There’s no question that most Whitestone residents oppose a high school on the former Cresthaven Country Club property, but there is controversy over last week’s rally at the site.
Although the event was organized by Kim Cody, president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, emails and literature were sent out from the Paul Vallone campaign. Vallone is the Democratic candidate running for the 19th City Council seat being vacated by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who is not seeking re-election after being indicted on federal bribery charges.
Cody is angered that Vallone turned the legitimate concerns about a proposed high school on 150th Street near Fifth Avenue into a campaign rally. “Paul’s volunteers handed out press releases and no one else spoke,” he said. “We’re a nonpolitical civic and this should not have been a political rally.”
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced last week that the School Construction Authority is looking at the site, but a Department of Education spokesman said there are no definite plans, adding it was one of several locations being surveyed.
Cody said he informed Vallone about the issue and invited Dennis Saffran, the Republican candidate, to attend. “But Vallone took over at the rally and his campaign wasn’t happy Dennis showed up, although he did not speak.”
This is the text of the endorsement from Paul Graziano:
“The 19th Council District is one of the last truly livable places for the middle-class left in New York City. I have committed my life to protecting and preserving our beautiful suburban neighborhoods as a civic leader, professional urban planner and historic preservation advocate for the past two decades, and it was the main reason that I ran for office this year.
I've worked alongside Dennis during the past decade in his capacity as a longtime civic leader in Douglaston and believe that he will make an excellent Councilmember for the 19th District. He cares about the same things that the residents of our council district care most about: stopping overdevelopment of our neighborhoods, making sure our public schools remain the best in New York City and reinforcing the excellent quality-of-life that we deserve in northeast Queens.
On the contrary, Paul Vallone has had no interest or experience taking care of the issues that affect our neighborhoods, as was proven during the Primary campaign when he refused to answer even simple questions from the public at the debates that were held - and didn't even bother to show up to the one debate focused on overdevelopment issues of our Council District.
In addition, his unbelievably offensive, slanderous and negative mailings and personal attacks, which focused on character assassination of his opponents and used religious bigotry in an attempt to get Catholic parishioners to vote for him, coupled with his overwhelming funding from the real estate industry and other special interest groups, clearly show that if he is elected to the City Council, Paul Vallone will not represent the interests of the residents of our neighborhoods, only those of the real estate industry and clients of his family's lobbying firm.
This is why I am crossing party lines to support Dennis Saffran for City Council. It is not a decision I make lightly, but I have always believed that we as citizens should support the best candidate for a political office regardless of what political party they happen to be registered with. And, considering the fact that Paul Vallone almost ran on the Republican Party line and sought the Conservative Party endorsement in 2009, I believe it is a complete non-issue in this particular race.
Therefore, I urge all of my supporters, whatever your party affiliation - as well as those 70% who did not vote for Paul Vallone in the Democratic Primary - to vote for the best person to represent us in the City Council: Dennis Saffran."