2013-10-16 / Political Page

Lhota Blasts De Blasio On Crime Stance

Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota really has only one major issue—Stop, Question and Frisk—that he can use against his Democratic rival, Bill de Blasio, but it’s doubtful he has enough time to catch up to de Blasio in the 25 days remaining in the campaign.

So Lhota was expected to use any device imaginable to gain any ground against de Blasio in last night’s debate on Channel 7 (WABC-TV) (which the Gazette could not cover because of publishing deadlines).

With only three weeks remaining in their campaign before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 5, de Blasio has a 44 point lead against Lhota in The Wall Street Journal–NBC–Marist poll released last Friday.

Only about a month ago, following the September 10 primaries—when the de Blasio–Lhota match emerged—de Blasio had a 43 point lead in the first poll taken.

With only three weeks remaining in their campaign before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 5, de Blasio has a 44 point lead against Lhota in The Wall Street Journal–NBC–Marist poll released last Friday. With only three weeks remaining in their campaign before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 5, de Blasio has a 44 point lead against Lhota in The Wall Street Journal–NBC–Marist poll released last Friday. So Lhota hasn’t been able to gain any ground at all in the month that has elapsed between the first and third polls. And even in the poll taken in between those polls, the result was about the same—no gain by Lhota.

Now Lhota has less time to make any progress against de Blasio—25 days until the election. He had to do it in last night’s debate and will have a chance to make inroads in two more debates between now and the election— a tall order.

Which brings us back to last Saturday evening, when de Blasio appeared as a guest on actor Alec Baldwin’s new talk show. In a news release from Lhota, he says both de Blasio and Baldwin were “in alarming agreement that cops who use the proactive policing tool of Stop, Question and Frisk were lazy”.

Lhota’s reaction was that he was “outraged” by de Blasio and Baldwin agreeing that cops’ fault regarding Stop and Frisk was merely being “lazy”, and Lhota called for Baldwin and de Blasio to apologize to the NYPD.

What’s surprising about Lhota’s reaction is that he found “Bill characterizing the NYPD as lazy is infuriating, then goes on to say:

“On what planet is he (Bill) living? We have victims of crime in this city every single day and he dares to call police who do their jobs lazy. Their proactive policing has saved countless lives by getting thousands of illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. It is simply unfathomable and a seriously disturbed view of public safety. He needs to apologize immediately.”

Lhota continues by saying de Blasio has spent his campaign “viciously attacking Ray Kelly and the NYPD when he should be applauding them for making us the safest big city in America. This outrageous rhetoric combined with his policies that will prevent the police from doing their jobs are a recipe for disaster. He is not ready to be mayor and bear the responsibility of keeping 8.3 million New Yorkers safe”.

Lhota concludes: “Mr. de Blasio has made getting rid of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly a central point of his campaign despite recent polls showing New Yorkers support keeping him by a two to one margin.”

The Lhota campaign also pointed to de Blasio’s recent remarks that he would sit down with biker gangs to combat wilding incidents that left a man brutally beaten in front of his family as further evidence Mr. de Blasio’s impotent policing policies would lead to increased crime.

Arguments like these against de Blasio’s fitness to keep the city safe should, if he made them in last night’s debate test the voting public’s perception of policing tactics and whether they can be wooed away from de Blasio.

MENG ENDORSES DE BLASIO: On Monday, Congressmember Grace Meng (D–Flushing) met with de Blasio and Flushing community leaders to discuss issues key to New York City. Meng has endorsed de Blasio for mayor, citing his commitment to ensuring progressive change for all New Yorkers.

The congressmember added: “Bill de Blasio will be a mayor that fights for every New Yorker in every borough. From quality universal pre-K and truly affordable housing to policies that foster the city’s flourishing immigrant-owned small businesses, he understands the progressive change New Yorkers need. Bill will continue to listen to the needs of the people of Flushing and all of our communities to ensure every New Yorker has an opportunity for a fair shot.”

De Blasio responded, “Grace is an exemplary public servant, a trailblazer for her community, and a dedicated representative of her constituents. I look forward to working together to ensure this city gets the bold progressive change the people of Queens and all New Yorkers need.”

BUSY, SUCCESSFUL WEEK FOR LOCAL COUNCILMEMBERS: From East Elmhurst to Astoria to Long Island City and Maspeth, local lawmakers made themselves heard on important zoning matters.

In perhaps the major plan approved, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras (D–East Elmhurst) guided the City Council to approve the Citi Field controversial first phase of the $3 billion development of Willets Point.

The city council voted to approve a huge plan including more affordable housing than earlier imagined, a major improvement in nearby Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the relocation of many auto related businesses that have occupied the junkyard site that will be redeveloped.

Citi Field, home of the Mets, parking field will get a spiffy mega mall, with a $2.6 million roof-top farm topping the mall. Also the Bloomberg administration officials guiding the huge development came up with a commitment of $66 million for design and construction of new access amps to/from the nearby Van Wyck Expressway. Up until the very end this was a key project to move the entire plan.

The affordable housing to be built will consist of an additional 300 units on sites in Corona and Flushing for which Ferreras and community organizations fought hard.

In the end, Ferreras rounded up almost the entire council to vote “aye” on the huge development, with only lame duck Republican Dan Halloran voting “no” along with Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights) and Brooklyn’s Charles Barron.

In Astoria, with Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. leading the way for a final victory as he exits the council approved the $1 million Hallets Point luxury housing (2,100 units) and 500 below-market housing units on the waterfront site.

Vallone commented, “Right now, the peninsula doesn’t have a bank, a supermarket, a school or a beautiful waterfront promenade. Soon it will have all of that and more.”

In nearby Long Island City, the council approved unanimously plans to construct two luxury apartment residences on the site of the 5Pointz Aerosol Arts Museum. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) led the vote-getting. He noted the building was marked for extinction, but, “What we were able to do is extract meaningful concessions and important amenities for this community.” However, he didn’t list them.

In Maspeth, local lawmakers and the community joined forces to go on record as opposing a liquor license for the Knockdown Center, which has been staging a variety of social events in a former glass factory in an industrial area at Flushing Avenue near Metropolitan Avenue. Up until now, the owners have been obtaining temporary permits for their operations.

At this point, state Senator Michael Gianaris (D–Astoria), Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (D–Glendale) are on record as opposing a liquor license for it, if and when anyone requests it.

Also reportedly opposed are the Juniper Park Civic Association, Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) and the Queens Civic Congress.

CUOMO ‘TO THE RESCUE’: The prolonged shutdown of the Statue of Liberty, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, was finally ended last Sunday thanks to its rescuer, Governor Andrew Cuomo. The famous attraction, which had been closed to the public since October 1, a victim of the federal government’s closure, was rescued by Cuomo under an arrangement to have New York state pay $61,600 for every day it remains open to the National Park Service to cover costs to personnel.

Cuomo, who spent part of his day off to come to Manhattan for the reopening, explained the reason for his largesse: with the tourist magnet closed, the state was losing money. One of his spokespersons explained that while it was closed 10,000 visitors couldn’t visit there so they couldn’t spend the average

$35 per visit on souvenirs, snacks and the ferry fare to get there and back. As a result, a whole battery of vendors were applauding the governor’s move.

On another subject connected to the state’s welfare last week, Cuomo said a possible federal government default could cost the state’s economy $2 million. The default talk resulted as President Obama and Republican legislators were unable to agree on the president’s request to raise the nation’s debt limit.

Cuomo, referring to the “congressional dysfunction” in Washington, said it would deal a staggering blow to the state’s economy.

LIU’S HOLDOUT PAYS OFF: According to a media report, City Comptroller John Liu’s insistence that Verizon should pay New York City $50 million for its failure to provide a workable 911 system has paid off. Liu also addressed a proposed settlement between Verizon and the city administration on a $90 million contract with Verizon.

Liu stated: “My office has for some time been concerned about both the proposed financial settlement and contract renewals with Verizon. We have insisted that the city not be held hostage to any settlement that is contingent upon a contract renewal, nor to any system that can only be operated by an outside vendor.

“We are encouraged that the proposed settlement is no longer linked to a contract renewal but we remain concerned that the city is still dependent upon the vendor to run the system. Additionally, the proposed settlement amount of $50 million (for a workable 911 system) is a solid number, but still somewhat short of what our taxpayers are owed.”

LEGISLATORS RALLY FOR EARLY INTERVENTION PROVIDERS: Early intervention and family providers who serve more than 70,000 children with developmental disabilities have not been paid by New York state for their services since this past April, according to Assemblymember David Weprin, who led a rally at City Hall last week to demand full payment for the providers. Between 40 and 80 percent of the payments have not been made, said Weprin (D–Fresh Meadows) because of a new billing process system. They have appealed to Governor Cuomo to make payments owed and to simplify the payment process.

Weprin stated: “It is time that the early intervention providers who tirelessly work to provide vital therapy, education and other therapeutic services to special needs children receive the reimbursements to support their families.”

Since early April, more than 40 agencies have suspended the services which are mandated by the state and governed by federal legislation, Weprin added.

Supporting Weprin was Assemblymember Edward Braunstein (D–Bayside) who stated: “During the recent economic downturn, early intervention providers have worked in good faith with state and local governments to reduce costs while continuing to provide quality care for special needs children. We ask Governor Cuomo to act promptly to fix this system and maintain these programs…”

CROWLEY: THREE NEW BILLS TO GROW THE ECONOMY: Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley (Glendale) introduced three pieces of legislation last week “designed to help our local small businesses and create good jobs” in her district, which takes in Glendale, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Woodside and Woodhaven.

Crowley explained the bills would:

Remove quotas for inspectors and end the administration’s requirements to meet quotas of fines imposed on small businesses.

Expand manufacturing in New York City by retaining old manufacturing sites instead of building homes on them, then provide incentives to businesses and revive manufacturing jobs on the former sites.

Fight to introduce a Commercial Revitalization Program in parts of her district and offer tax incentives and grants to allow property owners to improve their buildings, offer rent assistance and promote small business growth.

“If we want to continue growing our local economy and provide good paying jobs right here in our communities, then we need to do everything we can to support them.”

Crowley is being challenged for re-election by Craig Caruana, a Republican.

SERPE, DE STEFANO GET MORE CAMPAIGN FUNDS: The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) doled out additional cash to City Council candidates in the November 5 elections last week, including Lynne Serpe, who’s the Green Party candidate in the 22nd District covering Astoria and Long Island City. The CFB gave Serpe another $7,912, added to the $50,000 she had received previously.

Serpe, who is running against Costa Constantinides (Democrat), Daniel Peterson (Republican) and Danielle De Stefano (Independence) who are all seeking to succeed Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who is term limited.

“The additional funding…will allow us to continue reaching out to the voters in the district.”

De Stefano also received an additional funding of $3,477 from the CFB.

SMALL SOCIAL SECURITY COLA EXPECTED: According to reports out of Washington, the usual increase in the Social Security benefit for 58 million retirees for 2014 is expected to be small, about 1.5 percent, according to an Associated Press report.

The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which determines the annual increase or decrease in Social Security benefits, is determined by the nation’s consumer price index, and consumer prices during 2013 haven’t increased appreciably, the AP report said.

The exact size of the COLA, which is determined by the Department of Labor, was supposed to have been done last month, but was delayed indefinitely because of the government shutdown. The COLA is usually announced in October.

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