U.S. Senators Trying To Avert PO Facility Closings, Job Layoffs
With many post office facilities scheduled for closing as of yesterday and thousands of job losses at stake in New York state, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined in a bipartisan effort last week to urge the Postal Service to extend the moratorium in place to delay postal facility closures.
The New York lawmakers joined with 43 other Senators from both parties to try to head off the imminent closings and job losses in calling on the USPS to give Congress more time to enact postal reform legislation.
Schumer pointed out, “On the heels of a cost-saving postal reform bill clearing the Senate, it is critical that we allow time for this bipartisan legislation to be enacted before post offices are closed and thousands of jobs are lost in New York after May 15.”
The powerful lawmaker added: “As the economy is turning the corner, it is critical to keep post offices open for business as long as possible, so that New Yorkers get their paychecks on time, small businesses aren’t forced to wait for much needed revenue, and senior citizens aren’t stuck without a Social Security check.
Schumer explained, adding, “The Senate passage of major postal reform in April cleared a huge hurdle towards reform that preserves the Post Office’s vital services in a cost-effective way, while still preventing job loss and hardship for families and businesses across the state, and I’m urging the Postmaster General to see that legislation through enactment before ending its moratorium on postal facility closures.”
Gillibrand, who’s up for re-election this year, stated: “The U.S. Postal Service plays a vital role in every community. Small businesses, families and seniors depend on these facilities daily. I hope the Postmaster General will extend the moratorium on the closures of postal facilities. In New York, thousands of jobs, 87 post offices and seven Area Mail Processing Centers must continue serving their communities while Congress works on reforming the postal service to ensure its survival.
Close to home, the processing or distribution center in College Point is scheduled for closing along with the loss of about 1,000 jobs. It would be a major victory for Schumer and Gillibrand if they can get the USPS to extend the moratorium and keep so many facilities operating.
CROWLEY BLASTS REPUBLICAN BUDGET: On Monday, Congressmember Joseph Crowley issued a frank, strongly worded assessment of the Republican budget reconciliation which, he said, “puts millionaires, billionaires and special interests ahead of middle class families, children and seniors”.
“This Republican Congress has no vision,” Crowley began, “but they have one favorite trick: balancing our nation’s books on the backs of children, seniors and our most vulnerable citizens while providing the wealthiest of Americans with a free ride.”
The Queens/Bronx lawmaker pointed out that in the case of Monday’s vote, “Republicans went back on their promise to cut big spending areas, like defense, and instead are now pushing for deeper cuts to middle class families, children and seniors. The only thing worse than this misguided approach is the fact that Republicans keep doing it over and over again. Today’s vote comes on the heels of House Republicans voting to, once again, end Medicare as we know it.”
Crowley related that last week, he met with seniors from the Elmhurst-Jackson Heights Senior Center to talk about the very cuts in this bill, such as Social Services Block Grants, and how they will impact their health, their livelihood and their future.
“While my Republican colleagues may be able to sleep at night knowing they are hurting our most vulnerable citizens,” he concluded, “I certainly cannot. Rest assured, I will continue to fight to make sure my constituents have the services they need and rely on and that we come up with real, responsible solutions to our nation’s deficit problem.”
Looking ahead to June 4, Crowley is scheduled to address the next meeting of the Queens Workforce Development Task Force (QWDTF) at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens at 3 p.m.
Crowley was asked by Queens Borough President Helen Marshall to appear there and speak on the American Jobs Act and tell workforce leaders how they can create local jobs.
MALONEY’S BILL DEALS WITH BANK OVERDRAFTS: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) reports that this past Monday, she and 41 cosponsors introduced the Overdraft Protection Act, which would require a consumer’s affirmative opt-in to overdraft plans with clear disclosure of coverage and fees.
Maloney, the senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, added the new bill would require overdraft fees to be reasonable and proportional to the cost of the transaction; limit the quantity of fees that can be charged to one per month and six per year; improve notice to consumers when an overdraft is incurred; and ban the manipulation of transaction posting order in a way that maximizes fees paid to banks.
Maloney explained, “With the rise of debit cards and the constant presence of swipe card terminals to pay for everything from a tank of gas to a candy bar, it’s easier than ever to overdraw an account and incur an overdraft fee. That’s how a $5 cup of coffee can become a $35 cup of coffee faster than you can say ‘overdrawn’.”
The lawmaker added that some institutions, including Citibank and Bank of America, have responded to consumer outrage over these fees by implementing a policy of denying debit card transactions that would overdraw an account. “I applaud them for their responsiveness,” Maloney said.
Maloney noted that the Federal Reserve opt-in rule for debit card overdrafts has been in effect since August, 2010, “but it’s quite clear more needs to be done in the area of consumer disclosures and to help consumers avoid multiple overdrafts”.
She says that’s why her bill “expands the opt-in requirement to paper checks, ATMs and recurring monthly payments and also increases disclosure to consumers when an overdraft occurs, limits the fee price and frequency and bans the manipulation of transactions”.
TURNER CONTINUES WORK FOR VETS: After participating in a roundtable discussion in Manhattan recently aimed at better understanding veterans issues and how to appreciate them, Congressmember Bob Turner came away convinced that every veteran must have access to what they need.
Afterward, Turner (R–C–Queens/Brooklyn) concluded, “This open and frank discussion brought together people with a wide variety of expertise who are committed to assessing, understanding and resolving the issues facing our veterans, and I couldn’t be prouder to have participated.”
Turner, who’s on the Committee on Veterans Affairs and is himself a veteran, participated with other veterans and even participants from the Veterans Administration.
“By bringing together members from different agencies and government offices to hear the same firsthand accounts of the issues, we can hopefully pinpoint certain procedural obstructions or potential veterans’ issues that currently have no proper outlet or process,” Turner said.
Since taking office last September, Turner has been actively participating in certain activities pertaining to veterans’ affairs, including the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which aids vets in finding employment, as well as the Protect VA Healthcare Act.
MALONEY BACKS OBAMA ON GAY MARRIAGES: Saluting President Barack Obama on becoming the first Chief Executive in American history to support gay marriage, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) added:
“As I have long said, the right of a consenting adult to marry a loved one is inherent in the ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon which our great nation was founded. Anything less than full marriage equality for same-sex couples constitutes separate and unequal treatment. I am thrilled that President Obama will now lead the growing chorus of Americans who support the freedom to marry for all adults in the United States.”
Maloney was one of the first members of Congress to support gay marriages and also has been an outspoken advocate for equal rights for LGBT persons. She also sponsored the bill to expand the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act to include same sex couples.
VAN BRAMER ALSO BACKS OBAMA: Another supporter of the president’s historic action, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside), declared:
“The president today affirmed what is best about Democracy—that we can still find leaders capable of doing what is right, even when faced with opposition that can seem daunting… Thank you President Obama for affirming that there is no place in this nation for second class citizens.”
VALLONE FUNDRAISER: Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. is kicking off the summer with the Fourth Non-Annual Beer Garden Bash and fundraiser on Thursday, May 31 at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, 29-19 24th Ave., Astoria from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Ticket prices range down from $5,000, but no matter what you might want to contribute, admission includes wine, beer, soda and music. RSVP to Leilanoor email@example.com or call Leila at 917-620- 5364, or contribute on Vallone’s Web site at www.petervallone.com.
ADDABBO WELCOMES MORE COPS AT 106TH PRECINCT: Commenting on the recent addition of police officers at the 106th Precinct in his Ozone Park/Howard Beach district, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. stated:
“While I am grateful for the additional officers that have finally been assigned to the 106th Precinct, I will continue to advocate for more officers due to the increase in business at Resorts World at Aqueduct. I also appreciate the four additional officers said to have been assigned by the Police Commissioner to the racino on weekends, which will be helpful in assuring the safety and quality of life for my constituents.”
MENG’S BILL NIXES SANIT STATION: Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing), citing recent bird strike incidents with airplanes, has filed legislation to end the misguided plans to build a Sanitation Department marine transfer station in College Point near LaGuardia Airport.
Meng, who is hoping to get the Democratic nomination to run for Congress, explained that it is plainly unreasonable that the city would plan to build a waste facility so close to LaGuardia Airport.
Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) and Gary Ackerman (D–Bayside/L.I.) have been waging a long campaign to block creation of a waste facility as well.
Joining Meng in her campaign against the waste transfer facility were state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, both Flushing Democrats.
Stavisky noted the dangers airplanes face when flocks of birds interfere with airplane flights, which would only increase if the waste facility is built near LaGuardia Airport.
Simanowitz, a co-sponsor of Meng’s bill, said the decision to build at that location was ill advised and would have tremendous consequences on air travel and quality of life in the neighborhoods we represent.
STAVISKY ENDORSED BY SCHUMER: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) has endorsed state Senator Toby Stavisky for re-election to the new 16th District seat in Queens in the November election. Schumer praised Stavisky as “a champion for Queens families by helping small businesses, expanding access to health care, and working to make college education more affordable for middle class families.” Among other senate duties, Stavisky chairs the Higher Education Committee.
Among Stavisky’s other endorsements were those from City Comptroller John Liu, Assemblymember Grace Meng, Councilmember Peter Koo, a Republican, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, state Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymembers Michael Simanowitz and David Weprin and Councilmembers Karen Koslowitz, Mark Weprin and James Gennaro.
Stavisky is being opposed by attorney John Messer in the Democratic primary and in the general election by Flushing attorney J.D. Kim.
QUEENS GOP ANNOUNCES KIM’S CANDIDACY: J.D. Kim’s selection by Queens Republicans was announced by party chairman Phil Ragusa, who praised Kim as an accomplished lawyer who will be an effective candidate for his district. Kim, a Flushing resident whose wife is a realtor, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
As an attorney, Kim has worked closely with prominent Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and her husband, Avi, and as a result has strengthened the ties between Israel and South Korea.
CONSERVATIVE PARTY URGES ‘REJECT EXPANDING ABORTION LAWS’: The New York State Conservative Party has reached out to state legislators and urged them to reject the proposed Reproductive Health Act which, it says, ultimately eliminates any possible restriction on abortion in New York state.
In a statement issued by the state Conservative Party it points out the state already has the most permissive abortion laws in the United States. But the proposed Reproductive Health Act seeks to expand the right “to an abortion” to the moments just before the birth of a child.
CROWLEY WELCOMES CLINTON’S VISIT TO BANGLADESH: Congressmember Joseph Crowley, the founder and chair of the Congressional Caucus on Bangladesh, issued a statement last week welcoming the recent visit to Bangladesh by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Crowley noted Clinton’s “recent travel… comes at an important time in the growing relationship between the U.S. and Bangladesh”. Crowley also welcomed the announcement of the U.S.-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue and thanked Clinton for “raising critical issues, among them economic development and public health, trade humanitarian assistance and human rights”.
Crowley said he was also pleased that Clinton addressed cases with the Bangladesh government directly. Some of these issues include violence in Bangladesh, and the recent killing of a labor organizer and the disappearance of a political opposition member.