2007-08-29 / Political Page

Peeping Toms, Fighting Dogs, Make Vallone's Busy Day

City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. has kept a fairly busy schedule as a lawmaker since he began serving in his present post more than five years ago.

But Astoria's representative, who's chairman of the Public Safety Committee, really outdid himself last Wednesday, introducing two bills which caught the attention of the City Hall press corps, and having a third passed by his colleagues.

One of the bills introduced deals with punishing Peeping Toms and another increases civil penalties for dogfighting. The bill that was approved increases fines for private citizens who dump their trash in public receptacles.

The bill which got the most attention, judging from the media coverage it generated in the following day's newspapers, was one which, for the first time, focuses on Peeping Toms who "repeatedly position themselves to view another person's intimate parts that otherwise would not be visible to the public".

Vallone (D- Astoria) explained he was prompted to offer the legislation because he had received complaints from several female constituents that one peeper was regularly positioning himself under the stairway to the elevated subway stop at Ditmars Boulevard, peering upward as commuters made their way up the stairs to catch a train.

Vallone said he asked the police to deal with the matter, but was told no law was being violated, so the young lawmaker sat down to compose one.

"These perverts use their eyes to invade the privacy of people's bodies, leaving many feeling violated," he explained. "Yet, up until now, there has been a peephole loophole that gives anyone

a license to gawk, leer and

spy anywhere they please."

Vallone said it took him about a month to

produce the bill

he finally submitted.

The second bill introduced, which dealt with fighting dogs, surfaced amid the furor created by the arrest of National Football League quarterback Michael Vick for involvement in dogfighting rings.

But Vallone's proposed measure dealt with harboring or owning a fighting dog, such as a pit bull.

Under present city law, no person can possess any dog trained to fight other dogs or to attack human beings. Fines for violations, which presently range rom $500 to $5,000, would be sharply increased to $2,500 to $25,000 per infraction.

BATTLE OVER JAMAICA MAKEOVER?: A huge 368-block rezoning plan covering a section of Jamaica in Southeast Queens could set off a major battle among Queens lawmakers on September 10 when it comes up for a final vote in the City Council.

When the bill was approved by the council Land Use Committee last week, it benefitted from having the support of that key panel's chairperson, Councilmember Melinda Katz (D- Forest Hills).

But last Sunday, Councilmember David Weprin, who represents an adjoining district, led a rally against the proposal. Weprin (D- Hollis), chair of the council Finance Committee, was joined in opposition to the planned rezoning by Councilmember James Gennaro (D- Fresh Meadows). Other members on record as opposing the redevelopment plan are Jamaica-area council representative Leroy Comrie and Tony Avella (D- Bayside).

The Bloomberg administration is strongly behind the proposal. The plan calls for allowing commercial development in areas presently zoned for manu- facturing, thus creating almost 1,000 new jobs and more than 5,000 new private residences. But the plan also allows for large numbers of seven-story apartment buildings to be built along Hillside Avenue, a main thoroughfare, which has sparked major opposition. Originally, the plan called for 12-story high-rise buildings on Hillside, but local opposition resulted in the building height being lowered.

Interestingly, the present clash over the proposal could be setting the stage for future campaign battles as both Katz and Weprin are reportedly interested in seeking the city comptroller's job in 2009 when they will be out of their present council jobs because of the term limits law.

GONZALES DEPARTS: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- New York), who led the effort to have U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales relinquish his post, said after Gonzales' surprise resignation on Monday that after the "long and difficult struggle the Attorney General had done the right thing and stepped down".

Then, addressing President George W. Bush, who had resisted firing Gonzales, he declared: "We Democrats implore you to work with us, don't choose the path of confrontation. All we ask is that you choose somebody who puts the rule of law first."

Gonzales, the first Hispanic Attorney General, had come under fire for his handling of FBI terror probes and the firing of U.S. attorneys under his command.

A new battle may start as the president offers a possible successor to be approved by the Senate. The first name to pop up was that of Michael Chertoff, head of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

MALONEY'S FIGHT FOR

WOMEN'S RIGHTS: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney took the occasion of Women's Equality Day last Sunday to announce that she will introduce legislation to help and promote the equality of

women around the world when

Congress reconvenes next

month.

Maloney (D- Queens/Manhattan) said her International Women's Freedom Act would set up a Commission on International Women's Rights and a special office in the U.S. State Department that would be charged with

advancing women's rights and gender equality abroad and advising the president and secretary of state on such matters.

Maloney stated: "In many countries, women are still being subjected to brutal honor killing, forced to obey oppressive norms and rendered invisible in the eyes of the law. My International Women's Equality Act recognizes that while we continue to wage the fight for true equality at home, we also have an obligation to help women everywhere break the bonds of gender oppression."

MAYERSOHN, PADAVAN BILLS BECOME LAW: Governor Eliot Spitzer signed several bills into law recently, among them Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn's bill which will allow rape victims to receive the results of an HIV test of their assailants within 48 hours after the assailant or assailants are indicted. "It is critical that a rape victim be given the information on the HIV status of the alleged rapist as soon as possible," said Mayersohn (D- Flushing).

Another bill signed by the governor was sponsored by state Senator Frank Padavan (R-C/Bellerose) and permits homeowners to stop the barrage of incessant and unwanted literature and advertisements "unscrupulously left on their lawns and property".

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