2017-08-16 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY: TRUMP TWEETS RE: NK ‘PROVOCATIVE, RECKLESS’: With the world’s fears at fever pitch concerning North Korea’s next military target, which could be Guam, Congressman Joe Crowley spoke out about it.

Crowley (D–Elmhurst), the House Democratic Caucus Chair, issued the following statement on President Trump’s latest response to North Korea:

“The advancement of North Korea’s nuclear program is extremely concerning, and last thing we need right now is the President of the United States issuing provocative and reckless tweets and statements that could escalate into conflict. This is not reality television – he is talking about nuclear war.

“North Korea presents a global challenge – one where millions of lives are at risk, including the American people, our service members, and our allies. We need a clear and comprehensive strategy from the Trump administration on how to address this situation.

“The decision to impose sanctions on Pyongyang by the United Nations Security Council is an important step, and the United States should support these international efforts, along with others around the world. The US. Should also prioritize efforts to engage in talks aimed at de-escalation and steps forward. Now is the time for greater diplomacy – the stakes are too high for anything less.

Trump has attempted recently to enlist China as a peacemaker in our current dispute with North Korea. Trump was trying to secure support from Chinese President Xi Jinping to put more pressure on North Korea, which is in the midst of developing a menacing force of long-range nuclear weaponry capable of reaching the United States. According to other information on that subject, North Korea’s nuclear weapons are already able to reach western states of the US.

But according to a recent story in The New York Times, US military officials have not been able to conclude their diplomatic efforts with their Chinese counterparts.

MAYOR PROPOSES ‘FAIR FIX’ TAX ON WEALTHIEST NYers FOR TRANSIT FIX: Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a progressive city tax proposal on August 7, aimed at raising as much as $800 million annually for New York City’s deteriorating subway and bus system. The proposed tax adjustment – levied on fewer than 1% of the city’s wealthiest tax filers – would also allow the city to cut in half subway and bus fares paid by 800,000 low-income New Yorkers.

“Rather than sending the bill to working families and subway and bus riders already feeling the pressure of rising fares and bad service, we are asking the wealthiest in our city to chip in a little extra to help move or transit system into the 21st century,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Instead of searching for a quick-fix that doesn’t exist, or simply forking over more and more of our tax dollars every year, we have come up with a fair way to finance immediate and long-term transit improvement and to better hold the state accountable for the system’s performance. Our subways and buses are the veins that make life in the greatest city in the world possible. This fair funding source will provide immediate help to straphangers – and it will help New Yorkers get around our city reliably for the next generation and beyond.”

The new tax would increase the city’s highest income tax rate by 0.534%, from 3.876% to 4.41%, on taxable incomes above $500,000 for individuals and above $1 million for couples, the mayor explained.

This tax will be paid by an estimated 32,000 New York City tax filers – 0.8% of the city’s filers. The tax is projected to raise $700 million in 2018, before rising to $820 million a year by 2022. This new investment will add on to an annual $1.6 billion in city operational support for subways and buses, and a $2.5 billion commitment in 2015 to the long-term needs of the MTA, he continued.

The $500 million in revenue dedicated to modernizing our aging subways and buses could support borrowing up to $8 billion for capital upgrades. The Mayor believes this funding should be immediately directed toward core infrastructure improvements like signal improvements, new cars, and track maintenance, key to reducing delays and disruptions that have paralyzed the system in recent months.

Half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers will be financed by an expected $250 million of the revenue raised by this tax. As many as 800,000 New Yorkers are expected to qualify for half-priced MetroCards based on their income levels, the mayor concluded.

CROWLEY REINTRODUCES BILL TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES WITH CHILD CARE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) announced the reintroduction of legislation to help working families afford stable, quality child care. The Children First Act (H.R. 3643) would expand funding for child care assistance for working families to expand opportunities as child care costs increasingly consume larger portions of family budgets nationwide, the lawmakers stated.

“The cost of stable, safe, and quality child care burdens far too many working families and is limiting their ability to grow in the workforce. Providing assistance to hardworking mothers and fathers will help lift families into the middle class and provide a boost to our economy overall,” said Chairman Crowley. “Parents must be able to make child care decisions that make sense for their families, and I’m proud to join with Congresswoman Frankel to move us closer to that reality.”

“The cost of safe, quality child care has gotten beyond the means of too many young parents,” said Congresswoman Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group. “Our legislation is a better deal for millions of families that live paycheck to paycheck.”

Nationwide, child care costs are often higher than other household expenses, and typically exceed the average amount families spend on food, housing, transportation, and utilities. In 2015, in 30 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for child care for an infant in a child care center was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college, Crowley stated.

“It’s time for our country to do more to help working parents sustain a family and help set up their children for success. The National Women’s Law Center believes that this bill would help to address one of the most significant gaps that they face – the serious lack of affordable, high quality child care options for infants and toddlers,” said Helen Blank, the Director of Child Care and Early Learning at the National Women’s Law Center. “We are grateful to Representatives Crowley and Frankel for introducing the Children First Act.”

The Children First Act increases mandatory funding for child care subsidies for working families with children under four years old by more than $86 billion over 10 years, as proposed in President Barack Obama’s final budget request. This increased funding will help more than a million more children have access to safe and affordable child care in the first year alone – ensuring that their parents can look for work that meets their needs without having to worry about affording child care, Crolwey explained.

The legislation is supported by dozens of family and children-focused groups nationally and in New York, including the National Women’s Law Center, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Child Center of New York, CLASP, Child Care Aware of America, First Focus Campaign for Children, Save the Children, Children’s Defense Fund, the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, Inc., the Day Care Council of New York, Inc., the Harlem Children’s Zone, the New York State Network for Youth Success, the New York State Paid Leave Coalition, Zero to Three, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW (RWDSU), and Winning Beginning NY.

ADDABBO HAILS OZONE HOWARD BULLDOGS ON CHAMPIONSHIP WIN: “Congratulations to the Ozone Howard girls softball team. The Bulldogs, on their Northeast Regional Championship win,” said New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. “I spoke to Manager Lou Plazza, and expressed not only my congratulations, but also how proud the community should be of them. I understand these girls went as far as any other Ozone Howard team ever has and as far as they could go in their age division. Go Bulldogs!”

AVELLA BILL TO REFORM CRIMINAL DISCOVERY LAWS: NYS Senator Tony Avella introduced companion legislation in the State Senate to Assemblymember Joe Lentol’s bill, A7292, which seeks to reform the evidentiary discovery process in criminal cases.

This bill, S6848, seeks to reform the discovery rules by obligating prosecutors to share relevant evidence with defense attorneys within reasonable periods after the arraignment of a defendant, restructuring the subpoena process to improve efficiency and communication, and providing additional protections for witnesses and confidential informants to ensure their safety.

“The state’s restrictive discovery statute, dubbed The Blindfold Law, has created a system that is inefficient and unjust. I look forward to working with the individuals and organizations involved in this legislation, such as the New York State Bar Association, to make this law a reality,” said Avella.

“I also plan to have discussions with prosecutors and law enforcement personnel regarding this legislation to hear their concerns and ensure that this legislation keeps witnesses and confidential informants safe,” added Avella.

CONSTANTINIDES BACKS MAYOR’S CALL FOR SUBWAY FIX: Councilmember Costa Constantinides said, “New Yorkers demand a well-functioning, fully-funded mass transit system. For too long, our subway system has been neglected and the riders have suffered because of it. Our city is already overburdened by taxes and fees that go towards funding a dysfunctional MTA system. Neighborhood residents have to contend with horrible subway delays that prevent them from getting to work on time. Morning and evening commutes that last double or triple their typical length have become the norm. We deserve better than an MTA with no accountability or mandate to improve our commutes.

“That’s why I’m supportive of the Mayor’s Fair Fix proposal for a dedicated revenue stream to modernize our subway infrastructure through signal improvements, new cars, and track maintenance. A tax increase on the top 1% of the city’s wealthiest residents would help improve income inequality by paying for this dedicated revenue stream and for half-priced fares for low-income New Yorkers. Thank you to Senator Gianaris for leading the way on bringing this plan to fruition in Albany. We need a better and fairer MTA for all New Yorkers.”

KOO BILL SEEKS TO CRACK DOWN ON IMMIGRANT-TENANT HARASSMENT: Councilmember Peter Koo has introduced legislation that will allow immigrant renters to file harassment claims against landlords who make discriminatory threats or who request proof of citizenship.

Int. No. 1678 will amend the definition of harassment under the Housing Maintenance Code to include discriminatory threats and requests for proof of citizenship. Amending this definition will allow tenants to bring harassment claims for such actions in Housing Court. While harassment claims are already heard through the Human Rights Commission as violations under the Human Rights Law, expanding the harassment definition in the Housing Maintenance Code to include discriminatory threats or request proof of citizenship would also allow tenants to bring harassment claims directly against landlords through housing court.

The bill will update the definition of harassment to include:

• Threatening any tenants based on age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status,

• Refusing to accept government-issued ID,

• Requesting citizenship documents when valid ID has already been provided.

Koo stated, “The message this legislation sends to bad landlords is clear: if you harass your tenants, you will face consequences. As New Yorkers, we will not stand for harassment against immigrants in any form. Unfortunately, many immigrants don’t know their rights under the law. By amending the Housing Code’s definition of harassment, we will make it easier for tenants to retaliate against these forms of discrimination by giving them the power to file claims directly against the landlord.”

Landlords convicted of harassment are subject to civil penalties between $1,000 and $10,000.

For nearly two years, Koo has partnered with Queens Legal Services to provide monthly free, legal tenant services in his office for those who reside in his district.

The full text of Int. No. 1678 is available at: on.nyc.gov/2vP5ftS.

PERALTA HAILS CUOMO’S $4.5B ACTION AT LAGUARDIA: NYS Senator Jose Peralta released a statement regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement on building the $4 billion new Delta facilities at LaGuardia Airport.

“Today we took another major step in the transformative project that will land LaGuardia Airport firmly into the 21st century. This historic groundbreaking at the Delta facilities will bring about 16,000 new direct union jobs to our local economy. The redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport not only modernizes our infrastructure, but it also modernizes our public contract opportunities. For far too long, minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) were the object of discrimination when it came to public contracts. Now, however, the multi-billion dollar project will meet the 30% MWBE statewide goal set by Governor Andrew Cuomo. I applaud the Governor for his continuing efforts to redevelop LaGuardia Airport, located in my district and bringing much-needed jobs to my constituents, while also paying attention to the community’s needs and concerns.”

MALLIOTAKIS SLAMS DE BLASIO’S ‘LACK OF TRANSPARENCY’: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican nominee and opponent of incumbent, Mayor Bill de Blasio, unveiled a new count-up clock on her website which is designed to tally the number of days since May 18, 2016 – the date Mayor de Blasio said he would offer up “a whole lot of evidence” that would prove that his administration always acted in the public interest. Assemblywoman Malliotakis called the clock, “A stark reminder that 448 days later, our ethically challenged mayor still hasn’t produced much to the media and the people except for some heavily redacted emails that show next to nothing.”

Assemblywoman Malliotakis explained that at the time of his pledge, Mayor de Blasio was under five separate investigations and promised that he would make public a list of all donors to his political campaign or non-profit efforts, like the Campaign for One New York, or individuals who had been asked to donate to other campaigns by the mayor or his staff. In the nearly 15 months that have passed, de Blasio has continually stonewalled the media and the people of New York on this and a host of other issues, including his travel and security costs paid by the city and whether members of the NYPD were instructed to clear the homeless from subway stations and trains that were to be used by Mayor de Blasio and his entourage.

Malliotakis said, “Over the course of the last year or so, we’ve learned a lot about Bill de Blasio’s gym habits, his relationship with Governor Cuomo, his admiration of FALN leaders and most recently his fondness for naps. But, we still haven’t learned all the facts about the transactional approach to government that is a hallmark of the de Blasio administration.

“On May 18, 2016, Mayor de Blasio pledged to release lists of individuals who had contributed to either his political campaign or non-profit campaigns affiliated with him and who were either doing business with the city or were in talks about doing business with the city in the future. Mayor de Blasio has broken his word. To date, basically all that’s been released are emails between Mayor de Blasio and his so-called ‘agents of the city’ which are so filled with redactions that the average reader might mistake them for emails dealing with national security issues.

“So, today we are rolling out a new feature on my campaign website. We’re calling it the Bill de Blasio Count-up Clock and its purpose is as an easy reference point so that interested parties can track the length of time Mayor de Blasio has been stonewalling the media and residents of our city.

“Bill de Blasio is up for reelection and the voters have a right to know whether the mayor and his staff have given preferential treatment to supporters of the mayor.”

BILL TO COMBAT TELEPHONE SCAM PASSED BY SENATE: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced on August 11 that the United States Senate has passed legislation to combat a widespread telephone scam that continues to defraud Americans, following passage of her bill, H.R. 423, the “Anti-Spoofing Act of 2017” by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

S. 134, the “Spoofing Prevention Act of 2017” would crack down on those who engage in spoofing, a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re from a financial institution, police department or government agency. Using technology to disguise their name and/or phone number, these crooks call unsuspecting victims and falsely claim they’re from one of these official entities. They then steal victims’ money by convincing them to wire cash or provide bank account or personal information.

“Spoofing is a despicable scam, and the Senate’s passage of anti-spoofing legislation brings us one step closer to putting an end to it,” said Meng. “For too long, criminals have gotten away with using fake caller ID information to steal hard-earned money – sometimes thousands of dollars and complete savings accounts – from innocent and unsuspecting victims. I thank the Senate for passing this important bill and I will continue to push forward until anti-spoofing legislation becomes the law of the land. We must finally stop these crooks from ripping off the public.”

Meng’s legislation, also sponsored by Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), would make spoofing attempts from abroad a criminal act. Presently, spoofing to defraud Americans is not against the law if the calls originate from outside the US.

Her measure would also expand spoofing protections to cover text messaging and internet based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that enable callers to make calls from computers and tablets.

Finally, her legislation, like S. 134, would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to regularly update education materials that help consumers identify and protect themselves from caller ID scams.

PERALTA CENSURES LOEB STATEMENT: In response to comments by Success Academy Charter Schools Board Chairman Daniel Loeb, who accused NYS Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart- Cousins of having done “more damage to people of color than anyone who has ever donned a hood,” a reference to the KKK, NYS Senator Jose Peralta released the following statement: “It is unthinkable that in this day and age, people continue to use this disturbing and racist language. I condemn these frightening statements. These types of sentiments have no place in our society.”

Stewart-Cousins is African American and the first woman to lead a conference in Albany. Loeb used social media to call Stewart-Cousins a “hypocrite” who paid “fealty to powerful union thugs,” referring to her support of public school teachers’ unions versus charter schools. Loeb, a hedge fund billionaire, has apologized and deleted his post.

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