2016-12-14 / Political Page

Rudy Quits Trump Job Search

Our former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who helped a lot in Donald Trump’s victory in becoming president, has thrown in the towel as far as getting a job with in the new administration.

It appears the former mayor was only interested in becoming secretary of state, but there wasn’t a chance of that happening with Trump, who seemed to be all right with that, saying at in one press report, “I fully respect and understand his reasons for remaining in the private sector.”

As for Giuliani, who as an ex-mayor wouldn’t be expected to take just any job, made it easy for Trump to let him move on. Giuliani’s response was: “The whole thing was becoming kind of very confusing and very difficult for the president-elect.”

As we see it, Giuliani was not merely a silent supporter of Trump, he was out there most nights giving the candidate a big build-up before Trump took the stage. The ex-mayor, is genuinely one who goes all out, putting his heart into a speech, so that he was really winning votes for Trump by giving his all every time.

What we’re saying is the ex-mayor earned a top role in the new administration that the president elect is forming, and he was well qualified for the Secretary of State role because he has the background to handle it after dealing with foreign governments for the past 10 or 15 years.

But as you might expect, Giuliani sized up the whole situation: a new president who deserves loyalty from team players. So if Trump doesn’t see someone in a certain role, the team player either goes along with it or steps aside and takes another path.

Remember Giuliani was a successful mayor, serving eight years (1994-2001), making an impact on the city and went on to establish a respectable law practice. We’re sure he will continue to prosper and maintain the respect he’s earned and is entitled to.

Meanwhile, presently all signs appear to show that Trump will appoint Rex Tillerson, an ExxonMobil executive, and completion of his first cabinet is nearly set. Tillerson has had major experience in dealing with oil and the Soviet Union, which would be expected to clear the path to the ExxonMobil door.

MAJOR MAYORAL PROBE: The story broke Monday, alleging that a new $2.5 billion trolley line from Queens to Brooklyn, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, had allegedly triggered a bonanza of payoffs from developers involved in new high rise construction along the 16-mile route of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector trolley line (BQX).

Also alleged in the Daily News exposé, seven developers poured $245,000 into the mayor’s coffers through de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York. Meanwhile, City Hall denied any allegations of pay-for-play.

Among the building allegedly involved are: Astoria Cove in Astoria, luxury and affordable apartments; and similar apartments at Greenpoint Landing. One developer was quoted as saying everyone along the Brooklyn- Queens waterfront would benefit from the new housing developments.

The story said talks between the mayor’s staff and builders’ people date back to 2014, long before the plans for the trolley line surfaced.

The plan for the trolley line, and related construction developments was originated by a group called Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector thought up by developer Jed Wallentas, but the actual plan was proposed by the de Blasio administration not long after he took office in 2014.

The story said that Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are looking into aspects of the case.

Meanwhile, de Blasio is planning for his reelection next year.

MENG, TONKO ELECTED REGIONAL WHIPS FOR DEM CAUCUS: Congress Members Grace Meng and Paul Tonko (both D–NY) announced on Dec. 5 that they have been selected as Regional Whips for New York State in the upcoming 115th session Congress which begins in January.

Elected by their Democratic colleagues from the New York State congressional delegation, Meng and Tonko will advise New York Democrats about upcoming legislation and report the sentiments to Democratic leadership in the House. Meng will be responsible for Democratic House members from New York City and Long Island, and Tonko will be responsible for Democratic House members from Upstate New York.

In addition to her new role as a Regional Whip for New York, Meng will continue to serve as an Assistant Whip, a position she was appointed to last year by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second highest ranking Democrat in the House.

House Democrats also elected Congress Member Joseph Crowley as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus at their recent meeting. Crowley had been serving as Vice Chair of the Caucus. As Chairman of the Caucus, Crowley is now the fourth-highest-ranked official among Democrats in the House.

“I thank my New York State colleagues for electing me to the important position of Regional Whip,” said Meng. “It is an honor to be selected and I am excited to serve in this capacity with Rep. Tonko. I look forward to continuing the fight for New York’s middle class families, and helping advance the Democratic agenda in the next session of Congress.”

Tonko added, “The House has a long to-do list ahead of it when we reconvene in January for the 115th Congress, and I’m looking for- ward to getting to work.” “With its diverse economy, communities, and economies, Upstate New York represents America – and Upstate Democrats will continue to vote to create well-paying jobs, raise wages, and defend hard-working families in the communities they represent. In a few short years Congresswoman Meng has proven to be an effective and responsible leader that hit the ground running the day she was elected, and I couldn’t be happier to work with her in this capacity for the next two years.”

“I congratulate my friends and colleagues, Meng and Tonko on their election to these leadership positions in New York’s congressional delegation,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Dean of the New York Congressional Delegation for the 115th Congress. “Their expertise will help give our state an important voice in Congress, and a seat at the table when important decisions are being made that affect the future of all New Yorkers. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences will help ensure that all New Yorkers are represented in our caucus leadership. I’m looking forward to working with them in their new roles to move our state and nation forward.”

First elected to the House in 2009, Tonko represents New York’s Capital Region, which includes Albany, Amsterdam, Schenectady, and Troy. He currently serves as the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy. He also works on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Meng is presently serving her second term in the House representing the 6th Congressional District of New York encompassing the borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens. She is the first Asian-American Member of Congress from New York State, and the only Congress Member of Asian descent in the entire Northeast. She is also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Small Business Committee, where she is the Ranking Member of the Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee.

HOUSE PASSES MENG BILL THAT FIGHTS TERRORISM: Congress Member Grace Meng announced that the House has passed her legislation to strengthen the Rewards for Justice Program, a key government initiative used to fight terrorism and other international crimes.

The program allows the Secretary of State to pay cash rewards for information that leads to the apprehension anybody involved in international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, transnational crime, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, Meng (D–Flushing) explained.

Meng’s measure would add rewards for those who provide information on individuals who “aid” or “abet” the above crimes. Currently, people who offer information on individuals who aid or abet these kinds of criminal acts do not qualify for this type of financial reward.

“The Rewards For Justice Program is a great tool in our country’s fight against terrorism and other crimes, and my provision would make it even better,” said Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “It is critical that we use all resources at our disposal to bring international criminals to justice. I look forward to this legislation now moving through the Senate.”

Meng’s measure passed as part of the State Department Authorities Act.

KOSLOWITZ ACTS TO INCREASE COMMUNITY VOICE AGAINST DEVELOPERS: A bill introduced by Council Member Karen Koslowitz is seeking to reform the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), a little-known five-member agency that grants variances from the City’s zoning laws.

This little agency is widely viewed as “a rubber stamp” for developers she says. In it testimony before the council in 2012, the Citizens’ Union stated that in a 12- month period, the BSA granted 97% of all applications by developers. Over the objections of local community boards and elected officials, developers have been able to circumvent city zoning laws restricting building forms, use, height, density and more, through the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), Koslowitz (D–Forest Hills) charges.

This is how it operates, the lawmaker says:

A property owner seeking a “special permit” so that a site can be developed at variance to the existing zoning laws would initially submit an application to the BSA. The BSA would refer the application to the local community board and subsequently to the borough board for advisory opinions. Both the local and borough boards conduct an informed, in-depth review of the application. Plans, written statements, testimony by interested parties and the public are all carefully examined and considered. The borough board refers the matter to the BSA for a final determination. The BSA has been known to totally disregard the recommendations of local and borough boards without explanation. That is why Koslowitz has introduced her legislation, Intro 418.

The bill would require “any action of the Board of Standards and Appeals made with respect to an application for a special permit that is contrary to the recommendation filed by a community board or borough board shall be accompanied by a written explanation of its reason for such action.” The Councilwoman asserts that, “community and borough boards make a serious investment in time and effort in reviewing BSA applications before making a recommendation. Those recommendations need to be treated by the BSA with the respect that they deserve.”

On December 14, a package of 10 bills, including Intro 418, will be heard by the Committee on Government Operations. All 10 bills deal with some aspect of the Board of Standards and Appeals not being responsive to community input and concerns.

PERALTA: ‘WEIGH REAL COSTS, BENEFITS’ BEFORE APPLYING FOR IDNYC CARD: State Senator Jose Peralta (D–East Elmhurst) issued the following regarding current factors affecting the municipal IDNYC program.

“While I myself am an IDNYC cardholder, I am deeply troubled by the current turn of events surrounding the Program, especially in the wake of last month’s presidential election. Yesterday’s news that the City must retain background information on existing IDNYC cardholders, as the result of frivolous litigation filed by my colleagues on the ‘right,’ is a blow to the safety and security of our City’s undocumented population. Though the City has stated that it will not retain the background information of IDNYC applicants moving forward, I feel compelled to express my concern that new applications under the program pose a clear risk to the undocumented. While the city may no longer be retaining immigration documents as a prerequisite to obtaining an IDNYC card, it remains the case that an applicant’s name and address may remain fair game for overzealous government officials, or for future litigants. While I have always been a supporter of moving the undocumented away from the shadows, this time of uncertainty calls for practicality over politics. I encourage all New Yorkers who are contemplating applying for an IDNYC card to weigh the real costs and benefits associated with the risks that are likely to arise under the Trump administration. As an elected official who represents the ‘United Nations’ of all Senate districts, I know my District is ground zero for the incoming administration’s attempts to target immigrants.”

ADDABBO ON PLANS FOR INDUSTRIAL CENTER IN OZONE PARK: State Senator Joseph Addabbo released a statement on the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s plans for an industrial center in Ozone Park:

“As the State Senator and life-long resident of Ozone Park, I am thankful that the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) has sought to invest in the Ozone Park Industrial Center to create manufacturing businesses and jobs at the site. When businesses are able to operate in Queens, employment opportunities are created right here in our own backyards. I strongly believe in making use of the space we have available to help our borough and our city grow, and this industrial center will do just that. By keeping manufacturing operations in Queens, businesses will be able to keep their costs down, benefiting both the business owner and the consumer in the long run. I look forward to working closely with the NYC EDC, as well as Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, to see this project become a reality in my district. With more than 80 jobs to be available once this project is complete, I encourage the two dozen businesses that will take over this space to hire local residents who can help keep Queens’ economy thriving.”

MALONEY, OTHER REPS. LEAD CALL FOR MORE CENSUS FUNDING: Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, Gerald E. Connolly and Keith Ellison, led 13 of their colleagues in calling on the Committee on Appropriations to “provide an increased spending anomaly of $1,192 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account within the US Census Bureau, as indicated is necessary by the Office of Management and Budget,” in a Dec. 5 sent to Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey.

In the letter, the Representatives explain that this level of funding is needed because “This is a critical year of preparation for a successful 2020 Census. In FY 2017, the Census Bureau must make final design decisions and preparations in advance of the 2018 End-to- End Census Test during which all systems and operations will be tested and evaluated as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for operations in 2020. This requires starting the Local Update of Census Addresses program in partnership with state and local governments, updating spatial mapping information using new cost-effective methods, acquiring six new Regional Census Centers and finalizing questionnaire content to be submitted to Congress, Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) explained.

“Furthermore, the Census Bureau will continue development of the Integrated Communications Campaign and Partnership Program, submit 2020 Census and ACS topics to Congress, and conduct the 2017 Census Test, which will assess reengineered Update/Enumerate methods for rural and remote areas for the first time,” Maloney stated.

The letter is below: more from Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

As you consider Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017, we respectfully urge you to provide an increased spending anomaly of $1.192 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account within the US Census Bureau, as indicated is necessary by the Office of Management and Budget. This increased funding level is essential for 2020 Census planning and testing as well as development for the American Community Survey (ACS).

The 2020 Census is expected to be the largest and most digitally advanced Census ever conducted, embracing new opportunities in technology and data collection that could save more than $5 billion over the lifecycle of the Census. Failure to provide a funding level increase could cost taxpayers billions of dollars, as the Census Bureau would be forced to revert back to traditional counting methods that threaten both cost effectiveness and accuracy.

Beyond preparing for the Census, the Bureau is charged with the important task of managing the American Community Survey (ACS) each year. The importance of the ACS cannot be overstated; it provides Congress, state and local governments, businesses, and social service providers with the objective, reliable data they need to invest wisely, stimulate economic growth, and meet the needs of vulnerable populations like veterans, people with disabilities, older Americans, and low income households.

The ACS is the only source of annually updated demographic, social, and economic data for every community in the nation and helps direct $400 billion in annual federal funding. The modest funding increase requested for the ACS will support continued efforts to improve the ease of responding and the overall experience for our constituents and businesses and ensure data quality. Cuts to the ACS budget could mean many U.S. counties and all rural and small communities go uncounted, leaving these areas without sufficient data to guide planning decisions, resource allocation, and initiatives to attract new business investment. Our most vulnerable communities cannot afford cuts to the ACS.

In closing, the Census Bureau will not be able to implement these activities in a thorough and timely way without sufficient funding in FY 2017. Additionally, as we move closer to 2020, the Census Bureau cannot make up for lost time due to lack of proper funding without compromising the integrity and accuracy of the Census funding for preparation.

Thank you for considering our views on this important matter. While we recognize and appreciate the challenges your Committee faces in drafting a continuing resolution, we strongly urge you to provide an increased spending anomaly at the level of $1.192 billion for the Periodic Censuses and Programs account within the U.S. Census Bureau so that it may fulfill its Constitutional mandate effectively and accurately.

STATEMENT FROM CUOMO ON NYC SUBWAY HATE CRIMES: At approximately 6:20 am this morning (Monday, Dec. 5) a uniformed off-duty Muslim New York City Transit employee on her way to work was assaulted by a male passenger at Grand Central Terminal. After exiting the 7 Train in the station, the suspect allegedly called the station agent a ‘terrorist’ and pushed her down the stairs, injuring both her ankle and knee. The employee was swiftly transported to NYU Langone for the treatment of her injuries.

The incident follows a wave of bias events targeting the MTA since the Presidential election. On Saturday, a No. 1 train was found to have been vandalized, with multiple swastikas graffitied on its interior. Last week, KKK fliers and business cards were distributed at the Patchogue and Hampton Bay Stations on the Long Island Rail Road.

“This is the great state of New York – we welcome people of all cultures, customs and creeds with open arms. We do not allow intolerance or fear to divide us because we know diversity is our strength and we are at our best when we stand united. I have directed the MTA, State Police and Division of Human Rights to work with local law enforcement to investigate these matters. These acts of hate will be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and those responsible will be held accountable.

“New York will continue to set the example for the nation – safeguarding our diversity and our differences, and rooting out bigotry and hatred wherever it exists. The work of the Hate Crimes Task Force has never been more urgent and we will continue to crack down on this type of criminal behavior. I wish a speedy recovery for the victim, and want to let her know we are seeking justice for her and for all New Yorkers.”

SCHUMER: WE NEED A TRANSIT TERROR CROSSCHECK: As the holiday traveling season ramps up, US Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed that rail and mass transit employees are not crosschecked with the federal terror watch list. On Dec. 11, Schumer said that needs to change.

“With terror threats from ISIS sympathizers and lone wolves ever possible, it is just not acceptable that every single front line transit employee is not checked against the federal terror watch list like airlines do,” said Schumer. “Railing for rail security is a no-brainer and we simply cannot leave our transportation arteries vulnerable to a possible terror threat. I’m urging the feds to immediately finalize this common sense employee background check so that our nation’s railways are kept safe.”

Schumer said that the 9/11 Commission Report, published more than a decade ago, first urged to close this loophole under Passenger Rail Requirements. Yet, despite recent acts and threats of terror in New York City and beyond, Schumer said that it’s shocking that this common sense safety gap was never closed. On Dec. 11 Schumer urged the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to immediately fix this rule and, just as airlines already do, and make sure all rail and transit employees, especially those of the frontline, are cross-checked with the federal terror watch list.

According to the FBI, the Terrorist Screening Database, also known as the terror watch list, contains a single database that contains sensitive national security and law enforcement information concerning the identities of those who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terroristic activities. Currently, five major government agencies screen with information from the Terrorist Screening Database: the Department of State’s consular officers for passport and visa screening, the TSA for aviation security screening (No Fly and Selectee Lists), the FBI’s National Crime and Information Center for domestic law enforcement screening, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for border and port of entry screening, and the Department of Defense for base access screening.

The 9/11 Commission Report, section 1520, first recommended all safety sensitive transit employees be crosschecked against the federal terror watch list. Currently, the DHS and TSA have a pending requirement that would close this safety gap, but the requirement has not yet been finalized. Schumer said that this safety gap includes employees in New York City’s transit epicenter, including those who work for Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro North.

Amtrak is considered the sole high-speed intercity passenger railroad provider in the US, operating more than 300 passenger trains each day. In Fiscal year 2015, Amtrak carried more than 31 million people throughout 46 states, including a million in and out of Penn Station, where a slew of Amtrak employees shuffle in and out each day.

TSA has attributed delays in implementing the rail security requirements from the 9/11 Act to the complex federal rulemaking process, according to the DHS Office of the Inspector General. The OIG has said that, “although the rulemaking process can be lengthy, TSA has not prioritized the need to implement rail security requirements” related to the 9/11 Act, particularly this terror watch list employee crosscheck rule.

Schumer, said that there is no time to waste in finalizing this rule and pointed to recent terror attacks, continued threats in New York City and the general vulnerabilities that come with rail service and security.? He also acknowledged that there should be a fair and reasonable review process to ensure that in the rare case where an employee is inadvertently placed on the watch list they are not negatively impacted.

MENG OPPOSES GOVERNMENT SPENDING BILL: US Rep. Grace Meng (DQueens) announced Dec. 9 that she voted against yesterday’s stopgap spending bill due to its failure to adequately reimburse New York City for the cost of protecting President-Elect Donald Trump. She also voted no, since the bill only funds the government through April – as opposed to a full year – and because it expedites a waiver for General James Mattis so that he can serve as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Defense. Under federal law, former members of the military must wait seven years until they can serve as defense secretary.

“Shortchanging New York City for the money it needs to protect Trump Tower is baffling but not surprising,” said Meng. “It’s just more of the GOP-led Congress’ bias against New York. However, this is more than just federal dollars for our city. It’s funding to help safeguard the incoming President of the United States!”

“It is also outrageous that GOP leaders sought to help green-light General Mattis,” Meng added. “Playing politics with such a key position in our government is shameful, and sets a horrible and dangerous precedent. In addition, our government should not be funded in dribs and drabs. A short-term extension only kicks the can down the road and leaves Americans and federal agencies uncertain about what funds might be available to them in the coming year.”

“After Donald Trump was elected, one of my hopes was that New York would have a shot at obtaining a greater share of resources from Washington,” said Meng. “I urge the President-elect to help secure the money needed to keep him safe in his hometown. We all recognize the importance of protecting the area around Trump Tower. But it should not be done on the backs of New Yorkers.”

The spending bill, also known as a continuing resolution, only included a $7 million reimbursement for New York, far short of the $35 million requested by Mayor de Blasio.

MENG APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF KEVIN AND AVONTE’S LAW: US Rep. Grace Meng applauded on Dec. 9 House passage of Kevin and Avonte’s Law, a bill to improve protections for children with autism and other conditions.

The legislation (HR 4919) is named in part after Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old autistic student from Meng’s district in Rego Park, Queens who died after he wandered from his school in 2013. The measure, which Meng cosponsored, passed by a vote of 346 to 66, the Queens lawmaker said.

“What happened to Avonte Oquendo was a horrible tragedy that should have never occurred,” said Meng. “As a founder and co- Chair of the Kids Safety Caucus, I believe that we must do everything we can to protect our kids, and this legislation will help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. As a parent, my heart still aches for the Oquendo family and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers. I thank my colleagues in the House for recognizing the importance of passing this bill.”

Kevin and Avonte’s Law would provide $10 million for tracking devices for children, as well initiatives to improve education and training to prevent wandering, the Flushing Democrat said.

Meng had helped to introduce a similar version of the bill in 2014.

The legislation is also named after 9-yearold Kevin Curtis Wills who drowned in the Raccoon River in Iowa in 2008.

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