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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013 10:30 am

Big Social Security disability case could benefit thousands

Four thousand Queens residents who were denied Social Security disability benefits may soon get another chance to receive them, thanks to a class-action lawsuit filed more than two years ago, according to the law firm Turley, Redmond, Rosasco and Rosasco.

The suit claims that five Social Security administrative law judges in Queens were biased in denying benefits far more often than most judges nationwide. At the time it was filed, Social Security’s Queens Office of Disability Adjudication & Review had the third highest denial rate of any such office.

Now the case is nearing a settlement, a hearing on which will be held July 24. While the Social Security Administration admits no wrongdoing, the settlement would mean that anyone denied disability benefits in Queens from Jan. 1, 2008 through now is entitled to a new hearing before a different judge.

De Blasio speaks out on Flushing Meadows

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a candidate for mayor, announced on Saturday a three-point plan designed to “save and sustain” Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

First, de Blasio said, the city should drop its plan to give 13 acres of the park to Major League Soccer to build a stadium. But while there have been no announcements from either the administration or MLS, sources including City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), the deputy majority leader, say the plan is already dead.

De Blasio also wants the United States Tennis Association, which is in the midst of getting an expansion of two-thirds of an acre approved by the city and state, to contribute 4 percent of its revenue to the park; and he says the New York Mets should pay the city $9 million a year for their space in the park, as they used to, rather than the $400,000 a year they’ve been paying since building Citi Field.

He also recommends the establishment of a park conservancy to fund maintenance and upgrades using those revenues and other monies. A park conservancy already exists, but it allegedly was bilked by its former administrator, now deceased, and has very little money.

Lastly, de Blasio said he backs the idea of state Sen. Dan Squadron (D-Manhattan) to use some money donated to wealthier park conservancies, like the one for Central Park, in other parks, though the public advocate said the proposal would “encourage” sharing the funds.

Ulrich would let you vote anywhere in NYC

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said this week that voters should be allowed to cast ballots anywhere in the city. Ulrich offered the idea Tuesday morning on Curtis Sliwa’s radio show on 970 AM.

A Queens resident who works in Manhattan, for example, should be able to leave the office during lunch and vote around the corner, he said. It’s only an idea, Ulrich later told the Queens Chronicle; he hasn’t written a bill on it.

“It’s just an idea that is already in practice in other states, but not in New York (naturally),” he said in an email. “The technology is available but the Board of Elections is still living in the 19th century.”

Bengali on the ballot

Sixty polling sites in Queens will have ballots in the South Asian language of Bengali, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) announced last Friday.

The Census Bureau declared in 2011 that Queens must provide “language assistance” to Bengali voters, they said, adding that more than 60 percent of Bengali speakers have “limited proficiency” in English. It will be the first new language put on city ballots since 2001.

City vote logo contest

The city Campaign Finance Board is holding a “#IVoteNYC” contest for the best design for a sticker marking the 2013 elections. Submissions are due by July 28, and details are on the NYC Votes Facebook page.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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