2016-10-19 / Political Page

Debate Tonight Most Crucial

The final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is scheduled for today, and there’s every indication that it will be the most watched, the most dramatic, and have the most impact on the November 8th presidential election, which is a mere 20 days away.

The disclosures of the past 10 days or so, during which a parade of women had come forth to charge Trump with having allegedly inappropriately touched and groped them, have virtually ruined the Republican standard bearer’s chances of defeating his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the election to name the next president.

During this hectic period, a goodly number of Republican congressmembers have abandoned Trump as his poll numbers have dropped perilously close to ending any real chance of defeating Clinton. Led by the Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, dozens of his majority were joined by many of the party’s major financial backers, who also turned their backs on the millionaire party candidate.

Despite Trump’s efforts to deflect blame onto Clinton and her closest supporters, Clinton has remained in the shadows, except to deny Trump’s do-or-die accusations.

But the abrupt turn of events, with Trump’s chances virtually disappearing daily as more alleged victims came forward, has built tonight’s debate into as great and dramatic an event as anyone can imagine outside Hollywood.

According to most scorecards kept on the first two debates, Clinton won the first and Trump the second, so either one of them could turn out to be the winner of the tie-breaker. As many see it, Clinton, the acknowledged superior debater, will have an edge over her opponent. But Trump, a master showman, has exhibited qualities that this evening was created for, and he will be at his nastiest as he tries to turn defeat into victory. This would only carry him back to being an outside contender possibly on November 8th, but for Trump it will be a rare “beggars can’t be choosers” moment and he’ll be just fighting to stay alive as Clinton fights to deliver the knockout blow.

ADDABBO ON MASPETH SHELTER ISSUE: Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. regarding the city moving individuals into Maspeth Holiday Inn Express:

“Wow, the Mayor still doesn’t get it. Bill de Blasio thinks that telling the Maspeth community their protests were successful enough to alter his plans from creating a homeless shelter for adult couples at the Holiday Inn Express to renting single rooms for adult males would resolve the foreseeable, growing homeless issue and pacify the residents.

“Does he still not understand that housing any individual in a room without a kitchen – isolated without proper public transportation, under prison-like settings complete with 24-hour guards, police surveillance, metal detectors and a curfew – is not an appropriate way of truly assisting a human being in need of help?

“In addition, the lack of governmental transparency at the Maspeth site by this administration, from a Mayor whose campaign was built on improving governmental transparency, is immensely frustrating. For months, the area elected officials and community leaders were told by the administration that adult couples were being placed at the Holiday Inn Express shelter, but without notice, NYC Department of Homeless Services vans rolled into the hotel last night to instead place individuals into rented rooms.

“This administration does not think the community understands the difference between housing families in a shelter and renting rooms to individuals, which completely changes the procedural rules for disclosure and financial transparency.

“But we do understand.

“How many rooms will be rented? What are the taxpayer-funded costs of renting each room? What is the schedule of additional individuals being brought to the hotel? I never had the opportunity to ask these critical questions on behalf of my constituents as the Mayor changed the plan, because it happened overnight and, once again, without any public input or warning. I guess after being shut out from submitting alternative proposals, and two Mayor-edited propaganda videos later, this is what the people of Maspeth get.

“To think that all the unprecedented anger, all the frustration, the peaceful protests by compassionate residents who, like every other New Yorker, care for their community of Maspeth, could have been avoided if the Mayor asked the elected officials for assistance in resolving the foreseeable homeless crisis, instead of dictating inappropriate sites upon us.

“There are still alternatives to mishandling the homeless issue and truly helping people in need of housing and services, such as requesting state aid from Governor Cuomo. The Mayor has a choice between seeking to actually address the homeless situation or spending his efforts in continuing to make propaganda videos in response to the ongoing protests. The choice is his.”

LIZ CROWLEY ON MASPETH HOTEL: “Once again, the de Blasio administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth. From day one, the proposal for this Maspeth Holiday Inn was anything but clear. The hotel owner publicly expressed he never had a plan to convert his hotel, because he did not want to lose Holiday Inn franchise rights. So what we see here, is the administration grappling at whatever it can, even when hotels are an inadequate and illegal option for housing. I will continue to work with the Maspeth community and persuade the owner and franchise to move away from de Blasio’s failed policies.”

ADDABBO DENOUNCES ZONING CHANGES TO OZONE PARK SCHOOL: In the wake of changes that were made to the zoning regulations of a new elementary school planned for Ozone Park, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is condemning the city’s decision to allow large numbers of students from neighborhoods outside of Centreville to enroll in the new facility.

In July, “for the safety of children,” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) sent a letter to the city Department of Education (DOE) urging the agency to reserve the seats at PS 335, slated to open in the fall of 2017, for students in the immediately surrounding neighborhood of Centreville, a section of Ozone Park. By keeping the new building a strictly zoned school, the facility would be exclusively for children living east of Cross Bay Boulevard, to the railroad tracks and Aqueduct Race Track, and south of Rockaway Boulevard, to North Conduit Avenue. The Senator was subsequently informed, he said, by the DOE that the school would remain zoned for that area with the exception of 10 homes – a total of 15 children – outside this specific zone, a plan that was agreed to by the community.

However, Addabbo learned last week that the DOE instead has amended its plans to include approximately 250 residences outside the originally agreed-upon zone, about half of which are two family homes and threaten to take up more than 400 of the schools’ approximately 500 available spots. This is not the first time the DOE has changed the direction of this newly constructed school. Earlier in the year, the DOE mentioned the school might be considered for a middle school instead of the elementary school that was proposed to the community. Collectively, local elected officials and the community successfully restored the facility’s elementary school status.

“This community is in dire need of an elementary school that is safely accessible,” Addabbo said. “We have hundreds of children who live in Ozone Park who are forced to attend schools in Howard Beach or other neighboring communities because there is simply nowhere else for them to go. This ultimately means that some young students must cross a major roadway, including Cross Bay Boulevard and Rockaway Boulevard, to get to and from school every day, putting them and their families at risk.

“Our community reached an agreement with the city more than two months ago when the Department of Education committed to keeping PS 335 zoned for this specific area of Ozone Park, and we will not settle for anything less. These taxpaying families deserve the same access to public education that residents have elsewhere in the city, without having to leave their home neighborhoods to get it.”

The Senator also mentioned that the previously agreed to zoning would have alleviated some crowding at PS 146 in Howard Beach.

The changes to the zoning map for PS 335 also jeopardize the DOE’s assurance that buses would not be utilized, as the school was originally meant to be a building only for students within walking distance.

“The tight residential area where the building is set to open cannot handle the congestion that will be brought about by busing students who live further from the school than originally expected,” said Addabbo. “This is not the plan that we were informed of by the DOE, and this is certainly not something this community would have ever agreed to. I urge the city to revert to its original zoning map for PS 335, and prevent the people of Ozone Park from the nightmare that could potentially result if these changes are carried out. It is time for the city to start working with the community rather than against it.”

Since learning of the new zoning map for PS 335, Addabbo’s office has reached out to the DOE for an explanation but has yet to receive a response.

AFSCME ENDORSES ADDABBO FOR REELECTION: Addabbo For Senate announced that Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. has just received the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) for reelection in New York’s 15th Senate District. AFSCME has over 1.4 million members which makes them the largest public union in the nation.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) stated: “AFSCME has been on the forefront of fighting for public employees for over 80 years. They have been crucial in protecting collective bargaining for union members, as well as securing retirement benefits by investing into the public pension system. In addition, while supporting the passage of the Affordable Care Act, they have continued to speak out for stronger defense of Medicare, lowering prescription drug costs and allowing children to stay on their family plans longer. Finally, their primary focus is to protect middle class working families by making sure the wealthy pay their fair share.”

Addabbo concluded: “I want to thank AFSCME and its members for their ongoing support and their personal dedication to public service. I believe this endorsement is a strong acknowledgement of my commitment to the men and women of our workforce across the state who stand to ensure that our infrastructure, healthcare, and education needs are met in our communities. I appreciate AFSCME’s continued hard work and dedication. I will continue to work on the issues that matter to all AFSCME New York members when I return to Albany.”

Addabbo is running for reelection on Tuesday, November 8th, in the 15th Senate District which comprises – in whole or part – Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Woodside, Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, Ridgewood, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

MALONEY: WELLS FARGO MUST COMPENSATE CUSTOMERS: “Change is clearly needed at Wells Fargo, and while Mr. Stumpf stepping down is a good first step, this does not solve the problem. Wells Fargo must commit to fully compensating all of their customers who were harmed by this fraud, and to comprehensively reforming their culture to ensure that this can never happen again. This should not stop Congress from exercising its robust oversight and continuing its investigation into this massive fraud.”

CROWLEY WELCOMES RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATIONS: Congress Member Joe Crowley (D–Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus and a leader on Sikh- American issues in Congress, released the following statement on the new US Army directive that provides for career-long accommodations for Sikh-Americans and others to serve while maintaining articles of faith, such as a turban and beard:

Crowley explained: “We are a stronger nation, and a stronger military, because of our respect for religious and personal freedom, and I’m pleased to see the US Army once again recognize this with its new directive. Sikh- Americans love this country and want a fair chance to serve in our nation’s military on equal footing. I believe we should embrace this wish for religious freedom, not place restrictions on it. I look forward to reviewing this directive carefully, though it initially seems like a step forward in the right direction. I thank Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning and military leaders for hearing my concerns, as well as the concerns of the many others who have spoken out in support of this effort.”

Presently, Sikh-Americans and others must be granted an accommodation, or permission, to serve in the US Army while maintaining their articles of faith. Such accommodations are neither permanent nor guaranteed, and have had to be renewed after virtually every assignment.

Service members have also been required to remove their articles of faith while their accommodation request is pending, once again subjecting them to the difficult position of choosing between their faith and their job.

In 2014, Crowley and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) led over 100 Members of Congress in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Defense, urging the U.S. Armed Forces to update their appearance regulations to once again allow Sikh Americans to serve while abiding by their articles of faith, such as wearing a turban or beard, Crowley said.

Sikhs have served in the US Army since World War I, and they are presumptively permitted to serve in the armed forces of Canada, India, and the United Kingdom, among others. Currently, a number of Sikh-Americans have been granted individualized accommodations to serve in the US Army where they have won accolades for their service including the Bronze Star. These patriotic soldiers wear turbans and maintain beards in a neat and conservative manner in accordance with operational requirements. They are also able to wear protective equipment, including helmets and gas masks, in conformity with safety requirements.

Last year, a US District Court ruled that adherence to practicing Sikhism would not diminish the ability of a Sikh-American student, Iknoor Singh, to serve in the US military. Singh, who resides in Queens and is a student at Hofstra University, was seeking enrollment in the US Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

A recognized leader in Congress on issues related to the Sikh-American community, Crowley spearheaded a multi-year, successful effort to convince the federal government to begin collecting data on hate crimes committed against Sikh-Americans and Hindu-Americans, an important issue brought to nationwide attention by the massacre of Sikh worshippers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

APPLAUD OBAMA FOR PROMOTING DIVERSITY: With news that President Obama has directed national security agencies to promote diversity in their ranks in a Presidential Memorandum released this week, Representatives Crowley and Serrano applauded the directive as an important step forward to increase the number of Hispanics and other minorities in our nation’s national security ranks.

Crowley and Serrano included an amendment to the House Intelligence Authorization Bill providing national security training grants to Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to prepare students for careers in national security, and have highlighted the need to train minority students and increase their employment opportunities in national security agencies.

“People with different backgrounds bring different perspectives and skills to the table. Yet the number of Hispanics and other minorities at the highest ranking diplomatic, military, and intelligence positions remains low. As global challenges only get more complex, our nation’s national security agencies must cultivate and draw from the diverse pool of candidates ready to serve. We applaud President Obama for taking this important step and for recognizing that increased diversity in our nation’s security agencies will only make America stronger and safer,” said Representatives Crowley and Serrano.

CROWLEY PRAISES ST. PATRICK’S PARADE GM CHOICE: Congress Member Joe Crowley (D–Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, issued the following statement on the selection of Michael Dowling as the Grand Marshal of next year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

“I’m thrilled the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s Board of Directors has selected Michael Dowling as next year’s Grand Marshal. Over the years, New Yorkers have come together to honor the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day and the strong and lasting relationship between the US and Ireland. The parade is also a time to celebrate the vibrant and proud Irish-American community that has contributed so greatly to our state and nation. One member of that community, Michael Dowling, embodies the very spirit we celebrate each St. Patrick’s Day, and his story is uniquely American. Originally from Limerick, Ireland, Michael immigrated to New York at a young age, and made his mark as a successful businessman and a dedicated public servant. Michael represents the very best of our proud Irish-American community and I’m proud to join in praising his selection as next year’s Grand Marshal.”

MALONEY’S COMMEMORATIVE COIN FOR CANCER RESEARCH: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney hosted a Breast Cancer Awareness Month luncheon last week in honor of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin. Maloney took the opportunity to call for submissions to the US Mint’s design competition, encouraging all artists to participate.

“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime,” said Maloney. “ The funds raised through the sale of the Breast Cancer Commemorative Coin will save lives. For the first time ever, the US Mint will be using a process that will give the coins a pink tint. The coins, which will be available for purchase in 2018, will not only direct funding to critical research supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, but they will raise awareness about breast cancer and thereby increase prevention. The winner of the design competition for the coin, was chosen on October 17th by a committee selected by the US Treasury Department.”

“Congresswoman Maloney personally saw this bill through on behalf of our dear friend and BCRF’s founder Evelyn Lauder, and it is with tremendous pleasure that we see it come to fruition,” said Myra Biblowit, President of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. “At BCRF, we unequivocally believe that when you fund research, you save lives. Truly, what stands between today and a cure is funding to harvest rapid advances in science.”

As part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act, the U.S. Mint was instructed to conduct a nationwide design competition. Phase One of the competition closed on October 17th, when artists age 18 and older were asked to submit portfolios of their prior work. From these entries, 20 applicants will be chosen for Phase Two, where they will be paid a stipend of $1,000 to submit designs for the obverse and reverse of the coin. The final winner will be announced in June 2017. The winning artist will be awarded $10,000 and have their initials included on the minted coins.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 2722) directs the US Treasury to issue up to 50,000 $5 “pink gold” coins, up to 400,000 $1 silver coins and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins with a design to symbolize the fight against breast cancer in 2018. The production cost of these coins will be fully covered in the sales price, and the proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, headquartered in New York. No taxpayer money will be used in the production or sale of the coin.

Funding for breast cancer research at NIH has risen more than threefold since 1993. When Maloney first came to Congress, one of her goals was to increase breast cancer research funding. In 1993, funding was at only $210 million. At its highest point in 2012, funding for breast cancer research was $800 million, and in 2016, NIH funding for breast cancer research was nearly $700 million. In the past two years, the Department of Defense has spent $120 million per year in the fight against breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has raised more than $625 million for research to date. This year, BCRF is funding $54 million in grants to over 240 researchers across 24 states and the District of Columbia and 13 countries, making it the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. BCRF is dedicated to keeping administrative costs low. Of every dollar donated to BCRF, $0.91 goes to research and awareness programs—$ 0.88 towards research and $0.03 towards awareness. BCRF is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the US with an A+ rating from Charity Watch and 4 out of 4 stars from Charity Navigator. Clinical advances resulting from research have led to increased survival rates among breast cancer patients, and death rates have dropped over 34 percent since 1990.

The House of Representatives approved the bill introduced by Reps. Maloney (NY-12) and Pete Sessions (TX-32) on July 15, 2015. The companion bill passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent on April 19, 2016. The President signed Maloney’s bill on April 29, 2016.

MALONEY APPLAUDS RELEASE OF 21 CHIBOK GIRLS, ‘RETURN OTHERS’: In response to news that Boko Haram released 21 of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls they are holding captive, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“The horrific abduction of more than 200 innocent girls peacefully pursuing their education rocked many of us to our core,” said Maloney. “While I am relieved to hear that 21 victims can finally be reunited with their families, we must remain vigilant in calling for the release of the rest of those captured more than two years ago. Almost 200 girls still remain unaccounted for and we will not rest until they and their families can once again embrace. These girls were targeted because they were pursuing an education – there is no just world in which that mindset exists. No one should be punished for wanting to better themselves.

“The 2014 kidnapping introduced much of the world to the terror Boko Haram has unleashed on Nigerians for years and starkly showed that this terror group presents a threat not just to one nation, but to the world. Combating Boko Haram is and should remain a national security priority – and we must remain vigilant in fighting this enemy.”

On April 14, 2014, around 11:45 pm, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the Chibok Government Secondary School in Nigeria by Boko Haram terrorists. Several gunmen reportedly dressed in army camouflage stormed the school under the guise of protecting the students against an imminent insurgent attack. The gunmen claimed to be there to bring the girls to safe locations and ushered them into several vehicles. After the school was emptied the buildings were razed to the ground. On May 5th Abukakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, released a video claiming responsibility for the abduction.

Since that time, Maloney has consistently called for international action to #BringBackOurGirls and combat Boko Haram. In May 2015, Rep. Maloney sponsored an amendment, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-CA), to the National Defense Authorization Act to make clear that combatting Boko Haram is in the national security interest of the United States and to call for the US to support more training and regional advice for regional allies combatting Boko Haram. The House adopted the amendment on May 15, 2015.

BRAUNSTEIN’S HALLOWEEN ESSAY, DRAWING CONTEST: Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D–Bayside) is once again sponsoring his annual Halloween Essay & Drawing Contest.

Students from grades 2 through 5 are invited to participate. The essay or drawing should have a Halloween theme, such as an account of their favorite trick or treat experience or why you picked your Halloween costume this year.

If you are interested in participating, print your full name, grade, and school on your entry. Essays may be submitted to Assemblyman Braunstein’s office, by mail, to 213-33 39th Avenue, Suite 238, Bayside, NY 11361; email to braunsteine@assembly.state.ny.us, or fax to 718-357-5947. Drawings should be mailed or dropped off. Entries may be of any size or format. District-wide prizes will be awarded to the winner in each grade. New York State Certificates of Merit will be awarded to all students who participate. The contest deadline is Monday, October 31, 2016.

If you have any questions, contact Assemblyman Braunstein's office at 718-357- 3588.

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