2017-02-22 / Political Page

Queens GOP Weighs In On DeBlasio’s State Of The City

FUNDRAISING INVESTIGATION, GRANDSTANDING… AND DE BLASIO’S STATE OF THE CITY – QUEENS GOP: That’s the way the Queens Republican Party headlined the organization’s review of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent State of the City address. City Council Member Eric Ulrich also critiqued it by saying,

“As expected, Mayor de Blasio gave himself a glowing review in his State of the City address… However, he conveniently forgot to mention the homeless epidemic, and the Administration’s failure to protect vulnerable children in ACS (Administration of Children’s Services) custody.

Ulrich added that in his fourth State of the City address, de Blasio “highlighted the progress he has made over the past three years, yet remained mum about many issues that have left him open to attacks from Democrats and Republicans.”

Ulrich, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for mayor in this year’s election, noted, “An affordability crisis remains under the Mayor’s administration, and in his address, the Mayor implicitly acknowledged that the initial rollout of his housing plan was inadequate.” Ulrich said that de Blasio also justified his proposed Mansion Tax as a revenue source for seniors.

Ulrich said de Blasio had no explanation for the “absence of vetting in legal aid initiatives and offered no mandate that shows preferences to New Yorkers.” Ulrich concluded, “At a time when New Yorkers are more and more concerned with the future of our city, we deserve real solutions to the problems we face, not political grandstanding.”

Queens Republican Party Chair Bob Turner and Joe Concannon, who’s the party’s candidate in the 23rd City Council District in this year’s election, also made comments on de Blasio’s recent address.

Concannon stated, “Mayor de Blasio’s progressive address was far left and divisive. While using the environment as a scapegoat, the disposable bag tax, supported by the mayor and passed by the New York City Council, would charge a five-cent fee on plastic and paper bags.”

Concannon charged, “Fees in NYC and State are out of control and it is nearly impossible for a business to stay afloat.” The former NYPD Captain added that, “Last month, the State Senate passed a bill that would prohibit the city’s bag tax from going into effect. Just like the bag tax, the Mayor’s Mansion Tax is a nonstarter and should also be voted down by the State Senate.”

Concannon concluded by blasting de Blasio’s address and labeling him “the Divider in Chief.”

Capping the Republicans’ reception of de Blasio’s speech, party Chair Bob Turner stated, “This all seems too familiar. In 2013, candidate Bill de Blasio ran on a platform of inequality, dubbed the ‘tale of two cities.’ Now, up for reelection, the Mayor is running on the same platform of inequality. Mayor de Blasio’s plan, outlined in his State of the City address, disproportimately affects middle and low-income New Yorkers and the war on equality still exists in New York City because of his failed leadership.”

TRUMP GETS NO REST IN FLORIDA: The proposed lifting of sanctions against Russia last week led Trump to let go of Michael Flynn, who had been the National Security Adviser in Trump’s administration. During Trump’s weekend in Florida he also met with four possible replacements for the NSA job.

Another subject concerning Trump that came up in Monday’s newspapers was the continued cost being picked up by New York City for the NYPD protecting Trump’s family in Trump Tower. The cost amounts to about $500,000 a day to cover 200 police officers assigned in and around Trump Tower, according to US Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY), the Democratic Minority Leader. At that rate, he said, the cost per year could amount to $183 million.

Schumer said that bill should be paid by the federal government. He was quoted in the Daily News saying:

“We all know this is a national responsibility of the federal government to protect the president, and that’s as it should be.” But right now, “New York City taxpayers” are paying it. He urged Trump to put the cost in his federal budget.

President Donald Trump spent last weekend at his home in Florida, hoping to get his administration back on track in Washington, but that brief rest and relaxation at Mar-a-Lago was quickly forgotten as soon as the President returned to the White House.

On the president’s to-do list was a revised plan to deal with undocumented immigrants, and a response to the Muslim ban which was thrown out by the courts. But this new proposal could lead to more immigrant deportations than the original ban.

Another headache for Trump is a proposed new way for the Trump administration to remove sanctions against Russia, a touchy subject for Trump, who has been criticized for being too friendly with Vladamir Putin, the Russian president. But a New York Times story on Monday said among those “pushing it” are Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, and Felix Sater, who was described as an American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump organization.

SCHUMER DEMANDS ICE RELEASE INFO ABOUT RAIDS: US Senator Charles E. Schumer demanded last week that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release information about the raids that happened this past week. Schumer, the Senate’s Democratic Minority Chair, stated:

“Reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeted non-violent immigrant families over the past week are deeply disturbing. Undocumented immigrants live in fear, and they are confused and scared,” Schumer continued:

“I am troubled by the lack of transparency and potential due process violations surrounding ICE’s most recent enforcement actions. That is why I’m calling on ICE to release information about the location of the raids and details of the people who were arrested.”

“Targeting law-abiding innocent immigrant families whose only wrongdoing was crossing the border to give their children a better life, instead of focusing on removing those who have been convicted of violent crimes, is a waste of limited resources and undermines law enforcement in communities across the country. ICE must come clean.” Schumer (D–Brooklyn) concluded:

“I have always supported smart immigration enforcement that helps to keep our country safe, but raids targeting law-abiding immigrants and treating those with traffic violations the same as murderers and robbers will only achieve the opposite.”

MENG REPEATS: ‘MAKE MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS MORE ACCESSIBLE, AFFORDABLE’: Congress Member Grace Meng (D–Queens) announced on Feb 13th that she has introduced the Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 (H.R. 972) which includes five provisions to provide different populations of women and girls better access to menstrual hygiene items.

“Menstrual hygiene products are not ubiquitous and cheap, despite what popular culture would have us believe,” said Meng. “Although most women use these products, many struggle to afford or access these essential items. This is unacceptable. Menstrual hygiene products are a necessity for most women, yet they are treated as luxury items. It is definitely not a luxury to menstruate, and my legislation acknowledges this reality by making it easier for women and girls to access the products that their anatomy requires. I urge all of my colleagues – both male and female – to support this important bill.”

Meng’s legislation would:

 Allow individuals to buy menstrual hygiene products with money they contribute to their flexible spending accounts.

 Provide a refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products.

 Allow grant funds from the Emergency Food and Shelter Grant Program, which can be used by homeless assistance providers for essential household items, to be used for menstrual hygiene products.

 Require each state to provide menstrual hygiene products to female inmates and detainees, at no cost and on demand, as a condition of receiving funds from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

 Direct the Secretary of Labor to require employers with 100 or more employees to provide menstrual hygiene products to their employees free of charge.

In a Feeding America Survey conducted in 2011, individuals interviewed across the country in both low and higher income groups listed menstrual hygiene products in a group of eight basic essentials or “items that cannot be foregone or easily substituted.” The list also includes tooth paste, toilet paper, bath soap and other items.

It is estimated that up to 86% of women use tampons, up to 72% use pads, and 75% use panty liners. Most premenopausal women use menstrual hygiene products on a monthly basis, and the average woman will use 12,000 tampons in her lifetime. An average box of 36 tampons costs $7, so a woman will spend almost $2,500 over the course of her life on tampons alone. This does not include the cost of pads, panty liners, and other related products associated with menstruation.

The Menstrual Equity for All Act of 2017 has been referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Education and the Workforce.

Co-sponsors of the measure include Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Gregory Meeks (D–NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Gwen Moore (WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Darren Soto (D-FL), and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).

ADDABBO’S PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT TOWN HALL: State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. (D–Howard Beach) has announced he will hold a Town Hall meeting on Property Tax Assessment on Thursday, March 9, from 6 to 8 pm at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, 59-03 Summerfield Street, in Ridgewood.

Addabbo said Representatives from the Tax Commission and the New York City Department of Finance and Taxation will be available to answer questions on:

 Exemptions for Seniors, Veterans disabled and Clergy

 Star Rebate

 How Assessments are Calculated

 How Assessments can be challenged.

For more information contact Senator Addabbo’s office at 66-85 73rd Place, Middle Village; phone 718-497-1630; or 159-53 102nd Street, Howard Beach; phone 718-738-1111.

GIANARIS ON PROPOSED MTA BUDGET: Senator Michael Gianaris stated: “New Yorkers are already frustrated with the lack of good public transportation options, fare increases, and unreliable service. A cut in MTA funding would make this situation even worse for our city’s subway and bus riders. The proposed budget must be improved and appropriate funds must be provided in order make needed improvements.”

CROWLEY: ‘REPUBLICAN EFFORTS MAKING IT HARDER FOR AMERICANS TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) released the following statement on Feb. 15 after House Republicans passed legislation that would significantly inhibit the ability of millions of Americans to save for retirement:

“When half of working Americans do not have an employer-provided retirement plan, you don’t just have a problem – you have a crisis. Congress should spur initiatives to address the savings and retirement security problem in America – not make it worse. But, that’s exactly what House Republicans did today,” said Chairman Crowley. “We need to encourage personal savings at every opportunity, and states and cities, including New York City, need to be given the freedom and the flexibility to expand saving and retirement programs. Instead of making it more difficult for American workers to save for retirement, Republicans must join us to help working families retire comfortably after a lifetime of hard work.”

The House approved a resolution last week under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove of a Department of Labor rule that supports efforts by eligible cities or counties to establish retirement savings plans for private sector employees (H.J.Res. 67).

Chairman Crowley is the author of “Building Better Savings, Building Brighter Futures,” a plan to address the savings and retirement security crisis in the US. The plan will make Americans more financially secure throughout their lifetimes by creating new financial options that encourage personal saving, expand employer-provided retirement plans, and strengthen Social Security. Crowley released a detailed blueprint for the plan.

ADDABBO SUPPORTS BILL STOPPING NYC PLASTIC BAG FEE: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo approved legislation that would effectively block New York City’s five-cent fee on plastic bags, calling for a statewide task force to create a uniform plan that addresses the environmental impact of plastic bags instead.

“I am so pleased to see that Governor Cuomo agrees with many of my constituents, who believe that there are far better ways to address the plastic bag issue than charging customers five cents to the benefit of the grocery stores,” Addabbo said. “I look forward to working with the Governor’s newly created task force to credibly eliminate plastic bags from our environment. The people have spoken out in opposition to the plastic bag fee and their state government heard them loud and clear.”

AVELLA LEGISLATION TO CHANGE THE WAY AREA MEDIAN INCOME (AMI) IS CALCULATED FOR AFFODABLE HOUSING: State Senator Tony Avella has introduced long-awaited legislation (S4455) in the New York State Senate that seeks to change the way area median income (AMI) is calculated when determining the affordability of a housing development. The bill will require all affordable housing programs in a city having a population over one million to calculate the AMI based on the zip code where the project will be located, Avella said.

As the state is poised to reauthorize “The Affordable New York Housing Program” (formerly 421-a) legislation that would incentivize developers to create affordable housing, Avella wants to make sure that these developments are actually affordable to those who live in the neighborhood.

Currently, he explained, AMI figures used by New York City in regard to affordable housing programs are referred to as the “Metropolitan AMI” and include all five boroughs and Putnam county. This calculation method creates a highly skewed and less-than-affordable figure for measuring affordability in New York City neighborhoods.

But Avella’s proposed zip code-specific framework will truly reflect the AMI of that particular project and will advance the important issue of affordable housing in New York City, he stated.

“With the current AMI calculation, actual affordable housing is a myth in this city. The current developments do not actually provide housing to the members of the community who need it the most. This calculation does a disservice to New Yorkers and further widens the inequality gap in NYC. The cost of living in New York City continues to skyrocket and these developments do not help soften that blow to the residents of the neighborhoods where they are located. It is imperative that we change the AMI calculation so that housing is actually affordable, families can afford to live in the city they built, and to prevent the number of homeless New Yorkers from rising any higher,” said Senator Avella.

MALONEY REJECTS ‘CRUEL ANTIABORTION MEASURE’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney, member of the Congressional pro-choice Caucus and steadfast pro-choice advocate, took to the House floor on Feb. 16 to oppose HJ Res. 43, which would restrict a woman’s access to abortion. During her remarks, she stated:

“The war on women is escalating and more dangerous with HJ Res 43. Let’s not beat around the bush, let’s call this bill what it really is – it’s a backdoor attempt to restrict access to a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. We all know that federal funding for abortion is already prohibited, but this goes further, much further. It cuts off funding for contraception, screenings, and treatment if a provider also offers abortions paid for with private funds,” Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) declared.

“Providers either stop doing abortions or they lose the federal funds they need to keep their doors open to serve their communities. In other words, the supporters of this resolution are willing to sacrifice women’s access to basic healthcare services in order to stamp out abortion. It’s cruel, it’s wrong, and I would say it is discriminatory,” Maloney added.

“When is the last time this body tried to cut off access to basic healthcare for men?”

PERALTA, COMMUNITY LEADERS DEMAND A SEWER UPGRADE IN E. ELMHURST: In an effort to help resolve severe flooding in East Elmhurst, Senator Jose Peralta met with community leaders and the National Action Network on Feb. 16 at the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center to analyze the consistent problems plaguing the sewage system in the area. East Elmhurst residents offered possible solutions to increase the capacity of the current sewage system. For decades, homeowners have experienced sewer backups and water damage in their basements because of heavy rainfalls, Peralta complained.

“Clearly, this particular section of East Elmhurst needs an infrastructure upgrade. The current sewage system is obsolete,” said Peralta. “Improvements in this decaying piping system are vital, as the actual infrastructure poses dangers not only to the neighbors, but also to their properties. We are urging the city Department of Environmental Protection to design a project to prevent flooding from occurring one time after another,” Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) demanded.

Peralta and East Elmhurst residents have been working together in an effort to upgrade the existing sewage system and the pipelines.

Inetha White, lifelong East Elmhurst resident and president of the Concerned Citizens of East Elmhurst, noted, “We, the Concerned Citizens of East Elmhurst, had our September 2015 meeting at the First Baptist Church to discuss flooding and upgrades to the sewer system in East Elmhurst. At that meeting DEP said that East Elmhurst was not going to get upgrades at all. The Concerned Citizens of East Elmhurst contacted Senator Peralta regarding this issue and he and his staff have been diligent on following up on this matter. In February of 2016 DEP issued a press release citing upgrades to the sewer system in East Elmhurst, a direct contradiction to the report verbally given in the meeting in September 2015.”

Reverend Kevin McCall, National Crisis Director for the National Action Network, said “Senator Peralta has been helping his constituents on this and other matters consistently. The Senator has always been delivering for his community, and this is just one more example of his work. I am glad Ms. White invited me to take part in this meeting and I hope East Elmhurst residents get a solution for their situation. As a member of the National Action Network we are working closely with Senator Perlata on this and other issues to come.”

CROWLEY CITES TRUMP ON INCREASE OF ANTI-SEMITIC CRIMES IN NYC: House Democratic Caucus Chair Member Joe Crowley (D–New York) made the following statement after a New York Police Department report released on Feb 16 detailed a spike in hate crimes during the first weeks of 2017 in New York City:

“This report has me deeply concerned. Hate crimes against any individual because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in New York City or in the United States. It is not hard to see the connection between the hateful language used by President Trump since his inauguration and during his campaign and the rise of hate crimes in the US. When our leaders allow the darkest aspects of our society to flourish for political gains, the door opens for hate-filled attacks on individuals based solely on who these people are or what they believe. This is not what makes America great.”

New York has seen an increase in hate crimes in recent months, prompting the state to create a special police unit tasked with investigating and preventing these crimes. The NYPD analysis found that 56 hate crimes were reported between January 1 and February 12, – with anti-Semitic hate crimes seeing double-digit growth. In 2016, NYPD reported more than 300 hate crimes.

Chairman Crowley has led the effort in the House of Representatives to call on President Donald Trump to change the White House statement that deliberately failed to mention that Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust. Chairman Crowley introduced a resolution condemning President Trump’s statement and asking Congress to reaffirm its commitment to acknowledge the terrible facts of the Holocaust.

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