On the brief side...
L. to r.) Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state Senator Dean Skelos pause on their tour of Athens to enjoy a lovely day in the Greek capital and site of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria), who recently accompanied Mayor Michael Bloomberg on an official visit to the Olympic games in Athens, said afterward that New York City should be selected for the 2012 games because the city would derive many economic benefits from the event.
He stated, “New York can similarly harness the power of the 2012 Olympics to remake itself for the 21st century. The games will benefit every borough, including my Assembly district in Western Queens. It will spur transportation improvements, such as the expansion of the Number 7 elevated line, create new housing in Long Island City and establish new venues across the city that will outlive the Olympics.”
He added that the city should move forward on the centerpiece of the Olympics, the controversial New York Sports and Convention Center in Manhattan.
Monserrate Delivers $1 M For College Of Aeronautics
City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, who secured $1 million in the budget for a new library and auditorium at the College of Aeronautics in Elmhurst, last week presented the funds to college officials.
The Corona lawmaker said the college, which offers degree programs in engineering technology, aviation and management, had a highly diverse student population reflecting the population of the community where it is located.
Monserrate (D), co-chair of the council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, said the college near La Guardia Airport has been serving and enriching the community for many years.
Outpatient Services Continue At Shuttered Hospital
A Flushing community group, Community Alliance to Retain Equitable Services (C.A.R.E.S.) says the state Department of Health has promised the group will receive a “full review” process for relocation of critical outpatient services from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing, which is in the process of being shut down.
In the meantime, the group said, these outpatient services will continue at St. Joseph's, and inpatient psychiatric services—21 beds—will also remain open at the hospital for several weeks before shifting to Queens Hospital after that hospital completes important renovations.
St. Joseph’s Hospital is being closed by the St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center Corporation because it has been sustaining operating deficits.
Weprin Pushes For End To Sales Tax
City Council Finance Committee Chairman David Weprin (D–Hollis) urged state legislative leaders last Friday to keep their 2003 promise to end permanently the statewide 4.25 percent sales tax on clothing and footwear purchases of less than $110 an item.
If Governor George Pataki and legislative leaders keep their promise, Weprin said, then New York City can cancel out its 4 1/8 percent sales tax on clothing. Weprin and others who joined him in calling for an end to the tax said that New York City loses about $700 million in sales to New Jersey every year because of the sales tax.
Weprin and Staten Island business leaders called for rescinding the tax after it was extended for a year in the recently approved state budget. The tax was supposed to die this past May 31.
Gov Toughens State’s ‘Do Not Call’ Law
Governor George Pataki recently signed into law a bill which strengthens the state’s Do Not Call Law by more than doubling—from $5,000 to $11,000—the maximum penalty for each violation by telemarketers.
The governor said that when he first signed the law he had promised strong enforcement to protect New Yorkers’ privacy in their homes. Today, he noted, 4 million households enjoy that protection because of the effective law.
Teresa A. Santiago, chairperson and executive director of the state Consumer Protection Board, which administers the law, joined the governor at the bill signing. She said the state has collected more than $1 million in settlements under the Do Not Call program since it started a year ago. The state law acts in conjunction with the federal law.
New Yorkers can add their names to the national Do Not Call registry by calling 1-888-382-1222.
Liu Meets With Paris Council Rep
City Councilmember John Liu (D–Flushing) met on Monday with Paris, France City Councilmember Zair Kedadouche to discuss the representation of minorities in politics.
Kedadouche, a former professional soccer player of Arab descent, was elected to his post in 2001 and is a member of France’s High Council of Integration, a body that advises the French Prime Minister on immigration matters. Liu said his Paris counterpart has been a leading advocate of integrating ethnic minorities into the French government. Liu said Kedadouche has often been critical of minority representation in France because although the country has 5 million Arab people, or 10 percent of the population, there are no Parliament members from that ethnic group.
Liu’s meeting with Kedadouche was set up by Richard Duque, French Consul General posted to New York.