Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rockaway Leaders Didn't Know of Wind Farm Plans by Keith Herbert -- Newsday.com

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Jonathan Gaska's telephone buzzed about 10 a.m. yesterday.

Assemb. Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) was on the line and wanted to know what Gaska knew about a proposal to build a wind farm 10 miles off the shoreline of the Rockaways.

Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14 in the Rockaways, told Pheffer he had no answers for her. Officials with the governor's office, the city and the Long Island Power Authority didn't let Rockaways community leaders know of the plans before they became public, Rockaways officials said yesterday.

"I've been in government for 25 years," said Gaska. "The thing they tell you in planning is keep the stakeholders involved at every step. They haven't done that."

A year after the Jones Beach wind farm proposal was torpedoed, LIPA yesterday formally announced its plans to explore a new, larger proposal with Con Edison for as many as 100 turbines off the coast of Queens.

"We don't know enough about it to make an educated decision," Gaska said. Members of the public had called his office, Gaska said, and wanted to know if the wind turbines would spoil ocean views or cause pollution.

"I don't know," Gaska said. "It could be a good thing if they do a good job of explaining it."

Gov. David A. Paterson's renewable energy task force recommended wind power be introduced to the downstate region.

At a minimum, local Rockaways officials should have been notified, Pheffer said.

"I guess what I need is someone to take a boat out 10 miles and have them wave to me," Pheffer said. "I have no idea what 10 miles is."

Lack of notice aside, the proposal could still get a positive reception. With gasoline at $4 a gallon, and the economy sputtering, Queens residents might embrace a renewable energy plan close to home.

"I think people are willing to see," Pheffer said. "It's not drilling."

Dan Mundy, of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers, an environmental group, agreed economic conditions could play a role in how people perceive wind farms.

"It's got to start to change people's minds about these things," he said.

Peter Sammon, of the Neponset Property Owners Association, a development of 580 homes on the Rockaway peninsula, said not enough is known about the plan to form an opinion. "We need to have a lot of answers before we can determine if it makes sense," he said.

Mayor Mike's Own Candidates Find Him Taxing by David Seifman - New York Post

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EVERY local candidate that Mayor Bloomberg has endorsed in the upcoming election is running away from his call to raise property taxes six months earlier than scheduled.

"I have enormous respect for Mayor Bloomberg's fiscal acumen and was proud to work with him to bring the city out of the 2001 downturn, but without much more information, I can't support raising taxes in the city at this time," said City Councilman Mike McMahon.

Bloomberg is supporting McMahon, a Democrat heavily favored over Republican Bob Straniere for the Staten Island congressional seat now held by Vito Fossella.

Straniere has been hammering McMahon for voting to raise property taxes by 18.5 percent in 2002.

"He has obviously gotten permission to vote no [this time] because he's running for Congress," charged Straniere.

GOP state Sen. Serphin Maltese is slamming his challenger in a tight Queens race, Democratic City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, for also lining up with the mayor on the property-tax hike six years ago.

"That tax increase is still costing the taxpayers of New York City," Maltese declared in a mailing.

That's awfully awkward for Bloomberg, who has repeatedly praised the "courage" of the 41 council members who approved higher taxes in 2002 to stave off financial calamity after 9/11.

"We obviously do not agree with Senator Maltese on this one," said Stu Loeser, the mayor's spokesman, a gentle swipe at Bloomberg's own candidate in a race critical to GOP control of the state Senate.

Another Republican Queens legislator who has the mayor's backing, state Sen. Frank Padavan, puts himself squarely in the no-tax column as he tries to fend off Democratic Councilman Jim Gennaro.

"No, I'm not pleased with it," Padavan said of the mayor's proposal to hike the property tax by 7 percent as of Jan. 1 instead of July 1.

Not surprising, Gennaro and Addabbo said they could be counted as "no" votes when the mayor asks for the hike, undoubtedly after the Nov. 4 election.

Ex-Rivals in Queens Speak of Party Unity by Jonathan P. Hicks - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog

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Not too many months ago, Albert J. Baldeo was a candidate for a State Senate seat in Queens and locked into a bitter feud with not only the Queens Democratic Party, but also with its choice for the nomination: City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

At the time, Mr. Baldeo was challenging one of the most venerable Republican leaders in New York City: State Senator Serphin R. Maltese. Two years ago, Mr. Baldeo came with about 900 votes — about 2 percentage points — of defeating Mr. Maltese. He ran again this year but was shunned by the party organization, which supported Mr. Addabbo for the Democratic nomination.

These days, there is no more criticism from Mr. Baldeo of the party for what he once called its “cronyism” and for running “an old boys club.” Mr. Baldeo, who withdrew and endorsed the councilman from the race shortly before the Sept. 9 primary, has now more than embraced the candidacy of Mr. Addabbo and speaks of the importance “of all of us working together as a united Democratic party.”

This week, Mr. Baldeo will be playing host to a fund-raising event for Mr. Addabbo’s campaign at his law office in the Richmond Hill section of Queens. What’s more, Mr. Baldeo said he is making a significant amount of his office space available to the Addabbo campaign.

“I want to show that I’m throwing my full support and my resources behind Councilman Addabbo,” Mr. Baldeo said in an interview on Monday morning. “I want to make clear that I’m not offering lukewarm support.What’s at stake is bigger than my own personal interest. We’re trying to keep our eye on the prize and that’s for the Democrats to recapture control of the Senate.”

City Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is the Democratic nominee challenging State Senator Serphin R. Maltese, a Republican.

So, what’s in it for Mr. Baldeo?

“There is no quid pro quo here,” Mr. Baldeo said. “There may have been some misunderstandings in the past between myself and the county organization. But I think they mean well and I want to work with them. I want us to develop a relationship with county so that we can all work together.”

Mr. Baldeo was then asked whether he might have an interesting in running for office again. “Certainly,” he said. “Would I appreciate their support? Certainly. Do I expect good well from helping the party. Well, it stands to reason that someone loyal to the party would be rewarded. But for now, I’m focused on the success of the party. “

In the interview, Mr. Baldeo said he lives in the district represented by Assemblyman Anthony S. Seminerio, who is now the target of a federal corruption case. But he did not specify the position he might wish to seek.

Michael H. Reich, the organization’s executive secretary, said that the support of Mr. Baldeo in the Addabbo campaign was appreciated.

“We welcome the support of all Democrats all over the county to help elect people who will represent Queens County,” Mr. Reich said. “And we look forward to the support of Albert Baldeo in this important and crucial State Senate election.”

Melinda Katz Plays Coy, Narrowing Choice to Two Frontrunners by Nicholas Hirshon - NY Daily News

Melinda Katz plays coy, narrowing choice to two frontrunners

With six contenders repping for a 2009 City Council race in Forest Hills, the current seat-holder - the term-limited Melinda Katz - recently tipped her hand on who may rise to the top.

"Melinda has not yet endorsed a candidate in the race," her spokeswoman Molly Watkins told the Daily News last month. "She considers both of them friends."

"Both," Watkins later clarified, meant Queens Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz, who held the same Council seat from 1991 to 2001, and former Assemblyman Michael Cohen, who resigned in 2005.

That Katz didn't even acknowledge the other contenders is telling - in line with many Democratic insiders who view the campaign as a two-horse race.

Undeterred, the rest of the crowded field vowed to forge ahead with their campaigns.

"I'm not intimidated," said first-time candidate Heidi Harrison Chain, president of the 112th Precinct community council.

Lynn Schulman, who lost to Katz in the 2001 Council primary, bashed Koslowitz and Cohen as options to maintain the status quo.

"They represent the politics of the past," she said. "I represent the community of the future."

The contest also features a pair of former classmates from Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood: Bob DeLay, a former aide to Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), and Mel Gagarin, who worked for Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn, Queens).

DeLay and Gagarin, both 26, shrugged off criticism they're too young for the seat.

"People have always been told it's not their time," DeLay said.

"Age to me is just a number," said Gagarin.

Still, both candidates acknowledged that Koslowitz and Cohen are formidable opponents.

Koslowitz hasn't officially declared since conflict-of-interest rules would force her to resign as deputy borough president. But she confirmed she's a candidate, with decades of experience to boost her chances.

"I may be 66, but I was also ... once 26, and I could do whatever they can," she said, referring to DeLay and Gagarin.

Cohen said if elected he'd enact a parking permit plan so Forest Hills residents can find spaces by the Austin St.-Queens Blvd. commercial district.

First elected to the Assembly in 1998, Cohen insisted he left office in 2005 because he wanted to tend to his dying wife.

Democratic insiders confirmed his wife's illness played a role in Cohen's resignation, but added the party had pressured Cohen to leave office ever since he endorsed Republican Gov. George Pataki for reelection in 2002.

Party leaders allowed Cohen to stay until 2005 in hopes they could avoid forcing him out as his wife was dying, while picking a successor in the meantime, political sources said.

Politicians Duke it Out Over Education Funding by John Lauinger - NY Daily News

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It's the high-stakes prizefight that could determine which party controls the state Senate.

But state Sen. Serphin Maltese and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo pulled their punches in their first debate last week.

The campaign encounter on Tuesday was cordial by design because the sponsor, the Howard Beach Civic Forum, set down rules preventing Addabbo and Maltese from even mentioning one another by name.

Despite the polite match, the two could not have been farther apart on one of the evening's main issues - state education dollars for New York City.

Maltese, a veteran Republican defending his seat, went first.

"The state of New York is often accused of not getting enough money back to the city," Maltese said, attempting to debunk a charge often made by city lawmakers. "In the last 10 years, we have increased the [education] funding for the city of New York by 97%."

Though Addabbo couldn't address Maltese by name, he was clearly in accusation mode.

"Sure, New York City may have increased its funding for schools in the state budget," said Addabbo, who is facing term limits next year.

"But when we increase only 8% and Nassau and Suffolk counties increase more than 30%, the funding formula is still unfair," he said.

The candidates were referring to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit, a drawn-out battle in which the state was forced to deliver $300 million to the city Education Department to make up for statewide funding inequities.

The debate came on the same day that Mayor Bloomberg announced a $185 million cut from the Education Department's budget this year, along with $395 million next year.

Addabbo said the current financial crisis warrants that "education first" should be the "rallying cry" in the state Senate.

"We need to control the $300 million," he said, referring to the court award. "But right now we have no idea where that is."

Maltese was quick to tout his seat on the education committee and his ability to land grants for the 15th Senate District.

He noted the GOP majority secured $646 million more education dollars than initially included in this fiscal year's budget.

Last fiscal year, he said, they got $616 million more.

"We try to get every nickel that we can," he said, arguing that city students "certainly get their fair share."

When asked about mayoral control of city public schools, Addabbo said he is planning a round of town hall meetings to gauge interest. He did not, however, give a position.

Maltese said that though he supported mayoral control at first, the system needs to be reformed to increase "community and parental input."


Monday, September 29, 2008

Girl Hospitalized After Hit-And-Run In Queens - Reported by Deborah Garcia - wcbstv.com

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Surveillance video at a Getty gas station at the corner of Rockaway Boulevard and 98th Street captured a black Nissan Altima striking a 12-year-old girl who was crossing the street.

A 12-year-old girl is in critical condition after she was struck by a driver who never stopped in front of a gas station in the Queens on Wednesday morning.

The tragedy unfolded on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park after the victim, Nisha Choudhry, was dropped off along with a friend of hers by her father, something he only does Wednesdays on his day off.

"I go 5, 10 meters when my mind says something. I come back then I saw some kids lying in the street, then I saw my daughter," said a deeply distraught Raj Choudhry.

The entire incident was captured on surveillance camera. The two girls were heading to Middle School 137.

"It's very hard. I love my daughter," Mr. Choudhry said.

Because of Nisha's head injury, she was transported from Jamaica Hospital to New York Presbyterian in Manhattan. Meanwhile, police are searching for the black Nissan believed to be a 2007 model that fled the scene. It is missing a driver's side mirror.

"She didn't see the car, but the car came and hit her and she flew up in the air. And when she came down she hit her head. She started bleeding. She was like in a coma," said an unidentified witness.

Mr. Choudhry is still having a difficult time believing the driver never stopped to help his little girl.

"Be kind to people. You should not run away. Stop and help," he said.

Nisha's friend that was also struck by the car has a minor injury to her arm. Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-577-TIPS.

Police Apprehend Fugitive after Slow Speed Chase | Cape May County Herald

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On Sept. 14 at 1:29 a.m., Patrolman Tracey Super observed a black Toyota Rav 4 traveling south on Route 47 here when the vehicle crossed the center line into the northbound lane narrowly missing an oncoming vehicle.

Super attempted to stop the vehicle but was instead led on a 13-mile slow speed pursuit through the township.

The driver, later identified as Maria Vecera, 34, of Woodhaven, N.Y., led police into Wildwood where officers used a tire deflation device to flatten her front tire. Vecera continued on Rio Grande Avenue and came to rest at the foot of the Boardwalk where she was arrested.

Vecera’s 18-month-old daughter was found unsecured in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.

Vecera was charged with eluding, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child and was issued numerous motor vehicle summons. Police said Vecera was a wanted fugitive out of New York City for child neglect. Both mother and daughter had been reported as missing.

Vecera was transferred to county jail on $15,000 bail.

The child was in the care of the state Division of Youth and Family Services. No Injuries occured during the Incident.

Addabbo Campaign Attacks Maltese Over Bloomberg's Defense of Taxes by Azi Paybarah | The New York Observer

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The State Senate campaign of City Councilman Joe Addabbo seized on the comments Michael Bloomberg made yesterday in defense of the 18.5 percent property-tax increase that the City Council approved in 2002. Addabbo's opponent, the Bloomberg-endorsed Republican incumbent Serf Maltese, criticized the vote in a recent mailer.

In a statement just now, Addabbo spokeswoman Alexis Grenell said, "The Mayor and Maltese need to get their stories straight. Joe Addabbo is laser focused on the issues: lowering the cost of living, controlling spending and property taxes, improving education, and fighting for New York City's fair share. Despite his rubber stamp endorsement of Maltese, even Bloomberg can't deny the facts: Joe Addabbo is right for Queens communities."

Maltese campaign spokeswoman Kristin Lord emailed me earlier to defend the mailing and challenge the assertion that there's anything inconsistent about supporting Bloomberg and criticizing the tax increases the mayor and Council supported.

Lord wrote, "The Mayor knows he can count on Senator Maltese to continue to deliver for the City during these tough economic times to help offset the need for further property tax increases."

The email continues, "The mailer sent out by Senator Maltese was in response to attack mailpieces sent out by Councilman Addabbo, misleading the voters on the Senator's record. Councilman Addabbo brought the issue upon himself and we are countering his message to get the facts straight. It is hypocritical for the Councilman to continue to attack the Senator on taxes, when the fact remains that he has repeatedly voted for tax increases."

NYS Nurses Association Endorses Addabbo for Senate - Addabbo Proposes 3 Point Plan to Reform Health Care - Thursday September 25th at City Hall, NYC..

Standing on the steps of City Hall, Joe Addabbo received the resounding endorsement of the New York State Nurses Association.

"Mr. Addabbo's record shows strong support for nursing and healthcare issues," said Tina Gerardi, CEO of the New York State Nurses Association. "As City Council Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, he has also advanced legislature and initiatives of importance to nurses. We wish him success in his bid for the Senate."

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative; Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative; Randi Hoffman, NYSNA Assistant Director of Communication; and Councilman Addabbo

“Healthcare is one of the primary concerns of the 21st century as the cost of coverage escalates and insurance companies continue to encroach upon the clinic. We need to put health care back into the hands of the doctors and nurses who think first about the patient, and second about the bill. I am proud to accept NYSNA’s endorsement and look forward to working together to lower the cost of prescription drugs and out of control insurance premiums. We can do better,” said Councilman Addabbo.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative; Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative; Randi Hoffman, NYSNA Assistant Director of Communication; and Councilman Addabbo

Addabbo took the opportunity to layout a three-point proposal to address the escalating cost of health care in New York State.

1) Single Source Drug Coverage

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

A May report released by Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) revealed that insurance companies are denying or restricting access to single source drugs with no generic equivalent. Drugs like Lipitor, Plavix, Lexapro, and Advair treat common conditions such as high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and asthma.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

Medical decisions should be the purview of a doctor and patient, not a bureaucrat, and as such, Addabbo supports legislation which would require that all medically necessary prescription medications approved by the FDA be covered by the insurance company.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

2) Convert Life Insurance to Long Term Care Coverage

Addabbo supports a proposal which would allow New Yorkers to convert the anticipated value of their whole life insurance policies into immediate, but discounted, cash to pay for the long term care they require either at the end of their lives or in the event of a disabling health crisis.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

This measure would reduce state Medicaid expenditures by providing more liquid assets that New Yorkers can use to pay for their nursing home and home health care needs.

3) Expand the Income Threshold for EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage)

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

EPIC is a New York State program that helps seniors pay for their prescription drugs. More than a of a quarter million EPIC enrollees are saving an average of 90 % of the cost of their medicines. Most enrollees have Medicare Part D or other drug coverage, and use EPIC to lower their drug costs even more by helping them pay the deductibles and co-payments required by their other drug plan. EPIC also helps members pay for Medicare Part D premiums.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative;
Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and
Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

Currently, the eligibility requirements for EPIC are capped at 35K for an individual and 75K for a couple. Addabbo supports existing legislation (S2257) to expand the income threshold to 50K for an individual and 75K for a couple.

Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative; Gloria Qualles,
RN, Queens Hospital; and Councilman Addabbo

If coverage were expanded, an additional 35,172 seniors in Queens County would be eligible for EPIC.

All of these approximately 35,000 newly eligible seniors would be protected from the gap in Medicare Part D coverage which totals $1,650, the Medicare Part D “blackout” period between $2,400 and $4,050 in prescription expenses.

John O'Connor, NYSNA Organizer; Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative; Gloria Qualles, RN, Queens Hospital; Councilman Addabbo; and Glennie Millard, NYSNA Nursing Representative

However, historical trends in EPIC enrollment show that, at the high end of income eligibility, only a small percentage, 10%, of eligible seniors enroll in EPIC. This is primarily due to the availability of alternative coverage and high deductibles at the upper end of EPIC coverage.

John O'Connor, NYSNA Organizer and Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community
Affairs Representative

Using the historical EPIC participation rate of 10% of those eligible, approximately 3,500 of the 35,000 newly eligible would enroll in EPIC.

However, if only 3,500 Queens seniors were to enroll, they could still see aggregate savings of $5.8 million due to EPIC coverage of the Medicare Part D gap.

John O'Connor, NYSNA Organizer and Carol Pittman, NYSNA Community Affairs Representative

The measure would also obviously result in considerable Medicaid savings as well.

Liz Crowley Fundraiser at Woodhaven House, Middle Village - Friday September 26th...

City Council Candidate Liz Crowley with Councilman David Weprin

The Crowley Sisters...

Community Board 5 Members Patty Crowley and Steve Fiedler

Senate Candidates Face Off on Issue at Howard Beach Civic Forum by Connor Greene - Forum News - Tuesday September 23rd at St Barnabas

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The candidates shake hands after the debate.

The two candidates vying to represent the 15th Senate District faced off for the first time at a debate Tuesday night in Howard Beach.

The event in St. Barnabas Church was hosted by the Howard Beach Civic Forum and marked the first time incumbent Serf Maltese (R-Glendale) and his challenger, Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) have faced off during the campaign in the 15th Senate District.

The winner on November 4 will represent the communities of Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood and parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Sunnyside and Woodside. Since it has the potential to help tip the balance of power on the Senate, the race has been one of the closest watched during this campaign cycle.

The event centered on issues including education, public safety, quality of life, healthcare and transportation, and the candidates were urged to refrain from making personal attacks. The format featured a general statement by the candidates on each issue, followed by questions submitted by the audience.

Education and Funding

Calling higher education “very important,” Maltese said he has fought to provide the Tuition Assistance Program for as many students as possible during his 19 years on the state Senate. “I argue for Queens County so we can get every nickel we can,” he said, adding that he tries to visit all 50 schools in the district every year. “Because of my seniority [in the senate] I have been able to secure literally millions in grants for our schools,” he said.

Addabbo said the goal with education “is to keep everybody here” in the community. He stressed that the quality of a neighborhood depends on maintaining strong schools. “The funding formula is still unfair,” he said. “We need to get a fair share for our children.” Education “needs to be a rally cry in the state Senate… We need to get that money right into the classrooms – otherwise people will leave our community, and we don’t want that.”

Safety and Quality of Life

Maltese, an attorney, noted that his past experience as an assistant district attorney has given him knowledge of the legal system. “It was a twenty-four hour job,” he said. “That experience served me well later on… I think law enforcement and public safety is one of the most important things.”

He said he has been the prime sponsor on 239 “Maltese laws” including a bill that increases the penalties for drunken driving. He was also a co-sponsor of Megan’s Law, which requires sex offenders to register with the state. “Over and over again, I was one of the leaders on the Crime and Corrections Committee,” he said. “I made the concerns of crime victims one of the most important things.”

Addabbo touted his work as a member of City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which he said helped provide NYPD officers with up-graded equipment. He said there is a real need for “more police in our precincts” and said that the state “obviously has to do more” to help fund public safety in the city. He also wants residents to receive e-mail alerts when a registered sex offender moves into the neighborhood. “You don’t have to log on and check a list – they contact you,” he said. “It is important for our families.”

Addabbo also cited noise pollution, parks and graffiti as other important issues affecting residents’ quality of life. “We cannot neglect these issues. I have not done so on the City Council and certainly will not do so on the State Senate.

Dead Fish in Shellbank Basin

The candidates were asked about recent incidents of dead fish washing up in the Shellbank Basin. Addabbo had raised that issue while discussing quality of life issues, and stressed that the sight and smell of thousands of dead fish did have an effect on residents.

He said he received calls from residents on his 24-hour constituent line when the problem first arose several weeks ago. He immediately notified the mayor’s office. “It is very important that we take control of these quality of life issues and not let them fester,” he said. He said a meeting is scheduled for October 3 with representatives from the city Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“They need to tell us what happened, why it happened, and how it should never happen again,” said Addabbo. “No more finger pointing. There will be a meeting and we will get answers.”

Maltese said his local district office was alerted to the situation by a local doctor and that he immediately notified DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “She said it was the first she had heard of it and would immediately tend to it.” The next day, the DEP were at the basin, scooping out the dead fish, he said.


Addabbo stressed the need for the state to better support local small businesses, instead of providing funding to large corporations and big box stores. “The state doesn’t do enough for small businesses,” he said, calling them the “backbone of our community.” He called the state’s practice of funding big companies “wrong” and said that the program needs to be reformed to “put the money down to the local people.”

Given the tough economy, he ripped a proposal to raise property taxes. “You don’t raise property taxes, you cut government first,” he said. “This year’s state budget is wrong. How can you increase spending and not have the money to pay for it? For far too long, the old business as usual hasn’t worked in Albany. This year we have a choice.”

He also cited the 44 cases of foreclosures within Howard Beach, along with the approximately 500 families in danger of being foreclosed. “It will increase crime and decrease property values,” he said. “That’s a lot of homes. We need to call a moratorium on foreclosures.”

Maltese agreed that the “commercial strips are the lifeblood of our communities” and said he is “very firmly in support of small businesses” and has “fought against many big box stores” proposed for the area over the past few years. He said the Senate “acted immediately” to address the foreclosure crisis, which has hit Queens especially hard. He said a bill was passed to place a moratorium on foreclosures, a statement later challenged by the Addabbo camp.

“What’s occurring on the federal level is going to affect us all,” he said of the current economic crisis hitting Wall Street. He said the six percent cut to the state budget was not enough. “The fact is, we have to take our belts in, and we can do it.”

Transportation Funding

Maltese called mass transit “vital to the communities of this senate district” and noted that he funded $2 million of the $2.7 million renovation of the Metropolitan Avenue M train station in Middle Village. “I was able to put money right into a station where it was needed,” he said.

He also boasted of the $1.2 million reconstruction of Eliot Avenue, which made it safer where it cuts through a cemetery. “He said he is “against any increase in tolls or fares,” which “isn’t the [right] way [for the MTA] to raise money.”

Addabbo called for “making transportation more reliable and safe.” He spent seven years on the City Council’s Transportation Committee, and stressed the need to both criticize and work with agencies like the MTA. “I’ve grilled them on how they do things,” but also gained increased service on some bus routes “by working with the MTA,” he said.

An issue close to home for Addabbo is eliminating the toll to cross the bridge into Rockaway. “It’s absolutely unfair we pay a toll to visit the Rockaway beaches,” he said. He said the toll should be eliminated between Labor Day and Memorial Day. “We should be able to enjoy the rest of our borough – our borough – without paying a toll. It has to be removed,” he said.

Regarding the proposed MTA fare hike, Addabbo said the authority “has a real problem” and stressed that their books must be examined “to make sure they’ve made the proper cuts internally” before fares are raised. Addabbo said he recently submitted a petition to the MTA with more than 2,000 signatures of residents opposed to a fare hike.

Maltese said he meets regularly with MTA officials on issues such as fare hikes. “I don’t like it and I know our constituents don’t like it,” he said. However, he said that due to the state’s current economic difficulties, “I know we are going to have more problems.”

Healthcare Costs

Addabbo stressed that healthcare “needs to be made more accessible and more affordable.” He cited Medicaid fraud as a major issue that needs to be addressed, with billions each year being diverted from other programs. “Those are dollars that can be spent on families and schools,” he said. “We need to get a handle on this.” He also argued that the state’s plan regarding hospital closings needs to be reexamined. “We need to keep those hospital doors open,” he said.

Maltese noted that he helped restore $59 billion for nursing homes and hospitals that former Governor Eliot Spitzer cut from the state budget. “I’ve tried to keep my eye on hospitals in Queens County,” he said. “The fact is, I was able to save [Wyckoff Heights Hospital] in 1990, not only for the employees, but for the people who patronize it.”

Councilman Addabbo and Senator Maltese pose with members of the Howard Beach Civic Forum’s executive board following Tuesday’s debate...From left to right Dr. Joseph Campisi, Barbara Roth, Stella DeMatteo - President, Joe Addabbo, Serphin Maltese, Anthony Sama, Pam Baumann, Andrea Marcatante and Andrew Baumann

Photos by Me...

Some Additional Photos Taken After the Debate...