The Delicate Balance of the New York State Senate
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 16, 2010 | 2756 views | 1 1 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 15th senatorial district in New York, which covers much of southern Queens, went a long time without much drama. Martin Knorr was the reliable conservative voice in the State Senate for years. Knorr was then followed by Serf Maltese, who clocked in a strong 20 years in the seat before being unseated by current senator, Joseph Addabbo.

Addabbo has been a strong state senator, although some think he may have eyes on the U.S. House of Representatives. If Anthony Weiner had become mayor, Addabbo may have taken a run at the seat. But history has not shaken out as such, and now Addabbo will be defending his seat against a strong GOP opponent in 2010.

Anthony Como announced last week that he is running against Addabbo in the district. At first glance, there are the similarities between them. They have both been in politics in this district for a long time, and they are still pretty young candidates. Both are former City Council members. Both have a political pedigree; Addabbo being the son of storied Congressman Joe Addabbo, Sr. and Como being a protégé of Maltese. Both men are attorneys by trade.

Como was slated to be the next commissioner of the New York City Housing Association (NYCHA). That never happened, and Como decided to jump back into politics. It’s been two years since he has been a ouncilman (following a special election), which was followed by a loss to Liz Crowley in his re-election bid a few months later. However, 2008 was a year juiced with heavy voter turnout and an unsatisfied national electorate. Como is still the Republicans’ best hope for a seat such as this.

Como would have some advantage in the upper part of the district near Glendale. Addabbo is better known in the lower half of the district, but he is the incumbent and probably has inroads throughout the district. Voter turnout will not be what it was 2008. Addabbo has the advantage of a professional staff and a campaign team that has been relatively unchanged and pretty strong over the last few years.

Como might not have access to everyone that worked for him in the City Council because people just move on when their boss leaves office. But what Como does have to his advantage is all of Maltese’s people, as well any other GOP campaign people that might want to help him. That could be a large group when you consider that there are just not many winnable horses in the Republican stable right now, so it’s all hands on deck in the 15th.

What I have mentioned before in other columns about the Bayside area holds true here as well: the talent pool is heavy in this part of the city. Addabbo, Ulrich, and Como have all been effective public servants. Even the candidates that have lost in this area were impressive, such as Geraldine Chappey, Lew Simon, and Joann Ariola. Because the talent pool is strong, the races are tougher.

This is going to be a real race for both Como and Addabbo, although in order to challenge an incumbent like Addabbo, most candidates would have needed more time to get a campaign rolling. Most importantly, however, the issues are the priority. Albany is dysfunctional, the economy is not yet back on its feet, and I bet some people want to know if there are taxes on the horizon. This will be a fun race, and both candidates are very good politicians. But keeping this district special will be what matters most in November.

Algae – The Next Small Thing

Our energy future will consist of hybrid blends of biodiesel fuel, made from soybeans, corn, and cooking grease that later gets refined into burnable fuel. These are cellulosic biodiesel fuels, and the government, through renewable fuel standards, encourages its production and use. So maybe we are never going to drive cars run on corn, since corn really does not give us the energy bang for the buck. But there is a fuel source that may change that.

Algae, which grow in brackish (salt) water, can be used as a clean burning fuel source. There are algae growers in New Mexico that are pressing congress to change the current fuel standard to allow algae to be included in the standard. According to Congressman Harry Teague of New Mexico, the current standard calls for 16 billion gallons of our fuel to be cellulosic by 2022.

That is great news, but why should we limit ourselves to cellulosic biofuels, when we can grow algae in salt water (there is plenty of it) and use that in combination with regular gasoline and other biofuels? Algae is not a biofuel that competes with food production, and there is no other use for it really. This particular algae does not grow in fresh water, so it will not interfere with our need for fresh drinking water.

There is no reason why we cannot open the market and make these alternative fuels compete. In the end, we will see a drop in consumption of fossil fuels and an increase in cleaner burning, home grown, biofuels. This is the time to push for real hope and real change. This is a win-win for the environment and the economy.

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Sheila Stainback
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June 16, 2010
The correct name is the New York City Housing Authority.