2012-05-02 / Political Page

Ulrich Announces Challenge To Addabbo In November Election

In a race that promises to be a furious battle between two incumbents, Councilmember Eric Ulrich last week announced he will challenge state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the election to win the 15th District seat next November.

Besides many other interesting aspects of this contest, it will also play a key role of whether Democrats or Republicans will control the senate.

The contest will also be influenced by the new district lines which were drawn by the Republicans who controlled the senate during the session last year. In a brief interview with Addabbo late last Monday, he explained some changes and conceded “they make the district more conservative which Republican mapmakers would be expected to do to help a Republican candidate.

The new 15th CD, according to Addabbo, now includes Broad Channel and the Rockaway peninsula and areas which were represented years ago by his father, the late Joseph Addabbo Sr., which might help the present Addabbo.


Councilmember Eric Ulrich last week announced he will challenge state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the election to win the 15th District seat next November. Councilmember Eric Ulrich last week announced he will challenge state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the election to win the 15th District seat next November. As for drawing Ulrich as an opponent, he said, “I’m not surprised I have an opponent in the race,” but he conceded Ulrich was not the expected one. “No matter, we’ll be ready for it,” he concluded.

In Ulrich’s campaign announcement, he said the district includes the communities of Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Far Rockaway, Forest Hills, Glendale, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven.

Ulrich got elected to the City Council three years ago, at 24, becoming the youngest member of the city legislature as he won the local seat that Addabbo vacated to run for the state senate, which he won by defeating Serphin Maltese.

In announcing his run for the 15th District seat, which the Republican-led senate created during the most recent session, Ulrich, now 27, declared he was giving up the city council seat because, “I am now ready to take the fight to Albany where I will be an independent voice for the taxpayers of Queens County.

“I will be a state senator,” he promised, “who never stops fighting for the middle class.”

Ulrich, who scored an unexpected Republican victory three years ago to grab a longtime Democratic seat, continued:

“I will bring the same fresh approach and new ideas to the state senate that I’ve brought to the city council. I love my job on the city council, but the stakes are simply too high.

“Too many of my friends and relatives have left New York because they simply can’t afford to live here any longer. We need to change that. I am running because I believe I can make a difference.”

Citing his record as a city councilmember, Ulrich said he had “implemented an aggressive quality-oflife agenda, targeting graffiti vandalism and illegal dumping on neighborhood streets.”

He stated his record includes “three consecutive balanced budgets and several bills which have brought greater accountability to city government”.

In winning a state Senate seat by defeating Maltese, Addabbo also achieved a political breakthrough because Maltese and the Republicans had held the seat for about 25 years consecutively.

ULRICH QUICK TO MAKE PRESENCE FELT IN ALBANY: With the ink still wet on his announcement to seek a senate seat in Albany, Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) quickly got off a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo renewing a previous request “to address questions surrounding the closure of Peninsula Hospital and how the state will fully address the healthcare needs of our community”.

Congressmember Bob Turner (R–C–Rockaway Park) also signed off on the letter to Cuomo. The previous letter regarding the Peninsula Hospital matter had also been sent to Albany, but that one had gone to state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah in late March, but the Republican officials had not gotten a response.

In seeking a full blown public hearing on Peninsula’s closing and its effects on Rockaway residents’ health care, the letter to the governor stated:

“As you know, Peninsula was only one of two hospitals in the Rockaways. Now, St. John’s Hospital will be solely responsible for managing the entire emergency medical needs of the Rockaways, including Breezy Point and Broad Channel. This is simply not acceptable.”

Turner and Ulrich added: “There is a great deal of rumors and uncertainty, as well as distress, surrounding the recent events with Peninsula. Residents and former employees of the hospital deserve answers to legitimate questions and concerns. We are requesting your assistance in coordinating a public meeting with the Health Commissioner and the Rockaway community to address these issues. Thank you for your consideration.”

LOCAL REPS SPLIT ON PARTY LINES ON STUDENT LOAN BILL: Congressmembers Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) a Democrat, and Bob Turner a Republican voted along party lines on a bill which kept the student college loan rate at 3.4 percent. The rate had been scheduled to return to 6.8 percent.

Crowley voted against the bill that passed, which had been sponsored by the Republicans, because he saw it as a highly partisan effort that would eliminate critical community preventive healthcare services in order to retain the lower rate.

Crowley also said, “Democrats have been calling for the interest rate to stay low, while Republicans recently supported a budget that would have allowed the rates to double on July 1.

In voting for the bill that passed, Turner stated: “A good education is necessary in order to compete in today’s global market. Unfortunately, many of those who have chosen to pursue a college degree are faced with a continually lagging economy that has left a large number of graduates unemployed or unable to find a suitable full-time job. So, today, I voted to extend current student loan interest rates for another year. Now, we must continue to focus on stimulating job growth so college graduates can find the jobs they need.”

The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate.

In his statement on the bill, Crowley stated that, in considering the issue, “missed an opportunity to do right by millions of American students. This was an opportunity for all of us to come together in a bipartisan way and ensure that college students would not see their student loan interest rates doubled in just a few months.”

But he charged that the Republicans couldn’t pass up the chance to use one of their favorite tactics— dismantling the Affordable Care Act. They did this knowing full well that this proposal would never get the support it needs to become law.

Crowley and the Democrats’ alternative way to pay the costs of the lower student loan rate is by putting an end to unnecessary tax breaks for oil companies raking in profits.

In a separate statement, Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) supported the Democrats’ version of the bill.

TURNER CALLS FOR OBAMA PROBE: Congressmember Turner joined with other House colleagues last week to ask President Barack Obama to order an investigation into “leaks reported in the media pertaining to American and Israeli defense planning.

In a letter to the president, the writers said the investigation should look into “possible violation of U.S. law regarding numerous leaks of sensitive information involving U.S. and Israeli military, intelligence and operational capabilities”.

The letter to Obama expressed concern that, “These leaks undermine our national security as well as Israel’s sovereignty and destabilize the region.”

The letter said that on March 19, the New York Times “reported the name, scenarios and conclusions of a classified war simulation recently conducted by United States Central Command (CENTCOM) to analyze an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.”

A similar report appeared about nine days later in Foreign Policy, a magazine, which reported that Israel had been granted “secret access to air bases in Azerbaijan near Iran’s Northern border…”

“Whether the leaks are intentional or not,” the letter continues, “they weaken U.S. and Israeli national security, strengthen Iran’s defensive posture, and put American and Israeli lives at risk.”

FIRE MARSHALS ENDORSE HALLORAN: Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–Whitestone), the Republican candidate for the 9th CD congressional seat in the fall elections, has been endorsed by the Fire Marshals Benevolent Association. Halloran, whose two brothers are NYC firefighters, led the effort to save Engine 306 in Bayside last year when budget cuts threatened to close it. He has also sponsored bills on firefighting measures in the council.

Fire Marshals Union President Bill Kreglar lauded the lawmaker for “working tirelessly” for his constituents and for his “commitment to working class families”.

CROWLEY BILL ENCOURAGES ‘GREEN’ BUILDING PRACTICES: Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale), who’s seeking the Democratic nomination in the 9th CD race, has introduced legislation encouraging New Yorkers to invest in green building practices, such as solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.

The bill she introduced last week would eliminate permit and filing fees for building owners who invest in green technologies on their property.

MILLER BACKS ‘TOUGH-ON-CRIME’ BILLS: Assemblymember Mike Miller, in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in late April, voted for several measures that increased aid and assistance to crime victims.

One bill passed would expand eligibility for Crime Victims Board compensation in long-term relationships with homicide victims. Another would allow courts to direct anti-trust fines to the Office of Victim Services, making more funds available for victims services.

SIDEWALK NUISANCE FINALLY REMOVED: Last August the Trade Fair store on 75th Street in Jackson Heights was ordered to remove an illegal enclosure by the Buildings Department because it was deemed a dangerous obstruction. Despite steady complaints from the community and rallies to have it removed, Trade Fair would not budge—until last week.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights) the area’s representative, reports that the Trade Fair Supermarket finally relented and removed the enclosure.

“We have a process for getting a sidewalk enclosure,” Dromm explained. “We have a system of rules and regulations that everyone must follow—including businesses. I hope that Trade Fair will take this opportunity to start a new relationship with the community— one that is based on respect and cooperation.”

DEA SAYS ‘YES’ TO SIMOTAS: Last week, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas urged the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to designate a location in Western Queens where people could turn in and safely dispose of unused prescription medications.

The DEA promptly responded to the Astoria lawmaker, setting up last Saturday as the day Western Queens families could drop off their unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs at the 114th Police Precinct in Astoria.

We don’t know what the response was to the DEA’s offer, but Simotas was elated and thanked the DEA, “for taking steps to help families dispose of prescription drugs in a responsible way”.

Simotas said leaving unused Rx drugs in a house can be dangerous to children or seniors who may take them by mistake and become ill. She has now made collecting them a priority.

GILLIBRAND PLANS TO GET RID OF GEESE MENACE: After last week’s latest incident of a bird or birds being struck by an airplane during a take-off at Kennedy Airport and forcing the aircraft’s pilot to abort the flight, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation in Washington D.C. which she said would allow for the swift removal of Canada geese which currently are causing such a safety risk at New York area airports.

Gillibrand said that since the Miracle on the Hudson incident in 2009 when a plane piloted by Captain Sully Sullenberger was forced down because of a bird flying into one the engines and causing the landing in the Hudson River in Manhattan, the problem has not been fully addressed by federal authorities.

The U.S. senator pointed out the two latest incidents occurred in Los Angeles and here at JFK. According to recent news reports, Gillibrand said, La Guardia Airport and JFK have experienced increases in bird strikes of 28 percent and 53 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2011.

After Sullenberger’s miraculous landing in the Hudson, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Park Service vowed to take care of the problem concerning the Canada geese residing at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, but they had no success.

Gillibrand’s legislation, she said, would expedite the removal of the geese residing at the Wildlife Refuge by requiring the USDA to act within 90 days of a determination by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the geese residing on the National Park Lands within five miles of a commercial airport pose a threat to flight safety.

It would also require the USDA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior and FAA, to remove the geese by the end of the subsequent molting period. And, finally, USDA would have to issue a final decision on the supplemental environmental impact statement for the bird hazard reduction program at Kennedy Airport no later than June 1 of this year. Then, the geese would have to be removed by Aug. 1, 2012.

“We cannot afford to sit back and wait for a catastrophe to occur before cutting through bureaucratic red tape between federal agencies,” Gillibrand stated. “We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk.”

We’re sure Gillibrand feels her bill provides the means to end the geese problem at local major airports. But the legislation contains specified date deadlines between May 1 and August 1—which is about 90 days. But that would require almost complete acceptance of the bill by both Democrats and Republicans—and that doesn’t happen these days in Congress.

D. WEPRIN OPPOSES WATER RATE HIKE: “It is time to say enough,” said Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Great Neck) in response to the NYC Water Board’s latest proposal to increase water rates by seven percent on July 1.

Since as far back as 1995, Weprin said, the Water Board has consistently raised water rates, but since 2007 they have raised the rates “astronomically by more than 60 percent…and now they are proposing yet another increase of seven percent and wastewater charges will remain at 159 percent of water charges.”

Weprin is an old foe of the Water Board, having started to challenge its annual and sometime doubledigit increases since he was a city councilmember. Now, as an Assemblymember he has introduced three bills to try to cut down the Water Board’s powers, but has not succeeded. The reason is Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tight control over the Water Board, whose actions the mayor always supports stoutly.

STAVISKY SUPPORTS ‘DREAM ACT’: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone), the ranking Democratic member on the Higher Education Committee, strongly favors the Dream Act, which she says “would provide equal access to college scholarships for young people, regardless of immigration status.

“Under current law, we do not question immigration status when determining in-state tuition for public college,” she states. “Why then, is immigration status a deal breaker when it comes to tuition assistance and college scholarships? These students have worked hard and earned the right to a quality, affordable higher education. We must pass the Dream Act into law, and make sure the American dream doesn’t become a nightmare.”

Stavisky represents varied and growing immigrant communities in Flushing, Elmhurst, Rego Park and throughout Central Queens.

ADDABBO APPLAUDS DOT CHANGES: Two years ago the city Department of Transportation made Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park into a one-way street. Businesses along the busy avenue, which also has an elevated train over it, had a fall-off in trade and didn’t like the one-way setup and complained.

After much dissatisfaction from the community including businesses, many meetings were held to discuss a possible returning Liberty Avenue back to a two-way avenue.

Last week, the DOT announced its decision, and state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach/Ozone Park) welcomed it, saying:

“I applaud the New York City Department of Transportation for re-evaluating the traffic conditions at Liberty Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard and for opening Liberty Avenue once again for two-way traffic from Cross Bay Boulevard to 93rd St. The concerns of the small businesses in the vicinity have been partly addressed, but I believe will not be fully addressed until Liberty Avenue is totally opened to traffic once again.

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