2018-02-07 / Political Page

I On Politics

TOP DEMS WARN USING NUNES MEMO AS PRETEXT TO FIRE MUELLER WOULD BE OBSTRUCTION: In a new letter to President Trump, top House and Senate Democrats warned the President that using the newly-released partisan memo by House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes as a pretext to fire either Special Counsel Bob Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein— who is overseeing Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation—would be considered an attempt to obstruct justice and spark a constitutional crisis not seen since the Saturday night massacre.

The February 2 letter notes that House Intel Chair Devin Nunes’ selective and misleading partisan memo seeks to discredit the FBI and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, all as a means of protecting President Trump and undermining Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation. The letter was signed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Patty Murray, House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member Adam Schiff, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler.

The letter further stated that “The decision to release a partisan and misleading memo over the objections of your own Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director and the Department of Justice (DOJ) was a transparent attempt to discredit the hard-working men and women of law enforcement who are investigating Russia’s interference with our Presidential election and that nation’s ties to your campaign.”

NUNES MEMO ‘GOP EFFORT TO UNDERMINE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after President Trump released the memo by House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), which Crowley said was designed to undermine the Russia investigation:

“This memo was not released in the interest of our national security. It was not released in the interest of finding the truth. And it was not released in the interest of the American people. It’s being done in the interest of protecting President Trump and his congressional lackeys.

“A chorus of voices have said the same thing—this memo is a red herring. It is based on faulty assumptions and fictitious information. It is intentionally misleading, and it’s being released with the intent to discredit our intelligence community and the special counsel investigation.

“Russia interfered in our election. It will do so again unless President Trump and Republicans start worrying about protecting our country instead of protecting themselves.”

GIANARIS’ CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM BILL: New York State Senator Michael Gianaris introduced a bill to reform New York’s broken campaign finance system. The legislation would limit the amount of money people can donate to campaign committees, which is currently more than $65,000 for statewide races. The Senator’s legislation would reduce that number to just $6,000 per election.

“New York’s campaign finance system is broken and in desperate need of reform,” said Gianaris. “These proposals would begin to repair our democracy and reduce the influence of money in our system. I urge my colleagues to pass these bills as soon as possible.”

Gianaris’ bill, S.3301, would lower contribution limits for statewide candidates to $6,000 for the primary and $6,000 for the general election. Currently, the combined limit for general elections is $65,100. Senate candidates would be limited to $4,000 for the primary and $4,000 for the general election and Assembly candidates would be limited to $2,000 for the primary, and $2,000 for the general election, both significantly lower than current limits.

Gianaris’ bill is part of a broader package of legislation introduced by the Democratic Conference in the State Senate aimed at reducing the impact of money in elections, increasing transparency, and restoring the public’s trust in New York State government.

CROWLEY STATEMENT ON JANUARY JOBS REPORT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) released the following statement on the January jobs report:

“Despite the ‘Potemkin’ landscape President Trump painted in his State of the Union, too many hard-working Americans are not feeling the economic gains their families so desperately need.

“Americans deserve a strong and stable economy and the opportunity to succeed. But Republicans have failed to deliver on that promise. They are distracted by political gamesmanship that serves special interests and corporations instead of helping families afford quality health care and education, helping communities expand job training opportunities and resources, or helping raise wages and grow the economy for all Americans.”

DROMM’S OVERSIGHT OF BUDGET WILL ‘PUT THE VULNERABLE FIRST’: Council Finance Chair, NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm released a statement upon the release of the Mayor’s FY 2019 Preliminary Budget:

“With the release of the Mayor’s $88.7 billion preliminary budget, the Finance Committee will lead a thorough oversight process that will put our most vulnerable New Yorkers first. Safeguarding our critical city-funded programs against looming federal and state cuts requires us to take a serious look at dramatically expanding reserves for the all-but-certain rainy day ahead and that means identifying savings and strengthening citywide reserves. I look forward to working with the Speaker and my colleagues to ensure that we arrive at a budget that works for all New Yorkers.

PRESIDENT SWORE TO ‘REPRESENT ALL AMERICANS’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement in response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address:

“President Trump has led one of the most anti-New York administrations and Congresses that we have ever seen. We saw that with the tax bill, which threw a dagger straight at the heart of our city and state. By capping state and local tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000, New Yorkers will effectively be double-taxed, since we will no longer be able to deduct all of the state and local taxes we pay from what we owe to the federal government. We also saw it with the Justice Department withholding federal funds for our local law enforcement agencies and with the failed Republican healthcare bill which would have cut more than $7 billion in Medicaid funding from our state. And it looks like we will see it again with the administration’s infrastructure proposal, which actually cuts federal investments in mass transit—the lifeblood of our city—in order to fund other projects.

“For the last year, instead of working for a better deal for all Americans, this Republican Congress and President Trump have prioritized tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest few while harming the middle class and hardworking Americans by ripping away healthcare for millions, cutting Medicare, repealing workplace and environmental protections, and more. That’s not a viable way forward for our country; it’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, we should be working on bipartisan priorities like investing in our nation’s infrastructure, finding a path forward for DREAMers, improving education and fostering an economy where all hardworking Americans can succeed.

“I’m proud to have been joined tonight by Diego de la Vega, an intern from my New York office and a DREAMer. He stands for everything we are fighting for. Just earlier today, in describing the fight for a permanent solution to DACA he quoted the late, great Ted Kennedy: ‘The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives and the dream shall never die.’ Diego is an inspiring American in every way but on paper, and I will continue to fight for him and all DREAMers.

“It’s time for this President to recognize that when he took that oath of office last January 20, he swore to represent all the American people, not just those that elected him. I hope he starts acting like it.”

MALONEY, KHANNA, AND DAVIS REQUEST REVIEW OF CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT DATA: Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), sponsor of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Susan Davis (CA-53) requested on January 29 that the General Accountability Office (GAO) complete a review of surveys documenting sexual violence on college campuses and use this data to provide recommendations to Congress for developing and administering a standard nationwide survey to collect data on campus sexual assault.

In their letter to Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro, the Representatives state that such a survey is needed because, “[a] safe campus environment free from sexual assault is essential to ensure that all students can pursue higher education. Achieving this goal requires accountability from colleges and universities that receive federal funds and a well-developed standardized survey will ensure that we have accurate data on the scope of the problem. It is estimated that one in five women are victim to sexual assault, but without uniform standards for data reporting and collection, we cannot be sure about such statistics.”

The following information was included in the letter:

In order to get a broad understanding of the various methodologies and structures of existing surveys, GAO should study past and existing campus climate surveys and assess their effectiveness in gathering complete and accurate campus sexual violence data. The surveys studied for the report should address the following issues:

• Student perspectives on the incidence and prevalence of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on the college campus;

• Student knowledge about institutional policies and procedures related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and how the policies are communicated;

• The utility and efficacy of making survey data available to the general public;

• For students who have been victims of sexual assault, a. whether the incident was reported, to whom, what response was received, and whether the victim was made aware of state, local, national and campus resources; b. contextual factors such as whether force, incapacitation or coercion was involved; c. whether the accused individual was a student at the institution; whether or not a victim reported an incident to state, local, or campus law enforcement and why.

The resulting report should include recommendations in response to these questions, as well as administration, frequency, and any other relevant factors GAO considers necessary to create a strong national campus survey.

PHEFFER AMATO ENCOURAGES NEW YORKERS TO USE NYC FREE TAX PREP: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) urged New Yorkers who earned $66,000 or less to file for free using the NYC Free Tax Prep, which includes more than 200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)/Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and AARP Tax-Aide sites throughout the five boroughs, as well as online self-preparation.

In general, New Yorkers earning $54,000 or less are eligible to visit in-person and drop-off sites where IRS/certified VITA/TCE volunteer preparers complete the return for filers. Filers can go to the interactive online map or download the list of sites at nyc.gov/taxprep to find specific sites and details. Additionally, filers earning $66,000 or less can file their taxes online for free at nyc.gov/taxprep,

Within the Assembly Member’s district office there are the following forms for further information:

• NYC Free Tax Prep palm cards, a brochure that gives step by step instructions on how to take advantage of NYC Free Tax prep services.

• NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers.

• “What happens to your complaint?” a four-step guide of NYC DCA’s complaint mediation process.

• “Consumer Affairs is Here to Help You,” a brochure that gives an overview of what DCA does and how they help businesses and consumers alike.

If there are questions regarding this information dial 311, go to nyc.gov/consumers or call the Assembly Member’s office at 718-945- 9550.

IN COMMEMORATION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement in commemoration of Black History Month:

“During Black History Month, we reflect on African Americans’ invaluable contributions to our country and pay tribute to all the champions who fought for equality and justice. From science to politics, and (from) music to law, African Americans have profoundly shaped our history and progress.

“This year, as we honor these incredible achievements, we must also recognize that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Men and women who sacrificed everything to ensure that our country honors its promise that all men are created equal. Their perseverance must be remembered today as a new generation of activists have resisted hate and discrimination to fight against President Trump’s divisive and racist agenda. Our fight is far from over, but together we can keep working toward a more just, more equal, and more perfect Union.”

PHEFFER AMATO CO-SPONSORS BILL TO PROTECT CHILDREN’S SAFETY: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) signed on as a co-sponsor of bill A.8266 sponsored by Assembly Member Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). This legislation protects children from avoidable illness and toxic exposure by allowing the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to regulate, and in cases of significant public health concerns, ban the use of some dangerous chemicals in children’s products.

“As Chair of the Assembly’s Child Safety Subcommittee, I am proud to support this bill to protect children and allow parents to make informed decisions about the items they are purchasing for their family,” said Pheffer Amato. “As a mother of two, I deeply feel the stakes of getting this issue right because so many toxic chemicals are used to make children’s products without any sort of restriction.”

This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to better regulate the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products and establishes an infrastructure within state government to categorize chemicals of concern, along with requiring disclosure by children’s products manufacturers as to whether their products contain chemicals of concern. A 2005 study of industrial chemicals conducted by a non-profit research-based organization, the Environmental Working Group, detected 287 chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood, 180 of which cause cancer, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

PHEFFER AMATO ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY: ‘WORK FOR PEACE’

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) released the following statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember the six million Jews and six million others who were systematically murdered by Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, and their collaborators across the globe; and we reflect on the most vital lesson of that nightmare: ‘Never Again.’

“With our history as Jews comes a responsibility to work for peace, understanding and interconnectedness, and to stop genocidal impulses wherever they appear. In the memory of those who were lost and those who fought against Nazism, may we take this charge seriously, now more than ever. The future depends on our resolve to build bridges, to care for those different from us, and to interrupt evil wherever we see it. I am sending love to the families who lost so much in the Shoah.”

ADDABBO TO HOST MOBILE OFFICE HOURS IN KEW GARDENS HILLS: For the first time this year, New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. will be hosting mobile office hours at Wasserman’s Grocery Store in Kew Gardens Hills on Thursday, February 8.

As part of his ongoing efforts to stay engaged with constituents across the district, Addabbo hosts these mobile office hours to hear directly from the people about what their issues and concerns are. So, on Thursday, February 8, Addabbo will be at Wasserman’s Grocery Store, located at 72-51 Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm, to meet with constituents and discuss any issues they may have.

“I have always felt that the best way to get involved in the district is by meeting with the people face-to-face, which is why I host these mobile office hours each year,” Addabbo said. “Sometimes it is difficult for residents to make it into one of my offices or contact us during regular business hours, so this is a way for me stay connected to the people and address their problems.”

Addabbo will be announcing the locations for additional mobile office hours throughout the district in the coming weeks.

PHEFFER AMATO, WRIGHT MEET WITH OCFS HEAD: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) and Assembly Member Tremaine Wright (DBrooklyn) met with Acting Commissioner Sheila Poole of the NYS Office of Children & Family Services on Jan 29. The meeting was held as a follow-up to the 2017 National Early Learning Fellowship with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which all the lawmakers attended and completed. Pheffer Amato and Wright were chosen out of about three dozen legislators to participate in the fellowship to learn more about best practices for early child development.

“These are the kinds of challenges I came to the Assembly to tackle,” said Pheffer Amato. “As Chair of the Child Safety Subcommittee it is important to recognize the earlier you start investing in our children, the better the outcomes— and that applies to better graduation rates, workforce development, social service, and a reduction in incarceration rates.”

“Meeting with Commissioner Poole was helpful and important on so many levels,” Pheffer Amato continued. “The main takeaway is that there are so many angles to early childhood education. We discussed tactics as well as concepts: better ways to engage parents, increased ways to finance early education, the impact of expulsion or suspension in an early-childhood environment.”

“The opportunity to sit with OCFS was a timely and important follow-up to the Early Learning Fellowship,” said Wright. “There are a myriad of concerns impacting early childhood development and a strong partnership with our state agency is necessary to provide care, education and advocacy. As the Chair on the Subcommittee on Foster Care, I am committed to ensuring strong support in early years so our children are successful as they grow into adulthood and independence.”

MILLER TELLS MTA-LIRR PRESIDENT

‘JUST USE TIER 4 SWITCHER LOCOMOTIVES’: At the Glendale Property Owners Association Meeting on February 2, Assembly Member Mike Miller got a standing ovation for standing up for “the health and wellbeing of my constituents and their families who live in close proximity to the rail line and are exposed to polluting fumes on a daily basis.” The Assembly Member used these words in a strong letter of response to MTA-LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski’s claims about the MTA-LIRR’s Tier 4 locomotive procurement that began on January 23, 2018, with the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP).

Miller went on to write that, “Although your letter addresses the benefits of switching to Tier 4 locomotives, your response falls short of addressing the benefits of exclusively employing Tier 4 compliant switcher locomotives.” Miller pointed out that MTA-LIRR’s RFP focuses on “an inappropriately broad-range horsepower from the onset, including Line Haul locomotives that would be misapplied as switchers.”

Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) Chair Mary Parisen- Lavelle spoke at the GPOA meeting and thanked Miller. In remarks after the meeting she stated, “MTA-LIRR communications emphasize that locomotives will be Tier 4; that they’re much cleaner. However, President Nowakowski’s letter to Assemblyman Miller and other elected officials fails to address very serious issues that Assemblyman Miller, other elected officials, and CURES have repeatedly raised. Much larger Line Haul locomotives are operationally and technically inappropriate for use in switching operations, day and night, right next to our homes. They will pollute up to 30 percent more, creating needless health hazards for our families and railroad workers. MTALIRR has never used them and has not proven they need them. As Assemblyman Miller wrote: ‘I strongly urge you to consider employing just the cleanest locomotives—Tier 4 Switch Duty cycle locomotives for NYAR. This is in the best interest of my constituents.’ MTA should listen.”

PHEFFER AMATO’S LEGISLATIVE SESSION INTERN: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato announced her NYS Assembly Session Intern, Michael Matteo, who will be working out of her Albany Legislative Office for the 2018 Session.

Matteo, a Staten Island native, and senior at Baruch College majoring in public affairs with a minor in law & public policy, started the Assembly Internship program with previous legislative experience. Matteo has aspirations to attend law school in the near future, and has an interest in sports and gambling law.

Formerly, Matteo was an intern for Council Member Donovan Richards in his Manhattan Legislative Office. Matteo has gained an impressive amount of aptitude and facility with the legislative process through his experience interning in the city council and currently is helping with bill research, drafting of memos and even coordinating Albany scheduling within the Assembly Member’s Office.

“Michael knows all about living in an area that is tolled heavily and is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy—so it’s a perfect fit!” said Pheffer Amato. “The Assembly Internship program is amazing and teaches our students such valuable life lessons. Michael jumped right in, and has made my second legislative session more navigable and more powerful—I cannot wait to see him succeed in all of his future endeavors.”

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