Turner Blasts Obama’s New Tax Plan; Has Breakfast With Mayor
In his first public comments about President Barack Obama’s latest income tax ploy, Congressmember-elect Bob Turner skewered the president’s proposed millionaires tax yesterday as counterproductive and he opposes it.
Turner, who ran on a platform which turned out to be a referendum on the president’s fiscal and other policies, and also promised voters a no tax pledge, stated: “The idea is to encourage investment and reward risk. Tax increases would be counterproductive and cost us jobs and revenue.”
Turner’s comments were made to a New York Post reporter following a breakfast he had with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Cross Bay Diner in Howard Beach in the lawmaker’s district.
Obama said his proposal would raise $1.5 trillion over 10 years by taxing couples earning $250,000-a-year and up and individuals earning $200,000-a-year; ending some tax deductions for those same high end income earners and closing tax loopholes.
The tax increase is part of his latest $3.2 trillion deficit reduction program which also includes $1.67 trillion in savings from programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Turner had also called in his campaign for cutbacks in those two healthcare programs.
Republicans also blasted the tax increases, which they have strongly opposed, and said it surely kills chances of Obama’s jobs producing program because business owners stuck with the new income tax payments will not invest in any Obama programs designed to breathe life into the economy.
Obama’s call for the major tax increases followed a suggestion by super billionaire investment giant Warren Buffett that he and others in upper tax brackets do not pay enough in taxes. At the same time, said Buffett, his secretary in a far lower tax bracket, pays at a tax rate that is higher than her boss’.
Getting back to Turner’s breakfast with Bloomberg, which preceded the interview regarding Obama’s tax plan and was held separately, Turner described it as just part of his education for his new elected post.
The mayor said it was the first time he was meeting Turner, who was sworn in last Thursday, and both discovered they have a lot in common, including a lot of friends in common. After the one-hour meeting, which Turner initiated, the mayor said they also chatted about their campaigns and other experiences.
Turner and the mayor also discussed city issues, such as immigration, guns, Medicaid and the economy.
SILVER SEES OZONE PK RACINO AS REAL CASINO: New York state is inching forward to full-fledged casino gambling in the state, and one place where it would be established earliest will be in Queens, according to a recent newspaper report.
The Queens location pinpointed in the story is the soon-to-open racino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park. The gambling hall at the moment can only legally offer slot machine wagering, and close to 500 of these will be installed at the betting facility slated to open on the venerable racetrack grounds.
But including the Aqueduct betting parlor to be outfitted to offer the more authentic action, such as crap tables and roulette, was powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The gist of the New York Post story this past Monday was that Silver and state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were ready to follow Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lead and support a constitutional amendment to make gambling legal in the state.
Silver was quoted saying that, under the proposed legalization, he would “be willing to have at least one casino in New York City—at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens”.
The racino is being prepared for its opening by Genting Resorts, the franchise-holder, one of the leading full fledged casino operators in the world. The firm has already made bids to expand the operation to regular casino betting.
That Silver would make the exception to single out Aqueduct as the one NYC operator of the expanded operation comes as news because he’s long been on record as favoring casinos in places like resorts, but not in New York City.
The powerful speaker’s change of heart came only as he declared his support for the constitutional amendment to achieve legalized betting in the state.
About a month ago, the governor said New York should face the facts and legalize casinos in order to access the economic benefits they would provide for the state. They would provide thousands of jobs and create a tax flow to help the state get on its feet while keeping New Yorkers in their home state rather than frequenting casinos out-of-state.
With both Silver and Skelos on board with the plan, it’s a sure bet that it will go through, no matter what obstacles would get in the way.
All three of the state’s governmental officials would be required to pass the legislation. To approve a constitutional amendment, it must receive full passage next year and the following year and then be approved by the state’s voters.
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT CRIME: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) joined Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week in sounding the alarm about crime.
Vallone, chairman of the City Council Public Safety Committee, spoke about a specific threat to kids and a more general crime surge, and the need for more cops on the force.
Regarding the safety of young children, Vallone called for putting surveillance cameras in the children’s section of all public libraries in the city. He issued a call after a seven-yearold girl was touched by a stranger in the Steinway branch library on August 9. Immediately after it occurred on an upper floor of the library, she reported it to her mother, who was waiting for her on the ground floor.
Vallone filed the legislation to try to deter crime against kids and to help police to catch offenders.
Vallone stated, “A camera is an inexpensive way to help ensure the safety of our children.”
The lawmaker said he will provide funding for the camera at the Steinway branch out of his discretionary city funds.
The introduction of Vallone’s bill also brought similar action by Astoria’s two Democratic state legislators, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas. Their bill upgrades forcible touching from a misdemeanor to a felony, making convictions punishable by up to four years in prison.
On the subject of rising crime, Vallone addressed it after the Mayor’s Management Report cited increases in crime and response times. In his response, Vallone stated:
“The fact that crime and response times are up should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is the inevitable result of having almost 7,000 fewer police officers, and it is only the hard work of Commissioner Kelly and our existing police officers that have held off this increase for so long.”
According to Vallone, the mayor’s report indicated that murder, forcible rape and robbery increased along with major felony crime in the transit system and housing developments. Average response times also went up by more than half a minute from 7.5 minutes to 8.4 minutes.
Vallone had also called for action regarding rising crime almost two weeks before the mayor’s report, at which time he urged that 1,800 cadets should enter the Police Academy by next January 1 to start training.
The lawmaker noted, “While we may be safer than we were 10 years ago, we are not safer now.” He also said the federal government should be doing more to cut the flow of illegal guns into New York City, but city officials were obligated to do more by giving Kelly the resources he needs to stop this crime surge. That includes the need for 1,800 cadets in the Police Academy no later than January 1.
Vallone also chided Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s claim that the July 2011 class at the academy would be the largest in five years. The statement, the lawmaker said, was misleading because:
“It is actually two smaller classes combined, due to the fact that the January 2011 class was cancelled. Those cadets would have hit the street in July and been available during this crime wave… but they were not… and that… contributed to its severity,” he said.
Last Friday, the mayor, speaking about a different kind of lawlessness, caused by poverty and lack of jobs in the city, said, “You don’t want those kind of riots here,” referring to the riots by youths that accompanied the overthrow of Egypt’s president.
Bloomberg made the comments on his weekly radio show, and added later that creating jobs “remains our No. 1 priority”.
Cuomo touched on the recent string of gun incidents in the city last weekend during a visit to Harlem, which led him eventually into the longtime need for federal gun control laws.
“This recent rash of gun violence should concern us all, because it’s frightening and it’s only getting worse,” speaking at a breakfast kickoff for the African American Day Parade. Gun control laws were long overdue, he said.
DEMS WIN ELECTIONS, NOT THE BIG ONE: Last Tuesday’s special elections in Queens produced three Democratic winners. The party lost the most important one with Democrat David Weprin’s loss to Republican Bob Turner for the 9th congressional district seat.
Three Democrats won state Assembly seats.
•Philip Goldfeder won the 23rd AD seat covering the Rockaways and part of Ozone Park, and replaces Audrey Pheffer, who resigned her post and now serves as Queens County Clerk.
•Michael Simanowitz won the 27th AD seat in Flushing, replacing Nettie Mayersohn, who also retired.
•Councilmember Ruben Wills won a Democratic primary and is expected to win the general election and continue to serve as councilmember in the district covering Jamaica, defeating three opponents. The seat had been held by the late Thomas White.
Goldfeder, a Far Rockaway native, defeated Republican District Leader Jane Deacy. He had been serving as an aide to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Simanowitz has been serving as a top office aide to Mayersohn. He defeated Marco DeSena, a Republican.
Wills defeated three opponents, including former Councilmember Allan Jennings.
ULRICH LETS CONSTITUENTS HELP TO DECIDE: Ozone Park’s Councilmember Eric Ulrich disclosed last week that he will try out a plan in the near future where constituents will be invited to participate in discussions about how and where to spend $1 million of city funds on local capital projects such as street repairs, parks and public art works.
Three other councilmembers said they would also devote $1 million each of discretionary funds they receive from the budget to spend on community programs in their districts.
The plan is based on one tried out in Brazil, an experiment to have ordinary citizens decide how city funds are spent. Called participatory budgeting, it has also been tried out in other foreign countries and in the U.S. in Chicago.
Councilmembers and other legislators at the state and national level all receive discretionary funds which they decide individually how much and on which organization they are to be spent. The process has been strongly opposed by good government groups because each lawmaker is not required to get anyone’s approval and files no report on use of the funds.
Councilmembers undertaking the experiment have said they hoped this will be better received than the existing process.
MENG ADDRESSES FEARS FOLLOWING SHOOTING: Following a shooting incident at the Bland Houses in Flushing on September 10, Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) reports, some residents were visibly shaken.
After meeting with them, Meng said she vowed to work closely with the 109th Pct./Flushing, her colleagues in government, clergy and most importantly the residents at the Bland Houses.
Seeking to ensure them that safety becomes a MUST and not a WANT in their neighborhood, Meng stated:
“As a community, we must all work together to proactively make certain that our children and young adults can grow up safely, have the proper training to attend school, and get jobs. A bright future and a safe community is everyone’s duty and responsibility.”
MALONEY APPLAUDS FAA FUNDING: Following passage of the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act, authorizing funding for highway and transit connections initiatives through March 31, 2012, and funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through January 31, 2012, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) stated that she was pleased “that House Republicans agreed to a temporary extension of funding for FAA, highway and transportation initiatives”.
Maloney said this would create jobs to help rebuild America’s roads and airports. But she added:
“We still need a clear path to a transportation plan that includes bringing high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor—which would create high-paying construction jobs in the short term and long-term economic development throughout the Northeast Corridor, an area with 70 percent of the nation’s chronically delayed flights, 60 percent of our heavily-congested roads, and 20 percent of our population—but just two percent of our nation’s land area.”
ADDABBO GLAD FOR FEMA’S APPROVALS: FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, assessed damages from Hurricane Irene in Queens and said residents were entitled to individual financial assistance awards, which covered homeowners, tenants and small businesses, according to state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach).
Addabbo said, “Most of the constituents my office has been assisting are in dire need of financial relief as they seek to replace boilers, flooring, furniture, walls and repair other damage from the hurricane. For those seniors, retirees and hard-working individuals who need FEMA aid, my office staff and I will work with FEMA and the offices of the governor and mayor to process their claims.”
Addabbo said he encourages residents who have property damage from Irene to immediately register with FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
Applicants with a speech or hearing liability can use TTY by calling 1-800-462-7585. Addabbo reminded everyone, “The toll free phone numbers operate from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week.”