Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip) sought early today to offset gubernatorial maybe-wannabe Steve Levy’s anticipated response to a press conference — by Latino lawmakers — denouncing the Suffolk executive over issues of particular interest and sensitivity to their districts.
Ramos said he expected a “canned response” in which Levy would say that you can oppose illegal-immigration strategies without being racist — which is what those in the anti-Levy press conference in Albany were calling him, warning against potential campaign contributors.
Ramos said he agreed on the legitimacy of such debate, but “that is not the issue here. “There are many elected officials who are against illegal immigration....and yet they don’t catch the wrath of the minority community the way Steve Levy does.”
“Calling somebody’s children ‘anchor babies’ is racist. Trying to pass laws that make it illegal to walk down the street in areas where Hispanics frequent ...for the purpose of employment has racist connotations,” as does referring to a new immigrant wave as “a threat to our suburban way of life” and “disrespecting Hispanic clergy.”
Indeed, as told to Newsday’s James Madore just minutes ago, Levy denied racism charges — and said his positions against illegal immigration are supported by a vast majority of Hispanic voters. He urged the Assembly to censure the members — and said he would file a complaint with ethics officials that they violated the public officers law with their purported threats of acting based on political opposition.
If his complaint is based on any denial of state funds for Suffolk, that wasn't threatened in the presentation, as Ramos later noted.
Assembly members attending the “anti-endorsement” press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Albany were Peter Rivera, Felix Ortiz, and Ramos. Also on hand: Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood), who argued many of the specific political grievances against Levy.
On the press release, serving up anti-Levy statements, were Assembly members Jose Peralta, Grace Meng, and Adam Clayton Powell (who gave a statement calling Levy a “white supremacist”).