2009-07-29 / Political Page

NYPD Is Too Good For Fed Stimulus Bucks

City officials blasted the Obama Administration on Monday for excluding the NYPD from $1 billion in economic stimulus money approved and distributed to help cities avoid laying off cops.

The reason given by the Justice Department for the snub hurt as much as the actual exclusion: the NYPD is already doing a first-rate job of fighting crime and the Bloomberg mayoral administration has adequately funded it.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded: "To punish our Police Department because they have driven down crime with fewer resources shows the backwards incentive system at work in Washington. Denying that funding because New Yorkers have already dug into their pockets to maintain our city's sound fiscal stewardship and pay for our exceptional policing doesn't make sense."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was just as angry as the mayor. "After two successful terrorist attacks at the heart of the nation's financial center, there should be substantial and continuing federal support for the NYPD. We shouldn't be penalized for succeeding, mainly on our own dime over the last seven and one half years," Kelly asserted.

Meanwhile, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D- Queens/Brooklyn), who is very familiar with the federal government's bypassing the NYPD's financial needs through his past efforts to access funding from the COPS program, weighed in on the latest Washington oversight.

Weiner said he had been in touch with the Justice Department, which parceled out the $1 billion stimulus pot, and said he would be demanding an explanation of why New York City "has been left out in the cold".

"It is disturbing that the largest city in the country will not get this vital funding to keep our crime levels down," he declared.

SCHOOL CONTROL ELUDES MAYOR: Last week when Mayor Michael Bloomberg made peace with state senate Democrats on the school control issue, he might have thought the subject was closed for the next several years since the Assembly had already approved extension of the mayor's authority to run the school system.

But over the past weekend, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver let it be known that he did not agree with the changes made by Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Senator Hiram Monserrate and other top senate Democrats.

Silver stated, according to a press report, that his house would need to review the four amendments put forth by the Espada group and accepted by the mayor.

Silver was quoted as saying, "It's possible all will pass, possible none will pass, or some of them will pass with various amendments."

Espada's group had already hoisted a red flag warning that if the Assembly did not approve the senate amendments, their approval of the plan would not be a "done deal".

Senator Shirley Huntley (D- Jamaica), who had helped to negotiate the senate changes, stated after Silver's comments were made: "If the Assembly doesn't vote on our amendments, we're not bringing up the main bill [that passed by the Assembly last month]."

There's a strong possibility that the entire school control extension issue will be back to square one.

Meanwhile, the four amendments agreed to by the senate Dems and the mayor's people are as follows: creating a $1.6 million parent training center; establishing an arts advisory council; clarifying the role of district superintendents and holding public meetings on school safety.

VALLONE, IANNECE ENDORSEMENTS: Paul Vallone and Jerry Iannece, hopefuls for the Bayside 19th City Council district seat, announced endorsements by municipal employees' groups—Vallone by the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Union and Iannece by the Columbia Association of the NYPD. Vallone was also endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats' national network of more than 90 local chapters of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations.

The sanitmen Local 831 represents more than 7,000 workers citywide. Noting that the sanitmen perform one of the three most dangerous jobs in the nation, Vallone said he will focus, if elected, on ensuring acceptable working conditions for them.

The Columbia Association is made up of Italian American police officers. Its president, Frank Ventura, cited Iannece as "a role model for every one of us" because of his involvement with the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens, which he serves as vice president. He has chaired the committee that organizes the Queens Columbus Day Parade for more than 20 years.

Iannece and Vallone top the list of candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination in the September 15 primary election. Also hoping to get on the primary ballot are Steven Behar and Debra Markell.

VAN BRAMER GETS NOD: In another Democratic primary race, this one for the party's nomination in Queens' 26th Council District (Long Island City/Sunnyside/Woodside), candidate Jimmy Van Bramer received the New York League of Conservation Voters' endorsement. The NYLCV, which works to make environmental issues a top priority for elected officials, said through its president, Marcia Bystryn, that neighborhoods such as those in the 26th District "need elected leaders who can meet these [environmental] challenges and guide New York City toward a greener, cleaner future". For this reason, her organization chose to support Van Bramer.

In accepting the endorsement, Van Bramer promised "to work tirelessly to make sure the 26th district gets more park and recreation space and less pollution".

Also seeking to get on the 26th council district ballot are Deidre Feerick, David J. Rosario and Brent O'Leary.

DROMM BACKED BY SCHOOL PARENTS' GROUP: A coalition of public school parents and community groups has endorsed school teacher Daniel Dromm for the Democratic nomination in the 25th city council district (Jackson Heights), where he is challenging incumbent Councilmember Helen Sears for the nomination.

The endorsing group, The Educational Justice Political Action Committee (EJ Pac), was formed this year to address the major disparities which exist in education funding and quality. It is backing Dromm, it said, because it believes he can work most effectively to reduce these inequalities and build a system that provides an excellent education for all students.

Sears is seeking a third term and has been designated as the Queens Democratic organization's candidate for re-election.

Dromm, a teacher for more than 25 years, has been endorsed by Assemblymember Jose Peralta (D- Corona); Councilmember Julissa Ferreras (D- Corona); Councilmember Eric Gioia, who is seeking the Dem nomination for Public Advocate; the United Federation of Teachers, and the Working Families Party (WFP).

GIOIA WASTES NO TIME: City Councilmember Eric Gioia, who's seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Public Advocate, wasted no time in trying to enlist Councilmember Bill de Blasio's supporters in his campaign after de Blasio was knocked off the Public Advocate ballot last week.

But Gioia, an energetic Long Island City lawmaker, will have to wait for his chance to pick up the pieces from de Blasio's misfortune, as de Blasio is fighting to get back on the ballot and in the Democratic primary field.

At the moment, besides Gioia, seeking the Dem nomination in the September 15 primary are former PA Mark Green and attorney Norman Siegel.

Waiting to face the winner of the Dem line is Republican candidate Alex Zablocki.

DeBlasio was knocked off the ballot by the Board of Elections on a technicality—a typo on the cover sheet of his petition filings. All his opponents said he should be let back onto the ballot.

YASSKY STANDS ALONE: Councilmember David Yassky said at a debate last week that he would be willing to consider reducing pension benefits for future city workers. His three Democratic council colleagues, who are also seeking the Democratic nomination, John Liu, Melinda Katz and David Weprin, supported the municipal unions' position that any reduction should be negotiated.

The four candidate hopefuls participated in a debate sponsored by Crains New York Business. The issue of curbing pension benefits has been a hot topic recently because forecasts are that pension benefit costs are expected to zoom in the near future. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also indicated it may be time to create a new pension tier for future city workers. The municipal unions say there should be negotiations on the issue. Only the United Federation of Teachers, the teachers' union, has been open to the idea.

Yassky (D- Brooklyn) said the issue should be engaged because of large budget gap forecasts. As a last resort, pressure should be placed on Albany legislators to impose the lower retirement benefit for future workers, he said.

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