‘Flights’ Issue Shifts To Schumer, Moynihan In SenateSenator Charles Schumer
New York State’s two senators, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Charles Schumer, are busy this week on two fronts—a Patient’s Bill of Rights bill to give members more leverage against Health Maintenance Organizations and a bill that would increase flights at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports.
Although both issues are important to New Yorkers, the flights issue has a more direct impact because of the two major airports located in Queens. The continuing battle to try to control the amount of flight activity is now being focused on what are called regional flights, those between New York and smaller cities.
The borough’s congressional delegation won an important victory recently when that body was instrumental in getting a bill passed extending the High Density Rule (HDR) which preserves flight limits until 2007. But to get the law passed, they had to agree to include in the legislation a loosening of restrictions in local flights. Pressure for this move came from upstate lawmakers whose districts need more service and competition to reduce the prices of flights.
The senate bill would by-pass the HDR to permit more flights by smaller jets, those with 70 seats or less. It is sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-Arizona).
Schumer, keeping a campaign promise, supports increased flights by regional jets in order to get more air traffic to upstate cities. In fact, he is sponsoring legislation which would increase the number of flights for airlines which serve cities within 500 miles of airports controlled by the HDR, which includes LaGuardia and JFK.
Moynihan is a co-sponsor of Schumer’s bill and is reported as leaning toward support of McCain’s bill, too.
The main difference between McCain’s proposal and the Queens-backed House bill is that McCain would allow the Transportation Department to decide the number of regional flights while the House bill would not impose any limits on those flights.Obviously there would have to be some compromise on these differences to get a uni-bill both houses could live with.
Senator Daniel Moynihan
President Bill Clinton is on record favoring lifting restrictions on the number of flights in order to increase competitiveness to provide more service at reduced prices.
Schumer, preparing for the debate on the rights bill, toured the state to obtain citizen input on the measure. He favors the bill, saying, "HMOs were originally started for a good purpose, to cut costs and save money. They did that for awhile, but the pendulum has swung too far."
The state’s junior senator is sponsoring an amendment to give patients the right to appeal when an HMO denies treatment. The rights bill also guarantees emergency treatment, the right to see a specialist, and the right to sue an HMO.
HILLARY STARTS TO FEEL HEAT:She’s all but an announced candidate, but Mrs. Clinton seemed to be launching her campaign for United States Senator last week as 200 reporters and photographers zoomed in to cover her upstate "listening" tour.
Although the bulk of the coverage was favorable, some opposition did surface. Clinton also got an awful pasting from the New York Post which ran headlines like "She’d be nothing but an empty carpetbag" if elected; "the Hillary sleaze factor"; and "Me-First Lady deluded by sense of grandeur."
But for the most part the coverage seemed to be unbiased and fair.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the leading Republican candidate and chief critic of Hillary as a carpetbagger who doesn’t know the state, also showed some lack of knowledge about his native state.
The mayor returned from a weekend upstate by alluding to mountains in Monroe County, where there are none. Seems the mayor was in the Town of Monroe, which is in Orange County, a considerable distance south of Monroe County.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton had a gaffe on her side, too, as a friend referred to "Glovertown," which doesn’t exist, and may have been thinking of "Gloversville," which does.
RELIEF FOR HOMEOWNERS:Just as auto drivers get an insurance reduction for taking a safe driving course, homeowners who take a home safety and accident prevention course would have their homeowners’ insurance premium reduced under a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D-Jackson Heights), which is now awaiting Governor George Pataki’s signature.
"If homeowners take the necessary precautions to make their home safer, then they should be entitled to a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance policy," Lafayette stated in explaining the reason behind the bill. "This course will have a two-pronged effect: not only will people get a reduction in their policy but they will become better educated in how to protect their home and family from harm."
The home safety course, Lafayette explained, provides information and safety methods that can prevent or minimize losses due to the occurrence of fire, theft, burglary, personal injury and weather-related incidents.
CENSUS PROPOSALS:Continuing his effort to get an accurate census count, Athan Christodoulou, coordinator of the Hellenic 2000 Steering Committee, has proposed that the Board of Education translate official census forms into various foreign languages so that more non-English literate people will fill out the forms and be counted.
Christodoulou points out that the Census Bureau is assisting many ethnic groups to get involved in filling out census forms by creating ethnic census steering committees to reach ethnic groups. Christodoulou is coordinator of the state-wide group reaching out to Greek-Americans. The objective is to get a full and true count of all citizens in order to get the state’s and city’s rightful share of federal funding,which is based on population.
Christodoulou maintains that both the Greek-American and Italian-American communities in Astoria are under-counted and Astoria’s population "is more than twice the 185,000" listed in City Planning Commission manuals. Thus, says Christodoulou, the commission’s listings are worthless.
On the census front, Borough President Claire Shulman is also campaigning to get a full and accurate count in the census which starts next Apr. 1st.
"We have launched a joint effort to make sure that all Queens residents are counted," Shulman said. "We are reaching out to community agencies, leaders and residents to make sure that the final census figures are as accurate as possible."
For more information or to reach the Complete Count Committee, call (718) 286-2900.
BUTLER WORKING NEAR & FAR:Reacting to complaints from I.S. 10 students, teachers and parents that the intersection at 45th Street and 31st Avenue was so perilous that it was "a tragedy waiting to happen," Assemblymember Denis Butler has secured a traffic light at that location.
Butler explained, "With 1,260 children utilizing Intermediate School 10 every day during the school year, the intersection experiences high vehicular and pedestrian traffic, clearly justifying the need for the installation of a traffic light." He said the device will be installed by the end of November.
Meanwhile, Butler (D-Long Island City/Astoria/Jackson Heights) met with Most Reverend Robert O. Gonzalez, the newly appointed Archbishop of Puerto Rico, in Albany recently and presented him with a legislative resolution "recognizing his efforts and congratulating him on his elevation to Archbishop" by Pope John II earlier this year.
McCAFFREY HELPS AMMI:The American Museum of the Moving Image (AMMI) in Astoria will soon embark on the reconstruction and expansion of a storage facility with $550,000 in funding secured by Councilmember Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside).
McCaffrey also secured a $100,000 grant for AMMI in the recently approved city budget for the museum’s programming needs. AMMI Director Rochelle Slovin said the money will be used to expand the museum’s current educational programs and to create new science and mathematics workshops for school students.
McCaffrey said the museum at 35th Avenue and 36th Street in Astoria, "holds a well-established, national reputation as a center for activities and exhibitions of the highest quality involving the art, history, technique and technology of motion pictures, television and digital media."
Characterizing the museum as "a premier cultural institution," McCaffrey said he was "extremely pleased" to be able to assist the museum in fulfilling its programs. Slovin said she was "deeply grateful" for McCaffrey’s "clear vision of the value" of AMMI.
PADAVAN BILL BENEFITS DISABLED:The half-fare transit discount presently enjoyed by seniors and developmentally and physically disabled persons would be extended to the mentally disabled in accordance with a bill which has passed the state senate under Senator Frank Padavan’s sponsorship.
Citing their exclusion from the coverage, the Bellerose Republican said, "Not only is this unfair, but adds to the difficulty of mentally disabled persons living normally in the community on limited income."
The senate has also approved a Padavan bill which would subject scofflaw illegal dumpers to the loss of their driver’s license and vehicle registration. Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D-East Elmhurst) has sponsored the bill in the assembly.
INDEPENDENCE PARTY FUNDRAISER:Seeking contributions to the Queens Independence Party to "allow us to sustain long term party growth," party Chairman Michael Niebauer and Deputy Chairman William Struhs, both of Whitestone, announced a party fundraiser on Tuesday, July 20th from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Ranch Steak House, 31-64 21st St., Long Island City.
Still trumpeting his party’s ascension to ballot column C in the last election, Niebauer said the party’s state chairman, Jack Essenberg, will be the special guest at the affair.
Following the election last year of Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota, the party hopes to make further noises on the national scene by convincing former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker to come out of retirement and be its presidential candidate in the 2000 election.
PARKINSON’S RESEARCH SHORT CHANGED?:Concerned that all the funding being appropriated for Parkinson’s disease research is not being used, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Astoria) wants a detailed accounting from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Maloney says Congress authorized $100 million for Parkinson’s research in 1997, but advocacy groups claim that only 34 percent of $89 million was reportedly spent by NIH for Parkinson’s research that year. And at that the money spent did not do the most good, Maloney complained.
"Unfortunately, we sit here wondering how this funding could have been authorized and appropriated and yet not spent on Parkinson’s-directed research," Maloney stated. "We have looked at the numbers and we want to know why don’t the numbers add up."
Maloney formed the Congressional Working Group on Parkinson’s Disease after her father was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year. The lawmaker said if she doesn’t get satisfactory answers from the accounting on how Parkinson’s research money was spent, she’ll take further steps.
"SAVE BAYSIDE THEATER":Tony Avella, president of the Preservation Alliance of Northeast Queens, has taken steps to save the Bayside Theater at 38-39 Bell Blvd. from demolition. Upon hearing about the planned demolition by United Artists, Avella contacted the City Landmarks Preservation Commission and asked for an emergency evaluation of the historic and architectural importance of the theater. Avella said U.A. has purchased the entire block which includes the theater and intends to level the theater and build an entire new building and theater.