2015-09-16 / Political Page

Grodenchik-Concannon Battle Set For Vacant City Council Seat

Having won the Democratic Party’s nomination last Thursday for the vacant 23rd district City Council seat in northeast Queens, Barry Grodenchik now will square off against Republican Joe Concannon for the election to be held on Election Day, November 3.

The Concannon-Grodenchik contest was set up when former Councilman Mark Weprin surrendered the seat to take a new job with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration last May.

Grodenchik, the former Deputy Queens Borough President, defeated five other Democratic hopefuls to become Concannon’s opponent in the general election. Party sources reported that according to the unofficial and incomplete returns, Grodenchik received 1,856 votes, Glen Oaks businessman Bob Friedrich was second with 1,554 votes, and Rebecca Lynch, also from Glen Oaks, got 1,352 votes.

Trailing behind were Ali Najmi, also of Glen Oaks; Celia Devi Dosamantes, of Bellerose; and Satnam Singh Parhar, of New Hyde Park.

Grodenchik, of Queens Village, benefited by having the support of the Queens Democratic Party organization and also the city’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT), a huge labor organization.

Grodenchik was also the only candidate that had previous legislative experience, having served as a state Assemblymember. He also had prior government experience, having served in several Queens Borough Hall administrations.

Concannon comes out of the Queens Village Republican Club and has run for public office in Queens several times. He is a retired captain from the New York City police department.

In the runup to the November 3 election, the Gazette will be covering and reporting the candidates’ campaign activities and statements.

OBAMA IRAN PLAN STANDS: President Barack Obama scored an impressive victory last Thursday as opponents of his Iran deal in the US Senate, both Democrats and Republicans failed in a bid to defeat the plan with a filibuster. Democratic senators who favored the treaty stood solidly behind the President, blocking passage of a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal, which was opponents’ final bid to defeat it. The President had also built up major support for the deal in Congress.

The votes favorable to Obama followed hours of statements from both sides indicating that the discord between Obama and the Republicans will only increase the bad blood that already exits between them for the remainder of his term.

The deal is backed by Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China, but Israel strongly opposed it. It offers to lift economic sanctions against Iran, which will curb its nuclear program in return.

Meanwhile, the presidents’ achievement in the field of foreign policy, where he had had little experience, may enhance the chances that future historians will sing his praises, for promoting the Iran deal. But that will only apply if Iran proves the skeptics wrong and conducts itself as a peaceful neighbor, rather than as the supreme terrorist among terrorist nations.

GIULIANI BLASTS IRAN DEAL: Testifying before the House Committee on Homeland Security the day after Labor Day, ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani warned that Iran was more of a threat to the US than ISIS, according to a Daily News story.

Testifying at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, he said Iranian leaders are “mass murderers” seeking “our death and destruction,” and referred to President Obama’s deal with Iran as “frightening.”

Also testifying before the committee was Giuliani’s former Police Commissioner and present NYPD boss Bill Bratton. Giuliani’s relations with present Mayor Bill de Blasio are frosty, but he shook hands with Bratton.

ASSEMBLY BUTTS INTO IRAN IMBROGLIO: With passage of the Iran deal seemingly assured following last Thursday’s United States Senate session, another headache for President Obama has emerged in – of all places – the state capital in Albany.

A group of assemblymembers is getting into the Iran act at the last minute by appealing to Governor Andrew Cuomo to “continue sanctions against Iran.” You will recall that President Obama’s deal with Iran calls for ending sanctions against Iran as part of the overall agreement.

But the letter to Cuomo refers to sanctions which were imposed on Iran in 2012 and they want them continued, they wrote, “to prevent the leading terror sponsor [Iran] from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

The letter appealing to the governor was spearheaded by Assemblymembers Nily Rozic (D,WF–Fresh Meadows) and Phil Goldfeder (D–Far Rockaway), and includes signatures from nearly 30 legislators from around the state.

It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has reportedly corralled the necessary votes to pass the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – and even block Republican senators from staging a filibuster to block passage.

The plan even sustained a blast from ex- New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani last week in which he charged “…we’re putting the nuclear button in the hands of madmen.”

Rozic, who is the first Israeli-born elected official in New York state, said, “Since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was first proposed, I have heard concerns from constituents and want to ensure their voices are heard as Congress prepares to take up the measure. In keeping existing sanctions against Iran, we are sending a strong message that New York should not do business with Iran or its business partners.”

Goldfeder’s statement said, “New York state has been a leading voice in the implementation of sanctions against Iran and now is not the time to waiver in our resolve on this issue. It is unfortunate that some want to take steps in the wrong direction and put our world on a path of terror and destruction. Regardless of what happens in Washington, I urge Governor Cuomo to continue the state’s sanctions on Iran and ensure a safer future for our families.”

In the joint letter to Cuomo, Rozic and Goldfeder urged the state to keep in place a broad set of sanctions passed in Albany in 2012 designed to prevent access to state contracts for companies doing business in Iran’s nuclear energy sector.

Besides Rozic and Goldfeder, the only other Queens lawmakers who signed the appeal to Cuomo were Assemblymembers Michael Simanowitz (D–Flushing) and Edward Braunstein (D–Bayside).

The letter to the governor also cited concern with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and state sponsorship of terrorism, and urged him to use the state’s “constitutional authority” to impose and maintain sanctions. The legislators tout the state’s recent efforts to impose sanctions against Iran as being crucial to efforts to obtain a better deal from Iran than the currently proposed deal negotiated between Iran, the United States and other nations.

MALONEY: ‘ELIMINATING RAPE KIT BACKLOG…FOR GOOD’: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who was a pioneer in the program to eliminate rape kit backlogs, said last week as it was announced the federal government awarded a $79 million grant to New York City, “…today we take a major step toward eliminating it for good.”

Maloney, who authored two major acts to cut rape kit backlogs and get more rape convictions, dating back to 2004, last week joined Vice President Joe Biden, United States Attorney Loretta Lynch, and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance as they announced the award of $79 million in federal grants to help eliminate the rape kit DNA testing backlog.

Maloney authored the Debbie Smith Act, which provides more than $100 million each year for DNA testing. Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) also enacted the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting (SAFER) Act, which directs funds for audits of the rape kit backlog, and increased resources for the analysis of untested rape kits.

She stated: “The rape kit backlog remains an enormous problem, and today we take a major step toward eliminating it for good.”

The lawmaker said she applauds Biden, Lynch and Vance, “who understand that an untested kit in Ohio can allow a rapist to attack again on the streets of New York or elsewhere.”

Maloney explained, “I wrote the Debbie Smith Act and the SAFER Act because I have long believed that we should test every kit. The survivors of sexual assault deserve to see their attackers brought to justice, and that cannot happen if the critical, material evidence is sitting on a shelf. Today’s announcement will save lives, and give so may survivors the closure they have been waiting for.”

The Debbie Smith Act became law in 2004 as part of “The Justice for All Act,” comprehensive legislation that “ensured that DNA evidence could be used to convict the guilty and free the innocent,” Maloney said.

“Since then,” the lawmaker continued, “millions of dollars of federal funding have been appropriated under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program to process the thousands of unprocessed DNA evidence kits – including rape kits – across the country. When signed into law, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008 provided $151 million annually and extended the program through FY 2014. The legislation was again reauthorized last year.”

In 2013, Maloney added, language she authored to require that 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be used to process untested DNA Kits, was included in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law. The law is also providing grants to conduct audits of unprocessed kits so that the backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits throughout the country can be tracked.

Vance announced the award of approximately $38 million in grants to 32 jurisdictions in 20 states across the United States to eliminate backlogs of untested sexual assault evidence kits, or rape kits. He stated, “The two-year awards, ranging in amount from approximately $97,000 to $2 million, will help test an estimated 56,475 rape kits, generating DNA evidence that will help solve cases across the country.

Biden and Lynch announced the recipients of $41 million in grants provided through a grant program which Maloney supported in Congress. These funds will be used to test approximately 13,500 kits in 20 jurisdictions.

ADDABBO AT FOREST HILLS LIBRARY: Launching another round of mobile office hours in an ongoing commitment to personally serve as many constituents as possible, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. announced last week he will travel to every library in his 15th State Senate District to meet and chat with constituents about concerns or problems.

The first stop in the series will be at the Forest Hills Library, at 108-19 71st Avenue on Thursday, September 24 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated: “As an elected official, making sure I interact with the people I represent is one of my top priorities. I have always urged my constituents to contact me if I can help them in any way, but it is not always easy for some people to do that during normal business hours.

“These extended office hours, held at night in various neighborhoods throughout my district, are an excellent way to make sure I am not only reaching as many residents as possible, but also making it more convenient by coming to them. I look forward to another successful round of mobile office hours over the next few months and, as always, encourage those who need assistance to take advantage of these library visits.”

Addabbo added that additional mobile office hours are being scheduled for future dates and locations throughout the district. For more information, contact the Senator’s Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111.

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