Avella Hailed For Vote Against Tax Increase
The Queens Civic Congress, made up of over 100 civic associations throughout Queens, has commended City Councilmember Tony Avella (D–Bayside) for his "courageous vote against the [18.5] percent increase in real estate taxes."
In its commendatory letter to Avella, the civic congress chided Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city council for failing to consider various alternative tax proposals, which could have generated similar revenues.
In voting against the property tax increase, Avella maintained that the budget reductions needed to meet a $1 billion deficit could have been achieved by greater service cutbacks. Councilmember Dennis Gallagher (R–C, Middle Village), who also voted "no" on the tax increase, also felt more service cuts was the route to take to a balanced budget. Gallagher has also been cited for his courage in opposing the mayor and council leaders on the issue.
Interestingly, a recent Quinnipac College poll among state voters found there was more sentiment for cutting state services as opposed to increasing taxes. Those who favored cuts in services outpolled the opposite group by 52 percent to 34 percent, and 64 percent of Republicans polled favored service cuts. Meanwhile, Governor George Pataki and Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may be on opposite sides of the tax issue in meeting a $2 billion deficit this year and an $8 billion budget shortfall for the fiscal year beginning April 1.
Pataki until now has avoided talking about tax increases, but his position may be clearer when he delivers his State of the State address today in Albany.
Silver has said state taxes will have to be increased unless the federal government comes up with a huge amount of fiscal aid for the state. He has talked about a temporary surcharge on income taxes, a corporate tax or a combination of those two.
During last year’s re-election campaign, Pataki vowed there would be no tax increase this year, but that was during the campaign. He’s now safely ensconced in the governor’s chair for another four years, so he could possibly change his no-tax stance.
The other major budget player in Albany, Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, is on record as being against any tax increases at this time.
‘DIRTY TRICKS’ CHARGE IN DISTRICTING BATTLE: The Coalition for Ridgewood, a group formed to keep Ridgewood part of a Queens city council district under ongoing redistricting plans, has claimed "someone or some group" in favor of attaching a part of Ridgewood, Queens to a Brooklyn district has been sending an anonymous letter attacking Assemblymember Catherine Nolan to local media and some Ridgewood residents.
Nolan has been very prominent and outspoken in the effort to keep Ridgewood as a Queens council district, as it has been for many years. She and the Coalition for Ridgewood are allies.
A flyer from the Coalition for Ridgewood does not explain what "dirty tricks" consist of, but says no one claims credit for its contents. The return address on the envelope, the coalition says, is listed as Nolan’s office, and the sender’s name is listed as a member of the Coalition.
The coalition, describing the letter as "contemptible and sordid," states: "The attempt to split our coalition through the use of such a letter exhibits a fear on the part of some that the people of Ridgewood are beginning to be heard. If some proponents of dividing Ridgewood must resort to correspondence that they are afraid to claim authorship for, then they are ceding the high moral ground in this debate."
The coalition flyer was signed by Monsignor Edward Scharfenbarger, Paul Kerzner and Karl Wilhelm.
DA BROWN TO SWEAR IN McLAUGHLIN: Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown will swear in Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin to a sixth term this Sunday at 11 a.m. at St. John’s University in Flushing–Hillcrest, providing McLaughlin the opportunity not only to reflect on a decade of public service to Flushing, but also to meet some new constituents.
McLaughlin during his first 10 years in office represented Flushing, where he has resided for a long period of time. But under the latest reapportionment, his district was changed radically. His constituency now 80 percent different and the district extends from Flushing through Kew Gardens Hills and into Richmond Hill.
Nonetheless, McLaughlin said: "I look forward to the challenge of my next term and this special occasion to talk with the people I will serve."
NYFAC DINNER: Councilmember Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Ozone Park) will be the honoree and McLaughlin (D–Flushing/Richmond Hill) will be honorary chairman at the fifth annual dinner–dance of the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) on February 27 at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach. Also among the honorees are Georgiana Reece, Queens County Savings Bank vice president, and NYFAC founders Peter and Kerry Wright, Tom and Cecile Renna and Jeff and Suzanne Schoenfeld.
VALLONE JR. HEARING ON SCHOOL VIOLENCE: Reacting to several reports of violence in public schools, Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, and Eva Moskowitz (D–Manhattan), chair of the Education Committee, will hold joint hearings on the problem, they announced.
Vallone Jr. said the hearings will investigate all aspects of school safety, including the recent rash of violent incidents against children and school safety officers. The father of two young daughters who attend public schools, Vallone Jr. stated, "There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. I want to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect them."
THREE KINGS DAY CELEBRATIONS: Last Sunday, Assemblymember Jose Peralta (D–Corona) and the Father Bellini Cultural Association celebrated Three Kings Day with a toy giveaway at Our Lady of Sorrows School, 35-34 105th St., Corona. The Ballet Folklorico Group entertained.
On Monday, Councilmember Hiram Monserrate (D–Corona) welcomed residents and community leaders to his first annual Three Kings Day celebration. The lawmaker distributed over 1,000 toys to children from Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst at the P.S. 19 Beacon School, 40-32 99th St., Corona.
Yesterday, Peralta staged another Three Kings Day celebration at the Pediatric AIDS Center at Elmhurst Hospital Center. Toys were distributed to children, who were also treated to lunch and entertained.
Next Sunday, Peralta will host a coat giveaway at Our Lady of Sorrows School at 3 p.m. At the event, co-hosted by Child Health Plus, more than 250 coats will be given to needy children and adults from the Corona area.
WEINER: KEEP TASK FORCE IN FRESH MEADOWS: Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) has asked Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to reconsider his decision to move the Patrol Borough Queens Task Force out of 186-01 73rd Ave., Fresh Meadows, to another location when its lease there expires in 2004. Weiner said Kelly wants to move the task force to the 105th Precinct. Opposing that move, Weiner said, "While the task force does not actively patrol Fresh Meadows neighborhoods, it provides a needed service to the community by ensuring that there is a continuous police presence. As my grandmother used to say, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."