2011-06-22 / Political Page

Weiner Officially Resigns

“I hereby resign as the member of the House of Representatives for New York’s Ninth Congressional District effective at midnight, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.”

(signed) Anthony D. Weiner, Member of Congress

The 35-word letter above, sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, officially brought a sudden end to the 12 and a half-year career of Anthony D. Weiner as a member of Congress.

The brief note also capped three hectic weeks during which Weiner’s three years of texting sexually charged notes and pictures to six women around the country were revealed and forced him to resign his post in Congress when it was learned some of the texting originated in the House gymnasium.

The scandal and the resignation, prompted largely by his Democratic colleagues, also stirred up related political activity which will be resolved by a special election to replace Weiner which is to be called by Cuomo. The winner will complete serving the 18 months remaining in Weiner’s current term.


Weiner at press conference tendering his resignation...“I hereby resign as the member of the House of Representatives for New York’s Ninth Congressional District effective at midnight, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.” Weiner at press conference tendering his resignation...“I hereby resign as the member of the House of Representatives for New York’s Ninth Congressional District effective at midnight, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. It has been an honor to serve the people of Queens and Brooklyn.” During his dozen years of service as a congressmember, Weiner, 46, came to be recognized as a hands-on, effective lawmaker, which was reflected by his several reelections and support from constituents when his texting experiences were revealed.

When Weiner announced he would be resigning from office last week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, for whom Weiner was an aide and succeeded in Congress, stated:

“On this sad day, we should not forget that Anthony Weiner was an effective and passionate advocate for the people he represented in Brooklyn and Queens.

“He has served his community, city and country well for over two decades. I wish him,

[wife] Huma, and his family only the best.”

Among others showing support for Weiner as he announced his resignation, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan), a colleague from the Queens delegation, stated, “I’m sorry it has come to this, but I think it’s best for him and his family and for the Congress.”

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall issued a statement declaring:

“Anthony Weiner has paid a heavy price for his actions. He has apologized and resigned from his office. He was an articulate member of Congress and before that a hardworking member of the City Council [from 1992-1998]. Now it’s time to move on. My hope is that this talented individual will be able to use his skills and talent in new ways and venues for the good of the people and, as he said, to continue to heal.”

After Weiner took care of the business of officially resigning in Washington on June 20, he returned to his Forest Hills apartment. Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, who is pregnant, must now get their lives in order. Huma, 35, is on the staff of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and is expected to remain there. She is also expected to remain in her marriage despite the revelations about her husband’s activities.

The serious problem now is for Weiner to pick up the pieces and start a new career. His adult life to this point has been politics and positions in the city council and Congress. Speculation in the press is that he may be suited for political consulting or commentary on TV, a place where former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer landed following his resignation from office.

There is also some speculation that Weiner may sometime in the future attempt to resurrect his political career, but that time may not come for several years. Weiner himself has not given any indication of what direction he will go career-wise.

At one time, his path from Congress was clearly laid out to the campaign for Mayor of New York City in 2013, but that seems out of the question at this moment. After Weiner’s impressive first effort to win the mayor’s job in 2005, which ended with him conceding the Democratic nomination to Fernando Ferrer rather than engage him in a primary runoff election, Weiner was left with a several million dollar war chest which since then has grown to more than $5 million for the 2013 race, according to a press report yesterday.

New York state Republican Party Chair Edward Cox wondered in a New York Post story whether Weiner was using the campaign funds for his own purposes, which would be wrong, Cox said. The story said Weiner must regularly report on the status of the funds as long as he has them in his possession, but it was not clear whether he could use the money for personal purposes.

Meanwhile, Cuomo will eventually announce the date of the special election to fill Weiner’s seat. Many names, mostly sitting Democratic lawmakers, are being floated as interested in their party’s nomination to run for it. They are: Assemblymembers David Weprin and Rory Lancman, Councilmembers Mark Weprin, and James Gennaro, and ex- Councilmembers Melinda Katz and Eric Gioia.

On the Republican side, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani is supporting Councilmember Eric Ulrich, but the name of Bob Turner, from Breezy Point, who lost to Weiner last year, is also in the mix, as well as Andrew Sullivan, a construction worker.

There is also strong speculation that the 9th Congressional District may be wiped out in the reapportionment of the election districts that must be done in time for the 2012 elections by the state legislature. If that occurs, the winner of the special election will occupy the seat for the one and a half years remaining in Weiner’s term.

CONDOLENCES TO MAYOR BLOOMBERG: The Gazette offers its condolences to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the death of his mother, Charlotte Rubens Bloomberg, who died Sunday at her home in West Medford, Massachusetts at the age of 102.

Charlotte Bloomberg, who received a degree in accounting from New York University in 1929, had been in deteriorating health for several months, the New York Times reported. She had attended the first two inaugurations of her son.

DE BLASIO URGES STARBUCKS, ‘SAVE ELMHURST DAIRY’: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has appealed to Starbucks to maintain its contract with Elmhurst Dairy in Elmhurst, the last remaining milk processor in New York City, because if it doesn’t, the dairy may be forced out of business, many other small local businesses will also suffer, and about 1,000 jobs would be lost.

The dairy, which has provided milk for the coffee chain’s 256 shops in NYC since 2003, also supplies milk to 8,300 small grocers in the city and the 1.1 million student New York City public school system as well.

Now, de Blasio says, it has come to his attention that Starbucks is poised to cancel its contract with Elmhurst Dairy and start getting its milk supply from a New Jersey dairy. In fact, this was all set to happen June 17.

In a letter to Starbucks officials in Seattle, de Blasio stated:

“Even as Starbucks benefits deeply from the patronage of New York City residents, such an action would have a profound negative impact on New York City’s economy, and for that reason, I strongly urge Starbucks to reconsider its plan.”

Besides the possible demise of the dairy and the loss of many jobs, Starbucks’ pending action might also drive up the cost of milk for many city residents, and the Department of Education would face an increased layout of $1 million.

Cutting off deliveries to the small grocers would hurt their businesses because out-ofstate milk distributors are oftentimes unwilling to make stops for these types of small accounts,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio closed his letter saying, “In the spirit of being a good neighbor, I urge Starbucks to consider the impact of moving their milk processing out of New York City, and the consequences of this agreement on New York City public schools and for hundreds of New Yorkers that are employed by Elmhurst Dairy.”

NOLAN, SILVER ADDRESS STUDENT SPORTS INJURIES: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan announced that their house has passed a bill which establishes statewide safeguards to protect student athletes from possible further injury after suffering a concussion.

The bill would require state education and health officials to establish head injury guidelines for all schools, and school coaches, physical education teachers, nurses and athletic trainers would be required to undergo head injury training to learn how to identify symptoms of a concussion and to seek medical treatment for a student injured in a game.

Then the injured student, who may or may not have suffered a concussion must be immediately removed from the game. Their return to athletic activity would only be permitted following a 24-hour period of being symptomfree and with a physician’s approval.

The bill also would require relevant information to be posted online, describing warning signs of a concussion and what steps must be taken before a student could play again.

Silver stated, “With this act, we establish much needed standards…for the prevention of further injury to young athletes who suffer a concussion while competing in school athletics.”

Nolan said, “No child should suffer a lifetime of serious medical problems because they did not receive appropriate medical care for a concussion. This measure will allow us to better protect our young athletes and spare them from the long term health problems of a brain injury.”

HOME INVASION GAINS SPOT

IN LAW BOOKS: The increase in home invasion crimes, which are terrifying experiences, need “an increased penalty and enforcement to assist in ensuring the safety of residents”, and they will get that recognition under a bill passed by the state senate, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) said.

The proposed new law creates the crime of home invasion robbery which elevates the crime of robbery if the robbery occurs in someone’s home, Addabbo said.

The lawmaker explained that home invasion robbery crimes “are not to be mistaken for burglaries, which usually occur when the homeowner is away”. The invasion crime “features confronting homeowners as a key element of the perpetrator’s attacks, directly with force, false pretense or impersonation, and then restraining the victims to steal the home’s contents.

Addabbo said the bill is still being reviewed in the Codes Committee and did not spell out the difference in penalties from the related crimes of robbery and/or assault.

CONVENTION CENTER NEAR RACINO: Reportedly, the operator of the soon-to-open Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct in Ozone Park is considering building a convention center next door to the gambling center. The story in Monday’s New York Post quoted state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. saying, “They want a convention center to rival the Javits Center,” the city’s only convention center in Manhattan.

Casino operator Genting said through a spokesperson that it is absolutely interested in developing other projects alongside the slots palace adjacent to Aqueduct Racetrack.

A convention center is already in the works to be built in the development that is planned on the auto junkyard site in Flushing; but this is not intended to rival the Javits Center, only to supplement it. Javits has always been considered inadequate for large-scale conventions or exhibitions, despite having been expanded in recent years.

NO PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT AT ST. ALBANS SITE: Congress has passed legislation that would block plans for private contractors to develop the proposed St. Albans Primary and Extended Care Center on the present veterans hospital site in Queens, Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Bayside/L.I.) announced.

Ackerman said the measure was approved by the House as an amendment proposed by Congressmember Gregory Meeks (D–Jamaica) to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. He explained that under the approved legislation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) would be prohibited from proceeding with its proposal to dispose of veterans’ property for private development on the campus of the St. Albans Hospital.

Ackerman has been urging the V.A. to build a full-service hospital for veterans on the present St. Albans site rather than move forward with what he called “inadequate plans to merely modernize it with funds gained by leasing 25 acres of the property for private development”.

Ackerman said he had written V.A. Secretary Eric Shinseki in January, telling him he was “troubled that the V.A. is proceeding with the plans without a sufficient study of the health needs of present and future veterans, and that the proposed facility would be inadequate for the next generation of veterans”.

Ackerman said he strongly supported the amendment offered by Meeks, whose district includes the St. Albans V.A. Hospital, which serves veterans living in Queens and Long Island. The bill passed by the House now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

MENG BILL EXTENDING COMMUNITY BANKS PASSES: A bill extending the life of the Banking Development District Program, which encourages large commercial banks to establish branches in areas traditionally underserved by financial institutions, has received final passage by the Assembly.

Previously passed by the senate, the measure was introduced by Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing), a member of the Banking Committee. The program, started in 1997, was to have expired next January 1, 2012.

Meng, the only Asian-American member of the Assembly, noted the program should seek to get community banks in immigrant communities, which have a tradition of starting neighborhood businesses. Meng would also like to see more of them in Queens.

The lawmaker noted, “There are intersections in Manhattan that have banks on each corner, but Queens doesn’t have that sort of service.” Community banks have been established near the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City. Banks have also appeared in Corona and South Jamaica, Meng said.

Banks set up under the program are eligible to receive a maximum of $10 million in subsidized deposits from New York state.

The Meng bill is now awaiting consideration by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

LEGISLATION BANS SMOKING IN CARS CARRYING MINORS: Seeking to protect children from the serious health risks related to secondhand smoke, state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) and Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Little Neck) have teamed up to propose legislation that would outlaw smoking in cars carrying children under the age of 14.

Weprin and Stavisky noted that secondhand tobacco smoke is a known cause of cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. They also emphasized that children are even more at risk for health problems, with immediate effects of exposure to others’ smoke, including respiratory problems, increased risks of sudden infant death syndrome and ear infections.

“The bill extends the Clean Indoor Air Act to motor vehicles,” Stavisky said. “In the same way that restaurant employees and patrons alike were forced to breathe secondhand smoke, children are being forced to breathe unhealthy air in the compact confines of cars.”

Weprin noted, “Our goal is to increase awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke. People need to know that when they smoke in cars with their children, even with the windows rolled down, they are putting their children at risk.” He added that “similar bans decrease the overall number of cigarettes people smoke and, in some cases, actually result in people quitting [smoking].”

The lawmakers said the Environmental Protection Administration estimates second- hand smoke causes up to 62,000 deaths annually among nonsmokers in the U.S., including 3,000 deaths due to lung cancer alone. Children are especially susceptible, as an estimated 300,000 children nationwide develop lower respiratory infections each year from exposure to secondhand smoke, they said.

The bill calls for a $100 penalty to drivers stopped for suspicion of smoking with underage passengers in their car. Four other states have a similar law.

ADDABBO BILL CREATES VENTURE CAPITAL FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: Businesses throughout New York state in need of capital would be served well by a bill introduced in the state Assembly that would authorize the state to license six certified capital companies to raise $150 million in private venture capital from insurance companies to lend to small businesses.

Similar programs in the past have worked out well, according to state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) a co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill. Since 1998, he said five similar programs have raised $400 million of private capital and those funds have helped to create or retain 2,000 jobs and will generate $412 million in tax revenues by 2016.

“It’s a win-win situation for both small business owners and investors,” says Addabbo. “Our current economic climate makes getting risk capital for small businesses extremely challenging. As elected officials, we must make every effort to help our small businesses.”

In return for investing in qualified businesses, the insurance companies would receive premium tax credits from the state. To qualify for those tax credits, each certified capital company must satisfy several requirements Addabbo said, such as:

•Directing two-thirds of investment capital to qualified businesses located in underserved areas.

•10 percent of its investment must be “seed funds”, and certified as such by the state Superintendent of Financial Services.

•50 percent of investments must go towards businesses focused on emerging technology products and services.

•No more than $15 million can be invested in any one company.

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