2017-05-17 / Political Page

I On Politics

DESPITE FIRING COMEY, PROBE OF TRUMP GOES ON: President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey set off a reaction that still has the whole country talking, with no end in sight. And there’s likely been more interest generated about whether Russia aided Trump in his presidential victory against Hillary Clinton last year, which Comey had been investigating to begin with.

Ironically, Trump’s decision to give Comey the boot, thinking that the question of Russia’s involvement with last year’s election would also disappear along with Comey, is another gross miscalculation Trump has made. It hasn’t been officially announced yet, but Comey reportedly will be replaced by another FBI sleuth, and the probe into the alleged Trump-Russia election deal will go on.

While Trump’s master plan to make the Russian involvement in last year’s election disappear, along with Comey, may have backfired another possible miscalculation that may be occurring is the change in how the Republican establishment in Washington perceive him now.

Following the Comey firing, there have been reports that Republican lawmakers have “a lot less fear” of Trump, as a New York Times put it on a story last Monday. There were complaints voiced by several senators that legislation hasn’t moved so quickly while Trump’s antics have been sighted as the cause of it. Also, many Republican senators are introducing legislation separately from bills being sent up by the president. Some lawmakers facing reelections next year are also acting independently of the White House.

Also the statistics from the Quinnipiac University Poll weren’t so favorable to Trump. For instance, a poll of voters showed that 61% believe Trump “is not honest,” 59% feel he “does not care for average Americans,” and 66% find Trump “is not level” headed,” and so on.

ADDABBO TIPS FOR GRANT SEEKERS: In an effort to help non-profit, faith-based, and community-based organizations seeking funding grants, New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D–Ozone Park) is informing those seeking alternative funding opportunities to check out “Pathways to Funding,” a monthly online publication distributed by the New York State Senate Democratic Conference.

“This information is a guidebook for local groups, many of whom have witnessed a decrease in governmental funding,” Addabbo said. “Inside, you find listings for federal, state, local and private grants to help these organizations sustain their vital programs.”

In addition to providing alternative grant opportunities, it includes tips to help navigate the New York State Grant Gateway—an online portal for announcing upcoming and available State grants—as well as webinars on grant writing, helpful hints and other useful information.

To learn more about the opportunities provided, visit the Senator’s website at Addabbo.NYSenate.gov or nysenate.gov/pathways funding. You can also contact Senator Addabbo at 718-738-1111.

CHAIRMAN CROWLEY ON COMEY’S FIRING: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–NY) issued the following statement on President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey:

“Director Comey’s dismissal is extremely troubling. President Trump fired the man who is investigating him and his cohorts. I strongly support calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.”

PHEFFER AMATO PUSHES FOR 15 DAYS TO REGISTER BIRTHS: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D–Rockaway) has introduced a bill to allow parents 15 days from the date of a child’s live birth for registration of that birth. This change, cosponsored by Assembly Member Michael Simanowitz (D–Flushing) and Assembly Member Vivian Cook (D–Jamaica), would both help ease bureaucratic pressure on new mothers (at a time of increasing awareness of postpartum stress), and make accommodations for religious traditions that confer a child’s name several days after birth. She explained:

“I represent a large Orthodox Jewish community, and this is a crucial issue here,” said Pheffer Amato. “Not everybody is named at birth. If your religious tradition dictates that you give your child a name eight days later, the state forces you to either submit a name prematurely, or go through the time and expense of filing birth certificates twice. That’s a double standard that must end. Also, as a mother – any extension you can get to help attend to the myriad responsibilities of those all-important first few weeks is a big help. So I see this as win-win.

“This is a tweak that will help hundreds of thousands of families, and hurt no one,” continued Pheffer Amato. “It’s time to accommodate all families equally, from all religious backgrounds, in the naming of their children. I call on my fellow legislators to support this common-sense measure.”

NEW INCENTIVE FOR NYers TO DRIVE ELECTRIC CARS: To encourage New Yorkers to drive fully electric vehicles, City Council Members Mark Levine and Costa Constantinides have introduced a bill that would allow the owners of such cars to park at Muni- Meters for free on Saturdays.

As New York City seeks to reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gasses 80% by 2050, this new legislation is designed to increase the number of New Yorkers using fully electric vehicles (EVs) by creating an additional benefit for owners. The New York Metro Area currently ranks third nationally in terms of the number of EVs in operation, lagging only behind Los Angeles and the Bay Area in California. However, between 2011 and 2015 only 2,230 EVs have been registered in New York City, showing substantial room for growth in a city with over 1.4 million cars.

Though there are currently numerous benefits for those seeking to drive electric vehicles, including federal and state tax rebates, access to HOV lanes regardless of number of vehicle occupants, and discounts for City and state tolls, research shows that increasing EV adoption rates relies on creating incentives. Norway for example, which leads the world in EV adoption, offers up to $18,000 in incentives to purchase one.

The proposed law has the potential to add a significant financial incentive for New York drivers. For a driver in Manhattan, where the majority of the city’s public charging stations are available, this benefit could save an EV driver up to over $2,184 in parking costs annually. The average EV driver from the outer boroughs could save up to $624 annually.

Anticipating the program’s success in growing the number of EVs in New York City, the proposed law will expire after a period of three years.

Council Member Mark Levine said, “Creating new incentives for people to buy electric cars is imperative if we’re going to slash New York City’s carbon footprint 80% by 2050. This benefit has the potential to yield meaningful savings for those who drive electric cars – up to $2,184 annually – at minimal cost to the city, which took in over $545 million in parking fines last year alone. We’ve already made incredible strides towards encouraging New Yorkers to drive electric vehicles, but we need to keep doing more. New York should be leading the charge when it comes to electric vehicle use, and I am proud to work with my colleague, Council Member Constantinides, to make this benefit a reality.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “Over 20% of New York City’s energy usage – or around 9.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions – comes from our transportation sector. If we are going to reach our city’s goal of reducing greenhouses gases 80% by 2050, we must ensure that we’re looking at innovative solutions to reduce fossil fuel usage. That’s why I’m proud to support this bill to exempt electric vehicles from Muni-Meter requirements on Saturdays, as it promotes sustainability without interfering in the total number of available parking spaces. I want to thank Council Member Levine for all the hard work he’s done on this issue.”

“If we are to meet our ambitious goals for getting 700,000 zero emissions vehicles on the road in New York State by 2025 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, we need a diverse array of incentives that encourage consumers to make the switch. We are pleased to see Council Member Levine and Council Member Constantinides proposing such a financial benefit in the form of free parking to boost electric vehicle adoption,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters.

MENG, ROYCE SEEK TO CREATE POSTAGE STAMP IN HONOR OF CHINESE RAILROAD WORKERS WHO HELPED CONSTRUCT AMERICA’S FIRST TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD: During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D–Queens) reintroduced a resolution that urges the United States Postal Service to issue a commemorative postage stamp in honor of the Chinese railroad workers who helped build America’s first Transcontinental Railroad from 1865 to 1869. This week marks the 148th anniversary of the railroad’s completion.

Approximately 12,000 Chinese immigrant laborers worked under extremely dangerous and challenging conditions to help construct the railroad that connected the U.S. from the east coast to the west coast by laying tracks, breaking through granite and planting explosives that blasted through mountains. The workers are credited with playing an integral role in the growth of America, and being a key part of U.S. history.

“The story of the Chinese railroad workers and the tremendous contributions they made to the growth and prosperity of our country must be told,” said Meng. “They deserve the recognition they earned, and a commemorative postage stamp would be a very appropriate tribute to this important part of American history. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution.”

“I am proud to be a lead sponsor of legislation honoring the thousands of Chinese immigrants who made tremendous sacrifices to link California with the rest of the United States by building the Transcontinental Railroad,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA). “Even in the face of bitter discrimination, the nearly 12,000 Chinese immigrants who worked on the project were indispensable to its successful completion. They and their descendants have left our country with an enduring legacy that has contributed to our vibrant Asian American community.”

Meng’s measure also calls on the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to recommend to the Postmaster General that a stamp honoring the Chinese railroad workers be issued. Her resolution is expected to be referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The 12,000 Chinese railroad workers who helped build the railroad comprised more than 80% of the workforce. Nearly 1,200 of the workers died from the harsh winters and brutal working conditions. They were also paid lower wages than other workers. The Transcontinental Railroad has long been considered one of the most remarkable engineering feats of the 19th century.

AVELLA BILL REQUIRES DISCLOSURE OF CHEMICALS IN CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS: State Senator Tony Avella introduced legislation (S6034) in the New York State Senate that would require manufacturers to disclose whether they use “chemicals of high concern” in their children’s products. The bill is being co-prime sponsored by Senators David Carlucci (D–Rockland) and Phil Boyle (R–Bay Shore) and has already garnered the support of Senators George Latimer (D–Westchester) and Todd Kaminsky (D–Long Beach).

Currently, New York State prohibits the use of dangerous chemicals on a chemical-by-chemical basis. This method of regulation, however, can be dangerous to children who are generally more vulnerable to chemical exposure. Adopting more comprehensive disclosure policies regarding the chemicals used in children’s products allows parents to have a better understanding of what products they are buying their children.

This legislation relies on the state’s experts to establish a comprehensive list of chemicals and, in turn, requires manufacturers to disclose information if they use those chemicals in their products. However, the new disclosure policies would only apply to new products for sale and would not be applicable to second-hand products that one might find at a toy drive or receive as a donation.

“As Chair of the Children and Families Committee, I have fought to protect children and ensure that every family in New York has every opportunity to live a healthy and safe life. In 2017, a healthy environment for a child should never be in doubt. It is past the time when New York should leverage our economic impact and require companies to report harmful chemicals in children’s products. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the New York State Senate to give parents as much information as possible regarding the products they buy for their children,” said Avella.

“What possible argument could there be against letting caregivers know what is in the products necessary to care for children? This is an excellent idea whose time has come. It will give parents the information they need to make wise choices, drive product makers to eliminate toxic chemicals to avoid disclosure, and give our leaders the information they need to protect New York’s most vulnerable residents. We applaud Senator Avella and this ‘A team’ of leaders for putting this forward,” said Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York.

“We thank Senator Avella for introducing the Chemicals in Children’s Products Disclosure Act. We believe transparency throughout the supply chain is good for business. It allows American businesses to make informed product selection decisions and respond to growing consumer demand for non-toxic products. Smarter chemical regulations will drive innovation in New York State. It also makes good sense to focus first on the well-being of our children as they are the most vulnerable and are our future workers and innovators,” said Bob Rossi, Director New York State Sustainable Business Council.

CHAIRMAN CROWLEY CALLS FOR RELEASE OF ANY TAPES OF TRUMP AND COMEY: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after President Trump tweeted that James Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’” of conversations between the president and the ousted FBI director. The comments came after President Trump claimed that Comey offered assurances that the president is not under FBI investigation, despite an ongoing probe into Russia’s role in our elections and the relationship between numerous senior Trump campaign aides and the Kremlin:

“President Trump should release the tapes he referred to and come clean on the real reasons why Director Comey was abruptly fired in the midst of a critical investigation.

“If no such tapes exist, then the president owes the American people an answer for why he made such a threat. His false claims are nothing but thinly veiled attempts to create a distraction from his own incompetencies.”

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