2003-12-10 / Features

Vallone, Monserrate Anti-Graffiti Bill

Vallone, Monserrate Anti-Graffiti Bill: Fines For Owners Who Don’t Remove It, Incentives For Those Who Do

Vallone, Monserrate Anti-Graffiti Bill:
Fines For Owners Who Don’t
Remove It, Incentives For Those Who Do

Owners of commercial and residential buildings will be subject to a fine if the city has to remove graffiti under a bill sponsored by City Councilmembers Peter Vallone Jr. and Hiram Monserrate. Graffiti removal is generally performed by volunteer groups as a public service.

However, the new, tougher approach to removing the unsightly scrawlings was balanced by a softer side: property tax exemptions for property owners to cover the cost of removing graffiti—if the state legislature and governor approve the resolution.

The bill emerged last Friday at City Hall before the Public Safety Committee. Vallone is chairman and Monserrate is a member.

The bill would allow the city to fine owners of both commercial and residential buildings of six or more units if graffiti is not removed within 30 days. The city would then be authorized to remove it.

"This is not anti-business legislation," declared Vallone, (D–Astoria). It is, in fact, another way the council is trying to promote business and enhance the image of a neighborhood by cracking down on activity that degrades quality of life and blemishes the integrity of a community.

"Ultimately, this makes our neighborhoods more livable, more aesthetically pleasing and safer," Vallone said.

Monserrate (D–Corona) added: "Graffiti in public locations invites gang and criminal activity to communities by giving the impression that people do not care about their communities. This legislation will allow our neighborhoods to clean graffiti before it affects their quality of life."

Vallone pointed out that, as the bill’s legislative intent indicates, graffiti continues to be a public nuisance which creates an atmosphere of neglect, invites criminal activity and contributes to a feeling of disorderliness and fear.

"The bill attempts to remove this blight from city streets as well as respect property rights and First Amendment speech rights," Vallone said.

Ex-cop Monserrate said that the legislation would protect and improve quality of life by allowing for the quick, efficient removal of neighborhood graffiti and provide incentives for property owners to facilitate the process.—John Toscano

Stavisky Berates SUNY For Creating $270,000 Job While Increasing Tuitions

Observing sarcastically that "SUNY doesn’t need another layer of bureaucracy," state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky last week chided the State University of New York officials for creating a new vice chancellor post which appears to be "a $270,000 consolation prize." All this, the Flushing Democrat added, at the same time they increased tuition.

Stavisky, the ranking minority member of the senate Higher Education Committee, said SUNY officials deserved "an Academy Award for bad timing."

She asked rhetorically "When is a hiring freeze not a hiring freeze?," and answered "Only when it affects a crony."

Stavisky explained that the new vice chancellor, whom she did not name, was passed over for the presidency of Buffalo College so the new quarter–million–dollar post was created to soothe his ruffled feathers.

Tuition at SUNY was increased last year by $950, a hike of 28 percent. She pointed out that the cost of college tuition borne by students "has soared while the state’s share of the cost has dropped.

"Students in New York were hit the hardest by last year’s budget," Stavisky stated. "They are struggling to pay for college tuition and this only makes an affordable college education less affordable."

Stavisky suggested that SUNY officials should follow the example set by their counterparts at CUNY (the City University of New York). There top administrators teach classes, thus cutting the cost of hiring more teachers. CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, for example, teaches a calculus course at Hunter College.

Incidentally, Stavisky didn’t figure it out, but by our math, $270,000 would pay the tuition increase for about 284 students.—John Toscano

Crowley, Weiner Announce Funding Grants

Congressmembers Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) and Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) yesterday announced that New York City is slated to receive $23.2 million next year to fight the Asian Longhorned Beetle, a $12.2 million increase over last year.

They said Queens is due to receive $10.5 million and Brooklyn $4.7 million out of the $23.2 million.

Crowley also announced that Congress had provided $18.5 million for the International Fund for Ireland, a program which bridges sectarian and political divides to build stronger communities in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Crowley also said he had secured a $250,000 grant for a study in select neighborhoods in Queens and The Bronx that experience higher than normal rates of asthma among their residents.—John Toscano

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