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David Weprin campaign has wrong idea of the opposition

Last week, I announced my candidacy for the state Assembly in the 24th Assembly District in front of a crowd of nearly 100 people on the coldest day of the year (“Friedrich to run in Assembly race,” Queens Village Times, Jan. 14).

Only moments after my announcement, the David Weprin campaign began its predictable barrage of mudslinging in a statement by hired spokesman Corey Bearak, calling me an extremist “because we expect our leaders to fight for working families and seniors, not for a radical, right-wing agenda.”

Corey should know better. When he wears his other hat, as president of the Queens Civic Congress, where I have been an active and fully engaged member for years, he and I have collaborated on many issues — most recently our opposition to congestion pricing. As a civic leader and president of Glen Oaks Village, I guess my “extremist” and “radical, right-wing agenda” means having created a co-op with the lowest monthly maintenance fees, which allows seniors and families to live in affordable dignity.

Or maybe Bearak refers to my Homestead Program, which gave our rent-stabilized tenants a unique and affordable opportunity to become homeowners instead of renters. Was it my “extremist agenda” that gave 3,000 families of our community the ability to raise their roofs and provide more living space so their apartments can grow with them? By doing so, we cultivated a strong sense of community that has put an end to the high move-out rates of the past. Improving the quality of life of working families is not extremist, radical or right-wing.

Before attacking my middle-class tax-relief agenda, Corey should take a closer look at Weprin’s legacy of crippling property taxes and excessive fees. It was Weprin who voted for and sponsored the largest property tax increase — 18.5 percent — in city history and then wrote to his constituents in his final City Council mailing that the $400 property tax rebate created “much needed relief ... after the imposition of an 18.5% property tax increase”

What chutzpah! This increase continues to have a rippling and devastating effect on homeowners. In 2008, he voted to raise it another 7 percent. Weprin twice voted to raise city sales taxes and voted to eliminate the sales tax exemption on clothing. These are votes that hit working families and seniors hard.

It was under his “watchful” eye as the Council finance chairman that the Council slush-fund scandal was discovered and exposed. Weprin boasts that as chairman of the Finance Committee he has balanced eight budgets. As an accountant, I can assure you that balancing a budget by raising taxes to cover increased spending is not difficult.

Balancing a budget by cutting waste and spending is something Weprin has not yet mastered. The problem with politicians like Weprin is they have a penchant for easily spending other people’s money. Even on his way out the door he is still spending. With only six days remaining in office, he sent out a campaign flier disguised as a Council newsletter to more than 100,000 constituents. And who paid the postage and printing? The taxpayers.

Before the Weprin campaign begins to slander other people’s agendas as extremist, I suggest it looks at itself in the mirror. It is time for the true Weprin tax and spend record be exposed for what it is — a job-busting assault on middle-class working families, the kind of agenda we do not need in Albany.

Bob Friedrich

President

Glen Oaks Village

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