Parker sticks by budget comments
Flatbush State Sen. Kevin Parker this week refused to back down on his comments that his African-American constituents and other groups of people were excluded from the recently completed fiscal year 2012-13 state budget.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, announced the $132.6 billion spending plan last week.
Parker said he had two problems with the budget, including going back to the 20-year-old perception that the budget process boils down to three people in a room making all the major decisions on how money is allocated and spent.
“For people to act on what we are going through now is not the same dysfunction we experienced previously is a disservice to the voters of the state,” said Parker.
Parker said the second problem he had with the budget is that whole groups of people were being excluded along race, gender, class and disability lines in the budget process.
“The process is far narrower than it should be. We have representative government across the state drawn in districts that allows as many different types of people to be represented as possible, and then they get to Albany to do the budget, and it filters down to three white guys making all the decisions. This has a negative impact on outcomes,” said Parker.
Parker said this type of budget process this year led to the state not addressing such important budgetary issues as the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, in which lower-income school districts were supposed to get more funding.
Other issues the budget and/or the state didn’t address included legislation backing the federal Dream Act, which would give long-term immigrants more legal rights – especially in New York City, which has the largest immigrant population, said Parker.
“We also failed to put together a proper renters protection unit even after we promised to do it, and we’re still fingerprinting for food stamps,” said Parker.
Parker said his vocal opposition to the budget process is part of his job.
“I’m providing an opposition to the Republican majority in the Senate, which is non-representative, and for the system to be more inclusive so that the people I represent have a seat at the table,” Parker said.
Every vote counts
After one of the most heated elections in southern Brooklyn history, Republican David Storobin clung to a one-vote lead over City Councilman Lew Fidler to replace convicted felon and former Sen. Carl Kruger in a special election for the 21st Senate District seat.
According to the latest unofficial city Board of Elections results, Storobin had 10,900 votes to Fidler’s 10,899.
After the election night two weeks ago, Storobin had a 120-vote lead that jumped to 143 the next day after workers from the Board of Elections completed a paper ballot recount. However, that lead shrunk to a single vote after 700-plus absentee ballots and affidavits were tallied.
But this race is more likely to be decided by court-appointed referees than by vote recounts as lawyers for both Storobin and Fidler are claiming more than 300 of the votes were phony.
Odds and ends
Despite several political pundits playing down a possible fourth candidate joining the already-crowded June Democratic primary for the newly created 8th Congressional District, several sources say one will emerge in the next week.
Both the Kings Highway Democratic Club and the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club are actively looking for a candidate more familiar with issues in southern Brooklyn, said one source.
Thus far, the candidates include incumbent Congressman Ed Towns, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and City Councilman Charles Barron.
Meanwhile, Jeffries continues to pick up union support, most recently from the city Transit Union.
Towns, though, continues to have strong support in Canarsie and Flatlands – and in particular the support of Mercedes Narcisse, who is expected to make a strong run for City Councilman Lew Fidler’s 46th District seat.
“Canarsie is the most black neighborhood in all of Brooklyn,” said Narcisse spokesperson and longtime political operative Michael Roberts. “We continue to support Congressman Towns and we will deliver for him in the 46th Council District.”