At the front of my first Chinese New Year’s parade on Mott Street in Chinatown on Jan. 29, just behind the mandarin-looking Shelly Silver (it’s his Assembly district) was U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the county exec’s rabbis. A shameless self-promoter, Schumer was bullhorning the multitudes, shouting greeting in Chinese.

My Chinese is shaky, but he could have been yelling, “Happy New Year! And vote for Mike Hein.” Or maybe not.

Should Hein declare, Schumer, with bullhorn and bully pulpit, will step to the fore for his protégé, perhaps joined by the governor himself. One guy who won’t be high-stepping in this parade is Maurice Hinchey, the man Hein now calls his “mentor.” Mentor? Imagine progressive liberal Hinchey laying off a couple of hundred county workers in the teeth of a recession? Hardly. Hein may face stiff resistance from hard-core Hincheyites and doctrinaire Dems.

But tempus, as hopefuls no doubt appreciate, fugits. If Hein declares this month, it will be because hisAlbanycontacts have given him a really good read on how that new district will shape up. On one level, that won’t be such a bad thing.

Sottile spotting

Ex-officials tend to fade from sight pretty quickly after their successors take the oath. But former Kingston mayor Jim Sottile didn’t stay bunkered too long. Sottile surfaced a few weeks ago to testify in Albany before the legislative commission on reapportionment.

Contacted by phone last week, Sottile praised the new reapportionment plan which placesKingston, along with seven other Ulster County towns, on the southern end of a northwestern-oriented state Senate district. Noting that Kingston for the last 40 years or so has been the tail wagging a southwesterly district, Sottile declared that the city has always had more in common with “our neighbors to the north than to the south.”