Vallone Has Busy Week: Deals With Water Leaks, ATMs
Vallone Has Busy Week:
Deals With Water Leaks, ATMs
Citing major differences over the extent of leaks in the city’s water delivery system upstate, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone last week called for the hiring of a consultant to investigate independently and report back to the Council.
Both sides on the issue acknowledged before the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee that there were leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct that brings water from the Catskills region to the city. The main question at issue, however, was how bad were the leaks.
City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Joel Miele, speaking for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, said the leaks are not an emergency situation, but admitted some parts of the system will in the future need extensive repairs costing $100 million or more.
Challenging Miele’s position, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told the Council that a report by Riverkeeper, Inc., a private group which Kennedy serves as counsel, issued a report recently which raised the question of a water tunnel collapse. However, Kennedy acknowledged some of the report’s conclusions were based on EPA-supplied information, some from whistle-blowers within the department.
Vallone listened patiently to the arguments and at one point got into a hot exchange with Miele, who would not budge from his position. Vallone’s final word, however, was that the Council would hire its own consultant to investigate thoroughly the situation. Then it would decide on a position. Meanwhile, repairs are being made under a long-range program, Miele said.
Vallone was otherwise busy earlier last week arguing in support of a bill of which he is a sponsor that would ban banks from charging non-customers a fee for using their automated teller machines (ATMs) to withdraw money. The bill seeks to help residents of poor areas who use the ATMs more frequently and who are also charged an ATM fee by banks where their funds are deposited.
The bill excludes ATM machines that are operated by non-banks in grocery stores and elsewhere which serve customers who do not have many bank branches in their communities.
Bank representatives at a hearing said the bill is discriminatory. They were supported by the Giuliani administration, which opposes the bill. Opponents also argued the city should not be regulating an industry that is traditionally supervised by state and federal governments.
New Entry For Sabini Seat: Supporters of Jimmy van Bramer of Woodside are holding a fundraiser for him tonight at the Rainbow Café, 30-01 30th Ave., Astoria, to start raising funds for his campaign for City Council next year in the 25th District. Councilmember John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights) presently holds the seat but cannot run for reelection in 2001 because of term limits.
Van Bramer, who is manager of Community Affairs for the Queens Borough Public Library, joins a crowded field of hopefuls, including Ellen Raffaele, former Sabini staff member; Michael Den Dekker, district representative for Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth); Mal Press, Jackson Heights businessman and activist; attorney Rudy Greco and Corona Democratic leader James Lisa.
Van Bramer, 31, a St. John’s University graduate, is active in the gay and Lesbian Democratic Club and ran as a Bradley delegate earlier this year. His platform will include, he said, campaign finance reform and increased funding for parks and education. He has also fought in the past to block library cuts and has served as Queens field director for "Clean Money, Clean Elections," a group which fought for New York City’s campaign finance rules.
Van Bramer paid former Assemblymember Melinda Katz a compliment when we thought he was running for the 29th Councilmanic District seat, for which Katz also has aspirations. "She would be too much to beat," van Bramer said of Katz, who has been director of community boards for Borough President Claire Shulman for the past two years. Katz told us she recently had decided to stay local and run for the seat representing Rego Park and Forest Hills, now held by long-time City Councilmember Karen Koslowitz. The veteran lawmaker must give up the City Council seat in 2001 because of the city's term limits law.
Butler Honoree: When the Powhattan and Pocahontas Regular Democratic Clubs hold their annual dinner–dance next Feb. 23rd at Riccardo’s by the Bridge, 21-01 24th Ave., Astoria, former Assemblymember Denis J. Butler will be the honoree along with Mary Anne Kelly and Queens Board of education member Terri Thomson.
By that time Butler will be known as plain "Mr." Butler having been succeeded in the New York State Assembly by Michael Gianaris. Kelly was Butler’s long time Democratic co-leader in the Long Island City portion of the 36th Assembly District. Butler and Kelly were succeeded as district leaders in this past September’s elections by James Cazilas and Anne Marie Anzalone, Kelly’s daughter.
Tickets for the dinner are priced at $60 apiece, announced club presidents Edward Berberich and Patricia Colella. Edward Babor is chairman of the dinner journal.