2010-07-14 / Features

On the brief side...

Maloney: Millions More For Transit

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, a leading advocate for two major transit projects in New York City, last week hailed the inclusion of $197 million for the Second Avenue Subway project and $215 million for the East Side Access project in the Fiscal Year 2011 House Transportation Appropriation bill, which awaits final action by the House this year.

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) has championed these two major transportation projects since their inception about a decade ago. The East Side Access project will for the first time bring Long Island Rail Road service from Queens to Manhattan via Long Island City and the Second Avenue Subway will offer long overdue service for straphangers on Manhattan’s East Side.

“On their first day in operation, the two major transit improvements will move more people than the entire transit systems of most other major American cities,” Maloney declared.

Last year, Maloney issued a report outlining the jobs and other economic benefits that the twin projects, both entirely located in her district, will create.

The report shows that every dollar spent on public infrastructure increases the federal gross domestic product (GDP) by an estimated $1.59. The Second Avenue subway has already created 16,000 jobs, generated $842 million in wages and produced $2.87 billion in economic activity. Meanwhile, according to the report, the East Side Access project created 22,000 jobs, generated $1.176 billion in wages and produced $4 billion in economic activity.

During construction, Maloney’s report continued, the Second Avenue project will generate $4.347 billion in economic activity and the East Side Access project about $12.3 billion in economic activity.

Upon completion, these projects will save commuting time in the region for those who have the longest commutes in the nation, among them millions of Long Island daily commuters. Finally, transit projects generate approximately 570 direct and indirect jobs for every $10 million in capital expenditures, and they generate roughly $30 million in sales for every $10 million in capital expenditures.

Warns Of Medicare Rebate Scams

The federal government is mailing out $250 Medicare rebates to eligible seniors, and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky has issued a warning to beware of scam artists trying to get their hands on the money.

Stavisky (D–Whitestone) cautions check recipients to be aware of fraudulent phone calls regarding their rebate checks.

The checks are being sent to any senior who is in the Medicare Part D drug prescription program who has reached the “doughnut hole” coverage gap. Under federal healthcare reform legislation signed by President Barack Obama, the $250 rebate is the first in a series of steps to eliminate the gap and save seniors money.

Stavisky warned, “Do not offer personal information to anyone who contacts you regarding the Medicare rebate checks. There have been several reports nationwide of senior citizens being contacted and asked for personal information or being told that for an upfront fee they will receive their checks faster. These claims are completely false and anyone who receives such a call should immediately contact the proper authorities.”

Any senior who suspects fraud should contact the Consumer Services Bureau of the New York State Insurance Department at 1-800-342-3736, Stavisky said.

New Liu Web Site Opens Government’s Books

City Comptroller John Liu has set up a new Web site, www.checkbooknyc.com, which allows unprecedented access into how New York City government spends billions of dollars.

Liu calls the site “one of the most comprehensive initiatives of its kind in the nation, allowing users to search and download by agency, vendor/payee name, purpose and amount”.

“It’s about open government,” Liu explained. “It’s about intrinsic accountability. It’s about creating strong incentives to save taxpayer money. And it’s how we are determined to start the new fiscal year”, which began July 1.

The Comptroller stated, “This has already raised the bar on the way things are done in government. The more information we make available to the public, the more built-in incentives all of us in city government have to save taxpayers money, which has really become more important than ever before.”

The new Web site has been well received by good-government watchdog groups.

Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, commented that the Web site “has broken new ground in making government agencies and entities more transparent”.

Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause, stated, “It is the kind of model that will bring more transparency and accountability to New York and create a best practices paradigm in expenditure reporting in city government.”

—John Toscano

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