2014-02-26 / Political Page

‘Vision Zero’ Plan Includes Gianaris’ Proposed Bill

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s far reaching “Vision Zero” plan, which aims to prevent traffic fatalities by firming up enforcement of speeding and failure to yield, also brought a promise “to work with state leaders” to prevent traffic deaths and life-threatening injuries. It also takes a page from state Senator Michael Gianaris’ book by including one of his proposed bills in the new traffic safety plan.

Gianaris (D–Western Queens), following the release of Vision Zero, issued a statement supporting the mayor’s plan and said he was pleased that the blueprint includes support for one of his bills.

Gianaris stated, “I am pleased Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Report includes support for my bill to increase penalties on suspended and unlicensed drivers. Too many lives are needlessly lost at the hands of reckless drivers who should not be on our streets. I look forward to working with the Mayor to make our streets safer for all New Yorkers.”

De Blasio’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan includes Gianaris’ proposed bill. De Blasio’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan includes Gianaris’ proposed bill. Gianaris said his proposed bill would make it a felony to drive with suspended licenses when someone is killed or seriously injured in the process. He introduced it after a crash involving a driver whose license was suspended tragically took the life of eight year old Noshat Nahian while he was on his way to his school in Woodside.

ASTORINO ANNOUNCEMENT COMING: According to several reports, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino will shortly announce formally that he will seek the Republican Party ballot line and run against Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is set to seek a second term as New York state’s governor this November.

Although he’ll be running as the underdog against Cuomo, 46 year old Astorino is confident that he can win running on a platform of reducing taxes and creating jobs and taking the fight to Cuomo.

However, the odds are very much in Cuomo’s favor. He’s kept taxes down and the Democratic Party advantage in registration in New York state boosts the incumbent’s chances of winning a second term. These advantages for Cuomo have been confirmed by the polls. Cuomo, who’s sitting on a $33 million campaign bankroll already, trounced Astorino in a recent poll by a 76 to 34 percent margin.

But in a recent story, Astorino promises an aggressive campaign against Cuomo, saying, “It’s going to be bold, with new ideas, a little bit of shock to the system.” He won as the underdog against incumbent Andrew Spano in 2009 and he figures he can do it against Cuomo by running strongly upstate and in the suburbs.

Schumer warns that automobile companies are keeping tabs on drivers. Schumer warns that automobile companies are keeping tabs on drivers. But the pundits point out repeatedly that he will have a tough time overcoming Cuomo’s Democratic advantage in the state and his current popularity.

SCHUMER: ‘MOTORISTS’ PRIVACY THREATENED’: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer warned this week that automobile companies and other businesses are “keeping tabs on drivers’ every movement” without notifying drivers, and getting rich selling the information.

The lawmaker called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to put the brakes on information peddling by “establishing clear guidelines that will require carmakers to notify drivers when they are being tracked and allow drivers to opt out completely from sharing information”.

Meng endorsed by Queens Dems. Meng endorsed by Queens Dems. Schumer said that at the recent auto show in Detroit, many carmakers revealed new technological enhancements that they are embedding in cars, including automatic crash preparation, black boxes, smart phone-like operating systems, and dashboard apps.

The lawmaker praised the potential positive safety devices of the new technology, many of it being required by the federal government, but warned that “the data that is being collected… is being sent to third parties without drivers’ knowledge”.

That’s why he appealed to the FTC and NHTSA to work together with the auto industry and other companies that track vehicular data, “to establish clear guidelines around what can and cannot be tracked, and to provide clear opt-out opportunities for drivers”.

Schumer said that new technologies should only be used to make cars safer, “not as a way to intrude on the privacy of hundreds of millions of drivers without their permission”. He added: “Cars are now able to track where we shop, where we eat and where we go on family vacations, but drivers should be able to go about their daily lives without being tracked.”

Regarding the opt-out option, he said the information-gathering by carmakers shows 90 percent of the companies studied share the data they collect with third-party customers.

“The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report also concluded that carmakers’ privacy practices [about] how they use the information their cars generate were unclear,” he said, “and make it difficult for drivers to understand privacy risks associated with driving.”

REPORT: CUOMO SUPPORTS DREAM ACT: It was reported from Albany several days ago that Governor Cuomo now supports the DREAM Act, a bill which will pay college tuition for many immigrant children who would otherwise be unable to have their dream come true. The governor had been on the fence previously about the bill. His support, of course, was welcomed by the bill’s backers, especially its sponsors, state Senator Jose Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) and Assemblymember Francisco Moya (D–Corona). But there’s very strong opposition from senate Republicans, whose leader, state Senator Dean Skelos, has said he would not bring the legislation up for a vote.

Nonetheless, Peralta reacting to the governor’s announced support, responded that the bill’s supporters are within distance of passing the controversial legislation, and the governor’s backing would help to firm up support.

Moya also was pleased to have the governor’s support, recalling he had told Cuomo the DREAM Act was the top priority for passage this session among its backers, and they needed his help to push it through.

Passage by the Democrat-controlled Assembly is certain, but overcoming the Republicans’ opposition in the senate appears to be an impossible task.

MENG ENDORSED BY QUEENS DEMOCRATS: Kicking off the 2014 election year activities, the Queens County Democratic Organization has endorsed Congressmember Grace Meng for re-election to another historic term. When she was elected two years ago, she was New York’s first Asian American elected to either house of the United States Congress.

Showing strong support for Meng’s re-election bid, party Chairman Joseph Crowley, her colleague in Congress, stated:

“I’ve worked closely with Grace since her historic election two years ago, and that’s why I know she is an outstanding public servant who deserves another term in Congress. From serving as a member of the Committee on Small Business to passing legislation that helps houses of worship bounce back from Hurricane Sandy, Grace Meng’s work shows she has spent every minute in Congress fighting to make life better for working families in Queens. We’re proud to stand with Grace, and will do everything we can to ensure she gets another term in Congress on Election Day.”

Meng (D–Flushing) responded, “I’m deeply honored by the Queens Democratic Organization’s support. With their help, I look forward to continue fighting in Congress for the issues that matter to Queens families, including how to help small businesses grow and advocating for a common-sense solution on immigration.”

NYC’S CONGRESSMEMBERS: ‘RECOGNIZE DIWALI AS SCHOOL HOLIDAY’: The city Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans have petitioned Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina urging the Department of Education to include the festi- val of Diwali on the list of new public school holidays.

The lawmakers explained that Diwali, which marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, is “a festival of great significance to millions of Indians and Indian Americans and is widely celebrated amongst the three millionplus Indian American community, as well as others”.

Known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a time for thanksgiving and prayer for health, knowledge and prosperity, and is widely celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, as well as others, the lawmakers added.

The request to the chancellor was signed by Congressmembers Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans; Charles B. Rangel (D–Manhattan), Grace Meng (D–Queens), Gregory W. Meeks (D–Queens), Yvette D. Clarke (D–Brooklyn), and Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan).

Their letter said, “We appreciate your consideration of school holidays that reflect our diverse city and ensure that students aren’t forced to choose between attending school and observing important holidays with their families.”

In 2011, Crowley introduced a resolution to recognize Diwali and the strong and growing partnership between the U.S. and India. Last year, he led his colleagues in the first ever Congressional Diwali, an event that brought together members of Congress and members of the Indian community.

Presently, Farina is considering the designation of Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Lunar New Year as New York City public school holidays, the lawmakers noted.

CUOMO ANNOUNCES CHANGES AT DMV: New York motorists can now receive email reminders and text messages from the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notifying them when their registration or inspections are due to expire, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.

“In the past,” the governor stated, “long lines at the local DMV office were a symbol of an inefficient state government, but in the last three years, my administration has made it a priority to turn around that reputation and better serve New Yorkers.”

Cuomo explained, “This latest service offered by DMV is a step forward in those efforts, providing New York drivers with the opportunity to sign up for regular reminders that will help them keep track of their vehicle registration and inspection renewals. Today in New York, we will continue to make New Yorkers’ customer experience the best it can be.”

He added, customers can sign up quickly and conveniently online, by mail when they renew their registration, or at a DMV office. Subscription information, such as cellphone number or e-mail address, can be easily changed, and customers can also unsubscribe to this service at any time.

DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala said, “Governor Cuomo asked the Department of Motor Vehicles to reconsider how we do business and to find ways to improve how we provide customer service. These reminders, like our expanded lineup of online services, are another way in which we are making use of technology to increase efficiency, be cost effective and better serve the people of New York state.”

Under the new online system, registration and license e-reminders will be sent approximately 90, 60 and 30 days prior to expiration. Inspection reminders will be sent on the first of the month of expiration, the 15th of the month of expiration and again when the inspection expires.

A My DMV account is not required for this service, Fiala said. Customers who have signed up for My DMV Paperless Reminders will still get e-mail reminders from that service. Those who are not signed up for Paperless Reminders will still get paper registration and license renewal notices by mail, Fiala said.

Later this year, this new service will be expanded to also allow customers to receive email and text reminders when their driver’s license or non driver IDs are due for renewal. For more information about services offered by DMV, visit the Department’s Web site at dmv.ny.gov.

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