Queens Officials Sing The Budget Blues
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown continues to see heavier workloads as arrests increase; in Brown’s case, they’ve gone up by 80 percent between 1993 and 2009, he told the City Council Public Safety Committee, chaired by Peter Vallone Jr., last week.
Vallone (D–Astoria), after hearing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, predicts the NYPD’s uniformed ranks will fall to 32,817 by mid-2011, resulting in the lowest head count since 1990, warned that fewer police officers could result in higher crime rates.
Vallone, who held a hearing on the mayor’s preliminary budget, lamented: “Trying to find the breaking point of a police department is a very dangerous budgetary game to play. The thin blue line has been stretched to the limit.”
Yet the mayor is seeking cuts in all departments, including the NYPD and in firefighters’ ranks as well.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said he will attempt to downsize his department during the next budget year by cutting 1,292 positions through an aggressive attrition program. This will reduce not only the uniformed ranks, but will also replace 400 uniformed officers in non-law enforcement positions to free them up for patrol and enforcement duties.
Marshall sang the blues about Queens constantly being the most short-changed borough in the city as she released her $773 million budget request last week.
Brown’s budget needs statement to Vallone’s committee noted, “It continues to make very little sense for the police to make arrests if we as prosecutors are incapable of efficiently and effectively handling those arrests. If any one component of the justice system is not funded adequately, the entire system is affected.
TABONE ENDORSED BY LAZIO: Vince Tabone, Bayside Republican challenging Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza for her 26th Assembly District seat, has been endorsed by GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio.
Lazio, a former congressmember from Long Island, praised Tabone for his strong commitment to Republican principles. “Vince will work tirelessly to cut wasteful spending, lower taxes and create jobs,” Lazio said. “New York needs more energetic and creative thinkers like Vince.”
Tabone, vice chairman of the Queens GOP organization, had previously picked up the support of the borough’s Conservative Party in his bid against Carrozza, a veteran Democrat.
Accepting Lazio’s endorsement, Tabone stated, “One thing is abundantly clear in the face of the burgeoning scandals in Albany from no-show jobs and open investigations to a hapless governor with misplaced priorities: we need new faces and new ideas and a fresh start, so I am honored to take Rick Lazio’s endorsement.”
In announcing his organization’s endorsement of Tabone, Conservative chairman Tom Long picked up on Tabone’s attack on Carrozza. “For too long, folks in Eastern Queens have had an absentee representative who is simply not doing the job,” Long said. He also cited Tabone’s “experience and ability to help bring fiscal sanity back to Albany”.
The 26th AD includes Bayside, Little Neck, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Whitestone, Douglaston, Bay Terrace and a part of Flushing.
LAZIO, DEM OFFICIAL BATTLING: Lazio has extensive state Republican backing in his bid to get his party’s nomination for governor in this year’s election, but a Democrat, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, appears to be giving the frontrunner some anxious moments, although Levy hasn’t said he’s running for the post.
Levy may have stumbled badly over the weekend, as he ran into some opposition from state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long. Whoever the Republican that emerges eventually may be, the Conservative line will be vital to his or her campaign because no Republican has won the state house in Albany without the Conservative endorsement since 1974.
Long said his organization is set to endorse a gubernatorial candidate by this weekend. Odds are it will be Lazio, according to reports, but nothing is certain in politics. Lazio’s chances are improved by his being endorsed by former Governor George Pataki and Congressmember Peter King from Long Island. Lazio also already has the backing of most GOP county committees throughout the state. However, state Republican Chairman Edward Cox has yet to give Lazio his blessing.
Lazio’s biggest problem is that he hasn’t shown much ability to raise money. But that could all change if he picks up Republican and Conservative endorsements. He’s close, but not quite there yet.
NEW SUB- OR INDIVIDUAL METERS SAVE RENTERS MONEY: Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D–Forest Hills), a member of the Assembly Energy Committee, reports that a large number of buildings throughout New York are being converted from master metering systems to sub- or individual meters, resulting in savings for tenants in rent-regulated apartments.
Hevesi, who also chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Renewable Energy; said a bill recently passed in the Assembly which requires a specific timeline that the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) must adhere to when setting rent reduction after a conversion is made. In this manner, rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments that have electricity costs factored into their base rents have a fair reduction at the time of sub-metering. Updates on these rents will occur every three years, under this bill’s provisions, Hevesi said.
Rent adjustments would also be made when sub- or individual meters are installed in apartments controlled by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. The bill also would provide the New York City rent board with staff and assistance to DHCR.
Hevesi stated: “The legislature must assure that tenants are protected during the sub-metering process. Requiring that the DHCR update the rent reduction schedule guarantees that tenants are protected and receive rent reductions based on current energy prices.”
HALLORAN JOINS CONSTRUCTION DELAY PROTEST AT GROUND ZERO: Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C, Whitestone) joined with operating engineers on March 9 in a protest rally, calling on the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties to settle their differences so construction can proceed at the World Trade Center site.
Halloran said at the rally that it was important for New York’s future that the rebuilding of Ground Zero be completed as soon as possible, “not only because of its powerful symbolism, but also to create thousands of jobs so badly needed during these challenging economic times”, Halloran declared.