Bloomy Nudges Obama, Mitt Again
Over the weekend, Mayor Michael Bloomberg aired a politically explosive TV commercial aimed at President Barack Obama and Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, trying to force them to end their silence on the illegal gun issue and join with the mayor and other advocates to stop the deadly flow of guns into America’s cities.
The stage was set for Bloomberg’s new ad campaign when, following the massacre at midnight in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, the mayor was rebuffed by Obama and Romney when, after he urged them to denounce the ease with which the crazed gunman was able to bring an arsenal of guns, including a deadly mass killer assault weapon, into the Aurora theater, where he murdered 12 theatergoers and injured 58 others.
The response from Obama and Romney was the perfunctory sorrow for the families of the dead, but not a word about the alleged killer’s arsenal, nor how easily it was acquired.
In turn, the mayor’s reaction to Obama’s and Romney’s silence was unveiled Sunday morning during the Olympics and it had decidedly more bite than the simple request Bloomberg had sought from them following the Aurora carnage. This time, the mayor appears to be trying to force the presidential candidates’ hands to get involved as the new ad appears to indict the pair for failing to address the gun issue following the Aurora bloodshed.
In the 44-second ad, two victims who were wounded in the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shooting are featured characters. The setting is a candlelight vigil and one of the characters says to the other, “Our leaders gave us a moment of silence.”
The second character in the ad then says: “But they haven’t given us a plan,” and the other responds: “We demand a plan.”
The screen then flashes the number 48,000, which one of the speakers predicted before the ad was shown: “Fortyeight thousand Americans will be murdered with guns during the next president’s term. That’s three Aurora shootings every day.”
The six-figure ad deal was financed by Bloomberg’s nationwide organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It’s Bloomberg’s message to the presidential contenders that their silence after Aurora was a slap in the face to all Americans and specifically to the mayor who has made gun control his top priority and will continue to make it so until his three terms in office end next year.
Bloomberg has not indicated who his preference will be if any, between Obama and Romney, but it is clear he will not spare either of them because of their callous silence following Aurora, which led to wide-spread speculation that both refuse to challenge the powerful gun lobby, headed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), this close to the November elections.
The ad campaign, includes an online petition with a letter to Obama and Romney requesting a “substantive plan to end gun violence” from Obama and Romney. Reportedly, 125,000 people have already signed the petition.
Bloomberg and his allies are demanding shutting down the so-called gun-show loophole, where even convicted felons can purchase guns without a background check.
MALONEY HAILS NEW HEALTH COVERAGE FOR WOMEN: As the new provision of health insurance of key women’s preventive services took effect last week, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney hailed the new act which mandates all new healthcare insurance plans to offer the free coverage.
Noting that the new coverage took effect as part of the landmark Affordable Care Act became law, Maloney declared:
“This is a great day for the women of America.” The congressmember, a strong supporter of healthcare reform and a former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues, stated:
“Until today many women were unable to get their basic preventive care needs covered by their health insurance policies, or found the co-pays so high that they went without. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, any new plan will provide coverage for key women’s health services without any co-pay required.”
Maloney explained, “The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that about 47 million women across the country, including approximately 3,092,653 women in New York state, will now have insurance coverage of critical preventive services without costsharing under the provision of the ACA that takes effect today.”
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the landmark legislation of President Obama’s administration was constitutional.
TURNER AMENDED IRANSYRIA BILL PASSES: When Congress passed the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 last week, it included an amendment by Congressmember Bob Turner (R–C–Queens/Brooklyn) which allocates assets seized from the Iranian government to families of Beirut Marine Barracks and Khobar Towers victims.
Turner amplified on that, saying the new law would “implement crippling economic pressure on Iran through strengthened U.S. sanctions in order to compel Tehran to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons programs and its support for global extremist groups. It also targets human rights violations in Iran and Syria.”
Speaking on the floor of Congress when the bill was being debated, Turner said his amendment “would change a specific part of federal law to allow assets seized from the Iranian government to be allocated to the families of servicemen and women killed in the Beirut Marine Barracks and Khobar Towers bombings.
By way of explanation, he stated, “I am sure many of you will remember that Iran was found by a federal court to have been directly involved in both the 1983 attacks on the Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 soldiers—and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia where a suicide bomber killed 14 airmen. The victims and their families won a judgment in court against the Iranian government, but had difficulty in enforcing it because Iran hid behind sovereign immunity.”
Turner added, “I am proud to say that this provision is truly a bipartisan effort. Together my colleagues on both sides of the aisle stand united against Iran. By passing this bill today, we offer the victims’ families the justice that they have been denied for too long.”
GOP IGNORES MENG’S ADVICE: As the Republican majority in the House was set to consider extending Bush-era tax cuts last Wednesday, Congressional candidate Grace Meng, the Democratic choice for the 6th CD seat in Queens, urged House Republican leaders “to exercise common-sense by voting to help working, middle class families in Queens…”
Meng also reminded Democrats and Republicans in Congress at the same time “to raise the tax threshold so that it applies to the truly wealthy who make over one million dollars a year.”
You guessed it—Republicans ignored Meng’s advice and passed their bill to cut taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes for middle income families. It’s all laid out in a story elsewhere in this issue in which Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) blasts Republicans for cutting taxes for the rich and raising them for the middle class and armed services members.
Meanwhile, Meng summed up her pleas to Congress saying, “Yet again, the Republican majority is playing games with the financial security of America’s middle class. Instead of standing up for our neighborhoods, families and small businesses, the Congressional majority continues to hold vital tax cuts for the middle class hostage in the interest of protecting the wealthiest one percent of Americans.”
SCHUMER WINS TAX BREAK FOR COMMUTERS: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer successfully argued before the Senate Finance Committee last week to reimpose a tax break for commuters which had expired last January. The tax break also covers car owners who drive to work. The savings amounts to about $240 a month.
Schumer said in a statement, “I have no intention of letting this vital tax benefit for middle class families go gently into the night. It makes absolutely no sense to provide those who drive to work with a tax break and make consumers who use mass transit pay more.”
The benefit, which covers subway and train riders, will be retroactive to last January, and is expected to win Senate and House approval.
STAVISKY ENDORSED BY FERRER: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone) was cited as “a champion for hardworking middle class families in Queens” by former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer as he endorsed Stavisky for re-election last week.
In her “thank you” to Ferrer, who lost the 2005 mayoral race to Michael Bloomberg, Stavisky placed him on a list of endorsers of her campaign. These include City Comptroller John Liu, Assemblymember Grace Meng, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Councilmember Peter Koo.
However, Stavisky is facing a threat to be knocked off the Democratic primary ballot by her rival, businessman John Messer. In the general election, if Stavisky survives Messer’s ballot challenge (as we expect she will), she should prevail over Messer in the September 13 primary. Then she will face Republican J. D. Kim in the general election. Kim is placing his hopes in that race on his being the first Korean American to run for the 16th District seat, which Kim boasts is the first Asian majority senate district in the state.
But Kim, an attorney and first-time office seeker, faces a tough challenge against Stavisky, who’s expected to be well financed and has a background of representing her constituents on a fulltime basis.
PERALTA TARGETS GUNS, HUMAN TRAFFICKING: State Senator Jose Peralta (D–Corona) last week renewed his efforts against gun violence and human trafficking, issues which are major problems in his Corona/Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst district.
“Now is the time and gun violence is the issue for Republicans and Democrats to do everything possible to find common ground,” he declared and pushed for passage of three bills both parties can unite to pass. These call for gun license renewals every five years, a background check for would-be gun purchasers and stripping guns away from unstable persons.
On human trafficking, Peralta is leading a campaign to raise awareness of the problem generally and to reign in the problem in his district.
“So many women from around the world and the country are brought here to New York, and particularly on Roosevelt Avenue, to be enslaved and forced to have sex with strangers,” Peralta declared.
His office has been distributing posters in English and Spanish throughout his district encouraging victims of human trafficking and prostitution to call 311 for help.
“We have to dispel the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime and the way to do that is by providing information and raising awareness,” he said.
SAFETY BARRIERS ALONG WILDLIFE REFUGE: For many years, the Cross Bay Boulevard strip from Broad Channel to the Rockaway Bridge has been a speedway which frequently caused accidents, injury and deaths. Mindful of these consequences, Councilmember Eric Ulrich (R–C-Ozone Park) has secured City Council funding of $475,000 to construct a safety barrier to shield from injury runners, walkers, bicyclists who traverse Cross Bay Boulevard alongside the wildlife refuge.
Ulrich said, “This has always been about safety and I’m thrilled that it’s finally getting done… we are going to save lives.”
Many others—community activists and CB 14, the Department of Transportation, environmentalists and parents of small children were also part of the solution.
IANNECE GETS POWERFUL ENDORSEMENT: Local 1199, one of the largest and fastest growing healthcare unions in the country, has endorsed Jerry Iannece for the 25th AD state Assembly post in Queens.
Iannece, formerly from Astoria and now living in Bayside, welcomed the support, which can turn into a vital ally rendering¦ meaningful help on Election Day,¦ if necessary.¦ Iannece,¦ a seasoned
¦ campaigner, has
¦the Queens Democratic Party endorsement in the September 13 primary and may be facing Fresh Meadows activist Nily Rozic in that election.
Rozic, Jerusalem-born but raised in Fresh Meadows, claims strong community support there and has been endorsed by the Working Families Party, also a proven asset on Election Day. Rozic previously served as chief of staff to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. The 25th presently is represented by Rory Lancman, who is not seeking re-election.