2016-11-02 / Political Page

Voting Starts Tuesday, FBI Still Searching Emails

With the FBI still examining the latest pile of Hillary Clinton’s emails, voting on her election with Donald Trump is scheduled to take place next Tuesday to decide who will be the next president of the United States. The fateful count will be made Tuesday night.
Before the panicky FBI started the new email search, which was announced by FBI Director James Comey last week, Clinton had close to a 10-point lead over Trump, but the excitement started by Comey shows Clinton’s lead has virtually been reduced to one or two points in states where pre-election day voting has started.
Doubtless to say, Comey has come under intense criticism because his call for further examination of Clinton email came so close to the election. Reportedly, this information about the existing trove of emails, about 650,000, was available to him much earlier.…back to early October, according to this past Monday’s Daily News. Comey had previously cleared Clinton last July.
Another knock on Comey was that he made his decision to look into this new trove of emails without establishing any real evidence that forced him to call for this renewed search. This brought harsh criticism from Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid that Comey’s action “appears to be a closer intent to aid one political party over another.”
That sounds like something that might have come from Trump, who was tough on Comey previous to the current activity. Instead Trump is all smiles as the renewed interest in Clinton’s emails has put him back in the race again.
What’s confounding to Democrats is that Comey didn’t base his call for a resumed probe of Clinton’s new load of emails based on anything that violated protocols for secret materials or such, which had Reid further complaining that, “Through your partisan action, you may have broken the law,” referring to Comey using official actions to influence political action to influence an election.
However, despite some setbacks to Clinton in several key states, we still feel she will win the election because of her support generally from women, blacks and Hispanics. But it will take some hard campaigning from her to get the job done from now to Election Day.

VAN BRAMER INVITES VOLUNTEERS FOR CLINTON TO PHILLY: “Everyone is invited to join me as we help elect the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton! I’ve seen many of you at debate watch parties and around the neighborhood talking politics, but now is the time for us to take to the streets and knock on doors and do our part to make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States of America,” Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer stated last Saturday, when he invited everyone to “Take a bus ride to Philadelphia with other Western Queens Democrats! We’ll knock on doors and canvass voters, and spread the word about Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in this battleground state.”

ADDABBO ON ‘MAYOR’S RACIAL IMPLICATIONS’ OF SHELTERS: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. responded to statements made by Mayor de Blasio regarding the reason the Maspeth Community has been protesting the placement of a homeless shelter in the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express.
“As made evident by his spokesperson’s statement, once again Mayor de Blasio has failed to see the real issue at hand when dealing with the city’s homeless crisis. Instead of looking at the facts and realizing that his shelter policies are failing all throughout the city, our Mayor continues to hide behind an imaginary racial battle that has no place in this effort to find a solution to homelessness. The opposition to using hotels as shelters in any community, not just Maspeth, has never been racially motivated. In fact, the only time race has been used as the primary focus is when Mayor de Blasio’s administration uses it to attack and misrepresent the hardworking, taxpaying people I represent, who simply want to improve a failed homeless policy and to assist those individuals in need of adequate, permanent housing.
“Twice now, the Mayor has wasted taxpayer dollars to record and produce inappropriate propaganda videos that wrongfully make the public believe that those who oppose shelters in their neighborhoods are racist. His rhetoric is doing nothing but continuing to divide our city and further delay the plausible solutions that homeless New Yorkers are counting on him to provide.
“I attended the meeting last night in Middle Village where NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer spoke with residents. Unlike the Mayor, who did not attend the meeting, I actually witnessed our Comptroller speak of credible ideas on addressing the homeless situation. I disagree with the Mayor’s statement that the Comptroller should be “ashamed” for attending a civic meeting and attempting to work with the community toward a viable solution. I do believe elected officials, even the Mayor himself, should attend local civic meetings to hear firsthand the concerns of the people they represent. I also listened as a homeless family in the audience told the large crowd about the deplorable, prison-like conditions in their shelter in Brooklyn. After they spoke, a resident from the civic meeting took the family out for dinner, and the 50/50 raffle monies were donated entirely to the family. And for the Mayor’s information – they were a Latino family and they were grateful for the community’s generosity and their commitment to improving the conditions of homeless shelters. They, along with my constituents, were not interested in fueling a racial battle that does not actually exist.
“The homeless crisis our city is facing is colorblind, and has nothing to do with any one race versus another, and I find it despicable that the Mayor would imply anything different. My constituents deserve better than to be accused of being racist merely to justify Mayor de Blasio’s own failure to effectively address this homeless issue. He, not Comptroller Stringer, should be ashamed.”

ACADEMIC NEEDS OF HOMELESS STUDENTS MUST BE MET: Assembly Members Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows), Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), and Michael Blake (D-Bronx) announced a package of legislation to combat challenges faced by the growing number of New York City’s homeless students. The announcement follows the release of the City’s Independent Budget Office’s (IBO) report on student homelessness and the obstacles simultaneously stemming from navigating the public education system and temporary housing.
“With New York State’s ongoing investments to expand full day pre-K, the law should clarify that protections for students who are homeless apply to pre-K students as well. The State should do everything in our power to ensure all students have easy access to quality education, regardless of their housing situation,” said Rozic.
The lawmakers each authored legislation that would strengthen protections for pre-kindergarten students attending the City’s public schools. Rozic’s bill (A8709) would clarify that protections under state law for students who are homeless apply to pre-K students, such as the right to remain in their original schools for the rest of the school year if their parents choose.
To extend the same protections to pre-K students with disabilities, Hevesi has introduced a bill (A8639) that would allow a child’s original school district to retain responsibility for preschool special education evaluation and placement. For children on pre-K waitlists, Blake has introduced legislation (A9237) that would prioritize their placement and provide reimbursements to school districts for the cost of hiring additional staff when doing so is necessary to enrollment.
“I look forward to working with Assemblywoman Rozic and Assemblyman Blake to ensure some of New York’s youngest homeless and disabled students receive the protections they deserve while accessing our public education system,” said Hevesi.
“Building an education system that carries our young people from the cradle to the career has been a central part of my work in the New York State Assembly, and as we work towards this goal, it becomes clear that we cannot limit our focus to what happens during the school day. If parents of a student lose their home and they have to transition into a shelter, the challenges of balancing life and school become much more difficult each and every day. We need to start educating our young people as early as possible, which is why the legislation I sponsored will work to get students off the waiting list and into schools, while providing the schools with the necessary resources they need so they do not have to sacrifice school quality while trying to serve their students,” said Blake.
The IBO’s report, called “Not Reaching the Door: Homeless Students Face Many Hurdles on the Way to School,” found that during the 2014-15 school year, only approximately half of homeless families were placed in the same borough as their youngest child’s school. Further, their findings estimate the number of temporarily housed youth has increased by 25% since the 2010-11 school year. This kind of increase in housing instability creates a number of barriers, including lapses in children’s education, with one of the most significant impacts being chronic absenteeism.
When comparing attendance rates for the 2013-14 school year, the IBO found that temporarily housed students had attendance rates 5% lower than permanently housed students. Chronic absenteeism rates are the highest among students living in shelters, with 34% absent compared to the estimated 27% among students in permanent housing.
Recent efforts to extend protections to pre-K students who are homeless are included in the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama last December. The law went into effect this month and changes the definition of “school of origin” to include protections for homeless preschool students.

URGE FLUSHING, ‘TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FORGIVING FINES’: New York City Department of Finance (DOF) Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Shear, New York City Council Member Peter Koo and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), will gather from 10 am to 11 am at the Gallery of Amerasia Bank at 41-02 Main St., 2nd Floor in Flushing, to encourage businesses to take advantage of “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program.” This 90-day initiative will forgive penalties and interest on violations received by individuals and business owners from the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings and other City agencies, reducing and eliminating debt owed to the City. The program started on September 12, 2016 and runs to December 12, 2016 and covers unpaid violations that are now in judgment. There are roughly 1.4 million violations in judgment.
Under the three-month amnesty program authorized by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, New York City is forgiving penalties, interest and added fees on violations received by home and business owners from the Department of  Sanitation, Department of Buildings, NYPD, FDNY and other City agencies.
“The NYC Amnesty program could have a significant impact on small businesses, which are an important part of New York City’s economy,” said Jacques Jiha, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance, which administers the amnesty program. “Small business owners work very hard to stay afloat. Many of them have low profit margins. The penalties and interest on any Department of Sanitation or Department of Buildings fines sometimes account for more than 60% of their debt to the city. The Amnesty program will help them save money.”
Any business or individual with violations in judgment that have been adjudicated by the Environmental Control Board may participate in the New York City Amnesty Program. The amnesty program provides the following penalty relief:
• Individuals and businesses with judgments containing hearing default penalties can have 100% of the penalties as well as interest forgiven.
• Those whose attended hearings and do not have default penalties only have to pay 75% of the base fine.
“Rising costs have led many businesses to view regulatory fines and penalties as the straws that broke the camel’s back,” said Koo. “The vast majority of small businesses want to comply with the law simply so they can live the dream of running a successful business in the greatest city in the world. Problems arise when fines from overregulation pile up, leaving opportunities for businesses who are trying to keep their businesses afloat.”
After the amnesty period, individuals and businesses will have to pay 100% of interest and penalties on top of their base fines.
The amnesty program covers two types of violations: those that do not require corrective action and those that do. Below are some of the most common violations:
• Illegal Posting of Handbill or Notice
• Snow, Ice or Dirt on Sidewalk
• Improper Storage of Receptacles
• Improper or Misused Recycling Containers
• Improper Disposal of Trash or Recyclables
• Failure to Comply With an Order of the Commissioner
• Failure to Properly Place Recyclables for Collection
• Work Without A Permit
• Failure to Conduct Required Inspections and Tests
•Failure to Submit Affidavits, Design/Installation or Other Documents
• Vending Merchandise or Food in a Restricted Area
For more information on the New York City “Forgiving Fines: The New York City Amnesty Program,” visit them online: http://nyc.gov/forgivingfines.

BARNWELL ENDORSED BY UNIFORMED OFFICERS UNIONS: Democratic Nominee for New York State Assembly Brian Barnwell announced on October 28th that his campaign was endorsed by several uniformed officers unions, including the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, MTA Police Benevolent Association, Police Benevolent Association of New York State, Police Conference of New York, New York State Police Investigators Association, and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Barnwell is the Democratic candidate in the 30th AD.
Barnwell also announced endorsements by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and the Transit Workers Union Local 100.
Barnwell said, “I am proud to have the support of these unions. As somebody who comes from a family of union members, the endorsements mean a lot to me personally. I know first-hand that all working men and women deserve a job with which they can support their families.  I look forward to advocating for all working families as an Assemblymember.
“We proudly endorse Brian Barnwell for the New York State Assembly.  We look forward to working with Brian and know he will be a strong advocate for NYC police officers and their families.   We are honored to support him,” said Pat Lynch, President of the NYC PBA.
“I met Brian Barnwell last year in Albany and I was so impressed with his strong desire to serve the residents of Queens,” said Dan De Federicis, Police Benevolent Association of NYS Executive Director and Counsel. “His experience, intelligence and most of all his passion for public service is what makes him so qualified for the Assembly,” De Federicis added.
“We are proud to give our endorsement to Brian Barnwell for New York State Assembly.  We look forward to working with him in Albany, and we know he will tirelessly support our working men and women throughout the state,” said Richard Wells, President of the Police Conference of N.Y.
“The Executive Board of the UFOA unanimously voted to endorse Brian Barnwell, a Democrat and a brand new voice for Western Queens in the State Assembly.” Uniformed Fire Officers Association President James Lemonda said.  “Brian Barnwell has all the credentials a new Assemblyman could and should have. His family is a union family – nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers and family members in the building trades. His cousin, Edward J. White III, was a firefighter in Engine 230, who died on 9/11/01. Another cousin, Walter Gilroy is currently a firefighter in Harlem. All the UFOA’s Woodside, Long Island City and Astoria members will have a voice in Albany that shares their values.”
Barnwell is the Democratic Nominee for the New York State Assembly’s 30th District, which includes parts of Woodside, Sunnyside, Dutch Kills, Maspeth, and Middle Village.  He is an attorney and longtime resident of Woodside.

MILLER ALLOCATES $1M TO DISTRICT SCHOOLS: Assemblyman Mike Miller announced he has allocated $1 million for public schools within the 38th Assembly District. The money will be distributed evenly the schools for equipment. Each school will receive the funding and prioritize the equipment that their school needs.
Miller (D–Woodhaven) said, “Schools in our district are always in need of resources, whether it be for programs or equipment. I made allocating the money a top priority. I keep in contact with many of the schools principals and these conversations made me aware of how necessary additional capital funding is to enhancing student academic achievement.
“This will be a capital grant that will be given to the Department of Education in which the money will be divided and allocated to each school. Principals will provide their list of equipment requests to the Department of Education directly. Each school has different priorities that will benefit their student body.”
Miller said, “I felt it was necessary to provide resources for schools in terms of capital money. I know that many of the schools will in turn use the money for smart boards, technology upgrades and tablets. In today’s economy teaching with these technologies is a necessity and I’m happy to help children obtain the tools necessary for success in the classroom.”

APPLAUD DECISION TO EXTEND PROTECTED STATUS TO NEPALESE: Congress Member Joe Crowley (D-NY), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Grace Meng (D-Queens), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, announced that the United States government is extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Nepalese nationals presently in the US in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015.
Following a letter led by Crowley and Meng urging Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry, the US government initially granted TPS to Nepalese nationals through December 24, 2016. Crowley and Meng have since called on the U.S. government to extend TPS in light of the continued challenges that Nepal has faced in rebuilding its infrastructure and restoring its housing to previous levels. The announcement made on October 26 will extend TPS to June 24, 2018.
“More than a year after the massive earthquake that killed 9,000 people and injured tens of thousands more, Nepal’s path to recovery and rebuilding remains extremely challenging,” said Rep. Crowley. “Extending TPS is a much-needed step that will allow those in Queens and in communities across the country to remain here until the Nepalese government is better suited to handle their return.”
“I applaud this extension of TPS,” said Rep. Meng. “The massive earthquake in 2015 devastated Nepal and the country continues to recover. Extending TPS through June 2018 will permit citizens of Nepal to remain in the United States until conditions improve in their homeland. This is the right decision, and it will greatly help the Nepalese government and Nepalese citizens who are presently in Queens and other parts of the U.S. We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to Nepal and all who have been impacted by the earthquake.”
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the U.S. can provide TPS when conditions in a country prevent its citizens from returning safely such as natural disaster, civil war, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. This status may be extended when conditions in the country remain dangerous or unsettled.
In order to qualify for TPS, applicants must have been continuously present in the U.S. since June 24, 2015. To maintain TPS, people who have previously received TPS must re-register by December 27, 2016.
For more information on TPS, including guidance on the application process and additional information on eligibility, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) TPS website at www.uscis.gov/tps.

FATAL ACCIDENT INVOLVING EIGHT-MONTH OLD: State Senator Michael Gianaris released the following statement on the death of 8-month-old Navraj Raju, who was killed at the hands of an unlicensed driver on Astoria Boulevard on Friday, October 28th:
“It is very simple. No one should be behind the wheel if s/he does not have a valid license,” said Senator Gianaris. “My thoughts are with Ms. Kaur and Mr. Raju during this difficult time. We must toughen the law in order to mourn fewer of these tragedies, not more.”
This past May, Senator Gianaris’ bill (S2484A) to crack down on drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving with revoked, suspended or otherwise invalid licenses, passed the New York State Senate. The bill would make such an event a felony requiring jail time, whereas currently “most perpetrators get off with a slap on the wrist,” stated Gianaris.
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said, “My deepest condolences go out to the family of the 8-month-old child who tragically lost his life in a stroller after being struck by a van this morning. It was very upsetting to learn of this fatal accident. We must work together to ensure proper safety measures are put in place to prevent these kind of accidents from occurring again, as the area where it happened was described by neighbors and pedestrians as very dangerous. Although the facts of the case remain unclear, the motorist apparently didn’t have a proper license and should have never been behind the wheel of that van.”

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