2018-04-18 / Political Page

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CROWLEY RE SYRIA AIR STRIKES: TRUMP MUST WORK WITH CONGRESS; ADDRESS PUTIN’S ROLE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after President Trump announced airstrikes against the Syrian regime:

“The horrifying chemical weapon attacks on innocent civilians is a war crime and Bashar al-Assad and his regime must be held accountable.

“However, airstrikes alone will not achieve that goal. President Trump’s pledge for sustained military action demands a strategic plan to be authorized and reviewed by Congress.

“Any strategy must also address Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in financing and enabling Assad’s regime, as Russia must be held equally accountable for these heinous crimes.”

SCHUMER: TO CUT BOMB-SNIFFING CANINES WOULD BE CATASTROPHIC: Last week, at a House Homeland Security Transportation Subcommittee hearing, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) chief David Pekoske said he wanted to eliminate the agency’s use of canine Visible Intermodal Prevent and Response (VIPR) teams and turn the responsibility over to state and local governments as a cost-cutting measure.

US Senator Charles E. Schumer sounded the alarm and demanded that the TSA immediately reverse course and keep highly trained canine teams right where they are in NYC.

Senator Schumer said, “[t]o suggest in a formal Congressional hearing that we can do without these specially trained teams is both myopic and maddening. Given the all-too recent suicide bombing attempt within the Port Authority subway station just this past December, it is unthinkable that the TSA is even considering the removal of our security firewall—the canine VIPR teams. In fact, I have fought for and helped deliver extra canine teams to New York City in the past—because we need to beef up these kinds of security operations, not cut them to the bone or throw the responsibility onto the NYPD. So it is incumbent upon the TSA to immediately reverse course on making a potentially catastrophic decision to slash the funding that delivers these teams, along with the idea that local governments can bear the national security burden. Canine teams are not a luxury. In New York City, canine dog teams can mean life or death.”.

Schumer said he has fought this sort of effort once before. The President’s proposed budget grossly slashed VIPR canine teams by $43 million or 23 total teams. However, the bipartisan omnibus, negotiated by Senator Schumer, restored those cuts and provided $58 million to the VIPR initiative, sustaining 31 teams.

Canine teams include a highly trained detection dog and a handler. VIPR teams may approach people and ask questions, examine bags, search vehicles, conduct searches, and patrol the airport to detect suspicious activity. According to the TSA, the agency allocates canine teams to specific cities and airports utilizing risk-based criteria that take into account multiple factors, including threat score, number of people with secure access, and passenger throughput.

Schumer pointed to an incident on February 20 when 11 people walked through an unattended TSA checkpoint at JFK Airport. According to reports, 8 of the passengers were screened by a canine prior to boarding.

MTA ANNOUNCES AN UPGRADE PROJECT AT THE ASTORIA BLVD: At the CB1 transportation committee meeting, the MTA announced an upgrade project at the Astoria Blvd. station. The project includes a months-long closure of the station to provide elevators and ADA accessibility. Council Member Costa Constantinides responded to the announcement, saying, “The MTA’s announcement is bittersweet. The planned ADA accessibility updates at the Astoria Boulevard Station are a long time coming. Our community has spent years advocating for elevators at the station to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, parents with strollers, and seniors. However, our community’s experience with the MTA’s 30th Avenue Station closure has left us with many burdens, concerns, and unanswered questions. While closing the station will bring some negative effects to our neighborhood during construction including longer commute times and more crowded stations, the added accessibility features will bring essential long-term infrastructure improvements to the station. I will continue to hold the authority accountable on this and other similar projects.”

CROWLEY ANNOUNCES REELECTION BID: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced his campaign for reelection on April 15:

“I have some exciting news to share: I am officially on the ballot and look forward to earning the support needed to continue serving as your member of Congress.

“I am so appreciative of the more than 300 people who have spent time making phone calls, knocking on doors, and collecting signatures throughout Queens and the Bronx—Thank you!

“Team Crowley was incredible during the petitioning process. At our campaign headquarters, we welcomed longtime friends and supporters and had the pleasure of meeting the many new faces who walked through the doors to help with our efforts. It was clear that everyone who came was there for the same reason—to fight for our community and our values and to be a part of the effort to ensure Democrats win back the majority in the US House of Representatives this fall!

“I am so proud and I have never been more confident in where our party is headed.

But there’s still a lot more work to be done between now and November. Team Crowley continues to need folks to get involved. Sign up today to knock on doors, make calls, and join #TeamCrowley! The campaign isn’t over yet, but with your continued help and support, I am confident Democrats across New York and the nation will be successful this election cycle!”

20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT: House Democratic Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which helped bring an end to centuries of violent conflict in the North of Ireland:

“Twenty years ago, leaders in the North of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and the United Kingdom joined in one of the world’s most important diplomatic achievements: securing an agreement that would lead to the end of centuries of armed conflict. While the Good Friday Agreement never would have happened without the courage of leaders like Gerry Adams and Tony Blair, I also believe progress would have stalled absent the tenacity of the Irish American community, the Clinton administration, and bipartisan support from the United States Congress.

“Today we celebrate and recognize all that has been achieved: Belfast is no longer an active war zone, rural areas live in peace, and a centuries-long system of repression has been put to rest. But this is also a time to acknowledge the challenges ahead that must be tackled in order to sustain peace and prosperity. This is why the Trump administration should respond to bipartisan calls to move forward with the appointment of a special envoy to the North, as well as commit to continuing diplomatic efforts to ensure lasting peace.

“The Good Friday Agreement was an incredible achievement, but it was a process, not an end in itself. We must continue to do all that we can to sustain the hope it created for a peaceful future, not just for those in the North, but for those who believe in human rights and human dignity throughout the world.”

MALONEY: GENDER WAGE GAP ‘ALIVE AND WELL’: In recognition of Equal Pay Day 2018, the day when the pay for the average woman matches that of her male peer from the previous year, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“Five and a half decades ago, on June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law with the intention of eliminating the wage gap for good.

“Yet here we are, in 2018 and the gender wage gap is still alive and well. Today, women are paid only $0.80 on average to every dollar earned by a man, a statistic that has barely budged at all in more than a decade and is drastically worse for women of color and older women.

“Equal Pay Day shows us exactly how far into the next calendar year a woman would have to work to be paid the same amount that a man earned in the previous year. Pay disparity harms American families. Forty-two percent of American households have women as the sole or primary breadwinner, making more families than ever dependent upon women’s salaries to remain financially stable.

“The state of New York, notably, has the smallest gender wage gap, but anything less than equality in any state is unacceptable The women in our country deserve to have their hard work valued equally to men, and to be paid fairly.

“It is critical that Republicans allow us to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would go a long way to strengthening the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and empowering American women and families. We also need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which I’ve reintroduced—for the 11th time—so that the rights of all Americans are Constitutionally, unequivocally equal, regardless of gender.”

PAYCHECK FAIRNESS ACT STRENGTHENS EQUAL PAY ACT: House Democratic Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on Equal Pay Day, which reflects how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned last year. Crowley is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which strengthens the Equal Pay Act to help ensure women earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

“While today is an important reminder of the wage gap that exists between women and men, we know that gender-based pay discrimination is an issue that affects women every day of the year. On average, women in America still earn only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, with working mothers, African American women, and Latinas earning even less. Pay discrimination puts a strain on working women, undermines the economic stability of American families, and severely affects our economy.

“Despite the progress that has been made in recent years to close the gender wage gap, more must be done to end pay discrimination. Congress must act to fulfill the promise of equal pay for equal work for all Americans by finally passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill will ensure that women and hard-working families from Queens, the Bronx, and across the country receive the equality and opportunities they deserve.”

Equal Pay Day 2018 was on April 10, meaning women would have to work an extra 4 months to earn what their male peers earned the previous year.

ADDABBO URGES DOE TO LOCK THE DOORS IN NEW SAFETY INITIATIVE: NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr. released a statement in response to the Department of Education’s (DOE) recent notice sent to schools, alerting parents that the New York City public schools will be implementing a new safety initiative which will include temporary metal detectors to scan each student for weapons.

Senator Addabbo said, “While having these metal scanners in our public schools on certain days will allow the NYPD’s School Safety Division and school staff to root out students carrying metal weapons such as blades and knives, it does little to protect students and faculty from outside threats.

“As the ranking member of the Senate Education Committee, I have been urging the DOE to look into the bill I introduced into the Senate (S.7927), which would mandate all doors leading into city public schools be locked from the outside. This simple and easy-to-implement safety measure would require visitors to be screened before they can enter the building.”

MALONEY SLAMS MULVANEY FOR TAKING ‘ZERO ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS’ AT CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: Following the House Committee on Financial Services’ recent hearing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, released the following statement:

“Under Director Cordray, the CFPB was bringing about four enforcement actions per month to protect consumers. As Mr. Mulvaney confirmed to me today, he has brought zero enforcement actions since he arrived five months ago. Despite stating in his testimony that ‘our job is to enforce federal consumer financial laws,’ it appears that under his leadership, the CFPB has utterly failed to enforce any laws. So, either every single financial institution in America has suddenly snapped into full compliance with every single consumer financial law since he took over, or Mr. Mulvaney is doing what many of us have feared – dismantling the CFPB from the inside.

“Mr. Mulvaney also attempted to take credit for the $93 million that has been distributed to consumers since November. That is completely disingenuous. Those funds were won under the leadership of Director Cordray and the CFPB has been merely doling them out.

“As he made clear at today’s hearing, Mr. Mulvaney has no business leading the CFPB.”

CROWLEY DEMANDS BOARD OF ELECTIONS DROP EFFORTS TO MOVE LEFRAK POLLING SITES: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx) urged the New York City Board of Elections to immediately drop their misguided effort to move longtime polling sites in LeFrak City to alternate locations in Queens.

Citing the pressing need for LeFrak City’s 6,000 residents to easily access their polling stations, Crowley said it is imperative that the Board of Elections abandon all legal efforts to move the voting sites.

“When actions restrict voting access to communities of color, low-income senior citizens, or any community, our citizens’ voices are stifled, and their representatives’ abilities to advocate for them are greatly impeded,” wrote Chairman Crowley to the Board of Elections. “I believe the BOE should withdraw its appeal of the judge’s decision and let the polling site remain at its current location.”

Crowley has been working alongside the LeFrak City Tenants’ Association and residents since last summer to advocate for the polling sites to be maintained. In August, Crowley publicly called on the Queens Board of Elections to work with the LeFrak community to ensure their access to the polls was not unnecessarily impeded.

“I stand with my constituents in opposing this decision,” continued Crowley. “Maintaining the polling sites would send a strong message to LeFrak City residents, and to the entire city, that their voices matter and their right to vote is paramount.”

CROWLEY DENOUNCES ‘SO-CALLED’ BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after voting against the Balanced Budget Amendment:

“The so-called Balanced Budget Amendment is not about deficits or debts— its sole purpose is to advance the unrelenting Republican agenda to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Republicans spent $2 trillion giving lavish tax cuts to corporate special interests and are now attempting to balance the books on the backs of seniors, children, and working families. I voted against this bill on the House floor today and will continue to fight Republican attempts to bankrupt the working family.”

MALONEY STATEMENT ON YOM HASHOAH, NEVER AGAIN EDUCATION ACT: On Israel’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“The Holocaust stands as the most horrific embodiment of human depravity, fear, and hatred in our history. The innocent victims of this atrocity numbered 11 million, among them 6 million Jews.

“In honor of all those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis and the largest genocide in recorded history, we must tell the story of the Holocaust to ensure we never forget. In our modern political climate, the lessons we are taught by the victims of the Holocaust is more urgent than ever.

“That is why I’ve introduced the Never Again Education Act, a bipartisan bill that will promote Holocaust education in American public schools. This legislation ensures that our teachers are best equipped to teach the Holocaust so that America’s students learn tolerance and acceptance instead of hatred and prejudice.

“Only then can we fulfill the promises of ‘never again’ and ‘never forget.’”

CROWLEY ON HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY: House Democratic Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“On Yom Hashoah, we remember the millions of Jewish people who were systematically tortured and murdered during the Holocaust. These actions can never be undone, but we can honor the memory of these individuals by making sure such acts of bigotry never happen again.

“At a time when anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in New York and across the country, we have a great responsibility as Americans to stand against intolerance wherever and whenever such hatred rears its ugly head. We must always remember that the greatness of our country is defined by its diversity and by its tolerance.”

REPS URGE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXTEND TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR NEPALESE NATIONALS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Jared Polis (D-CO) announced a letter signed by dozens of House members urging the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of State to extend Temporary Protected Status granted to Nepalese nationals living in the United States following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015.

Following an earlier letter led by Crowley and Meng, the US government first granted TPS to Nepalese nationals in the immediate weeks after the earthquake. Their status is now due to expire on June 24, 2018.

“…TPS is designed to grant protection for foreign nationals living in the United States when extraordinary circumstances make it difficult for them to return to their home countries,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter. “We believe that the lingering damage in Nepal and the challenges its government faces meet these criteria, and that extending the TPS designation would help the Nepalese government restore housing, safety, and stability to its people.”

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the US can provide TPS when conditions in a country prevent its citizens from returning safely such as a natural disaster, civil war, other extraordinary and temporary conditions. This status may be extended when conditions in the country remain dangerous or unsettled.

The Trump administration has announced the termination of TPS status for nationals from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador in the last year, despite calls for extensions by lawmakers. The Department of Homeland Security must announce either the termination or extension of TPS for a country 60 days prior to its expiration date.

CROWLEY CONGRATULATES LAMB ON HIS SWEARING-IN: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement congratulating Congress Member Conor Lamb as he was sworn in to represent Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District:

“I’m thrilled to welcome Congressman Conor Lamb to the Democratic Caucus. Conor is here to serve the people of western Pennsylvania and to fight for what Democrats believe in. Together, we’ll create high-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care, grow the economy, and keep Medicare and Social Security strong for all Americans. I look forward to working together to keep our country moving in the right direction.”

Lamb succeeds former Rep. Tim Murphy (R) in Pennsylvania’s 18th District.

PHEFFER AMATO: ‘MTA DELAYS REVEAL OF RBRL RESULTS’: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) released a statement after a phone exchange with a representative from the MTA announcing that the evaluation results of the possibility for reactivating the long-dormant Rockaway Beach Rail Line (RBRL) has been delayed. Reactivation of the RBRL has been a high policy priority for Pheffer Amato, who carried the baton from Phil Goldfeder.

An internal MTA evaluation of the RBRL was originally slated to be released in June of 2017, as secured by Goldfeder. Since being elected, Pheffer Amato stepped in and continued to push MTA for the results of that evaluation. Because of that advocacy, MTA informed Pheffer Amato that the results would be revealed by first quarter of 2018, but now would include two critical victories: (1) the inclusion of specific criteria in the final report that are meant to better illustrate the feasibility of the proposal; and (2) most crucially, that the MTA, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), and New York City Transit (NYCT) will be jointly requesting and securing an outside contractor to help conduct the evaluation, thereby putting all key agency stakeholders on the same page and ensuring their mutual investment in giving the proposal a full and fair hearing.

In anticipation of the evaluation, Pheffer Amato sent a letter to Chairman Lhota requesting the results. As of this past week, MTA representatives informed Pheffer Amato that the RBRL evaluation findings will be delayed again until summer to allow a full and thorough examination. Pheffer Amato has yet to receive a formal response to her letter.

“Am I surprised that the MTA has yet to release the results of the evaluation? No. Am I disappointed? We all are. We all had expectations and were looking forward to a favorable on-time evaluation,” said Pheffer Amato. “However, I think that a delayed study could mean good news. The MTA, the LIRR and NYCT are getting the message from our continued advocacy and outpouring of demand from the community, and, at long last, they’re giving the RBRL a serious look—even if it’s taking a year longer than originally expected. We’ve waited this long, and I anticipate hearing big developments soon.”

FOLLOWING DEATH OF DOGS DURING GROOMING, AVELLA INTRO’S LEGISLATION: Following news reports of multiple dogs dying in recent months during grooming sessions at two New Jersey PetSmart stores, NYS Senator Tony Avella has announced that he will intensify his push for legislation that would establish state registration and certification of pet groomers and pet grooming facilities in New York State.

Senator Avella’s bill (S.1596A) is currently in the Consumer Protection committee. As of now, there is no Assembly sponsor but the bill has garnered bipartisan support in the Senate.

“It should be the goal of every pet groomer to treat all animals entrusted to their care with kindness, patience, respect and compassion, ensuring their safety, health, and wellbeing. However, the most recent news story of Abby the Corgi dying during a routine grooming session is further proof of why this legislation is needed. When we drop our pets off for grooming we expect they will return to us even better than the way we left them. For many of us, our pets are a part of our family and losing them is like losing a loved one. Our state needs to step up to prevent similar tragedies from happening again,” said Avella.

Under Avella’s proposed legislation the Department of State (DOS) would begin regulating pet groomers and would require businesses to register to perform pet grooming. In the registration businesses would have to provide their basic information and submit to a DOS background check to make sure the owners have not been convicted of animal cruelty, neglect, or interpersonal violence. Additionally, the business would have to re-register every two years and complete eight hours of continuing education.

Further, individual pet groomers would also have to be registered. Individual pet groomers must be 18 years of age, undergo a similar background check, and provide proof that they received either sufficient training, successfully completed a grooming certification course, or that they have operated a pet grooming business in good standing for at least a year.

Senator Avella’s bill would also set health and safety standards for the safe housing of animals and the penalties for violations of the new law. Businesses that violate any part of the legislation would face a fine of at least $500 per violation. Violations that do not involve health and safety issues, however, will range between $50 to $100.

ROZIC, WEPRIN CALL FOR TREE INSPECTION ON UNION TURNPIKE: Following ongoing concerns from the community, Assembly Member Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) and Assembly Member David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) are calling on the city Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to inspect the trees on the Union Turnpike median between Francis Lewis Boulevard and Main Street.

“Although they may be a small part of our blueprint, trees in our neighborhood should not be neglected,” said Assembly Member Rozic. “I urge the Department of Parks and Recreation to expedite inspections and replace the damaged trees.”

“I am glad to be partnering with my fellow colleague in the Assembly and neighboring member here in Queens to advocate for the better care and attention to trees along Union Turnpike,” said Assembly Member Weprin. “Our trees and forestry here in northeast Queens are characteristic of the great neighborhoods that surround our respective districts.”

The condition of the trees on the Union Turnpike median has been the subject of substantial activism. Various civic associations and community members have been requesting that the trees be given adequate attention and care in an effort to maintain the public space they occupy.

CANDIDATE RAMOS ON LEFRAK POLLING SITE REMOVAL: Candidate for NYS Senate Jessica Ramos responded to Congress Member Joe Crowley’s letter (see above) to the Board of Elections regarding the removal of a voting poll site in LeFrak City:

“I applaud Congressman Crowley for his letter to the Board of Elections urging the BOE not to move LeFrak City’s polling location. As Queens residents, we cannot allow disenfranchisement in our own borough. In the Trump Era, voters in black and brown communities are increasingly facing dangerous attempts at voter suppression. Now more than ever, we need real Democrats in Albany to fight for legislation that expands voter access—from early voting to same-day registration to no-excuse absentee ballots. I want to thank Congressman Crowley for his efforts to keep the LeFrak City voting site in place and ensure all Queens residents can cast their ballot this year.”

CROWLEY: GOP’S FARM BILL ‘STIGMATIZES HARDWORKING AMERICANS’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after House Republicans released their Farm Bill proposal:

“Today’s partisan proposal from House Republicans doesn’t just abandon rural communities, it stigmatizes hardworking men and women and vulnerable Americans. It will leave families struggling to feed themselves, while doing nothing to help struggling farmers.

“Congress should be focused on efforts that lift families out of poverty, expand opportunity, and create economic stability— not strip critical lifelines from those who need them the most. Instead, Republicans are promoting the false, cruel notion that those who need a little help simply aren’t working hard enough.

“Democrats know better. We will not turn our backs on our fellow Americans, nor will we abandon those men and women in rural communities who contribute so much to the American economy. I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon this proposal and join Democrats in crafting a farm bill that puts American farmers and families first.”

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