2010-08-04 / Political Page

Homeless Ranks Grow In Astoria Park: Vallone

Aroused by reports and complaints about a growing homeless population in Astoria Park, City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. asked city Department of Homeless Services to send staff members to provide help and alternative solutions for homeless men and women in area parks.

“The safety of our community is my number one priority,” Vallone explained. “I encourage our residents to keep calling and writing to my office to help keep our streets and parks safe.”

A sudden uptick in the number of complaints about homeless individuals sleeping and congregating in the sprawling Astoria Park got Vallone’s attention about a possible problem at the beginning of summer.

Callers said that besides increasing numbers of stragglers in the park, reports that homeless individuals were being seen more frequently near the 31st Street/Ditmars Boulevard intersection had troubling overtones for the Astoria lawmaker because they came to light about the same time that there were several high profile crimes at both locations, Vallone said.

He pointed out that early in July, police arrested a homeless couple for the alleged murder of a 32-year-old Astoria man found in Astoria Park. Vallone also said gunshots were fired outside a diner on 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard and a Long Island man was shot dead on 28th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue on July 24.

The Department of Homeless Services in response to Vallone’s call sent an outreach provider into the area to monitor and evaluate the situation. Monitor teams have made several visits to the park and surrounding areas.

Vallone said that the outreach teams assess the health of homeless men and women and attempt to build trust and relationships with them in an effort to move them off the streets and into housing facilities.

He described the program as a proven success, moving more than 2,000 chronically homeless individuals from the streets into permanent and transitional housing since its implementation in the fall of 2007.

Vallone said to report a problem or pass along information, contact his office at 718-274-4500, visit www.petervallone.com, or send him a message on Facebook.

ANOTHER SIMOTAS ENDORSEMENT: Adding to the list of endorsements received by Democrat Aravella Simotas from political activists, labor union organizations and advocacy organizations, and another significant one from the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), one of the leading environmental groups in the state.

NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn hailed Simotas, who is running in the Democratic primary for the 36th Assembly District (Astoria, Long Island City) seat. “We need leaders in Albany who we can trust and who will fight for green jobs and sustainable economic growth,” Bystryn said. “Aravella, throughout her career and community service, has shown a commitment to conservation issues and we look forward to working with her in the New York state Assembly.”

Simotas, who is opposed by Astoria attorney and community activist John Ciafone, has raised just under $200,000 for her campaign. She has received major endorsements from Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who heads the Queens Democratic Party organization, and state Senator George Onorato, who leads Astoria Democrats, including those belonging to the Taminent Regular Democratic Club.

Simotas is seeking the Assembly seat presently held by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris, who has also endorsed her. Gianaris is running for the state Senate seat that will be vacated by Onorato’s retirement.

NYLCV ALSO ENDORSES NUNES: Incumbent Southeast Queens state Senator Shirley Huntley (D–Jamaica) is challenged in the Democratic primary by newcomer Lynn Nunes, a 25-year-old real estate business owner from Richmond Hill.

One of Nunes’ major endorsements thus far has been that of the New York League of Conservation Voters. The firsttime public office seeker, who needed 500 petition signatures to get on the ballot, came in with a surprising 7,200 signatures and a campaign war chest of more than $155,000.

Other endorsements for Nunes came from Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights), the 504 Democratic Club, Democracy for NYC, the Stonewall Democratic Club and the Southeast Queens Civic Society.

KOCH ENDORSES ASSEMBLYMEMBER HEVESI: Former Mayor Ed Koch’s New York Uprising Movement, which preaches reform in Albany’s redistricting, budgeting and ethics areas, has endorsed the re-election of Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D–Forest Hills), based on Hevesi’s commitment to Uprising goals.

Hevesi is opposed in the Democratic primary by attorney Joe Fox, also from Forest Hills. Fox once worked in the Koch administration and served for a time as director of real estate for the city Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce, according to his resume.

RARE GOP PRIMARY IN BAYSIDE? Could we be having a very rare Republican primary in Bayside this year? In the past, almost never did members of that party square off for a chance to become a candidate because Democrats always had such a big advantage in the general election. But there’s new life in the party these days.

In Bayside, Vince Tabone early on declared his intention to challenge Democratic incumbent Assemblymember Ann Margaret Carrozza in this year’s election. Carrozza subsequently bowed out, deciding to retire after Tabone challenged her residency in the 36th Assembly District. Then Robert Speranza, a Whitestone resident came along and circulated petitions to get on the ballot. GOP insiders say he’s getting help from the Haggerty brothers, perennial opponents of the entrenched Republican leadership, of which Tabone is a high ranking official. Challenges to Speranza’s petitions are being made, we’re told, so we’ll have to wait a bit to see if the GOPers get to settle their squabble on September 14.

DEM PRIMARY IN BAYSIDE, TOO: Meanwhile, Democrats in Bayside and surrounding communities are engaged in another brawl for their party’s nomination to succeed Carrozza, one similar to last year’s furious fight that eventally saw a Republican, Dan Halloran, winning the seat.

Presently, four aspirants have submitted nominating petitions to get on the Democratic line in the primary. The coveted Democratic organization nod went to newcomer Ed Braunstein, who’s on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s staff. Another Dem eyeing the nomination is Elio Forcina, a 39- year-old Whitestone attorney who’s raised close to $100,000 for his campaign, according to his connections.

Steve Behar, another attorney who failed to score in a City Council bid last year, is also trying to win the seat; and John Duane, brother of state Senator Thomas Duane of Manhattan, rounds out the field of aspiring Democrats.

GOP GOV RACE NARROWS, TIGHTENS: The primary election to choose a Republican candidate to face Democratic standard bearer Andrew Cuomo has narrowed as Steve Levy bowed out last week, leaving Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino to fight it out until the September 14 primary.

The most recent poll last week found Paladino cutting into Lazio’s lead, reducing it by 13 points. Lazio maintained his lead over Buffalo businessman Paladino by a 39 percent to 23 percent spread in the Quinnipiac University poll. In a previous poll, Lazio had led, 46-17.

Lazio, who was designated by the Republicans as their choice at the party convention, picked up some help last week as Democrat-turned- Republican Steve Levy announced he would no longer continue his effort to stay in the race, but would support Lazio.

The best way Levy can be of any help is to find a way to attract more funding support for Lazio. Lazio, who has had fundraising problems from the start, still has only $700,000 in his campaign treasury. By comparison, millionaire Paladino has promised to spend $10 million to win the GOP ballot line, and the Democratic candidate is sitting on a pot amounting to almost $24 million, no matter who opposes him.

Lazio, who, like Levy, is from Long Island, got more agita last week as another Long Island pol, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, joined Cuomo at a press conference and supported Cuomo’s property tax cap plan for New York state.

PADAVAN ENDORSED: The New York League of Conservation Voters, a leading environmental advocacy and education organization, has endorsed state Senator Frank Padavan for reelection in the 11th senate district race in Northeast Queens.

Padavan, a Republican from Bellerose, is opposed by former New York City Councilmember Tony Avella of Bayside, who has been designated as the Queens Democratic Party organization candidate.

Marcia Bystryn, NYLCV president issued a statement saying, “Throughout his tenure in the state senate, Frank Padavan has been focused on results, not rhetoric. He has fought for important laws to protect public health and secured funding for vital environmental projects in Northeast Queens. Senator Padavan’s record is proof positive that clean air, safe drinking water and a healthy environment are not partisan issues.”

Responding, Padavan stated, “I have long believed that we have an inherent duty to do what we can to improve our environment, today and for generations to come.”

Citing the NYLCV as “the leading environmental advocacy group in our state”, Padavan added “Over the years I have been proud to work with [the NYLCV] side by side on many vital initiatives vitally important to our city and state.”

ADDABBO HOSTS E-WASTE COLLECTION: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is inviting all his constituents and residents of adjacent areas to a huge E-waste collection event in the Marshal lot at Atlas Terminals in Glendale on Sunday, September 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach/Ozone Park) released the invitation to participate in “an environmentally responsible event” that will prevent electronic waste from entering into a landfill and polluting the environment.

Items sought at the event include: computers, fax machines, scanners, laptops, monitors, typewriters, copiers, cameras, cellphones, television sets, printers, telephones, servers, PDAs and batteries.

The lawmaker said representatives from e-Green Management will be on hand to accept and recycle unwanted equipment. It promotes “Zero Waste To Landfill” ethics and operates “cradle to cradle” under federal, state and local regulations to ensure the responsible recycling of all e-waste collected.

Atlas Terminals is at 81-76 Cooper Ave. in Glendale, next to the Shops at Atlas Park. For more information call 718-738-1111.

KOO, RESIDENTS RALLY FOR MORE COPS: Following four recent murders in Flushing, City Councilmember Peter Koo (R–C, Flushing) led community leaders and residents in a rally for more police protection in that area. Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) also joined in the rally.

Koo said he and residents have made numerous pleas for more police protection in the Downtown Flushing area, but to no avail.

At the rally last Wednesday, Koo said the most recent murder had occurred on July 25 at the Mobil gas station at 133-11 Roosevelt Ave. At the rally at the Bland Houses Community Center, residents from the Bland Houses and Latimer Gardens Houses also joined the rally.

PHEFFER LAUNCHES REELECTION BID: Armed with three major endorsements, Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer (D–Ozone Park/Rockaways) last week launched her campaign for reelection.

Pheffer, a resident of the 23rd Assembly District for more than 50 years, has been endorsed by her own Queens Democratic Party organization and the Working Families Party and Independence Party. She’s seeking her 13th term in the Assembly.

Pheffer heads the Consumer Affairs Committee, which deals with everyday problems of her constituents and every other citizen.

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