2016-11-30 / Political Page

Last Ditch Try To Block Trump, Make Hillary Winner

We thought Election Day 2016 was left behind us on November 8th when Donald Trump walked away as the next President of the USA. But a third-party loser, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, had other ideas, and three states have lined up to dethrone Donald and make Hillary Clinton the new president.

Stein was a distant third on November 8th, but recently an article in New York Magazine got her attention, pointing out that Clinton had won the popular vote 2 million votes ahead of Trump, and deserved to be the winner. But actually, Trump was ahead in the Electoral College vote and was busy choosing his staff for the White House.

So Stein started planning a recount for president in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan (which provided Trump with a promise of 10, 20 and 16 Electoral College vote, respectively which gave him the 270 votes to win the presidency. Stein got busy on the telephone, and before long had collected $5.2 million to cover expenses for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

The recount in Wisconsin is scheduled to start next week and be finished by December 13. At the same time, Stein will have the recount set up in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Clinton was a little reluctant to take on Trump for this new challenge, but she’s now on board and eagerly awaiting the recount in the three states.

Trump was also late getting on board for the new challenge, tweeting last week: “It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in 3 or 4 states instead of the 15 states that I visited. I would have won more easily and convincingly (but small states are forgotten!)…”

Looking back, nearly 3 million votes were cast in Wisconsin on November 8, and Trump won a very close race, by 22,177 votes, according to Stein. So it appears that Clinton and Trump are in for another cliffhanger in Wisconsin. And hopefully there won’t be any of the reported irregularities with electronic voting machines used in the voting. As for Stein she reported that she undertook the recount campaign in the interests of fair voting.

Meanwhile, Stein is busy getting the recount set up in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The November 8 balloting was also very close there. Trump won in Pennsylvania by a reported 71,000- vote margin, and took Michigan by just under 11,000 votes.

MOYA APPLAUDS CUOMO’S ACTIONS TO COMBAT HATE CRIMES: “The election of Donald Trump has led to wide sweeping fear among the immigrant community, including the neighborhoods I represent. In these dire times on the federal level, it is imperative that we in state government provide every resource and protection we can to those targeted. Over the last 6 years in the Assembly, I have fought alongside the Speaker to increase funding for immigrant legal services at non profit organizations, created the New York Immigrant Family Unification Project, and sought to protect and help immigrant students with the NYS DREAM Act.

I applaud the Governor for his proactive plan to join this fight to give legal resources to those that need it and help keep families together. The proposed public-private partnership to provide legal services is innovative and much-needed; expanding the Human Rights Law will protect students targeted in school; and finally, the hate crime task force will give protection and bring justice in response to the disgusting increase in bias crimes. As we move into the new legislative session, I look forward to working with the Governor to expand these programs and support those I am working on to protect those most vulnerable.”

KATZ: ‘HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE’: Borough President Melinda Katz announced that residents who need financial assistance to help heat their homes this winter are encouraged to come to her office at Queens Borough Hall to apply for help from the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP).

“Queens has experienced some rough winters in recent years,” Katz said. “Winter temperatures are just uncomfortable for most of us, but they can be harmful and even deadly to the elderly and to other vulnerable people. Fortunately, those who may not be able to afford to heat their homes can apply to HEAP for important and potentially lifesaving financial assistance that will allow them to pay their winter heating bills. I urge all Queens residents who are struggling to pay their heating bills to take advantage of this vitally important program.”

HEAP is a federally funded grant program that helps low-income homeowners and renters defray the cost of heating fuel. Eligible recipients can receive up to several hundred dollars per year to offset their fuel bills, Katz explained. She added, “From now and over the next several months, HEAP application assistance will be available on Mondays and Wednesdays (excluding holidays) from 9 am to 5 pm in the Office of Borough President Melinda Katz at Queens Borough Hall (Room 225), 120-55 Queens Boulevard. No appointments will be accepted, and walk-in applicants will be served on a first-come first-served basis.

Katz said that Representatives from the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) will be available to directly assist people with applications. Multi-language assistance will be available. US citizens and qualified immigrants can get HEAP assistance if they meet eligibility requirements.

Eligibility for HEAP is based on a point-system that factors in household income, percent of income spent on energy costs, and the presence of vulnerable individuals (i.e. children under the age of six, adults aged 60 years or older, and those with a permanent disability). Applicants visiting the HEAP office must bring a copy of a recent utility bill as well as documentation verifying their income and rent and the date of birth and social security number of each household member. A checklist of the documents that must be brought to the HEAP office is available at www1.nyc.gov/assets/hra/downloads/pdf/services/energy_assistance/heap.pdf.

Individuals must apply for HEAP benefits annually, Katz noted. That means someone who received a HEAP grant last year must re-apply again this year to receive HEAP benefits for the winter of 2016-2017. This year a family of four with a gross monthly income of $4,423 or less can receive HEAP benefits, for example. This monthly income threshold will increase or decrease depending on the size of a household.

HEAP assistance is also available to those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Temporary Assistance or Code A Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In addition to helping to offset the cost of heating fuel, HEAP has an equipment repair and replacement component that can help eligible low-income homeowners repair or replace any broken heating equipment needed to keep a home’s primary heating source functional. Grants of up to $6,500 will be awarded, based on the actual cost incurred to replace or repair an applicant’s furnace, boiler and/or other essential heating equipment. Applications for such grants can be made at the Borough Hall HEAP office or at any other local HEAP office, Katz explained.

Additional details related to HEAP can also be obtained by calling Borough President Katz’s HEAP office at 718-286-2899 or by calling the City’s HEAP hotline at 800-692-0557.

MENG AWARDS NEARLY $1M GRANT TO QUEENS COLLEGE: Congress Member Grace Meng (D–Queens) announced on November 21 that Queens College has been awarded a nearly $1 million federal grant for its Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program, an initiative to improve and expand the school’s capacity to service Hispanic and other low-income students.

The funds, allocated by the US Department of Education, total $968,562 and will be used to help more Hispanic and low-income students graduate with majors in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The project is renewable annually for up to five years, with a projected budget totaling $5.6 million.

According to the Department of Education, colleges in the United States are not producing enough STEM graduates to meet workforce demands. The grant addresses the problem by targeting the decrease in STEM majors among traditionally underrepresented students.

“STEM plays an important role in our city, state and nation, and will continue to do so in the future,” said Meng. “It is crucial that we attract students to the STEM fields, especially traditionally underrepresented students, in order to meet the demand for STEM skills, and these federal funds will help accomplish that here in our borough. I thank Queens College for all its efforts in STEM, and I’m thrilled to deliver the good news about these critical funds.”

“This is a very innovative and transformational grant opportunity that will spark great growth in our STEM enrollment,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “And the beauty of this Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant is that it will help all students—not just Latinos and low-income students—because the curricular changes and programs developed will be open to all students here and at Queensborough. I am proud to say that our efforts at promoting the STEM fields at the college have already been rewarded, as over a third of our current undergraduates major in these important fields, and of those students, over half are minority students.”

The project will involve approximately 24,000 students over the next five years at Queens College as well as Queensborough Community College. The grant seeks to improve access, improve learning, and create bridges for STEM students at the two institutions. The money will be used to:

Redesign courses to land students into STEM majors.

• Facilitate peer-led instruction and mentoring to improve learning and the fostering of intellectual growth outside of the classroom.

• Create a group of faculty and administrators from Queens College and Queensborough Community College to improve programs, policies, and practices in STEM education.

• Queens College and Queensborough Community College serve significant numbers of Hispanic students (26% at Queens College and 32% at Queensborough Community College) and low income students (39% at Queens College and 49% at Queensborough Community College).

CUOMO HELPS VETS IN NURSING FACILITIES GET BENEFITS: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on November 21 a new pilot program to help connect veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities with benefits, programs, and services earned as a result of their military service. For the first time in its 70- year history, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs will hire Veterans Benefits Advisors to exclusively assist veterans in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, including the Veterans’ Homes operated by the New York State Department of Health and the State University of New York.

“Our veterans answered the call to serve our nation, and we owe it to them to ensure they have access to the resources that they are rightfully able to obtain,” said Governor Cuomo. “This new initiative will help ensure that when a new veteran patient enters a nursing home, they are better able have their needs addressed and their quality of life improved.”

While the Division of Veterans’ Affairs has over 40 accredited Veterans’ Benefits Advisors covering 70 offices across the state, this new pilot program will, for the first time, hire several new ones that will be dispatched directly to skilled nursing facilities and provide enhanced outreach to veterans where they live. This provides a much-needed centralized point of contact for nursing home administrators when they encounter a veteran, or a veterans’ family member who needs assistance with applying for federal and state veterans’ benefits.

The Veterans’ Benefits Advisors, all of whom will obtain accreditation to represent Veterans and their family members before the United States Department of Veterans’Affairs, will advocate free of charge for these veterans in claims and appeals for disability compensation, non-service-connected pension, and other benefits, programs, and services that can bring life-changing aid to a veteran and their family. During the last calendar year alone, existing Veterans’ Benefits Advisors successfully obtained more than $75 million in new and recurring VA benefits for veterans and their family members throughout New York State.

New York State Division of Veteran’s Affairs Executive Director Eric Hesse said, “We appreciate

Governor Cuomo’s new initiative to reach out to our veterans in nursing homes across the state. Our goal in the DVA is to ensure no veteran is left behind and this takes this and our ‘Have you served?’ campaign to the next level. We in New York State have an aging veteran population and it is our responsibility to ensure they are all receiving the benefits, programs, and services they have earned.”

The New York State Department of Health operates State Veterans’ Homes in the communities of Batavia, Montrose, Oxford, and St. Albans. SUNY operates a State Veterans’ Home on the campus of SUNY Stony Brook. Veterans with a VA disability compensation rating of 70 percent or higher receive skilled nursing care from these facilities free of charge. All other veterans and their spouses can receive skilled nursing care from these homes at a cost significantly lower than the price of most private facilities, as long as the veteran received an honorable discharge from the military and either entered military service from New York State or is a resident of New York State today.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “New York’s veterans have risked everything to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. We have an obligation to make sure they are benefiting from the assistance, services, and programs that have been established for them.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, “Since the Long Island State Veterans’ Home opened its doors on SUNY’s Stony Brook University campus in 1991, we have proudly provided medical care to thousands who served our country. Establishing a more seamless connection between veterans and the benefits he or she has earned is certain to help alleviate what can be a tremendous burden to veterans and their families.”

In 2015, the Division conducted over 300 outreach events across New York — more than twice the number of outreach events that it conducted during the previous year. This year, the Division is on pace to conduct even more than last year, including its 11-11 Community Conversations across every region of the State. Each Community Conversation featured a town hall meeting facilitated by two or more members of the Division’s executive staff in which members of the public posed questions and recommended ideas about improving services for veterans, service members, and their families in New York. Some ideas proposed at these Community Conversations produced new initiatives that the Division, and other state agencies, implemented during the past calendar year, including communications-based improvements such as the New York State Veterans App.

ADDABBO CONDEMNS CITY’S COSTLY HOMELESS BANDAID: In the wake of a recent Wall Street Journal report highlighting more than $1.6 billion being spent to combat the city’s homeless crisis, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is once again “denouncing Mayor de Blasio’s excessive spending on poor policies that are not providing solutions for those in need.”

Early this year, the billion dollar price tag attached to Mayor de Blasio’s plan to fight homelessness was highlighted in an audit released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Since then, the administration has made little to no effort to be transparent with the community and elected officials about how the money is being spent, all while New York City’s homeless population has reached a record high of more than 60,000 people.

“With such an extravagant price tag coming at the cost of hardworking taxpayers, we deserve more openness and honesty about how this $1.6 billion is being used,” said Addabbo. “Unfortunately, this administration has been the opposite of transparent. After pledging earlier this year to put an end to the hotel shelter policy, our Mayor has instead continued to increase the number of hotels operating as homeless sites throughout the city. Each time a new location is slated to be used inappropriately for homeless individuals, we hear about it through the rumor mill instead of Mayor de Blasio taking the time to notify either the public or their elected representatives.”

The Senator has been an outspoken opponent of using hotel rooms for homeless individuals, mainly because of the substandard conditions, such as lack of kitchens and use of metal detectors.

Addabbo noted that the city did not notify him before deciding to convert a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth from a shelter into a single room rental arrangement and, despite much opposition from neighborhood residents, deliberately chose to move individuals into the building quietly on the Columbus Day holiday in an attempt to avoid being noticed by the community. Addabbo later learned that the shelter would not be housing homeless families as originally stated by the City, but instead would be housing single adults, changing the regulations for what needs to be reported to the community regarding the facility and how it is funded.

“By now, Mayor de Blasio should have realized that the increasing amount of money spent on the homeless issue and the policy of using hotels as shelters does not work,” Addabbo said. “Not only is an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars being spent fighting this issue without any transparency to the public, but the policies this administration is choosing to allocate the funds on are failing and are not resulting in long-term solutions. These hotel shelters delay more permanent assistance, while also diverting resources and attention away from more viable alternatives – such as creating more affordable housing, providing rental assistance to New Yorkers in jeopardy of losing their homes, and working with our Governor to possibly make use of available land outside the city where the cost of living is much lower. It is time for Mayor de Blasio to change his ways and realize once and for all that shutting out the community and their elected officials is not acceptable. We deserve to know how this money is being spent.”

KOSLOWITZ CONDEMNS RECENT INCREASE IN HATE CRIMES: Karen Koslowitz, Chair of the Queens Delegation in the NYC Council (D-Forest Hills) recently reacted to Police Commissioner James O’Neill’s release of hate crime statistics for New York City. “I was deeply troubled by the news released by the NYPD announcing a 31% increase in hate crimes for our city,” declared Koslowitz. “We live in the greatest city in the world, in one of the most diverse counties in the United States, and it is imperative that we immediately speak out and denounce hate in all its forms; because to stand silent in the face of these terrible incidents is not an option. As a NYC Council Member, I have proudly stood up and spoken truth to intolerance and hate in all their forms; whether it was a swastika painted on an apartment door, or someone physically or verbally assaulted because of their religious garb, sexual orientation, or the color of their skin; bigotry has no home here, it is un-American, anti-New Yorker and simply unacceptable. I join with all New Yorkers of good conscience in vocally condemning the recent increase of hate crimes, and I urge everyone to remain constantly vigilant to combat intolerance, and stay united in peace and love.”

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