2015-02-25 / Political Page

Latest On Rudy Vs. Obama

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had been lambasting President Obama for the past week, questioning first his courage to go after ISIS, then his love for America, continued his attacks in one newspaper on Tuesday, but was backing off in another.


The Daily News reported in its Monday edition that Giuliani had said in the Wall Street Journal’s Op Ed published online the previous night: “Obviously, I cannot read President Obama’s mind or heart, and to the extent that my words suggested otherwise, it was not my intention.


“When asked last week whether I thought the president was a patriot, I said I did, and would repeat that. I bear him no ill will, and in fact think that his personal journey is inspiring and a testament to much of what makes this country great.”


But in Monday’s Newsday, there was a story quoting Giuliani stating he thought he “hit a nerve” last week when he said he did not believe “the president loves America.” He added, “I’ve said it maybe 30 times before, but somehow this time it hit a nerve, maybe because the president is on such defense about his unwillingness to face Islamic extremist terrorism.”
Giuliani also said, “I don’t detect a kind of love of America,” he said, referring to Obama’s speeches.


The story said these remarks were made at a radio show called “The Cats Roundtable” hosted by John Catsimatidis, a former Republican candidate for mayor, who is the billionaire owner of grocery store businesses.


CUOMO: FEMA GIVES $28M FOR LAG AIRPORT FIX-UP: FEMA has approved more than $28 million to help LaGuardia Airport to deal with post-Superstorm Sandy flood mitigation and other improvements to further safeguard the airport from future major storms, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced.


The Flushing airport suffered severe flooding during Sandy as the waters from adjacent Flushing Bay rose and overflowed. Cuomo noted, “Damage to key electrical airfield infrastructure forced the airport to close for three days, which inconvenienced thousands of fliers and cost the region millions in lost economic activity.”


But, Cuomo continued, “…today we are taking an important step toward strengthening [the airport’s ] infrastructure so that it’s more resilient than ever before. To face the new pattern of extreme weather, we must ensure that vital transportation hubs and economic engines like LaGuardia Airport are ready for the next major storm. This is another example of how the state and our federal partners are building a safer and stronger New York.”


The governor pointed out that various steps had already been taken since the October 2012 storm to protect the airfield runways, electrical systems and “vital aeronautical equipment”. The new grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Cuomo said, was in addition to its previous award of $2.3 million in grants for the program’s first phase, bringing the total federal outlay to nearly $30.5 million.


Several Washington lawmakers lauded FEMA for its response to Sandy’s damages, including U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressmembers Joseph Crowley, Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng.


Schumer pointed out that, as a major airport, LaGuardia had to have the necessary repairs, including a floodwall, gravity drainage systems and backup electrical substations throughout the airport.


Gillibrand (D–NY) stated, “LaGuardia is a critical hub for New Yorkers and our tourism economy, and this investment will help ensure it can withstand the next storm.”


Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) said, there is no question that one of the investments in infrastructure “must include LaGuardia Airport, which serves tens of thousands of passengers a day and contributes greatly to our economy.”


Maloney (D-Queens/Manhattan), said “Sandy showed us that we have a long way to go in shoring up our infrastructure so that it can withstand any disaster Mother Nature has in store. These upgrades to LaGuardia take us a big step forward so that next time we’ll be better prepared.”


Meng (D–Flushing) said, “These critical funds are a huge boost to ensuring that LaGuardia is prepared for future storms and extreme weather conditions. I thank Governor Cuomo and FEMA for all their work, and I’m pleased to help announce these vital initiatives.”


CUOMO ALSO ANNOUNCES GRANTS TO DAs: Governor Cuomo announced that Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown was among 28 other DAs in the state that will receive more than $14.7 million in grants to enhance their investigations of state tax evasion and welfare fraud cases.


The Governor stated: “Our administration will not tolerate people who try to cheat their way out of tax obligations or defraud our welfare system.”


DA Brown’s office will receive $1.7 million to fund their investigations and prosecutions. All taxes, such as sales, excise and income, are subject to these investigations, Cuomo said. They focus on individuals, corporations or industries and include complex financial fraud and tax evasion schemes by major criminal enterprises.


ROZIC, BOROUGH’S ASSEMBLY DELEGATION SEEK $5M TO ENCOURAGE STEM STUDIES AT QC: Assemblymember Nily Rozic, backed by all 17 members of the borough’s delegation, has filed a bill seeking $5 million from the state for Queens College “to expand its facilities, resources and services in environmental and STEM-related studies and research.”


Rozic (D–Fresh Meadows) explained that “the request for capital (construction) funds is a response to the increase in the number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors attending the college, which is fast approaching 50 percent of the student population.”


And, she added, “State funds would support my mission of preparing students to be leaders while also ensuring that Queens is a leader in the growing high-tech industry.”


Rozic also pointed out, “Ensuring Queens College has the technology it needs to equip students with knowledge and opportunity is an investment that benefits faculty, students and the entire community.”


If awarded the funding she is requesting, Rozic said, “Queens College would dedicate the funds to Environmental Teaching Labs, a Psychology Behavioral Neuroscience Lab, and Core Chemistry Lab upgrades. The funds would transform outdated labs, build new facilities, and grant students and faculty with additional resources for both teaching and research.”


The Flushing college’s president, Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, backed up Rozic enthusiastically.


Rodriguez stated: “We are grateful to Assemblymember Rozic and the members of the Queens delegation of the NYS Assembly who are writing on behalf of Queens College to Speaker Heastie for an appropriation of $5 million in capital funds. We also thank the Speaker for his consideration of this request.


“These funds would support efforts to provide five modern Environmental Teaching Labs [and others previously listed by Rozic], all meeting today’s standards for our STEM students, many of whom are women and minorities.”


Rozic added: “Queens College has long been dedicated to providing exceptional education. I am proud to advocate on behalf of an institution that encourages students to pursue careers that give back to society.”


Rozic’s request for funds for Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), which was graciously acknowledged by QC President Rodriguez, is evidence of the wide interest and growth of STEM-related studies and research in New York City. Credit must be given to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for recognizing the movement toward STEM studies and education and steering the city toward it by establishing Cornell University at Roosevelt Island several years ago.


ASSEMBLY’S AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE WORKGROUP HAS FOUR QUEENS MEMBERS:
Assemblymembers Catherine Nolan and Michele Titus have been joined by Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and Andrew Hevesi, also of Queens, as members of the Assembly Child Care Workgroup, which is tasked with making child care policy, it was announced.


According to a spokesman for the group, it was first convened in 2013 to study the challenges that working families, and in particular women, face in obtaining quality, affordable child care. The four Queens members addressed that issue individually last week.
Assemblymember Nolan (D–Ridgewood), who is chairperson of the Committee on Education, stated:


“The success of Universal Prekindergarten has provided concrete proof that our children need a strong, healthy start in life. One of the most progressive investments we can make to boost the economic and social viability of our communities is to guarantee access to quality, affordable child care. We must provide families with paid family leave so workers will not be penalized for being caregivers when their loved ones need them the most.”


Assemblymember Simotas (D–Astoria), just appointed, said, “I can only do my job because I know that my two-year-old daughter is well cared for. Too many parents, especially women, cannot reach their professional and educational goals because of a lack of reliable and affordable child care.”


Another new appointee, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi (D–Forest Hills) commented: “As a father of a young child, this issue is very important to me. Every possible measure should be taken to ensure their safety, especially in a child care setting. It is essential that safe, affordable child care be made accessible for all families.”


Assemblymember Titus (D–S. Ozone Park), stated: “Ensuring access to safe and affordable child care is an issue that must be addressed in order for New York to remain at the forefront of progressive reforms that support working families. It has an indisputable impact on the workforce and our ability to attract and keep the best and brightest talent right here in our state. The efforts of this work group will go a long way to ensure that workers will no longer have to gamble with the well-being of their children.”


BRAUNSTEIN: RESIDENTIAL LIMITS FOR SEX OFFENDERS:
Responding rapidly to a court ruling that “localities” in New York State may not enact rules restricting the residency of sex offenders, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein and state Senator Martin Golden co-sponsored legislation banning all level one, two and three sex offenders in New York state from residing within 1,000 feet of a school.


The court ruling was issued last Tuesday and the lawmakers introduced their bipartisan bill the following day. The ruling, from the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, had struck down a Nassau County law, but the ruling imposed a similar fate on “over 100 local laws…”


Braunstein (D–Bayside) stated: “In light of the court’s ruling, it is imperative that the legislature pass our bill”. The prospects of that are very high since Braunstein is part of the Democratic majority in the Assembly.


Braunstein continued: “Municipalities around the state have enacted laws against sex offenders to protect our children, and the court’s decision potentially places children around the state at risk from convicted sex offenders.


He said of the court’s decision, Judge Eugene Piggott wrote regarding local laws: “That such laws are proliferating at an accelerated rate is hardly surprising, given the significant interest involved, namely, the protection of children from sex offenders.”


Braunstein concluded, “It is clear that the state must step in and act now to ensure the safety of students throughout New York.”


Golden (R, C, I–Brooklyn) said, “When talking about the safety and security of the children of New York, we cannot waste a minute in passing this vital piece of legislation. While I strongly disagree with the court’s ruling and the short term ramifications it has across our great state, it emphasizes the need to pass our legislation and keep registered sex offenders away from our schools.


“I urge my colleagues to pass this bill as soon as possible and the governor to sign it.”
Laura A. Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law, an advocacy group, said in a statement:


“As a result of the court’s decision, New York State’s most dangerous unsupervised registered sex offenders, including sexually violent offenders and sexual predators, are now free to move in directly across from elementary schools.”


“Regarding the Braunstein-Golden legislation, she said they “acted swiftly to address this dangerous situation with legislation that places child safety as its top priority.”


GOLDFEDER CALLS FOR IMPROVED BEACH ACCESS: Citing the absence of pedestrian crossings along a “heavily trafficked,” eight-block stretch of Seagirt Boulevard in Far Rockaway, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder has urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install pedestrian crosswalks to give local families safe access to the beachfront.
“This eight-block stretch is an accident waiting to happen,” the lawmaker said. “Our families should not have to fear for their safety when crossing Seagirt Boulevard to enjoy the beaches and parks on the other side. DOT must study this area immediately and provide additional safe, accessible crossings to make it easier for our families, including the many seniors, to access the beach.”


In his letter to DOT Acting Queens Borough Commissioner Jeff Lynch, Goldfeder pointed out that currently there are no pedestrian crosswalks along Seagirt Boulevard from Beach 9th to Beach 17th Streets. “The lack of access encourages pedestrians to cut across the busy road rather than walk the extra blocks to reach a crosswalk,” Goldfeder explained.


Far Rockaway resident Betty Matza told him, the lawmaker said, “My mother is 86 and she goes to the beach every day in the summer. It’s difficult for her to walk the extra blocks from our home on Beach 12th Street to reach the crosswalk on Beach 9th. There’s heavy traffic on Seagirt and it’s so easy for the cars to go fast on this stretch of the road. It’s a really dangerous situation.”


Goldfeder (D–Far Rockaway) explained that Seagirt Boulevard, which runs east-west in Far Rockaway is a heavily-trafficked six-lane boulevard with grass medians that links the Rockaway Peninsula to the nearby Nassau Expressway.


He noted that, “This stretch of the boulevard includes a popular beach, two beautiful parks and is also home to local schools and residential complexes with large senior populations. In a 2014 study of the Far Rockaway-Central Business District, the NYC Department of Transportation determined that the nearby intersection of Beach 20th Street and Seagirt Boulevard was among the most dangerous in the community, with 33 traffic accidents occurring between 2007 and 2011.”


Goldfeder added, “As a father of two young children living near Beach 9th Street, I understand the need for safe passage across busy streets. We must do everything we can and use every resource to make our parks and beaches accessible to every family in the community.”


VAN BRAMER HOSTS BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATION:
City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) will honor eight community leaders at his Fifth Annual Black History Month Celebration tomorrow evening at the Jacob Riis Settlement House. Being honored for Outstanding Achievements will be:
•    Dolores Chauncey, Friends of Queensbridge Park
•    Capt. Mark Simmons, Commanding Officer, PSA-9
•    Jacqueline Williams, Ravenswood Senior Center
•    Judith Mitchell, NYCHA Family Services
•    Brian McMichael, Owner, Miriam’s Restaurant
•    Vanessa Hayes, Community Leader and Volunteer
•    Daniel Taylor, Treasurer, Queensbridge Old Timers
•    Dionne Jaggon, Principal, PS 111
There will be Special Performances by ELSCO Dance.


The Jacob Riis Settlement House is located at 10-25 41st Ave., Long Island City, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


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