2015-04-15 / Political Page

Hillary ‘Finally’ In The Race

Displaying a quieter, more well-balanced style than previously, Hillary Clinton made it official on Sunday—she’s running for president again because, she said in a Tweet: “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Preceding that Clinton had stated: “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.”

So, the 67-year-old grandmother left it for another time to respond to the frequent appeals from women that she’ll be fighting for equal rights causes, which she’ll be addressing by talking directly to voters around the country.

For starters, Clinton was in Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday talking to students and teachers at a community college roundtable discussion, and meeting on Wednesday with small business owners in Des Moines.

Iowa is a key state because it’s the first state during the campaign where voters cast ballots indicating their preference among candidates running for president. Two campaigns back, Iowa voters favored Barack Obama over Clinton, so she’ll be testing to see what their opinions are of her as a candidate seven years later.

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.” “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top.” It occurred to us that the setting for her announcement on Sunday that she was running for president was quite different from what we expected – no huge crowd of supporters, no Hillary sauntering on stage with a wide confident smile, no frequent interruptions with wild applause. The setting on April 12 showed a more serious candidate, perhaps reflecting the recent flap over emails and the certainty that the issue will arise again during the campaign.

As expected, Clinton’s announcement was met gleefully by party regulars, who had been waiting patiently for it in recent months because Clinton represents the Democratic party’s best chance of retaining the presidency for another eight years with expectations that a Democratic victory in 2016 could fuel victories in congressional and senate races that could return the Dems to majority status in both places.

Clinton’s announcement triggered immediate endorsement-like reactions from President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressmembers Crowley and Maloney.

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus said: “With the promise of the American dream hanging in the balance this election, we need a leader who will create opportunities for our middle class, a leader who will keep us safe at home while maintaining our respect abroad, a leader who will reaffirm our core democratic values, and a leader who has the experience to get things done. That leader is Hillary Clinton, and I am proud to officially announce my full support of her candidacy for president of the United States.

“Throughout her time in public service, Hillary Clinton has dedicated herself to helping hard-working Americans prosper while fighting for those in need. I was proud to serve alongside her as she fought and delivered for the people of New York, and I was honored to collaborate with her [during her term] as Secretary of State, where she worked tirelessly to restore our nation’s standing in the world.

“Now, I look forward to working to ensure Hillary Clinton is elected as our next president.”

Maloney, who was among those actively involved in getting the word out about Clinton’s coming announcement, issued welcoming remarks on Saturday, stating:

“I met Hillary when she was campaigning with Bill Clinton back in ‘92. I was ready for her when she ran for the Senate. I was ready for her as Secretary of State, and I’m ready for her now.”

Meanwhile, Clinton was welcomed into the race by women’s rights activists who predicted women’s groups would be a major asset for her at the polls and beyond, when they would see real changes on several long-standing issues.

The only “miss-connect” came from Mayor Bill de Blasio. He withheld his endorsement, saying he wanted to “see a vision” from her, explaining: “We need to see the substance. I think everyday Americans are demanding that their candidates… really say that we have a plan that we can believe in for addressing income inequality.”

The general consensus among her supporters was that she would escape a primary and then be victorious in the general election. But there were warnings from some columnists that she could face a stronger-than-expected Republican challenge with ammunition they recently acquired from the e-mail disclosures.

BLOOMBERG ADVISES CUOMO, ‘FRACK, NOT CASINOS’: In a rare moment of addressing the political scene in Albany, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Gov. Andrew Cuomo would be better off latching on to income from fracking rather than backing the development of casinos to help the state’s economy.

Cuomo has pointedly avoided jumping on the fracking bandwagon to mine the state’s ample reserves of natural gas and instead is welcoming casinos here to boost the state’s economy.

Bloomberg, on the day he was awarded an honorary knighthood at the British embassy in Washington, paused to express his preferences and indicate he thought Cuomo was making the wrong choices.

The former mayor began by saying Cuomo was misguided in choosing casinos rather than fracking, noting the latter, with tight regulation, was safer and healthier than casinos, which prosper by helping developers and taking poor people’s hardearned cash.

“That doesn’t help anyone in the area. I would certainly frack,” he said.

After a long period of environmental testing the pros and cons of hydrofracking, which allows chemically-treated water runoff to mix with other sources of drinking water Cuomo chose to not authorize fracking operations in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor supported legalized gambling and casinos in mostly upstate areas whose economies are lagging.

GIANARIS RENEWS CALL TO BAN GAY CONVERSIONS: State Senator Michael Gianaris renewed his call to pass his legislation banning the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy, as President Barack Obama prepared to urge states to pass similar legislation.

Gianaris (D–Western Queens) and Senator Brad Hoylman are sponsors of the bill that would end gay conversion therapy for minors in New York State. The bill (S4917B), first introduced in 2013, designates engaging in sexual orientation change efforts by mental health care professionals upon patients under 18 years of age as professional misconduct, effectively banning it in New York State.

Gianaris stated, “President Obama joined the chorus of voices calling for the end of this abhorrent practice, and it is up to us to respond quickly and firmly. For New York to live up to its role as a leader in the fight for LGBT rights, we need to protect children from this intolerant pseudo-science. Conversion therapy is based on intolerance, not on psychology, and we must end it in New York.”

NEW STATE BUDGET HELPS VETERANS, ADDABBO SAYS: “A variety of important programs” that will help the state’s veterans were included in the $142 billion state budget that was recently enacted, according to state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach).

Included, Addabbo said, were initiatives to expand counseling and legal advocacy services, advance research into post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), retrofit housing for disabled former members of the military, and help to ensure indigent veterans are laid to rest in dignity.

Addabbo, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Homeland Security, stated:

“While the state budget left a lot to be desired in some areas, I am pleased we did take a number of steps to lend a deserved helping hand to veterans who might be in need of assistance when they return home from military service. Whether they need to talk about their unique military backgrounds with fellow veterans who understand their experiences or they find themselves involved with the courts or criminal justice system, our veterans deserve our support in return for their brave and dedicated service.”

A total of $3.2 million was provided through the Office of Mental Health, which operates counseling programs at a dozen sites in upstate New York, Long Island, and other areas outside of New York City, Addabbo said.

And in addition to the $2.2 million allocated for the existing sites, $1 million was set aside to expand the program to other areas, still to be determined, the lawmaker added.

“I intend to continue working on steering this funding to New York City and enable some of our local veterans to receive beneficial counseling services from fellow former servicemen and women,” Addabbo explained. “I intend to advocate for this support in the Senate throughout the remainder of the legislative session.”

Other supportive programs for veterans included in the State Budget are:

$500,000 for the New York State Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program to provide legal assistance and advocacy for veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other illnesses when they become involved with the family court and criminal justice system;

An $800,000 appropriation for the Research and Recognition Project, which seeks to provide treatment for veterans with PTSD and also works to further scientific research into the disorder;

$19.6 million, to be provided out of J.P. Morgan financial settlement funds received by the state, to support the Access to Home for Heroes Program. Addabbo said the initiative will make grants to groups to retrofit housing for disabled veterans – a goal Addabbo has championed by co-sponsoring legislation (S.2316) to create such a program.

A $250,000 appropriation for the American Legion Department of New York Indigent Burial Expenses program to help ensure that destitute veterans are laid to rest with dignity.

Addabbo added that more than $1 billion, administered by several state agencies has been targeted to address homelessness, which is a serious problem among veterans in New York State and across the nation.

“Hopefully, we will be able to make continuing progress in reaching out to veterans who, for any number of reasons, no longer have a roof over their head and need a safe, decent place to call home,” Addabbo said.

BRAUNSTEIN SPONSORS MOTHERS DAY ESSAY CONTEST AGAIN: Students in grades 2 through 5 will have an easy and pleasant chore again as Mother’s Day approaches, entering Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s The Mother’s Day Essay and Poetry Contest.

Braunstein said, “My Mother’s Day Essay and Poetry contest provides a great opportunity for children to show their appreciation for the many things that mothers do, while at the same time strengthening their writing skills.”

Submissions may be of any length and should be based on the theme. “Why My Mother Is So Special to Me,” Braunstein (D–Bayside) said.

District-wide prizes will be awarded in each grade and New York State Assembly Certificates of Merit will be awarded to all students that participate. If you are interested in entering, print your name, grade and school information on your entry and submit your essay to: Assemblyman Braunstein’s office at 213-33 39th Ave., Suite 238, Bayside, NY 11361. You can also submit your essay by email to braunsteine@ assembly.state.ny.us or fax it to 718-357-5947. Deadline to enter the contest is Friday, May 8, 2015. Mother’s Day is May 10, 2015.

CITY HOUSING PROJECTS UNDERGOING ENERGY-EFFICIENT UPGRADE: Armed with a special $100 million grant from the Obama administration, Mayor de Blasio on Friday announced a program to retrofit city housing projects with energy-efficient upgrades, “dramatically” cut greenhouse gas emissions, generate huge savings, and create more than 500 jobs.

Announcing the program at a housing project, de Blasio said the project would be the largest energy-saving effort of any public housing authority in the United States and was aimed at reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

“Global warming is changing our lives. climate change is changing our lives,” the mayor declared. “It’s creating new challenges. We have to get ahead of it.”

Accompanying the mayor, Julian Castro, the federal Housing Secretary, said the program would be used as a “nationwide model.”

QUEENS C OF C OFFICIAL, 55, DIES: Jack Friedman, the Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, passed away last Thursday at his home, just three days before his 56th birthday, according to a chamber source, it was reported in the Daily News.

Friedman had gained the title of Mr. Queens because he was so active in the borough, despite being a diabetic and a dialysis patient. Assemblyman David Weprin, for whom Friedman served as Chief of Staff before going to the Chamber said, “He was involved in everything Queens. If you had to say one guy was Mr. Queens, it was Jack Friedman. It’s a tremendous loss.”

As proof of his popularity, his death brought a load of online tributes from the civic, community, and political communities, expressing shock at the sudden passing of the married father of two.

Friedman, a graduate of Queens College, class of 1981, started a photo printing business upon graduation, because President of School Board 26 and Chairman of the Queens Community Board 13 Economic Development Committee. In the mid-2000s he joined Weprin’s staff before landing at the Chamber of Commerce seven years ago.

Friedman is survived by his wife, Lorie, daughter Cara and son Daniel.

CARBON MONOXIDE DEATHS: The parents of an NYPD sergeant and two others were found dead inside a Floral Park home in what authorities suspect is a case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Police found parents of Sgt. Robert Hugel, Jerry and Marie Hugel, and tenant Gloria Greco, 70, and a male friend, 76, dead inside a Floral Park home on 86th Avenue last Friday, of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. Councilman Mark Weprin (D–Oakland Gardens) said in a statement, “I am deeply saddened to have learned about the deaths of four district residents, and one injured firefighter, due to carbon monoxide poisoning today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the victims. It is my hope that this tragedy sheds light on the importance of having, and maintaining, a carbon monoxide detector in all homes and apartments.”

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