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Swaranjit Singh’s campaign for City Council sent out a mailer Friday suggesting his opponent for the seat, state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), did not speak out against a Hooters restaurant opening up in Fresh Meadows because Weprin’s campaign is being managed by the same firm hired by the eatery.
“Lobbyist groups, they kind of buy out politicians,” said Singh’s son and campaign treasurer, Mannu Rikhy.
The mailing is in the form of a faux newspaper page with the headline “Mark Weprin Hires Lobbyist Group to Run Campaign — The Same Lobbyist Group Hired by Hooters to Put a Hooters Restaurant in Our Community, Right Near Two High Schools.”
“Weprin’s Response: Silence,” the mailing continues, followed by an asterisk noting that Weprin “has taken money directly from lobbyists, and has now hired them to run his campaign.”
The lobbying firm referenced in the mailings is the Parkside Group, which also runs a political consulting operation.
Parkside declined to comment.
Weprin campaign manager Dirk McCall dismissed the mailing.
“This is a laughable attack; it is beyond ridiculous,” McCall said. “Mark Weprin continues to focus on real issues facing the 23rd Council District — improving schools, protecting seniors and improving quality of life — not sideshow circuses.”
Hooters received a mixed reaction from the community when it opened April 13, well before Weprin announced his candidacy to replace his brother, Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), in the Council.
The Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association and most of Community Board 8 were opposed to the restaurant opening back in April. The international chain bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined,” and is famous for its curvaceous female wait staff who are required to wear tank tops and short shorts.
James Gallagher, president of the civic association, said while there were initial concerns, he believed the Hooters has been a good neighbor so far.
“We haven’t had any problems with them.” he said. “It’s not who we would have preferred, but (the owner) has done an excellent job.”
Rikhy said the Singh campaign believed Weprin did not side against Hooters, which eventually opened, because they both retained Parkside — the restaurant as a lobbyist and Weprin as a campaign consultant.
“That’s a major issue, when a lobbyist is used as a political consultant. They bought [Weprin] out, in a way,” Rikhy said. “Mark hasn’t said nothing about the Hooters. I don’t think [Weprin] should use [Parkside] as a political consultant because there’s a conflict of interest. That’s not in the best interest of the people.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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