2016-03-09 / Political Page

Dog Fights Continue For Trump-Cruz, Clinton-Sanders

As Donald Trump continued his march last week toward the Republican presidential nomination and a clash with leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for the presidency in November, both have comfortable leads in delegates already won, but still need goodly amounts more to nail their nominations down.
Still continuing to keep them in their sights are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, who each performed creditably in the contests held last Saturday.
This picture could have changed with primaries or caucuses which were scheduled yesterday – 5 for Republicans and 3 for Democrats, but were not available for publication as The Gazette was preparing to publish next week’s issue.
Yesterday’s schedule for Republicans include contests in Michigan, Mississippi and Democrats living abroad.
However, just a week later, on Tuesday, March 15, there are elections or caucuses & scheduled for both Democrats and Republicans in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and N. Carolina.
These will be meaningful races because winning candidates will get the entire amounts of delegates being distributed. Present leaders like Trump and Clinton could get closer to their winning totals, while Cruz and Sanders could close the gap separating them from the leaders.
Of particular interest in these races: Florida is Rubio’s home state, and Ohio is Gov. John Kasich’s home state.
Kasich has said that although he trails far behind Trump in the delegate race, there’s a good chance he could win the prize in his home state that would put him in contention. He is also counting on making big scores in other midwestern states’ primaries, which are also winner-take-all prizes, and he feels this could boost his chances of overtaking Trump. The primaries continue through the latter part of March, thru April and May, and through June 7. Then follow the party conventions in July.
Because of the widespread criticism of Trump and his excellent chances of winning the GOP nomination there is always the chance that there could be an attempt by Republican Party leaders to swing the convention to another candidate, blocking Trump from getting it.
But if he does win the Republican nomination, he’ll still have to contend probably with Clinton, and the polls have always had her as a winner against him. Possibly, Sanders against Trump would give Sanders a good chance with a big Democratic turnout.

VAN BRAMER ANNOUNCES LIC DEVELOP PLAN: Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer announced a new NYC Economic Development Corporation Request For Proposals (RFP) for a mixed-use development plan on the Long Island City waterfront covering four-and-a-half acres at the western end of 44th Drive.
Proposals are expected to include commercial office and light manufacturing space, publicly accessible waterfront space, mixed-income affordable housing, and community retail space. And with a major push from Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside), “A school which will serve up to 600 Long Island City students.”
Van Bramer assures his constituents, “While the RFP is still in the early stages of the selection process, there is “no doubt” that he “will be working with the School Construction Authority and local parents to site an additional school in the 26th City Council District, bringing the total number of new schools funded and sited under the Majority Leader’s tenure to 10.”
Van Bramer stated: “As more people come to realize that Western Queens is a fantastic place to live, it’s important to ensure that not only do we provide significant affordable housing so that our community is accessible to all, but to also make sure that increased housing comes with more jobs, parks, schools, and transportation upgrades. “That’s why I'm especially proud of the work we did in conjunction with EDC to ensure that this Long Island City development includes space for a school for nearly 600 students in our community.”

NOLAN ADDRESSES VERVE SHELTER SITUATION: Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D–Ridgewood) issued the following statement regarding the Verve shelter:
“The shelter at the Verve must be accountable to the surrounding communities by being good neighbors to the many businesses, homeowners and residents of the Dutch Kills neighborhood. The recent increase in criminal activity in and around the Verve is simply unacceptable.
“I commend Captain Peter Fortune and the 114th Precinct for doing a great job in patrolling the area. I call upon the Verve’s provider and the New York City Department of Homeless Services to do their part, reduce the size of the shelter immediately and immediately screen for mental illness and come up with a comprehensive plan to work with the residents of our community.  We deserve nothing less.”

KATZ WELCOMES NEW CEO OF QUEENS LIBRARY: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, responding to questions about the Queens Library Board of Trustees selection of former NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott as the new President and CEO of the Queens Library, stated:
“At its core, the Queens Library exists to serve its educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture for millions of families. Queens is grateful to the Board of Trustees for their dedication in convening an extensive search and selection process for the new President and CEO. I have full faith in the direction and future of the Library, and look forward to the great things to come under Dennis’ leadership.”

VAN BRAMER SALUTES WALCOTT’S APPOINTMENT: Concurring in Borough President Katz’ warm welcome to the New Queens Library President, Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer also extended his good wishes to the new official. Van Bramer (D–Sunnyside) hailed the former Deputy Mayor for Education and former Schools Chancellor, stating:
“I congratulate Dennis Walcott on his appointment as CEO of the Queens Library. As the Chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee, former Chief External Affairs Officer of the Queens Library, and a person whose early life was shaped by access to its Broadway Library in Astoria, I’m glad that the library has chosen a proud Queens resident to lead the institution with a steady hand.
“Mr. Walcott brings to the Queens Library not only the skills gained over an impressive career as the Deputy Mayor for Education and Schools Chancellor, but also his deep personal love for our borough’s library system.
“From working with Mr. Walcott and his wife, who was a member of the first board of the Friends of Cambria Heights Library, I know firsthand how much Mr. Walcott cares about this institution. I look forward to continued collaboration to ensure the Queens Library reaches its full potential by expanding access to the institution’s precious resources and life changing programs.”

FEMA CLEARS WAY FOR HOMELESS PROVIDERS TO PROVIDE FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS: Congresswoman Grace Meng has convinced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to add feminine hygiene products – tampons, pads and similar stuff – to the list of essential items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds from the agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program.
Meng (D–Flushing) explained that although homeless assistance providers – including homeless shelters, non-profit organizations and local government agencies – are permitted to spend the money they receive from the program on such personal necessities as blankets, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and underwear, feminine hygiene products have not been among the eligible items, despite the fact that they are essential.
In January, Meng explained, she sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (who oversees FEMA) asking that the program include feminine hygiene products on the list, and FEMA’s Administrator Craig Fugate recently replied to Meng saying that the items would be added.
“I thank FEMA for agreeing to my request and for understanding how critical feminine hygiene products are to women,” said Meng. “Homeless women and girls in shelters face serious hygiene and health issues when they do not have access to these essential items. There are reports of homeless women who “use rags or bleed through clothes until they throw [them] out or get donated clothes” when they do not have access to appropriate hygiene products. With toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and underwear included, it’s a no-brainer to add feminine hygiene products, and I thank FEMA again for being responsive to this need.”
Meng said that in his correspondence to her, FEMA Administrator Fugate said that the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board program voted to include feminine hygiene products as eligible items, and that officials are developing language to include [them] in the program’s manual that should be completed by April.
The lawmaker said that the full list of essential household items that can be purchased with the grant funds includes cots, blankets, pillows, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, cleaning materials, limited first-aid supplies and underwear/diapers.
Meng has also applied to other federal agencies to ask that providers be allowed to purchase similar products with grants funds they provide.
In an additional effort to make feminine hygiene products more accessible to women, Meng recently introduced legislation, the Fund Essential Menstruation Products (FEM) Act, which would add feminine hygiene products to the list of items that can be purchased with funds in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

9/11 RESPONDERS, SURVIVORS COMPENSATED: Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) issued a statement in reaction to the news that the September 11th Victim compensation Fund has authorized full payments on over 1,000 Group A claims.
Maloney stated:
“Many hundreds of the survivors and responders who were injured in the aftermath of 9/11 are just now receiving full compensation through the Victim Compensation Fund. Many families were devastated economically as a result of health problems that occurred because of exposure at Ground Zero. It has taken more than a decade, but today the Victim Compensation Fund is fully funded, and heroes who were injured are being made whole again.
“The announcement was made on March 1, shows that important progress is being made, but we know that there are still many more who are waiting for the support they were promised. I thank all those working at the VCF for their dedication to processing and paying claims as quickly as possible, and all the survivors and responders who remained patient as this important work was completed. Today the VCF is moving full speed ahead. Those who were there and those who rushed in after 9/11 are finally being taken care of.”

CROWLEY CALLS FOR DEMOCRATIC REFORMS IN BURMA: Congressman Joseph Crowley, Chair of the Democratic Caucus, noting the successes in Burma’s democratic elections after decades of repression, called for additional steps to end ongoing human rights abuses and advance much-needed democratic reforms.
Crowley was joined on the bipartisan resolution by Congressman Steve Chabot (R–OH). They are the House leaders on Burma. The resolution also acknowledged Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy for their overall victory in November, as well as other parties for their participation in the elections.
Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) stated: “The recent election in Burma indicates a profound desire for change. But while substantial progress has been made, there is still much more that needs to be done. Too many political prisoners remain locked up, violence against ethnic minorities continues, and there has been a backsliding of progress in some areas when it comes to the democratic reforms that are needed in Burma. Our resolution acknowledges the progress that has been made but makes clear that further steps are needed. We continue to stand with the Burmese people in their struggle for genuine and lasting reconciliation.
“The people of Burma deserve enormous credit for their ongoing democratic reforms,” said Rep. Chabot, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “While the recent democratic elections were an important step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done in safeguarding the human rights of the Burmese people. Change is never easy and our resolution makes it clear that the United States will continue to encourage and support the people of Burma in their efforts to establish a peaceful and stable democracy.”
The resolution expresses concern over the state of human rights in Burma, including the government’s incarceration of peaceful activists both before and after the elections. Specifically, the resolution calls on President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to focus on holding Burma accountable to the 11 human rights and security commitments made by Burma’s current President Thein Sein, as well as urging the current government to support a peaceful and timely transition of power to the new government.
In 2014, Crowley and Chabot introduced the Burma Human Rights and Democracy Act, legislation that would prevent the United States from providing or expanding military assistance to Burma’s Armed Services until benchmarks on human rights and defense reforms are met by the Burmese military. These benchmarks include free and fair elections, reform of the military-dominated constitution, an end to human rights abuses committed against the Burmese people, and the establishment of civilian oversight of the armed forces.

PERALTA APPLAUDS REGENTS: The New York State Board of Regents recently issued a decision to allow undocumented New Yorkers to apply for teacher certifications and more than 50 professional licenses, state Senator Jose Peralta (D–East Elmhurst) announced.
Peralta stated: “This is a marvelous move by State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia and the NYS Board of Regents. As the prime sponsor of the New York state DREAM ACT, it is refreshing to know that the Board will allow hardworking, undocumented New Yorkers the ability to apply for teacher certifications, and more than 50 professional licenses.”
Peralta added, “In doing this, the state is righting a wrong. This action will no doubt increase the quality of our education system, as well as provide additional job opportunities for immigrant professionals who already happen to pay income taxes in New York State. This is a win-win situation for everyone.”

DENDEKKER ANNOUNCES INCREASED SERVICE ON Q 70 BUS: The MTA has announced that the agency is increasing service on the Q 70 line between LaGuardia Airport, Woodside and Jackson Heights, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker (D–Jackson Heights) announced.
DenDekker said the Q 70 bus provides service between LaGuardia Airport, the MTA Long Island Rail Road, 7 train service at 61st Street-Woodside and the EFMR and 7 trains at the Broadway-Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station.
The lawmaker added that, “Wait time between buses will be improved during most hours of the day, seven days a week, with the most significant improvements during peak daytime hours.”
DenDekker stated, “I am very happy with the news that the MTA will increase service on the Q 70 bus, a line that is very important in my community. Bringing more comprehensive public transportation to Queens, in the form of both bus and subway service, is among my highest priorities, and this represents a good step in the right direction.”
DenDekker said he will continue to work with both the MTA and the city Department of Transportation to increase bus and subway service in Queens. The MTA plans to implement the new Q 70 schedule this April, he said.

WEPRIN BILL TOUGHENS PENALTIES FOR ‘STAGED’ MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS: The state Assembly has unanimously passed “Alice’s Law,” a major motor vehicle insurance fraud reform law sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin which positions the state to enact legislation that would potentially save New Yorkers “billions” of dollars in higher insurance premiums and protect innocent victims from harmful injury or death.
Weprin (Holliswood) calls his legislation “Alice’s Law,” named after 71-year-old Queens grandmother, Alice Ross, who was killed in a staged accident 13 years ago. His bill makes “staging an accident to commit insurance fraud” a class E felony, thereby deterring individuals from engaging in this dangerous crime.
Additionally, Weprin explained, “In staged accidents where a serious physical injury or death occurs, individuals would face a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison.”
Following the Assembly’s passage of the bill, Weprin explained, “The loss of revenue to taxpayers resulting from this type of fraud is staggering, but the loss of human life is simply unacceptable. Arranged auto accidents and insurance fraud of this type must be stopped and the time for New York State to act is now. I call on the Senate to pass this landmark legislation.”
Elected in 2010, Weprin represents the 24th AD in north Queens, including Briarwood, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Queens Village and Richmond Hill.

MENG: ‘POSTAL SERVICE TO RENEW FRESH MEADOWS PO LEASE’: Following inquiries from Congresswoman Grace Meng to the U.S. Postal Service about the future of the Fresh Meadows P.O., as its lease nears its end, Meng has been informed that the Postal Service “intends to renew its lease.”
Meng stated: “Plans by the Postal Service to renew the lease… is welcome news. Area residents made it clear that they do not want to lose this facility. It provides important postal services at a convenient location, and has served the neighborhood well for many years. I thank the Postal Service for its speedy response”
James Gallagher Jr., President, Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association, stated, “The residents of Fresh Meadows and the surrounding areas are extremely grateful for Congresswoman Meng’s support and efforts to renew the Fresh Meadows Post Office lease… It is essential that the Post Office remains at its current location which is convenient to the area’s seniors and all who reside in the community.”
Maria DeInnocentiis, Area 6 Chair for Community Board 8, commented: “It is second to the main office in Flushing and meets our needs for mail, packages and retrieving certified mail. It is an institution that needs to be retained and I thank USPS for keeping it in the community.”

BILL PASSES STATE SENATE INCREASING FINES FOR ANIMAL ABANDONMENT: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. reports that the Senate voted last week to approve legislation (S.410) that would double fines for New York residents who “walk away from their pets without providing any kind of care for them.”
Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) explained:
“When you take an animal into your home, you are making a commitment to care for that new family member to the best of your ability for the rest of its life,” said Addabbo. “Or at least that’s how it should be. Unfortunately, many people, for a variety of reasons, simply abandon their animals when they decide they can’t or won’t care for them anymore. This is cruel and contributes significantly to spiraling animal overpopulation and associated problems in many communities.”
Under the bill, the fine for abandoning an animal would rise from $1,000 to $2,000, and could also continue to carry a penalty of up to a year in prison. This punishment would apply to owners who abandon and stop providing care for their animals as well as to people who fail to retrieve their injured pet when it is found in a public place and they are notified of its whereabouts.
“It’s a tough call for pet owners when they develop serious allergies or illnesses, are forced to move to a place where animals aren’t allowed, find they can’t afford expensive veterinary care, or otherwise decide they can’t or don’t want to keep Fluffy or Fido as a member of their family,” said Addabbo. “But there are certainly alternatives to dumping pets on the street to fend for themselves, get injured or killed, and possibly give birth to innocent babies who are very often doomed to short and painful lives. I am hopeful that an increase in animal abandonment fines will, at the very least, encourage pet owners to seek out reasonable alternatives before they toss out their animals like yesterday’s trash.”
Nationwide, Addabbo noted, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters every year – including 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats. About twice as many of these animals entering shelters come in as homeless strays in comparison to the number of pets relinquished by their owners. “The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) says it is impossible to put a firm number on the number of stray animals in the United States, and reports that one estimate for homeless cats alone reaches 70 million,” said Addabbo. “We need to take action to address animal overpopulation, cruelty and abandonment on a number of different fronts, and increasing penalties for irresponsible owner behavior is one part of the puzzle.”
The legislation, having passed the Senate, is under review by the Assembly Agriculture Committee.

KOO, STAVISKY, KIM, PUSH CUNY CITIZENSHIP NOW! City and state officials joined with CUNY Citizenship NOW! to announce a free Citizenship Application Assistance Event to take place at the Flushing YMCA, 138-46 Northern Boulevard, on Saturday, March 19.
Experienced lawyers and immigration professionals will provide application assistance to the first 130 applicants to RSVP at 646-664-9400. Applicants must meet the following requirements:
• Reside in the U.S. as a permanent resident for five years (three years if living with and married to the same U.S. citizen)
• Live in the U.S. for half of the five- or three-year period
• Are at least 18 years old.
What to bring:
• Green card and all passports since becoming a permanent resident
• Home addresses for the last five or three years
• Parent’s naturalization information if applicable
• School/employment history for the last five or three years
• Children’s information (dates of birth, A#, addresses) if applicable
• Marital history
• Certified dispositions for any arrests, tickets, citations, and MTA disposition letter if applicable.
Councilman Peter Koo stated, “The path to citizenship can be an extremely time-consuming, expensive, and generally confusing process. My office deals with thousands of constituent cases on immigration and citizenship. A lot of these questions are the same, and a lot of people make the same mistakes. This free Citizenship Application Assistance Event will help people avoid those mistakes. I encourage anyone who is looking to become a citizen to take advantage of this free assistance event.”
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky stated, “Applying for citizenship can be a costly and confusing process, even for fluent English speakers. With the expertise of the team at CUNY Citizenship Now! and the help of the Flushing YMCA, I am proud to co-sponsor this fair with Council Member Koo and Assemblyman Kim to provide free legal assistance in Chinese, Korean and Spanish for those seeking to become American citizens. Becoming a citizen is a lifelong commitment to the ideals of this country and I applaud all of the applicants for their dedication and perseverance.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim stated, “I want to thank CUNY, Flushing YMCA, and Councilman Peter Koo for taking the lead in providing this valuable service to our growing immigrant community. We want to provide every opportunity to those who want to pursue the American Dream and the first step is to make the pathway to citizenship as efficient as possible.”
CUNY Citizenship NOW! Director Allan Wernick stated, “CUNY Citizenship NOW! has been helping New Yorkers apply for U.S. citizenship and election years are always particularly busy times. It is because of support from elected officials like Council Member Koo, Assembly Member Kim and Senator Stavisky and organizations like the New Americans Campaign and the Mexican Consulate that we have been able to help 3,360 permanent residents with their citizenship applications last year.”

AVELLA ANNOUNCES COLLEGIATE SCHOLARSHIPS: State Senator Tony Avella announced that applications are now being accepted by the New York Conference of Italian-American State Legislators for four available 2015 college scholarships.
Avella (D–Northeast Queens) said the scholarships will be awarded to four students who are currently in college or preparing to enter this year. Two scholarships will be awarded to students for academic excellence and two for athletics.
To obtain applications, contact Avella’s District Office at 718-357-3094. Completed applications must be submitted to Avella’s District Office by April 11.
Winners will be chosen based on grade point average, interest in pursuing a higher education, involvement in their local community and individual financial need. The scholarships will be handed out to the four chosen students at the Italian American Day on June 6.
“The New York Conference of Italian-Americans is once again dedicating itself to help students afford the rising costs of college tuition. Students who have excelled in their studies or in their athletic abilities, and have been involved in bettering their community will be eligible to receive one of four $2,500 scholarships. I’m encouraging students already attending or planning to attend college to reach out to my office for information on how to apply,” said Senator Avella.

ADDABBO: ‘DOES COST OUTWEIGH BENEFITS?’ State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) released the following statement regarding the “increasing cost” of the proposed Select Bus Service on Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard:
“With Transportation Commissioner Trottenberg’s admission that the cost of the SBS proposal for Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard has risen to $400 million – double the original estimate – it is now more clear than ever that we must examine if the cost outweighs the benefit of the SBS proposal. My constituents deserve better transportation, but is lengthy construction and an absurdly high price tag – paid for with money collected from taxpayers who remain divided with their stance on SBS – worth it? In my opinion, DOT’s plan for Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevard could wind up being nothing more than a careless and irresponsible use of city dollars and that should not be tolerated by residents who live and travel along this corridor every day. For $400 million, I believe the city can do better.”

STAVISKY RESPONDS TO HOMELESS SHELTER RUMORS: State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) issued a statement regarding rumblings about a second homeless shelter opening on Queens Boulevard next to the existing Pan American Shelter: “Despite several news stories and concerns expressed by Elmhurst residents, I can happily confirm that the rumors of a second homeless shelter opening alongside the Pan Am are false. I have received written assurance from the Department of Homeless Services that there will be no expanding the Pan Am facility or opening of a new shelter. I am pleased to put the fears and concerns of a new shelter to rest.”

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