2016-01-06 / Political Page

Happy New Year…and Let’s Make Right Pick in Prez Race

First off, let us wish all our Gazette readers a happy and prosperous 2016 and do our utmost to stay alert to possible terrorist threats!

On the political front, 2016 will offer gobs of stuff daily from now to Tuesday, November 8, Election Day, when we will choose the next President of the United States for the next four years.

As matters stand at this point, the calendar shows we’re just 25 days away, February 1, when the first presidential primaries for the Democratic, Republican and other major political parties, will be held in Iowa.

The results will tell us if the polls that were held throughout 2015 – showing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the leaders of the Republican and Democratic candidates respectively – are true, and if so, how strongly or if at all.

The political pundits will have a field day deciphering the Iowa results and setting us up for the New Hampshire primaries a few weeks later… and so on for a few months until the parties’ conventions, when the final choices will be made following all the state primaries.

During December, while Clinton and Trump have been tangling from time to time, it hasn’t hurt her in polls, as results posted during the month had her clearly ahead of Sanders, her closest pursuer in the Democratic primary in Iowa. During December, while Clinton and Trump have been tangling from time to time, it hasn’t hurt her in polls, as results posted during the month had her clearly ahead of Sanders, her closest pursuer in the Democratic primary in Iowa. But back-trackin’ a few days into late December, Trump was again stirring the pot and gaining new headlines by reacting to Hillary Clinton’s charge that Trump has a “penchant for sexism” in reacting to issues raised against him. Taking this opportunity as Hillary was welcoming husband and ex-president Bill into her campaign, Trump seized the moment to blast his likely November opponent saying if she thinks she can “unleash her husband with his terrible record of women abuse, while playing the women’s card on me, she’s wrong,” Trump thundered.

The New York Times’ December 30 edition wisely played the political ramifications straight, reporting Trump’s quote, reprinted above, and also a two-column wide photo of the Clintons congratulating Trump and his then-new wife at the latter’s 2005 wedding, when Trump was fast-friend and golfing buddy of the ex-president.

Meanwhile, the issue reverberated in all media outlets for several days, including reactions from other candidates in both parties. Mrs. Clinton, who had emerged from most prior situations involving her husband, in a good light, responded to Trump’s attack, saying she would not be “bullied” by Trump nor “distracted” by his attacks.

During December, while Clinton and Trump have been tangling from time to time, it hasn’t hurt her in polls, as results posted during the month had her clearly ahead of Sanders, her closest pursuer in the Democratic primary in Iowa.

Beyond the Iowa caucuses on February 1, where Trump’s closest Republican challenger is US Senator Ted Cruz (Texas), the New Hampshire primary awaits on February 9. Trump is also the leader in New Hampshire, where the race is heating up. The latest polls there show Senator Marco Rubio (FL) moving into second place behind Trump, where Rubio has supplanted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the runner up spot there, and both are surprisingly in the thick of it there.

On the Democratic side, polls show a very close race developing between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. At the start of the primary season last October, Sanders was leading in the Democrats’ race for an extended period, but in a CNN poll reported in the New York Post two days before Christmas (December 25), Sanders was trailing Clinton by “50-34 percent in a CNN poll that came out Wednesday.”

One other note just before the ball dropped to welcome in the New Year – former New York state Gov. George Pataki dropped out of the Republican presidential race. He called party members to choose someone among the 11 surviving would-be candidates that can unify the party.

CUOMO ON NEW COLLEGE STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS: Governor Cuomo wished every college student in New York state a Happy New Year last Thursday, New Year’s Eve, as he announced as of December 31 the state was accepting applications for the new “Get On Your Feet” Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers up to 24 months of federal student loan debt relief to recent college graduates living in New York state.

Cuomo stated: “Ensuring students are able to pay for college and not be saddled with debt is critical for both their individual success and the continued economic growth of New York state. With this program, we are telling recent graduates: if you invest in New York’s future, we will invest in yours.”

The governor’s notice said that studies have shown time and again that helping students pay for college is critical to ensuring their success after graduation. Students who graduate with debt, he noted, are less likely to start a small business, or to purchase a home, and the consequences of defaulting on student loans can prevent a person from ever realizing their goals.

Cuomo emphasized that this program offers that help by supplementing the federal Pay As You Earn loan repayment program and allowing eligible college graduates living in New York State to pay nothing on their student loans for the first two years out of school.

To qualify, the governors new release stated, applicants must have earned an undergraduate degree from a college or university located in New York state in or after December 2014, have an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000, and be enrolled in the federal Income Based Repayment plan or Pay as You Earn plan. Recipients will have a maximum of 24 payments, equal to their monthly student loan repayment amount, paid on their behalf. Applications are accepted year round.

Already, the governor’s notice stated, more than 2,500 graduates from the class of 2015 have registered to apply for the program through the New York state Higher Education Services Corporation. Once fully implemented in 2020, more than 24,000 recent graduates are expected to participate.

SUNY Student Assembly President and and Binghamton University Student Thomas Mastro said, “The ‘Get on Your Feet’ loan forgiveness program ensures that SUNY graduates have time to settle into New York state careers before taking on the added financial burden of having to make student loan payments. The SUNY Student Assembly is proud to stand behind this innovative program and we encourage all eligible students to apply when they are eligible.”

To learn more or apply, visit hesc.ny.gov/GetOnYourFeet.

D. WEPRIN, PERALTA: ‘MAKE HOVERBOARDS LEGAL IN NYC’: Hoverboards, one of the most popular gifts to emerge during the Christmas time shopping craze, but at the same time shown to be very dangerous to operate and often subject to catching fire, would become legal to operate in New York City, under bills that will be introduced by state Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman David Weprin, both from Queens.

Presently, hoverboards are banned in New York City and illegal under state law, according to the NYPD. Using one in the five boroughs is subject to a fine. The two-wheeled devices are battery-operated.

Nonetheless, Peralta (D–Elmhurst) and Weprin (D–Great Neck) are determined to pursue their legislation. Mayor Bill de Blasio is in favor of it, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton thinks “it’s a crazy idea and opposes legalizing the motorized skateboards.

“We want to make sure if they are used in the city on any broader scale, that it’s done safely,” de Blasio said.

Peralta said, “We want to make sure that they’re legal so they can be regulated.” He also said that was necessary because the police were issuing summonses. “It makes no sense for the NYPD to issue summonses for using these hoverboards when they’re legal to sell.”

They’re priced at about $450 and fines issued by the Motor Vehicle Bureau range from $200 to $500, according to Weprin.

Weprin, who introduced his bill the Tuesday after Christmas, said, “You will probably not see me on one anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that I would want to prevent my constituents… from enjoying them.”

Peralta also said he wanted to pressure sellers to remove cheap fire-prone models from the market and raise awareness about “the knockoff imitations.”

Both the Senate and Assembly must pass the identical bill for it to be approved and sent on to Governor Cuomo for his signature. Under current law, they are classified as vehicles, which would subject operating one on a sidewalk to a pretty stiff fine. They are also illegal because they can’t be registered with the DMV, according to Weprin and Peralta.

STRINGER ASKS BANKS AGAIN; ‘ACCEPT IDNYC AS ID TO OPEN ACCOUNTS’: Comptroller Scott Stringer has renewed his efforts to convince city banks to accept IDNYC, New York City’s municipal identification card, as sufficient proof to open accounts in their banks.

In making his case, Stringer stated: “It is imperative that the financial industry take concrete steps to open up the banked economy to as many New Yorkers as possible by accepting IDNYC and similar municipal IDs as a primary form of recognized government-issued photo ID.”

Stringer pressed the point by adding: “IDNYC provides a government-issued picture ID to all New York City residents at no charge. The program requires applicants to submit one or more documents as proof of both identity and residency. Because IDNYC is available to all New York City residents regardless of immigration status, the program provides hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with a unique opportunity to secure government-issued identification that can be used to access city services and apply for a bank account.”

Stringer said in his letter to the banks that in June, his office had issued “Take it to the Bank,” a report that analyzed the most affordable, entry-level checking accounts offered by New York City banks, but it didn’t work. The survey found that two-thirds of banks didn’t accept IDNYC as a valid form of identification.

The comptroller said a few banks began accepting IDNYC as a secondary form of ID, but that showed only four banks actually accepting IDNYC as a secondary form of ID. Now only four banks are accepting IDNYC as a “primary” form of identification, so Stringer decided to reach out to the others again.

The four banks that do accept IDNYC as primary ID are Amalgamated, Carver Federal Savings, Popular Community Bank and Spring Community Bank.

Stringer’s staff found that there are over a million NYC households either “underbanked” or without bank accounts. The two-thirds of city banks that were not accepting IDNYC were “missing an opportunity for thousands of New Yorkers to access New York City’s traditional banking institutions.” So he’s trying to get them interested again.

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