2017-03-15 / Front Page

Hunters Point Civic Association Meets

By Thomas Cogan

“We’re going to have a packed house tonight,” said President Brent O’ Leary of the Hunters Point Civic Association, referring to the many attendees coming into the Irish Cultural Center on Jackson Avenue for a Friday evening meeting that U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney was expected to attend.  Chairs were being added to the initial outlay.  There would be the usual wait for an arriving politician as Congresswoman Maloney was being brought from an earlier meeting after having to travel from her duties in Washington.  While the visitors waited they brought up several local issues that kept the excitement level high, such as the issues they could discuss with two police officers from the 108th Precinct while they were present.  When the congresswoman was at last in the room, the turbulence growing out of the early initiatives of the Trump administration took up everyone’s time for the rest of the meeting.         

The two officers from the 108th were Patrol Officer Luis Diaz and Executive Officer Captain Dominic Carosella, who read the crime report in place of the absent Commander Captain Ralph Forgione.  

There was a rare gain in crime of 2 percent for the month so far, though there were no murders.  From the audience came a question about the gun found at Center Boulevard and 50th Avenue one recent night by a man walking his dog.  Brent O’Leary murmured that the gun was loaded but the police said nothing about that, though the captain said it might have been damaged and inoperable.  A man made a complaint about a “recessed” stop sign at Center and 49th Avenue that he said is hard for a driver to see.  When he asked the police if anything could be done, the captain said the complaint could be brought to the attention of the Department of Transportation, but doing anything about it was up to DOT.   

A woman said that she saw nine vehicles parked on the sidewalk in front of the police medical division building near Murray Playground, at the beginning of the month.  Diaz pretty much said that’s what cops will do and left it at that; but when hearing that the owners of a parking lot on  47th Avenue are eking out their capacity by parking cars on the street, he said that anyone noticing such activity should report it every time.  That goes for mechanized delivery bikes on sidewalks too, and certainly for a delivery car on the sidewalk and in the opposite traffic lane, a singular feat that a witness described seeing one motorist perform on 44th Drive.

Public Advocate Letitia James’s representative at the meeting mentioned her prevailing on the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS) to withdraw any investment in manufacturers or sellers of firearms and promised that now she will be looking hard at any contractor that tries to get in on the project to build an endless wall at the border between the United States and Mexico.

Representative Maloney finally arrived.  She thanked O’Leary for moving the meeting to a Friday night, which allowed her to get away from Washington and attend it.  Her first pronouncement on the scene down there was that she was seeing things she never thought she’d see.  The all-around Republican victory in 2016 seemed to doom the Affordable Care Act of 2010, but she said the “replace” part doesn’t seem to be persuading anyone except perhaps those promoting it.  She had no prediction for the week to come, knowing only that in any vote, Democratic opposition should be solid, while a significant number of Republicans might not follow their leaders.

She has been encouraged by the protest marches, rallies and town hall demonstrations, saying they are proof that “democracy works.”  She said the situation is such that when in New York, she has had Republicans walk up to her and say that they support Planned Parenthood.  That drew applause, and an even greater amount of it followed when she said she has submitted a bill reviving the effort to create an Equal Rights Amendment.  Though the first drive failed in the 1970s, Maloney said the only way women will get equality is by being equal under the Constitution.

She has been in Congress for nearly a quarter-century and remembers when Democrats and Republicans could work together under some conditions.  One Republican she has hope for is Peter King, the Long Island congressman.  She wondered if he would work on a bill with her to force President Trump to release his tax returns; or would Dan Donovan (R) of Staten Island?  She elaborated by saying such occasional cooperation was necessary.  If any Republicans might have some area of agreement with her, she will go and talk to them, as she did in the past with Republicans such as former House members John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

There was time for questions.  One woman said she and her husband were in business for themselves (and they have two children).  She said she has a cancer condition, along with other complications.  Will pre-existing conditions be re-established, barring her from treatment under whatever plan exists in future?  Maloney said she would fight for retention of the provision against pre-existing conditions.  She was moved to mention Planned Parenthood again, calling it “the NRA of the women’s movement,” being in election districts all over the country, whether conservative or progressive.

Another woman asked if New York can ever be reimbursed for the cost of protecting Trump Tower on East 56th Street, which, according to Maloney, is a $158,000 expense any day President Trump is not there and in excess of $3 million any day he is.  She told the woman she has thus far managed to squeeze precious little out of the bureaucracy but will keep trying.

The biggest issues we face are jobs, debt and trade, she told the meeting, and there’s no letting up on them.  Asked a question about gerrymandering, she called it one of those “boring but important” issues, the closely-related issue of the census being another, since both dominate any debate about fair political apportionment.

She closed with a statement emphasizing her essential idealism, saying that when she sees how checks and balances work, she always feels a surge of respect for this country’s Founding Fathers.  The packed house gave her vigorous applause.

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