2012-11-07 / Features

On the brief side....

Ackerman Secures Visa For Victim’s Relative

Congressmember Gary Ackerman (D–Queens/Long Island) announced today that he has secured a visa for the brother of Haiyan Yang, the tourist from China who died after she was beaten and robbed in Flushing.

The brother, Wei Yang, had been seeking the visa so that he could come to New York to take her body back to China. He is expected to arrive at JFK Airport early next week.

Haiyan Yang, 37, who arrived in Flushing three weeks ago, was declared brain dead after she was smashed in the head while being mugged early Saturday on 41st Avenue. She later passed away at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, the facility where she was taken for severe head trauma.

Ackerman obtained the visa after he intervened with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China and arranged for the brother’s paperwork to be expedited.

The case, which is a federal matter, was referred to Ackerman by Assemblymember Grace Meng after the victim’s friends contacted her office for help with the visa process.

Addabbo’s Bill Postpones Foreclosures

To address the continuing problem of seriously delinquent mortgages and subsequent foreclosure proceedings in Queens and other areas throughout New York, state Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (DHoward Beach) has introduced new legislation to call a temporary, one-year halt to foreclosures and enable financially struggling homeowners to work out reasonable repayment plans with their mortgage holders.

“When a family loses a home because of unemployment or otherwise is unable to meet its mortgage obligations, everyone loses,” said Addabbo. “The family suffers. The neighborhood suffers. Homes may deteriorate and property values may plummet. Vacant, bank-owned homes become magnets for criminal activity. We need to take action in order to give hurting homeowners a chance to make good on their mortgages without losing the roofs over their heads. It’s important for families and vital for communities.”

Under Addabbo’s bill, a one-year moratorium would be imposed on mortgage foreclosures for homeowners. During the one-year moratorium period, the homeowner would work with the lender to negotiate and agree to a plan for repayment of the mortgage. As long as the homeowner honors the repayment agreement, making a good-faith effort to pay what is owed, the home will not be foreclosed upon for that year.

Avella Fights Aircraft Noise

State Senator Tony Avella announced that he has introduced legislation in the state senate that would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), to conduct a noise and land use compatibility survey as outlined under federal aviation regulations as well as biennial public hearings regarding aircraft noise issues.

The three airports operated by the PANYNJ collectively represent the busiest airport system in the United States. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of commercial and cargo flights coming into and out of John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia Airports. Over the past several years the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun implementing new approach and departure paths for the major metropolitan airports under the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia Airspace Redesign and new technological advancements under the NextGen Program. While the increase in flights, improvements in flight plans and navigational technology has provided additional flight offerings to New York and New Jersey consumers, they have also resulted in an increase in aircraft noise around communities near these facilities.

Part 150 of the federal aviation regulations provides a mechanism for considering the issue of aircraft noise and developing a plan to address noise issues that gives due consideration to residents affected by aircraft noise issues. Part 150 studies have been conducted by many airports around the United States, however, no such studies have been conducted by the PANYNJ.

Avella began receiving complaints from residents that the deafening sound caused by constant plane traffic was creating significant quality of life issues for their residential neighborhoods. As a result, Avella held a large rally with Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, Community Board 11, civic leaders, and dozens of homeowners protesting the sudden increase in air traffic from LaGuardia Airport that was causing the unbearable noise and air pollution for residents. Avella is currently working with the FAA to address these concerns.

Halloran Moves To Audit MTA

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is currently considering proposals that could raise bus and subway fares for the fourth time in 10 years, and the second time in as many years. At next week’s stated meeting, Councilmember Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) will introduce legislation that would allow the city comptroller to audit the MTA to ensure that money is being spent appropriately and effectively.

“The MTA continues to raise fares and ask their riders to bear more of the burden. The public has a right to know that their money is not being wasted or spent on frivolous costs,” said Halloran. “My bill will help increase transparency within the MTA and help make them more accountable to their riders.”

Under current law the MTA, which is a state authority, may be audited by the state comptroller but not the New York City comptroller, despite the vast majority of MTA riders being city residents. Allowing the city comptroller to audit the agency would help ensure accountability to city residents.

“Every dollar earned in New York City is taxed and a portion of that goes to supplement the MTA,” Halloran said. “That makes every city resident a stakeholder in the MTA’s ability to balance their budget. Between the tax, service cuts and fare hikes, riders and non-riders alike in New York City deserve to know that their money is being wisely spent. The more people looking after the money, the better.”

In the past few years, the MTA was found to have wasted $56 million in overtime abuse and $26 million in unnecessary diversions. Earlier this month, it was discovered that the MTA wasted $160,000 repairing a stairwell.

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