Lawmakers Lean On Prez For $ To Offset High Fuel Costs
Local lawmakers turned to President Bill Clinton to provide relief from the recent surge in fuel prices which coincided with a freezing cold snap and snow storms.
Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Elmhurst) reported last Tuesday that the president responded to one of his pleas by releasing $2.6 million in emergency funding for New York City families covered by the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program helps families to pay for fuel costs and to insulate homes to keep them warmer and keep fuel costs down. Crowley said fuel prices were up by 30 percent as compared to a year ago.
Commending the president’s action, Crowley declared: "Without some type of intervention, many low income and senior New Yorkers would have to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes."
On another aspect of the fuel price increase, Crowley and colleague Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Queens/Long Island and state Senator Serphin Maltese (R–C, Middle Village) petitioned the president to release some of the country’s stockpiled oil reserves, a move which would counter the price increase. Crowley noted," the President is authorized to draw down the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) in the event of a sharp increase in oil prices that results in a ‘major adverse impact’ on the economy."
Maltese announced the state Senate had passed a resolution calling on the President to release a portion of the SPR to New York State. The senate and Governor George Pataki also asked the President to release additional LIHEAP funds.
Maltese stated, "The sudden rise in heating oil prices not only has an adverse impact on our seniors and families on fixed incomes, but also for small business."
Crowley said anyone seeking heating assistance should call LIHEAP at (518) 474-9227 in Albany or the city Human Resources Administration at (212) 331-4553.
GRESSER TOOLING UP:In a move confirming previously unauthenticated reports that former Board of Education President Carol Gresser of Douglaston was contemplating a run for Queens Borough President next year, Gresser has hired veteran Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. In addition, Gresser’s campaign committee, the Carol Gresser 2001 Committee, has scheduled eight fund raisers to build a campaign war chest, starting with one in Little Neck in March.
There will probably be a crowded field for the Borough President post. City Councilmembers Sheldon Leffler (Queens Village) and Karen Koslowitz (Forest Hills) and Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio (Ozone Park), all Democrats, are seen as contenders for the job, too.
MORE ON CAMPAIGNS:In the 2001 mayoral campaign, in which Queens’ two favorite sons, Democratic hopefuls, Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Comptroller Alan Hevesi, are leading the pack, Hevesi remains on top in the fund raising department, but Vallone showed a spurt in the most recent reporting period.
Hevesi, whose home base is in Forest Hills, has raised a total of $3.3 million. Vallone trails with $2.2 million, the same total reported by Public Advocate Mark Green, and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer rounds out the field with $2 million.
But Vallone led in the fund raising for the period of July 1st to Jan. 11th, the last time span reported to the city’s Campaign Finance Board. The Astoria lawmaker took in $1.4 million, Hevesi $1.2 million, Green $1 million and Ferrer $675,000.
PADAVAN REPORT ON AUTO THEFT:State Senator Frank Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) says that although "auto theft is far less a problem" than in the past," the number of car thefts is still far too high." One way to deal with the continuing problem, Padavan says, is for the state to subsidize the purchase of anti–theft devices for motorists in neighborhoods with "singularly high rates of car theft."
Padavan made the recommendation as he issued his second report on auto theft, "The Perfect Crime: Another Look at Auto Theft." He said that "those who attempt to brush off auto theft as a ‘victimless crime’ are making a mistake." High auto theft rates mean higher car insurance rates for motorists, higher security costs and costs incurred to replace or repair a stolen car.
GOP NEWSLETTER:The new Republican Party leadership team in the 36th Assembly District (Astoria/Long Island City/Jackson Heights)—Vince Tabone and Katina Kiorkenidis, district leaders, and Frank Kenna, district chairman—has a campaign going to try to build party membership. Two of the tools they’re using are a quarterly newsletter and a web site (www.kennaclub.org).
Tabone said the club plans to be active this year in the presidential and United States Senate races and other races for which candidates have not been chosen yet. The club supported Texas Governor George W. Bush’s endorsement for president and Tabone made a motion at the County Convention in support of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the party’s expected U.S. Senate candidate, and it carried unanimously.
SCHUMER PLEASED:Following up on a promise to propose further college tuition tax aid, a program advanced by Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.), President Clinton called for "a middle class tax deduction for up to $10,000 in college tuition costs." The president said the $30 billion college opportunity tax cut would "make four years of college affordable for all."
AVELLA CONTINUES ANTI—GRAFFITI FIGHT:Taking fresh aim at an alleged "hate" group which he charged had previously created a lot of graffiti in northeast Queens, Bayside–College Point activist Tony Avella has started a campaign to have Visa and Mastercard revoke the National Alliance’s membership as a credit card holder.
"It’s bad enough that this group can spread such hateful messages, but to allow it to use credit card charges is disgraceful," Avella declared.
Last year, Avella said, "the national neo–Nazi, anti–Semitic, anti–immigrant hate group" posted stickers on city property and Avella and his North Shore Anti–Graffiti volunteers removed them or painted over them.
ATTACKING FOOD HAZARD:Acting on complaints by Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette (D) that illegal food vendors were operating in the Jackson Heights portion of his district, city officials followed up and issued Notices of Violation and removed their carts and products.
"Because of the danger of becoming ill due to hazardous foods," Lafayette said, " it is very important that residents report any unlicensed food vendor to my district office." The telephone number there is (718) 457-0384.