2011-01-26 / Political Page

Cutting Taxes For Wealthy Could Be A Cuomo Problem

Some signs point strongly to a major blowup between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Assembly over whether or not the temporary so-called millionaires’ tax should be continued or be allowed to expire at the end of this year.

The governor, who campaigned on a no new taxes pledge, and has repeated that since becoming governor, wants to end the tax, which applies to those making more than $200,000 annually.

Cuomo is supported by Republicans who control the senate, and will be able to do Cuomo’s bidding on this issue.

On the other side of the thorny issue, Democrats in the Assembly are insisting that the tax should be continued, especially this year when the state faces a $10 billion deficit and cuts in education and other areas are being thrown around. The governor is also talking about layoffs of state workers or voluntary cuts in pay.

The issue came up last Wednesday morning when Cuomo held a breakfast meeting with some Assemblymembers at the Governor’s Mansion. Cuomo had met the previous day with Republican legislators. The purpose was to informally discuss some of the governor’s policies in an obvious attempt to try to win support for them.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to meet with Governor Cuomo to try to get an idea what the governor might be contemplating as far as aid from Albany for the city, which is also facing a huge deficit. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to meet with Governor Cuomo to try to get an idea what the governor might be contemplating as far as aid from Albany for the city, which is also facing a huge deficit. According to the N.Y. Post report on the meeting, the governor faced a breakfast revolt from three liberal Democrats as they challenged him on the millionaires tax.

The three Democrats were identified as Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan, from Ridgewood; Rory Lancman, from Fresh Meadows, and Barbara Clark, from Queens Village.

The story said the trio argued that vital health care and education spending would be lost if the $4 billion-plus in revenue produced by the tax was lost.

Attempts to reach Nolan in Albany yesterday were unsuccessful.

Cuomo’s position was, according to the story, that if the Assembly passed it, Republicans in the senate would not follow suit and there was still his opposition to the Democratic position to deal with.

Although the N.Y. Post story made the discussion over the tax very confrontational, it wasn’t characterized that way by Lancman who made no mention of the millionaires tax issue at all when interviewed in the Newsday story. The writer suggested that the governor was just trying to soften them up and Lancman said he didn’t think it was a charm offensive and summed it up as very substantive.

The Gazette reached Lancman in Albany through one of his aides, and she responded that he doesn’t want to be interviewed.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has not taken a position on the tax in several stories published about it.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is scheduled to meet with the governor to try to get an idea what the governor might be contemplating as far as aid from Albany for the city, which is also facing a huge deficit. He’s keeping an open mind, he indicated in one story, even though there are reports the city might have its state aid cut by $1 billion.

MALONEY FEARS GOP FUND CUTS FOR NYC: On Monday, Republicans controlling the House threatened cutting spending back to 2008 levels, and Democratic members expressed concern it would mean less federal aid for New York City. Funding losses would hurt the MTA, housing assistance, law enforcement programs, education and the arts.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney ( D– Queens/ Manhattan) stated: “These cuts are bad

for New York’s economy, especially the health research sector in my district, but even more troubling is how bad they are for America’s health.”

HANAC APPROVES 184 SENIOR UNIT HOUSING: Among the new housing units coming on-line shortly, Marshall said, was the George Douris Senior Residence in Astoria with 184 units. Sponsored by the HANAC organization, it honors the late L.I. Press newspaperman, who was one of HANAC’s founders.

The Selfhelp seniors program will administer a 65-unit housing development going up in Richmond Hill; it will also operate a 65-unit development in Flushing, Marshall said.

Marshall has contributed $1 million out of its budget to go toward a 93-unit housing development sponsored by Catholic Charities in Howard Beach. It will house seniors and adult children with developmental disabilities, the BP said.

Marshall also reported that the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty broke ground on a 78-unit senior residence on the Pomonok Housing grounds in Kew Gardens Hills.

PHEFFER PICK FOR QUEENS COUNTY CLERK? There was lots of buzz around the borough last week about a report that Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, of Rockaway, was in line to get the Queens County Clerk job which was left open following the death of Gloria D’Amico.

Pheffer didn’t answer our calls seeking confirmation or other comment about the rumor.

Before the law on term limits was changed prior to the 2009 elections, causing Queens Borough President Helen Marshall to run for a third term, Pheffer had made it known she planned to run to succeed Marshall.

Also planning to run for the Borough President’s spot at that time was Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

With this background in mind, if Pheffer gets the County Clerk job, it will leave the way almost clear for Vallone to run for Marshall’s seat in the 2012 elections. According to press reports, Vallone is still interested in trying to win it. No doubt he’ll have some opposition for the post.

Also should Pheffer leave her Assembly post for the County Clerk’s job, it will start a big scramble for the job Pheffer has held for a long time.

GIANARIS APPROVES NEW POWER PLANT IN ASTORIA: There was a time when state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) would complain loudly about a new power plant in Astoria, which is home to many of them.

But when state utilities regulators announced last week they had approved the new NRG Energy plant in Astoria along the East River, Gianaris applauded the action because it will reduce toxic emissions at the site by more than 85 percent by replacing an older plant.

Gianaris stated, “Western Queens residents can breathe a little easier today. We bear more than our fair share of the burden for producing New York’s electricity. Anytime we replace an old, dirty generator with a newer, cleaner one, it’s a significant step in the right direction.”

Gianaris can personally take a bow for bringing this cleaner generating plant here. He is the author of the landmark legislation, the Clean Energy Law, passed when he was an Assemblymember, which encouraged power companies to replace outdated plants with cleaner, greener technology.

KOSLOWITZ ON ELMHURST BUILDING COLLAPSE: Commenting, on the recent building collapse in Elmhurst, Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Rego Park) stated:

I am heartbroken at the senseless loss of life yesterday in Elmhurst. Putting the lives of workers at stake on worksites is totally unacceptable.

The history of the builder involved is very suspect and I will do everything in conjunction with the Department of Buildings to get to the bottom of what happened. My deepest condolences and sympathies go out to the family of Mr. Hedilberto Sanchez.

KOO FAVORS KEITH DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: Councilmember Peter Koo (R–Flushing) welcomed the news that the former RKO Keith’s Theater on Northern Boulevard may be making way for a new development, and he sounds like he’s all for it.

“I eagerly await the dialogue debate and discussion that will occur at the Community Board and eagerly look forward to hearing from the community about their thoughts concerning this important Flushing development project,” he stated.

He noted that the landmark theater has been neglected and has fallen into a state of severe disrepair and said he hopes that through community input and governmental negotiations that renovation can begin to improve its current condition.

“We can all agree,” Koo said, “that the building should be restored in a fashion that will highlight some of our community’s history, provide valuable amenities to our senior citizens, create affordable housing and develop a reasonable plan that will serve to benefit the residents and visitors of Flushing.”

REPORT SLIWA ‘ANGELS’ COMING TO QUEENS: Responding to the upsurge in crime in some areas of Queens, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa is reportedly making plans to dispatch some of his volunteers to Corona, Elmhurst and South Ozone Park.

According to a recent Crain’s business weekly report, residents of those areas have reached out to him and his volunteer patrols are headed out to those areas to try to help combat crime and attack problems with gangs.

CONDOLENCES: This column offers its sincere condolences to the family of Marguerite Adams, who served for 30 years as an influential member of the Queens Republican Party who passed away on January 10 at the age of 87.

Adams, of Glendale, was a district leader for three decades, serving also as president of the Old Glory Republican Club, Middle Village Republican Club and the Women’s Republican Club of Queens.

Adams also served as vice chairperson of the Queens County GOP and also as Vice Chairperson under Chairman Serphin Maltese and his successor, Phil Ragusa, the current Queens county chairman.

Adams also served on local school Board 24 for many years, rising to secretary and zoning (chairwoman) for eight years. She was active in many women’s, seniors and civic organizations. She worked for the Board of Elections for 17 years and retired as its Deputy Chief Clerk. Adams was the wife of the late George Adams, and mother of a son, George Jr. who survives her, and daughter Marguerite Decker (deceased). Other survivors are three grandsons and a great granddaughter.

ULRICH HELPS BLOCK PARKING METER RATES: Following the City Council’s successful effort to prevent the

Bloomberg administration from raising parking meter rates in Queens and the rest of the city, Councilmember Eric A. Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) stated:

“While small increases in taxes and fees don’t seem like a big deal to some people at City Hall, they add up quickly for residents. I am pleased that the council was able to prevent this parking meter rate increase, which also had the potential to hurt small businesses. These types of fiscal gimmicks are shortsighted and do little to address the city’s budget woes.”

DROMM BLASTS BLACK ON TEACHER SENIORITY: In an unusually strong rebuke to Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights), a former 25-year teacher at P.S. 199 Q in Sunnyside, stated:

“Ms. Black has once again demonstrated her ignorance of the public school system. Her proposal to change contractual agreements with teachers would create havoc in our public schools. Principals who have been forced to implement recent budget cuts might look at any change in the current seniority rules as an opportunity to hire two teachers for the price of one. The cost of keeping a senior teacher is double that of a new teacher. We should be rewarding teachers who have chosen to stay in the system rather than trying to push them out. Parents across the city know that having an experienced teacher in their child’s classroom can often mean the difference between their child’s success or failure. It is amazing that Ms. Black does not also understand this.”

VALLONE WANTS SCRATCH-FREE GLASS IN SUBWAYS: To crack down on scratchiti, which he describes as an irreparable form of vandalism often found on subway and bus windows, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) has proposed a bill regulating the sale and possession of etching pens and stencils, which he defines as any implement with a carbide, diamond or other hard tipped designed to etch, draw, carve, engrave or otherwise alter, change or impair the physical integrity of glass or metal.”

This proposed law seeks to expand previous legislation dealing with etching acid sales by including etching pens, another instrument used by glass professionals and vandals alike.

Vallone says that much like the provision in the law he previously sponsored to control purchases of etching acid, the lawmaker hopes to regulate etching pens by requiring buyers to be 21-years-old, show identification and require distributors to present sales records with the buyers’ names and addresses to law enforcement officials.

“This will be yet another tool in our everexpanding anti-graffiti arsenal,” Vallone, chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee and a noted anti-graffiti fighter said.

CROWLEY OPPOSES FDNY ON IMPOSING CHARGES: Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale), a staunch defender of keeping firehouses open when Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposes closing some, has come out strongly against the FDNY’s proposal to charge fees to motorists in some accident cases.

At a hearing on the latter controversial proposal, Crowley, chair of the council Fire and Criminal Justice Services Committee, said in a prepared statement:

“One of government’s most important responsibilities is to keep people safe, that is why we allocate taxpayer money to our emergency services. To raise revenue by charging New Yorkers deemed to be at fault in auto accidents is unreasonable, misguided and a simple case of double dipping. New Yorkers already pay for this service by means of taxes on their income and property. The FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano considers these charges as a fee for services, but let’s call this fee for what it really is, a double tax.”

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