Smith cancels Puerto Rican trip after daughter, wife become ill

By Ivan Pereira

State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) has canceled a controversial trip to Puerto Rico this weekend to tend to his ailing wife and daughter, who is a student at St. Francis Prep, a spokesman for the senate majority leader.

Smith’s wife and daughter, who is a sophomore at the Catholic school, which has had 47 cases of the swine flu as of Thursday, have been to a doctor in the last couple of days after they began “feeling under the weather,” according to Austin Shafran.

Although they have not been diagnosed with disease, the senator said he would not be flying out Thursday night for his trip.

“Just out of general concern, because his daughter goes to the school, he did not want to be out of New York,” Shafran said.

Smith’s wife was prescribed Tamiflu by her doctor, according to the spokesman.

Smith had been criticized for joining members of the Senate’s newly formed Latino Caucus on a one-day meeting with Puerto Rico’s leaders Friday, because the state Legislature has not come up with a plan to save the deficit-ridden MTA from enacting Draconian fare hikes and service cuts. During the celebration for the Long Island Railroad’s 175th anniversary, the senator defended his decision to visit Puerto Rico.

“The bottom line is we are paying for these trips ourselves. I was invited by the governor of Puerto Rico himself,” he said. “I’m having no second thoughts.”

Shafran said the public outcry against the trip had no effect on the cancellation. The four other Democratic state senators who were going to accompany Smith — Hiram Monserrate of East Elmhurst,  Ruben Diaz and Pedro Espada of the Bronx , and Martin Dilan of Brooklyn, will still take part of the trip, according to the spokesman.

Smith and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) were planning to meet with Prep’s principal, Br. Leonard Conway, Friday morning at the Fresh Meadows campus to discuss the school’s ongoing situation with the outbreak, Shafran said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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