2015-01-14 / Political Page

Republican-Led House Passes TRIA: Crowley, Maloney Applaud

Last December, the Republican-led House of Representatives failed to follow through in passing the TRIA reauthorization act, but last week the GOP was very cooperative and passed the act with Democrats cheering them on.

Congressmember Joseph Crowley said, “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act gives businesses and industry the confidence to build, and create good-paying jobs in New York City and across the country.”.

While Congressmember Carolyn Maloney released a statement lauding “House leaders for scheduling a vote on TRIA,” and recalling she “urged GOP House leaders to make TRIA the first order of business for the 114th Congress.”

Maloney also pointed out that failure to pass TRIA had “caused substantial financial uncertainty for businesses and negative economic consequences.”

Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) noted, “Last Congress, House Republicans played a dangerous game with waiting until the 11th hour to pass legislation reauthorizing TRIA… allowing this critical bill to expire. Today, the House took the first step in serving this vital economic backstop and I strongly urge the Senate to act quickly and renew TRIA.


Congressmember Joseph Crowley said, “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act gives businesses and industry the confidence to build, and create good-paying jobs in New York City and across the country.”. While Congressmember Carolyn Maloney released a statement lauding “House leaders for scheduling a vote on TRIA,” and recalling she “urged GOP House leaders to make TRIA the first order of business for the 114th Congress.” Congressmember Joseph Crowley said, “Terrorism Risk Insurance Act gives businesses and industry the confidence to build, and create good-paying jobs in New York City and across the country.”. While Congressmember Carolyn Maloney released a statement lauding “House leaders for scheduling a vote on TRIA,” and recalling she “urged GOP House leaders to make TRIA the first order of business for the 114th Congress.” Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) also urged quick action by the Senate in passing the bill, saying “The Senate needs to deliver this bill to the President’s desk immediately.”

Crowley pointed out that TRIA was enacted after 9/11 “to ensure commercial terrorism insurance was both available and affordable.” The law “helped to foster and ensure continued real estate and economic development in the U.S., particularly in lower Manhattan as New York City rebuilt from the attacks.”

Crowley added, in the post-9/11 period, over 300,00 American jobs were lost, and TRIA helped stabilize our economy by providing economic certainty without costs to taxpayers over the past twelve years.”

Maloney also noted that TRIA has operated at no cost to taxpayers, and elimination of the program could increase federal spending by about $7 billion in the case of another attack.

DA BROWN’S SUCCESS FIGHTING AUTO FRAUD EARNS $556K GRANT: Since becoming the Queens District Attorney in 1991, Richard A. Brown stated that the rate of auto thefts in Queens has been dramatically cut by 95 percent, from a high of approximately 52,000 cars stolen annually to just over 2,400 a year.

Now Brown’s stellar record in cutting auto thefts is being rewarded with a $556,000 grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to strengthen his highly successful Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit.

Among a broad range of achievements by this unit is one of the first prosecutions in New York State resulting in the conviction of a reputed captain in the Bonanno organized crime syndicate for his part in a multi-million dollar auto theft, dismantling and stolen parts distribution ring that operated in the Willets Point auto junkyards in Flushing. More on this later.

Brown reacted to the huge grant, saying: “apart from owning a home, one of the most expensive purchases a person can make is buying an automobile. The state funding that we are receiving will significantly enhance our efforts to go after those who would steal vehicles and auto parts from hard-working Queens residents and those who would scheme to defraud insurance companies, both of which drive up the cost of insurance for all motorists.”

Brown noted that his office had previously received funding from the same state agency’s auto fraud prevention programs since the inception of his office’s Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit in 1998. The new grant, he noted, “is a critical part of combating vehicle theft in Queens County.” And, he added, “Auto theft hit a high of roughly 52,000 vehicles stolen annually, but as of 2013 the number of reported thefts dipped to 2,411.”

Brown explained that the Auto Crime and Insurance Fraud Unit, which is an arm of his Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, specifically focuses on the investigation and prosecution of auto theft and insurance fraud-related cases by incorporating a multipronged approach.

He added that the unit makes use of specialized prosecutors and investigators; longterm investigations and sting operations; the development and use of confidential informants; sophisticated technology and surveillance equipment; detailed analysis of crime statistics and patterns; and strong partnerships with police and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the insurance industry.

One of the highlights of Brown’s early successes in his campaign against auto-theft and fraud includes a case emanating from the Willets Point auto junk yards in Flushing. It was one of the first auto theft and dismantling prosecutions initiated in New York, which resulted in the conviction of a reported captain in the Bonanno organized syndicate for his part in a multi-million dollar auto theft, dismantling and stolen parts distribution ring that operated from Willets Point in Flushing and stretched to neighboring counties from Brooklyn to Long Island.

Other high profile cases Brown related, include the conviction and sentencing in 2001 of organized crime figure Carmine Agnello for charges stemming from racketeering, extortion, arson and other charges related to alleged domination of the scrap metal industry in Willets Point. This prosecution dealt a powerful blow to Organized crime’s infiltration of the scrap metal industry in Queens County,” Brown stated.

Brown said his office had also “worked diligently combating other auto theft and insurance-fraud related crimes, such as vehicle dismantling and vehicle identification laundering operations; steal-for-order and steal-for-scrap schemes; auto theft and exportation crimes by Organized rings; titlewashing and re-tagging operations; and the use of identity theft and false documents in sophisticated refinancing scams.

Brown said the $556,000 grant will support the following: salaries of four full-time assistant DAs; the partial salary of the bureau chief of the Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, and salaries of three full-time investigators. The grant will also enable Brown’s office to continue its highly successful program.

Brown also stated the huge grant was part of an overall $3.7 million funding package announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently that is being distributed to DAs offices throughout the state. The $556,000 grant to Brown’s office is the largest single one.

Singled out for special praise was Cuomo, ADA Mary Lowenburg, and Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green.

CONSTANTINIDES BILL ENCOURAGES GEOTHERMAL POWER: Councilmember Costa Constantinides (D–Astoria) has introduced legislation that would encourage the use of geothermal systems in buildings citywide.

The lawmaker explained, geothermal systems operate by “accessing stored heat under the Earth’s crust in the winter…and also cools people off in the summer by channeling heat into the ground.” He also pointed out:

“These systems act as energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly building HVAC units (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) as little additional energy must be spent on heating or cooling.”

The lawmaker explained: “This bill will help move us toward our citywide commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. We must continue to encourage the expansion of sustainable energy sources like geothermal power on a grassroots level. This bill will make geothermal energy systems more simple and safe to attain for people in their own homes and will encourage its use in city buildings.

“Expanding geothermal power will bring environmental benefits, as well as benefits to our economy, public health, and air quality. I look forward to seeing this bill move forward in the legislative process and I encourage my colleagues to sign on.”

The lawmaker said this bill follows the unanimous passage and enactment of his bill to reduce carbon emissions citywide by 80 percent by 2050 last November. Constantinides also introduced several other pieces of legislation to improve the city’s environment: Intro 54 mandates that city ferries be powered with at least 20 percent biodiesel by 2020; Intro 359 would require a study of negative environmental impacts resulting from governmental policies and programs in low income communities; and Intro 186 would mandate that residents and business owners do not exceed a maximum noise level at night.

Constantinides’ bill would:

•Establish a program that encourages solar panel installation coupled with geothermal system installation throughout all buildings in the city.

•Build a list of city-owned buildings, waterfront properties, and private lots that would be suitable places for geothermal system installation, on the basis of cost and space constraints.

•Mandate the city Departments of Buildings and Environmental Protection adopt regulations for installing and maintaining geothermal systems and for licensing people who would perform the installations and maintenance.

•Build a public listing of information about geothermal systems, associated costs, design and types of buildings which such systems can serve. The listing would also include the monetary, public health and environmental benefits of replacing fossil-fueled HVAC systems with geothermal power. This listing would be derived from information gathered in a study that the city was mandated to conduct by a 2013 law.

CONGRESSMEMBER MENG’S STATEMENT ON TERRORIST ATTACK IN PARIS: In the statement, Meng (D–Flushing) stated:

“Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite. These universal values have defined France and our shared democratic culture for hundreds of years. The terrorists behind today’s mass murder in Paris must know that fanatical hatred will never drive the people of France or of the United States to compromise freedom of speech and expression. We stand today in solidarity with the French people and pledge to do everything in our power to bring the terrorists to justice and rid Europe and the world of the scourge of radical Islam. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the great nation of France and the families of the victims.

MAYOR BANS SINGLE USE STYROFOAM PRODUCTS IN NYC: The de Blasio administration announced last week that as of July 1, 2015, food service establishments, stores and manufacturers may not possess, sell or offer for use single service Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam articles or polystyrene loose-fill packaging, such as “packing peanuts,” in New York City.

After consultation with corporations, nonprofits, vendors and other stakeholders, the Sanitation Department determined that Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam, “cannot be recycled”, which led to the ban.

The mayor stated, “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in New York City. We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and cost less. By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, today’s announcement is a major step forward toward our goal of a greener, greater New York City.”

CROWLEY STATEMENT ON DECEMBER JOBS REPORT: This past Monday, Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), vice chair of the Democratic Caucus, issued the following statement on the Department of Labor’s December jobs report:

“December’s jobs report is another sign that our economy continues to improve. The addition of 240,000 private sector jobs, marking the 58th consecutive month of growth, and a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent, the lowest rate since June 2008, are welcome news. However, far more needs to be done to ensure these improvements are benefitting all Americans, at every level of the economic scale.

“Congress must step up to the plate and act on legislation that will create jobs and encourage an atmosphere of economic growth, such as authorizing the Build America Bonds Act to repair our aging infrastructure and put Americans back to work, and raising the minimum wage to help workers make ends meet.

“With a new Congress comes new opportunity. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join with House Democrats and enact an agenda that creates jobs, boosts paychecks, strengthens our economy, and puts American families first.”

MALONEY STATEMENT ON DECEMBER JOBS REPORT: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan), ranking Democrat on the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement on January 9, after the Department of Labor announced that the economy added 252,000 nonfarm jobs in December and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent. December marked the 58th consecutive month of private sector job growth.

Maloney stated: “Today’s job report caps a banner year for job growth in our strengthening economy. The addition of 240,000 private sector jobs in December boosts the total number created last year to 2,861,000, making 2014 the strongest year since 1997. Our economy has now added private-sector jobs for 58 straight months, the longest stretch on record.

“The pace of job creation is strong, inflation remains tame gasoline prices are low, and the deficit is falling. Now is the time for Congress to take the necessary measures to kick our economic recovery into high gear and ensure the gains are broadly shared across America. We can achieve that by working together to pass legislation that raises wages for middle-class families, expands opportunities for the long-term unemployed to return to work, and ensures fairness in the workplace for all Americans. If, however, we waste our time playing political games that result in more gridlock, we will squander a golden opportunity.

“Our economy has grown faster than most other advanced economies over the past year. The stock market has continued to grow at a double-digit pace and home values are rising. With continued strengthening in employment and income, U.S. consumers and businesses are poised to bolster overall economic growth in coming years. As lawmakers, our responsibility is to ensure that happens.”

MELLOW ENDORSES OBAMA’S TUITION-FREE PROPOSAL: President Barack Obama’s proposal for tuition-free community colleges has been endorsed by LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow. In a statement issued by the educator, she said:

“President Obama’s bold proposal recognizes that to build and strengthen America’s middle class we need to ensure Americans can get a college degree.

“This is a modern version of the G.I. Bill, which fueled America’s economic growth following World War II by making it possible for millions of veterans to go to college.

“President Obama’s proposal is as sweeping and will make our nation smarter, healthier and stronger.

“At LaGuardia we see the impact that a college education has on our students and their families.

Each year thousands of our students get the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in today’s economy. “President Obama’s proposal will open the doors of higher education to millions of Americans and we hope in the months ahead it garners the bipartisan support it needs and deserves.

COMRIE INAUGURATED AS STATE SENATOR: At a low-key ceremony, but a very happy one for many, Leroy Comrie was inaugurated on Monday as a State Senate member, representing the 14th Senate District covering southeast Queens.

At the ceremony at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Borough President Melinda Katz declared:

“Leroy Comrie is an exceptional public servant with a tireless work ethic and a proven track record of working on behalf of the interests of his constituents. I also greatly relied on his wise counsel when he served in my office during my first year as borough president.

“Today he formally begins a new chapter in his life of public service by being inaugurated as state senator for the 14th Senate District. I know Senator Comrie will do an outstanding job in Albany because he always puts the concerns of his constituents first. I congratulate Senator Comrie on his inauguration today and wish him all the best as he represents the people of southeastern Queens.”

Comrie last served as deputy borough president of Queens, and before that as the City Council Member representing the South Jamaica district of Queens.

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