Maloney Blasts Gun Advocates
Congressmember Carolyn Maloney took aim at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and blasted the gun lobby’s leader last week when he continued to call for more guns—in schools and in people’s hands—as most of the country was demanding gun control in the wake of the slaughter of 20 young schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
“The NRA just doesn’t get it,” Maloney stated after NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre defiantly stated his position at a press conference in Washington.
“More guns in more schools will mean more gun violence,” Maloney shot back. “Period. End of discussion.”
Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) continued her attack on LaPierre, “If guns kept America safe, then America would surely be the safest country in the whole world. Because, by a huge margin, America has the most guns.”
The lawmaker, Congress’ senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, explained, “We have about 90 guns for every 100 people, making us the most heavily armed country per capita in the world. Yet, the U.S. has more gun-related killings than any other developed country in the world.”
Maloney, echoing the nearly universal calls in Washington and many areas of the U.S. stated: “It is clear that Congress needs to act and act quickly. We need to ban assault weapons. We need to ban massacre magazines and we need to close all of the background check loopholes that allow guns to get in the hands of wrong people.”
Then referring to the horrible shootings in Connecticut, Maloney stated, “After the unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week, our country is united in a demand for change. If our country doesn’t change course and take these common sense steps, then we cannot expect the outcomes to be any different.”
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and Governor Andrew Cuomo have signaled that they each will support gun control legislation at their respective government levels in 2013. The time is right, coming on the heels of the horrific Connecticut killings and another deranged killing in Upstate New York, in which two firefighters were shot to death by a psychotic exconvict. The murders in Connecticut have galvanized action for reform among Republicans as well as Democrats and the NRA is at a disadvantage for a change.
The president has appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force to formulate proposals which would include an assault weapons ban, ending gun-show background check loopholes, and shortcircuiting sales of deadly high capacity ammunition clips, among other proposals.
Cuomo announced he aims to address eliminating loopholes in existing assault weapons bans in state laws, but he acknowledged gun control is a federal area of law. Presently, he said, New York already has “some of the toughest gun laws in the nation”, but he would explore tightening laws already on the books.
Actually, he might face some opposition from the Republicans, who hold the power in the state senate jointly with renegade Democratic senators. State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said that he might favor joining Democrats in pursuing ways to block criminals from acquiring illegal guns.
State Senators Michael Gianaris (D–Western Queens) and Jose Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) are firmly in the gun control grouping. Gianaris favors restricting gun purchases and would also back legislation to impose a 10 day waiting period for buying a gun, as well as closing a loophole by imposing background checks before allowing the purchase of a gun.
Another Gianaris proposal would mandate dealers to report all weapon purchases and ammunition sales within 24 hours to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Peralta would require the courts to take away guns and permits from anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution or forced into outpatient treatment or acquitted of a crime by “reason of mental disease or defect”. The Jackson Heights lawmaker would also require a background check for anyone seeking to purchase a quantity of ammunition.
Meanwhile, the most outspoken gun control advocate in the nation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, continues to bang the drum to raise awareness of gun violence. He has persistently badgered Congress and Obama since the Connecticut school slayings to pursue legislation to ban guns, calling gun violence a “national epidemic”.
He recently repeated warnings that it should be illegal for people to have weapons made to kill large numbers of people, and sales of bullets designed to pierce armored vests should also be outlawed because they are designed to kill police officers.
GIANARIS APPOINTED TO TOP DEM SENATE POSITION: Following the election last week of state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Yonkers) as the Democratic senate conference leader, Stewart-Cousins announced that state Senator Michael Gianaris would serve as the new deputy conference leader.
Gianaris’ appointment was seen as recognition of his work earlier this year when he successfully led the senate Democrats’ election efforts, which resulted in giving the Democrats enough victories to gain the majority in the upper house, only to have it snatched away by the Republicans when four renegade Democrats deserted their party.
Besides his new appointment by Stewart-Cousins, Gianaris was also reappointed as chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
In appointing Gianaris as the senate’s deputy conference leader, Stewart- Cousins stated that the Astoria lawmaker is “an incredible public servant, and I am pleased that he will serve as the deputy conference leader for the senate Democrats”.
Stewart-Cousins added: “During the past election, Senator Gianaris led our conference to victories throughout New York state and helped ensure that Democratic senators were elected despite daunting odds. I look forward to having Senator Gianaris as part of my leadership team.”
Gianaris responded: “I am honored to be chosen by Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to serve as her deputy. There is much work to be done to advance the progressive goals the people of our state demand. I am excited to be a part of Senator Stewart-Cousins’ team and look forward to working in partnership with Governor Cuomo to achieve these goals.”
Gianaris started his legislative career in 2000 when he was elected to the state Assembly, and after 10 years he was elected to the state senate. In both houses, Gianaris has been a leading advocate in reforming state government and advancing progressive issues.
He predicted that under Democratic Conference Leader Stewart-Cousins’ leadership, the Democratic Conference will continue to advance progressive issues such as enacting common sense gun laws, raising the minimum wage, standing up for women’s health, helping small business, and providing real mandate relief for local communities.
GOP SHORT CHANGES SANDY RECOVERY FUNDING: Citing what they called unnecessary spending in President Obama’s proposed $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy relief and recovery bill, Republican senators in Washington introduced their own $23.8 billion proposal.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D) slammed the offer, saying the GOP bill “is not even in the ballpark of what New York and New Jersey need”. Republicans also raised the ire of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, by proposing to funnel recovery funding in increments. But Gillibrand replied multi-million-dollar, multi-year projects can’t start without a commitment of full funding.
“That’s not how business works,” Gillibrand shot back. “That’s not how a contract works. No state or city can operate that way.”
FAREWELL AS 2012 ENDS: On New Year’s Eve, ringing bells will usher in the year 2013, but also signal the end of the 33 year career serving as a public official by Gary Ackerman—five years as a New York state senator and 28 years as a U.S. member of Congress. Those years were spent as a representative from Flushing, where Ackerman grew up and later distinguished himself as founder, publisher and editor of the Flushing Tribune, a weekly newspaper. He later changed its name to the Queens Tribune, signifying Queens-wide coverage.
Also ending a brief career as a congressmember next Tuesday will be Robert Turner, a Republican Conservative from Breezy Point in the Rockaways. Turner succeeded Anthony Weiner as the representative of a Queens/Brooklyn district after Weiner resigned in mid-2012 and Turner won a special election to succeed him. Thus Turner served out the eight months left in Weiner’s term.
In perhaps one of his final acts as a congressmember, Turner announced his nominations to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy.
“It is an honor to nominate candidates of such high caliber who wish to make a commitment to our nation’s military and to their future,” Turner stated. “These nominees will become the leaders of tomorrow.”
Turner and a selection committee he had formed submitted the following nominees:
•Henry Wu, of Woodhaven, and Pamela Wishart, of Neponsit, to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Wu attends Stuyvesant H.S.; Wishart attends Leon M. Goldstein H.S.
•Raymond Perniciaro, of Middle Village and Seamus McCaffrey, of Glendale to the Air Force Academy. Perniciaro attends Aviation H.S.; McCaffrey attends St. Francis Preparatory School.
•Jacob Lynch, of Flushing, and Terrance Stackpole, of Belle Harbor, nominated to the Naval Academy. Lynch attends Cathedral Preparatory Seminary; Stackpole attends St. Francis Preparatory School.
•Marco LoBosco, of Glendale, nominated to the Merchant Marine Academy. LoBosco attends Archbishop Molloy H.S.
MENG SUCCEEDS ACKERMAN: Next Wednesday, on Jan. 1, 2013, Grace Meng of Flushing will change jobs, from being a state assemblymember to becoming a member of Congress, the first Asian American to hold that distinction. Meng will succeed Gary Ackerman in Congress.
According to Meng, she has already been appointed to a seat on the House Small Business Committee, a panel which was established to protect and assist small businesses. It also oversees financial aid for businesses and regulatory matters and the Small Business Administration.
“I cannot be more excited about being chosen to serve on this critical committee,” said Meng. “Small businesses are the economic engine of Queens as well as the entire nation. They play a critical role in job creation and economic growth, and their success is vital to the prosperity of the United States.”
LANCMAN SEEKING CITY COUNCIL SEAT: Former Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who quit his post to run for Congress earlier this year, has announced he will seek the 24th City Council district seat in next November’s elections. He enumerated several challenges facing New York City, among them a “desperately squeezed middle class”, under-performing schools and rising crime rates.
“2013 will be a time of extraordinary turnover in city government, ushering in a new mayor (in 2014), comptroller, public advocate and at least half the city council. (The other half was prohibited from seeking another term because of term limits.)
Continuing, Lancman said, “We need experienced leaders to help guide New York through some very difficult times, and I am looking forward to stepping up to the plate for my community and our city.”
Lancman, who represented the Fresh Meadows area when he was an assemblymember, cited his years there and his legislative record as his major qualifications to support his effort to win a city council seat.
“I’m ready to pass important laws for New York City because I’ve already passed important laws for New York state. I’m ready to fight for our community in the city budget, because I’ve already successfully done so in the state budget. I’m excited about the opportunity to confront these challenges to represent my family and our community in what will literally be a New York City government.”
The 24th city council district has been represented for the past 12 years by Councilmember James Gennaro (D) and he’s not eligible to seek another term because of term limits.
SEEK OK TO REBUILD AT HISTORIC SITE IN BREEZY POINT: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder have requested the National Park Service (NPS) to quickly approve the reconstruction of a sea wall at the Silver Gull Beach Club in Breezy Point, which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.
The lawmakers said the Beach Club, a major employer and a favorite family retreat, is on the National Register of Historical Places, so the NPS must first approve the sea wall reconstruction. The wall will be rebuilt by the club at no cost to taxpayers, they said.
Schumer (D–N.Y.) and Goldfeder (D–Rockaway) said in a letter to NPS that the Beach Club needs a new sea wall as quickly as possible to protect the club from any future disaster, “especially with the winter months approaching and snow storms possibly around the corner”, so quick approval of the sea wall is urgent.
ADDABBO APPEALS ON BEHALF OF OTB RETIREES: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. said he “strongly disagrees” with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s veto of the OTB retirees’ benefits bill, but will continue his efforts “to ensure that this issue is dealt with in our state budget so that our state can honor its promise to these retirees”.
Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) pointed out, “When these retirees took employment with the New York City OTB, they did their jobs, paid their taxes, raised their families, contributed to our economy and had every expectation they would continue to receive the health coverage promised to them.”
“That all ended when the OTB went bankrupt, leaving some 1,000 dedicated former employees with a broken promise and no healthcare coverage.”
Addabbo said he was disappointed that this legislation, which would have provided a desperately needed solution for these retirees, has once again failed to clear the governor’s desk.