2011-04-06 / Political Page

Ferraro Eulogized, Laid To Rest In Queens

A president, a governor, a mayor, former colleagues from Congress, present members and other dignitaries from the political world were joined at a funeral mass for Geraldine Ferraro on March 31, before she was brought home to Queens and her final resting place.

Ferraro, who had passed away at the age of 75 the previous Saturday, after a long battle with cancer, had come full circle from the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Upper Manhattan, where she was married to her husband, John Zaccaro, in 1960—and where they renewed their marital vows on their 50th wedding anniversary last year—to her burial place in St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village, in her old congressional district, just minutes from her former home in Forest Hills Gardens.

At the church service, she was roundly praised, not only for her historic accomplishment of having been the first woman to run for the vice presidency on a national ticket, but also for the symbol she had become for the advancement of women’s rights in this country. Others spoke of her friendship and the inspiration she had instilled in so many.

A similar theme was emphasized in a joint resolution introduced last week in both houses of Congress by Congressmember Joseph Crowley and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

At the two-hour church service, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) praised Ferraro, saying: “She was a friend, she was a mentor, she was a role model. Not only for me, but I would say for the women across the country and across the world.”

Former U.S. Senator, Walter F. Mondale, who shared the national Democratic ticket with Ferraro in 1984, said of his running mate: “If they ever make another movie about true grit, it should be about Gerry.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who attended with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, recalled that Ferraro “is seen correctly as paving the way for my political career and those of many other women. We owe her so much. She inspired us, women and girls.”

Mondale noted that there were only two women Senators when Ferraro became his running mate, but now there are 17 and 77 sit in the House.

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D–Maryland) described Ferraro as “a force of nature, a powerhouse… she did change the way we thought about ourselves in American politics”.

Also in attendance were Governor Andrew Cuomo and his parents, former Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda; Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Accompanying their father John Zaccaro were the Ferraro family members including three children, who all spoke and eight grandchildren, three of whom participated in the mass by delivering readings.

RESOLUTION HONORING FERRARO:

The resolution offered by Gillibrand and Congressmember Joe Crowley and co-sponsored by the entire New York state congressional delegation, recognizes Ferraro’s service to Queens and New York during her six years as a congressmember, and pays tribute to her “for her indelible impact as a trailblazer in American politics”.

The resolution also recognizes Ferraro for helping “to tear down barriers to the full and equal participation of women in national politics…”

In offering the resolution, Crowley, who now represents the same area as Ferraro did, stated:

“Gerry may have made her mark on the nation’s consciousness as a member of Congress and a candidate for vice-president, but she was much more… a wife, a mother and, above all, an inspiration to both those who knew her and those who simply knew of her.

“As the representative of her former district, Gerry was a great mentor and friend, and she had a profound influence on my service to the people of Queens. It is with great honor that I join Senator Gillibrand in introducing a resolution to honor the life and legacy of this incredible woman who will forever remain a fixture not only in American politics, but in our hearts.”

Gillibrand stated: “Geraldine Ferraro was more than a pioneer who inspired me and generations of women, she was also a great friend and mentor. I will greatly miss her many words of wisdom, encouragement and advice. While her passing is a great loss for our country, I know that her legacy will live on forever. I was inspired by her convention speech when she said, ‘The issue is not what Americans can do for women, but what women can do for America,’ and am humbled to be part of the next generation of women leaders carrying on her life’s work. I am proud to join Representative Crowley in introducing a resolution honoring the extraordinary life of Geraldine Ferraro.”

KOSLOWITZ: FERRARO ‘PAVED WAY FOR WOMEN’: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills), who counted Geraldine Ferraro among her constituents, said at the former congressmember’s passing, “I was proud to have known Geraldine Ferraro and admired her strength and knowledge. I was also proud to have her as my constituent. She will be missed, but always remembered. She truly paved the way for women.”

NOLAN ON THE BUDGET: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) says some areas of the final $312 billion state budget restored some funds, but the cuts remained for education, despite efforts by the Assembly to get a large chunk back.

Nolan, who was one of the leaders in that failed effort, said, “I fought for restoration to soften the sharpest cuts because we simply can’t afford to abandon our public schools. We owe our children the best possible opportunities.”

Restorations were made for working families, she said in the areas of funding for seniors, vital affordable housing programs, CUNY and summer jobs for youths.

In all, $25 million from a federally-funded program was put back in the budget to keep about 100 senior centers open citywide, including Queensbridge and Ravenswood.

“We are in the midst of tough fiscal times, but we can’t let our older New Yorkers suffer,” Nolan said, agreeing with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s restoration.

As for affordable housing, Nolan said, $4.2 million was restored for the neighborhood Preservation Program to let private not-for-profit housing corporations get contracts to perform housing and community renewal activities.

“We need to make sure that New York City families have access to affordable housing. That’s why I fought to ensure this housing program remains funded and intact,” Nolan said. She added that the Central Astoria Local Development Corp. (CALDAC) and the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corp “will be able to continue their work”.

CUNY community colleges benefited by a 49 percent restoration of the proposed base aid cut equaling a total of $5.1 million. In addition, she said, another $334,000 was restored to help provide child care for students working to get a degree.

“The college dream should be in reach for all students, regardless of their families’ income,” Nolan said. “That’s why it’s critical that CUNY remain affordable. Our district is lucky to have LaGuardia Community College.”

Finally, the final budget restored $15.5 million to the Summer Youth Employment Program. In 2010, Nolan said, the program helped 35,725 young adults find jobs throughout New York City. Jacob Riis and Sunnyside Community Services benefit from these programs.

SCHUMER FIGHTS ELECTRIC RATE HIKE: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) said last week that whopping $500 million, 12 percent rate hike for power generators serving NYC households isn’t a totally done deal. The goahead for the deal, which would start May 28, was ok’d by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but Schumer said he spoke with FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and “I told him how upset we were about FERC’s decision and how we thought they left out some very key information” and he wanted a rehearing.

Schumer said Wellinghoff said “there will definitely be a rehearing” and if it’s compelling enough “he’s not averse to changing his vote”.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is, of course, siding with Schumer and surprisingly even Con Ed is against it.

GIANARIS, MENG LAUD RESTORED SENIOR $: Clearing up any doubt about an important issue regarding money for seniors and the state budget, state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) reports:

“The state budget announced on Sunday, March 27, 2011 has restored state human services funding which will help keep senior centers open.”

Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) put out a similar news release announcing that she and her colleagues have successfully restored the vital federal funding to New York City to help senior centers slated for closure.

Gianaris, in his statement on March 29 to the Gazette, stated: “I am glad we were able to restore this crucial money for our senior centers. For so many seniors, these centers serve as a critical lifeline to the outside world. Our seniors have done so much for us, the least we can do is make sure they have the ability to enjoy their golden years with respect and dignity.”

Meng’s statement on March 30 said, “The senior centers provide meals, programs and companionship right in our own neighborhoods to seniors who might otherwise live alone without a family. I thank the thousands of seniors who came out to the two rallies sponsored by my office and who signed my petitions. Flushing has one of the highest senior citizen populations in the state. This budget resolution is in direct response to their needs.”

Meng said the budget contains $25 million to keep centers open; and for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Program (EPIC), which provides discounts for prescription drugs. It had been expected during budget negotiations that about 100 senior centers throughout New York City would be forced to close.

QUEENS GOP ACTIVIST DIES: Gloria Piekarski, who served for many years as co-leader to Phil Ragusa as the 26th AD Northeast Queens district leader, passed away on March 24, Ragusa and his present co-leader Judith Stupp announced.

In her longtime political career, Piekarski was a charter member of the Republican National Committee, served as president of the Whitestone Republican Club and was a member of the Northeast Queens Republican Club. She was also an active church member and a Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association member.

According to Ragusa, Piekarski joined him as 26th AD co-leader in 2003 and served with him in that position for many years. She also served in leading roles in the mayoral campaigns of former mayor Rudy Giuliani, Doug Prescott for Assemblymember and Mike Abel for City Council.

Ragusa stated she won the praises of former state Senator Frank Padavan and Ragusa described her as a wonderful person, a fantastic leader and someone who really cared about her community, core principles, her family and her friends. She will be sorely missed.”

UPDATE ON RKO KEITHS DEVELOPMENT: Councilmember Peter Koo (R–Flushing) reports he recently met with Patrick Thompson prior to his recent meeting with the community board and the Board of Standards and Appeals in regard to Thompson’s plans to redevelop the landmark RKO Keiths Theater on Northern Boulevard in Flushing.

Koo said he looks forward to hearing from the community about their thoughts concerning this important Flushing project.

“We can all agree that the building should be restored in a fashion that highlight some of our community 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,” he said.

HALLORAN OPPOSES CUOMO’S EDUCATION CUTS: Councilmember Dan Halloran last week criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $1.5 billion cut to education, saying the city’s education system is “getting the shortest end of an already short stick, and that isn’t right”.

Halloran addresses how education was treated in the 2011 budget that was just passed prior to a city council Education Committee hearing. It also followed a huge blast at Cuomo by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the governor’s treatment of the city as a whole in the budget.

Halloran said, “I understand that the governor is in a fiscal bind, and I applaud his willingness to make tough decisions, but Cuomo went too far with the cuts to education.”

“This is an exercise of budgetary splitting the baby.

“Our state spends billions on a bloated bureaucracy and countless pet projects and pork barrel items. Cuts from our already vulnerable school system are unconscionable.”

The cuts will cost 6,000 teacher jobs and cause bulging class sizes, but won’t be merit-based, so the city will lose many of its best teachers, Halloran said, echoing Bloomberg. “I stand with my council colleagues in opposing these irresponsible cuts,” he concluded.

Prior to the council hearing, many education advocacy groups rallied outside City Hall to call for more money from Cuomo for schools.

STAVISKY BILL TO RECLASSIFY COOPS: Citing huge increases in the present assessments and tax burdens for co-op and condo owners, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) is seeking to have their classification changed with finance agencies. Assemblymember Edward Braunstein (D–Bayside) is sponsor in the Assembly.

Stavisky has submitted legislation to reclassify co-ops and condos from Class 2 property, which is currently assessed as rental income property, to class one property, which is the classification for one- and two-family homes.

Stavisky, a shareholder in a co-op residence herself, hailed the bill as a huge step in protecting co-op and condo owners and Queens’ middle class as a whole from unfairly shouldering hefty property tax bills.

The lawmaker explained: “It makes sense to classify co-ops and condos the same way we do one- and two-family attached homes because a coop or condo building is essentially just a collection of one family attached homes.

“These are primary residences, not incomegenerating properties, and the owners should be assessed and pay taxes accordingly. Cop-ops and condos are more closely aligned in their structure of ownership to private homes than to rental properties. These assessments should be reversed.”

CONSERVATIVE PARTY HAILS ‘NO TAXES’ BUDGET: The state Conservative Party is one political group that must approve of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ability to pass a budget that didn’t include extension of the millionaires’ tax.

In a memo to all legislators, the party argued that, “If the millionaires’ tax is extended, it will be a severe flow to the small business owner struggling to stay in business.” If that happens, it said, “those forced to pay it [the tax], will move to a state that welcomes their successes”.

The party acknowledged that the $123 billion budget spends too much money, but has the beginnings of making the right decisions to end the wasteful spending that special interest groups demand every year.

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