Posted on 26 April 2013.
Photo by Richard Bell, Core Committee Member, Richmond County Tea Party Patriots which publicly vetted Lisa Giovinazzo during a monthly meet/greet at the Page Diner in Tottenville, Staten Island on April 25, 2013. Ron Devito, New York State Coordinator of American Grizzlies United / Organize for Palin also partook in the vetting process.
Public Vetting of Lisa Giovinazzo
The Richmond County Tea Party Patriots and myself in my capacity as American Grizzlies United / Organize4Palin NY State Coordinator publicly vetted New York City Council District 50 candidate Lisa Giovinazzo during the Tea Party Patriot’s second monthly meet-and-greet at the Page Diner in Tottenville, Staten Island on April 25. Her primary opponent Steve Matteo was invited but declined, alleging that he “would not be given a fair shot.” The candidates’ table was set in the center of the room with tables for the core committee on either side. The seat next to Giovinazzo, therefore, was empty and it gave rise to #Eastwooding jokes, a reference to Clint Eastwood’s famous Empty Seat skit at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Public vetting is a rare occurrence today; most candidate vetting by organizations and political leaders who would give endorsements are conducted in private. James Oddo currently holds the seat Giovinazzo and Matteo are running for and it covers a large swathe of Staten Island from the Verrazano Bridge down to Fairbanks Ave, north to Forest Ave. and northwest to the Teleport — a business park under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority of NY and NJ.
The Richmond Tea Party Patriots were formed out of dissatisfaction with the Staten Island Tea Party‘s alliance with the local Republican Party establishment, and the performance of Congressman Michael Grimm who in the main has abandoned the conservative values he ran on. Rep. Grimm is, however, assisting Giovinazzo by walking door-to-door with her and his mentor, Guy Molinari is Giovinazzo’s campaign manager, which she disclosed to the group, even knowing our discomfort with it.
Lisa Giovinazzo on the Three-Legged Stool, No Compromise
Bobby Zahn, President of the Richmond County Tea Party Patriots first asked Giovinazzo to describe her political positions. “I’m a conservative Republican,”: she answered. She said she is conservative on fiscal, social and security issues.
My interest piqued, and I asked, “Lisa, you described yourself basically as adhering to the Three-Legged Stool…” The expression on her face indicated she knew, what I meant. I continued, “suppose you are now holding the office. A vote has come up on an issue — any issue. You are being put under heavy pressure to vote in a way that contradicts one of the legs of that stool — one of your core values. Will you go along to get along? Or will you stand by your values?”
Giovinazzo said she would not compromise. She said the whole point of her running is to buck the system, something she had done all her life. She said she must be true to herself, or she would not be able to walk with her head held high.
Lisa Giovinazzo: Pro-Choice on Education
Zahn followed up with a question about her position on education. Giovinazzo said the new “Core” is very bad and New York City is actually in a position to not adopt it because of its size. Of course, jurisdictions that do not adopt “Core,” will lose out on federal funding and will need to procure alternate funding. She put her children through parochial schools and supports school choice.
All Law Should be Based on Constitution
Zahn asked Giovinazzo her view on current law-making. “All law should be based on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the best of laws. When we veer away from the Constitution or misinterpret it, we run into trouble,” she said.
I followed up with, “I’m going to recite this quote to you….’cannot, will not support any politician who wants further infringements on our Second Amendment rights.’ What is your position on this?” Giovinazzo said she is a proponent of the Second Amendment. She recounted how a staffer of hers, who is liberal and an Obama supporter quickly turned into a Second Amendment supporter following a home invasion in which she was luckily not attacked or injured. Giovinazzo said the ill-conceived NYSAFE Act is getting redacted, even Gov. Cuomo who conceived it is backing away from it and it is failing under challenges. She once again pledged that in voting she would be true to herself. “When I go to court, I fight to win. I don’t throw my cases because my opponent is a friend.”
Fighting the Good Fight
She spoke about how Giuliani and Molinari fought over having the Staten Island Landfill closed. Giuliani said he would close it and urged Molinari to drop the lawsuit. But Molinari said if did as Giuliani suggested, a successor could re-open the dump. The fight had to go on to create a paper trail that would ensure the closure was permanent.
Giovinazzo spoke about the constantly increasing tolls both on the MTA-operated Verrazano Bridge which now costs $15 for non-residents of Staten Island and the three Port Authority bridges linking the island to New Jersey which cost as much as $13 for cars depending on the rate plan. The tolls are keeping families apart, because relatives on fixed incomes outside the island cannot afford the tolls, and they’ve increased the cost of doing business as well.
“I Cannot be Bought”
Giovinazzo said she does not believe in career politicians. “I cannot be bought. I have to stand up and be your voice. I have to fight,” she said adding that she has expertise in mediating disputes. She said the two Republican city council members who abstained from voting on NYSAFE did not know how to fight and she would have voted NO on the resolution that the Democratic super-majority passed overwhelmingly supporting Cuomo’s unconstitutional law.
The candidate also said “I will not call Oddo” for advice on an issue, but instead pledged to call people outside of the political world, specifically those most likely to be effected by a law.
Stop Raising Taxes, Onerous Regulations
Zahn asked Giovinazzo her position on the proposed Internet Sales Tax. She is against it and said we need to be helping small businesses and the American economy. She said some aspects of the American economy, such as gas shale and 3D imaging are doing very well, but we need to at least stop raising taxes.
Zahn then asked about Giovinazzo’s position on the proposal to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21 from 19. She is against the age increase. “My mother died of lung cancer, but we are turning into George Orwell’s 1984.” She said the best way to combat smoking is through education. She said she does not understand the logic that permits a 17-year-old to go to war and potentially die for his country, but not drink alcohol or buy cigarettes. “Bloomberg has constricted a lot of the human rights we have,” Giovinazzo said. Some of her relatives own bars and their businesses have been hurt by his smoking regulations.
Giovinazzo is also against the minimum wage increase and mandatory paid leave, because of the burdens they place on small business owners who cannot afford them. She also said the restaurant grading system is onerous and unfair in that a restaurant owner can be penalized for “having a bad day.”
We’re Here Because of Bad Laws
Zahn asked Giovinazzo if she thought the current state of affairs was brought about by too many laws. She said it not necessarily too many laws, but bad laws that are causing the problems. “Laws have repercussions. People are writing laws just to get their names out there. Laws should be based on the Constitution,” she said pledging to read all laws before voting one way or the other on them.
Giovinazzo said she does not believe she will owe anybody anything. “Running for office is not easy. I need to represent you and you are paying me to serve you. I will be true to myself and if I can’t be that, I will walk away,” she said.
Giovinazzo will be running an old-school grassroots campaign focusing heavily on door-to-door visits with potential constituents. This is how Molinari campaigned and how Rep. Grimm did it. She needs 3800 votes. Giovinazzo has opted into the New York City campaign finance system which limits her expenditures to $168,000 and provides $92,400 after she has spent over $15,000. She said endorsements do not matter except for media power and her campaign will be about meeting constituents.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Giovinazzo. Richmond County Tea Party Patriots pose for a group photo with Lisa Giovinazzo following her public vetting at the Page Diner in the Tottenville section of Staten Island, NY
Biography and Contact Info
Giovinazzo is a family / marital lawyer and the Director of the Staten Island Divorce and Mediation Center. Giovinazzo was an anchor on New York 1, and Bloomberg TV; a freelancer for Economist Magazine, a reporter for PBS, and WNYW. She was also an adjunct professor at St. John’s University, the City University of New York, and Audrey Cohen College for their Executive MBA program. She does pro-bono work for the New York State Collaborative Law Agency and is involved in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Giovinazzo sits on the boards of the St. George Theatre, New York Center for Interpersonal Development, the Staten Island Chapter of the American Red Cross, YMCA Broadway Committee, and Staten Island Community Television.
Her website is: Lisa Giovinazzo for New York City Council 2013, her Twitter handle is: @lisagfornyc, and she maintains a public figure page on Facebook.
The Richmond County Tea Party Patriots is endorsing Giovinazzo, though is guarded about her involvement with Molinari and Grimm. AGU / O4P’ Board of Directors is reviewing this report and will decide upon supporting Giovinazzo subsequently. As previously noted, Matteo declined to attend the meet-and-greet. He has been running what can best be described as an aloof direct mail-based campaign; it could be said that he’s “mailing it in.”
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