Meng Joins Vallone To Go After ‘Untouchable’ Antennas
Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) joined Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria) last week in calling for state and local governments to have “greater oversight and regulation of cell antenna siting,” a pesky issue in some localities, including Astoria, where Vallone has been fighting it for several years.
Meng, running for the newly drawn 6th CD in Northern Queens, promised to introduce legislation, if elected, to give local governments more say in the matter.
Meng stated: “As state and city officials, our hands are tied on this incredibly important quality of life issue and potential health risk. It is simply outrageous that state and local legislators are prohibited from protecting their residents—particularly our most vulnerable citizens.”
Vallone, who is chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he is “well aware of the need for reliable cellphone service. However, the unchecked and the unstudied proliferation of cell antennas throughout Queens is out of control. To make matters worse, shortsighted federal laws prohibit states and municipalities from citing health concerns for our most vulnerable populations as a reason to regulate the placement of cell antennas.”
Meng, if she makes it to Congress, would have to win changes in the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 which states: “No state or local government may regulate the placement, construction and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions…”
Despite this, Meng cited Vallone as a hardworking city official and pledged to work closely with him “to address this critical issue.”
Needless to say, aligning herself with a popular Democratic lawmaker could bring her benefits on Primary Day on June 26, when Meng, Assemblymember Rory Lancman, and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will fight it out in the election that determines which Democrat will have the nomination to run for Congress. As happens in so many similar cases, the Democratic candidate will have a huge edge in the general election for the new seat.
LANCMAN ENDORSED BY GOTBAUM: Rory Lancman (D–Fresh Meadows) was reportedly in line to pick up an endorsement yesterday from former NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. If it does occur, it could help Lancman to pick up some support from women and Jewish voters
REPUBLICAN S.S. CANDIDATES GET ENDORSEMENTS: Republican candidates for state senate seats in Queens—Joseph Concannon against Democratic incumbent state Senator Tony Avella in Northeast Queens, and Councilmember Erich Ulrich, who’s facing Democratic incumbent state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in Southwest Queens—secured endorsements last week.
Concannon, a retired NYPD captain, was endorsed by the Queens Conservative Party, while Ulrich was endorsed by the state Independence Party.
Conservative Party head Tom Long praised Concannon’s “commitment to cutting taxes, fees, spending and excessive regulation, and to ensuring that residents have every opportunity to earn a decent living, make him the best representative for his district”.
Long and his organization also endorsed Concannon for his background in the police department, as a business owner and a family man, “which show both the experience and the values that make a principled, capable representative in Albany”.
Concannon, of Bellerose, said he was running for the senate “to make sure our community is represented in Albany as vigorously as it was for 38 years, prior to Senator Avella”. Avella displaced ex-Senator Frank Padavan after defeating him in an election.
State Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said in his endorsement of Ulrich: “He has been an outstanding representative in the city council and I know he will take the same independent leadership to Albany.”
Ulrich, who also announced he has received the Conservative Party endorsement as well, responded to MacKay’s remarks, saying: “I have always put doing what’s right before politics and I will continue that approach as senator. Our number one priority must be growing our economy and creating jobs for the residents of Queens.”
MELONI FOR CITY COUNCIL: Tony Meloni, who has chaired the Public Safety Committee on Community Board 1 in Astoria for the past 17 years, has announced he will seek the District 22 city council seat next year.
The seat has been held by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. for a few terms, but there are rumors he intends to run for a different office instead of re-election to the council.
Meloni, 56, a graduate of local schools and then CUNY Queens College, has also had a long run as executive director of the Federation of Italian American Societies. In 1984, he founded the New York Anti-Crime Agency, a crime prevention agency, because he says, “A vibrant community must have a safe environment in which to bring up our children.” He has been living in Astoria since 1965 and says “we need to safeguard that most precious of gifts for our families… and my crime prevention experience will help to accomplish that.”
The Anti-Crime Agency offers self-defense classes for women and also runs Second Chance for those arrested, allowing them to clean up graffiti and avoid having a permanent record.
Meloni is a vice president of the Astoria
Civic Association, a member of the Taminent Regular Democratic Club and a past president of Astoria Kiwanis, among many other affiliations.
Meloni will formally announce his candidacy at a fundraiser tonight at Vino di Vino, 29-21 Ditmars Blvd., Astoria from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.
MALONEY BLASTS GOP ON PAYCHECK FAIRNESS BILL: Republican lawmakers were slammed by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney last week for not taking any action on a bill that would make women’s wages equal to men’s.
Maloney charged that Senate Republicans blocked a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act last week after House Republicans voted unanimously to prevent the House from even considering the legislation.
The Queens/Manhattan Democratic lawmaker declared, “With women still earning just 77 cents on average for every dollar earned by men, it is simply astonishing that the fundamentally American principle of equal pay for equal work remains a subject of controversy.
“With more than half of American households having their bills paid in part or in whole by women’s earnings, blocking pay fairness means that American families will suffer.”
Maloney has been a leader previously in the fight for pay equity between men and women and she was a leader in trying to win passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 when it became the first legislation dealing with the issue that President Obama signed into law, she recalled.
The lawmaker said it “restored the right of women to challenge unfair pay in court”, but passed the House over opposition from virtually the entire Republican membership.
Maloney said she was proud to join the successful fight for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but more needs to be done now.
“We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to bring the nearly half-century old Equal Pay Act up to date by offering recourse to legal remedies to women who are being paid less than men for comparable work,” said Maloney. “We will not relent in our efforts to fight for basic fairness for American women and their families.”
TURNER SAYS ‘NO TO MORE DANGEROUS PARTS’ OF OBAMACARE: Congressmember Bob Turner (R–C–Queens/Brooklyn) last week voted for a bill which would repeal the medical device tax which is the Obamacare law. Under the bill that Turner supported, the HealthCare Cost Reduction Act (H.R. 436), would allow Americans to keep the unused money in their flexible spending accounts and eliminate insurance subsidy overpayments, the lawmaker said.
Turner stated: “The Health Care Cost Reduction Act repeals more of the dangerous provisions that are in the president’s healthcare plan. This bill will save thousands of jobs, ensure that Americans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money, and reduce the deficit. H.R. 436 is yet another example of why Obamacare should be repealed immediately. We cannot let the government takeover of health care bankrupt our country.”
Turner said the medical device tax could result in job losses in excess of 43,000, according to one study, and employment compensation losses in excess of $3.5 billion. If H.R. 436 is enacted it will decrease the deficit by $6.7 billion over the 2013-2022 periods, Turner said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether Obamacare will remain in effect or be repealed.
PRAISE FOR CANCER COVERAGE FOR 9/11: The architects of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act—Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, both Manhattan Democrats, and Peter King (R–Long Island)— were very pleased with the news that many cancer victims will have added benefits to treat cancers under the Zadroga Act.
In a statement, the trio said they were thrilled with the new development.
“It further strengthens our legislation, which we all worked so hard to pass, and helps pave the way for expanding the scope of available medical care and compensation for those sickened by the toxins at Ground Zero.
“As we have all seen with our own eyes again and again, cancer incidents among responders and survivors is a tragic fact, and we must continue to do everything we can to provide the help that those who are sick need and deserve.”
BILL GIVES NYC OK TO MANDATE KINDERGARTEN: Kindergarten in NYC schools would be mandatory for five-year-olds, under a bill passed last week and announced by state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood).
Nolan, chair of the Education Committee, said, “Kindergarten gives kids a great start. This bill will make sure that all five-year-olds in New York City start school on the right foot.”
Silver noted that, “As an outspoken advocate for early childhood education, I applaud the passage of this bill. This gives New York City the appropriate level of control over mandatory kindergarten education.”
Another approved Assembly bill lets school boards determine if a school should be closed on a day when student attendance is likely to be exceptionally low due to a religious or cultural day of observance.
Silver said, “This allows school districts to recognize that certain holidays—including Lunar New Year’s days, which a great number of my constituents celebrate—greatly impact student attendance.” He also noted that it could save educational resources that might otherwise be wasted.
Assemblymember Grace Meng (D–Flushing), the bill’s sponsor stated, “It is impractical to hold school session when a religious or cultural holiday like Lunar New Year’s day keeps a considerable proportion of students out of school. Failure of school districts to recognize that students are unable to attend school on these important days of worship, reunion and celebration may result in an inefficient use of our schools’ resources.”
‘BODY PIERCING’ BILL PASSES: The Assembly last week passed Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz’s (D–Flushing) bill requiring parental consent for persons under 18 to receive a body piercing. “Body piercing can pose a significant health risk if not cared for properly,” Simanowitz stated after the bill passed. “This bill will ensure that parents are aware of their son or daughter’s intent to receive a body piercing to prevent complications such as allergic reactions, skin infections or scarring.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver explained that current law did not require parental consent. He stated: “It is important for a parent or guardian to be aware of all of the potential risks associated with a body piercing, which is generally not the case if written consent is not required by the studio. This bill will require all body piercing studios across the state to operate under the same rules.”
STAVISKY, WEPRIN SEEK MORE VOTER ACCESS AT POLLS: Queens lawmakers state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) and Assemblymember David Weprin (D–Little Neck) pushed for approval of their bill last week which directs the Queens Board of Elections to provide written language assistance at voting places in Bengali, Punjabi and Hindi, the three most spoken South Asian languages.
The Democratic lawmakers said the assistance must include ballots, signs, voter mailings, employee and volunteer training materials and information on the board’s Web site.
Stavisky and Weprin said that since South Asians in Queens county have newly been covered under the Language Assistance Provisions (Sec. 203) of the federal Voting Rights Act, their bill would add the three most spoken South Asian languages to the Queens County ballot for this year’s primary and general election ballots.
Accompanying the lawmakers at the press conference at the board’s offices at 126-06 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens were: Taking Our Seat Board Chair John Albert; South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY), Director Tito Sinha, and advocates and community leaders.
HALLORAN CRITICIZES OBAMA TRIP: Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C–Whitestone) took some jabs at President Obama last week for visiting New York City for a fundraising jaunt, “while the country copes with the eight percent unemployment and crippling overspending”.
Halloran stated, “I ask the president to take time away from his busy schedule raising thousands to actually address the issues that New York City faces. But I’m sure that he’ll spend his time on Broadway raking in cash from Manhattan elites instead of crossing the bridges into the outer boroughs.”