2011-02-02 / Political Page

Welcome Mat Out For Walmart

Some years ago, Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D–Queens/Brooklyn) led the fight to block the Walmart chain from getting the necessary zoning changes that would have allowed it to open a location in Rego Park. This would have been its first outlet in New York City. Weiner took on the fight because he and others opposed the giant chain’s alleged anti-labor union, low wage policies.

Now Walmart is making a renewed effort to open its first store in the city and will soon make its pitch to the City Council to grant it the necessary zone changes and put out the welcome mat for its first store in Harlem.

There are still those who want to keep the successful chain out of here because of its low wage policy, and that includes some of its competitors. But polls and surveys taken by Walmart show favorable results based on the numerous jobs their new stores would create.

Which brings us back to Queens, where Councilmembers Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) and Peter Koo (R–Flushing) are making the case to allow Walmart into New York City so its residents can not only benefit from the job potential but also Walmart’s low prices and locating their stores in areas that presently do not have any serving them.

Councilmembers Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) and Peter Koo (R–Flushing) are making the case to allow Walmart into New York City. Councilmembers Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) and Peter Koo (R–Flushing) are making the case to allow Walmart into New York City. In a recent joint article appearing in another newspaper, the two lawmakers cited the favorable aspects of what Walmart stores would bring to New York City. They also argue that the city council “has no business blocking economic development, especially during these tough times. If Walmart wants to come to New York City, the politicians and lobbyists should get out of their way.”


Continuing his fight against erroneously issued parking tickets, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker (D–Jackson

Heights) on January 30 called for a $100 payment to anyone, anywhere in the state who wrongfully receives a parking ticket.

Previously, DenDekker had introduced a bill covering the same ground, but only in New York City. It all started when his mother, Jacqueline, 74, was wrongfully ticketed in August 2010.

In amending his original bill, DenDekker stated: “We need to hold government accountable for these frivolous tickets written to innocent people.”

HALLORAN TESTIFIES: After some delay, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–Whitestone) finally got to testify before a grand jury in Brooklyn that is investigating alleged slowdowns by sanitation workers in the cleanup following the December 26 blizzard late last year.

Halloran had said that Department of Transportation and Department of Sanitation supervisors had come to him at that time to speak to him in his capacity as a city councilmember. They had allegedly told him that there had been a slowdown in the cleanup to embarrass the Bloomberg administration.

Halloran gave that story out to the press at that time and it created quite a stir.

After his appearance before the grand jury on January 30, Halloran refused to reveal what his testimony had been. Grand jury proceedings are secret and cannot be divulged.

Also on that day, this newspaper received a news release from Queens County Republican Party Chairman Phil Ragusa charging that Halloran had been treated unfairly by the New York Times in an article appearing in the January 26 editions.

The article dealt with Halloran and the alleged blizzard cleanup.

“Councilmember Halloran and the sanitation investigation deserve fair treatment, which they did not get here (in the Times article). And all New Yorkers deserve an unbiased press that is not in the pockets of special interests and left-wing pet causes,” Ragusa stated.

Ragusa also claimed that the story contained many errors and needlessly delved into Halloran’s personal matters.

STAVISKY, PERALTA HEAD SENATE COMMITTEES: Beginning her sixth full term in the state senate, Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) was appointed to serve as the Democratic Minority Conference Vice-Chairman by Democratic Minority Leader John Sampson.

Stavisky was also reappointed as ranking Democrat of the Higher Education Committee, the panel that she chaired when the Democrats were in the majority.

She was also reappointed to Aging, Education, Finance and Transportation Committees and got a new assignment to the Judiciary Committee.

“I look forward to working together with the newly elected members of our conference and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to restore faith in government and to work on the issues that are important to the people in New York state, [including] job creation, education and budget reform,” Stavisky, whose district covers Northeast Queens, said.

“I also look forward to working with our new governor in enacting an on-time and balanced budget that will consolidate redundant agencies while also protecting the basic services New Yorkers most need.”

PERALTA ALSO GETS PARTY LEADERSHIP ROLE: State Senator Jose Peralta (D–Corona) also has received two Democratic minority conference appointments from Minority Leader Sampson as Minority Whip, the role of rallying Democratic senators to support minority conference positions on legislation; and cochair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which is chaired by state Senator Michael Gianaris.

Peralta was also appointed ranking member of the Labor Committee and a member of the Finance, Insurance, Investigations/Government Operations and Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities Committees.

Peralta said, “After decades of dysfunction, late budgets and members behaving badly, I hope that the New Year brings fiscal discipline, greater ethical standards and a political system which serves and meets the needs of our community.”

He also committed to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to get the job done.

The cooperative spirit expressed by Stavisky and Peralta is noteworthy given the fact that four senators have split off from their party conference to form the Independent Democratic Conference because of serious differences with Minority Leader Sampson. None are from Queens.

The renegade group is led by Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, who was named chairman by Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos (Long Island) to the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Two of the three other departing Democrats were also given committee chairmanships. All committee chairs receive an additional stipend.

KOSLOWITZ URGES PARTICIPATION IN HOPE 2011: On Monday, the city Department of Homeless Services conducted the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), an effort to identify the city’s homeless population in order to better serve their needs.

Many volunteers are needed to assist in this effort, so Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills) urged her constituents to step up and join in the effort by canvassing parks, subways and other public spaces to count the people unsheltered in the city.

Koslowitz stated, “HOPE 2011 will help the city to identify the homeless population in order to better serve their needs. By locating people living in unsheltered areas, we can both help those with immediate issues and get a benchmark to learn how our city is doing in combating homelessness.”

The lawmaker urged those interested to contact Homeless Services.

Koslowitz also reminded her constituents to get vaccinated for the flu. People who don’t have health insurance can get a voucher for a free flu shot from the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene or go directly to a local Duane Reade or Walgreen’s pharmacy. The vaccination is available through April 15, she said.

For information, visit www.nyc.gov/flu or call 311. This will put you in touch with the federal agencies also giving out free flu vouchers.

PERALTA ANNOUNCES COMMUNITY MEETINGS: As part of the celebration of Black History and Heritage, state Senator Jose Peralta (D–Corona) announced that former city Comptroller William Thompson and Lynda McDougal, president of the East Elmhurst-Corona Civic Association will be honored at a meeting on February 24 at the Langston Hughes Library, 100-01 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

On February 17, Peralta said, a forum on smoke-free co-ops will be held at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center, 37-06 77th St., Jackson Heights from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

CONSERVATIVES BACK CUOMO’S FISCAL PLANS: During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, the state Conservative Party backed Carl Paladino against Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo, the eventual winner. But Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long and his organization have done a complete turnabout now and are supporting the governor’s austere fiscal plans to close a $10 billion state budget gap with no new taxes or borrowing.

Long stated in a recent press report, “As far as the things he’s saying, we stand with this governor on these issues.”

What’s more, Long and his organization say they’re ready to put their money and sweat where their mouth is.

“I intend to raise as much grassroots support for his agenda as possible because the citizens of New York are the winners if he succeeds,” Long said.

He added that his party members will campaign actively to win support for Cuomo’s proposals. They’ll make robo calls, do mailings, send e-mails and postcards— and even place television ads if finances permit, Long said.

Long said he hasn’t talked with Cuomo nor any of his administration officials regarding coordinating any planned activities, nor does he plan to work with the state’s business leaders who are already on TV with ads supporting the governor’s agenda as part of a $10 million campaign.

The Conservative Party effort behind Cuomo will be funded by a $1 million donation from Robert Mercer of Renaissance Technologies Corp., the same person who gave Long’s organization to run TV ads opposing the controversial mosque in Downtown Manhattan near Ground Zero.

LAWMAKERS IN 107 PCT. RALLY COMMUNITY TO FIGHT CRIME SPREE: Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Little Neck) and Councilmember James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) are spearheading an anti-crime campaign in the 107th Precinct, where a string of robberies have occurred in the affluent Jamaica Estates area.

Both Gennaro and Weprin are residents of Jamaica Estates. Gennaro stated that as a resident there, he was deeply troubled by the crime being committed in this neighborhood. It is important for residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity they may see in the area.

Weprin said he was disheartened to hear of the latest attempt to abduct a senior woman near his home on Marengo Street and McLaughlin Avenue.

“It’s imperative that the 107th Police Precinct increase patrols in the area,” Weprin added.

Also calling for more vigilance on the part of residents were Councilmember Mark Weprin (D–Hollis Hills) and Assemblymember Rory Lancman (D–Fresh Meadows), joined by several community leaders, who lashed out against the violent criminal activity.

GILLIBRAND URGES TAX CREDITS FOR RESEARCH: On a visit to a Long Island technology company last week, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.) called for an increase of a research and development federal tax credit. Presently, the credit ranges from 14 to 20 percent of research and development costs, but the lawmaker wants it to be set at a flat 20 percent and be made permanent.

Gillibrand said expanding the credit could create 162,000 jobs countrywide in small businesses. She explained the tax credit is highly complex which discourages many small firms from using it.

CHILDHOOD CENTER HONORS MARSHALL: The new Ridgewood YMCA recently opened its doors following a renovation and construction project, and with the new Helen M. Marshall Early Childhood Center honoring the borough president who once served as a school teacher.

Formerly known as the Catalpa Center YMCA, the newly renovated facility features a new gymnasium along with new fitness equipment and a weight training section.

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