On the brief side...
Paterson Present As Obama Signs Child Health Insurance Bill
President Barack Obama signed an improved child health insurance bill into law, expanding coverage for thousands and Governor David Paterson celebrated the event as "a huge step forward to ensure that all children get the opportunity to grow up healthy".
Former President George W. Bush had twice refused to sign the expanded State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill into law, but Obama was quick to enact it after Democratic majorities in the House and Senate approved it.
The measure covers substantially more low- and middle-income families by making those earning between $44,000 and $52,000 annually eligible for the coverage. With the new law, Paterson said, an additional 10,000 New York children are covered in the state's Child Health Plus program. Weiner Lauds Constitutional History Whizzes
Last November, Congressmember Anthony Weiner brought pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions along with him on a visit to Forest Hills H.S. and held a discussion with students on the importance of getting involved in the political process.
In March, some 30 Queens students will participate in the state championships of an American history competition in Albany and Weiner hopes they'll bring their mini copies of the Constitution along.
The competition is sponsored by the New York State Bar Association and was created by the Center for Civic Education. The "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution" event involves groups of students "testifying" at a mock Congressional hearing before a panel of judges who then rank them on the basis of their answers and arguments on constitutional questions.
Commenting on the student participants, Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn) stated, "These students have the chops to make it to the top, and I know they will make their teachers and community proud." Vallone Holds 3rd Annual B-Ball Tourney
The third annual Winter Recess Basketball Tournament sponsored by City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and community organizations is scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, 21-12 30th Road, Astoria.
Vallone, who raised $500 to fund the tournament, encourages neighborhood youths to participate and meet the police officers who patrol their communities. Police Service Area 9 and P.S.A. 9 Community Council participate in running the tournament.
The tournament is open to boys between the ages of 11 and 13 who reside in the Astoria, Ravenswood, Queensbridge or Woodside Houses. Four teams will be formed, consisting of eight players each. On Monday, February 16, teams will hold practice sessions starting at 6 p.m. To sign up, contact Vallone's office at 718-274-4500.
Last year, the tournament drew a large audience and Vallone is hoping for an even better turnout this year. Winning teams will receive trophies at ceremonies with police and community officials. Schumer Helps To Save Drakes Bakery Jobs
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced recently he had participated in the successful efforts to help the giant Drakes bakery in Jamaica emerge from bankruptcy, preserving the jobs of 300 people.
Schumer said he had helped to broker a deal between Drakes' parent company and General Electric. Drakes, known for its coffee cakes and Hostess cup cakes, also has plants in Ozone Park and Woodside, Schumer said. Prods Exxon To Clean Up Creek
Citing Exxon's reported $45 billion 2008 profits, City Councilmember Eric Gioia says the wealthy oil corporation should stop stalling on the cleanup of Newtown Creek.
"Exxon's out of excuses," snapped Gioia (D- Long Island City), who's running for Public Advocate this year. "It shouldn't take a lawsuit for Exxon to do the right thing." Exxon has been sued by Gioia and others for its alleged part in a huge oil spill into the creek which separates Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Queens.—Compiled by John Toscano