Vallone Jr. Calls For Subway Surveillance Cameras
At the first Public Safety Committee hearing following the recent Times Square bomb scare, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), committee chairman, called for swift installation of subway surveillance cameras in the entire underground transit system.
“Nearly 10 years have passed since the September 11 (World Trade Center attack) and we still don’t have working cameras in many subway stations,” Vallone said. He had previously cited published reports that said surveillance cameras at 30 major subway stations do not record video.
Vallone also called for a full investigation on reports that a magic key which opens gates at every subway station in the vast transit system are in the possession of many unauthorized persons, compromising security underground and siphoning much-needed paid rides from the MTA’s coffers.
“The MTA continues to focus its efforts on fare-beating, and that’s simply not the only cause for concern with this key, which allows access into closed stations,” Vallone declared.
gates, again warned that they could become death traps in an emergency situation.
“We continue to trap our subway riders behind HEET gates, and we are losing our station agents due to budget cuts,” Vallone complained.
At the hearing, NYC Transit President Tom Prendergast had testified about the duties of station agents, surveillance cameras, public announcement systems and other methods to protect passengers.
GIANARIS ENDORSED: The largest private sector union in New York has endorsed Assemblymember Michael Gianaris for state senator, citing his strong record advocating for working families and local community development. As part of its endorsement, 32 BJ, Service Employees International Union pledged to conduct a voter outreach campaign for the Astoria lawmaker in support of his election to the 13th district seat in Western Queens being vacated by Senator George Onorato, who is retiring.
Responding to the endorsement, Gianaris stated: “I share 32 BJ’s commitment to jobs that provide living wages and good benefits.”
MALONEY PRAISES HOUSE OK OF HOME RENOVATION AND JOB STIMULUS BILL: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) applauded House passage of a bill which will create substantial new incentives for homeowners to make home renovations to increase energy efficiency while at the same time creating jobs in the construction industry.
Maloney said the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act will provide $324 million to help state and local governments provide financing for consumers to make home improvements. The bill is estimated to help create up to 168,000 new construction, manufacturing and retail jobs in these two industries that have been hit hard by the recession.
“The legislation will create jobs while saving consumers money and reducing our nation’s energy consumption,” Maloney said. “It will also provide an important boost for the construction sector, which has been mercilessly pounded by both the recession and the collapse in new housing construction.”
Maloney explained that the bill establishes the Silver Star program which would provide up front rebates of up to $3,000 toward the purchase of energy-efficient renovations, including new home insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors, air sealing and water heaters.
The bill also creates the Gold Star program, which would provide rebates of up to $8,000 for consumers who would conduct comprehensive energy audits of their homes and implement measures to reduce energy use.
Maloney, chair of the Joint Economic Committee, said her panel has been examining the sector-by-sector impact of the current recession. The survey of the construction industry has seen a 28 percent loss of jobs since the recession began.
“We’re not going to get those jobs back overnight,” she said. “But policies like the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act can play an important roll in encouraging growth in construction while speeding our transition to a more energy efficient economy.”
The bill includes provisions to ensure quality installations. It requires that contractors be certified to perform efficiency installations and independent quality assurance providers will conduct field audits after work is completed to ensure proper installation.
In her reelection campaign, Maloney is being challenged by Ryan Brumberg, on the Republican Party line. Brumberg, an attorney, describes himself as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative”.
Maloney is also being challenged in the Democratic primary by Reshma Saujani.
SIMOTAS ENDORSED: Two major labor unions have endorsed Aravella Simotas for election to the state Assembly in the 36th AD in Astoria. The 23,000 United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1,500 and the CWA Local 1182, which represents 2,500 Uniform Traffic and Sanitation Enforcement Agents employed by the City of New York endorsed Simotas, who is the Democratic Party candidate to succeed Assemblymember Michael Gianaris. Gianaris has announced he will be running for the state senate seat held by Senator George Onorato, who is retiring at the end of the year.
Simotas, a lifelong Astoria resident, has already raised over $120,000 for her campaign. She is a practicing attorney who has served on Community Board 1. Endorsements for her have already been made by Queens Democratic Party Chairman and Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and the Taminent Regular Democratic Club.
WEINER: KEW GARDENS HILLS P.O. TO REMAIN OPEN: Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) announced in a news release that the Kew Gardens Hills Post Office will remain open after a tentative deal was reached with the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Weiner said that since 2009, he and USPS, community leaders and a local property owner have been negotiating and trying to reach an agreement to extend a lease to avoid closing the neighborhood’s only post office. USPS and the building owner (who he did not identify) will now come to an agreement that will save the post office.
“This is a huge victory for Kew Gardens [Hills],” said Weiner. “No community should be forced to live without such a vital service, and I’m pleased that everyone involved in this process understood that.”
TABONE ENDORSED BY KOO: Councilmember Peter Koo (R–C–Flushing) has endorsed Vince Tabone, the Republican- Conservative candidate for the Assembly in the 26th AD in Bayside.
“With his long record of public service, having served in several mayoral and gubernatorial administrations, Vince knows what needs to be done to restore fiscal responsibility and common sense policy-making to Albany,” Koo stated. “I know that once elected, Vince will effectively and honorably represent our community. Now, more than ever, we need leadership, strength and discipline in Albany. Vince shares our values, ideals and vision for the community, and he will fight tirelessly for us in the state capital.”
Tabone is still waiting for a Democratic opponent to emerge. Incumbent Assemblymember Ann-Margaret Carrozza announced she will be retiring at the end of this year and will not be running for re-election in November.
RIDGEWOOD DEMS’ DINNER JUNE
10: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan’s big night is approaching, the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s annual dinner dance on June 10 at Riccardo’s by the Bridge, 21-01 24 Ave., Astoria.
District Leader Nolan, who chairs the powerful Education Committee in Albany, and coleader Tom Bornemann have a huge lineup of honorees, including Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria), recipient of the Public Service Award; and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Woodside).
Van Bramer also serves as the Democratic state committee member and club president is Jim Grayshaw. The club covers the 37th AD, Part B and was organized in 1908, 102 years ago.
Woman of the Year is Donna Dowd; Man of the Year is John Sendlein and Lifetime Service Awards recipients are Ann Maggio and John Mistretta.
Labor Leaders being honored are Michael Mulgrew, the new United Federation of Teachers president, and Paul Collins Jr., Sheet Metal Workers International president of Local 137.
Business People of the Year are Mary Gasparic, V.P. of Amalgamated Bank, and Michael Lewis, Lewis Monument Company owner.
Community Service Awards go to the Polish American Congress and the New York Irish Center.
It should be a great night. Cocktails are at 6:30 p.m. and dinner’s served at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are $75 per guest. For additional information call 718-229-4201.
LIU PRESENTS BUDGET OVERVIEW: City Comptroller John Liu has scheduled a Community Budget Presentation on Wednesday evening, May 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College, Room E 242, 31-10 Thomson Ave., in Long Island City. The comptroller, the city’s chief fiscal officer, will present an overview of the 2010-2011 New York City budget.
To arrange special accommodations, call 212-669-4315. To reserve seats, call the Comptroller’s Office of Community Relations at 212-669-3089.
ADDABBO SECURES $500G GRANT FOR SENIOR CENTER: Another major renovation is on tap for the Middle Village Adult Center at 69-10 75 St., Middle Village, thanks to a $500,000 capital grant secured by state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) from the New York state capital budget.
According to the center’s monthly newsletter, the funds will be used to renovate the entire social hall (bingo room) and offices on the second floor of the center’s building.
In addition, the funds will be used to complete renovation and expansion of the kitchen and food service area. The project is awaiting approval of the city’s Building Department.
ZULUNOVA QUITS RACE: Lilianna Zulunova, who was a candidate in the Democratic primary for the 28th AD seat (Forest Hills/Rego Park) against incumbent Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, has announced that she is no longer in that race. Zulunova’s announcement said she decided not to run because she got married on May 3 to Rabbi Emanuel Yelizarov and her family obligations come first. But she still plans to run sometime in the future, she says.
KOSLOWITZ BACKS ANTI-NOISE BILL: The city council recently passed legislation that would ban amplification and loudspeaker systems used by tour guides on sightseeing tourist buses. The bill, which was the subject of hearings before the Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills/Rego Park), would require that bus operators of open, roof-top setting buses install a headphone based system so that the sound and audio will not be heard by residents, Koslowitz said.
According to Koslowitz, the bill recognizes the needs of both tourists and residents and demonstrate’s New York’s ability to find this balance which is a great testament to its commitment towards staying the leader in tourism.
VALLONE FUNDRAISER: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) has a fundraiser on tap next Thursday, May 20 at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Ave., Astoria from 6 to 8 p.m. It offers free beer, wine and soda to help fill the war chest of the council’s Public Safety Committee chairman whose motto is Strong Leadership For a Safer City. Tickets are available at www.petervallone.com. For questions, to volunteer or to RSVP, call or e-mail Leila at 917-620- 5364 or leilanoor firstname.lastname@example.org.
On another subject, Vallone and the NYC Housing Authority announce applications are still available in the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). The seven-week program starts July 6 and completed applications are due on May 21. The program offers work experience, development of valuable employment skills and access to summer income. NYCHA’s goal is to enroll about 1,300 youths ages 14 to 24 who reside within the five boroughs at an hourly rate of $7.25. Interested applicants can find additional information at www.nyc.gov/dycd or by calling 212-306-8000.