2014-04-23 / Political Page

Simotas Court Action Enforces SLA Reject Of Strip Club Liquor License

In a unique move for a state legislator, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas filed an “amicus curiae”, or “friend of the court” brief in support of the State Liquor Authority and local residents when the SLA was forced to go to court and fight to block a strip club’s attempt to get a liquor license in Astoria.

At that point, Simotas stepped in and showed her determination in pursuing the case before the Appellate Division, 1st Department where her arguments led the court to decide the case in favor of the community, the SLA and Simotas.

The Astoria legislator stated afterward: “The legislature clearly intended for local input to be considered during the liquor licensing process and this ruling is a true victory for communities across New York. Hardworking families who invest in their homes and neighborhoods face an uphill battle in protecting and improving their quality of life; these residents don’t have lawyers and lobbyists, as strip club owners do—that’s why I filed this amicus brief on behalf of these communities.”

Amplifying on her statement, Simotas (D–Astoria) explained:

“Under state law, when an operator applies for a liquor license, the application is reviewed by community boards that rely on hearing the concerns and suggestions of local residents before making a recommendation for the SLA to approve or deny the application.

“The law was written to ensure that the concerns of residents directly affected by the proposed establishments are heard and respected. As a legislator, I will continue to do all I can to ensure that investing in our communities isn’t a gamble subject to the whims of moneyed strip club owners.”

In this particular case, the proposed strip club, called the Gypsy Rose, was proposed to be opened at 42-50 21st St. in Astoria by owners called the 21 Group. They applied to the SLA for a liquor license. At an SLA hearing, public concerns were raised about the establishment’s “potential to negatively impact property values, increase crime and halt investment in the surrounding neighborhood”, according to Simotas.

The lawmaker said ultimately the SLA denied the license to the 21 Group, but that decision was reversed by the New York State Supreme Court after Simotas argued successfully that the reversal was inappropriate and the Appellate Court agreed that the use of community input is “a key determining factor in the licensing process”.

MALONEY SEEKING RE-ELECTION: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney filed nominating petitions last week to run on the Democratic line as she seeks re-election to her 12th term in Congress. The lawmaker, now in her 22nd consecutive year in Congress, pledged, if re-elected, to focus on investments in education, infrastructure and research to help grow the local economy, in addition to measures aimed at protecting women and consumers.

“We have accomplished so much in the past few years, from the new credit card protections that are saving consumers $20 billion every year to the extension of the Violence Against Women Act, but so much more needs to be done,” Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan, Brooklyn) stated.

Among the issues she plans to pursue, she said, are “more funding under the Debbie Smith Act, a landmark bill Maloney authored that is reducing the nationwide DNA analysis backlog as police throughout the nation pursue rape cases. Proper funding, she said, will help local law enforcement obtain faster, more efficient DNA matching of suspected criminals. The House of Representatives recently voted to extend the legislation, she added.

Maloney will also continue she said, her many other initiatives, including her legislation to protect consumers against excessive overdraft fees, crack down on human trafficking rings, and build a National Women’s History Museum.

Maloney also thanked campaign volunteers and local Democratic Clubs for collecting five times the petitions necessary to secure the Democratic line for the November re-election. She filed 6,100 signatures, significantly more than the 1,250 required to get on the ballot.

MALONEY STRESSES NEED TO EXTEND TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE: Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, the ranking Democratic member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and GSEs, released the following statement on the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) report and analysis to Congress on terrorism risk insurance:

“This report underscores the need for immediate Congressional action to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). It confirms that the market for terrorism risk insurance is tightening and that without an extension of TRIA, coverage will be less available, more costly and less comprehensive. This would be particularly costly for my constituents in New York.

“Costs are already rising and businesses in my district are struggling to find adequate insurance. It is absolutely necessary that Congress take expeditious action before TRIA expires at the end of the year. I am continuing to work with members of the Financial Services Committee to address this issue.”

FEMA TO AWARD $403.5 M FOR REPAIRS AT TWO KEY ROADWAYS: U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced last week that FEMA will award the MTA approximately $329 million for repair work and $74.5 million for “mitigation work to the Hugh Carey/Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown Tunnels for damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Schumer, the architect of the Sandy relief bill, said he successfully fought to include language that allows FEMA to reimburse the MTA for repair-and-resiliency work on vehicle tunnels and applauded the federal grant.

“The comprehensive agreement was forged via the relatively new ‘alternative project pilot grant process’, which provides cost certainty while accelerating repayment timelines,” Schumer stated.

“As a result of this investment, we will be able to rebuild and modernize two of the most vital arteries— not only in New York, but in all of America – better and stronger than they were before Sandy. This massive and appropriate reimbursement by FEMA enables the MTA to repair the catastrophic damage wrought when the Sandy-surge completely submerged the Battery Tunnel and flooded the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

“When we drafted the Sandy legislation, it was this type of damage, and this comprehensive type of reimbursement that we had in mind – and we are glad that FEMA and the MTA have been able to forge such a strong agreement on such a complicated issue.”

ADDABBO HOSTS SENIORS JOB FAIR: Citing a growing senior community and seniors seeking jobs, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is holding a job fair for those 50 years old and over on Friday, May 30 at the Queens Community House, 80-02 Kew Gardens Road, Kew Gardens, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) said, “Selective companies catering to an older demographic were chosen to participate and can help those over 50 get back on the path to employment.”

Addabbo added that representatives from Family Aides Inc., the state Department of Labor, the YWCA, New York Women’s Empowerment Program, and the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center are participating.

Several more organizations will also be present to detail their companies’ mission and help attendees to find the full-time and part-time work they need, the lawmaker added.

“Finding a job today is not the easiest task for most people and even harder for seniors who want to work,” Addabbo explained. “It’s important to provide the necessary resources to my constituents to help them in the process.”

The lawmaker added, “Some people have lived full lives and now find themselves back at square one. It’s not uncommon, given the cost of living in the city, that more and more seniors are looking for employment.”

GIANARIS SEEKS NOMINEES TO VETS’ HALL OF FAME: Last year, state Senator Michael Gianaris proudly inducted Astoria resident Bob Danke into the New York state Veterans Hall of Fame in recognition of his distinguished service in the U.S. Navy.

Now Gianaris (D–Western Queens) is again inviting local residents to nominate veterans from this community whose service on behalf of our nation warrants induction into NYS Veterans Hall of Fame.

This online Hall of Fame is designed to pay tribute to New Yorkers whose gallantry in the U.S. Armed Forces is complemented by service to their communities, Gianaris explained.

Nominations should be submitted to the senator’s district office via e-mail at Gianaris@nysenate.gov or by mail to 31-19 Newtown Ave., Suite 402, Astoria, N.Y. 11102. For more information call 718-728- 0960.

Gianaris stated, “Each year, one of the greatest privileges I have as a member of the New York state senate is to honor a member of my community who has not only served our nation, but returned home and worked to improve the lives of our neighbors.

“Though all of us are eternally grateful to our nation’s veterans, the Veterans Hall of Fame allows us to say a special thank you, and I urge anyone with a veteran in mind to come forward with a nomination.”

On May 20, the senate will honor a distinguished veteran from Western Queens, as well as others from throughout the state at a ceremony at the state Capitol, where each honoree’s photograph and biography will become part of a special exhibit proclaiming the contributions of these exemplary New Yorkers, Gianaris said.

GIANARIS WELCOMES BACK FIREWORKS: On another subject, Gianaris praised the move to bring the Fourth of July fireworks show back to the East River, thus giving Astoria, Long Island City and neighboring communities a better view of the event.

Gianaris stated, “The return of July 4th fireworks to the East River is welcome news for Western Queens. For too long, residents of our neighborhoods have been left out of what is not only a citywide, but a national event. Once again, the Queens waterfront will be a participant in the grandest Independence Day celebration in the United States.”

COMMUNITY BUDGETERS ALLOCATE $1 M TO FIVE PROJECTS: The participatory budgeting project in Councilmember Mark Weprin’s Eastern Queens district decided, after discussions, debates and public hearings, to distribute $1 million among five projects that are to be included in the next city budget.

The winning projects selected were, according to Weprin (D–Oakland Gardens):

•Establish smart boards at five schools—P.S. 33, I.S. 109, P.S./I.S. 266, Benjamin N. Cardozo H.S., and the Queens H.S. of Teaching;

•Fitness walk and exercise loop at Cunningham Park;

•Portable security cameras (at locations to be determined by NYPD;

•Technology upgrades at P.S. 135 and P.S. 18; and

•Security upgrades at three libraries— Fresh Meadows, Hollis and Windsor Park.

Weprin stated, “The vote was the culmination of the second year of District 23’s participatory budgeting process,” a program that Weprin initiated in the district. He added:

“The community developed a list of project proposals, 1,000 residents voted, and the projects with the most votes will be part of this year’s city budget. Weprin added that, “This year’s voter turnout was 70 percent higher than last year’s. The tremendous voter turnout this year clearly demonstrates the community’s growing interest in participatory budgeting.”

Weprin noted that last year, he held a series of public meetings, called Neighborhood Assemblies, at which local residents offered hundreds of ideas about Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to Northeast Queens, along with Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.

Mark-Viverito informed the club of her priorities as speaker. Her focus is to empower councilmembers to best represent their constituencies. She also discussed the council’s current task of deciding the budget of the City of New York and emphasized her goals to help all boroughs of New York City, especially Queens. Mark-Viverito also noted her priorities to work with Councilmember Paul Vallone and fighting for resources for Northeast Queens. “As part of the unified city council, I look forward to working with the speaker and fighting for District 19,” Vallone said.

Lewandowski updated the club on upcoming events in local parks and offered her assistance to anyone who needed help with trees. Councilmember Mark Weprin, chair of the Queens Delegation to the city council, emphasized his support to reinstate the Vallone Scholarship on behalf of Queens councilmembers. State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky updated members on the recently passed budget in Albany.

The Clinton Democratic Club will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at Trattoria 35, located at 213-15 35th Ave. in Bayside. For more information, contact TheClintonClub@gmail.com. how to spend the one million dollars. Then community members who volunteered to serve as budget delegates worked in committees for three months to turn the project ideas into full proposals that were vetted by relevant city agencies before they were listed on the ballot. The public vote and the announcement of the winning projects were the culmination of the months-long process.

Weprin, offering some background of participatory budgeting, said it was developed in Brazil, implemented in Chicago, and came to New York City three years ago as four councilmembers were original participants. This year, he said, 10 districts took part.

PERALTA BRINGS CITY OFFICIALS, BUSINESSMEN TOGETHER: Proposed changes to the restaurant lettergrade and fine system and the new paid sick leave law were part of the discussion when the 82nd Street Partnership and state Senator Jose Peralta huddled this past Monday at a forum for restaurateurs and small business owners.

Officials from the city Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Consumer Affairs were on hand to detail the proposed changes and respond to questions. Also present were representatives from the Department of Small Business Services who discussed small business access to capital and offer help in navigating city agencies, Peralta (D–Jackson Heights) said.

Peralta served as moderator of the forum, which was held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Langston Hughes Library on Northern Boulevard and 100th Street in Corona.

“Small businesses have suffered during the economic meltdown and painfully slow recovery that has followed,” Peralta told them. Speaking about the restaurant owners, he said, “Bullying and relentlessly fining them was making a bad situation that much worse. There was a sigh of relief among small business owners when this mayor was elected,” (referring to Bill de Blasio). “The proposed restaurant regulations are an important first step toward helping small businesses succeed.”

ADDABBO TO HIT THE ROAD: State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. is all packed and ready to hit the road during the month of May in his mobile office to visit constituents.

“The mobile office is something I like to do each year so I can meet with constituents who may not be available to see me from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and address their problems head-on, face-to-face,” Addabbo said. “Ensuring one-on-one time with the people is both necessary and invaluable.”

Stop one is set for Thursday, May 1, at the Broad Channel Library; next is the Ozone Park Library on Thursday, May 8; and the Woodhaven Library is on Thursday, May 15. Hours are from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“Given the late hours,” Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) said, “I hope the mobile office can be a convenient stop for anyone to come by. We want to be a oneon one shop for residents who may have trouble getting to my borough office during regular hours.”

For more information, call Addabbo’s Howard Beach office at 718-738-1111.

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