Voters duel with rallies outside Weiner’s office

Protesters gather outside U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner's office in Kew Gardens Sunday, calling for his resignation over a Internet sex scandal. Photo by Ivan Pereira.

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By Ivan Pereira
Monday, June 13, 2011 11:53 AM

Two groups of borough voters divided about U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) squared off in dueling rallies outside his Kew Gardens office Sunday.

Although the troubled congressman announced Saturday that he would be taking a leave of absence from his political duties and seek help at a rehab center for his habitual sexual teases, high ranking House officials, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), have pushed for his resignation.

The Juniper Park Civic Association concurred and took its message right to Weiner’s office, at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road. Nearly 24 protesters showed up with homemade signs that chastised the congressman for lying to the public about his sexual tweets and texts, including one that put Weiner in a Pinocchio costume and included an elongated nose.

“It’s a question of morality,” said Ed Kampermann of Howard Beach. “He has tarnished his office, he cannot bring home the bacon for the district.”

The revelation of Weiner’s lewd behavior over the last couple of weeks was just one of many ways the congressman failed his constituents, according to the protesters. Amanda Kohut, 23, of Forest Hills, said she and several other voters were not happy with many of the congressman’s policies — especially staunch support for the president’s health care bill.

“This is another in a series of Anthony Weiner’s lies,” she said of the congressman’s lewd photos that he admitted sending other women.

The rally took a shift as one by one several of the congressman’s supporters came out to counter the civic association with their own signs.

Jim Sideris, 47, of Flushing, who went to Brooklyn Technical High School with the congressman, said Weiner has done a lot of good for the people of Queens over the years he has been in office and, although the recent scandal painted him in a bad light, voters needed to remember that he has fought hard for his constituents.

“It’s easy to crucify and abandon someone when they are down than to stand up for them,” he said.

Other voters of the district shared that sentiment and joined in the anti-rally. Eventually, loud shouts of “Weiner must go” from the civic group received a response of “We support Weiner” from the eight supporters.

Wendy Lurrie-Calise, a Forest Hills resident of 20 years, said she brought her husband and daughter to the rally because she believed Weiner did not do anything illegal or abuse his power.

“There are people in Congress who have done much worse,” she said.

Although other Queens House members are staying mum on the situation, another borough elected official shared his thoughts over the weekend.

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he has not spoken with the congressman since he admitted his actions but acknowledged that the Juniper Park civic is an influential group in Weiner’s district.

“He needs to give serious consideration to what they are saying,” he said.

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