By John Toscano
Energizing Yellow Ribbon Campaign To Support Our Troops
As a special gesture to show support for American troops engaged in combat or assigned elsewhere, City Councilmember Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) has a drive going to "tie a yellow ribbon" around her district.
"Let’s join together and support our troops," she declared." Tie yellow ribbons on every tree, mailbox post, porch post and flagpole. Let’s line our streets with a show of support by May 29, the commemoration of Memorial Day."
Katz also asked that anyone who sees a faded ribbon should replace it "to show the community’s continued support for our men and women who defend our country."
This sounds like a great idea that should be copied throughout Queens, the city, the state and the country. It’s always in style to show support for the men and women in the military, but it’s especially important at this moment when they’re on the firing line in Iraq and Afghanistan. There couldn’t be a better time than on Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember and honor all those who made the supreme sacrifice in all of this country’s wars, to make a special effort to show our support for those on the firing line.
VALLONE VISITS DA’S OFFICES: City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. recently visited the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, where he worked under DA Robert Morgenthau for six years between 1986 and 1992 and compiled an impressive trial record of 40 convictions and only one acquittal.
But it wasn’t a nostalgia trip. It was to give Vallone, as chair of the Public Safety Committee, a firsthand look at how budget cuts may be hurting the prosecutors’ ability to fight crime.
With the budget process going full tilt now, Vallone said he wanted to be prepared to help get the highest level of funding for the five DAs, including Queens DA Richard A. Brown in the lawmaker’s home borough.
"Any cuts will potentially increase crime in the streets," Vallone (D–Astoria) said. "In addition, every extra hour a defendant waits in jail and every extra hour a police officer has to wait to speak to a DA ends up costing the city more in jail expenses and overtime than any budget cuts would supposedly save. Many people don’t realize that although crime is down, arrests are up, and the District Attorneys don’t have enough prosecutors to effectively handle the workload."
He concluded, "I think it’s important for the council to see firsthand how budget cuts are hurting the prosecutors’ ability to fight crime."
SEARS PLANS TOWN HALL MEETINGS: Councilmember Helen Sears (D–Jackson Heights) held a Town Hall meeting last night at P.S. 148 in East Elmhurst and plans to hold another on Wednesday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights for residents of Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. For more information, call Sears’ district office at 718-803-6373.
NOLAN’S APPAREL BILL SIGNED: Workers continue to be victimized by unscrupulous apparel industry employers, says Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood), Labor Committee chair, but she hopes her recently enacted law will help in cracking down on sweatshops.
"The new law is intended to alert retailers and customers and the marketplace generally to those who have violated the protective laws of our state," Nolan explains.
It does so by publishing on the Internet a listing of those persons and entities investigated by the Department of Labor or the Special Task Force on the Apparel Industry and found not to be in compliance with the law, she says.
The law also gives the Special Task Force the authority to close down an apparel factory immediately if a serious fire violation exists.
Publishing such information on the Internet is a practice which has been used successfully by the federal Labor Department. Retailers, manufacturers and contractors contact the federal Department of Labor to confirm the registration status of companies they are considering doing business with in an effort to check on violation history.
Nolan said she was pleased that Governor George Pataki signed her bill into law. "It will go a long way toward helping to eradicate sweatshops," she declared.
CROWLEY HAILS NOT GUILTY VERDICT: Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens) Bronx), co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs, expressed his satisfaction with the not guilty verdict reached in the case of three Irish men accused of training Marxist rebels in Colombia. They had been in a Colombian prison for three years.
Crowley said he was happy the men would soon be reunited with their families after the long separation. He said Martin McCauley, Jim Monaghan and Niall Connolly had been wrongly accused and he was glad that justice had been achieved at last.
"The charges made in the case had been used as a tool by parties who don’t believe in the Good Friday agreement and would like to see it fail," Crowley stated. "It is time for Ireland to move towards creating a lasting and stable peace, free from terrorist suspicions and other unfounded distractions and excuses."
The men had been arrested in August 2001 and subsequently charged with training the Marxist guerillas of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) in bomb-making techniques and with traveling with false documentation.