2005-12-07 / Political Page

On the brief side... Lunch Boxes Recalled

The office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has reached an agreement with Fast Forward LLC, a Manhattan wholesaler of consumer products, for the recall of thousands of children’s lunch boxes identified as an environmental risk because lead was used in their manufacture.

Between March and September of this year, thousands of soft plastic and mesh lunch boxes in which lead was used to help keep the vinyl stable, were sold by New York retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Cookies, JC Penney, Sears, Toys R Us, Value City, Rainbow, Marmaxx and RB Distributor. The boxes featured Spiderman, Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four and Precious Moments.

“The recall of these children’s products will protect children and our environment from the damagingeffectsoflead,” Spitzer stated.

“I commend the distributor and Wal-Mart and Target for acting promptly to address this important matter.”

Lead is a metal that, when inhaled as dust or ingested, causes neurological and developmental damage in children, Spitzer’s release stated.

Lunch boxes must be returned to the retailer by next February 28 for a cash refund with a receipt, or a store credit if no receipt. Full refunds may also be obtained by returning boxes to Fast Forward by February 28 with a Refund Request form available from Spitzer’s office at 1-800-771-7755. Spitzer may be reached online at www.oag.state.ny.us.

Hillary, Maloney For Guardsmen’s Medals

New York National Guard members who were called to the World Trade Center and elsewhere following the 9/11 attack are not being recognized for it by the federal government, but U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D–New York) and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) are still trying to change the Bush presidential administration’s mind.

Clinton is attacking the problem as a member of a House/Senate conference committee that is considering a bill passed by the House sponsored by Maloney, that would give guardsmen increasingly called to combat duty a chance to collect a pension sooner.

The Pentagon will not recognize the 9/11 anti-terrorism service by National Guard members because they say New York state called them up for duty, and also because units around the country were pressed into service guarding power plants and other facilities after 9/11.

As a result, New York state Guard members have been denied medals or credit toward pensions for their 9/11 service.

Nolan: Day Care Regs Work Against Ridgewood

Recently Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) urged John A. Johnson, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to use “practical awareness” of the housing stock of Ridgewood, Long Island City and some other parts of Queens when drafting new regulations for egress from day care facilities.

Nolan explained that the present regulation requires that a day care facility can be authorized only when there is “readily accessible alternate means of egress which are remote from each other.”

Nolan complains that interpetation of this regulation is causing many applicants in Ridgewood and Long Island City to be denied licensing. She notes: “One aspect of the regulation which negatively impacts Ridgewood is that the only backyard egress extends for 50 feet.” There are few backyards in Ridgewood which meet this qualification, she says.

Caution is required in licensing because young children are involved, she realizes, “but it is also necessary, however, for the new interpretation of the regulation to take into account the diverse housing landscape throughout New York so the regulation can be consistently and fairly applied.”

Lafayette: Not Enough Courts In Queens

Based on the number of cases filed in each borough, Queens is being shortchanged in the number of Civil Court judges assigned to each borough, Assemblymember Ivan Lafayette has charged.

Lafayette noted that while Queens has 14 judges based on 129,000 filings, Brooklyn has 30 judges for 133,000 filings, Manhattan 54 judgeships for 66,486 filings, and The Bronx, 15 judges for 57,000 filings.

“This clearly hurts the people of Queens who depend on these courts to receive justice in a timely manner,” Lafayette said.” Unfortunately, many people may feel they have to settle their law suits simply because of the sheer number of civil filings that must be heard and the time and money it is going to take for them to have their day in court.”

The Jackson Heights Democrat said he plans to file legislation to correct the inequity.

Fort Totten Gets Toys For Soldiers’ Kids

State Senator Frank Padavan, City Councilmember John Liu and New York Hospital Chairman Stephen Mills gathered recently to donate collected toys to FREEMAT, a program established after 9/11 at Fort Totten in Bayside. Through FREEMAT, basic necessities are collected and distributed to troops fighting the war on terror overseas, Padavan said. During the holiday season, toys are collected and distributed to the children of members of the Armed Services, bringing a little extra joy to them for the holidays. New York Hospital added to the season of giving by donating a check for $500 for the FREEMAT program.

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