2000-01-05 / Political Page

Queens’ DCCorps ReadyFor Battle Vs. Asian Beetle

In a bipartisan effort to meet the continuing serious damage being done by the Asian Longhorned Beetle, New York State’s congressional delegation and two Senators have appealed to President BillClinton for $9.6 million in federal funding to confront the menace.


The letter to the president, which included Queens lawmakers among the signatories and was written by Congressmembers Joseph Crowley (D-Elmhurst) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Astoria), pointed out the beetle has destroyed more than 4,300 trees in Queens, nearly 5,000 in the state and could wind up costing the nation "as high as $41 billion nationwide."


"Unchecked, the beetle will devastate our ecosystem and ruin our wood-based industries," Maloney warned. Crowley added that "by aggressively striking this problem early, we may be able to prevent the beetle from becoming a national, as opposed to regional, problem."


Besides Senators DanielMoynihan and Charles Schumer, Congressmembers Anthony Weiner,Gary Ackerman,Gregory Meeks and Nita Lowey signed the letter asking for the funding in the 2001 budget. All are Democrats.Crowley had secured $2.1 million anti-beetle funds previously.



Reiterating his past demands to do away with the Board of Education,CouncilSpeaker Peter Vallone declared, "The Chancellor is not the problem" in commenting on Rudy Crew’s recent demise at the city’s Schools Chancellor.The real problem is "the dysfunctional Board of Education,"Vallone continued.


The board, accountable to five borough presidents and the mayor, "is a mess and politics makes it worse,"Vallone pointed out.


"We should use this opportunity to urge Albany to do the right thing. Our children and our city need a system that is accountable to the people of New York and unburdened by an antiquated and ineffective Board of Education,"Vallone proposed.


Vallone will probably have more to say on the subject when he delivers his annual State of the City address Tuesday,Jan. 11th at City Hall.


Queens Borough President Claire Shulman will deliver her annual State of the Borough address on Monday, Jan. 31st at Queens Theatre in the Park inFlushing Meadows-Corona Park at 10:30 a.m.


FUNDS FOR LOCAL GROUPS: A new law had doubled the amount of money available to local groups who want a voice in the siting and construction of power plants, state Senator George Onorato (D-Astoria) reported recently, and he likes the idea.


"While power companies generally have in-house experts and significant resources to make sure their views are known, this funding helps to provide a more level playing field for groups who may want to challenge company claims about community impact and other issues associated with siting power facilities,"Onorato stated.


The funds for the local groups come from fees charged to power companies when they file an application to build a plant, the lawmaker explained. At present, he said, two companies have pre-filed to build power plants in Astoria:the New York Power Authority, for a plant on the Poletti Station site; and SCSEnergy for its proposed Astoria Energy LLCplant.

Interested groups who want to get on the Public Service Commission’s malign list to be alerted to upcoming hearings should write to DeborahRenner, NYS/PSC, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350. To get the addresses of power companies, Onorato said, call the PSC’s Diane Cooper at (800) 342-3377 or (518) 473-027 .


Under legislation recently filed by state Senator Serphin Maltese (R-C-Middle Village), "Under no circumstances shall an animal be returned to its owner or any member of the owner’s family unless the owner is acquitted of all charges" of abusing the animal.

Once taken away from the abusive owner, the animal could then be put up for adoption by the ASPCA under Maltese’s bill. "As a responsible society,"Maltese states, "we cannot turn a blind eye toward these animals and leave their fate and welfare to the whim and temperament of someone with a history of abuse."

State Senator FrankPadavan (R-C-Bellerose) is a cosponsor onMaltese’s bill.


United States Senator John McCain, a leading contender against Texas Governor George W.Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, has filed a lawsuit to get on the ballot in New YorkState’s presidential primary set for Mar. 7th.McCain, of Arizona, is challenging the state GOP’s rules which require candidates to collect about 20,000 signatures from registered party members in each of the state’s 31 congressional districts, a daunting task for anyone without a respectable base of support in the state.Delegates pledged to the respective candidates will be elected in the Mar. 7th balloting. Nominating-petitions are now being circulated.The Queens Republican organization, like Governor George Pataki, is supporting Bush.


Expressing "increasing concern over the sanitation conditions in Forest Hills,"Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills/Rego Park) recently convened a meeting with members of the public, Sanitation Department officials and Assemblymember Michael Cohen, state Senator DanielHevesi and Congressmember Anthony Weiner, all Democrats and all representatives of the affected area.

Koslowitz said that as a result of the session,Sanitation representative Maria Termini agreed to a plan:to create a task force to meet each month; to provide cleanup supplies for volunteers; to continue the Adopt-A-Basket campaign and to secure three new enclosed baskets for the area.The focal point of the campaign is AustinStreet and Continental Avenue.


The Police Department’s specialTemporary Headquarter Vehicle (THV) was assigned to the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst for the second year in a row at Councilmember John Sabini’s suggestion and the vehicle proved its value during the recent holiday shopping season. Sabini (D-JacksonHeights) reported the THV"continues to yield dividends" since he secured $164,000 in the city’s budget to try the vehicle out.Speaking just before Christmas, Sabini said, "To date, not one vehicle has been stolen out of the municipal lot [adjacent to the mall at Queens and Woodhaven Boulevards] during the holiday season while the THV has been stationed there and overall crime is down 48 percent as compared to last year in this sector."


Work on a $2.5 million rehab of the Auburndale Long Island RailRoad station is expected to begin soon, Padavan announced.The lawmaker, who secured the funds for the project, said the present station was built in 1929 and the current project will "begin the process of bringing the station up to date."

Included in the station overhaul are an elevator from street to station level; expansion to accommodate 12-car trains instead of the present six-car platform, a new waiting room and demolition of the abandoned station under the 192nd Street viaduct.

"The passenger elevator may be the best news for commuters or anyone who has ever regularly climbed the two-and-a-half flights [to get to the station level]. I can attest to that fact,"Padavan said.


Councilmember Morton Povman (D-Kew Gardens) said that the Department of Transportation has informed him that a new traffic light will be installed at Union Turnpike and 173rd Street adjacent to St. John’s University this spring.

State Senator George Onorato reported similar news.The Astoria lawmaker said DOT will install new traffic light signals at 28th Avenue and 41st Street and 34th Avenue and 44th Street, both in Astoria, also in the spring.


Jeff Wiesenfeld, Pataki’s former liaison to the Jewish community, recently met with Israel’s new Prime Minister Ehud Barak.Wiesenfeld, now the New YorkCity Regional Director of the Empire State Development Corp., says that during his 20 years in communal affairs and public service, he has met every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir.


Tony Avella, president of the North Shore Anti-Graffiti Volunteers, recently spoke before the annual FreedomFund Dinner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleFlushing Branch and described his organization’s effort to remove hate stickers and messages posted on poles in northeast Queens areas of Flushing and Bayside. Congressmember Gregory Meeks (D-Southeast Queens) was the featured speaker and NAACPstate chair Hazel Dukes and Flushing Branch President Ken Cohen were also present.

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