2003-02-05 / Political Page

Weiner Wins Key Transportation Panel Post

By John Toscano

Congressmember Anthony Weiner has been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a post which will give him a voice on some very important programs involving New York City on land and in the air.

This year, among other issues, the Transportation panel will be considering reauthorization of two major programs: the Transportation Efficiency Act (TEA) which provides funding for all federal roads, bridges, ferries and tunnels, and the Aviation Investment Reform Act (AIR), which funds the nation’s airports, including La Guardia and Kennedy Airports.

In fiscal year, the federal government spent $28 billion nationwide under TEA and $3.5 billion under AIR. Those are billions we’re talking about. Weiner’s new committee decides how much is spent and on which project.

Commenting on his appointment, the Queens/Brooklyn Democrat said, "The attacks of September 11 devastated the lower Manhattan transportation hub, choking New York City subways and bus services with additional demands and posing enormous infrastructure challenges for our airports. I will work to address these needs, while preparing for the next generation of funding for mass transit in Queens and Brooklyn, especially ferries."

In the past, former United States Senator Al D’Amato, in company with ex-colleague Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, reaped billions for mammoth New York City programs such as creating a Long Island Rail Road terminus on the east side of Manhattan, a project now under construction. Congressmember Nita Lowey, as a Queens representative, also helped get huge allotments for this borough’s transit needs. Weiner, is positioned to do his two boroughs and himself much good in the future, especially since multi-billion dollar projects are under discussion for a major new and improved transportation hub in the area of the World Trade Center.

Weiner is also a great fan of ferry service, so we can expect to see him advocating for many new water borne transportation projects including ferry projects on the East River.

1st QUEENS HISPANIC ASSEMBLYMEMBER SWORN: It was both an official and personal triumph for Assemblymember Jose Peralta last week as he was sworn in as the first Hispanic from Queens in the state Assembly. At the well-attended ceremony in the New York Hall of Science in his home community of Corona, Rose Hernandez, his mother, held the Bible as newly elected Civil Court Judge Diccia Pineda, the first Hispanic in Queens to sit in that court, administered the oath of office. Both Peralta and Pineda are of Dominican ancestry.

In keeping with the historic nature of the occasion, several top Democratic lawmakers attended and spoke at the event. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, also from Corona, all made brief remarks welcoming Peralta to his new job.

Following his swearing-in, Peralta a Queens College graduate and one-time labor union official, declared:

"By sending the first Latino from Queens County to Albany, we have broken down another barrier and opened the door of opportunity to a new generation of Latinos who aspire to lead their community through public service. We will devote ourselves to be models for a government that cares for its people, learns from its people, and grows with its people."

NEW BILL WOULD HELP STOREOWNERS: Three Queens councilmembers—David Weprin (D–Hollis), Hiram Monserrate (D–Corona) and James Gennaro (D–Jamaica Estates)—filed a bill last week that will permit store owners to print their type of business on store canopies, an action which presently has incurred hefty fines.

Weprin said he thought was unreasonable that store awnings could not list the type of store on the sign, so he met with Department of Buildings officials before he, Monserrate and Gennaro introduced the bill to add some flexibility to the existing law.

"These small store owners are being hit hard for violating a regulation that makes no sense to them, the customers or me," Weprin stated. "As a shopper, I want to see outside what type of store I may be going into. It makes sense to me to include this valuable information, such as the telephone number, on awnings or canopies."

Recently, Monserrate and storeowners in his district who had been fined staged demonstrations on Roosevelt Avenue to protest the law.

McLAUGHLIN BLASTS BLOOMBERG, PATAKI BUDGETS: Asserting that 250,000 city workers who were last year’s heroes are this year’s casualties because of budgets proposed here and in Albany, Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin blasted those spending plans as "outrageous, shortsighted and a slap at working families."

McLaughlin (D–Flushing/Richmond Hill) said the future is bleak for New York City residents beset by a $1 billion cut in health care coverage, a 41 percent SUNY tuition increase, an 18.5 percent real estate tax increase and a 33 percent boost to the cost of public transportation.

McLaughlin also criticized President George W. Bush "telling the $40,000 wage earner with a family of four to ‘get along with less’ while proposing tax cuts for those who need it least."

McLaughlin declared, "Throughout my district, from Whitestone to Richmond Hill, loyal workers who play by the rules and are just trying to raise their families, are now told that the reward for their hard work is to pay more to get less.

"The city has a $3.4 billion budget gap, the state’s is over $2 billion, and the plan by the Republican leadership is to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford to pay."

MARKEY’S PLEDGE: After being sworn in to a third term at a ceremony in Albany, Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) pledged to continue her fight for tougher standards and improved accountability for food growers, manufacturers and merchants who do business in New York state. She also plans to actively address children’s safety concerns which fall within the realm of the Child Products Safety Sub-committee.

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