By Ivan Pereira
Two groups of borough voters divided about the future of 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 protestors 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.
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.
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.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.