After higher-than-safe levels of the chemical terachloroethylene, also known as PERC and used by dry cleaners and auto body shops, were found in Queens drinking water last month, a Queens politician wants to phase PERC from use. State Senator Malcolm Smith proposed legislation to help businesses switch to environmentally friendly products by 2012. Sounds like a no-brainer, but probably having the Department of Buildings check up on whether buildings have backflow preventer valves would help as well.

The City's Department of Environmental Protection found that tap water in Queens was safe just a few days later, but many residents were still worried, switching to bottled water. Smith said, "Knowing that we have alternatives, why should we wait for a health crisis to take the appropriate measures on this issue?"

Smith, who represents parts of Queens, is also the Democratic minority leader in the State Senate. Given that Governor Eliot Spitzer is hoping that Democrats regain control of the Senate, Smith has found himself embroiled in the middle of Spitzer's acrimonious relationship with State Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno. Bruno even claimed that Smith "wets his pants" when Bruno mentions Spitzer's name.