2015-03-04 / Political Page

Maloney: ‘Terrorists Plot Vs N.Y., As GOP Plays Politics’

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney blasted House Republicans last week for threatening to cut off Homeland Security funds, while at the same time, three men were arrested in Brooklyn for plotting to aid the Islamic State and “possibly launch attacks in the U.S.”

Later, last Friday, House Republicans relented and voted for a one-week extension of funds allowing the Homeland Security Department to continue functioning.

While the GOP’s threats to force DHS to the sidelines were still going on, Maloney (DQueens/ Manhattan) took to the floor of Congress to declare:

“I find it scandalous that the Islamic terrorists are fully funded yet the [DHS], that protects our citizens may not be.”

“Mr. Speaker, the Republicans are playing politics with the security of the American people and the American people deserve better.”

Zeroing in on the GOP, Maloney charged, “They are willing to burden this entire country with all the dangers and disruptions that a funding lapse would bring. They are willing to shut down funding for security in the New York City rail system, communications equipment in Los Angeles, bomb-sniffing dogs in Massachusetts and firefighter positions across the nation, just so they can put on another pointless political show.”

While the GOP’s threats to force DHS to the sidelines were still going on, Maloney (D-Queens/Manhattan) took to the floor of Congress to declare: “I find it scandalous that the Islamic terrorists are fully funded yet the [DHS], that protects our citizens may not be.” While the GOP’s threats to force DHS to the sidelines were still going on, Maloney (D-Queens/Manhattan) took to the floor of Congress to declare: “I find it scandalous that the Islamic terrorists are fully funded yet the [DHS], that protects our citizens may not be.” Maloney has voted three times in support of a “clean funding bill,” free of contentious policy riders aimed at undermining the President’s executive actions on immigration. Republicans defeated each effort on a party line vote, setting the stage for a partial government shutdown in March, she said.

Without continued and uninterrupted funding for DHS, Maloney pointed out, the bulk of DHS’s management and support of the homeland security infrastructure that was built following the 9/11 terrorist attacks would be “shuttered,” Maloney said. Continuing, the lawmaker said law enforcement officials, border patrol agents, disaster response officials, counterterrorism experts and other DHS personnel would either be furloughed or required to work without pay.

Furthermore, Maloney stated:

“Consequences of a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security include: closing the DHS Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which would no longer alert and coordinate with local law enforcement agencies, and withholding the Securing the Cities grants that pay for critical nuclear detection capabilities in cities across the country; halting Research and Development work on countermeasures to devastating biological threats, on nuclear detection equipment, and on cargo and passenger screening technologies; crippling FEMA’s preparations for future disasters, furloughing 22 percent of FEMA personnel; and ending FEMA training activities with local law enforcement for Weapons of Mass Destruction events.”

Background: The one-week extension passed last week did nothing to quiet the embarrassing battle being waged over funding for this nation’s front line of defense. Despite the importance of keeping the Department of Homeland Security at the ready every moment, neither side would relent over the petty political skirmishes underlying the battling.

The hard core conservative Republican House members that opposed Speaker John Boehner last week to force a one-week agreement, insisted that Democrats also give ground on President Obama’s immigration issue, but the Democrats coldly held their ground.

But earlier this week, the conservative holdouts continued to demand that Democrats begin negotiations on the underlying issues while the Democrats merely held their ground in defense of the President’s executive order on immigration. It appears there will be no change in positions and the brutal battle will continue toward this weekend with everyone holding their breath to see whether the vote to fund Homeland Security will pass.

Meanwhile, Congressmember Peter King (RLI), who formerly chaired the Homeland Security Committee, is losing patience with the hard line conservative GOP bloc in the House. Speaking of it at one point, King stated:

“We cannot allow this small group to block it. Once this comes to a vote, we get it behind us, we go forward, then we really, as Republicans, have to stand behind the Speaker and make it clear we’re not going to allow this faction to be dominating...”

NOLAN EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER SUNNYSIDE YARDS PROPOSAL: In a statement issued by Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, the Ridgewood Democratic lawmaker expressed concern over Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to build housing on a decked-over Sunnyside Yards. In her statement, she declares:

“I remain concerned that any attempt by Mayor de Blasio’s administration to develop Sunnyside Yards faces environmental, developmental and density issues that have the potential to tremendously damage the middle-class quality of life of Western Queens communities. I recently wrote an op-ed article with various concerns that still need to be addressed.

“I will be vigilant in monitoring the actions of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and will continue to demand that the Mayor hear the voices of the many tax-paying, middle-class New Yorkers who live in Western Queens. The character of Queens would change completely with additional high-rise, overbuilt towers. I await more news from the administration and will continue to monitor this situation very closely.”

Nolan’s district predominantly covers her native Ridgewood, but includes Sunnyside.

GOLDFEDER WANTS LIGHTS AT DANGEROUS OZONE PARK CORNER: In a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder called for additional street lighting at Rockaway Boulevard, between 99th and 100th Streets, where the A train runs overhead on the elevated tracks.

Goldfeder (D–Ozone Park) said he had received numerous complaints about the “potentially dangerous, poorly-lit” location, where two schools—John Adams High School and MS 137 America’s School of Heroes—are located, as well as many businesses.

The closest street lights are at 98th and 100th Streets, on either side of the track, he pointed out in his letter to DOT’s Acting Queens Borough Commissioner Jeff Lynch.

The situation poses a danger to students going home at night and for residents and shoppers also, Goldfeder said. He stated:

“This dark and dangerous underpass poses a threat to the children and families in the community but is a welcome sign for criminal behavior. Our families deserve to feel safe walking in their own neighborhoods and I’m urging the Department of Transportation to immediately install lights to help give every resident the peace of mind they deserve.”

He also encouraged DOT to work with the MTA, which owns the train track to perform the necessary work to brighten up that dangerous location.

Goldfeder quoted a resident, Shaki Kar, as saying: “When I arrive home every night from work, I use the pathway to get to my house. There are no street lamps there and it’s dark and covered with litter and graffiti. I know people who have gotten robbed there in the past. I feel very unsafe.”

NOLAN APPOINTS IRA GREENBERG: Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) has announced the appointment of Ira Greenberg, a former president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, to her staff to work on transportation, housing and zoning issues. Greenberg formerly served on Nolan’s staff.

Nolan stated, “I look forward to having Ira Greenberg as a part-time counsel in my office as we face new challenges in preserving our communities.

Greenberg, of Sunnyside, is a prominent civic leader who previously served as a rider representative on the MTA board. A graduate of Stuyvesant High School and the University of Chicago, he also holds a Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School, and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, CUNY.

BIPARTISAN BILL ON CAMPUS SAFETY: Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney (DQueens/ Manhattan) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) announced that they and a bipartisan coalition of other House members will soon introduce the House companion to the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), which was unveiled last week by a bipartisan group of eight Senators.

Maloney had introduced similar legislation in the 113th Congress with a bipartisan group of 18 members.

“I am working to assemble a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to support passage of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act in the House,” Maloney stated. “I am deeply disturbed by the shocking statistics and accounts of sexual violence on campuses. Surviving sexual assaults shouldn’t be part of getting a college degree. Our legislation is vital to addressing the causes and outcomes of these sex crimes.”

Meehan commented, “As a prosecutor, I worked closely with the victims of sexual assault. This bipartisan legislation takes prudent steps to improve protections for victims and get them the resources they need in the wake of attack. No American student should have to fear sexual assault on a college campus.”

Maloney explained, “CASA takes aim at addressing sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students, strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions and establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.”

The lawmaker noted, “The legislation this Congress incorporates includes feedback from a range of stakeholders and makes changes to strengthen the climate surveys, coordination with local law enforcement, rights to due process, and the role of confidential advisor, as well as creating a new competitive grant to research best practices for improving prevention of and a response to sexual assault on our nation’s campuses.”

Maloney reports she had previously led efforts to address campus sexual assault. The 2013 Violence Against Women Act reauthorization included the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, sponsored by her in the House, which mandated changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). The Department of Education issued final regulations in October 2014 to fully implement the law.

PERALTA COMMENTS ON ASSEMBLY’S PASSAGE OF DREAM ACT: State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) issued this comment after the Assembly passed the Dream Act:

“I applaud the Assembly for passing the Dream Act today, and call on Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to follow in the steps of the Assembly and bring the Dream Act to the Senate floor next week. It is time to put an end to this nightmare for the Dreamers. This bill is sensible, and it’s about opportunity. Passing the Dream Act in the Senate is the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.

“New York is not a place that punishes children for the acts of their fathers. New York is a place that offers a chance to succeed for those willing to work for it. Let’s pass the DREAM Act.”

PERALTA LEADS ON HONORS FOR PITCHING GREAT PEDRO MARTINEZ: Hall of Fame inductee Pedro Martinez, who had a long successful career with the Boston Red Sox, was honored recently at the State Capitol in Albany by Senators Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), Senate Democratic Conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Adriano Espaillat, and Assemblymember Victor Pichardo, during Dominican Heritage Week.

Espaillat (D-Manhattan) presented Martinez with the first annual Oscar De La Renta Excellence Award “in recognition of the extraordinary work he has done for the Dominican- American community.”

Peralta introduced a resolution in the Senate congratulating Martinez, who was one of the best pitchers of the modern era, upon his election to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Peralta stated, “Pedro Martinez has been an inspiration to millions of people on and off the mound, either by throwing pitches or by helping families in his native Dominican Republic. It was a great honor to have him with us as we celebrate Dominican Heritage Month at the State Capital.

Peralta added: “I want to congratulate Pedro Martinez for the award and honors he received today and for his recent election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, following in the steps of his idol, Juan Marichal, another Dominican great. Although his trip to Cooperstown began by playing the game with broomsticks as bats, he became one of its best pitchers ever.”

Stewart-Cousins added that Martinez had won the Cy Young Award (best pitcher of the year) three times, and had created the Brothers Foundation, which “helped families in the Dominican Republic recover from devastating flooding… assisted with construction of schools, community centers and homes.”

ADDABBO FAVORS TAX BREAKS FOR VET GROUPS: A bill sponsored by State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., which would provide beverage sales tax exemptions for veterans’ service organizations, has been approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach), who is the highest ranking Democrat on the panel, said he was glad the bill had cleared its first hurdle toward final passage because it would be “very helpful to veterans’ operating on tight budgets.”

He noted veteran posts often purchase beverages to serve their members and also to provide refreshments at various fundraisers and other social functions. The tax abatement, if approved, could have a big impact in helping organizations to continue operating and benefitting all members, Addabbo said.

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee for approval.

The bill would apply to veterans’ service organizations chartered by the US Congress, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, Catholic War Veterans, Jewish War Veterans and other veteran groups.

MAYOR ENJOYS QUEENS’ ST. PAT’S PARADE: Ignoring the snowflakes and the slush, Mayor Bill de Blasio fully enjoyed the St. Pat’s For All Parade last Sunday, in Sunnyside which welcomes any and all gay groups, unlike the legendary St. Patrick’s Day parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City, which enjoys worldwide attention.

But the parade, set for March 17, doesn’t meet the mayor’s standard of allowing gay groups to join its ranks, so he repeated last Sunday that he will continue to snub the parade again this year.

However, he reiterated during the snowy Sunnyside march that he would gladly be among the March 17 marchers if the St. Patrick’s Day celebrants drop the ban on gay groups.

“I’m not ready to commit,” the mayor said, leaving the door open in case organizers of the Manhattan parade change their position on the gay issue. He noted, “There is still time for ongoing discussions that will be embracing for all.”

The snow and the closure of the 7 subway line due to Sunday weekend maintenance work, kept last Sunday’s crowd down to about 100 hardy souls, who enjoyed the day anyway. Human rights lawyer Kerry Kennedy served as Grand Marshal and several City Councilmembers and other dignitaries were in the march.

MOVEMENT ON SEX OFFENDER BOUNDARIES BILL: The State Senate has already passed a bill preventing convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools and Pre-K classes, following a State Supreme Court ruling that local governments do not have the power to do it.

Meanwhile, Assemblymember Edward Braunstein (D–Bayside), sponsor of the bill in the Assembly, reports Democrats there are planning to hold a public roundtable discussion of the bill he has introduced, which is identical to the bill the Senate already passed.

Braunstein explained that the roundtable idea was a sign that the Supreme Court’s action on the bill had moved some colleagues to take a closer look at the bill and some of the aspects it raised. The roundtable will be held later in the session after the budget is completed.

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