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Avella questions mayor in loss of city parking permit

Two Democratic city councilmen from Queens who voted against Mayor Bloomberg's property tax hike were told their official parking permits were being temporarily withheld last week, a move that one is saying is payback for their votes.

Councilmen Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside) were told by the mayor's office last Thursday that their parking passes would not be renewed, Jennings said. He believes the action was a retaliatory strike for crossing Bloomberg.

The pair, along with Brooklyn Councilman James Davis, a fellow Democrat who was also denied his permit, voted against an 18.5 percent property tax jump in November, a compromise on Bloomberg's suggested 25 percent hike.

Jennings said Bloomberg, whose office distributes the parking permits to the council members, withheld the permits as payback for voting against the tax.

"It is clear that you do not have any respect for democracy, free speech, or any respect for those who were duly elected to serve the people of the city of New York," Jennings said in a letter to Bloomberg. "It is clear that City Hall is currently not a place for free expression or free speech and if anyone chooses to exercise this right, they will face severe retribution from your powerful hand."

Avella was less upset than Jennings over the permits, but agreed it was odd that the three councilmen who were affected all had opposed Bloomberg's tax, he said.

"The three of us voted against the property tax and ours are the only three that are missing?" Avella said.

And if withholding the parking permit was aimed at payback, Bloomberg picked the wrong weapon, Avella said.

"If the mayor is trying to send me a message in this issue, it's lost on me because I don't use it anyway," he said. "I should park legally, I should put money in the meter like everyone else."

Republican Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) also voted against the property tax, but there was no information on whether his permit was withheld.

The mayor's office was also unavailable to comment on the parking passes or any retaliatory action.

Jennings also says he and Avella are being attacked for their votes on the property tax through the redistricting process, he said. Under proposed changes, Jennings would lose a heavily commercial section of downtown Jamaica, which includes his district office, he said.

Avella's district would not lose any communities under the redistricting plan, but he would gain Linden Hill.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), head of the Queens delegation and the lawmaker who would represent Jennings' piece of downtown Jamaica under the proposed district changes, said the changes are not aimed at penalizing Jennings for his vote.

"As head of the Queens delegation, I've been trying to advocate for all of the member needs," he said. "I'm trying to do that for every member to mitigate their problems with the district lines. Redistricting is a process where you can't please everybody."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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