2012-03-28 / Political Page

Vallone: End Gas Tax For Summer

With gasoline prices rising steadily, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) is proposing a very sensible move: stop the taxes on gas for the summer season. Vallone points out:

“A round trip to the beach should not cost as much as a cheap flight to Europe. What’s the point of having a summer vacation and time off with your kids if inflated gas prices prevent you from going anywhere? If you can’t travel you can’t stimulate the economy.”

Vallone is calling upon Albany to suspend gas taxes during the summer months, starting on Memorial Day through Labor Day. He estimates, Motorists may be forced to pay more than $5.00 per gallon.

The lawmaker’s plan calls for suspension of three separate taxes on fuel, totalling 33 cents per gallon in savings. He also points out that New York ranks first in gas taxes, according to the American Petroleum Institute. New Yorkers, he says, paid seven separate taxes, totaling 67.4 cents per gallon, more than twice as much as New Jersey.

The Queens GOP leadership endorsed Councilmember Dan Halloran, far l., to run in the newly created 6th Congressional District. Party leaders strongly felt that with this unique opportunity Halloran was the best candidate to win this seat for the Republican Party, and Halloran graciously accepted the nomination. The Queens GOP leadership endorsed Councilmember Dan Halloran, far l., to run in the newly created 6th Congressional District. Party leaders strongly felt that with this unique opportunity Halloran was the best candidate to win this seat for the Republican Party, and Halloran graciously accepted the nomination. New Yorkers, he adds, also have the added burden of being one of the top ranked states for paying the highest taxes, other than gasoline levies, in the United States.

QUEENS GOP TAPS HALLORAN FOR CONGRESS RACE AGAINST DEMS: Acting swiftly after three Queens Democrats announced their intention to run for Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s new Congressional seat, the borough’s Republicans have announced that they have endorsed Councilmember Daniel Halloran to be their candidate for the new seat in Congress.

Halloran, a 41-year-old attorney from Whitestone, would face one of the three Democratic aspirants in the new 6th CD. They are: Assemblymember Grace Meng, of Flushing, who is the county Democratic organization’s choice to become the candidate; Assemblymember Rory Lancman, of Fresh Meadows and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, of Glendale.

The three will face off in a primary election to choose the Democratic candidate, which is set for June 26.

Halloran’s unanimous selection was made at a Sunday caucus by the county Republican organization headed by chairman Philip Ragusa.

The party is obviously looking for Halloran to break new ground and win a congressional seat on his first attempt. In 2009, Halloran won his City Council seat, which covers part of Northeast Queens. In that election, he defeated Kevin D. Kim, who was an aide to Ackerman and ran with the congressmember’s support.

In 2009, the Republicans won two city council seats in the Flushing-Bayside area— Halloran’s and that of Councilmember Peter Koo. Both of those council districts swept by the Republicans are included in the new congressional district which Halloran will be running for.

The new 6th CD covers areas of Flushing which are heavily populated by persons of Asian descent, and as a result, the district has one of the highest Asian-American populations in the United States and they make up an estimated 37 percent of the district’s voters.

Among the Democrats running for the seat, Meng, a Chinese-American lawyer, would be the first of her nationality to be elected to Congress. But in announcing her candidacy she stated, “Our campaign for Congress will resist any efforts to divide our communities. We will not tolerate any attempt—overt or coded—to play one community off another.”

Meng, 36, added: “Our greatest strength has always been our diversity—Queens is famous throughout the world for diversity and tolerance. But really, it’s what we have in common that makes our neighborhoods work…”

Elsewhere in the campaign among the three Democrats, Lancman received the first major endorsement of the campaign, this from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 40,000 workers in the New York City area.

The endorsement cited Lancman’s working class background and his chairmanship of the Assembly’s Workplace Safety Committee. Lancman, 43, has been in office since 2000.

Meanwhile, Crowley, 34, formally announced her candidacy, saying:

“Over the last three years we’ve worked hard to improve our neighborhoods, protect our public safety, help our public education system, and fight for better access to women’s health.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue our work in Washington, and I hope to have your support. Stay tuned for more updates about my campaign.”

Crowley, the candidate, is a cousin of Congressmember Joseph Crowley, who doubles as the Queens Democratic Party chairman.

AVELLA RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION: Last week, state Senator Tony Avella (D–Bayside) announced he would seek reelection this year to a second term in Northeast Queens’ 11th senatorial district. The former councilmember won election to the senate for the first time two years ago with a stunning victory over veteran Senator Frank Padavan.

Avella stated that he ran for election on a reform platform and for good government, “and while we have accomplished a great deal, we still have a long way to go to reform Albany”.

Avella added, “While much of my attention was devoted to addressing our statewide issues in Albany, I never lost sight of what needed to be done in the community. As senator, I attacked the reckless overdevelopment issues that have threatened the character of our neighborhoods and never failed to take city agencies to task for failing to provide the quality of life the people of Queens deserve.”

GILLIBRAND RIVAL GETS CONSERVATIVE LINE: Wendy Long, one of three Republicans seeking to run against U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, in this year’s U.S. Senate contest, last week won the Conservative Party’s line on the ballot, assuring the Manhattan attorney of at least a place on the ballot.

As for the Republican Party nomination against Gillibrand, Long will face Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos and Congressmember Robert Turner in a threeway primary on June 26.

No doubt, having won the Conservative Party line improves Long’s chances of sweeping up the GOP nomination to face Gillibrand. The general election in November is for a full six-year term. It will be Long’s first attempt to win public office. The race will be watched closely as the Senate elections will determine whether the Democrats can continue to hold on to their narrow majority and retain Senate control.

The choice of Long by state Conservatives comes as a bit of a surprise since Conservative Chairman Michael Long (no relation) played a key role in supporting Congressmember Turner in his surprise victory last September to assume the seat previously held by Anthony Weiner. Mike Long is not only a strong backer of Turner, he is also a good friend and neighbor of Turner. Both reside in Breezy Point at the tip of the Rockaways.

CUOMO, VALLONE AGREE: ‘BAN SYNTHETIC POT’: When a newspaper investigation unveiled the serious problems with the legal but dangerous synthetic marijuana, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) quickly called for a ban of the sale of the substance.

The synthetic pot is easily available in smoke shops, delis, gas stations and online, under the names K2 or Spice, and widespread reports of emergency rooms being flooded after its use pour in, according to a Daily News investigation.

But congressional action to deal with it is being held up by U.S. Senator Rand Paul who thinks proposed penalties are overly punishable.

But the governor wants the sales stopped, according to a spokesman, who said, “The state Department of Health is actively seeking ways to accomplish [a ban], and the governor would support efforts to do so in New York and nationwide.”

Vallone joined the governor in saying action should be immediate, and there’s no time for Congress to wait while teens are getting sick and hallucinating after using the stuff.

Vallone said he decided on his own to introduce legislation to ban it after seeing stories describing the dangers involved in its use.

“It’s a camouflaged killer,” Vallone declared. “We can’t wait while our kids are in danger. We should move as other municipalities, like Suffolk County on Long Island, to make this substance illegal.”

Also demanding a halt in sales was state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R–L.I.) and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) who said, “Every month kids die of abuse of these readily available synthetic drugs.”

Schumer also took a wrap at his colleague Rand Paul saying, “Libertarians may believe that you should be allowed to use bad drugs if you want because you are only hurting yourself. But the fallacy of that argument is that abuse of this kind of poisonous drug inevitably hurts many other innocent people.”

According to the Daily News, at least three deaths have been attributed to the products which are sold under the brand names Killer Buzz, Aroma and Hammer Head.

MALONEY’S FAREWELL TO ACKERMAN: Commenting on the retirement from Congress of her friend and colleague, Gary Ackerman, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney stated:

“Gary Ackerman is a quintessential New Yorker, a consummate legislator, and a dear friend. Even after 15 terms in Congress, Gary was a breath of fresh air in Washington. His passion, keen sense of humor, and dedication to serving others will be sorely missed.

“Through his long term on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ackerman provided invaluable leadership on issues relating to the Middle East and Asia, and was instrumental in strengthening the ties between America and Israel.

“While I will miss seeing the unsinkable Gary Ackerman in the halls of Congress, I know that he will continue his efforts to improve the lives of New Yorkers and all Americans.

NOLAN PROTECTING CONSUMERS: Banks throughout the state would be required to warn consumers about fraud before money is transferred.

“Fraud hurts everyone regardless of age,” Assemblymember Cathy Nolan (D–Ridgewood) explained. “We all should be interested in protecting consumers.” Nolan was prompted to introduce the bill after learning of a fraud case in her district and trying to help the victim who lost several thousand dollars in the scam.

Nolan said her bill was recently reported out of the Banking Committee. It is being carried in the senate by state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria).

State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) also spoke in favor of the bill. Amplifying on the bill’s aims, Addabbo said it would apply “to electronic or wire transfers… in order to receive questionable rewards”. He added,

“By alerting consumers to some of these common and expensive scams we might be able to save some residents the pain and economic consequences of being taken in by fraud.”

GOLDFEDER ASKS PA SEEK OTHER WAY TO EXPAND RUNWAYS: In order to expand a runway at Kennedy Airport, the Port Authority would need to fill in a significant part of Jamaica Bay, but Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder argues that many constituents in his Rockaway district have “been consistently against destruction of the waterway… yet the idea remains on the table”.

The reason for the community’s objections, Goldfeder says, is based on the plan’s potential affect on local neighborhoods and a wildlife refuge. He points out that the bay serves as one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast and is home to more than 60 species of butterflies.

Meanwhile, many local businesses rely on the bay and residents’ enjoyment of the waterway would be affected, Goldfeder noted. He also acknowledged the need for expansion, but the proposal has too many negative implications.

Goldfeder urged the PA “to explore a number of different potential solutions that could accomplish the same goal with less impact on our local families and environment”.

PERALTA PUSHES MICROSTAMPING: State Senator Jose Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) has introduced a bill in the senate to enable police crime investigators to trace guns used in crimes, but the majority Republicans are blocking its passage. Peralta feels strongly that what his bill would do— microstamp a code number or marking onto every bullet casing that is ejected when a semiautomatic pistol is fired in the commission of a crime.

Microstamping would enable police investigators who recover the shell casings at a crime scene to determine which gun they were fired from and thus have a lead in tracing the weapon to its original owner.

Peralta explains: “Ballistics examiners can use these marks to quickly, consistently and reliably trace crime guns back to their original purchasers, providing police with a crucial investigative lead.”

Recently, when the gun lobby, which opposes microstamping, came to Albany to argue against crime-fighting legislation like his, he requested Republicans to put his bill up for a vote. This way, both sides of the issue would be aired and then each senator could go on record for or against microstamping.

Unfortunately for Peralta, Republican lawmakers would not take his suggestion, so his bill remains bottled up in a committee— and crime-fighting loses a great weapon.

MALONEY BLASTS GOP BUDGET PLAN: Pouncing on the budget plan released by the Republican Party leadership in Congress last week, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) declared:

“The Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it, bleed red ink for decades to pay for corporate tax cuts, kill millions of jobs, and threaten our economic recovery. Thankfully the Ryan budget is also dead on arrival in the Senate.”

Maloney a member of the Financial Services Committee, added:

“I urge my Republican colleagues to stop doubling down on their bad bet that the American people will tolerate the evisceration of our social safety net to finance tax cuts for billionaires and the most profitable corporations.”

Maloney urges: “Let’s get back to the negotiating table and come up with a budget that respects past budget agreements, creates jobs, preserves our economic recovery, and cuts the deficit in a responsible way. And as luck would have it, we already have such a plan—it’s the budget President Obama proposed earlier this year.”

TURNER SEEKS VET JOBS: Congressmember Bob Turner (R–CBrooklyn/

Queens) has been working the phones to spread the word about a jobs-forveterans event that will be held today from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum at Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan.

It’s called the 2012 Hiring Our Heroes Today Veterans Event and is being staged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Capital One Bank, the Today Show, NBC News, the Department of Labor Veterans Employment, and Training Services (DOL VETS), the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and numerous local Chambers of Commerce.

Turner said the event “will not just help veterans get a job, but will allow them to embark on a new career”. He added, “It also provides companies with an opportunity to hire some of the most skilled, well-trained, and hard-working individuals in the world.”

MALONEY A ‘GREAT DEFENDER’: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) has earned a perfect 100 percent rating from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund for her commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation during the first session of the 112th Congress.

Maloney said she was graded for her tenacity in battling repeated attempts by house Republicans to roll back longstanding environmental protections.

Speaking of her perfect rating, Maloney noted, “New Yorkers may live in the most densely populated urban areas in the nation, but we stand with Americans all across the country when it comes to protecting our wildlife and leaving a clean, healthy world for future generations.”

Maloney said one of her top priorities in Congress is finally passing the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, a bill she wrote to help preserve the resources and wildlife of this environmentally sensitive region and raw wilderness boundaries based on science, not politics.

Maloney announced last week that she is running for re-election in New York’s newly redrawn 12th Congressional District, which still includes parts of Queens, Roosevelt Island, Upper Manhattan and an added portion of Brooklyn.

INSIDER TRADING BAN FOR WASHINGTON LAWMAKERS OK’D: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–New York) announced final passage of the Stock Act, bipartisan legislation which bars all members of Congress, their staff and all federal employees from engaging in insider trading using non public information gained through their work.

Gillibrand said, “I strongly believe that we have to make clear—that nobody here is above the law and that members of Congress need to play by the exact same set of rules as every other American. It is simply the right thing to do. This strong bill with teeth is a good step forward to begin restoring our trust with the American people.”

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