”
# Another proposed change would shift Democratic Upper West Side Sen. Eric Schneiderman — a frequent thorn in the GOP’s side — from his white, heavily Jewish base into a largely minority Bronx district.r
No one expects Jewish social services to emerge unscathed from Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s budget axe.
But some have “significant concerns” about his proposal, unveiled on Feb. 13.
“We anticipate having a fair share of the cuts, but we don’t want it to be disproportionate,” said William Rapfogel of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
Ron Soloway, UJA-Federation’s vice president for governmental relations, says a combination of cuts could be a body blow to the charity’s subsidiary agencies.
“This is a new mayor and we know he is still learning about human services in this city,” said Soloway. “We understand that he is in a very difficult situation, but we have significant concerns.”
They include the proposed elimination of a $2.5 million program that provides case-management services and referrals to the elderly through local community councils; the proposed closure of three senior centers run by the Jewish Association of Services for the Aged, and a 20 percent cut in funding initiatives doled out by the borough presidents and City Council members. “We understand that we may have to come up with alternatives,” said Soloway, “but we are looking forward to a conversation [with the administration], and we have been promised one.”
Concern about programs for the Jewish elderly was not helped last week by the firing of two senior Jewish officials at the city’s Department For The Aged.
Deputy Commissioner Michael Rabin and Assistant Commissioner Anita Kramer were dismissed by incoming Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago. In a statement, the commissioner said only that the two served at his discretion and he looked forward to “reinvigorating the department.” Rabin was an 11-year veteran, and Kramer had nearly six years at the agency.
One Jewish communal leader noted the disproportionate number of Jewish elderly in the city. “DFTA is one of the most important agencies to the Jewish community,” said the leader. “The question is, who is around who understands that?”
David Stern, executive vice president of JASA, said he understood that the budget problems were inherited by the Bloomberg administration.
“Certainly the new commissioner didn’t have much time to manage these cuts,” he said.
But Stern pointed out that during last year’s mayoral race, Charlotte Bloomberg, the mayor’s elderly mother, had visited the Brighton Beach Senior Center to promise voters that her son would protect senior programs. That center is now among those slated to be closed.
“There’s a certain irony here,” said Stern.
A former fund-raiser for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who says he’s coming out of retirement on behalf of H. Carl McCall’s gubernatorial bid, is making a concerted pitch to Jewish donors.
In a recently mailed solicitation, Steve Mann cites McCall’s early support of Israel with a group of prominent blacks following the 1975 “Zionism is Racism” resolution at the UN. “He has continued through all these years to be an active supporter of Israel, without regard to how it would play in what other people (but not him) are characterizing as his ‘base,’ ” writes Mann.
A Manhattan mortgage lawyer, Mann said he wrote the letter because he was “outraged” that some Democrats have thrown their support behind McCall’s Democratic rival, Andrew Cuomo, simply because he has raised more money.
“There is something perverted about that, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned,” said Mann “I think Democrats should select the best candidate, then worry about the money.”
A former aide to Gov. George Pataki is reportedly boasting that he used his influence with state Republicans to form the proposed district lines adverse to Sen. Hevesi.
Jeff Wiesenfeld, a former executive assistant to the governor, now a vice president at Bernstein Investments, has had a longstanding feud with the Hevesi family of unclear origin. When Wiesenfeld was appointed to the CUNY Board of Trustees, Hevesi was the only lone dissenter in the Senate confirmation process, calling Wiesenfeld “unfit.”
A Jewish leader said he had “heard Jeff tell people that he had something to do with [the redistricting proposal].”
When asked for comment, Hevesi cut off a question at the mention of Wiesenfeld’s name. “I don’t even want to hear it. I could care less.”
Wiesenfeld’s comment: “Toby Stavisky will be a wonderful senator, and it will be great to see her represent a larger area.”
The director of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, Richard Sheirer, will step down on March 31, according to the PoliticsNY.com site. Sheirer had said he wanted to stay on the job until the Ground Zero recovery was complete and OEM had a new command center, neither of which is likely to happen by then.
The Web site said Sheirer will join numerous former officials now working at Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s consulting firm, nicknamed the “government in exile” by political wags.