Vallone Presses Mayor To Hire More Cops
Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. (D–Astoria), a firm believer that we must increase our police force, especially with crime creeping up steadily, took strong exception last week to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s assertion that we can stand pat.
The mayor defended the present level of city cops on his weekly radio show, despite daily headlines and TV reports almost daily informing us that statistics show overall crime is up in the city.
Incredibly, the murder rate is down almost 16 percent, although shootings are up about 10 percent.
The mayor maintained that since he took office, the police force has been reduced “by 4,000 or 5,000”, to a total of 34,800. “And every year, we’ve brought crime down,” he stated.
“Would the city be safer if you put a cop on every corner?” he asked, and answered, “Yes, probably, but you can’t afford that.”
But Vallone, the chairman of the Public Safety Committee that oversees the workings of the NYPD, doesn’t see it as Bloomberg does.
“It is really unfathomable to me that he can stick with this position. Citywide crime is up for the first time in 20 years.
“He also recalled that the police rolls about 10 years ago totaled about 41,000.”
Vallone, whose Public Safety post keeps him in steady touch with cops of all ranks, said he’s heard the complaint from them that they don’t have the manpower to deal with this current crime spike. He also advised that the mayor should listen to the experts.
But the mayor had stated confidently on his radio show, “Our job is not to employ as many people and to spend as much of the taxpayers’ money as we can. Our job with the police department is to bring crime down,” and he has done so since he became mayor. He finished up by saying, “We have the best police department in the world.”
Vallone last week also called for Albany lawmakers to pass the Three Strikes, You’re In bill, which mandates a prison sentence for anyone convicted of three misdemeanors within 10 years.
He explained: “The only way to prevent the problem of chronic misdemeanors is to eliminate turnstile justice and teach these repeat offenders a valuable lesson: Three Strikes You’re In.”
The Daily News editorial on the question thought the mayor had made a good case for his position, but it also concluded: “If Vallone, a public safety expert and a sensible fellow, is concerned about policing levels, he needs to be taken seriously.”
CUOMO FINDS SILVER LINING, ENDS STRIKE: Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to personally get involved in the stalled negotiations between Con Ed and the utility worker’s union— and about five hours later, it was settled.
The governor, however, had a strong ally in working this little miracle, the threat of a storm which could do serious damage and knock out thousands of customers’ power.
Later on, the governor noted, “Sometimes a storm has a silver lining…” and in this case it “changed the tone of the negotiations, and brought both sides together.
MENG EMBARRASSED, BUT RELIEVED: The arrest of former New York state Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, father of Queens congressional candidate Grace Meng, last week, could have damaged her campaign, but it appears she escaped any harm.
Meng, herself an Assemblymember, in Flushing said in a statement after the arrest was announced, “I am shocked and deeply saddened by these allegations. Prior to this afternoon’s reports, I had no knowledge of my father’s actions or the investigation. I am independent of my father—always have been, always will be. Until more facts emerge and we have a better understanding of the situation, the only thing further I’ll say is that I urge my father to fully cooperate with all authorities.”
Wisely, we think, there was no effort by her congressional race opponent, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R–C–Whitestone) to create any embarrassing situations.
Meng was arrested by the FBI on charges that he allegedly promised to help another person under arrest by bribing prosecutors. Meng asked for $80,000 from the person in the other case, allegedly received the money and kept it for himself.
Meanwhile, Meng announced introduction of legislation requiring the purchase of domestically made United States flags for use by all agencies, departments and commissions of New York state.
Meng stated, “It is just common-sense: an American flag should be made in America. It is only appropriate that the world’s most famous symbol of freedom is manufactured in a country that is free, right here in the United States.”
Meng said that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated $5.3 million worth of American flags were imported from other countries in 2006.
Halloran, meanwhile, called on Meng to agree to participate in five televised debates during their campaigns for the 6th District seat. The debates would take place at various locations in the district, which runs from Glendale to Bayside.
There was no reply from Meng as this issue was being printed.
On another subject, Halloran announced a forum, scheduled last night at the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point where participants from the public will take part in drawing up a budget which Halloran would submit to the City Council, totally or in part. He calls it participatory budgeting which will “give constituents unprecedented say in how their tax dollars are spent”.
The first such meeting was held on Tuesday, July 17.
PUSH FOR MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER STADIUM: Assemblymember Francisco Moya (D–Corona) and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills) feel Queens, with its huge “ethnically diverse” population, is ready for a Major League Soccer Team and a stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Moya and Koslowitz say the closest team to New York City presently is in New Jersey, and major league officials are interested in getting a team in Queens.
The plan has good prospects for jobs, both construction and service; tax revenue from anticipated huge crowds of fans; a health-building outlet for youths and tourism.
“With Major League Soccer looking to expand in New York City and a growing population addicted to the game, the time has come for a dedicated soccer stadium within the city,” say Koslowitz and Moya.
HEARINGS ON CITY COUNCIL REDISTRICTING: A hearing in Queens by the NYC Districting Commission, which is creating new Council districts for the 2013 elections, has been scheduled for August 21 at the Queens Library, Flushing Branch, 41-17 Main St., Flushing from 5 to 9 p.m.
Individuals wishing to pre-register for speaking time or to submit written testimony in advance may do so by signing up online at www.ncy.gov.districting. A three minute time limit will be in effect for all speakers.
Other questions may be directed to the NYC Districting Commission at hearings@ districting.nyc.gov or by calling 212-442- 0256 five days in advance of the hearing.
ADDABBO REACHES OUT TO CHAPLAINS FOR VETERANS: Concerned that a crisis situation may be developing, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) is sending out an appeal to clergy of all faiths in the metropolitan area who work with returning veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and all-eras, who may be members of their faith communities.
Addabbo, a member of the senate veterans committee, stated that, “Military chaplains may be seeing a crisis situation with many wounded warriors from overseas conflicts who are trying to adjust to civilian life and dealing with problems such as higher unemployment among younger returning veterans and even homelessness.”
Addabbo added: “Multiple activations have had a devastating affect on many family relationships and family finances, as well as to their mental, physical and spiritual health. Some press reports have noted a suicide rate of one a day this year.”
As this developing crisis unfolds, Addabbo said, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System will hold a working luncheon and information session for clergy of all faiths on August 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Albans VA Primary & Extended Care Chapel in St. Albans.
For a required reservation, RSVP by the close of the business day on August 21, to Chaplain Dr. Sotar Alfonso-Lloyd at 718-526-1000, Ext. 2652. or e-mail Sotar,Alfonso-Lloyd@va.gov. or Loretta Mathews, Program Assistant at 212-686-7500, ext. 6478, or e-mail Loretta.Mathews@va.gov.
GOLDFEDER SEEKS EXPANDED SUBWAY SERVICE FOR CASINO VISITORS: Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder (D–Rockaway), responding to increased demand for full-time, round trip subway service to Aqueduct Racetrack and the Resorts World Casino since it opened last October at Aqueduct, has called on the MTA for expansion and increased service of the Aqueduct Racetrack subway station.
Currently, the station only opens on racing days for Manhattan-bound service, the lawmaker said, and the construction sought at the facility will be necessary before full-time and south bound service can begin.
Goldfeder cited the casino’s drawing power and revenue intake as reasons to grant his request, which would likely boost business there.
Meanwhile, Goldfeder announced that Mayor Bloomberg has agreed to his and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s request for $3 million to purchase additional sand to fill in areas of the Rockaway Peninsula that were affected most by recent storms and erosion.
LIU SMACKS NYCHA: City Comptroller John Liu peeled off the layers of the city Housing Authority last week “like an onion”, and found “the more you peel back the more you want to cry”.
Testifying at the New York City Housing Authority’s fiscal plan for 2013, the comptroller declared: “The financials in their draft plan, set against the backdrop of ineffectiveness by NYCHA leadership, is a recipe for disaster, and those who feel the brunt of the pain are the residents. These serious issues demand comprehensive answers.”
After Liu had submitted formal comments on the NYCHA’s plans earlier at a public hearing, he issued a statement calling on agency officials to accept responsibility: for placing New Yorkers in danger, operating in “a fiscally irresponsible manner”, governing behind closed doors, and wasting millions in tax dollars on an expensive consultant report that has yet to be publicly released.
Liu further blasted the agency for its “lack of ability to fill high level positions, reducing headcount in favor of outsourcing that adversely affects NYCHA residents, and the lack of disclosure regarding the agency’s job-related education and drawing programs.”
Liu issued his comments in his capacity as the city Chief Financial Officer and credited the agency for its dedication to providing affordable housing to more than 400,000 residents.
But, he emphasized, he had serious questions about its management, finances, and ability to deliver services.
Among the questions he posed to the housing agency in his formal comments were:
•Why it failed to install surveillance cameras, a crime-fighting tool, while it has $42 million in funding for such purposes.
•Why did NYCHA hire the Boston Consulting Group under a reported $10 million no-bid contract? “Did NYCHA’s chairman fail to disclose his former employment with BCG? And why has NYCHA refused to disclose a report prepared by BCG with taxpayer money, which has led to a federal investigation?
•Why does the agency want to borrow another $500 million when it has more than $777 million in uncommitted and unspent capital-fund grants dating back several years?
•When NYCHA pays the NYPD $70 million annually, is it getting its money’s worth?
•Why are so few NYCHA residents hired as uniformed officers when it needs many more uniformed officers who are rooted in its own communities, to improve police-community relations?
KOO PROPOSES ‘COMFORT WOMEN MEMORIAL’ STREET RENAMING: Councilmember Peter Koo (R–C–Flushing) has proposed renaming the southwest corner of Northern Boulevard and Union Street in Flushing to pay tribute and honor women known as “Comfort Women” who were victimized during World War II by being “taken from their homeland and sent all over the world where they were forced to do hard labor during the day then raped, brutalized and battered at night”.
Koo added, “Although we cannot go back in time to change history and stop the barbaric acts against innocent women perpetrated by Japanese soldiers, we can honor the bravery exhibited by these women. We can also document their hardships, acknowledge their sacrifices, and never forget their anguish.”
Koo, the owner of a chain of drugstores, was elected to office about three years ago as a Republican, but says he intends to run for the state Assembly this year on the Democratic line in the 40th AD in Flushing. Others seeking the party’s nomination in the September 13 primary are Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, and Ron Kim.
FIRST REPUBLICAN SEEKS QUEENS SENATE SEAT: A Republican, J.D. Kim, announces he is the first Korean-American to be seeking a state senate seat in New York state where he has filed petitions to run for the newly drawn 16th Senate District seat this year.
In announcing his candidacy as a Republican, Kim described the senate post he is seeking as “the historic first Asian majority senate district in the state.”
During the session earlier this year, the majority party in the state senate, headed by state Senator Dean Skelos (R–Rockville Center) drew the new lines for senate districts around the entire state and made no effort to hide the fact that changes were made to favor Republicans in previously heavily Democratic areas. One of those was the new 16th Senate District covering Flushing and nearby areas which Kim referred to in his statement.
Kim admitted candidly, “…results in fact show success in collection efforts (of petitions) throughout the entire geographic area and across ethnic lines”.
But he wisely added that “in keeping with his goal to be the most powerful advocate for every resident in the district regardless of ethnic or socioeconomic background”, Kim had made a strong effort to collect signatures on petitions throughout the entire district and also worked closely with overlapping Assembly candidacies.
In all, Kim submitted more than 1,700 signatures, “more than double the amount required”, to get on the ballot.
Other Republican candidates have reported similar easy efforts in collecting petitions to get on the ballot.