Green grades


EPL/Environmental Advocates awarded Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz with a score of 97, the highest possible score in its 2012 voter’s guide, for his voting record on environmental issues. That puts him in first place among New York City Assembly members.

Our local Senators did not fare as well.

State Sen. Jeff Klein received a 35 and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat got an incomplete (he missed a bunch of votes whilst running for Congress). State Sen. Gustavo Rivera scored a 74, down from his 99 last year. Mr. Rivera is far above the Senate average of 45 and Mr. Klein’s score is just about that of the Senate Republicans, who averaged a 33. Senate Democrats averaged 61.

Overall, the EPL was not satisfied with the 2012 legislative session.

“The 2012 session could have been a big year for big issues. From fair redistricting to limits on campaign contributions, we were supposed to see important changes in the way business is conducted in the capitol. But these good government reforms came up short  — much like the environmental agenda,” reads the intro to the EPL voter guide.

The grades are based on how legislators voted on certain bills the EPL believes to be pro- or anti-environment.

Mr. Klein’s voted for a bill that will allow the New York Power Authority to buy up coal plants to help boost the state’s energy and create jobs, significantly lowered his score. That bill passed the Senate with many Democrats voting for it, but was not introduced in the Assembly. Mr. Klein also voted for a bill that expands the definition of “all terrain vehicles,” which the EPL says will allow large environmentally damaging off-road vehicles to be registered in the state as ATVs.

EPL is a nonprofit corporation that has been advocating for environmental issues in New York for more than 40 years.


Missing a right wing

Every one of our local state legislators is facing a challenge from either a Republican or Conservative candidate in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. But is it a challenge?

The short answer is no. There are 448,995 active registered Democrats in the Bronx, compared to 39,336 Republicans and 2,837 Conservatives.

But it doesn’t seem like any of the right-wing candidates are even mounting a campaign against local Democrats. Finding the candidates has been a chore because some of them don’t want to be found. They don’t have websites and don’t show any signs of running even small, grass-roots campaigns.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democrat, is being challenged by Conservative Judith Kunz, a Riverdalian. When reached at her home and asked if she was running for Assembly District 81, she replied, “Technically, yes.”

She said she was a member of the Conservative Party and that William Newmark, the Bronx Conservative Party boss, wanted a name on the ballot.

She declined an interview request and the very brief conversation ended with her saying she’s not running a campaign.

“I’m not putting any work into this,” she said.


Odd couple

Looks like former state Sen. Pedro Espada and his lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, are forced to stick together for Mr. Espada’s next trial. According to news reports, Mr. Hocheiser asked Judge William Pauley III to allow him to withdraw from the case recently, saying he was not getting paid by Mr. Espada. In a hearing last week, Mr. Espada also said he wanted to part ways with Mr. Hochheiser because he felt the lawyer was not adequately representing him.

Judge Pauley said no way — and told the two they would have to stay together for the trial.

Mr. Espada is charged with lying to government agencies and submitting false tax returns. 

“Mr. Espada’s complaints about his counsel are not credible,” Judge Pauley said last week, according to The New York Times.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Guy Fawkes Day, Monday, Nov. 5.


Not so great debate?

It looked like President Barack Obama was winning last week’s debate at Northwest Bronx for Change’s fund raiser/ debate watching party at Oregano Bar & Bistro, based on the laughs and applause of those in attendance.

But in a room of like-minded Democrats, what most people have said was a big loss for Mr. Obama seemed to go unnoticed.

Organizer of the event, Northwest Bronx for Change’s Jacki Fischer said she thought he was doing fine.

“I knew he wasn’t hitting the ball out of the park, but I didn’t realize it was so bad,” she said.

She said when she got home and watched clips of the debate, she realized he “didn’t do that great.”

Admission to the debate watching party was a $50 contribution to the Obama for America campaign. Many local pols and leaders attended the event, including Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Rep. Eliot Engel, City Council candidate Cliff Stanton and possible City Council candidate Andrew Cohen.

Ms. Fischer said they raised more than $7,000. Northwest Bronx for Change plans to host another fund raiser and debate watching party on Monday, Oct. 22.

Another debate watching party took place at the Bronx Ale House last week, which was attended by a small group of Kingsbridge Heights residents. Though the sound was coming through a radio slightly behind the television feed, the attendees didn’t seem to mind.

Karen Argenti is hosting another party for the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan at the Bronx Ale House on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m. 


Jeffs bill signed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week signed Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz’s and state Sen. Jeff Klein’s legislation to protect drivers from predatory ticketing.

The law will help drivers avoid getting hefty parking tickets at Muni-Meters if they are in the process of paying for the electronic parking pass.

“Today, we’re kicking road rage to the curb,” Mr. Klein said in a press release.


Paterson at MC

Former Gov. David Paterson will speak about student loans with Manhattan College students on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Mr. Paterson will participate in a lunchtime talk with students and faculty. The talk is sponsored by Manhattan College’s School of Business and will take place at the Alumni Room at the Mary Alice and Tom O’Malley Library, at noon. The public is invited to attend.


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