2018-01-31 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY ON TRUMP’S ‘ATTACK ON NYC’: House Democratic Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after the Department of Justice threatened to subpoena and withhold federal funding from New York City due to its status as a sanctuary city:

“New York has always been and will always be a sanctuary city, and New Yorkers will not be bullied by the Trump administration’s racist, anti-immigrant agenda. Today’s threat from the Department of Justice is nothing but a further assault on our immigrant communities.

“The president campaigned on the promise that he’d keep Americans safe. But stripping federal funding to combat terrorism from New York City will put millions of Americans at risk. These funds help protect our families, police officers, and first responders—citizens the president was elected to serve. It is incomprehensible that the Trump administration is willing to put Americans at risk just to further their mass deportation agenda.”

54TH ANNIVERSARY OF ELIMINATION OF POLL TAX: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the 54th anniversary of the ratification of the 24th amendment of the United States Constitution, which eliminated the poll tax since 1964:

“Fifty-four years ago, the United States eliminated the poll tax—a regressive levy that disenfranchised millions of Americans and kept minorities and low-income individuals from using their voice and their vote. This was an important step toward ending institutional discrimination in the United States. But while we continue to make progress, many states still allow discriminatory voting laws and uphold gerrymandered districts designed to purposefully suppress the vote of black, Hispanic, and working-class populations. This is unacceptable. We must continue to fight to ensure that every voter is truly equal.”

ADDABBO URGES REFORM OF ELECTION LAWS TO IMPROVE ‘ABYSMAL’ VOTER PARTICIPATION: “In an effort to combat New York’s abysmally low rates of voter turnout and otherwise reform the state’s often archaic election laws,” NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. said, he is joining with a number of his Senate colleagues in advancing a package of bills to make it easier for all residents to participate in their democracy.

“Expanding and protecting voter rights here in New York is paramount in making the process easier and more accessible for a larger number of voters,” said Addabbo, who joined in a State Capitol press conference to advocate for the legislation. “Having one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation does not reflect well on our state. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and if we want to continue to have a strong democracy, we need to enact sensible measures to allow and encourage more voters to get to the ballot box.

“Many of the laws I sponsored were designed to improve voter education and awareness while making it easier for residents to get to the polls,” Addabbo said. ”They included laws to provide better notice of primary elections to voters, streamline the absentee ballot process, help make sure that polls are routinely sited near public transportation routes, and expand the type and number of buildings with access for the disabled that can be used as polling sites.”

Out of the comprehensive multi-bill legislative package, Addabbo is personally co-sponsoring four of the proposals. One (S.7538) would change the layout of ballots to make them easier to read and understand, and another (S.840) would establish “no fault” absentee balloting by enabling any voter to request and cast their ballot by mail without declaring any reason for doing so. A third bill (S.3562) would require state primary elections and federal primary elections to be held on the same day, saving taxpayer money spent on organizing and holding elections. Finally, the Voter Empowerment Act (S.3304) would create a modern voter registration system to reduce costs for processing registration, maintain complete and accurate voter registration lists, and make it easier overall for New Yorkers to register and vote.

Addabbo, who was chair of the NYS Senate Elections Committee in 2009, noted that these proposals build upon legislation he has advanced in the past, including more than a dozen state laws he sponsored during the period when New York State and New York City were implementing provisions of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Additional election and voting reform bills in the legislative package Addabbo is supporting seek to establish an early voting system; declare voter suppression a crime; and implement uniform poll closing procedures to ensure integrity in the process. Others would expand and reform affidavit voting by allowing ballots to be cast and counted when a voter accidentally appears at the wrong election district in the right county.

“It’s no secret that we have great challenges ahead in restoring public trust in our electoral system and in our government itself,” said Addabbo. “We obviously require reasonable safeguards to ensure the integrity and veracity of our election process and results. However, it is equally clear that we need to remove unnecessarily burdensome obstacles that cause people to jump through hoops to participate in their democracy and that ultimately discourage people from even bothering to vote.”

FOLLOWING SEX ABUSE VERDICT, MALONEY CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION: In the wake of victim statements at Dr. Larry Nassar’s sentencing, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) is calling on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) to launch an investigation into USA Gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee (USOC), and Michigan State University’s failure to keep these athletes safe. The OGR Committee is the main investigative committee in the US House of Representatives with broad jurisdiction to investigate matters it considers important to the country. Rep. Maloney is a senior member of this committee.

In the letter to Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings, the Congress Member states, “While Mr. Nassar has been brought to justice, albeit belatedly, we must investigate the systemic failure that enabled him to commit these horrific abuses over so many years, and ensure that the necessary changes are made to protect all students, athletes, and patients in the future. Mr. Nassar’s trial was only the first phase in finding justice. We owe each of his victims, and every young athlete in these programs, a thorough and comprehensive investigation.”

In her letter to Gowdy, Maloney stated “The Indianapolis Star, which first broke the story about Mr. Nassar’s overwhelming abuse, found, through review of hundreds of police files and court cases across the country, ‘at least 368 gymnasts have alleged some form of sexual abuse at the hands of their coach, gym owners, or other adults working in gymnastics.’ The investigation found that ‘top officials at USA Gymnastics…failed to alert police to many allegations… that occurred on their watch and stashed complaints in files that have been kept secret …[and]… predatory coaches were allowed to move from gym to gym, undetected by a lax system of oversight, or dangerously passed on by USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.’

“It is disgraceful that these incidents were overlooked by the USOC and USA Gymnastics for so many years, harming young athletes who were competing at the most elite level of their sport representing the United States of America. Not only was there clearly a systemic failure at both organizations to protect our athletes, but we also know of at least one instance where USA Gymnastics tried to cover up these allegations: the Non-Disclosure Agreement signed by McKayla Maroney in her settlement with USA Gymnastics over abuse by Mr. Nassar.”

SENATOR PERALTA: A YEAR IN REVIEW: NYS Senator Jose Peralta culminated a successful year as a member of the Independent Democratic Conference by delivering historic victories, including a $10 million legal defense fund to protect immigrants; the “best Paid Family Leave program in the nation”; raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18; and making college tuition-free for working- and middle-class students.

Locally, Senator Peralta delivered over $5 million in vital funding for local schools and community-based organizations. He also had several pieces of legislation signed into law, including a Metropolitan Transportation Authority study of the lead paint levels in elevated subway structures, and the alienation of parkland to build a 300-seat pre-K school in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“Since I decided to join the Independent Democratic Conference exactly one year ago, I now have a seat at the table that allows me to deliver more and better services for my community. Clearly, this was an extremely effective year, both in terms of legislation and bringing much-needed resources to my constituents,” said Senator Peralta. “My focus is on delivering for my community, whether it’s by bringing state funding for our schools and local organizations, or by passing crucial legislation.”

This year, Senator Peralta is focused on closing a $4.4 billion deficit budget, while funding our deteriorated public transit system and increasing school funding.

In 2017, Senator Peralta’s office opened almost 1,800 constituent cases, a record number. In response to a swell of people seeking housing and immigration assistance, he secured a state allocation to the CUNY School of Law Community Legal Resource Network to provide free legal services to constituents.

Some of the state funding the Senator was able to secure in last year’s budget for local schools include $10–15,000 per school for laptops and smartboards at PS 13, 16, 19, IS 61 and 230; and $100–300,000 per school for major renovations at IS 145, 227, 141, PS 69 and 89.

Funding ($50–150,000) for local and community organizations including the Queens DA’s office for crime victims, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ACE job training and placement for the homeless,

Neighborhood Housing Services, Her Justice, Emerald Isle Immigration, Queens Library, Apicha Community Center, and the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans.

Many community members, leaders and activists have praised the Senator’s accomplishments and achievements over the past 12 months.

Many of Peralta’s constituents gave glowing reviews of his achievements. Here is one:

“I have watched his words but more importantly his actions. His support to clean up Roosevelt Avenue; working with our assemblyman to get more funding for desperately needed schools; looking after our seniors to protect them against deed theft; the countless turkey giveaways; backpack giveaways; making sure the breast health van is accessible in front of the office and we know it’s there; fighting for sanctuary for our DACA community members,” said Marjorie Clark, an East Elmhurst resident. “I think the thing that I admire and support about the senator is his willingness to challenge the political machine to get what is best for all of our community. Do I agree with him on everything? Does any constituent? But he makes himself available to clarify his positions and listens to all sides. And for that reason—I support him.”

PLANNED PARENTHOOD PRESIDENT TO STEP DOWN: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after Cecile Richards announced that she is stepping down as President of Planned Parenthood:

“Cecile is a fierce advocate, a true champion for women, and a valued friend. I’ve been proud to work alongside her to protect women’s reproductive rights and access to health care. She will be missed greatly, but I know she will continue to lend her voice to the important fights ahead. I wish her the very best in this next chapter.”

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