2014-09-10 / Political Page

Reauthorize Zadroga 9/11 Health Act

As the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches on Thursday, a bipartisan group of local Washington representatives with broad support has proposed the reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which has already helped to ensure proper monitoring and treatment for thousands of people that got sick working during the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery.

The original act, passed in 2010, is currently providing critical treatment and medical care for over 30,000 responders and survivors across the nation. And, according to those advancing the new proposal, “over 60,000 9/11 responders are receiving medical monitoring” through the World Trade Center Health Program.

That program continues to be a critical lifeline for many, particularly when the number of 9/11- related cancer cases among rescue workers and responders has increased over the past decade and continues to grow, the proposal’s supporters say. So far, more than 2,900 responders and survivors have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 2013, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which was opened under the Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill, provides compensation for economic losses. Since 2013, the VCF has made over 1,300 compensation determinations and has so far deemed over 7,000 injured 9/11 individuals eligible for compensation.

But now, many of the federal bipartisan lawmakers who led the fight in Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act—U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney, Gerald Nadler, and Peter King—gathered recently at Ground Zero with Mayor Bill de Blasio to begin their push to reauthorize the critically-needed programs originally passed in December 2010 and are set to expire next year and 2016.

To continue these programs for 25 more years through 2041, Senators Gillibrand and Charles Schumer will introduce the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act later this month in the Senate, and Congressmembers Maloney, Nadler and King will do the same in the House.

Gillibrand stated, “Our 9/11 heroes, survivors and my colleagues fought hard to ensure that Congress fulfilled its undeniable moral obligation by providing long-overdue health care and compensation for 9/11 responders and community survivors.”

“Now”, she added, “…we will do everything in our power to get this new legislation passed and signed into law.”

Schumer stated that the new legislation, “which will extend critically needed medical treatment and compensation programs for another 25 years, must be a top priority. It is our duty to care for the heroes that sacrificed so much in a time of great despair and pain.”

Maloney: “In the aftermath of 9/11, we said that we would never forget—not someday forget or eventually forget, but never forget. That debt now comes with an obligation on the part of Congress to ensure that we as a country remember, honor and care for those who are now sick or may still become sick due to their exposure to toxins at Ground Zero. The unbearable sorrow of the attacks is forever seared in our collective memory. We have a moral obligation to assist those who still carry the wounds of that day. We must extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.”

Nadler: “Just as we stood together as a nation in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, and just as we stood strong together in 2010 to create these vital programs, we must join forces again to ensure the heroes of 9/11 are not abandoned when they need us most.”

King: “To this day many of our 9/11 responders and survivors continue to fight serious illnesses, including 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. This reauthorization is critical for these individuals and their families. We have come too far and we must continue to ensure that our 9/11 heroes receive the care they deserve.”

Mayor de Blasio: “No group deserves our gratitude and help more than those who went to Ground Zero in the days and weeks following the September 11 attacks. We have a moral obligation to make sure that these heroes and their families get the medical treatment and compensation they deserve. These police officers, firefighters, medical professionals and other first responders came from across the country to Ground Zero, and as the Mayor of New York City, I am proud to advocate for this critical piece of legislation that will provide care to those heroes in their own communities right here in New York, but also in cities across the country.”

LAWMAKER SAYS CELEBRITY HACKING OF NUDE PHOTOS VIOLATES HIS BILL: Authorities are already trying to find the person or persons who hacked into the personal smartphones accounts of certain celebrities and stole nude photos. When they find the culprits, Assemblymember Edward C. Braunstein (D–Bayside) hopes that his proposed law against hacking will have been passed so the hacker(s) can be prosecuted.

Braunstein said he introduced his proposed legislation “criminalizing the non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit photographs”, last year, but it wasn’t acted upon. When the hacking story broke last week, he immediately called upon his colleagues, urging them to pass the bill, and start it on the way to becoming a law.

Braunstein, who says the objective of his bill is to attack “revenge porn”, explains:

“It would protect the vast majority of revenge porn victims, such as the victims of this unfortunate hacking incident. Specifically, the bill covers photographs, including ‘selfies’, that are captured consensually, as part of an intimate relationship or for one’s private use, with the expectation of privacy, and are later disclosed to the public without the consent of the individual photographed.

“This legislation would also criminalize the actions of those who are exacerbating this outrageous violation of privacy by publishing and reposting the hacked celebrity pictures on the Internet.”

Continuing, Braunstein stated: “Disseminating sexually explicit images that were taken or shared with an expectation of privacy causes lasting damage to victims and should be a crime.

“Passage of A. 8214 would make it clear that New York will not allow this type of harassment to continue. It is apparent from this widespread hacking incident that this problem will only get worse if we do not take action.”

Braunstein’s legislation makes the non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit images a class A misdemeanor. He notes the bill is “narrowly drawn” so as not to infringe on First Amendment rights, as there is no constitutional protection afforded to individuals who consume or distribute private, sexually explicit images of individuals without their consent and for no legitimate purpose. The bill also provides exceptions, he said, for lawful and common practices of law enforcement, and situations involving voluntary exposure in public or commercial settings.

Endorsing Braunstein’s bill, Mary Ann Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law, stated, “The celebrity hack, likely perpetrated by individuals who do not even know their victims personally, demonstrates why sexual privacy laws must focus on the lack of consent to disclosure rather than any intent to harm or harass. Assemblyman Braunstein’s bill is a good example of a clear law that will protect the sexual privacy not only of celebrities, but all individuals.”

Franks is also vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative who has worked with several states on non-consensual pornography legislation.

CROWLEY: BASKETBALL LEAGUE SLOW TO REVIEW SIKH CASE: Taking issue with a basketball league’s decision to delay its review of the discriminatory policy “against Sikh players, Congressmember Joseph Crowley, backed up by dozens of congressional allies wrote the president of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) urging it to update its policies to stop requiring Sikhs to remove their turbans during games.

In his letter, Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) stated: “Every day FIBA delays is another day that Sikhs can’t play. Allowing Sikhs to play while wearing their turbans is a no-brainer, and we’re disappointed that FIBA has delayed their revue of a policy that can only be described as outdated, discriminatory, and totally inconsistent with the ideals of team sports. We urge the board to stop delaying and let Sikhs play.”

Crowley, joined by Congressmember Ami Bera (CA-7), explained that the letter followed “an outcry” over an incident involving two Sikh players who were told by referees they “must remove their turbans” if they were to play in FIBA’s Asia Cup. The two lawmakers pointed out that the players, who have always played in turbans, were told that they were in violation of one of FIBA’s official rules, which states, “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.” However, Crowley and Bera said, “Other sports leagues, such as Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), allow athletes wearing turbans to participate.”

Crowley said the incident involving the two Sikh players has led many to speak out against FIBA’s policy, and sparked a social media campaign using the hashtag #LetSikhsPlay.

VAN BRAMER: SET $5G FINE FOR HIT-RUN CASES: Complaining that we’re too soft on hit and run drivers, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer has called for a new punishment— a fine of up to $5,000 on hit and run drivers. He said he also would make it a civil, not criminal penalty, which it is now, because too often, the criminal charge is reduced from a felony.

Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) said at a Council hearing on the bill last week, which proposes to slap fines ranging from $250 to $5,000 for any hit and run driver who leaves the scene of an accident:

“What we want to do is make sure that drivers know that they have an obligation, a moral responsibility to stop and not flee, to see if those people who were just struck could be saved.”

Drivers who leave the scene presently can be charged either with a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon whether anyone has been injured in the accident. But often, drivers manage to avoid the felony charge. Also many cases don’t even reach the trial stage. So hit-and-run defendants in effect escape being punished.

Van Bramer, the council’s majority leader, said the NYPD is backing the bill. It has merit because it seems like leaving the scene cases are increasing, with many drivers not having the decency to check if anyone has been injured in the accident which they have caused.

ADDABBO HAILS NEW ONLINE APPEAL TO HIRE ‘PERSONS AND VETERANS WITH DISABILITIES’: Disabled persons and veterans now have an ally online when looking for state jobs, said state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach), who points to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement about the new online State Recruitment Resources Center for job seekers who are certified eligible to participate in the Governor’s Program to Hire Persons and Veterans With Disabilities.

The program, which can be accessed through the Department of Civil Service (www.cs.ny.gov) allows qualified persons and veterans with disabilities to be appointed to entry-level competitive civil service positions without a written examination. Addabbo said that New York state’s Civil Service State Law designates 1,200 entry-level positions for eligible persons with disabilities and 500 positions for eligible veterans with disabilities.

Addabbo, the Ranking Member of the senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs is optimistic the program will work because it’s “dealing with a population in need of assistance”.

Speaking of the program described in the previous two paragraphs, Addabbo said, “When our government has the opportunity to help people find employment, it should embrace that chance and provide credible programs like this one.”

Addabbo also announced that he will hold his annual job fair on September 19 at the YMCA in Arverne by the Sea, 207 Beach 73rd Street, Rockaway, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This Job Fair will “bring in about 60 vendors with close to 1,000 job opportunities”.

On another topic, Addabbo had praise for Build It Back, which is assisting his constituents to recover from Hurricane Sandy storm damage.

“It is going to take a herculean effort to rebuild and recover from the damage that we experienced in my district (Southeast Queens), but these numbers show a sign of hope and progress. I thank the mayor for his efforts and I look forward to continuing the positive work in restoring people’s lives and their faith that our government is here to help them. While I am grateful for any of my constituents being helped by Build It Back, I’m also mindful that so many other families are still waiting for assistance.”

PERALTA STATEMENT SUPPORTING DREAM ACT: State Senator Jose Peralta, sponsor of the DREAM Act released a statement on President Obama’s decision September 8 to delay taking executive action on the DREAM Act until after the election in November and how to aid its chances of being enacted. Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) stated:

“News today of President Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections provides yet the latest example of why New York’s young people can no longer afford to wait for Washington to finally do what’s right.

“Fortunately, here in New York, there is a growing recognition that the DREAM Act is an investment in the workforce of tomorrow that will pay for itself many times over in increased tax revenues; and that with the demand for higherskilled workers increasing, it only makes sense to encourage our young people to pursue higher education.”

Peralta concluded: “But the news out of the nation’s capital nonetheless underscores how truly important it is to reelect Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democrats to control the state senate if New York is to follow the lead of California, New Mexico, Washington and Texas in enacting a DREAM Act and affording economic opportunity to New Americans.”

GIANARIS ON PRESERVING RIDGEWOOD RESERVOIR: State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Western Queens) issued the following statement regarding the potential reclassification of the Ridgewood Reservoir, which would protect this “environmental refuge” in the heart of Queens:

“I am pleased our efforts to protect and preserve the Ridgewood Reservoir look like they are headed toward a successful conclusion. I am optimistic this reclassification will be finalized, which will be a victory for Queens residents, environmental advocates, and anyone who believes our big city life works best when supplemented by access to green space. I commend the DEC for reining in an ill-advised plan that would have destroyed an oasis of parkland in the heart of Queens, and for taking steps to preserve the wetlands of the Ridgewood Reservoir in posterity.”

CONSTANTINIDES: ‘STOP CREDIT DISCRIMINATION’: Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) has announced his support of the Stop Credit Discrimination In Employment Act, stating:

“We need to eliminate the use of consumer credit checks in employment and hiring decisions. There must be an end to the catch-22 that these job seekers are trapped in. The only qualification for hiring should be your ability to do the job.”

The lawmaker continued: “Everyone deserves an equal playing field without discrimination on the basis of credit scores when applying for jobs. I am proud to be a co-sponsor on this bill and to raise awareness of this problem. We must work together to ensure that all job seekers are afforded an equal opportunity during the hiring process and that they are not denied a paycheck because of an arbitrary report.”

QUEENS LIBERTARIAN PARTY 20TH ANNUAL DINNER: John Clifton, the state comptroller candidate, and John K. Wilson, 37th AD candidate of the Queens Libertarian party, will be among the speakers at the 20th anniversary dinner for the Libertarian Party of Queens County (LPQC). It will be held at Connolly’s Corner at 71-17 Grand Ave., Maspeth, on September 17, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

LPQC founder John Procida and other contenders will also address the guests on the coming campaign and the history of liberty activism in Queens since 1994, Clifton said.

“This is the event all liberty bugs (who remain hidden in the woodwork) should attend to help us celebrate our accomplishments,” said Tom Stevens, LPQC chairman, who described it as the “largest and most active chapter in the New York Libertarian Party”.

Stevens added that the LPQC has over the past 20 years “hosted an ongoing educational speaking program advocating free markets and individual and personal liberty...”. Among those who have spoken at these meetings were Julia Harrison, a former assemblymember and councilmember, Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry (D-East Elmhurst), former Councilmember Dan Halloran, and Randy Credico, an LP candidate for goernor, who was defeated in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Candidate Clifton grew up in Queens and in addition to running for state comptroller, has served as county and state chairman of LPQC. He applauded local candidates for “raising awareness of liberty issues towards removing state force and fraud from the lives of New Yorkers”.

Clifton pledged if elected he would “...properly defend the liberties this state has depleted in recent years”. He is running, he said, to drop taxes, end fiscal waste, corruption and other government largess.

ADDABBO WELCOMES NEW SUPERMARKET: Howard Beach was very hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, but state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) welcomed a new Key Food supermarket to the area, marking another big step in the recovery.

Addabbo stated: “The long wait is over and now my contituents have a new place to shop for quality groceries and meats in a clean, spacious setting because of the Key Food opening.”

The lawmaker pointed out that, “Aside from the additional job opportunities there, Key Food offers the residents an alternative for their food shopping needs, especially with the household name of Russo’s On the Bay providing new food products.”

Recalling the devastaton caused by the superstorm in that corner of the borough, Addabbo pointed out, “This site, once a damaged, dormant blight on the community after Superstorm Sandy, is once again a welcomed, bustling, active business.”

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