2017-03-01 / Political Page

I On Politics

TRUMP’S GETTING BUDGET READY, FINALLY!!: Determined to show his serious side and that he can present a sound, balanced budget, President Donald Trump took to the airways last night, and delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress that knocked the audience out of their seats.

Trump’s objective will be aimed at his nationwide audience also, to start building back his voter base by showing his plans to create jobs, straighten out the economy and still phase in programs to clean up the immigration mess.

According to published reports, Trump’s budget will devote funding to cover the Defense Department and also cover Social Security and Medicare for seniors. On the other hand, Trump will propose huge cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. He is reportedly expecting battles from the Republican-controlled House and Senate, who will finally get a look at the executive budget.

Trump has been concentrating on writing executive orders to address certain problems, but he now feels it’s time to address the budget process and get some big-ticket items addressed, aides said, and look more presidential.

The administration also suffered some major setbacks, such as the Muslim ban, which was addressed with a new plan after the original was killed by the courts. These recent setbacks have hit his approval ratings very hard and Trump feels it’s time to get some solid proposals in the works to get constituents talking positively about him again.

DE BLASIO CRITICS HIT HARD, BUT DO LITTLE DAMAGE: Mayor Bill de Blasio has had very bad press and his approval ratings are nothing to look at as he gets ready for reelection. The only thing missing from this unenthusiastic picture is the lack of any real threat to him as he prepares to run for a second term.

Yet he’s been getting a long look from Preet Bharara, the eagle-eyed United States Attorney, and that’s a lot to worry about. If he can avoid any problem from Bharara, he looks like he’s home free, for the moment.

MENG PICKS SUOZZI FOR CO-CHAIR OF QUIET SKIES CAUCUS: Congress Member Grace Meng (D–Queens) announced on February 20 that Congress Member Tom Suozzi (D–Queens/Long Island) has succeeded her as Co-Chair of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, which works to find solutions to aircraft noise and consists of members of Congress from across the country whose constituents are adversely affected by the problem. Meng has served as Co-Chair since she helped launch the Caucus in 2014.

“It has been an honor to serve as Co-Chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus, and I am pleased to pass the torch to Rep. Suozzi who has been active on this issue since day one,” said Meng. “I will remain an active member of the Caucus, and will continue to lead the fight in combating the excessive airplane noise that exists over Queens.”

“I look forward to building on Representative Meng’s work and bringing all local stakeholders together to try and reduce airplane and helicopter noise, so that Queens and Nassau residents can have some peace and quiet,” said Suozzi.

Meng also congratulated Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) who will also serve as Co-Chair of the Caucus, as well as new Vice Chairs, Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL).

During her tenure as Co-Chair, Meng has undertaken numerous initiatives to mitigate airplane noise. She secured noise monitors for Queens and wrote and spoke with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta about addressing increased aircraft noise over the borough. The Congress Member also called for additional funding for FAA programs that address aircraft noise, increase community involvement in determining flight paths, regulations and guidance for quieter airplanes, and lowering the acceptable DNL (the national standard by which the FAA determines acceptable levels of aircraft noise). In addition, she has sponsored legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take over efforts to combat airplane noise, among many other initiatives.

STAVISKY APPLAUDS CUNY ACTION TO PROTECT STUDENTS: Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Flushing) praised the City University information of New York, which determined that a student’s citizenship and visa status are classified information. “Knowing the danger the Trump administration poses to immigrants,” Stavisky said, she sponsored S4079, the CUNY/SUNY Resistance Bill as part of Senate Democrat Resistance Agenda.

S4079 would:

• Require SUNY and CUNY employees to avoid inquiring about a student’s immigration status to the extent that such action would assist the federal government in deporting immigrant students.

• Neutralize controversial efforts by the state Senate Republicans to require universities to compile data regarding the number of foreign students, their countries of origin and the programs they are enrolled in.

• Prohibit SUNY and CUNY from determining if a student is from a specific Muslim-majority nation, whether the student had proper immigration status, or is undocumented

The February 21st action by CUNY achieves Senator Stavisky’s “goal to ensure CUNY institutions don’t become Trump-tools to aid harassment of immigrant students,” she said.

“This is an important first step in protecting immigrant students, something I feel is paramount in the wake of the Trump administration,” Stavisky said. “No student should live in fear of deportation, and I am glad CUNY has prioritized the safety of their students by determining immigration status as classified and privileged information and will be on a need-to-know basis. I will continue this fight until we pass legislation that will protect all New York students.”

CROWLEY ON TRUMP’S ‘PLAN FOR MASS DEPORTATIONS’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) said he released the following statement after President Donald Trump unveiled a memo that “drastically changes US immigration enforcement and opens the door to mass deportations:”

“The Trump administration’s latest immigration proposal is clearly a step toward mass deportations – actions that will make our country less secure, and erodes our judicial process by allowing for fast-tracked deportations, regardless of circumstances. Instead of focusing resources on comprehensive immigration reform, President Trump’s plan creates a system where individuals seeking asylum are immediately detained, families are forcefully separated, children are punished for fleeing extreme violence, and local law enforcement officers are required to act as immigration agents. We all want America to have a reasonable immigration system that keeps our country secure, but the Trump administration’s plan comes nowhere near accomplishing that goal. Instead, it will only make our country less safe and move us further from our value systems.”

CROWLEY, MENG DENOUNCE THREATS, ATTACKS ON JEWISH COMMUNITY: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) released the following statement after more than 170 graves in a Jewish cemetery were vandalized and Jewish community centers faced threats of violence over the weekend.

“The desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri and a wave of threats against Jewish community centers across the nation are chilling reminders that hate crimes and prejudices against the Jewish people are on the rise in the United States. These actions leave me deeply concerned. Anti-Semitic crimes have been steadily increasing throughout the last year and have spiked since the beginning of 2017. It’s not hard to see a connection between the rhetoric used by the white nationalists given a platform by President Donald Trump’s campaign and the increase in threats against the Jewish people. President Trump’s statement doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what needs to be done. The White House must consistently condemn violence and threats against any group or individual because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

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

US Rep. Grace Meng (D–NY) issued the following statement on February 21st on the wave of threats and attacks against the Jewish community:

“This week alone, 11 Jewish community centers across the country were targeted with bomb threats, including one in Buffalo. In St. Louis, vandals damaged more than 100 headstones in a historic Jewish cemetery. Some headstones belonged to Holocaust survivors. My heart breaks to see these vicious acts of anti-Semitism, and I believe that Congress must not only denounce these heinous acts, but do everything in its power to prevent them.

“Jewish community centers and facilities continue to be vulnerable to hate crimes, which is why I consistently support increased funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations with funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities. I’m proud that a number of institutions in Queens have been able to use this program, and I encourage all eligible organizations, in Queens and around the country, to apply.

“No one should have to see the gravesite of a loved one or a community member vandalized, a principle I fought for in my first term. I worked to amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the desecration of cemeteries abroad as an infringement on the right to freedom of religion. I am grateful that this is now law .

“One bomb threat is one too many. One vandalized headstone is an attack on them all. We must fight against the rising tide of anti-Semitism in whatever form it takes.”

CROWLEY TO DOJ, DHS: INVESTIGATE THREATS TO JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTERS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY), along with Florida Congress Member Stephanie Murphy, urged the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to immediately investigate recent threats against Jewish community centers, which come as anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise nationally. The bipartisan letter was signed by more than 155 members of Congress.

“There are few crimes more vile than threatening children, and these anti-Semitic threats against Jewish community centers are terrifying for our fellow Americans. The Trump administration, including the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Attorney General, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, must immediately announce their plans to investigate and stop these threats,” said Chairman Crowley. “These crimes are designed to strike fear in the Jewish community. This is unacceptable, and the Trump administration must show its willingness to take on these types of crimes.

Crowley continued, “I deeply appreciate the hard work of Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in building bipartisan support for this effort. We must thoroughly investigate these threats.”

Congress Member Murphy said, “These bomb threats are unacceptable. Federal law enforcement agencies must do everything within their power to punish those responsible for the threats that have already taken place, to prevent future threats from occurring, and to ensure these threats are never converted into action. This letter urges senior federal officials to advise Congress on the steps that are being taken to deter these threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators, and to enable JCCs (Jewish community centers) to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards.”

There have been 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs in 26 states during the first two months of 2017, according to the JCC Association of North America.

MALONEY CONDEMNS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S REVERSAL OF TRANSGENDER EDUCATION GUIDANCE: Following the announcement that the Departments of Education and Justice have rescinded joint guidance confirming the sex nondiscrimination provision of Title IX applies to transgender students, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, released the following statement:

“The revocation of this guidance by the Education and Justice Departments shows a severe lack of concern for the safety of transgender students, and goes against nearly 15 years of court and agency opinions that sex discrimination protections include gender identity discrimination protections. The federal government should be committed to protecting equal access to education for all students, not undermining it. No student should face barriers to an education simply because of who they are, and no student’s dignity should be a political issue. I will be working with my fellow colleagues in the Equality Caucus to oppose and reverse this harmful decision.”

CHIEF O’NEILL SENDS CONGRESS BILL TO REIMBURSE NYPD FOR TRUMP PROTECTION: NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill sent the following letter to Congress and the New York State Senate, requesting reimbursement for protecting President Trump and his family during their stay in the city .

Dear New York City area Members,

“I am writing to request reimbursement for the cost associated with securing Trump Tower during the presidential transition, and to appropriate funds for the ongoing mission of securing the secondary residence of the President and the primary residence of his family.

“Immediately after the presidential election of 2016, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was tasked with the unique and unparalleled challenge of protecting the Presidentelect and First Family in a shared-occupancy building in the center of the nation’s largest city. Trump Tower, a 58-story mixed-use building in Midtown Manhattan, is located along a highly trafficked corridor of Fifth Avenue in a dense urban environment that comprises large hotels, world-renowned department stores, and some of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions. Such a setting for the second residence of an American president is unique in recent history.

“The NYPD now serves a dual role in protecting the First Family and securing Trump Tower, while simultaneously acting as a municipal police department charged with serving and protecting the millions of residents, visitors, and workers in the city. Moreover, Trump Tower itself now presents a target to those who wish to commit acts of terror against our country, further straining our limited counterterrorism resources.

“In December of 2016, initial estimates put the cost of this protective mission at up to $35 million for the period of time from Election Day to Inauguration Day. After an extensive analysis of payrolls, overtime sheets, and over 25,000 individual patrol log entries, New York has determined that the NYPD’s security operations for those seventy-five days totaled $24 million. The average daily rate throughout this entire period was $308,000. The average through December 20th was $334,000. After December 20th, based on more detailed information of security needs and approaching the end of the holidays, deployment was decreased and the average daily rate was $275,000.

“Securing Trump Tower and the area around it also required dedicated resources from other city agencies. For example, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has reallocated resources and personnel to the ongoing security effort. The FDNY, including the Emergency Medical Services division, has incurred $1.7 million in personnel costs for 24-hour, dedicated operations at Trump Tower during the above listed time period. These additional expenditures demonstrate the broad and evolving set of tasks city agencies perform in order to provide the required presidential-level security. These costs bring the total amount expended by FDNY and NYPD to protect Trump Tower and the First Family to $25.7 million from Election Day through the inauguration.

“As we continue to manage the new reality of protecting the President, his family, and Trump Tower, funding will be critical to ensure New York City can allocate the personnel and resources that are necessary to keep the city and all its residents safe. To that end, we estimate that New York City will spend an average of $127,000 to $146,000 a day for the NYPD and $4.5 million annually for FDNY to protect the First Lady and her son while they reside in Trump Tower after the inauguration. We anticipate these costs will increase significantly whenever the President is in New York City. For the NYPD, costs are estimated to rise to an average daily rate of $308,000 during Presidential visits to New York City.

“Approval of the above request will allow New York City to accomplish this essential dual mission of securing a presidential residence, while protecting and serving the millions of Americans who live in, work in, and visit our great city.”

MALONEY CALLS FOR FULL REIMBURSEMEBT OF $25.7M SPENT BY NYC TO PROTECT TRUMP: Following NYPD Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill’s release of the final costs to New York City’s taxpayers for protecting the President Elect and his family between Election Day and Inauguration Day, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY- 12), released the following statement:

“New York City taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for a national security obligation. Now that New York City has calculated the final costs incurred for securing the President and his family between his election and inauguration, Congress must provide city taxpayers a full reimbursement. Protecting the President and his family is a national security priority, and the burden of these costs must not fall on New Yorkers.

“Thanks to the pressure from my colleagues and I in the New York delegation, Congress appropriated $7 million in late 2016. Now, Congress must provide the remaining $18.7 million to make New York City taxpayers whole, and I intend to make sure that happens.

“In addition to these pre-inauguration costs, the NYPD and FDNY are incurring daily costs to secure Trump Tower. With NYPD costs up to $308,000 when he visits, the city’s taxpayers are still paying an unprecedented expense. I will continue to push my colleagues to make sure there are funds designated and available to cover these costs going forward to avoid the uncertainty of the last several months.”

MENG OPPOSES PROPOSED CUTS TO LOCAL SENIOR CENTERS: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced on February 26th her opposition to proposed state budget cuts to local senior centers.

“Throughout my district – from Bayside to Forest Hills, and Flushing to Ridgewood and Maspeth – senior centers play a critical role in the lives of seniors, and slashing funding for these facilities would have a devastating effect on the important services they provide,” said Meng. “Some may even be forced to close. I strongly oppose these proposed cuts, and call for this money to be restored. Senior centers provide meals and programs, and help older adults remain active and social. We cannot turn our back on those who depend on these facilities.”

Under the executive budget proposal, $17 million (in Title XX funds) for senior centers in New York City would be redirected to other purposes.

MENG: RESTORE “COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM” SECTION OF STATE DEPARTMENT WEBSITE: US Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) sent a letter on February 26th to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to fully restore the “Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism” section of the State Department website.

“I respectfully request that the information made available at www.state.gov/s/rga/seas/ be made to more closely mirror its predecessor page, : www.2009-2017.state.gov/s/rga/seas/index.htm,”

Meng wrote. “Specifically, I believe that the anti-Semitism fact sheet, past issues of the Anti- Semitism Monitor, and readily available excerpts on anti-Semitism from past Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are valuable resources for those who seek them.”

“With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in the US and around the world, it is critical that valuable resources like these continue to be fully posted on the State Department’s website,” said Meng. “I eagerly await the Secretary’s reply, and hope that this page will be completely restored soon.”

ADDABBO’S BILL FOR NON-BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN OF 9-11 FIRST RESPONDERS ADVANCES: The New York State Senate recently passed a bill introduced by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (S.3070), which would enable step children and other nonbiological children raised by deceased 9-11 first responders to become eligible for “legacy credits” on competitive civil service exams.

“Years ago, New York State sought to honor the memories of first responders who died as a result of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks by providing their surviving children and siblings with an additional 10 points on competitive civil service exams,” Addabbo said. “Many of these children and other relatives of firefighters, police officers, EMTs, paramedics and others who perished as a direct result of the attacks – whether at the scene or from related health issues – often wish to follow in the footsteps of the people they lost, and pursue a civil service career. But the initial legacy credit law inadvertently left out a number of other loved ones of first responders who died, and my legislation is an effort to address a specific deficiency.”

Under Addabbo’s bill, the stepchildren or children of surviving spouses of deceased first responders, who were not legally adopted or their biological offspring, would become eligible for the extra points on civil service exams. The issue was brought to Addabbo’s attention when a local woman told him that her son, whose step father perished as a result of the attacks, wanted to carry on his step dad’s legacy as a firefighter through the credit program, but was ineligible to apply.

In the State Assembly, Queens Assembly Member Mike Miller – the sponsor in that house – is pushing for passage of the bill, which is under consideration by the Committee on Governmental Employees.

Addabbo stated that the bill originated from a situation involving a constituent, Joanie Abruzzino-York, and her son, Robert, who was raised from birth by his stepfather, Ray York, an honored FDNY firefighter who perished at the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001.

“For many of these children, the moms or dads they tragically lost as a result of the 9-11 attacks and the aftermath, were the only moms or dads they ever knew – regardless of whether they were related by blood,” Addabbo said. “These children were forced to say good-bye to parents who cared for them, raised them, supported them financially, and loved them. That these men and women were not the biological parents of these children did not prevent them from being loving families and feeling as much loss as any other sons and daughters of 9-11 heroes and heroines.”

“Sometimes, the definition of family is much bigger and more complex than the law officially recognizes,” said Addabbo. “This legislation will help to ensure that additional children who suffered the loss of a parent as a result of the terrorist attacks 16 years ago will have a greater opportunity to enter public service – whether as first responders themselves, or in other civil service capacities.”

ADDABBO TO HOLD MOBILE OFFICE HOURS AT BROAD CHANNEL LIBRARY: As part of his ongoing effort to provide assistance for constituents throughout the district, New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. invites the community to participate during his mobile office hours in Broad Channel.

Every year, Sen. Addabbo visits each library in the district, multiple times, as part of his ongoing commitment to personally assist as many people in his district as possible. On Thursday, April 13th, Sen. Addabbo will be at the Broad Channel Library, at 16-26 Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, from 5:30 to 7 pm, to meet with residents wishing to talk with him about any problem they may be having or to bring a community issue to light. By holding mobile office hours at different libraries throughout his vast Senate district, Addabbo makes it more convenient for constituents to come to him at a time that is easier for them and a site right in their own community.

“For as long as I have been an elected official, I have made it my obligation to make sure I interact with the residents and civic leaders of the communities I represent,” Addabbo said. ”I have always urged my constituents to contact me if I can help them in any way, but it is not always easy for some people to do that during normal business hours. These extended office hours, held at night in various neighborhoods throughout my district, are an excellent way to make sure I am not only reaching as many residents as possible, but am also making it more convenient by coming to them. I look forward to another successful round of mobile office hours over the next few months and, as always, encourage those who need assistance to take advantage of these library visits.”

Additional mobile office hours are being scheduled for future dates and locations throughout the district. For more information, contact NYS Sen. Addabbo’s Howard Beach Office at 718-738-1111.

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