2015-09-23 / Political Page

Support Grows For Permanent Extension Of Zadroga

A large contingent of 9/11 first responders, led by former TV host John Stewart, lobbied congressmembers in Washington to permanently extend the Zadroga Act. Six senators and 11 congressmembers added their names to the list of lawmakers that have already pledged to vote for a permanent Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.

They bring the total number as of this writing of pledged supporters to 44 of the 100 Senate members and to 162 House members out of the 435 congressmembers.

The Zadroga Act, which was created in 2010, is set to expire at the end of the month. The landmark legislation establishes medical treatment and compensation program for thousands of of 9/11 attack survivors and countless first responders who helped to save victims and were among those who volunteered to clean up the World Trade Center attack site. Thousands were left seriously ill from the attack and/or the cleanup, which led to the legislation required to treat the sick and disabled already in the program.

As the expiration of the original Zadroga legislation approached and there was no indication from the Obama administration that it would be continued and made permanent, the sickened people already in the program and their families, and the original Zadroga law sponsors immediately began to agitate to continue the program and fund it, making it permanent.

The lead United States Senate sponsors for a permanent Zadroga are New York state Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Mark Kirk (R–IL).

The Congressional sponsors are Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and Jerrold Nadler (D–Manhattan) and Peter King (R–Long Island), who had sponsored the original legislation.

In a statement, Gillibrand said, “The illnesses our first responders and survivors have won’t expire, neither should their health care. Congress only acts when real people come and demand it – but our heroes shouldn’t have to keep coming down to Washington to lobby for the care they need. It’s time to permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program and Victims Compensation Fund. If we fail to extend these programs, then we will have fallen short of our nation’s promise to never forget 9/11.”

Schumer said, “Our 9/11 heroes did not flinch when they put themselves in danger in the days and months after the attack, and now far too many suffer from serious illnesses as a result of that work.

“These heroes deserve a fully funded and permanent health monitoring and compensation program, and I will be working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to promptly renew this vital program because our heroes deserve no less.”

In Senator Kirk’s statement, he said, “The volunteers who went to the attack sites after 9/11 to help their fellow Americans are the best of the best, and we cannot turn our backs on our heroes. One hundred seventy Illinoisans risked their lives to help our nation rebuild, and supporting our heroes is a bipartisan cause we can all support. I thank my colleagues and Jon Stewart for helping to champion this.”

Congresswoman Maloney also cited Stewart as “one of the driving forces behind getting the Zadroga Act passed in the first place, and his support is crucial to making the law permanent.”

Maloney continued, “The heroes of 9/11 who fought the flames and inhaled the dust are being forced to wage a battle on two fronts: a fight to survive the illnesses related to their service at Ground Zero, and a fight on Capital Hill to ensure the health and compensation they rely on do not disappear.

“They’ve endured chemotherapy, daily asthma attacks, permanent disabilities, post-traumatic stress and other terrible illnesses. They live the consequences of 9/11 daily. It’s not enough to praise their heroism. John is helping to send the message: it’s time for politicians in Washington to permanently extend the Zadroga Act.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx), said in a statement: “Sadly, for many first responders, area residents, and the thousands of volunteers who helped clean up Ground Zero, the battle continues for the health care they deserve.

“These brave men and women were there for our country in our darkest hour and we have an obligation to be there for them now. That’s why we must pass the full and permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act. Our heroes’ lives are at stake, and we owe it to them to ensure they receive the care and monitoring they need. The pain of that day may live in our hearts, but the memory of that day must also live on in our actions.”

Adding her voice to the others, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D–Flushing) said:

“On September 11, our brave first responders answered the call, and now, 14 years after that horrible day, we must not turn our backs on the tireless heroes who were sickened or injured while working at Ground Zero. Continuing to provide the help they need is the right and decent thing, and what we must do for all the sacrifices that they’ve made.

“We must never, ever abandon them. These programs must not be allowed to expire.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement said:

“Our first responders were there for us. We have a moral obligation to be there for them. We’ll continue to fight to ensure our police offices, firefighters; medical professionals, and all of our first responders receive the health care and support they need and deserve. I urge Congress to quickly pass this vital extension.”

VALLONE FIGHTS TO KEEP VOTING SITES OPEN: Two voting sites in Councilman Paul Vallone’s district that have been used regu- larly by seniors have been ordered to close by the Board of Elections during the upcoming elections and afterward. But Vallone is opposed to the order and wants them to remain in use “because these sites are critical to the large senior population in both these sites,” he stated.

Vallone (D–Bayside) identified the sites as the Scheuer in Bayside and Le Havre in Whitestone. Those who normally vote at the Scheuer House of Bayside will now have to vote at Bayside High School, and those from Le Havre have to vote at PS 193.

Vallone said the BOE was removing the two sites after inspections determined that the angle of the cross slopes along their entrance ways were not compliant with the requirements outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Vallone’s response to this was that, ideally, the city would work with these sites to make the necessary upgrades to meet ADA compliance, but due to the cost, the city has elected to shutter these sites instead. But it was immediately objected to by Vallone and the seniors.

Vallone, who chairs the Subcommittee on Senior Centers, stated: “Hundreds of our seniors depend on these voting sites due to their accessibility and proximity to where they live.

It’s very upsetting to see our seniors continue to be nickeled and dimed by the city instead of receiving the resources they deserve. Forcing seniors to commute further away to vote is not the answer and I look forward to working with all parties involved to reach a favorable outcome.”

Vallone said he has already reached out to the BOE, to request a variance be granted, allowing the sites to operate while they become ADA compliant.

Margaret Costello, manager of Le Havre Owners Corp., commented, “The Board of Elections decision to remove Le Havre as a polling site is going to place an undue burden on many of our community’s seniors. We thank Councilman Vallone for addressing this issue and hope that this site can remain open for voting.”

RUNWAY PROJECT AT JFK NEARS COMPLETION: A lengthy construction project to renovate a frequently used runway at Kennedy International Airport will soon be completed, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. announced last week, “which should bring much-needed relief to thousands of southern Queens residents after months of excessive airplane noise,” he added.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) said he had been informed by the Port Authority (PA) last week that the project completion to reconstruct Runway 4L- 22R was imminent. He explained that the PA project had been conducted in three stages and would add more than 700 feet of runway pavement and widening of the runway from 150 to 200 feet creating “high speed taxiways “as well as new taxiway exits and replacement of outdated navigation equipment.

Addabbo explained that during construction, which began earlier this year, homeowners living in neighborhoods surrounding the airport where the work was being done “were forced to endure an often unbearable level in airplane noise… as flights were redirected to avoid the construction. So, with construction nearing an end,” Addabbo explained, “much of the airplane noise that has plagued neighborhoods across southern and central Queens is expected to be alleviated.”

Addabbo concluded, “Obviously, maintaining an airport can sometimes require lengthy construction projects that have unfortunate repercussions on the neighboring communities. That is certainly the case with the project to rehabilitate Runway 4L-22R. While I welcome these improvements that will increase the safety of airflight at JFK, I am thrilled to finally see an end to a project that has wreaked havoc on my constituents. The redirecting of flights every couple of minutes every day for several months has pummeled this community with an unsafe and unhealthy amount of airplane noise and pollution, and I look forward to a large portion of that being eased when construction wraps up next week.”

HANAC CELEBRATES 43RD, HONORS THREE LAWMAKERS: HANAC, the social service and seniors advocacy organization, will honor state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Councilman Costa Constantinides as Persons of the Year when it celebrates its’ 43rd Annual Gala next month. All three are among the leaders of the branch organizations in which they serve.

The organization will also present its inaugural Volunteer of the Year Award to Stacy Agrapides.

The Gala will be held on Friday, October 23, at The Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan and George Mihaltses will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

STAVISKY PRAISES DOT’S MAIN ST. RESURFACING: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky praised the NYC Department of Transportation’s announcement that the resurfacing of key portions of Main Street in Flushing is to start next week. According to the lawmaker, in the announcement by DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia, the project will cover from Northern Boulevard to 38th Avenue, and from 41st Avenue to Elder Avenue. It will begin this week and last for two weeks, weather permitting. In an effort to maintain steady traffic flow in the area, she said, resurfacing will take place overnight from 9 pm to 5 am.

Stavisky (D–Flushing) stated: “Main Street is one of the most heavily-used corridors in the borough. It is only a block and a half from my district office and I have experienced first-hand the pot holes and unevenness of Main Street and the adjacent roadways. This resurfacing project will improve traffic conditions for both pedestrians and drivers, and in the end will make for an even better commercial district. I commend the Department of Transportation for addressing this much needed maintenance and Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia for her hands-on approach in responding not only to the conditions on Main Street, but to all the needs of the Flushing community.”

ADDABBO-MILLER ANNUAL RECYCLING

FAIR: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. and Assemblymember Mike Miller (D–Woodhaven) have announced their annual Fall Recycling Event to be held on Sunday, September 27 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Forest Park Bandshell.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) said crews will be on hand to accept items, including electronics, paper, clothing and certain household items, to be safely and properly recycled. Addabbo, a member of the State Senate Conservation Committee, cosponsors this event each year as a way to not only encourage more residents to recycle as much as possible, but to create an easier and more convenient method, by making it possible to responsibly discard so many different items all in one central location.

“There are so many things that people may not know can be recycled, or things that don’t get recycled simply because it’s such a hassle to do so,” Addabbo said. “This eliminates those hurdles and provides our constituents with a stress-freeway to take care of all their recycling needs. In years past, this annual affair has proved to be one of the most popular events I’ve ever held, and I am confident that will continue into this year and for many years to come. I thank our vendors for their support and participation year after year, as well as Assemblyman Miller for his partnership and the Department of Parks and Recreation for their cooperation as we hold this great community event.”

Addabbo added that the recycling fair will host a paper shredder that will allow documents to be safely and securely recycled on site while residents watch to ensure confidentiality. Electronics recycling will accept items including computers, monitors, cell phones, fax machines, televisions, PDAs printers, batteries cameras, power strips, wires, chargers, cable boxes, fans, air conditioners, telephones and VCR tapes. Cardboard and appliances will not be accepted, the lawmaker said.

Addabbo said the Salvation Army will also be at the recycling event to accept donations, including clothing, coats, bedding, linens, paired shoes, scarves, belts, hats, handbags, dishes, glasses, silverware, lamps, pots and curtains.

All donated items must be clean and dried, Addabbo said, and books and eyeglasses will also be taken for recycling.

For any inquiries, contact Addabbo at his office at 718-738-1111.

KOO: FREE RABIES SHOTS FOR DOGS, CATS: Councilman Peter Koo (D–Flushing) last week joined with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Animal Care Centers of NYC to announce a rabies vaccination event for dogs and cats was held last Saturday (September 19) at the Kissena Park Boathouse, 164th Street and Oak Avenue, Flushing. The event was additionally co-sponsored by LaGuardia Community College and the city’s Parks Department.

Koo stated: “Many people don’t realize that New York state law requires all dogs and cats to be vaccinated for rabies by the age of three months. They must also get follow-up shots a year later; then again every one to four years.”

Koo explained, “Typical vaccinations can be as high as $80, so we are very grateful to all the organizations who are offering their varied expertise to help keep our furry friends safe and healthy at no cost. I encourage all pet owners to take advantage of this free opportunity to vaccinate your cat or dog.”

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