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Democratic reaction to state Sen. Tony Avella’s decision to jump ship and join the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany is officially “disappointment,” but beneath the surface there appears to be anger and a desire for retribution.
Avella, of Bayside, last week joined the now-five-person IDC, which was organized in 2011 and runs the Senate with the Republicans in an unlikely coalition. He indicated he joined in an attempt to pass more legislation and that “at the end of the day, it will be helpful to my district and the Borough of Queens.”
Maverick Democrat Tony Avella has done it again. The Bayside state senator announced Wednesday he is joining the Independent Democratic Conference in Albany.
Never one to follow the party line, Avella’s move is seen as a plus for him. He is more likely now to be able to move his bills through the Senate.
The lawyer who asked that a case involving his client, Vince Tabone, be delayed, saying it would be unfair to Republican candidates seeking office, has thrown his own hat in the ring to oppose Rep. Steve Israel.
Grant Lally, a Republican from Lloyd Harbor, LI, announced last week that he would oppose Congressman Israel for the 3rd Congressional District seat. The district covers parts of Nassau and Suffolk counties and a section of Queens, including Douglaston, Little Neck, Whitestone and Floral Park.
It’s February and the city has been socked for weeks by snow, ice and frigid temperatures in the most miserable winter many can remember. At City Hall, a new mayor from a political party that has not held the city’s top office in 20 years has just taken the reins of power, and his honeymoon period when he should be unveiling his ambitious agenda is instead frozen over by the icy weather.
But this is not 2014. Instead it’s 1994 and that new mayor is Rudy Giuliani.
After all of the consternation about the weather and the first Super Bowl ever held in the New York metropolitan area, it was a pretty decent day by early February standards for all except the Denver Broncos. During Super Bowl week, perceptive lead Fox Sports voice Joe Buck told me that the weather was far worse in Dallas last year. He also pointed out that even though New York had a cold week, the conditions were far better than those in Southern cities as Atlanta and New Orleans.
Giants co-owner John Mara is one of the most accessible and likable sports executives you will ever meet. I was surprised that he wandered through the Super Bowl media party without any aides. “Even if you are not a football fan the energy and excitement of the Super Bowl raises the spirits of everyone living in the metropolitan area,” Mara told me. He concurred with my analogy of how even diehard Democrats enjoyed having the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004.
The lawyer for state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) will ask a federal judge to postpone the senator’s federal corruption trial until after this year’s Democratic primary.
In a hearing in federal court in White Plans on Friday morning, Attorney Gerald Shargel told federal Judge Kenneth Karas that he will submit his request to the court in writing on Feb. 7.
The U.S. Senate passed legislation last Thursday that would relieve the flood rate hikes mandated by a 2012 law aimed at stabilizing the finances of the National Flood Insurance Program.
By a vote of 67-32, the Senate approved the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which if made into law would delay the increases in the flood insurance rates mandate under the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, until the Federal Emergency Management Agency does an affordability study to determine how the rate hikes would affect homeowners in food zones. It also would require FEMA to certify that its flood maps are accurate and ensure local levees and other flood control structures are taken into account in the mapping process.
A second co-defendant in the federal corruption case against state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and former Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) has pleaded guilty.
Joseph Desmaret, former deputy mayor of upstate Spring Valley, admitted to accepting $10,500 to support the sale of village land to an undercover FBI agent who he believed was a developer. He signed the six-page agreement last Tuesday.
Re “Lousy Republicans,” Letters, Jan. 23:
Why would Anthony Pilla think historians would rank the 113th Congress the least productive in history? In five years America’s prestige in the world became extinct, unemployment is chronic, we’re $17 trillion in debt, the middle class is being wiped out and Obamacare will ensure that the United States will be transformed — as promised —from a constitutional democracy into a socialist dictatorship. House Republicans never stopped him from doing anything. No president ever accomplished more.
The House of Representatives was considered by the Founding Fathers to be the People’s House and has the power of the purse in order to control free-wheeling spenders like those in office now. Food stamps were cut $4 billion by Republicans because the Government Accounting Office said cutting waste and fraud would more than cover it. There was no need to raise the debt ceiling, but the House did anyway, by $1.1 trillion.
The loss of $25 billion in the last government shutdown included the salaries of employees who were laid off but got paid for doing nothing anyway.
It only seems like 45 times that Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor voted to repeal Obamacare but is their stupidity really worse, as Pilla believes, than Schumer’s saying Americans were going to get Obamacare whether they like it or not? Or Obama saying “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan,” knowing each time he said it, he lied?
Why would Republicans voting for amnesty for illegal aliens to keep wages low for big business be worse than Democrats who want open borders and amnesty because a huge population of poor, illiterate people dependent on government handouts will vote socialist forever?
Why would Mr. Pilla call the investigations of Benghazi, Fast and Furious and the IRS harassment of people they don’t like “witch hunts”? Real people died real deaths in Benghazi and Mexico.
Americans have traded the freedom and opportunities here for the same false promises that turned into the Gulag in Russia, gas chambers in Hitler’s National Socialism and one child per family in China. What Americans think they’re getting free will cost them more than they ever imagined. Obamacare is only the beginning. It’s the Tea Party’s fault.
It is my opinion that most historians will rank the 113th Congress as the least productive in history. It will even outdo the one that prompted President Truman’s famous remark about that “good for nothing” 80th Republican Congress! Our Congress is truly not the top banana. In all polls, voters gave the 113th only a 9 percent approval rating.
Blame should go equally to both chambers, the Democratic Senate and GOP House. The Senate worked 99 days and the House 117 for the entire year in 2013.
In the Senate, Republicans stalled the approval of 93 presidential nominations. The logjam broke only after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “Enough is enough!”
Let me briefly focus on the worst chamber, the GOP House of Representatives. These outstanding achievements occurred: 1) The House voted 45 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare to the GOP). 2) They voted to cut $40 billion from the food stamp program over the next 10 years. 3) They for
ced the government to “shut down” for 16 days last October at a cost of $25 billion. 4) They refused to extend benefits to long-time unemployed workers; ‘Takers’ to republicans. 5) Chairman Darrell Isa (R-Caliph.) and his oversight committee held a series of “witch hunts”: fast and furious, Benghazi, IRS vs. Tea Party. Chairman Issa invited “select” folks to his political circus, which resulted in lots of hearsay talk over many days of long hearings.
Despite the brutal race for City Council Speaker that left the chairman of the Queens Democratic Party at odds with Mayor de Blasio and the ultimate winner, Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), the borough was not left out when key committee chairs and other powerful posts were doled out Wednesday.
In fact, it will be a Queens member, second-term Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who will be the new majority leader, the second most powerful job in the body and second-in-command to Mark-Viverito.
A group of Republicans from all over Queens gathered on the steps of Borough Hall on Tuesday to protest what they believe was hate speech aimed at conservatives from Gov. Cuomo last week.
About a dozen Republicans representing organizations like the Queens Village Republican Club and the Rockaway Republican Club held anti-Cuomo signs and took turns speaking against his “kingdom” despite the snowfall and cold temperatures.
“You may see a number of challenges against incumbents this year,” the insider said, noting that those candidates could have the support of groups that backed de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito last year, which have long champed at the bit at taking on the Democratic Party leadership and are emboldened by the results of the 2013 elections.
Democrats hold every state legislative seat in Queens and few, if any, are competitive in general elections. That leaves the Democratic primary the real race in many districts. Republicans haven’t held an Assembly seat in Queens since 1996.
Now that the New Year’s Eve parties are over, here are some sobering statistics for garden-variety wage slaves, many Chronicle readers included. They’ll dry out fast:
1) Fifty-seven of America’s largest companies on Standard and Poor’s 500 index, almost one in nine, paid an effective tax rate of zero percent or even lower, according to USA Today. Verizon, General Motors and News Corp. are among them.
2) “The typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate that most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rates ...”
3) “Getting to a zero percent tax rate despite turning a profit requires creative accounting, but not lawbreaking.”
4) “The U.S. tech giant (‘Apple Inc.’) not only avoided the American tax system, but manages to shelter about $100 billion in revenues from any taxes at all.”
5) “At its peak in 1968, the income from the minimum wage lifted a family of three out of poverty ... If it had kept pace with gains in productivity, [today] it would be more than $20 an hour.”
Republican members of Congress not only oppose any increase in the minimum wage, but would actually vote to abolish any minimum wage whatsoever! One of these Dark Ages sentimentalists is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination. By the way, the after-taxes hourly minimum wage is just about enough to buy a Starbucks Grande (forget the blueberry scone).
6) “Newly hired federal employees would not be eligible for traditional pensions under a bill re-introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and two colleagues.”
And who’s behind the above scheme and related plans to cut jobs, pay and collective bargaining rights? Why, it’s the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa — whose personal net worth is estimated at $450 million.
These medieval views, unthinkable just decades ago, are now mainstream.
Even more disturbing than the repudiation of the “social contract” and the mockery of the “American Dream” is that millions of people are not the slightest bit embarrassed about it, as though gross economic injustice were an expression of the rule of natural law and sanctioned by the Constitution.
Note: All the direct quotations are from The Union Bulletin, Queens Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, as are the paraphrased facts. The opinions are mine alone and have not been submitted for approval.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) was officially elected speaker of the New York City Council Wednesday afternoon.
What was expected to be a contentious vote ended up being a scene of unification and reconciliation as the new Council walked on the floor around 1 p.m. After being greeted by thunderous applause, Mark-Viverito’s last opponent, Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), formally conceded, praising the new speaker with a hug and congratulations.
Bay Terrace’s PS 169 was the location of Paul Vallone’s inauguration ceremony as councilman for the 19th District on Saturday, which drew a crowd of more than 500 people.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, was master of ceremonies. Participants included the Francis Lewis High School Junior ROTC color guard and William Liao, a fourth-grader from PS 203, who recited Emma Lazarus’ famous poem “The New Colossus.”
If it has wheels, it made headlines.
Issues involving bicycles, illegal motor scooters, out-of-control SUVs, striking school bus drivers and pungent trash trains all made their way onto the Chronicle’s pages in 2013.
Elections and new laws adopted in 2013 promised sweeping changes across the city’s horizon in 2014, with a new mayor, a new City Council, and an uncertain future for policies on education, law enforcement and city finances.
The ongoing recovery from 2012’s Hurricane Sandy dominated life in South Queens for most of 2013 and was a factor in many other big stories, from the future of the abandoned Rockaway Beach LIRR line to the election battle between Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and his Democratic opponent Lew Simon.
But South Queens also dealt with a wide array of other issues in 2013, from crime at Forest Park to internal strife on Community Board 9.
It could be said that 2013 was a good year to be a political junkie in New York City with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio being elected mayor, and Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner enjoying short-lived political comeback tours.
It also proved to be a bad year to be a school advocate, a Republican seeking elective office or former state Sen. Shirley Huntley.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) responded this week to critics over his decision to back his colleague Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan, Bronx), a staunch liberal Democrat, for speaker.
Ulrich, the only Republican on the City Council outside of Staten Island, was re-elected in November. He announced that he would back Mark-Viverito on Dec. 19, along with six other Queens Council members and members-elect, including Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens).
The A&E network suspended Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for saying that African-Americans were better off under the Jim Crow laws and equating same-sex relationships with bestiality. Of course Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Sean Hannity and Bobby Jindal have come out to defend him. Is anyone surprised?
However, I do agree that he is entitled to freedom of speech. Just as Palin and the rest are entitled to show themselves as the ignorant fools they are.
They claim it’s all about freedom of speech, not the content of that speech. Really? Content such as — “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred, they are insolent, arrogant God-haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are truthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”
If that doesn’t qualify as hate speech what does? In a bizarre statement, Illinois Congressional candidate Ian Bayne compared Robertson with civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks — “What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.”
Perhaps he was misquoted or he forgot to take his medication. Or maybe he will now be held up as the next rising star in the Republican Party. Would anyone really be the least bit surprised? The GOP complained about hate speech and railed against Bush being compared to a chimp, and they were right in doing so. Innocent primates should never be demeaned in such a manner.
Hopefully the NSA is keeping an eye on people who share the same beliefs as Mr. Robertson. This way when they show up at a clinic for mentally unstable individuals they will not be forced to wait in line and instead will receive the immediate care that they so desperately need.
The news that Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) was bucking his party and backing Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) for speaker was met with stiff opposition from some, especially a few veterans upset over reports that Mark-Viverito did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in past Council sessions.
“The fact that he will support such an individual who has displayed contempt for our national symbol and refused to pledge allegiance to our flag until she decided to run for speaker is nothing less than disgusting,” Marvin Jeffcoat, former commander of the Queens Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in a letter.
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) is declaring victory in the race to be the new speaker of the City Council, but opponents of her bid are not conceding defeat, setting up battle lines just weeks before the Council is scheduled to vote on the second-most powerful job in the city.
Mark-Viverito, who represents East Harlem and the South Bronx, announced Thursday that she had the support of 31 members of the 51-member body, including herself and seven Queens members: re-elected Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside); Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst); and Donovan Richards (D-Rosedale); two Council members-elect Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), who though from Brooklyn, represents a district that covers part of Ridgewood; and most notably, the borough’s only Republican, Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
Gov. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption quoted a recording purported to be embattled City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) last week as it reported preliminary findings on the state of money and influence in New York politics.
“Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that,” Halloran is alleged to have told an undercover investigator. “And they get like that because of the drive that the money does for everything else. You can’t get anything without the f---ing money.”