Is the Ackerman Seat a Done Deal for Dems?
by Anthony Stasi
Mar 19, 2012 | 10521 views | 0 0 comments | 328 328 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The retirement of Congressman Gary Ackerman should provide for interesting politics.

Ackerman may have been considered a liberal Democrat in decades past, but due to the ideological polarization in Congress on both sides, one can call him a relative centrist. He now retires, and claims to do so with complete confidence that the seat will remain comfortably safe for the Democrats.

A year ago, Councilman Dan Halloran decided not to challenge Ackerman for the seat. Halloran has become a well known political figure in his part of Queens, namely Bayside and Flushing. With Ackerman out of the picture, however, it might be interesting to see which names bubble up to the top of the candidate list.

If Republican Bob Turner was able to win in the 9th Congressional District, which was tailor drawn to be a Democratic seat, when Anthony Weiner vacated it, can a Republican win Ackerman’s seat?

Many of the people who have worked with, and for, Ackerman are potential candidates for this seat. Ackerman, like most of the Democratic Party in the five boroughs, groomed talent for just this possibility. Former City Council candidate Kevin Kim could be a possibility, for example.

Ackerman is considered a reliable vote for issues dealing with the support of Israel. If this was a defining issue, a GOP candidate might have an opportunity.

One of Ackerman’s past Republican challengers is lawyer Grant Lally. Lally was an insurgent candidate who challenged the GOP party choice, Alan Binder, in 1994. Lally won, and went on to lose to Ackerman in the general election. Ackerman then defeated Lally again 1996.

But Lally was in his early thirties then. He was a good candidate running against an institution. Now that Ackerman is leaving, a guy like Lally can make a serious challenge. Lally would be a reliable vote on Israel, where others may not be. Remember, Turner won in the 9th District partly by making the argument that he was strong on Israel.

Ackerman was a good public servant. And his retirement will make for interesting politics, perhaps more interesting than he has predicted upon his exit.

Senior Housing

Maybe the housing market has hit bottom, although it is hard to tell if you follow what housing analysts tell you.

The fact is, when you get a good deal, it does not really matter what the trend is. One trend that used to be reliable to follow was the flow of senior housing. Availability of senior housing was hard to come by a few years ago, as the World War II generation started selling their homes and moving into smaller apartments with fixed rents.

If trends are what we follow, however, the availability of those units nationally would be even scarcer. The Baby Boomers are retiring now. Although the retirement of the boomers, the largest segment of the population, has come slower than expected because of the economy, they are still eligible to live in retirement communities and senior facilities.

So why are many states seeing vacancies in senior housing at time when there are more seniors than ever? The only explanation is that the Baby Boomer generation is simply unable to sell their homes right now, and so they are not moving into senior housing.

In their retirement, they are staying in those homes. The market has crashed, thus many of them are waiting out the tide before selling.

Another reason is that there are a lot of boomers still working. They cannot retire fully, so they still need to live in cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. What might be good for people now seeking senior housing (apartments mostly) is that prices should stabilize or remain low since there is added inventory in some markets.

This is not to suggest that getting into a senior housing arrangement is easy, because one still has to show a certain income level to qualify for particular arrangements.

Years ago, many of us were calling on the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens to turn St. Anthony’s Hospital (which was no longer an actual hospital) on Woodhaven Boulevard into a senior residence to cater to the neighborhood’s growing number of seniors.

The Diocese did not sell the property to a builder with senior housing on the agenda, unfortunately, but we might keep such housing in mind as we rehabilitate buildings in New York City. Right now, the trend is that senior housing is far more available in the suburbs than it is in the city, and that is not good for an aging population.
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