2016-12-28 / Political Page

Trump Ready For Jan. 20, But Policy Change Threats Remain

President-elect Donald Trump is just 23 days away from being sworn in as the next president of the United States, but we’re not any closer to knowing where he stands on immigration or Obamacare, two policy questions that involve millions of people’s lives and billions of dollars to the United States.

Trump had declared his intention to make major changes in immigration laws, particularly banning millions of Muslims from living here, and in health care, wiping out Obamacare, the healthcare program involving other millions of people’s lives, covered under President Obama’s creation.

But during Trump’s battle for the US presidency against Hillary Clinton, which was won by Trump, he at times backtracked or softened his stances on immigration and Obamacare, thus leaving those issues floating threateningly in thin air.

Meanwhile, as Trump has indicated his intentions of following through with eliminating the programs, many people have shown their interest in continuing their membership in Obamacare.

A recent report on the program stated: “Sign-ups jump as Health Law Faces Repeal.” Actually, the story said 6.4 million had registered for plan courage next year under the Affordable Care Act according to the December 22 New York Times.

A Trump spokesperson acknowledged how important health care is for people, while Republican plans for improving it continue.

Meanwhile, the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a story saying New York State could lose about $5.7 billion annually if Obamacare is shut down.

As for the possible Muslim ban, Trump reacted about the same time to the terrorism attack in Berlin, saying the attack proved his previous positions on Muslims and immigration were “right, 100% correct.” But he wouldn’t comment beyond that.

MALONEY: BOOM FOR CITY WHEN SECOND AVENUE SUBWAY OPENS: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney joined by Dottie Herman, Chief Executive of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the Second Avenue Merchants Association, and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, hailed a real estate and economic boom for New York City once the decades-long awaited Second Avenue Subway Line at last opens December 31, 2016.

Maloney said that, along with vastly improved transportation for the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Line will bring new businesses to Second Avenue, whose merchants have been hurting because of the long period of construction. Maloney (D–Queens, Manhattan) stated:

“This is a new beginning for Second Avenue, New Yorkers, merchants and visitors to our great city. We have been waiting a long, long time for this subway line to open, and we can all look forward to the New Year with greater optimism because a subway will at last be rumbling beneath our feet on Second Avenue.”

Ms. Herman announced the construction of many new buildings in the neighborhood that will be occupied by tens of thousands of people. “The New York real estate industry has been booming for some time now, and these new developments will only add to the luster of Manhattan. We are so pleased at last to have this subway line. Economic and real estate development in New York City has rarely been stronger.”

The Second Avenue Subway Line is one of the largest mass transit projects in the nation, with the first phase of the project receiving $1.3 billion in federal funding. Some 200,000 riders are expected to take the line each day, and it is being hailed by local business leaders in the community, Maloney stated.

Samuel Musovic, President of the Second Avenue Merchants Association, has been eagerly awaiting the advent of the new line. “The Merchants of Second Avenue have undergone tremendous pressure as a result of the many years of construction of the subway line,” Musovic said. “Now we can go back to a time when shoppers can walk Second Avenue without any problems, and come in and out of the stores with ease and in comfort. This is going to be a great addition to the avenue and to the city as well.”

MENG’S ANTI-TERROR REWARDS PROGRAM NOW LAW: Congress Member Grace Meng announced, on December 20, that her new measure to strengthen the Rewards for Justice Program, a key government initiative used to fight terrorism and other international crimes, has been signed into law by the President as part of the Department of State Authorities Act.

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

Meng’s measure would allow rewards to be given to those who provide information on individuals who “aid” or “abet” war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide. Presently, people who offer information on individuals who aid or abet these kinds of criminal acts do not qualify for this type of financial reward, Meng said.

“My legislation will expand the Rewards For Justice Program, and make it an even stronger tool in helping our nation combat terrorism and other international crimes,” said Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am pleased that this important measure is now law. It is imperative that we do all we can to prevent these heinous acts, and this legislation will be a huge help in that effort. I applaud the President for signing the Department of State Authorities Act into law.”

MENG-STEFANIK BILL TO COMBAT FLOOD DAMAGE SIGNED INTO LAW: US Reps. Grace Meng (D–New York) and Elise Stefanik (R–New York) announced, on December 22, that their bipartisan measure to combat flood damage caused by ice jams has been signed into law by President Obama. The measure was signed as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (S. 612) which funds water-related projects throughout the United States.

Ice jams occur when chunks of ice in a river are blocked by obstructions – a bridge, rocks, logs, etc. – and build up to form an ice dam. When this occurs, flooding can be caused upstream from the blockage, and again downstream when the ice breaks up, Meng (D–Queens) explained.

“Flooding produced by ice jams is a serious problem that creates damage to properties in New York State and throughout the country,” said Meng. “As a result, it costs our economy millions of dollars each year. We must do more to address this problem and the many hardships it creates. Our measure would help accomplish that goal, and I’m extremely pleased that it has been signed into law.”

“Ice jams can cause flooding that damages our communities and threatens the safety of families that live near water,” said Stefanik. “I was pleased to work with Congresswoman Meng on this important initiative to help mitigate damage in the North Country. By preventing these ice jams we can better protect the safety of North Country families and prevent unnecessary destruction.”

The Meng/Stefanik legislation would permit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pursue new projects and technologies that are designed to prevent and mitigate flood damage associated with ice jams. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate earlier this month.

ADDABBO SECURES SPEED CONTROL MEASURES NEAR SCHOOL: State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) was recently notified by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) that a series of safety measures will soon be coming to the vicinity fo PS 232 in Lindenwood.

Addabbo sent a letter in October to DOT requesting that speed limit signs be posted near the school, located at 153-23 83rd Street, to alert drivers of the school zone speed of 20 miles per hour. Last week, the Senator learned from DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg that speed limit signs are set to be installed along 153rd Avenue, between 78th and 88th Street, in both directions. The agency will also install a mobile speed camera near the elementary school.

“The difference of only a few miles an hour can be a matter of life or death when it comes to traffic accidents, and there are few better places to be more mindful of this than around our city’s schools,” said Addabbo. “The placement of these speed limit signs and cameras will remind motorists to slow down while driving near PS 232, helping to prevent potentially devastating accidents and making the streets just a little safer for both drivers and pedestrians, especially the children. I thank Commissioner Trottenberg and the DOT for their commitment to ensuring the streets around our schools stay as safe as possible.”

DOT informed Addabbo that the measures are scheduled to be fully installed by December 30.

The letter from DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to Sen. Addabbo stated:

“Thank you for your October 20, 2016 letter, requesting speed limit signs near PS 232 on 83rd Street in Howard Beach.

“After studying traffic conditions near PS 232, I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Queens Borough Engineers’ office has approved the installation of speed limit signs on 153rd Avenue in both directions between 78th Street and 88th Street. The signs will be installed in conjunction with the placement of a mobile speed camera. We anticipate that the work will be completed by December 30th.

“Thank you for your concern for traffic safety in your district.”

EXPANSION OF DNA SEARCH IN MURDER CASE: As the investigation into the brutal August murder of a Howard Beach jogger continues, Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and Assembly Member-elect Stacey Pheffer Amato are urging the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to approve expanding the DNA search to allow the use of familial searching.

In a letter sent to the agency, the elected officials are calling on the department’s Commission on Forensic Science to allow law enforcement investigating the murder of Karina Vetrano the ability to use partial matches to DNA found at the crime scene. These matches could lead investigators to a family member who shares a portion of DNA with the suspect and serve as a starting point for police seeking to locate the individual in question.

Earlier this week, the New York State Commission on Forensic Science announced it will hold a public hearing in Manhattan on February 10 to determine whether familial DNA searches should be permitted in New York and under what conditions.

“The use of familial DNA searching in this case could help our police officers and investigators make enormous progress,” said Addabbo, (D–Howard Beach). “The tragic and brutal murder of Karina shook Howard Beach and the surrounding communities in many ways, and her family still must cope with the burden of her killer not yet being caught. I believe it is imperative that we use the resources and technology we have available to not only find the person responsible for this young woman’s death and ensure the highest level of consequence, but to ease the fears of my constituents who know a dangerous individual is still out there. I strongly urge the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to grant our request to allow familial DNA searching and do their part to help bring criminals to justice throughout our state.”

“Arming our law enforcement with the necessary tools is the least we can do to honor Karina, bring justice to her family and protect our community,” said Pheffer Amato (D–Far Rockaway). “I strongly urge the New York State Commission on Forensic Science to immediately authorize the use of this new investigative measure and will not rest until we do everything in our power to apply every resource possible to solve this case.”

WEPRIN STATEMENT ON UN VOTE ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS: Assembly Member David Weprin issued the following statement on the United Nations Security Council vote on Israeli settlements:

“I was deeply disappointed Friday evening, after learning of the last minute United Nations Security Council vote on Israeli settlements. By abstaining from a UNSC vote that condemns Israel, the President has not only chosen to disregard decades of American policy, but also provided silent approval to those who seek to delegitimize the State of Israel. The actions taken late last week will make it more difficult to achieve a lasting peace. As such, I condemn the President’s decision to abstain from the UNSC vote on Friday and look forward to a bilateral, rather than UN-brokered, resolution to the conflict in the Middle East.”

MOYA’S STATEMENT CONCERNING CONSTRUCTION WORKER DEATH: “The rate at which construction workers lose their lives simply for doing their job should have everyone alarmed. In any other profession, this death toll would be cause for protest. Instead, it will be business as usual for Noble Construction Group, whose Upper East Side project took a life this morning (December 20).

“We have continually seen that slaps on the wrist like OSHA’s fine against Noble are not enough. Developers and contractors write them off as a cost of doing business and nothing changes. Each week there is another serious injury, another death, leaving another seat at a holiday dinner table empty.

“Though OSHA’s enforcement may be lacking, it at least recognizes the scale of the problem. The same cannot be said for the city, which continues to under-report construction deaths each year; more concerned about looking safe than actually being a safe city to work in.

“I offer my thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of the worker who lost his life this morning. As the legislature convenes in 2017, I urge my colleagues to not forget losses like today’s and take serious action in defense of working families.”

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