By John Toscano
‘Take Charge’Attitude Gets Needle Exchange Plan OK’d
Borough President Helen Marshall scored a major victory when Community Board 2 approved the site of a needle exchange in Long Island City as an anti-AIDS measure.
Prior to the Board 2 favorable vote last Thursday evening, action had been deferred on the matter because of opposition from residents of Queensbridge Houses to a proposed site near them, although they are not in Board 2, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.
City Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Sunnyside) interceded on behalf of two Queensbridge leaders to have the vote postponed.
Marshall then jumped into the stalled selection of the needle exchange site. Accompanied by Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) she toured the Sunnyside area. It was then tentatively decided to locate the exchange at 42-57 Hunter St. in Long Island City. That’s the home of the AIDS Center of Queens County (ACQC).
On April 20, Marshall convened a meeting at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens with all the parties involved in the issue, including Gioia, Conley and representatives of ACQC. Marshall announced she had worked out a consensus agreement to locate the needle exchange at the Hunter Street center, to be operated by ACQC. It would become final after Board 2 voted on it, which they did last Thursday. All that remains is for state officials to give it the okay, which is expected.
Marshall was motivated by one salient fact in moving decisively on the needle exchange issue: the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had reported that 200 people in Board 2 had become infected last year from injections through needles contaminated by HIV users. There had to be an immediate stop to this before the matter got any further out of hand.
The needle exchange was obviously needed and no amount of petty squabbling was going to stand in the way of it, as far as Marshall was concerned.
GIANARIS CORNERS DOCTOROFF: Dan Doctoroff, the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, came out to speak about his pet topic—getting the Olympics here in 2012—before Rose Marie Poveromo’s United Civic and Community Association (UCCA). He was waylaid by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) who wanted to talk instead about his pet topic—too many power plants in Astoria.
Gianaris was miffed recently when he, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney filed a lawsuit to block the use of Liberty Bonds to finance construction of a new Astoria Energy plant. Unexpectedly, Gianaris said, Mayor Michael Bloomberg objected to the law suit and supported construction plans.
At the UCCA meeting, Gianaris said, "I asked Doctoroff about it, telling him we were disappointed the mayor didn’t support us in our suit. He answered with the same old excuses—we need more energy to prevent blackouts.
"These are the stock answers they always give us, the same scare tactics that the administration throws out to us. I told him we’re not anti-energy, in fact Astoria plants produce 60 percent of the power used in the city, and I asked him what was so different about a Brooklyn power plant that the community protested against and Bloomberg refused to let it go through. Why was that different than in Astoria? When it comes to Astoria, they don’t feel the need to support the community—and that’s unacceptable."
Doctoroff stood fidgeting on the stage, Gianaris said, and wasn’t trying to break in and respond. But, said Gianaris, "there’s a mayoral election and Bloomberg’s running for re-election, so maybe it’ll be payback time for Astoria."
CHARGED UNDER NEW VALLONE LAW: A man attending a recent baseball game at Shea Stadium who suddenly entered onto the playing field, ran around aimlessly and interrupted the game became the first person arrested under a law authored by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. which allegedly makes such action criminal trespass.
If convicted of the crime, the intruder is subject to a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, 90 days to a year in jail, and from $10,000 to $25,000 penalties for making physical contact with a ball player.
"We praise Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office for prosecuting this case to the full extent of the law," said Vallone. "Once individuals realize they will be handing over a minimum of $1,000, they will understand that it is no longer cheap to makes fools of themselves."
GRODENCHIK INSTALLS: Newly elected officers of the Democratic Club of Flushing will be installed by Assemblymember Barry Grodenchik (D–Flushing) next Sunday in the Flushing Hospital auditorium. Grodenchik will use the occasion to outline the issues for his re-election campaign. The club, which represents Part B of the 22nd Assembly District, is headed by District Leaders Julia Harrison, former councilmember, and John Rosario and Democratic State Committee member Loretta Weiss. For information, contact Sally Kahn, president, at 718-886-5495.
LIU ON SUBWAY SECURITY: Commenting on delays by the MTA in drawing up a subway security plan, Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing), council Transportation Committee chair, stated: "There doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency that we need to terror-proof our subway system." He blasted the agency for spending little of the $600 million it got a year ago to develop a security plan.
McLAUGHLIN AT JEFFERSON CLUB: Assemblymember Brian McLaughlin (D–Flushing) will be the guest speaker at the Jefferson Democratic Club’s next meeting on Thursday, June 3 at the Auburndale American Legion Hall, 198-09 33rd Ave., off Francis Lewis Boulevard and 33rd Avenue.
CONSERVATIVE PARTY MEETS: Elected officials seeking re-election—state Senators Frank Padavan and Serphin Maltese, both Republicans, and state Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblymember Anthony Seminerio, both Democrats—will appear at the Thursday, May 20 meeting of the Queens County Conservative Party at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Continental Post 1424, 107-15 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills according to Thomas Long, Queens party chairman. He can be reached at 718-474-3826.
INDY PARTY FUNDRAISER: The Queens County Independence Party will hold its third annual spring chairman’s reception and fundraiser on Saturday, May 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at Taverna Zenon, 34-10 34th Ave., Astoria. Councilmember Leroy Comrie (D–St. Albans) will receive the party’s "Independent Spirit of Queens" Award for his strong support of a ballot initiative last year which would have permitted voters in New York City to cast their ballot via a non-partisan election method, according to Party Chairman Gerald R. Everett.
Officers Sworn In At M.V. Republican Club: City Councilmember Dennis Gallagher and his predecessor in the 30th District seat, Tom Ognibene, swore in the new officers of the Middle Village Republican Club at a recent meeting.
Rick Metzger was sworn in as president and Marilyn Adams as vice president. Others sworn in were: Sari Hoar, recording secretary; Sarah Klaus, assistant recording secretary; Ed Borst corresponding secretary; Katherine Weiner, financial secretary; Olga Finneran, treasurer, and Ruth Mikol, sergeant-at-arms.
Six members of the board of directors were sworn in to new terms: Marge Adams, Judy Bedenik, Molly Schoenmuller, Beverly Magenheim, Michael Roemmelt and Maryann Schnell. New members sworn in were Joe Suraci and Angie Ferzola.