Nov. Elections Turned 2010 Into Interesting Year
In our mind, in a political sense, 2010 will be remembered most for the major victories scored by Republicans: on the national scene, they scored a tremendous victory by capturing undisputed control of the House of Representatives; statewide, they re-captured the state senate, after having relinquished control to the Democrats for the first time in 40 years.
Among other issues, both GOP accomplishments will weigh heavily in their favor in 2011 as redistricting will take place in legislatures throughout the United States. This means the GOP-led House can redraw district lines in some states that will enable them to favor Republican candidates in future elections, which in turn could mean their party will be in a position to solidify the gains they made in last fall’s elections.
Although we cannot look for the same advantages applying to Republicans in New York state as a consequence of their having control over the state senate, their party will at least be able to exert a defensive effect which will give the senate a neutralizing effect on the Democrat-controlled Assembly.
Redrawing New York state’s legislative district lines will also be strongly effected by Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, who ran with a promise to assume that they are drawn in a non-partisan manner.
Cuomo’s position on capping taxes is another issue where he will likely find an alliance very possibly with the state senate, which will be led by Long Island’s Senator Dean Skelos, the incoming majority leader whose members back a tax cap to keep runaway school taxes in check. Other than redistricting, Cuomo is expected to have a fight on his hands from municipal labor unions if he tries to curtail the state’s continuing burden with runaway pension benefits.
WACKY 2010 FINISH:
When the 2010 elections produced such tremendous Republican gains that led President Barack Obama to comment the Democrats had been shellacked, there was reason to believe that that was the last we would hear from the beleaguered not only in 2010 but for the rest of his presidency.
But in a sudden turnabout, the extension of the Bush tax cuts issue, which loomed as a major problem for Obama, suddenly startlingly turned the president’s fortunes around.
When the issue emerged, Obama wanted the Bush plan changed so the wealthy one percent of taxpayers would have to pay an increased tax instead. Republican leaders countered with a firm “no”.
As it turned out, the Republicans won on that point, but had to give in to the president on extending unemployment benefits and a Social Security tax cut.
Republicans were all smiles as they walked away and Democrats were beating up on the president for being fleeced by his opponents. Although Obama had to eat his campaign promise to end the Bush tax cuts, he was also able to argue he had made some moves to help the economy by giving several hundred thousand out-of-work guys some cash to get through the holidays and, at the same time, pumping some newfound cash into the lagging economy. In quick succession then, the president scored two victories as he signed two Republican-backed policies, one to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which gays in and out of the military opposed vehemently; the other the START treaty, an arms control treaty with Russia.
The public perception when it was all signed, sealed and delivered and the president was off on his Christmas vacation in Hawaii, everybody was asking, What happened?
The president was getting kudos from conservative columnists and some Democrats who had been blasting him after the Bush tax cuts had been continued, were now praising him again.
One of his most vocal Democratic critics, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (DQueens, Brooklyn), put out a release after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, saying, “We are now a safer, stronger and more equitable country.”
Weiner, an original co-sponsor of both the bill that authorized the repeal of the policy, stated: “For 17 years, thousands of gay men and women who have been honorably serving and dying for their country have been forced into the closet or out of the military. As a result of this senseless policy, they have suffered, and our nation has suffered. But that changes today. We are now a safer, stronger and more equitable country.”
Weiner is also an original co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would pave the way for the recognition of same-sex marriage at the federal level.
HALLORAN PRAISES 9/11 HEALTH BILL PASSAGE:
Councilmember Dan Halloran (RWhitestone) called on the U.S. Senate to pass the Zadroga bill while Democrats were still looking for Republican votes to pass the legislation which eventually happened.
“My brother and my cousin, both FDNY firemen, were 9/11 first responders. My cousin, Lt. Vincent Halloran, entered the Trade Center that day to save lives, but lost his,” Halloran pointed out.
He continued: “Sadly, many members of Congress seem to have forgotten that day nine years ago. But I will never forget. The first responders who were exposed to deadly toxins on 9/11 fought for us when we were our most vulnerable. Now we must fight for them.”
VALLONE BILL EXTENDS FDNY HIRING AGE LIMIT:
Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (DAstoria) says some applicants for FDNY jobs, who have been blocked from being hired by a federal judge’s decision, could permanently lose their opportunity to get hired because they are approaching the hiring age limit of 29 years.
So Vallone has submitted a bill to extend the hiring age limit to 35. Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano backs the move, which would make the test-taking age the same as that for prospective cops.
Vallone, chair of the Public Safety Committee, stated he couldn’t disagree more with Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ ruling, that the present exam discriminates against blacks and Hispanic applicants and qualifications for the exam must be changed to conform to his ruling. Until it does, no exam will be held, he said.
GENNARO RENAMES STREET HONORING RABBI:
A proposed street change name in Fresh Meadows, proposed by Councilmember James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and honoring the late Rabbi Sholem B. Kowalsky, has been signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It will rename a section of Jewel Avenue in honor of the influential religious leader.
“For half a century, Rabbi Kowalsky was an influential spiritual leader who guided countless Queens residents,” said Gennaro. “Although Rabbi Kowalsky has passed, this street in his name will continue to guide Fresh Meadows residents and the Young Israel of Hillcrest congregation.”
END “DIRTY POLS” PENSIONS:
That’s what state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli proposed last week. DiNapoli said he will push for a law that bars pols arrested for felony corruption from getting their pensions.
It’s a change in position, he admits, but says it comes from seeing many cases being exposed, including that of Alan Hevesi, the man he succeeded. Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports such a law.
HEATING AID PROGRAM FUNDED:
Congress last week approved $5.1 billion for the country’s low income Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). It will allow New York state to continue this benefit for 60,000 of the state’s most needy residents, including seniors who own their own homes.
Gov. David Paterson welcomed the news, saying there has been an uptick in the number of applications in the state due to the especially cold December this year. The amount of money coming our way has not been announced yet.
Residents on food stamps or welfare are automatically eligible for HEAP aid, but everyone else must meet household income requirements to qualify.
WEPRIN, AVELLA WANT CHANCELLOR HEARINGS IN FUTURE:
In a release issued by Assemblymember David Weprin, he stated he favors public hearings for proposed schools chancellor appointments. Also participating at the press conference where the announcement was made was state Senator Tony Avella, who also supports chancellor hearings.
The proposal comes on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg’s surprise appointment of Cathleen Black, whose appointment was criticized because she had no teaching or education administrating background, which necessitated the mayor securing a waiver from the state Education Department before her appointment was approved.
Happy New Year to all our friends and newspaper associates!!