Comaianni supporter calls Miller racially insensitive

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An Indo-Guyanese supporter of a candidate hoping to oust state Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) is claiming Miller is insensitive to minority communities in part because he alleged the assemblyman has no minorities working in his office.

But Miller said those assertions are outright false, saying two of his eight staffers are not white and that the claims by Farouk Samaroo were made out of bitterness that the freshman legislator won the election to replace disgraced ex-Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio in September.

Samaroo is the co-founder of the Southwest Queens Democratic Club with Nick Comaianni, who intends to challenge Miller in September’s Democratic primary.

Samaroo, a former staffer to ex-Flushing Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, was a candidate in the race to replace Seminerio until Gov. David Paterson called for a special election for the seat.

Under special election rules, only candidates supported by the borough’s political parties are guaranteed a spot on the ballot and Miller gained the support of the Democratic and Conservative parties. Others looking to get on the ballot had to amass 1,500 signatures within six days of Paterson calling the special election. Samaroo dropped his candidacy because he believed the petition process was too difficult.

“All [Samaroo is] trying to do is make an issue out of last year,” said Miller, noting he has a Latino and a black staffer in his office.

Miller said he also works with Latchman Buddhai, an Indo-Guyanese civic leader in Richmond Hill.

“I don’t exclude anybody,” the assemblyman said.

Samaroo said Miller does not have an Indian American on his staff and said it was insulting the assemblyman has a staffer with the title “envoy to the Hispanic community.”

“It shows the degree of contempt and that he’s obviously out of his element,” Samaroo said.

But Miller spokesman Nick Roloson said there is no such title.

“They’re trying to make an issue out of things that aren’t an issue,” Roloson said.

Samaroo also criticized Miller for choosing not to retain Seminerio’s Richmond Hill office, which he said the state is still paying rent on, and moving the district space to Glendale, out of the South Asian community, but the assemblyman said that is also false.

Miller said the state has a one-month buyout of every lease it holds and that he notified the state he would not be keeping Seminerio’s Richmond Hill office as soon as he took office.

He said he then moved temporarily to Seminerio’s Glendale office, but then relocated the district office to Woodhaven.

“I wanted to make sure that my district office is in the middle of the district,” Miller said. “I knew there’d be people like Farouk making comments like that.”

The district encompasses Glendale, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Ridgewood.

“If anyone has any questions about anything, please contact my office and we’ll tell you the truth,” Miller said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:48 pm, October 10, 2011
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