2016-08-31 / Political Page

Crucial Debates Almost Here

Presidential debates, which can destroy a candidate with one wrong answer, are less than a month away, with the first of three scheduled to be held on Monday, September 26th, at Hofstra University on Long Island. But because the candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, must be satisfied with the moderator or there will be problems that could stall the whole process, no moderator has yet been selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) yet.

As a matter of fact, the commission must select moderators to serve at all three debates scheduled before Election Day, November 8th. The other debates are scheduled for Sunday, October 9th at Washington University in St. Louis; and the third at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas on October 19th.

According to press reports, the CPD had decided to select all three moderators after Labor Day, which falls on Monday, September 5th, but that schedule obviously was not going to be met.

Reportedly, this original date was stalled and not met because Trump had raised some objections that the original dates announced would be in conflict with scheduled pro football games, but it was never confirmed that Trump’s comments were responsible for the scheduling glitch.

The stall in selecting moderators should come as no surprise. These debates are crucial to the candidates and they will come within a month of the voting, so there will be little time to correct any screwed up situation that a candidate might experience. So a little patience please in getting the debate schedule completed. Given their importance and the personalities and issues involved, they should be a knockout.

TRUMP TRAILS AMONG CATHOLIC VOTERS: Republican candidates have, in the past, done alright by Catholic voters, according to a recent article. It reported that a poll done by the Public Religion Research Institute showed Donald Trump doing poorly among Catholic voters. It shows the GOP standard bearer trailing Hillary Clinton, 55 to 32 – a whopping 23 points.

What’s worse for the GOP, the article said, was that Trump was doing worse in a Washington Post-ABC News Poll this month, trailing Clinton by 27 points, 61 to 34. In the 2012 election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost the Catholic vote, but by only 2 points, 50-48 percent. But in 2004, and in five of the last 10 presidential elections, the GOP actually did very well.

The only obvious possibility for the negative Trump vote we can think of was Trump’s inability to win over the Latino community, a huge contingent of The Catholic Church, and his dust-up with the Pope seeming to have blown over.

ADDABBO TO SPONSOR FREE LEGAL ADVICE EVENT: Residents in southern Queens will have the opportunity to receive free advice from legal professionals next month when Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. hosts a mobile help center in partnership with the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 14, the NYLAG mobile help center will be located across from Addabbo’s Rockaway office, at 88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, to supply free legal advice to residents on a wide range of civil issues. Staff on board will be available to discuss topics including housing (for tenants only), foreclosure, public benefits, disability benefits, healthcare benefits, identity theft, debt management, consumer credit, immigration, domestic violence, divorce, custody and visitation, child support, employment and Superstorm Sandy cases.

“Many issues like housing or health care can often be complex, and are much easier to weather with the help and guidance of a knowledgeable attorney who specializes in these areas,” said Addabbo (D–Howard Beach). “Unfortunately, legal help is rarely free and many people do not have access to the quality legal advice that everyone should have the opportunity to obtain. No matter what the topic is, everyone facing a legal battle should be equipped with the proper tools and knowledge to fight back. By bringing the NYLAG Mobile Legal Help Center to different sites throughout my district, my constituents are offered the chance to not only have free consultations with quality professionals about a tough legal problem they may be facing, but they can do it close to home and at a time that is convenient for them. I thank NYLAG for helping to coordinate this event for the public and urge all my constituents to take advantage of this great opportunity to receive free legal help.”

The event with NYLAG will mark the third time Addabbo has hosted the legal help center in his district this year, having sponsored the van in May at a site in Ozone Park, as well as at a location in Maspeth in July.

Those who wish to speak with a legal professional must schedule an appointment prior to the September 14 event date. To make a required appointment, call Addabbo’s Howard Beach Office at 718-738-1111.

DROMM CITES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE’S END USE OF PRIVATE PRISONS RULING: “I hail the Justice Department’s announcement ending taxpayer support of the private prison industry, which has profited off of human misery for too long” said NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Federal authorities now need to extend this directive to immigration detention, including NYC-area facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, and the Orwelliansounding Community Education Centers. Many New Yorkers are caught up in this system where filling bed quotas, not implementing more humane and cost-effective alternatives, is incentivized, and human rights abuses are all too common.”

COMPTROLLER DINAPOLI TALKS ETHICS REFORM, ENDORSES SENATOR STAVISKY: In a special visit to Queens, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli joined Senator Toby Ann Stavisky’s (D–Flushing) call for comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reforms. The comptroller, citing her commitment to enacting stronger ethics laws, endorsed the Senator for her re-election campaign.

DiNapoli stated, “From day one, Toby Stavisky has been a dedicated public servant to her constituents. She has also fought to clean up Albany by working to pass much needed campaign finance and ethics reforms. I know Toby Stavisky will continue to be a strong voice for the residents of the 16th Senate District, and I ask the voters of this district to join me in supporting her re-election on September 13th.”

As a full-time legislator, Senator Stavisky has long called for an overhaul of ethics and campaign finance reforms, many of which have been blocked by Senate Republicans from passing. In January, she was one of only 17 senators and ten Assembly members to sign on to the Clean Conscience Pledge, a joint effort from Citizens Union, New York Common Cause and NYPIRG to bring more transparency to discretionary funding, close the LLC loophole and limit outside income for state legislators. Stavisky stated:

“The reluctance to pass significant reform laws is troublesome. As a legislator, I am elected to act on the well-being of my district and New York State. Unfortunately, there is a growing sense of apathy toward Albany that must be reversed. Enacting strong ethics reform will do just that, by reestablishing our commitment to the public. We have made small changes, but we need to do more to reassure voters that, despite the news articles, the majority of us are legislators for the right reason: to help people. I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli, who is a strong leader in the fight for ethics reform, for his endorsement.”

Senator Stavisky has sponsored several bills to enhance state ethics and campaign finance procedures – including closing the LLC loophole and limiting outside income for legislators. Since entering office, she maintains that being a Senator is a full-time job, and that no legislator can effectively serve constituents and clients at the same time. Her opponent, a business owner, has yet to let voters know if he will continue to run his business if elected.

“Legislators must choose where their focus should be and choose where to direct their efforts: public policy or private interest. My choice will always be to serve my constituents,” Senator Stavisky added.

KIM, SQUADRON CELEBRATE THEIR SMALL BUSINESS AID BILL BECOMING LAW: Assemblymember Ron Kim, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and small business advocates celebrate the news that Governor Cuomo signed into law their bill (A6621A/S579C) to expand small business access to small loans/seed funding. The Kim/Squadron legislation directs the state to prioritize access for “micro-businesses” (under five employees) and “micro-loans” (under $25,000) when awarding Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (SBRLF) loans.

Ron Kim stated, “I would like to thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Squadron, and my fellow lawmakers who supported this bill, as well as the community leaders that stood with us, including the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, Asian Americans for Equality, local advocates, small business owners, and many others. This represents an important step in our efforts to better support everyday small businesses, whose struggles to achieve the American Dream epitomize the story of our state and country,” said Kim (D–Flushing).

“Small businesses provide a path to prosperity for neighborhood entrepreneurs and are the fuel that powers economic growth in so many of our communities,” said Squadron (D–NY). “Today’s news means more government support for more small businesses. I thank Governor Cuomo, Assemblymember Kim, my colleagues, and advocates.”

“Small business owners keep our economy strong and we must do all that we can to help them succeed. The signing of this bill reestablishes our commitment to small business owners, particularly within immigrant communities, allowing them the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Squadron, Assemblyman Kim and my colleagues in government who voted and advocated for this bill. This investment into our immigrant business owners will benefit the state many times over in the form of improving the economy and taxes paid to the state,” state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D–Flushing) stated.

“We congratulate Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman Kim, and Senator Squadron for moving New York one step closer toward an Economic Development policy that truly supports our small business owners,” stated John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce. “While $25 million is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the State budget, these additional dollars are a lifeline for the mom-and-pop stores struggling in our community. We welcome Albany’s newfound recognition that the face of New York entrepreneurship is changing and our future prosperity depends on supporting the job producers in neighborhoods like Flushing, Queens.”

Christopher Kui, Executive Director of Asian Americans For Equality, stated “Neighborhood small businesses are the fabric of our local economies and this holds especially true for immigrant communities in New York. These businesses give neighborhoods life and represent real opportunities for the people that live in them. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill today that will support small businesses to build and grow. And I congratulate Assemblymember Kim and Senator Squadron for championing this bill and continuing to do so much for New York’s immigrant communities.”

The Kim/Squadron bill directs the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to show preference in awarding SBRLF funds to lending organizations that serve “micro-businesses” and provide “micro-loans.” Additionally, application fees for “micro-loans” under $5,000 will be waived. Created in 2010, the state’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund utilizes $25 million in state funding with a $25 million private match to create an ESDC-administered fund for small businesses to access credit. The Kim/Squadron proposal was also supported by the Squadron-chaired Senate Democratic Conference Policy Group’s white paper Upstate Left Behind: Job Loss, Policy Challenges, And A New Path To Create Jobs Across New York State.

NYS AFL-CIO ANNOUNCES ENDORSEES: Topped by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressmembers Joseph Crowley, Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng, the powerful 2.5 million members New York State AFL-CIO announced its endorsements for lawmakers from within the state who are running for election this year.

The endorsements took place at the State Federation’s 33rd Constitutional Convention at the Sheraton NY Times Square Hotel in New York City. More than one thousand delegates, representing union members from the public sector, private sector and building trades, were in attendance.

Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, “The decisions made in Washington, DC impact the lives and economic well-being of all working men and women, which is why the labor movement will do everything within our power to elect candidates committed to putting the interests of working people first.”

The New York State AFL-CIO will coordinate a grassroots campaign to educate our members on labor’s position in these races. The campaigns will consist of member mailings, worksite flyers, phone bank operations and a “labor-to-neighbor” program, where union members visit other members in the area to discuss a particular race.

The following candidates were endorsed for
the House of Representatives:
CD 6 – Grace Meng
CD 7 – Nydia Velazquez
CD 8 – Hakeem Jefferies
CD 9 – Yvette Clarke
CD 10 – Jerrold Nadler
CD 11 – Daniel Donovan Jr. (R-C-I-REF)
CD 12 – Carolyn Maloney
CD 13 – Adriano Espaillat
CD 14 – Joe Crowley
CD 15 – Jose Serrano
CD 16 – Eliot Engel
CD 17 – Nita Lowey
CD 18 – Sean Patrick Maloney
CD 19 – Zephyr Teachout
CD 20 – Paul Tonko
CD 23 – John Plumb
CD 25 – Louise Slaughter
CD 26 – Brian Higgins
CD 27 – Diana Kastenbaum
All are Democrats, except for Daniel

The New York State AFL-CIO is a federation of 3,000 affiliated public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the state representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families. The state federation, which is the largest and most diverse in the country, is committed to helping working families achieve a better life. For more information on the Labor Movement in New York, visit www.nysaflcio.org.

ADDABBO ON ROCKAWAY STORM SURGE BARRIER: “The communities adjacent to Jamaica Bay – including the Rockaway peninsula, Broad Channel and Howard Beach – are some of New York’s most vulnerable areas when it comes to flooding. I welcome any project that aims to mitigate this serious and potentially dangerous problem. While I acknowledge that a project of this nature and magnitude is very much needed, it is important that the project is done right, and that includes making sure the shoreline and condition of Jamaica Bay are protected during the construction and operation of this storm surge barrier. Our government, on many different levels, and our local citizens all work hard to put forth by the Army Corps of Engineers, has the potential to prevent millions of dollars in flood damage, not to mention the more critical issue of saving lives in the event of another major storm like Superstorm Sandy, but it must be done in line with our other values, including the protection of Jamaica Bay.”

VALLONE SECURES $5.5 M FOR COLLEGE POINT SPORTS COMPLEX: For nearly a decade, a lack of funding has prevented the final phase of the College Point Sports Complex from being completed. After years of stagnation under previous Council Members and Mayoral Administrations, Council Member Paul Vallone has secured the $5.5 million in funding needed to complete the final phase. $500,000 is being allocated by Council Member Vallone with an additional $3 million from Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and $2 million from the Mayor’s Administration. The complex is located on 22 acres between 130th and Ulmer Streets, between 23rd and 26th Avenues in College Point.

For many years, the site had been leased to the College Point Sports Association which hired Enviro-Fill to repair the fields. Unfortunately, the company dumped metal, glass, sheetrock, wire, and other dangerous materials, making it unsafe to the community and leading the Parks Department to reclaim control of it. The City then remediated the soil and began funding new phases of the complex but years later the project had still not been completed or funded. Now that the funding has been secured, the Parks Department will work with Council Member Vallone and the community to determine the types of fields and amenities that will be constructed to finalize the complex.

“College Point has waited for this project for far too long, and I’m proud to have finally secured the funding to get the ball rolling,” said Vallone. “The incredible new fields that will soon be available to the community are a shining example of what can be accomplished for our district by working hand in hand with our Speaker and Mayor. I look forward to continuing to work with the Parks Department to ensure the vision for this sports complex is realized as soon as possible.”

“I thank Council Member Vallone for securing these funds and am glad that we can now move forward with the plan for the College Point Sports Complex,” said Joe Femenia, President of the College Point Civic Taxpayers Association.

CUOMO SIGNS AVELLA, WEPRIN MACHETE BILL INTO LAW: This past Friday, Governor Cuomo signed Senator Tony Avella and Assembly Member David Weprin’s machete bill into law. The new law will subject an individual who uses a machete with the intent to harm another person to be charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

While a machete has many practical uses, including in farming, hunting and hiking, it has become, as of late, the weapon of choice in a frightening number of assaults. In criminal cases involving the use of a machete, prosecutors have been unable to include in the list of charges “criminal possession of a weapon” because machetes were not in the enumerated list of instruments which could trigger such a charge. The Avella–Weprin bill corrects this oversight once and for all so that anyone looking to inflict harm with a machete will suffer the consequences. What the bill does not do is ban the machete, as has often been misinterpreted. It simply states that if you use a machete with the intent to harm you will be charged accordingly.

Avella first introduced this legislation in early 2015 in response to the increase in machete attacks in New York. Unfortunately the bill was only able to pass the Senate in June of that year. However, working alongside Weprin, the bill was successfully able to move through both houses earlier this year.

“By receiving the Governor’s signature, my bill allows law enforcement to charge an individual with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree if they used it with the intention of inflicting harm against another person,” said Avella. “I appreciate Weprin’s efforts to get the bill passed in the Assembly and I commend the Governor for recognizing the importance of this legislation and giving law enforcement yet another means of bringing criminals to justice.”

Weprin thanked Governor Cuomo for taking action saying, “These attacks have had lifelong effects on the victims, and have had psychological effects on New Yorkers as they go about their daily lives yet fearing they could be the target of another random, fearless attack. This piece of legislation will undoubtedly serve as a deterrent by increasing the legal criminal charge and make perpetrators think twice about their consequences.”

DROMM DENOUNCES HEINOUS ATTACK ON TRANSGENDER WOMAN IN WOODSIDE: “I am outraged that yet another member of the Queens transgender community was brutally attacked on our streets just a few days ago,” said long-time LGBT activist and NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Targeted violence against LGBT people strikes at the heart of the community and will not be tolerated. I await the results of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force investigation which is currently underway, and will continue to push back against hate in all its forms.”

ATTACK ON TRANS WOMAN SPARKS HUGE PROTEST RALLY: Last Thursday, (Aug. 26) Majority Leader Van Bramer, Make the Road New York, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and numerous community members rallied to end violence against trans women. This rally came on the heels of an attack that occurred last week in Woodside.

On the morning of Wednesday August 17, a transgender woman was attacked in Woodside at the intersection of 67th Street and 41st Avenue. A man hit the 28-year old woman in the head with a hammer after yelling, “This is what you get for being gay.” The victim was treated at Elmhurst Hospital Center and has since been released.

Sadly, this was not the first instance of anti-trans violence in New York City this year. In January, Jennifer Louise Lopez, a transgender woman, was forced to undergo emergency surgery after being attacked on a D-train in Harlem. Not long after, in March, a transgender woman was sexually assaulted in the bathroom of the Stonewall Inn. As recently as this past May, two transgender women were assaulted in Brooklyn – one on the 4 train and one in Park Slope. In Queens so far in 2016, there have been 10 reported incidents of violence against transgender individuals.

“There is no room for hatred or transphobia in our community – or anywhere,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Our trans neighbors should be able to go about their daily lives without living in fear of a vicious attack like the one that happened last week. We must come together as one community and demand an end to violence. We will not stop until New York City is a safe, accepting, and compassionate city for all.”

“We are shocked and saddened by the incident that happened last week in Woodside,” said Bianey Garcia, LGBTQ organizer at Make the Road New York. “The victim was just walking home. This year we have seen over 10 incidents against transgender individuals in Queens. This neighborhood is also my home and we will not tolerate it and sit quietly while we see one of our community members being attacked. We demand an end to all gender violence. An attack to a fellow translatina is an attack on all of us.”

“AVP is deeply saddened by this most recent anti-trans incident of violence that has occurred in our city,” said LaLa Zannell, New York City Anti-Violence Project lead organizer. “As this country continues to see the epidemic of violence that transgender women of color are facing, it is on each and every one of us to stand up and make a city and country where anti-trans violence is no longer tolerated, and instead transgender women of color are valued in society, and the root causes of violence like joblessness and homelessness are addressed.”

“Too often, transgender New Yorkers are subjected to atrocious acts of hate and violence,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Whether walking home from a club, riding the subway, or grocery shopping, violence against any group of New Yorkers will never be tolerated. New York City is a fabric woven of diverse communities, sexual orientations, faiths, ethnicities and genders, and we all have a moral responsibility to stand together and speak out against this bigotry.”

“No New Yorker should feel threatened or be attacked because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “While I am glad that the victim of this horrific attack is expected to make a full recovery, this incident underscores the dangers our transgender community faces each and every day. We must redouble our efforts to speak up for our transgender neighbors and create a safer, more accepting city for all.”

“I am saddened to hear that a trans woman was viciously attacked with a hammer simply for just living her life,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Chair of the LGBT Caucus. “It is clear that our nation is in crisis and violence has reached epidemic proportions. Transgender women of color are at more risk of being attacked and being a victim of hate violence. I ask all New Yorkers to assist in stopping these attacks and to report any information that will identify the attacker.”

From 2013-2015, at least 53 transgender individuals were murdered in the United States. Almost 90% of the victims were transgender people of color, and a similar proportion were transgender women. The trans community, and in particular transgender women of color, face added barriers: 41% of black and 27% of Latino/a transgender individuals have faced homelessness at some point in their lives, noted Van Bramer.

Make the Road New York (MRNY) builds the power of Latino and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services. It has 19,000 plus members and operates five community centers in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Jackson Heights, Port Richmond, Staten Island; and Brentwood, Long Island.

The New York City Anti-Violence Project AVP empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.

AIRPLANE NOISE MEETING ALERT: “Airplane noise continues to be an issue of great concern to our community. As per Queens Quiet Skies, please note that the Port Authority will hold a Part 150 noise study public workshop on September 29th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott Hotel (102-05 Ditmars Blvd., East Elmhurst),” Councilman Daniel Dromm (D–Jackson Heights stated.

In other news, Dromm joined M.J. Akbar, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, state Senator Jose Peralta and the Indian American Merchants’ Association of Jackson Heights for a celebration of India’s Independence. “I am proud to represent a large and vibrant Indian community in Jackson Heights – a neighborhood that is known throughout India,” Dromm stated.

PERALTA PROPOSES LIQUOR LICENSE MORATORIUM ALONG ROOSEVELT AVENUE FOR NEW NIGHTCLUBS: In an effort to clean up Roosevelt Avenue, state Senator Jose Peralta Community Board 3, and community leaders call on the New York State Liquor Authority to stop granting on premise liquor licenses for new nightclubs along Roosevelt Avenue. He held a press conference at Roosevlet Avenue and 78 Street on Monday to discuss the issue.

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