Big Victory For Monserrate In Getting Sunday Parking Ban Lifted
The City Council overrode Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto of a bill that restores a ban on parking meters on Sundays in a hard-fought, persistent legislative victory for Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, who sponsored the controversial measure.
The lawmaker from Corona, a former police officer, felt strongly that Sunday meters, which had been instituted during a fiscal crisis three years ago, constituted truly a “pay to pray” levy. When action was pending on the bill and also after it was passed and vetoed by the mayor last August, Monserrate made a practice of visiting churches around the city every Sunday to drum up support for the legislation among religious leaders.
On the Sunday before the override vote last Tuesday, Monserrate went to a church in The Bronx to join with church leaders in a celebration in anticipation of the veto, which carried by a 42-to-2 vote.
The override vote provided an opportunity for Democratic mayoral nominee Fernando Ferrer to visit City Hall and add his support to the override.
Afterward Ferrer commented, “There shouldn’t be a tax on worship, and that’s what this is. We’ve passed the fiscal crisis. It is appropriate that this measure be ended.” He also accused the billionaire mayor once again of being out of touch with ordinary New Yorkers.
Meanwhile the mayor, who bemoaned the anticipated loss of about $12 million a year from the city treasury, said that when the new law takes effect November 13, “It’s likely people will park for 24 hours instead of parking for an hour or two and moving on.”
MORE FLU VACCINATION SITES IN NE QUEENS: The number of flu vaccination sites in City Councilmember Tony Avella’s district in Northeast Queens will be increased from four last year to 11 under an agreement the Bayside lawmaker worked out with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
Avella (D) said several local nonprofit organizations and religious institutions participated in securing the additional locations.
DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden stated, “With the help of Councilmember Avella, DOHMH will be able to increase the number of flu shots available to senior citizens in Northern Queens this year. It is important that elderly persons, as well as those with asthma, diabetes and the immune-compromised, get a flu shot every year to reduce the risk of illness. Only this year’s flu shot can prevent this year’s flu.”
VALLONE ANNOUNCES NEW RENT EXEMPTION: City Councilmember Peter Vallone (D–Astoria) announced last week that the city Department of Finance has created a new program under which disabled tenants in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments may be entitled to an exemption from any future rent increases.
The new program is called the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption Program or DRIE and is similar to the SCRIE program for senior citizens. When a rent increase goes into effect tenants who qualify for DRIE will not have to pay the increase. Instead, the landlord will receive an equivalent credit on his or her property taxes.
For information on how to qualify for the program, contact Vallone’s office at 718-274-4500 or visit the DRIE program Web site at www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/property/property tax reducdrie.shtml.
LOCAL LAWMAKERS DO RIBBON CUTTING: Vallone, state Senator George Onorato and Assemblymember Michael Gianaris hosted a ribbon-cutting last Friday opening a new restaurant and lounge called Soma at 49-09 25th Ave. Soma has been dubbed the “World Nightery and Meze Lounge, offering the best in local nightlife and lounge dining.
NEW HOME FOR LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS: The Corona–Elmhurst Center for Economic Development has a new storefront home at 39-13 104th St., Corona, Assemblymember Jose Peralta (D–Corona) announced. Peralta was joined by the center Executive Director Fernando Fernandez in announcing the move. The new storefront will feature newly acquired computers and will be a one-stop center for a variety of services.
The center was founded in April 2003 by Peralta, who secured a $125,000 state grant for it. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to provide information and technical and financial assistance to local merchants and business owners, Peralta explained. It will also provide a series of courses designed for existing business owners or those interested in going into business, he said. Loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 are available for local merchants seeking to renovate or expand their operations.
For more information, contact Yonel Letellier at 718-458-5367 or 718-710-6154.
THOMPSON LAUNCHES NEW WEB SITE: City Comptroller William Thompson, who is unopposed for re-election in the contest next month, nonetheless launched a campaign Web site, www.Thompson2005.com, to give voters a chance to get acquainted with the city’s 42nd Comptroller. The city’s top fiscal officer, whose term of office will conclude at the end of 2009, may also be looking beyond that date to the next mayoral race, according to political observers.
The Web site highlights Thompson’s accomplishments since taking office and encourages visitors to become actively engaged in his present campaign.
In announcing the new Web site, Thompson stated: “I want all New Yorkers to know what I stand for, and how they can become involved in my campaign. When I first ran for office, I promised to serve as a fiscal activist.
“I work with a team of dedicated public servants who provide a wide range of services to the people of this great city, and I consider our role a vital one to protect not just the city’s employees and retirees, but all members of this community we call home.”
Thompson and his staff of 700 plus city workers meticulously keep watch over the city’s finances, making sure all expenditures conform to what the budget states and are otherwise legal. He also serves as custodian and investment advisor to the city’s pension funds, an awesome responsibility involving more than $85 billion.
‘FIRST ESPRESSO POUR’: City Councilmembers Dennis Gallagher (R–C, Middle Village) and Melinda Katz (D–Forest Hills) made a recent ribbon-cutting for a new Starbucks in Glendale which benefitted the Forest Hills Community House a bipartisan event. They joined Store Manager, Matthew Cooperman, in serving up the ceremonial “First Espresso Pour,” which is part of a traditional Starbucks-style ribbon-cutting. Both Katz and Gallagher have no opposition as they seek election to second four-year terms on November 8.
SKLAR STAGES ANTI-WAR PROTEST: The last in a series of anti-war protests was staged last Thursday by volunteers from the Robyn Sklar campaign who distributed flyers which informed students and parents of their rights to not allow military recruiters to have access to information about the students outside four local high schools.
Sklar, a Green Party candidate running against City Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Long Island City), and her campaign workers distributed opt-out forms and basic information about the program of military recruitment of high school students under the No Child Left Behind Act, Sklar said. The flyers distributed informed the students of other service options such as Americorps. Voter registration forms were also handed out.
The schools where the Sklar workers approached the students were the Frank Sinatra H.S., Middle College H.S., International H.S. and the Academy of Finance and Enterprise.
There is a third candidate for Gioia’s 26th district seat, Nancy Hanks, of the Independence Party.
REPORT AUBRY, COOK CONSIDERED FOR ASSEMBLY POST: Brooklyn Assemblymember and former Kings County Democratic Leader Clarence Norman’s conviction for fraud created a vacancy in the post he held as Assembly Deputy Speaker under Speaker Sheldon Silver. Reports out of Albany say Queens Assemblymembers Jeffrion Aubry and Vivian Cook are being considered to replace Norman. The Deputy Speaker post has been held by African–Americans for many years.