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Forcina claims flier lies about Duane military service

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John Duane, a candidate for the seat now held by Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza, has come under fire from one of his fellow opponents as well as a Bayside community activist for a mailer sent out by his campaign on Vietnam veterans. But Duane insisted the flier’s message was being distorted.

Duane, a former assemblyman in the district and the brother of state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), sponsored a tuition assistance bill for Vietnam veterans during his tenure in Albany in the 1980s.

A mailer sent out last week by his campaign shows a photo of three veterans with their backs to the camera and includes the quote, “We didn’t return home to parades. It seemed like America just wanted to forget Vietnam, even the veterans like me who served there.”

The inside of the flier attributes the quote to a Vietnam veteran named John C., with whom Duane is pictured. The veteran goes on to praise Duane’s tuition assistance bill.

But Elio Forcina, a Whitestone attorney who will face off against Duane as well as Edward Braunstein and Steve Behar in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary said he found the mailer misleading.

“I thank my opponent John Duane for his work for veterans when he was in the Assembly over 20 years ago, but I served in the Marines and his most recent mail piece is beyond the pale,” Forcina said. “I put my life on the line for my country. John Duane didn’t, but his mail wrongly suggests otherwise. He was a conscientious objector during Vietnam and now he has the gall to imply he served.”

But Duane defended the mailer and said he “helped thousands of Vietnam veterans better their lives at a time when they were being persecuted in the United States.”

“I believe when you run for public office, you should be able to read,” he said. “If he’d read this piece, he would see it does not say that I was a veteran. It doesn’t imply anything of the sort.”

Duane said that if elected, he would introduce a tuition assistance bill for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and a member of Community Board 11, said he also took issue with the flier.

“Not one of the guys in that picture is John Duane,” Skala said. “The flier is apparently intended to deceive.”

The winner of September’s primary will go up against Republican Vince Tabone in November’s general election.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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