2012-08-22 / Political Page

SE Queens Pols Unite Against Violence Under DA Brown’s Plan


D.A. Brown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and state Senator Malcolm A. Smith at One Police Plaza with some of the 507 weapons, including an AK47 being displayed, that was collected at the Queens Gun Buy-Back Program. D.A. Brown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, and state Senator Malcolm A. Smith at One Police Plaza with some of the 507 weapons, including an AK47 being displayed, that was collected at the Queens Gun Buy-Back Program. of Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, in a show of solidarity triggered by illegal gun violence which has set off a wave of injuries and death.

The solid front of elected officials from federal, state and local levels adopted an 11-point program developed by Brown’s office to end the gun violence.

The latest outpouring of reaction to unabated gun violence comes as Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued pleas to national leaders in Washington soliciting plans about combating illegal guns, only to be ignored.

On the statewide level, following the massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a call for beefed up gun controls in the state, and state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria) readied a package of bills to give our state the “toughest gun laws in the nation”.

State Senator Jose Peralta, the author of bills toughening gun laws already in the works, issued a call to Republicans to support these anti-gun efforts as they come before them.

But the bloodletting in Queens, and throughout the city continued unabated.

Concerned over the wild shootings and killings, Brown called a meeting last month with various elected officials in the borough to address the problem and seek strategies to end them. Out of these talks came the program to end violence, agreed to by the Southeast Queens lawmakers.

Included are Congressmember Gregory W. Meeks, state Senators Malcolm Smith and Shirley Huntley, Assemblymembers Barbara Clark, Vivian Cook, Michele Titus and William Scarborough; Councilmembers Leroy Comrie, Ruben Wills, and James Sanders and Borough President Helen Marshall.

In announcing these developments, Brown declared:

“The combination of easy access to guns, violence fueled by disputes between rival gangs and competing criminal enterprises vying for turf, decreases in police resources in high crime neighborhoods and community reluctance to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes, has contributed to a sudden deadly increase in gun violence in recent weeks—especially in Southeast Queens.”

Brown continued, saying these factors had resulted in “a series of tragedies at parks, playgrounds and on local streets, including the shootings of very young children caught in the deadly crossfire”.

As a result, Brown continued, “These painful incidents have left neighborhoods reeling and residents fearful of allowing their children to play outside. The anguished cries of parents who have lost their children have resonated through the community. In response and solidarity, elected officials, members of the clergy, community leaders and concerned residents have come together to call for swift and united action to end the violence and take back their streets.”

The veteran prosecutor closed by saying:

“As elected officials and members of the Queens community it is imperative that we join our voices and be heard as one to denounce this recent and unacceptable level of gun violence and that each of us do our part in any way possible to end the violence.”

Brown said his meetings to discuss the rise in homicides and shooting incidents had resulted in “a broad agreement among the officials to work together toward the following long- and short-term goals”— and to end the gun violence.

•Deliver the clear and unequivocal message that carrying guns and committing acts of violence in Southeast Queens is unacceptable and reinforce it through clergy sermons, community rallies, events and lectures.

•Push the fact that guns can be turned in to local precincts for $100-a-gun cash to increase the number of guns surrendered.

•Develop a campaign encouraging the community to report illegal guns and violent crimes and to cooperate with law enforcement. “Step Up For Your Community—If You See Something, Say Something.” Change the culture and create incentives for residents to speak out about crime.

•Support legislation to limit access to assault weapons, handguns and high capacity ammunition clips by criminals and individuals with mental illness.

•Enforce existing gun laws and fight for additional drug treatment and mental health services.

•Improve communication and dialogue and foster trust between law enforcement and residents.

•Increase police resources in high crime areas.

The comments of reaction by elected officials to Brown’s program were as follows:

•Meeks: “I call upon my Southeast Queens constituents, together with the NYPD, prosecutors, clergy, and parents to forge an alliance to oppose guns and criminality and guarantee security for those who speak out.”

•Smith: Communities must begin to make a more proactive commitment to see an end to this crippling gun violence. He said he’s eager to work with DA Brown and other elected officials “to formulate an aggressive and comprehensive approach to ultimately stop this plague of violence”.

•Cook: There must be community input into problems that concern the community’s safety; create more programs for youth in schools.

•Comrie: “Let’s work collectively with clergy, law enforcement and community leaders so we can send a strong message that we will not tolerate further violence in our neighborhoods.”

•Marshall: Thanked DA Brown for his initiative, said streets and parks must be safe; that it is time for everyone to step up and speak out and identify culprits; that we need unity to reclaim our neighborhoods.

Judging from the lawmakers’ comments, there was unanimous acceptance of Brown’s action and his plan to meet the crisis in the black community. Many of the comments mentioned and extended thanks to the county prosecutor. Brown has long been working actively and directly to get guns out of circulation by means of his successful buy back program over the past several years. Bringing the lawmakers together publicly to announce the new initiative and the great response there was to it, indicates that the long-serving prosecutor has the full trust of the lawmakers and has their full cooperation.

ADDABBO-ULRICH IN HOT CAMPAIGN FIGHT: Councilmember Eric Ulrich must still contend with opponent in the Republican and Independence Party primaries on September 13 before he can go to the mat with Democratic incumbent state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. in the election for the 15th senatorial district seat in November.

But the Republican primary against Rego Park attorney Juan D. Reyes and his contest against Joseph E. Tiraco in the Independence Party fray must be won before he takes on Addabbo.

Yet, judging from the jousting already going on between Ulrich and Addabbo, and being covered by eager reporters is where the real interest lies and eventually it will reach the boiling point once the primaries are officially over.

There’s no denying that Addabbo’s defense of his senate seat is going to be a scorcher once the gloves are totally off. Both Ulrich and Addabbo are incumbents in this contest, Addabbo having represent- ed the Ozone Park-

Howard Beach district in the City Council and the senate during the past 10 or 12 years and Ulrich set up shop there since he succeeded Addabbo as the councilmember for the district when Addabbo moved up to Albany.

As a result, voters throughout the area are familiar with both lawmakers and have elected each of them to their present posts in different elections. Now the direct clash is between them and one could easily say its a toss up between Addabbo, the elder, and Ulrich, the one-time wonder boy who joined the council as its youngest member when he arrived at City Hall.

One advantage for Addabbo is that he has a unified party behind him, while Ulrich has been on the outs with Queens Republican Chairman Phil Ragusa. The entrenched leadership is backing Reyes in the primary and Ulrich’s main support is coming from the remnants of the faction led by Jack Haggerty, who is presently awaiting sentencing for being convicted for misappropriating a large sum of Mayor Bloomberg’s funds during the 2009 mayoral race.

The only other factor to figure in analyzing an Addabbo-Ulrich tussle is the district created by the senate Republicans in Albany during the most recent session. The majority GOP swings the district toward Forest Hills and Rego Park from Ozone Park in quest of Republican voters in what is rock-ribbed Democratic country. But it’s also Haggerty territory, where his residence and political power center are located.

HOMELESS SHELTER IN GLENDALE? There’s a former knitting mill in Glendale that has been unused for about 20 years, but is now causing speculation that it may become a homeless shelter, which would not be alright with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale) and a local community leader.

In a Daily News story last week, Crowley confirmed that an unnamed local realtor is looking over the building at 78- 16 Cooper Ave. and is considering turning it into a homeless shelter. The owner of the property, Michael Wilner, wouldn’t identify any agency that might want to make it into a homeless shelter, but didn’t deny the property, occupying 2.7 acres, could become a shelter.

Wilner said he’s just showing the property to anyone interested in looking it over, and also didn’t deny that the property— zoned for manufacturing, but also permitting a hotel on the plot—could become a shelter.

Crowley also didn’t name any names, but said a nonprofit agency was interested in leasing it and running it as a shelter. The story cites Crowley’s Chief of Staff, Lydon Sleeper, as saying the lawmaker thinks the building could better be used as a community recreation center. She’s been trying to make that happen and will continue to do so.

Also proposing a different use for the property was Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi, who said a shelter would not be appropriate there, but a park would. The property is close to three schools and the Atlas Park Mall, Masi said, adding that her organization is circulating petitions against the homeless shelter being situated in the former factory building.

The story has all the ingredients to turn the vacant building into a furious battleground.

HISTORIC, NEGLECTED QUEENS CEMETERY LANDMARKED: The Brinckerhoff Cemetery in Fresh Meadows, dating back to the 1700’s, was granted landmark status last week by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, ending a decade-long effort by preservationists to block developers from obliterating it.

Among them were Councilmembers James Gennaro (D–Fresh Meadows) and Mark Weprin (D–Hollis) and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Whitestone).

Gennaro, who has been fighting to get the landmarking for the burial ground at 182nd Street near 73rd Avenue for the past 10 years, declared:

“As colonial-era Queens settlers were known to exclaim upon hearing great news, it is apropos that we shout HUZZAH on this day—the Brinckerhoff Cemetery is landmarked. This designation has been a long time coming–I have been working toward this day since I took office 10 years ago.

Gennaro described the more than 200 year-old cemetery as a “crown jewel in the pantheon of Queens’ rich historical treasures... the final resting place of nearly 80 people who helped settle Queens should not be torn up to make way for homes or apartments. This is a day for celebration amongst the dedicated community of civic associations and historical groups in our borough that advocated tirelessly for this landmark designation. HUZZAH.”

Weprin said he was “delighted that the Landmarks Preservation Commission listened to the voices of the community… recognizing its significance to the history of Queens”.

Stavisky also cited the ancient burial ground as “an important part of Queens’ heritage”, and said she was “happy to hear that it has achieved permanent landmark status after so many years’ effort”.

Recalling all the rallies to save Brinckerhoff that she had attended, Stavisky joined in for this great victory for the people of Fresh Meadows and for the civic homeowners associations that have fought so diligently on behalf of this site.

ROZIC ENDORSED BY ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP: The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) has endorsed Nily Rozic in her effort to win the Democratic Party nomination in that party’s primary for the 25th Assembly district seat on September 13. Rozic is opposed by Jerry Iannece of Oakland Gardens.

NYLCV said that as Chief of Staff to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Rozic had worked closely with the environmental organization on important issues, including a bill to improve energy efficiency of residential properties and on a law to keep mercury out of the waste stream. Her work on the Child Safe Products Act, passed last April, was also cited.

In accepting the endorsement, Rozic declared that she “shares their commitment to securing a cleaner, healthier environment for all New Yorkers. We face tremendous challenges in protecting our public health and environment, conserving natural resources, and reducing our carbon footprint.”

ADDABBO PRAISES RACINO’S RECORD: Reacting to recent reports of the Resorts World Casino New York at Aqueduct racetrack, state Senator Joseph Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated:

“Once again, the education of our children in our community and across the state are benefited by the amount of activity at the Resorts World Casino. In less than a year, Resorts World has provided to the education portion of our state budget over $200 million.

“It has also been a place of employment for over 1,500 individuals and has been a source of revenue to New York state of over $300 million. Since dealing with Resorts World from its beginning, I never would have thought that its rise to success would have reached these numbers so quickly.”

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