2001-05-09 / Political Page

Lowey Files Asthma-Fighting, Airline Passenger Rights Bills

By John Toscano

Congressmember Nita Lowey has reintroduced legislation to provide increased funding for prevention, treatment and research of asthma, a serious problem in western and other parts of Queens.

The Westchester/Queens Democrat also introduced a bill last week to establish an Airlines Passenger Bill of Rights declaring:

"Like everyone here, I am tired of airlines having unfettered decision-making authority in scheduling flights with no accountability to passengers."

She said her bill would require airlines to make passengers their number one priority.

As to the asthma legislation, Lowey declared, "With the highest rate of asthma in the country in New York City, this debilitating condition has reached epidemic proportions.

"The burden of asthma is nothing short of a crisis. Without a cure, we must take action to help children and families manage this illness."

Lowey said 1.2 million of the nation’s 15 to 17 million asthma sufferers live in New York City, and 135,000 of these are children. The illness is the leading cause of absenteeism in city schools, she said.

Lowey’s legislation, filed with the announcement of National Asthma Awareness Month, would provide $4 million per year directly to low-income schools hardest hit by asthma to implement asthma cure programs. The funds would help train teachers in treatment procedures and also be used to purchase medical equipment and improve air quality.

Her bill would encourage states to establish pediatric asthma action plans and would bolster public awareness and education about the condition.

Asthma has become a serious problem in the Astoria/Long Island City area because of years of pollution emanating from power generating plants operating in the area.

In filing the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, Lowey said her constituents have completely lost faith in the aviation system.

She also cited last week’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report which confirmed that LaGuardia Airport topped the chart with a rate of 155 significant delays per 1,000 operations.

Lowey said the LaGuardia delays were traceable to airlines scheduling more flights an hour than an airport can safely accommodate. The bottom line, she said, was that passengers were bearing the brunt of the airlines’ "disingenuous and dishonest practices."

VALLONE HONORS BLACK PROFESSIONALS: Last week, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) joined Queens Councilmember Priscille Wooten and the Profession Network Organization to honor 22 African–American professional organizations that have played an integral role in working to better conditions in local communities around the city.

Organizations which received proclamations included the Black Bar Association of Bronx County, National Society of Black Engineers, National Association of Minorities in Communications, Socialstep.com and One Hundred Black Men, Inc.

MALONEY WANTS GOVERNORS ISLAND: Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) have introduced legislation to return Governors Island to the control of New York State. Maloney said a development plan for the historic island was conceived last year, fulfilling a requirement set by former President Bill Clinton for the return of the island to New York state’s control. Maloney said Governor George Pataki has endorsed the Maloney-Nadler bill.

DEMS DINNER NEXT WEEK: Just eight days are left to get tickets for the May 17 Queens Democratic Party dinner at Antun’s in Queens Village which has United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as honored guest. Given the large amount candidate hopefuls in this year’s election and Clinton’s presence, a huge crowd is expected by party chairman Thomas Manton. District leaders Vivian E. Cook and James J. Wrynn, Jr. are co-chairs. Tickets are $300 per guest. It starts at 6 p.m.

ROCKY RELATIONS: Queens’ all-Democrat Congressional and Senate representatives’ relationships with President George W. Bush have evolved into a Hatfield and McCoy feud situation.

Neither Senator Charles Schumer nor Congressmember Joseph Crowley, Nydia Velazquez, Anthony Weiner, Gregory Meeks, Nita Lowey or Carolyn Maloney showed up for the president’s luncheon marking his first 100 days in office.

Almost the same 100 percent snub occurred when the president had the New York Yankees World Series Champions in for a visit. Only Schumer said he might go. Weiner’s plausible excuse was that he was a Mets fan.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani chided Clinton and Schumer for absenting themselves from the first 100 days event, saying it would have been more diplomatic for the pair to put aside their reasons for not attending since they will have to deal with Bush for the next 3.5 years on legislation important to New York state.

PROTEST CONCORDE: Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) led a protest rally last Saturday in Times Square against the return of the supersonic Concorde airplane flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Joined by other southeast Queens residents, Wiener protested the sound pollution the plane produces. Flights of the Concorde to and from JFK Airport had been suspended about a year ago when a Concorde crashed in France due to runway debris.

HAIL NEW BOTTLED WATER PLANT: Giuliani hailed the opening of a new water bottling plant in Maspeth recently as a milestone, the first time a nationally distributed brand of water will be produced in Queens. The mayor was joined by Queens Borough President Claire Shulman and Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill) at the ribbon cutting. It’s expected eight million bottles of water will be processed at the site each year.

SHULMAN HONORED: Today Shulman will be among three people chosen to be honored tonight by the Queens Library Foundation at a Long Island catering hall. The other honorees are Robert W. Donohue of Con Edison and Charles Hamm of Independence Savings Bank. The event will be co-chaired by Library Trustee Mary Ann Mattone and Joseph Ficcalora of New York Community Bank. Proceeds will benefit the Futures Fund, an endowment to purchase children’s books and provide free children’s programs at the library.

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