The politically connected Brooklyn rabbi who has steered most of the city's day care vouchers toward Orthodox neighborhoods is now setting his sights on contracts for Head Start and day care centers, he told The Jewish Week.
"We are still experiencing an imbalance, if not in the voucher area, then in the day care and Head Start area," said Rabbi Milton Balkany, dean of the Bais Yakov of Brooklyn in Borough Park. "I want to correct that imbalance."
The commemoration of Rev. Martin Luther King's legacy brought anything but harmony this week to the U.S. Senate race, as the campaigns of Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton waged a war of words.
And again, Jews were in the eye of the storm.
Clinton, apparently employing lessons learned from her recent West Bank foray, promptly denounced a controversial remark about Jews made during her visit Monday to the Harlem headquarters of Rev. Al Sharpton.
Amid speculation that Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would dump his top campaign aide, who faces questions in a state and federal investigation, the mayor did the opposite this week. He named Bruce Teitelbaum as manager of his Senate campaign, if and when he decides to run.
The head of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Senate exploratory committee is vehemently denying a published report last week that chasidim are being pressured to cough up campaign contributions, or lose the grants and programs on which many of their communities depend.
Before a crowd of 400 at a Brooklyn catering hall last week, Assemblyman Dov Hikind had difficulty staying off the podium.
Presiding over a fund-raiser for his newly minted political club, Hikind often upstaged the emcee and, during his own speech, lingered for more than 20 minutes, covering everything from local judgeship races to his own political ambitions.
"We have a lot of important things coming up," Hikind told the crowd of club members and local elected officials, citing upcoming elections. "All of us are going to work together."
Four Orthodox candidates for City Council in Brooklyn will have to defend their signature petitions in court next week as a fifth Orthodox contestant tries to knock them off the ballot.
The candidates claim Irma Kramer is seeking to avoid a split in the Orthodox vote in the Feb. 16 special election to succeed Anthony Weiner, who was elected to Congress last year. "It is shameful and pathetic that Irma is trying to exclude other Orthodox Jews," says Yehuda Levin, one of the candidates. "She did not challenge the liberal, secular Jews."
Among the more interesting objects on Anthony Weiner's desk is a jar-sized capsule containing a formaldehyde-encased baby shark. But he insists there is no significance to the decoration. It doesn't represent his youthful, tenacious political style or the eat-or-be-eaten world in which he lives and seems to thrive.
"It was just an interesting gift" from a friend, he says, adding that, if anything, it reflects his philosophy that "you have to move forward to live."
Ruben Franco, the chairman of the New York City Housing Authority who is reportedly on the verge of being fired, has earned high marks within the Jewish community during his tenure. "He's a real mensch," said Isaac Abraham, a Satmar chasidic activist closely involved in public housing issues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "He has been great in resolving many differences between the Jewish community and the Latino community."
It was a year of bluster and blunder, ascent to higher office and descent to name-calling. This year's collection of political stars includes big-spending Democrats, a loose-lipped senator, irresponsible Council members and an attorney general whose motto of "never say die" probably killed his career.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan will devote his remaining two years in office to promoting aid to families that pay parochial school tuition. That was the impression the Democratic senior senator (who will retire in 2000) left with some of the 35 Jewish leaders he met with privately last week. The meeting took place at the Loews Corporation offices of James Tisch, president of UJA-Federation.